The Expedition 24 crew members are preparing for the arrival of the ISS Progress 39 cargo craft to replenish the orbiting laboratory with food, fuel, supplies and other cargo. The Progress 39 will dock to the aft end of the Zvezda service module Friday, Sept. 10. It is replacing the trash-filled Progress 38 which undocked Aug. 31 and is poised to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere Monday for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.
The crew also will have an off-duty day Monday due to a frenetic pace of science activities. The six crew members are relaxing after three repair spacewalks restored the station’s cooling system.
Hurricane activity captured the attention of the station residents as they photographed and videotaped Earl churning in the Atlantic Ocean. The imagery and video are downlinked to ground controllers for observation and study by scientists. A Russian experiment, Uragan (Hurricane), monitors and studies the catastrophic effects of natural and man-made disasters. Other ongoing Earth observation experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory study natural phenomena and human activities and their consequences on the planet.
Commander Alexander Skvortsov and Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Tracy Caldwell Dyson are nearing the end of their stay at the International Space Station. They are scheduled to undock Sept. 23 in their Soyuz TMA-18 for a landing in Kazakhstan a few hours later. Their undocking will mark the official end of Expedition 24 and the beginning of Expedition 25.
In preparation, Skvortsov and Kornienko set up and charged an Iridium satellite phone inside their Soyuz capsule. The phone would be used as a backup if the Soyuz crew was out of communications range with their landing support team. The departing crew also began stowing gear for the return home.
In Star City, Russia their replacements – Expedition 25 Flight Engineers Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka – are preparing for their mission beginning in October. About two weeks after Expedition 24 lands, they will launch in a new, more advanced Soyuz vehicle, the Soyuz TMA-01M. The new Soyuz will feature an updated computer and telemetry system.
The three new crew members will join Expedition 25 Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin. The orbiting trio has been aboard the station since June 17 when they joined Expedition 24 after arriving in the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft.
Caldwell Dyson worked on a fluid connection inside the European Columbus laboratory noting some corrosion and possible leakage. She worked with the Columbus Control Center in Munich, Germany to troubleshoot and photograph a valve behind the lab's EXPRESS Rack 3 that proved difficult to open and close.
Walker audited emergency provisions including a portable fire extinguisher and breathing apparatus. The twice yearly inspection involves documenting serial numbers, barcodes and locations of gear.
Wheelock and Yurchikhin set up the ongoing Kids-In-Space experiment. The station crew members along with students and teachers on Earth explore differences in physical phenomena on Earth and in microgravity. One familiar experiment involves a filling a bottle with water at different levels and blowing across the top to determine if it would sound any different in space.