Space Stations

Kjell Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui during a press conference (Photo NASA)

A few hours ago the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after almost exactly six hours reached the International Space Station carrying Kjell Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui. The Soyuz traveled on the fast path normally used. There were a couple of little problems because one of the spacecraft’s solar panels didn’t deploy and after the arrival it took longer than expected to balance the air pressure with the Station but in the end everything went well.

The Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-28M during its approach to the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the Progress M-28M spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. The Russian space cargo ship, launched last Friday, is carrying food and water that ensure a reserve of about another month to the crew as well as scientific experiments, propellant and various hardware. For the nations cooperating in running the Station it’s certainly a relief after three mishaps in less than a year, so much as to be defined Christmas in July.

Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti assisted after their landing in the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft (Photo NASA TV, Anatoly Zak)

A little while ago, NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft, landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent nearly six and a half months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on November 24, 2014. They were initially part of the Expedition 42, in the second half of their stay they were part of Expedition 43 with Terry Virts as Station commander.

A moment of the PMM Leonardo relocation (Image NASA)

Yesterday, the International Space Station’s PMM (Permanent Multipurpose Module) Leonardo was moved: it used to be connected to the Unity module and was repositioned to be connected to the Tranquillity module. This operation is part of the Station’s extension that in the coming months will prepare the docking hatches for the new American spacecraft that should enter service in 2017.

Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti during a press conference on November 22, 2014 (Photo ESA–S. Corvaja)

The schedule for the International Space Station crew rotation has been officially changed. Following the mishap with the Russian spacecraft Progress M-27M it was decided to postpone the launch of the next three members so the three ones of the Expedition 42/43 – Samantha Cristoforetti, Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov – will remain on the Station at least until the beginning of June.