9. March 2015

This is another edition of my now regular articles about the crew changes on the International Space Station – it’s Spring again and that means some astronauts will be leaving soon while others will be arriving later this month. A very successful and exciting Expedition 42 is soon coming to an end, but Expedition 43 is promising to be even more interesting with the arrival of the first two-astronaut crew who will be staying for a whole year instead of just six month on the station. As usual, I just like to keep an overview of who is up in space and I hope to continue these articles with the next one probably due in autumn.

Who is leaving: Aleksandr SamokutyayevYelena Serova and Barry E. Wilmore have been on the station since in late September and will return to Earth this Wednesday, March 11th after almost six months in space. Their departure will mark the end of Expedition 42, which will transition into the first part of Expedition 43 with the remaining three crewmembers on board.

Who is staying:  Anton ShkaplerovSamantha Cristoforetti and Terry W. Virts arrived on the station in late November and will be staying until May 14th. They will be the sole occupants of the ISS from March 12 to 27, when the second half of Expedition 43 arrives. With two big spacewalks the crew has been very busy in the last few weeks, but  @AstroSamantha and @AstroTerry are still posting daily photos from orbit and Samantha Cristoforetti is also still writing her Logbook on Google+.

Who is launching: The second part of Expedition 43 is going to launch on March 27th with Roscosmos cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Korniyenko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on board. Kornivenko and Kelly are the One-Year-Crew, who will stay a full twelve months. Scott Kelly, who already stayed on the ISS for six months in 2010 and 2011 and was in space twice before that, is also the identical twin brother of astronaut Mark Kelly, providing an unique reference for long-time spaceflight. Scott Kelly is also an active Twitter user at @StationCDRKelly, which will guarantee the social media presence of ISS occupants for a long time. Mikhail Kornivenko is also a veteran ISS occupant who was on the station from April to September 2010. Like the previous expedition, 43 also has a great movie poster, this time in true Star Wars style.

Also launching will be the eigth SpaceX Dragon freighter to the ISS scheduled for April 10th, with a Russian Progress freighter following on April 28th. After the loss of Orbital Science’s third Cygnus freighter both Roscosmos and SpaceX have picked up the slack and the ISS has never been in danger running out of provisions. More SpaceX freight launches are scheduled this year for June 22, September 2 and December 9, while more Progress freighters will launch on August 6  and October 22. Orbital Sciences has also contracted with ULA to launch their Cygnus transporter to the ISS on an Atlas 5 rocket later this year. The only other freight launch scheduled this year is the fifth Japanese HTV transporter going up on August 17.

There has also been some discussion about the announcement of Russia that they will support the ISS until 2024, but then wants to take their own modules out to build their own space station. This is first and foremost good news, because there was a lot of concern about Roscosmos dropping support in 2020 already, but if the deconstruction of the station will really happen in nine years is still much too early to say. It would be technically possible because the Zvezda module owned by Russia provides major life support and electrical functions for the station, although removing it and the other Roscosmos modules Zayra, Rassvet and the Pirsk and Poisk docking ports would certainly not be Russia’s decision alone.

Kategorie: Bibra-Online
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