New Trio Arrives At Space Station After Wednesday Afternoon Launch
[ Watch the Video: Expedition 37 Arrives at Station, Docks to Poisk ]
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Three new Expedition 37 crew members arrived on the International Space Station (ISS) early Thursday morning after lifting off in their Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy were welcomed aboard the Space Station at 12:34 a.m. EDT on Thursday after a six-hour ride through space. The trio launched at 4:58 p.m. EDT on Wednesday and docked with the orbiting lab’s Poisk module at 10:45 p.m. EDT; the hatches were opened nearly two hours later.
The three new crew members are joining Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, Karen Nyberg from NASA, and the Italian Space Agency’s (ATI) Luca Parmitano. The arrival of the new crew returns the ISS to a full six-person crew until November 11, when Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano will depart and return home, after their 5.5 months in space. Their departure will herald in Expedition 38 under the command of Kotov.
Kotov, Hopkins and Ryazanskiy will serve their 5.5 month stint aboard the ISS, returning home themselves in March 2014 aboard the same Soyuz spacecraft they arrived in.
This is Kotov’s third trip to the Space Station. He served as flight engineer for Expedition 15 in 2007 and was commander of Expedition 23 in 2010. This is the first mission for both Hopkins and Ryazanskiy.
Several critical scientific investigations will now take place with the new crew members on deck, adding to the more than 1,600 experiments that have been conducted since the ISS became inhabitable nearly 14 years ago.
New investigations will focus on human health and human physiology in zero gravity. The crew will examine the effects of long-term exposure to microgravity on the immune system and look into how the human body changes shape in space. The crew will also conduct 11 investigations as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. These investigations will include antibacterial resistance, hydroponics, cellular division, microgravity oxidation, seed germination, photosynthesis and the food making process in microgravity.
With the new trio now on board the Space Station, NASA and Orbital should gain clearance to try and dock the Cygnus resupply spacecraft this weekend if all systems check out. The resupply vessel, which launched last week, was scheduled to dock with the station this past weekend but failed to pass a series of pre-berthing tests, forcing ground control to postpone the docking efforts.
Mission operators said they would try again only after the new Expedition 37 crew launched and arrived at the Space Station.
If and when Cygnus makes a successful berth with the ISS, it will become only the second commercial space vehicle to do so. SpaceX made history when its Dragon capsule first made contact with the orbiting lab back on May 25, 2012. SpaceX also made history as it produced the first reusable supply spacecraft in Dragon. Previous supply vessels, such as Russia’s Progress ships, burn up on reentry into Earth’s atmosphere after their successful ISS missions.
Image Below: The Soyuz TMA-10M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25 at 4:58 p.m. EDT (2:58 a.m. Kazakh time Sept. 26) carrying Expedition 37 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov, NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins and Russian Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi