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Hatches Closed, Expedition 35 Crew Ready to Head Home

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon May 13, 2013 9:55 pm via: NASA
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Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn are set to return to Earth Monday night to wrap up 146 days in space and 144 days on the International Space Station.

The departing trio bid farewell to their crewmates and boarded their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft, closing the hatches between the two vehicles at 3:50 p.m. EDT. Undocking is scheduled at 7:08 p.m. A deorbit burn planned at 9:37 p.m. will set the Soyuz on track for a landing southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan at 10:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Kazakh time).

Eight of the 12 prime Russian MI-8 helicopters flew from the staging city in Karaganda, Kazakhstan to Dzhezkazgan early Monday to pre-stage for landing. Four additional helicopters will depart Karaganda two hours prior to landing to converge on the landing zone.

NASA TV will provide live coverage of the undocking at 6:45 p.m. Landing coverage begins at 9:15 p.m. and will continue until the crew is safely in the medical tent at the landing site.

The undocking will mark the end of Expedition 35 and the start of Expedition 36 under the command of Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, who is scheduled to remain on the station with Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin until September. Hadfield ceremonially handed command of the station over to Vinogradov on Sunday. Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin arrived at the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft in March 2013.

Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin will remain aboard the orbiting complex as a three-person crew until the May 28 launch and docking of Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano.

Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko spent their final morning aboard the station Monday packing some final items for return to Earth aboard their Soyuz spacecraft. Marshburn removed a sample canister from a Japanese protein crystal growth experiment and handed it off to his Russian crewmates to stow inside the Soyuz.

With the successful completion of the Binary Colloid Alloy Test-6, or BCAT-6, Hadfield stowed the experiment hardware in the Zarya module. BCAT-6 took a look at how gasses and liquids come together and separate in space. Results from this experiment may lead to improvements in the shelf-life of household products, food and medicine.

Hadfield also assisted Cassidy with a periodic fitness evaluation as flight surgeons keep track of the crew’s health during these long-duration missions. Cassidy exercised on the station’s exercise bike — the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization – while Hadfield collected blood pressure measurements.

Cassidy also installed a new HD camera in the Destiny lab and upgraded a video encoder card in an associated computer.

The spare Pump and Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS) box installed Saturday by Cassidy and Marshburn during their 5-hour, 30-minute spacewalk continues to be checked out by flight controllers, but is showing no signs of ammonia leakage at this point and is functioning normally.

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