A few hours ago, NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft, which landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent almost six months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on September 25, 2014. Initially, they were part of Expedition 41, in the second half of their stay they were part of Expedition 42 with Barry Wilmore as Station commander.
Yesterday, Commander Barry Wilmore and astronaut Terry Virts completed the third spacewalk in eight days to install various new equipment on the International Space Station. They’re part of the system called C2V2 (Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles) that will serve to allow the docking of the new private spacecraft that will enter service in a few years.
Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced the plan to keep on supporting the collaboration with the International Space Station until 2024. Subsequently, Russia’s plan is to build its own space station that will serve for the national space activities. It could also be used as a basis for future Russian expeditions to the Moon to begin around 2030.
ESA’s 5-ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle 5) “Georges Lemaître” was used in a manner different from the usual. The cargo spacecraft is docked to the International Space Station since August 12 2014 and yesterday its thrusters were used to lower the Station about a kilometer. The purpose is to allow spaceships that reach it to carry a greater cargo.