The ISS Progress 53 space freighter redocked to the Zvezda service module at 8:13 a.m. EDT Friday after two days of tests of its upgraded Kurs automated rendezvous system.The Expedition 39 crew now focuses its attention on a reboost to raise the International Space Station’s orbit.
The hatches to the Russian cargo craft were opened a few hours after the redocking and will remain open until the resupply vehicle is prepared for a final undocking June 9 and its deorbit to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.
Meanwhile, the Progress 53 will fire its thrusters Tuesday for an orbital adjustment that will put the space station at the correct altitude for the May 13 undocking of the Soyuz TMA-11M that will bring back to Earth Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio after almost six months in space.
Waiting to replace the homebound trio and continue six-person station operations are Expedition 40/41 crew members Max Suraev of Roscosmos, Reid Wiseman of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. They are scheduled to liftoff May 28, U.S. time, inside the Soyuz TMA-13M for a six-hour, four-orbit trip to the International Space Station’s Rassvet module.
Back inside the orbital laboratory, the current crew is wrapping up the week with life science experiments. The station residents also are continuing their daily maintenance tasks and exercise regimen.
Wakata was back at work with Japan’s newest study, the Hybrid Training experiment, an investigation into alternative exercise methods on the space station and future long-term missions beyond low-Earth orbit on smaller spacecraft. The exercise research uses the contraction produced by applying electrical stimulation to the opposite muscle, which will in turn resist the voluntary contraction of the active muscle.
Another life science experiment, the Micro-7 study, studies non-dividing cells that make up the majority of the human body. NASA astronaut Steve Swanson worked Friday in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the new investigation which observes how microgravity affects the genetic expression and shape of these cells.
Tyurin and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev worked inside the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory Friday. The trio conducted the daily complement of maintenance and science.