Three members of the International Space Station Expedition 35 crew undocked from the orbiting laboratory and returned safely to Earth Monday, May 13, wrapping up a mission lasting almost five months. The departure marks the beginning of Expedition 36.
Space station Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn undocked their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft from the space station at 7:08 p.m. EDT. They landed southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, about 10:31 p.m. (8:31 a.m. May 14, Kazakh time).
Hadfield, Romanenko and Marshburn traveled almost 62 million miles while completing 2,336 orbits of Earth. The trio arrived at the station Dec. 21 and spent 146 days in space, 144 of which were aboard the station.
Following the Soyuz TMA-07M undocking, thermal systems specialists in Mission Control Houston detected a drop in the International Space Station’s P6 truss ammonia accumulators consistent with the ammonia leak last Thursday. The 2B power channel that had been activated following Saturday’s spacewalk (but not yet integrated back into accepting loads from systems) was shut down in a preventative measure. Throughout the night, however, no leakage has been observed in the newly installed Pump and Flow Control Subassembly box on the P6 truss nor is there any data suggesting a leak.
Thermal system specialists speculate this could be a function of fluids settling down within the pump’s plumbing and shifting from one internal tank to another from the forces imparted on the component from the Soyuz undocking. More data is being acquired but thermal experts seem to be comfortable that we still have an air-tight system.
The departure of the Expedition 35 crewmembers leaves Pavel Vinogradov of Roscosmos is in command of Expedition 36. He is joined by NASA Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. That trio will work aboard the station until three additional crew members arrive May 28.
Meanwhile at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano continued preparations for their launch to the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-09M. Nyberg, Yurchikhin and Parmitano are set to depart for the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday.
To follow Twitter updates from NASA’s space station astronauts, visit: http://www.twitter.com/@NASA_Astronauts
For more information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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