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Expedition 40 Relaxes as New Trio Counts Down to Launch

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon May 19, 2014 10:32 pm via: NASA
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There are two new ports open on the International Space Station. Three Expedition 39 crew members returned home in a Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft leaving the Rassvet module’s docking port vacant last Tuesday. The Harmony node’s Earth-facing port is also empty after the SpaceX Dragon commercial craft departed Sunday returning cargo back to Earth.

Meanwhile, the three residents aboard the station are enjoying an off-duty day relaxing after several days of crew and vehicle departure activities. Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev have been orbiting the Earth since March 25. They arrived at the station after a two-day trip and are scheduled to return home in September.

Three new Expedition 40/41 crew members are counting down to their May 28 (U.S. time) launch to the orbital laboratory. The trio is in its crew quarters at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, finalizing mission preparations.

Soyuz Commander and cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and European astronaut Alexander Gerst will launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft at 3:57 p.m. EDT (1:57 a.m. May 29 Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. They are scheduled to dock to Rassvet after just four orbits at 9:48 p.m. returning the space station to its full complement of six crew members.

SpaceX’s third Commercial Resupply Services mission ended Sunday when its Dragon commercial cargo craft departed the space station and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX technicians retrieved the cargo freighter and its 1.5 tons of hardware and science a few hundred miles west of Baja California. Dragon spent four weeks attached to the Harmony node having arrived April 20 after a two day trip delivering over 2.5 tons of supplies and experiments.

A third vehicle, the ISS Progress 53 resupply ship, is due to leave the space station June 9 when it undocks from the Zvezda service module loaded with trash for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

The next spacecraft due to visit the orbital laboratory is Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus commercial cargo craft. This will be the second contracted mission for the private company headquartered in Virginia.

Cygnus is scheduled to launch June 10 from Wallops Fight Facility in Virginia for a three day flight to the station. It will arrive June 13 and be grappled and berthed to the vacant Harmony port with the Canadarm2. NASA TV will carry both launch and rendezvous activities live.

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