Friday, March 12, 2010

Small Fine Arm Deployment Complete; Williams, Suraev Prepare for Departure

Expedition 22 Flight Engineers Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer completed the deployment and calibration of the new small fine arm (SFA). The SFA was assembled then installed inside the Kibo laboratory’s airlock by Noguchi where it was removed with the module’s main robotic arm – the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System. The SFA performs delicate robotics work, is an extension of the Kibo laboratory’s main robotic arm and has been temporarily parked on Kibo’s Exposed Facility.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev continue packing for their return to Earth on March 18. They will enter their Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft and undock from the International Space Station for a three-and-a-half-hour ride with a landing in Kazakhstan.

Expedition 22 crew members Noguchi, Creamer and Oleg Kotov will continue their stay on the station becoming the new Expedition 23 crew. Kotov will become the new station commander in a change of command ceremony that takes place on March 17.

On April 4, Expedition 23 will expand to a six-member crew. Arriving in the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft will be new station crew members Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko.

On April 7, space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to arrive for a thirteen day mission to supply the station with new science racks and ammonia tanks. STS-131 will feature three spacewalks and the delivery of the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module.