With three area station fliers heading house Sunday after a 168-day mission, three contemporary crew members made remaining preparations for launch three days later to spice up the lab’s crew again to 6 in a rapid-fire rotation that can forestall any main interruption of analysis exercise.
Soyuz MS-07/53S commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA flight engineer Scott Tingle and Japanese physician-astronaut Norishige Kanai plan to strap into their ferry ship and undock from the station’s Earth-facing Rassvet module at 5:16 a.m. EDT (GMT-Four) Sunday, leaving Expedition 56 commander Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev behind.
Launched final Dec. 17, Shkaplerov and his crewmates plan to fireside their braking rockets for 4 minutes and 40 seconds beginning at 7:47 a.m., slowing the ship by 286 mph and dropping the far facet of the orbit deep into the ambiance
If all goes nicely, the central crew module will make a parachute-and-rocket-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan close to the city of Dzhezkazgan at eight:40 a.m. After preliminary medical checks, Tingle and Kanai shall be flown again to the Johnson Space Center in Houston whereas Shkaplerov will head to Star City close to Moscow for debriefing.
“I can’t believe that Expedition 55 is already over,” Tingle wrote in a current weblog entry. “Last night we had our last movie night. The entire crew gathered in Node 2 and watched ‘Avengers Infinity Wars’ (sic) on the big screen. We enjoy each other’s company … and this was a welcome break from the daily grind of trying to complete the required stowage, maintenance and science activities while preparing for departure.”
During his final full weekend in area, Tingle mentioned, “I gave myself a haircut. We usually clean our spaces each weekend to make sure we can maintain a decent level of organization, efficiency and morale. This weekend is no different, and it is time for me to vacuum out all of our filters and vents. You’d be amazed at what we find!”
During a quick change-of-command ceremony Friday, Shkaplerov thanked Feustel’s crew for its help and turned over a ceremonial key to the outpost.
“It’s been three months since we started Expedition 55 (when) I took command of the space station,” Shkaplerov mentioned. “We are going to return to the Earth. … I want to say thank you very much, Drew, Ricky and Oleg, for your friendship, for your help every day. My crewmates, my space brothers, I’m very proud to be part of our Soyuz crew.”
Feustel thanked Shkaplerov in return “for welcoming us to the ISS, taking care of us, making sure we were ready to work when we arrived, you made the transition seamless.”
“We appreciate your patience and your guidance and your leadership, and we look forward to a safe and soft landing for you,” he added.
With landing, Tingle and Kanai, each finishing their first spaceflight, can have logged 168 days in area throughout a voyage spanning 2,688 orbits and 71.2 million miles since launch. Shkaplerov, a veteran of two earlier station visits totaling a full yr, can have logged 532 days off planet.
All three males carried out a single spacewalk every throughout their keep, welcomed 4 visiting autos — one Soyuz and three unpiloted cargo ships — and oversaw the departure of a like quantity, together with finishing up a full slate of scientific analysis.
With the departure of Shkaplerov and his crewmates, Feustel, Arnold and Artemyev, launched to the station March 21 aboard the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft, can have the lab to themselves for simply 5 days earlier than a contemporary crew arrives.
Soyuz MS-09/55S commander Sergey Prokopyev, German flight engineer Alexander Gerst, representing the European Space Agency, and NASA physician-astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor are scheduled for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, 250 miles southwest of Dzhezkazgan, at 7:12 a.m. (5:12 p.m. native time) Wednesday.
Climbing straight into the airplane of the area station’s orbit, the Soyuz shall be launched from its provider rocket eight minutes and 45 seconds after liftoff. Over the subsequent two days, Prokopyev and Gerst will monitor an automatic rendezvous, catching up with the area station early Friday. They plan to dock at Rassvet round 9:07 a.m.
After a conventional video chat with family and friends again in Moscow, the brand new arrivals shall be given a security briefing earlier than all six crew members get all the way down to work.
Gerst spent 165 days aboard the station in 2014, however Prokopyev and Auñón-Chancellor shall be making their first flights.
Auñón-Chancellor, a veteran flight surgeon, initially was assigned to a mission later this yr, however she was moved as much as the Soyuz MS-09 crew after one in all its unique crew members, astronaut Jeanette Epps, was all of the sudden bumped from the Prokopyev-Gerst crew in January.
NASA offered no rationalization for the late crew swap, Epps had no public remark and Auñón-Chancellor would solely say she deliberate to be prepared for launch regardless of an accelerated coaching schedule and that she already was on good phrases together with her new crewmates.
“It’s a relatively short amount of time from the crew assignment, but I’ve known these guys for a very long time,” she mentioned. “Alex and I have been chosen in the exact same (astronaut) class and even from the start, after I began coaching in Russia, I’d additionally met Sergey. So, for us, in all honesty, that is like one large household. It was not uncomfortable in any respect, it was extraordinarily easy.
“I feel like I’ve been working with these guys forever,” she added. “It’s been very easy. … Our families have gotten together several times. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Auñón-Chancellor got here to NASA in 2006, working as a contract flight surgeon. She spent greater than 9 months in Star City supporting medical operations with area station crew members and took part in water survival coaching in Ukraine.
After choice as a NASA astronaut in 2009, she spent two months in Antarctica looking for meteorites as a part of a scientific expedition and later served as an aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory.
In a satellite tv for pc interview with CBS News throughout remaining coaching in Moscow shortly earlier than departing for Baikonur, Auñón-Chancellor mentioned she was nicely ready and looking out ahead to launch.
“The Soyuz is a wonderfully robust and redundant vehicle,” she mentioned. “The great thing is the Russians have been flying a very long time, just like we have, and we’ve been flying together for a very long time. They do a great job here in Star City preparing an international crew … to act in an operational environment and follow all the same rules and procedures to make sure that mission is successful.”
As for the security and reliability of the Russian ferry ship, “I have complete faith in the Soyuz,” she mentioned. “It is a wonderfully robust vehicle.”
Gerst mentioned he was enthusiastic about getting a second probability to fly in area.
“Everybody who’s flown to space wants to go back,” he mentioned. “Being in space is such a special feeling, you can’t even put it down to only one thing. It’s not only the floating, it’s not only the looking out at this beautiful planet, it’s not only the perspective that we have, it’s more knowing where we are.”
Before his first flight, he mentioned, “I saw space as something very special, I thought this is a very special place to go to. When I was up there, I actually learned it was the opposite. Space is everywhere out there, the universe is gigantic, it’s black and empty. Of course, there are quite a few interesting places to go, like moon and Mars, and we will go there, but most of it is empty.”
“So the real special place, and that’s what you realize in space, is actually our planet Earth,” Gerst mentioned. “Seeing that from the outside, seeing that from a step back, made me realize that. That was a very beautiful thought.”
Auñón-Chancellor mentioned she appeared ahead to conducting a wide range of medical analysis to learn the way she personally is affected by the pains of the area setting.
“You hear all these stories about how people feel, the fluid shift they feel in their bodies, everything in those first few days of flight,” she mentioned. “So the first kind of big experiment is almost my own case study where I look at myself and see how I react and maybe compare that with those of my colleagues.”
She is also desirous about learning imaginative and prescient modifications in astronauts who spend lengthy durations in weightlessness, a comparatively current discovery.
“I think we don’t give the body enough credit for how well it does with very low-level chronic insults,” she mentioned. “What I mean by that is how well the body is with adapting to low-level radiation, levels of carbon dioxide that are maybe a little higher on station than they are on Earth, a change in nutrition, microgravity itself. The body does a fantastic job adapting, but you still see markers of that. So what markers are we missing?”
Gerst, who holds a Ph.D. in geophysics, is also a fan of organic analysis, particularly an experiment designed to chart modifications in mind construction earlier than, throughout and after a long-duration area flight.
“When we’re up there in the space station it’s a little bit like what people suffer after having a stroke, which is certain regions of the brain are not working properly anymore,” he mentioned. “For us up there in space, that’s the sense of balance, our orthostatic senses are not completely working anymore, the brain has to compensate for that.”
It compensates by getting orientation cues from the eyes.
“That switch over is very similar to what people experience when they have a stroke and have to re-learn how to walk, to speak, all those things,” Gerst mentioned. “The processes are similar, and we hope to study them. … For us, luckily, (those changes are) reversible, but we hope we can use that to develop a treatment for people on Earth.”