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Crew Prepares to Increase Spacecraft Traffic at Station

Published by Matt on Thu Jul 2, 2009 2:52 pm
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Final preparations for Thursday’s move of the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft were performed Wednesday by the Expedition 20 crew aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Mike Barratt and Koichi Wakata reviewed the Soyuz relocation procedures with specialists at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow.

Image Above: Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka works in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Image Above: Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka works in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The trio will don their Sokol launch and entry suits and undock the vehicle from the aft port of the Zvezda service module at 5:29 p.m. EDT. With Padalka at the controls, the Soyuz will dock at the Pirs docking compartment about 30 minutes later. This maneuver will clear the way for the arrival of the next Progress supply ship. NASA TV coverage of the Soyuz move begins at 5 p.m.

The ISS Progress 33 unpiloted spacecraft is currently flying free, having undocked from Pirs at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Progress will continue to move away from the station until Friday, when the vehicle will perform a retrograde burn to place it into a parking orbit. Another burn on July 11 sets up the Progress for its final rendezvous with the station on July 12. The cargo ship will approach to within 10 to 15 meters of the Zvezda to test new automated rendezvous equipment mounted on Zvezda during a pair of spacewalks earlier this month. This equipment will be used to guide the new Mini-Research Module-2 (MRM2) to an unpiloted docking to the zenith port of Zvezda later this year. MRM2 will serve as a new docking port for Russian spacecraft and an additional airlock for spacewalks conducted out of the Russian segment.

In other activities aboard the station Wednesday, Flight Engineer Bob Thirsk continued to prepare the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility in the Japanese Kibo module for a study of the Marangoni effect, which is the flow of liquids caused by surface tension.

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