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Station Crew Checks Out Soyuz for Return Home

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:20 pm via: NASA
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Three of the six Expedition 28 crew members aboard the International Space Station – Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan – spent their Tuesday preparing for the return home after five and a half months in space.

Samokutyaev, who will command the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft when it undocks from the station’s Poisk module Thursday at 8:38 p.m. EDT, and Borisenko began their workday testing the Russian vehicle’s motion control system. Afterward the two cosmonauts prepared for their return to Earth’s gravity by conducting a session of exercise with the Lower Body Negative Pressure device, which simulates gravity by pulling the body’s fluids toward the feet.

Garan joined Borisenko and Samokutyaev in the Soyuz later to participate in a descent drill. The trio discussed preliminary data and reviewed their undocking and landing timeline, which culminates with a scheduled landing in the southern steppe of Kazakhstan on Friday at 12 a.m. (10 a.m. Kazakhstan time).

Meanwhile, Flight Engineers Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov, who will become the Expedition 29 crew under the command of Fossum when Soyuz TMA-21 departs, took some time to review their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency.

In addition to departure activities, the crew devoted much of the day to scientific research.

Working in the Japanese Kibo module, Furukawa set up equipment in the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility for a study of the Marangoni effect, which is the flow of liquids caused by surface tension.

Fossum participated in an onboard training session to learn about the Capillary Channel Flow (CCF) experiment and then spent much of his afternoon installing its hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Data from CCF will help innovate solutions to transporting liquids in microgravity.

Volkov photographed two canisters of the Russian Bioecology experiment before Samokutyaev transferred the experiment to the Soyuz for return to Earth. This experiment seeks to produce improved strains of microorganisms for the manufacture of economically important microbiological substances from the biodegradation of oil.

The station’s residents continue to use their unique vantage point to monitor and document the condition of our home planet as they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes. In addition to wildfires burning throughout East Texas, other targets of opportunity for photography Tuesday included Mount St. Helens in Washington and the cities of Damascus, Syria, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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