Monday, March 29, 2010

Station Crew Prepares for New Crew Members, Shuttle Arrival

Aboard the high-flying International Space Station, the Expedition 23 crew began a new week Monday with preparations for the imminent arrival of three additional crew members and the space shuttle Discovery, as well as the regular duties of orbital life.

The three-member Expedition 23 crew will expand to six on April 4 when Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko dock to the International Space Station in the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft.

Discovery’s STS-131 mission begins with the shuttle’s scheduled launch on April 5 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Discovery will deliver a multi-purpose logistics module, or MPLM, filled with science racks to be transferred to laboratories on the station. The shuttle is slated to dock with the station on April 7.

All three station crew members worked to move equipment and prepare the station for Discovery’s arrival and to make room for the supplies being delivered in the Italian-built MPLM named Leonardo, making its final round-trip before being refitted to become a Permanent Multipurpose Module on the station .

Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer reviewed video of the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver that every space shuttle performs during its approach to the orbital outpost. During this maneuver, Kotov and Creamer will take photos of Discovery that will be sent to experts on the ground who will use them to assess the condition of the orbiter’s heat shield.

Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi charged batteries for the spacesuits that will be used during the STS-131 mission’s three spacewalks outside the station, and prepared the Destiny and Columbus laboratories for the arrival of new research facilities.

Creamer also performed maintenance on the station’s potable water dispenser.