Expedition 39 was back at work Wednesday after saying good bye to three crewmates Monday and relaxing during their off-duty day Tuesday. The orbiting trio continued station operations with a normal schedule of science, maintenance and exercise.
Japan’s first International Space Station commander Koichi Wakata is preparing for the third SpaceX mission to the orbital laboratory. He participated in robotics training familiarizing himself with the Canadarm2 techniques necessary to grapple and berth the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule when it arrives two days after its March 16 launch.
NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio joined Wakata for the robotics training during the afternoon. The Dragon resupply ship will deliver nearly 5,000 pounds of cargo to the station crew and return over 3,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk tools and other supplies.
Wakata also spent a few minutes transferring imagery captured for the Binary Colloid Alloy Test which studies particles suspended in a liquid that form crystals. Before beginning the robotics training, Wakata checked out the communications unit that allows the space station to issue commands to the arriving Dragon capsule.
Mastracchio started his day swapping out desiccant packs, or water absorbers, inside the GLACIER science freezer. After that he performed some plumbing work inside the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. He later conducted a periodic fitness evaluation on a treadmill with assistance from Wakata who monitored his blood pressure.
After lunch the duo called down to the ground to share their insights with the next crew to launch to the space station. The handover conference provides an opportunity for the orbiting crew to familiarize the newest crew members with lessons learned from life on orbit.
Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin spent his workday in the Russian segment of the space station. He downloaded data captured for the Identification experiment which monitors dynamic loads on the space station. Afterward, he repressurized the oxygen levels in the Poisk module where the Soyuz vehicle carrying the Expedition 38 crew undocked on Monday night.
Waiting to join Expedition 39 in Star City, Russia, are crew members Steve Swanson, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev. They are finalizing mission preparations before their March 25 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft. They will return to Earth in September.