Soyuz TMA-10 relocated – busy week on the ISS

by Chris Bergin

The successful relocation of the Russian Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft has taken place on the International Space Station (ISS) – clearing the way for the arrival of the next ISS crew.

The 27 minute ride for the Expedition 15 crew was part of a busy week on the ISS, which has included a reboost, a departing Progress, and soon to be followed by the retraction of two solar arrays on the FGB.

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Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineers Oleg Kotov and Clayton Anderson rode inside the spacecraft to clear the docking port for the arrival of Soyuz TMA-11, due to arrive in a few weeks time.

‘After a brief ride in their crew return vehicle, Fyodor Yurchikhin (left seat), Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov (center) and FE-2 Clayton (Clay) Anderson (right) docked at the Service Module (SM) aft end port at 3:47pm EDT, completing the spacecraft’s relocation from the FGB nadir port in just 27 minutes,’ noted Thursday’s ISS On Orbit Status report.

‘After undocking at 3:20pm, Soyuz CDR Yurchikhin backed away from the station 25-30 meters, then translated the spacecraft to the right, flying sideways, along the ISS toward the tail before turning nose-forward and rotating (‘indexing’) the Soyuz around its longitudinal axis to align its periscope with the docking target on the SM aft end, spending a short time in station-keeping mode.

‘Final approach began at 3:40pm, with docking at 3:47pm. After hooks and latches were engaged, the crew conducted leak checks and then reentered the station through the SM.]’

While the trip was short, the preparations for the relocation were vast, mainly in preparation for any contingency that could have arisen, while they were in the Soyuz and off station.

‘In preparation for the spacecraft relocation, Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhin completed final close-out activities on the Progress M-61/26P cargo ship, docked at the DC1 Docking Compartment, to enable its potential contingency separation by TsUP in the crew’s absence,’ added the status report.

‘The three crewmembers performed fit-checks and adjustments on the Russian Kentavr (‘Centaur’) garments for their individual sizes (in case of an emergency return to Earth). The suits are kept in the Habitation Module of the Soyuz TMA until undock day. The activity was supported by a tagup with ground specialists via S-band, as required.

‘Preparing the US segment (USOS) for decrewing, Anderson configured the ECLSS (Environment Control and Life Support System) and ITCS (Internal Thermal Control System), to be ready in the eventuality of a failed redocking of the crew.

‘Anderson then configured the USOS OpsLAN (Operations Local Area Network) for uncrewed operation, including the two situation-monitoring Sony PD100 camcorders in the Lab and Node.

‘Afterwards, at 7:50am, Clay closed the Lab, Node and Airlock (A/L) hatches, thus isolating the USOS from the Russian segment (RS). The Lab science window remains shuttered, due to the current SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System) position for observing FGB starboard array retraction.’

That retraction will be conducted on Friday morning by ground controllers, as the ISS crew take a deserved break period following their extended Thursday with the relocation. The two arrays – FGB starboard solar array and FGB port solar array retraction – will provide clearance for a set of ISS radiators that will be unfurled at the end of the year.

‘In preparation for the FGB solar array (SA) retraction on Friday, Anderson connected the UOP-DCP (Utility Outlet Panel-to-Display and Control Panel) bypass power cable at the Lab RWS (Robotics Work Station) and later maneuvered the Canadian SSRMS (Space Station Remote Maneuvering System) robot arm to the position for video-surveying the SA retraction,’ the status report added.

‘The FE-2 also closed the Lab science window shutter in support of the subsequent Soyuz 14S thruster test firing as protection against jet plume contaminants.’

Earlier in the week, the ISS also conducted one of its regular reboosts, which – among other things – aids the ISS’ positioning ahead of next month’s arrival of shuttle Discovery during STS-120.

‘The ISS reboost by the twin SM main engines was successfully conducted on time. Purpose of the 2.5 minute long maneuver burn was to establish the correct phasing conditions for 15S launch, 14S landing, and the STS-120/10A launch season (FD3 rendezvous).

‘The reboost produced a delta-velocity (delta-V) of 3.1 m/s (predicted: 2.9 m/s). Mean altitude increase (delta-H): 5.3 km (2.86 nmi).’

This week also saw the end of a six day experiment, carried out with the departing Progress 25P resupply ship. The cargo ship remained on orbit for six days after its September 18 departure, to conduct ‘science experiments of ground viewing/studying plasma particles in the exhaust from a series of thruster firings at various stages of flight.’

Following seven of these thruster firings, Progress bid farewell to space by carrying out a deorbit burn for a destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

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