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Crew Members Prep for Departure and Conduct Science Experiments
Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn, Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield

Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn, Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield participate in an interview with CNN in the Destiny laboratory. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 34 crew living and working aboard the International Space Station Tuesday continued departure preparations for three of its crew members and performed a variety of science experiments from around the world.

Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineers Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy gathered and packed items to prepare for their upcoming return to Earth. The trio is set to journey back to Earth aboard their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft on Thursday night after spending 143 days in space.

They are scheduled to undock from the station’s Poisk Mini-Research Module 2 at about 8:30 p.m. EDT, landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk about 3 ½ hours later.

› View schedule for NASA TV's Soyuz landing coverage

Flight Engineers Chris Hadfield, Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko will remain aboard the orbiting complex as a three-person crew until the March 28 launch and docking of three new flight engineers, Chris Cassidy, Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin.

Ford is scheduled to hand command of the station over to Hadfield during a change of command ceremony set for Wednesday at 5:10 p.m. Expedition 35 will officially begin with the undocking of the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft on Thursday.

Ford worked with the bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, during the ground-commanded SPHERES VERTIGO experiment. The objective of the experiment is to demonstrate the ability to create a three-dimensional model of an object in space using the free-flying SPHERES robots.

› Read more about SPHERES VERTIGO

Ford also made an amateur radio call to students at Mt. Ousley Public School in Fairy Meadow, New South Wales, Australia.

› Listen to the conversation

Hadfield worked with the voice-activated Crew User Interface System Enhancement, or CRUISE, which is a European Space Agency technology demonstration that hopes to someday improve crew members’ operations and work efficiency aboard the station.

› Watch an interview with the CRUISE lead investigator

Marshburn collected air samples for analysis and performed an inspection of the Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products, changing out batteries in all the units as well as calibrating and deactivating them. He also performed the quarterly inspection of the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) in the Tranquility node.

Ford, Marshburn and Hadfield also had some time set aside to participate in an in-flight interview with CNN’s Newsroom program, answering questions about science and life aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Tarelkin and Novitskiy performed some cardiovascular conditioning training using a Russian lower body negative pressure suit that uses suction to simulate gravity. This conditioning helps to prepare the cosmonauts for return to Earth, allowing them to test their orthostatic tolerance after spending months in the microgravity environment aboard the station.

Romanenko worked in the Russian segment of the station, maintaining and inspecting its various systems and tagging-up with flight control teams as needed.

Meanwhile at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin and their backups continued a week of rest and administrative work in advance of their departure on Saturday for their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

› Read more about Expedition 35