Station Crew Awaiting New Crewmates
The International Space Station’s Expedition 34 crew focused on science experiments and station maintenance Tuesday, while three additional crew members prepare for their Dec. 19 launch from Kazakhstan.
Commander Kevin Ford of NASA started his morning with some maintenance work on the station’s regenerative environmental control and life support system as he drained a recycle tank in part of the system that turns waste water into drinking water.
Afterward, Ford turned his attention to the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, and conducted an inventory of the available cold stowage bags. Crews store biological samples inside MELFI from the many life science experiments aboard the station to preserve them at ultra-cold temperatures for later analysis on Earth.
The commander also worked with the European Space Agency’s Fluid Science Laboratory, removing a sensor and associated cable he mounted there last week.
Ford rounded out his workday disassembling and stowing Robonaut 2, to allow ground teams time to troubleshoot a communications issue with the humanoid robot.
Russian Flight Engineers Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy began their morning with some cardiovascular tests on the stationary bicycle. Novitskiy then conducted some periodic maintenance on the Russian segment’s radio command and control system before moving on to another session with the Couloumb Crystall experiment, which gathers data about charged particles in a weightless environment.
Tarelkin inspected the Zvezda service module windows and later participated in the Vzaimodeystviye experiment, which examines the adaptation of the crew to long-term spaceflight.
Tarelkin and Novitskiy rounded out their day unloading cargo from the ISS Progress 49 cargo craft, which has been docked at the aft end of Zvezda since Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, preparations continue for the launch of the three additional flight engineers who will restore the station’s crew to its full six-person complement.
On Wednesday, the Soyuz TMA-07M that will carry Tom Marshburn of NASA, Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency to the station will be encapsulated in the upper stage of its Soyuz booster at the Baikonur Cosmodrome Integration Facility. The new crew will conduct a final unsuited fit check dress rehearsal inside the Soyuz on Friday.
All three stages of the Soyuz will be mated Sunday and transported by railcar to the launch pad the following day.
› Read more about Soyuz launch preparations
Marshburn, Romanenko and Hadfield are scheduled to launch in their Soyuz at 7:12 a.m. EST (6:12 p.m. Baikonur time) Wednesday, Dec. 19, docking to the station's Rassvet module at 9:10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21. The trio will remain aboard the station until May 2013. Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin, who have been aboard the station since Oct. 25, will return to Earth on March 15, leaving Hadfield as the first Canadian commander of the space station.