Monday, November 14, 2011

Soyuz launches to I.S.S. despite heavy snow

Snow can wreak havoc on almost any travel plans but posed no problem for the launch of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Expedition 29 crew members Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and Dan Burbank lifted off at 11:14 p.m. EST Sunday (10:14 a.m. Baikonur time Monday)  and are now on their way to the International Space Station (I.S.S.).
Expedition 29 Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa, Commander Mike Fossum and Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov presently on orbit await the arrival of their new crewmates. The Soyuz TMA-22 will dock to the Poisk mini-research module at 12:33 a.m. Wednesday, with the hatches scheduled to be opened at about 2:55 a.m. Shkaplerov, Ivanishin and Burbank are scheduled to live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory until March.

While the current crew on orbit wait for their colleagues they have been keeping busy with scientific research. According to a press release issued by NASA:

Meanwhile, aboard the orbiting outpost, Commander Mike Fossum worked with the Space Dynamically Responding Ultrasonic Matrix System (SpaceDRUMS), a suite of hardware that uses sound waves to allow experiment samples to be processed without ever touching a container wall. This allows materials to be produced in microgravity with an unparalleled quality of shape and composition. The goal is to develop advanced materials of a commercial quantity and quality, and help improve manufacturing processes on Earth.

Expedition 29 will end when Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov undock from the Rassvet mini-research module inside the Soyuz TMA-02M on Nov. 21. The outgoing trio will land in the steppe of Kazakhstan at 9:25 p.m. (8:25 a.m. on Nov. 22, Baikonur time). Expedition 30 officially begins when the Soyuz TMA-02M undocks. Burbank, who is making his third visit to the International Space Station, will take over station command in a ceremony scheduled to take place on Nov. 20.

His previous two visits were both aboard space shuttle Atlantis. He helped prepare the station for its first crew during STS-106 and helped install the P3/P4 truss during STS-115.

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