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Three New Crew Members En Route to Space Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed May 28, 2014 7:46 pm via: NASA
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Three new Expedition 40 flight engineers are on their way to the International Space Station following the successful launch of their Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:57 p.m. EDT Wednesday (1:57 a.m. Thursday, Kazakh time).

The liftoff of the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft marked the start of a six-hour, four-orbit trek to the station for NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, cosmonaut and Soyuz Commander Max Suraev of Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst. At the time of launch the station was soaring at an altitude of 260 statute miles, just south of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, having passed directly over the Baikonur launch site just two minutes and one second earlier.

The Soyuz TMA-13M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:57 p.m. EDT Wednesday (1:57 a.m. Thursday, Kazakh time).  Image Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz TMA-13M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:57 p.m. EDT Wednesday (1:57 a.m. Thursday, Kazakh time). Image Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz is scheduled to dock automatically to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Rassvet Mini-Research Module-1 at 9:48 p.m.  Live NASA Television coverage of the Soyuz approach and docking begins at 9 p.m.

Commander Steve Swanson of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, who have been aboard the orbiting complex since March 27, will welcome the new trio of Expedition 40 flight engineers aboard when the hatches open at 11:25 p.m.

Afterward, the restored six-person crew will move into the Zvezda service module so the station’s three newest residents can receive congratulatory calls from family members and VIPs gathered in Baikonur.

Coverage of the hatch opening and welcome ceremony begins on NASA TV at 11 p.m.

The crew will team up for a safety review to discuss roles and responsibilities before wrapping up the day’s activities aboard the station. The entire Expedition 40 crew will have an off-duty day Thursday to shift its sleep schedules back to the usual 2 a.m. reveille beginning Friday.

Expedition 40 Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, bottom, Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman of NASA, center, and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, ESA, top, wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz TMA-13M rocket. Image Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Expedition 40 Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, bottom, Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman of NASA, center, and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, ESA, top, wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz TMA-13M rocket. Image Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Some of the cargo flown aboard this Soyuz TMA-13M will be used in research investigations that are either ongoing or planned aboard the station.

The In-flight Demonstration of Portable Load Monitoring Devices-Phase I: XSENS ForceShoe (Force Shoes) investigation is an evaluation of the XSENS ForceShoe system as a potential method to measure exercise loads on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) during crew member exercise sessions on the space station. The XSENS ForceShoe is commercial, off-the-shelf hardware used to measure forces and torques under the foot. Up to four astronauts will collect a series of static and dynamic load measurements using ARED.

Researchers will use the measurements made by the XSENS ForceShoe system to quantify exercise load data needed for support of current and future human research investigations. This data also will be applied to populations on Earth restricted from exercise by injury, age, lifestyle or confined work and living space.

Questionnaires for the Space Headaches investigation also will be delivered on the Soyuz to obtain in-flight data about the prevalence and characteristics of crew members’ headaches in microgravity. Space Headaches researchers use this data to assess crew member headache episodes and provide the basis for developing future countermeasures. The effect of the medication that the crew takes to counteract space headaches helps determine what medication could be effective in treating intracranial pressure change related symptoms on Earth.

Equipment also will be transported for the Multipurpose End-To-End Robotic Operations Network Quick Start a / Delay Tolerant Network (METERON) investigation. This European Space Agency technology demonstration examines the operational and technical capability to remotely control robots on Earth by astronauts on the space station. The study’s goal is to validate technology for future human exploration missions where an astronaut in orbit will control a robot as it explores its target, such as an asteroid or Mars. The remote operation techniques developed for METERON can be used on Earth for telemedicine and for operating robots in hazardous environments, such as in handling radioactive material or working in a nuclear power plant after a leak.

Wiseman, Suraev and Gerst are scheduled to spend 166 days aboard the station.  When Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev head back to Earth on Sept. 10, it will mark the end of Expedition 40 and the beginning of Expedition 41 under the command of Suraev. Three additional Expedition 41 crewmates will arrive later that month.

The tenure of Expedition 40 will include a variety of research projects focusing on human research, biology and biotechnology, Earth and space science, physical science investigations, technology demonstrations and educational activities.  Results from these activities will help advance the body of scientific knowledge, leading to potential Earth benefits such as improved weather forecasts and human medical advancements.

The hardware and samples for many of these experiments – along with crew supplies and other cargo – will arrive on four different resupply vehicles scheduled to visit the station during Expedition 40: Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus, a Russian Progress resupply ship, ESA’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle and the SpaceX Dragon.

There are also two Russian and three U.S. spacewalks planned during Expedition 40.

Wiseman, a U.S. Navy commander, is making his first spaceflight.  He reported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in August 2009 and completed astronaut candidate training in May 2011.

Suraev is making his second long-duration visit to the station, having logged more than 169 days in space as an Expedition 21/22 flight engineer from Sept. 30, 2009 through March 18, 2010. He completed a 5-hour, 44-minute spacewalk on Jan. 14, 2010, to prepare the Poisk Mini-Research Module-2 for vehicle dockings and inaugurated that same port when he relocated his Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft there a week later.

Gerst, who was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009, is making his first trip into space.

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