Crew Prepares for Kounotori2 Departure

ISS026-E-034321: Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli
Expedition 27 Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli are pictured in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Following the Expedition 27 crew’s daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, Flight Engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli kicked off the workday Wednesday morning loading additional trash into the Japanese Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle for disposal. Kounotori2, which arrived at the station in late January, will be grappled with the station’s robotic arm and unberthed from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node on Monday for a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere Tuesday night.

Nespoli also spent some time sharpening his digital photography skills for the imagery he will collect of space shuttle Endeavour’s thermal protection system as it performs a back flip known as the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver prior to docking. Currently targeted to launch April 19 on the STS-134 mission, Endeavour will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and spare parts to the orbiting complex.

As part of her role as chief medical officer, Coleman conducted some onboard training to maintain proficiency with the Health Maintenance System hardware, which may be used in contingency situations where crew life is at risk.

Cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, commander of Expedition 27, devoted his time Wednesday to some routine maintenance and checkout activities in the Russian segment of the station.

The station’s residents also had several opportunities to observe and photograph our home planet from their unique vantage point as they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes. Among the sites suggested for photography Wednesday were the capital city of Prague in the Czech Republic and the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe located in the Gulf of Guinea off the western coast of Africa.

JSC2011-E-027674: Expedition 27 and Soyuz booster
The Soyuz TMA-21 crew participates in dress rehearsal activities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov
Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Ron Garan and cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev continue their preparations to launch to the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 on April 4 to join the Expedition 27 crew as flight engineers. The Soyuz TMA-21, named for Yuri Gagarin, is scheduled for liftoff just one week shy of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's historic journey into space from that same launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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