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Soyuz Docking Restores Station Crew to Full Complement

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:34 am via: NASA
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Three new crew members docked with the International Space Station early Tuesday, restoring the Expedition 32 crew to its full crew complement of six.

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide joined their Expedition 32 crewmates as new flight engineers when the hatches between their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft and the International Space Station officially opened at 3:23 a.m. EDT Tuesday. Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA, who arrived at the station in May, welcomed the three new crew members aboard their orbital home for the next four months.

Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide, who launched at 10:40 p.m. Saturday (8:40 a.m. Sunday, Kazakhstan time) from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, docked their Soyuz to the station’s Rassvet Mini-Research Module at 12:51 a.m.

After participating in a welcoming ceremony with family and mission officials at the Mission Control Center in Star City, Russia, the newly expanded crew quickly went to work, continuing the science and technology research aboard the space station.

Padalka and Revin conducted a session with the Bar experiment, which looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of a loss of pressure aboard the station.

Acaba meanwhile swapped out and recharged a battery associated with the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment, which measures the atrophy of the heart muscle that appears to develop during long-duration spaceflight. Investigators use the data from these tests to develop countermeasures to keep the crew healthy. The research also may have benefits for people on Earth with heart problems.

Later Acaba performed maintenance on the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, where samples from the many experiments aboard the station are preserved until they can be returned to Earth for in-depth study.

Williams, Hoshide and Malenchenko spent their time unloading items from their Soyuz spacecraft as well as outfitting their crew quarters, which are closet-sized compartments built as small state-rooms to give each crew member a bit of personal space to relax and sleep at night. Each crew quarters contains lighting, laptop connectivity, power, fans, ventilation and a caution and warning system.

All six crew members later gathered together for a safety briefing to review their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency.

The crew wrapped up the day with an end-of-day planning conference with flight control teams around the world before heading off to bed for an extended sleep period. The crew returns to its normal schedule on Wednesday with a 2 a.m. wakeup.

During the crew’s extended sleep period, the ground team will use the thrusters of the docked Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 to perform a reboost of the station. The 19-minute, 25-second burn beginning at 11:16 p.m. will set up the station for the arrival of the ISS Progress 48 cargo craft in August.

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