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Space Junk Misses Station, Crew Makes Final Landing Preps

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:24 pm via: NASA
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After further consultation between U.S. and Russian flight controllers, a decision was made to forego a planned debris avoidance maneuver to steer the International Space Station clear of a piece of space junk of unknown origin.

The decision was made after ballistics specialists received late tracking data on the unknown piece of space debris that put its miss distance from the station at 1.7 miles, in the “green” regime, a safe distance away from the complex, and much further from the station than previous tracking passes displayed. Additionally, Flight Director Holly Ridings determined that it would not be necessary to place the crew in their respective Soyuz vehicles for “safe haven” at the time the object made its closest approach to the station at 12:54 p.m. EST Friday.

The crew has never been in any danger and three of the crew members, Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide spent the morning continuing preparations for their return to Earth. They will undock at 5:26 p.m. Sunday and land in Kazakhstan at 8:53 p.m. (7:53 a.m. Monday Kazakhstan time).

The home-bound Expedition 33 trio climbed into their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for more checks Friday. They tested the vehicle’s motion control system and conducted final descent training. At the end of their mission they will have spent 127 days in space and 125 days aboard the station.

Williams and Flight Engineer Kevin Ford, who will become Expedition 34 commander when Williams leaves the station, will conduct a change of command ceremony Saturday at 2:15 p.m. He will stay behind with Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin.

2:15 p.m. EST Saturday — Change of Command Ceremony coverage
1:45 p.m. EST Sunday – Expedition 33 Farewell coverage
5 p.m. EST Sunday – Expedition 33 Undocking coverage
7:30 p.m. EST Sunday – Expedition 33 Landing coverage

Williams is completing her second stay aboard the station. She joined Expedition 14 after launching aboard space shuttle Discovery in December 2006 for the STS-116 mission. She returned home in June 2007 aboard shuttle Atlantis for the STS-117 mission.

Malenchenko has visited the station four times. He joined the STS-106 crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour to outfit the station in September 2000 for its first permanent crew. He was commander of Expedition 7 for 185 days in 2003. He served as flight engineer during Expedition 16 for 192 days landing in 2008. Malenchenko’s first spaceflight was to the Russian Space Station Mir in 1994.

Hoshide’s only previous spaceflight was aboard space shuttle Discovery in June 2008. The STS-124 mission delivered and installed Japan’s Kibo pressurized module to the International Space Station.

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