NASA astronaut Ron Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev launched in their Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:18 p.m. EDT Monday (4:18 a.m. Tuesday, Kazakhstan time) beginning a two-day journey to the International Space Station. Their Soyuz, named for Yuri Gagarin, lifted off just one week shy of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s historic journey into space from that same launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Less than 10 minutes after launch, their spacecraft reached orbit and its antennas and solar arrays were deployed.
The trio will dock to the Poisk module at 7:18 p.m. Wednesday, bringing the Expedition 27 crew to its full six-member complement. Garan, Borisenko and Samokutyaev will join the current station residents, Expedition 27 Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli, and begin a nearly six-month tour of duty aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli arrived Dec. 17 aboard their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft.
Nespoli continued working in the Quest airlock Monday in preparation for the upcoming STS-134 mission of space shuttle Endeavour. He performed an inspection on the body restraint tethers and the crew tethers the astronauts will use during the mission’s four spacewalks.
Coleman joined Nespoli in working in Quest. She recharged the MetOx air scrubbers that will be used in the spacesuits. The MetOx, or metal oxide, canister uses a silver oxide-based sorbent to remove practically all carbon dioxide generated during a spacewalk.
Following discussions among the International Space Station partners on Sunday, NASA has targeted the launch of space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 mission for 3:47 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 29. The delay removes a scheduling conflict with a Russian Progress supply vehicle scheduled to launch April 27 and arrive at the station April 29.
Endeavour will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for the Dextre robotic manipulator. This will be the 36th shuttle mission to the International Space Station and the final flight for Endeavour.
Nespoli also worked with the 3D-Space experiment, which investigates the effects of exposure to microgravity on the mental representation of spatial cues by astronauts during and after space flight. Specifically, the experiment looks at handwriting and drawing tasks, as well as depth perception.
Kondratyev took some routine noise level measurements inside the station Monday using the U.S. Sound Level Meter. He also replaced air ducts and fans in the Rassvet module.
At 10:36 p.m. EDT Friday, ground controllers moved the International Space Station away from a piece of orbital debris. The object is a relic from a collision between the COSMOS 2251 and Iridium 33 satellites in February 2009 and had been close to the station’s orbit prior to the debris avoidance maneuver (DAM).
The DAM, performed during the Expedition 27 crew sleep period, used thrusters from three spacecraft, the European Space Agency’s Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle 2, the Zvezda service module and ISS Progress 41.