by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Apr 27, 2012
The six astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station packed cargo and shifted their sleep schedule Thursday as three Expedition 30 crew members prepare to return to Earth early Friday after five and a half months in space.
Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who arrived at the orbiting complex on Nov. 16, are set to undock in their Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft at 4:18 a.m. EDT Friday for a landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m.
Their departure will mark the end of Expedition 30 and beginning of Expedition 31 under the command of Oleg Kononenko, who along with Flight Engineers Andre Kuipers and Don Pettit will remain aboard the station until July. Three additional Expedition 31 crew members - Flight Engineers Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and Joe Acaba - will arrive at the complex aboard the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft May 17.
The Expedition 30 crew awoke at 2 a.m. Thursday for a seven-hour workday before heading back to bed to rest up for the overnight undocking activities.
During that abbreviated workday, Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin packed up more cargo and experiment hardware for return to Earth while Kononenko reviewed procedures for the hatch closure scheduled for 1 a.m.
Pettit spent much of his morning preparing items for return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercial cargo vehicle to visit the station. Dragon is scheduled to launch May 7.
Kuipers meanwhile participated in the VO2Max experiment, which allows researchers on Earth to measure changes in the astronauts' aerobic capacity during long-duration spaceflight and recommend changes to their daily two-hour exercise regimen.
The crew awoke from its nap at 3:30 p.m. to begin in earnest the final day for Expedition 30. NASA Television will provide updates of the departure activities beginning at 12:45 a.m. Friday with live coverage of the crew farewell and hatch closure.
Change of Command Ceremony for Burbank and Kononenko
Burbank and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin will end their stay at the station Friday. They will undock in their Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft at 4:19 a.m. EDT and land in Kazakhstan a little over three hours later. Expedition 31 officially begins when the homebound trio undocks.
Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will continue their stay as Kononenko begins his command. The trio's return home is planned for July 1 when they will undock and land in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft.
They will welcome three new crewmates in mid-May when they launch and arrive aboard the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft. Flight Engineers Gennady Padalka, Joe Acaba and Sergei Revin are currently preparing for their mission at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.
Meanwhile, mission managers decided to push back the SpaceX Dragon capsule's launch target to May 7 at 9:38 a.m. As SpaceX officials reviewed the vehicle's systems the space station raised its orbit Wednesday morning to the proper position for the capsule's rendezvous and capture.
Expedition 30 at ISS
Expedition 31 at ISS
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Station and More at Roscosmos
S.P. Korolev RSC Energia
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Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com
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Russian Cargo Craft Launches to Station
Baikonur, Kazakhstan (SPX) Apr 23, 2012
The unpiloted ISS Progress 47 cargo craft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:50 a.m. EDT Friday, beginning a two-day journey to the International Space Station. Less than ten minutes later, the Progress reached its preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas. The Russian cargo craft is scheduled to automatically dock to the Pirs docking c ... read more
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