The Expedition 36 crew will release Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-4 (HTV-4) cargo craft Wednesday at 12:20 p.m. EDT ending its one-month stay at the International Space Station. The automated resupply craft will be grappled by the Canadarm2, removed from the Harmony module and released for a destructive reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg closed the HTV-4 cargo craft’s hatches Tuesday. They also installed controller panel assemblies so Mission Control can prepare the Harmony’s Common Berthing Mechanism for the HTV-4’s demating while the crew is asleep.
Another spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA-08, is being readied for its return to Earth on Sept. 10 bringing home crew members Pavel Vinogradov, Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin. The home-bound spacefarers are packing their Soyuz while their replacements on the ground, Expedition 37/38 crew members Oleg Kotov, Mike Hopkins and Sergei Ryazanskiy, are preparing for their launch aboard a Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft on Sept. 25.
The station raised its orbit Saturday to prepare for the departing and arriving crews in their Soyuz vehicles. Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, docked to the Zvezda service module, fired its engines for 3.5 minutes placing the station in the correct altitude for the upcoming crew replacement activities.
Over the weekend, Nyberg joined Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy troubleshooting Parmitano’s spacesuit which ended a July 16 spacewalk early because of water in his helmet. With assistance from Mission Control, they checked and replaced spacesuit gear in an attempt to narrow down the cause and location of the water leak.
The crew started its morning after the Labor Day weekend with body mass measurements. Afterwards, the six crew members splintered off throughout the station for maintenance work, science experiments and, of course, docked vehicle preparations and a crew exchange. The astronauts and cosmonauts also continued their daily exercise regimen to counteract the effects of long-duration weightlessness.