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ISS Crew Members Prepare for Departure

Published by Matt on Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:45 pm
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The Expedition 21 crew aboard the International Space Station is spending Monday getting ready for the departure of three of its members.

After working for about seven and a half hours on their regular science and maintenance duties, the crew members took an approximately four-hour nap before completing preparations for the departure of Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency Flight Engineer Frank De Winne and Canadian Space Agency Flight Engineer Robert Thirsk. Their Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft will undock from the orbital outpost Monday at 10:56 p.m. EST. They are slated for a landing in Kazakhstan at 2:15 a.m. Tuesday (1:15 p.m. Kazakhstan time) to conclude their 188 days in space, 186 days on the station.

Expedition 21 Flight Engineer Robert Thirsk works in the U.S. Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 21 Flight Engineer Robert Thirsk works in the U.S. Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Max Suraev will remain on the station after Romanenko, De Winne and Thirsk depart, comprising the new Expedition 22 crew as a two-man contingent for three weeks until the arrival Dec. 23 of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA’s T.J. Creamer, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who will launch to the station Dec. 20 on the Soyuz TMA-17 craft.

Following the Soyuz landing, Williams and Suraev will go to bed at 2:30 a.m. and will sleep most of the day Tuesday in what amounts to a full off-duty day. They will resume a normal work schedule on Wednesday.

Kotov, Creamer and Noguchi are enjoying three days of rest near the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow as they prepare for their departure next week for their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

After coordinating with Russian flight controllers, International Space Station Flight Director Kwatsi Alibaruho decided Friday night that a Debris Avoidance Maneuver was not required on Saturday to steer the complex clear of a remnant of a Delta rocket that launched the Stardust mission in February 1999. Although earlier tracking data had indicated that the debris was steadily approaching the station, additional tracking runs on Friday afternoon and Friday evening confirmed that the debris was, in fact, moving further away and would not come any closer than nine kilometers, or five and a half miles of the station, posing no threat. No other objects are currently being tracked that would raise the prospects for a future maneuver.

The International Space Station’s most recent visitors, the crew members of space shuttle Atlantis, landed at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. on Friday at 9:44 a.m., winding up the STS-129 mission that included three spacewalks and more than six days at the orbiting complex.

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