The International Space Station awaits the docking of a new trio of Expedition 37 crew members and the arrival of Cygnus, Orbital Sciences’ first commercial cargo craft.
Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers Mike Hopkins and Sergey Ryazanskiy are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, counting down to their 4:58 p.m. EDT liftoff aboard a Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft on Wednesday. They will complete the Expedition 37 crew when they dock to the Poisk mini-research module just four orbits later at 10:48 p.m.
Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano will welcome their new crewmates when they open the hatches at 12:25 a.m. Thursday. The current station residents have been aboard the space station since May 28 and are scheduled to return home Nov. 11.
Kotov, Hopkins and Ryazanskiy will remain in space inside the orbiting laboratory until March 2014. This is Kotov’s third mission to the station. Hopkins and Ryazanskiy are on their first mission.
There is a new commercial cargo craft heading towards the station. Orbital Sciences launched their Cygnus resupply ship Sept. 18 atop an Antares rocket. Its approach and rendezvous are scheduled for no earlier than Saturday. The Cygnus was originally scheduled to arrive at the space station Sunday morning, but a data format mismatch forced NASA and Orbital Sciences to uplink a software fix and replan its arrival.
Onboard the station, science, maintenance and exercise are always ongoing. The station crew, with assistance from ground controllers, works on international science for public and commercial organizations. Upkeep of the station includes plumbing work, electrical work, cleaning and more to maintain its operation and life support systems. The crew also works out at least two hours every day to counteract the long-term effects of microgravity.
Nyberg worked inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox conducting the InSPACE-3 materials science experiment throughout the day. She also had time set aside in her schedule for cleaning fan grilles and offloading wastewater into a contingency water container.
Parmitano started his morning on the BCAT-C1 materials science experiment aligning and adjusting gear for optimal crystal photography. The European astronaut also spent a few minutes on a live interview with BBC World News Channel in London.
Yurchikhin worked inside Poisk conducting a run of the Coulomb Crystal experiment, gathering data about charged particles in a weightless environment. He later checked for leaks and inspected the Elektron oxygen generation system. At the end of his work day he also inspected the Zvezda service module’s ventilation system, and updated the station’s inventory maintenance system.