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Busy week on station: cosmonauts prepare for spacewalk and Dragon is set for departure

An Expedition 41 crew member aboard the International Space Station photographed this view of the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship docked to the nadir port of the Harmony node as the station's Canadarm2 and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator prepare to remove external cargo from Dragon. Earth's horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene. Credit: NASA

A busy week has just started for the multi-national crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a pair of Russian cosmonauts suited up for a dry run of the planned Wednesday, Oct. 22 spacewalk. Meanwhile SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will remain with the ISS for a few more days. Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev spent Monday, Oct. 20 readying the Russian Orlan spacesuits they will wear when they exit the Pirs docking compartment for a six-hour spacewalk. Meanwhile, the departure of SpaceX CRS-4 mission has been delayed until Saturday, Oct. 25, because of rough seas in the splashdown and recovery zone west of Baja, California.

The Russian duo donned their spacesuits for a spacewalk dry run. They checked suit controls and communications gear and conducted preliminary leak checks. They are scheduled to open the Pirs docking compartment hatch to the vacuum of space at 9:24 a.m. EDT (1324 GMT) to begin the third spacewalk of Expedition 41.

SpaceX set the Dragon spacecraft on its way on the CRS-4 mission to the ISS on Sept. 21, 2014. Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX set the Dragon spacecraft on its way on the CRS-4 mission to the ISS on Sept. 21, 2014. Photo Credit: SpaceX

The spacewalkers will be outside the station’s Russian segment to jettison science and communications gear that is no longer going to be used. They will also remove a protective cover from a biological exposure experiment, collect samples of particulate matter on the Pirs docking compartment and photograph the station’s Russian exterior.

The extra-vehicular activity or “EVA” will be the 184th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the third in as many weeks for Expedition 41 crew members, and the second career spacewalks for both Suraev and Samokutyaev.

Suraev will be designated as extravehicular (EV) crew member 1 and will wear an Orlan suit bearing red stripes. Samokutyaev will be designated as EV-2 and will wear a suit with blue stripes. The crew spent part of the weekend loading non-critical items into Dragon which is berthed to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.

The Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to be un-berthed through commands sent by robotic ground controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston operating the Canadarm 2 robotic arm. Mission control will then maneuver Dragon into place then turn it over to Expedition 41 robotic arm operators Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore of NASA for release, which is scheduled to take place at 9:56 a.m. EDT (1356 GMT).

Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact. It will return about 3,276 pounds (1,486 kg) of cargo, including science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization responsible for managing research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station.

Dragon will then be directed to execute three thruster firings to move away from the station to a safe distance for its deorbit burn at 2:43 p.m. (1843 GMT). If all goes according to plan, the capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean around 3:39 p.m. (1939 GMT).

Photo Credit: NASA

Photo Credit: NASA


This article originally appeared on Astro Watch and can be viewed here: Station

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Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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