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Station Crew to Close Kounotori2 Hatches Sunday

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:08 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 27 crew of the International Space Station enjoyed an off-duty day Friday, taking an early weekend before resuming preparations Sunday for the departure of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle.

Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli and Cady Coleman are scheduled to close the hatches to Kounotori2 around 10:30 a.m. EDT Sunday and then spend much of the rest of the day hooking up a control panel for the Common Berthing Mechanism that connects the HTV to the station, disconnecting power cables and installing thermal blankets.

Kounotori2, which arrived at the station on January 27, will be grappled with the station’s robotic arm and unberthed from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node Monday at 11:45 a.m. for a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere Tuesday night.

Nespoli and Coleman spent much of the week loading Kounotori2 with trash such as packing foam that protected items during the trip into space and rehearsing robotics procedures.

Commander Dmitry Kondratyev also spent some time working with the fleet of international cargo craft currently docked at the station as he continued to unload items from the Russian ISS Progress 41 supply ship.

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Ron Garan and cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev continue their preparations to launch to the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 on April 4 to join the Expedition 27 crew as flight engineers. The trio reviewed their flight plan Friday and conducted docking simulations at their Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz TMA-21, named for Yuri Gagarin, is scheduled for liftoff just one week shy of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s historic journey into space from that same launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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