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Station Crew Set to Undock Friday After Weather Delay at Landing Site

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:04 pm via: NASA
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After their landing was postponed Thursday due to inclement weather at the landing site in Kazakhstan, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin are set to depart the International Space Station Friday and return to Earth.

They are now scheduled to undock aboard their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft at 7:43 p.m. EDT, heading for a landing in Kazakhstan northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk at 11:05 p.m. (9:05 a.m. Kazakh time Saturday morning). They will have spent 144 days in space since launching from Kazakhstan Oct. 23.

A map of the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft’s landing site in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

A map of the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft’s landing site in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

Eight of the twelve Russian MI-8 helicopters were deployed Friday morning from Kustanai to pre-stage locations in the towns of Arkalyk, near the prime landing zone, and Aktobe, well to the west at the leading edge of the ballistic landing zone. The other four helicopters with support personnel will deploy from Kustanai directly to the landing site early Saturday morning, Kazakh time. The forecast for landing is nearly ideal with just a few clouds expected and temperatures in the mid-teens.

NASA TV coverage of the Expedition 34 crew departure begins at 4 p.m. as the crew members bid their farewells and close the hatches between the vehicles at about 4:25 p.m. NASA TV undocking coverage begins at 7:15 p.m. Deorbit and landing coverage begins at 9:45 p.m. and will continue until the crew is safely in the medical tent at the landing site.

When the Soyuz undocks, Expedition 35 will begin aboard the station under the command of Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency. On Wednesday, Ford ceremonially passed the helm to Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the station. Hadfield and his crewmates, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, will tend to the station for two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin.

Aboard the station Friday, the departing crew members, Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin, spent their extra day in space reviewing Soyuz undocking and landing procedures and working with the remaining crew members on handover activities.

Ford and Hadfield discussed the current configuration of the Amine Swingbed hardware in EXPRESS Rack 8, going over the procedures for assembling and installing the payload back into the rack.

Marshburn participated in a periodic fitness evaluation, performing a graded exercise test to monitor his cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health. These fitness evaluations are used by doctors on Earth to ensure that a crew member stays healthy while living and working in the microgravity environment aboard the station.

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

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