Category Manned Spaceflight Log II—2006-2012


Flight crew

SAMOKUTYAEV, Alexander Mikhailovich 41, Russian Federation Air Force,

RSA Soyuz TMA commander/ISS-27/28 flight engineer

BORISENKO, Andrei Ivanovich, 46, civilian, RSA Soyuz TMA flight

engineer/ISS-27 flight engineer/ISS-28 commander

GARAN Jr., Ronald John, 49, USAF (Retd.), NASA Soyuz TMA and

ISS-27/28 flight engineer, second mission

Previous mission: STS-124 (2008)

Flight log

It was poignant that the next manned launch was Russian, as it occurred just eight days before the 50th anniversary of the world’s first manned space flight, by Yuri Gagarin in Vostok on April 12, 1961. The radio call sign for Soyuz TMA-21 became “Gagarin” in celebration of that historic event. It was also fitting that the crew emblem of this Russian/American crew featured the name of (Alan) Shepard, the first American in space (suborbital), just three weeks after Gagarin’s flight. It was an excellent way of linking the early pioneers to the modern day space explorers. The contrast between these two eras is readily apparent in the flight durations. The combined flights of Gagarin and Shepard logged just over 123 minutes in flight, whereas the TMA-21 crew were embarking on a 165-day mission, joining the crew that was already on the station when the “Gagarin” Soyuz left the pad.

The TMA-21 mission continued the uninterrupted science work on board the station, and would also be noted for receiving the final Shuttle missions on the manifest. In the Russian segment, the ISS-27/28 increment was planned to


Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s historic journey. Garan, Samokutyaev, and Borisenko pose outside their Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, which bears the likeness of the first cosmonaut, and was given the call sign Gagarin in honor of the celebration. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov.

conduct a program of 725 sessions covering 50 experiments, of which only three were new. To accomplish this, the Russian crew members were assigned 174 hours 25 minutes of experiment time during the ISS-27 phase and 359 hours 20 minutes under the ISS-28 program. Across in the American segment, there were a further 111 experiments, supported by a network of over 200 researchers around the world. NASA was sponsoring 73 of these experiments, with 22 under the auspices of the U. S. National Laboratory program and another 38 experiments sponsored by other partner agencies. These would take up over 540 hours of crew time.

This increment continued the rotational 3/6/3/6 crewing sequence of earlier expeditions. A three-person crew operated ISS-27 from March 16 to April 6, with the crew of six operating between May 7 and 24. The ISS-28 crew continued as a three-person occupation from May 24 to June 9, returning to a six-person crew between June 10 and September 16. This was of course very positive for the opera­tional side of the ISS program and the overall long-term expansion of human space exploration at large. However, for those who record the assignments and activities for each space explorer or expedition, it was becoming more difficult to keep track of individual records as one expedition blended into the next.

The April 7 docking with Poisk was followed three hours later by crew transfer into the main station compartments. The combined crew completed the usual welcome and safety briefings procedures, highlighted by speaking to their families at Mission Control in Korolev (Moscow). One amusing incident occurred when Garan’s wife reminded him that she was safely holding his credit card while he was “out of town”. The Soyuz was mothballed on April 7 and the crews got down to their well-orchestrated blend of science, maintenance, housekeeping, safety, and some time out for sleep and personal hygiene.

The first scheduled visitors, on STS-134, were delayed by technical problems preventing the launch, so the resident crew continued with their own program, demonstrating the flexibility of the timeline of long space flights. The Shuttle mission finally arrived on May 18 and this was followed by the departure of the TMA-20 crew, signaling the end of the ISS-27 expedition with their undocking on May 23. Handover of command between Kondratyev and Borisenko had taken place the day before.

The crew continued as a three-person residency until the arrival of the Soyuz TMA-02M on June 9. During the residency, the complex was reboosted several times using the engines on the ATV-2, to maintain its operational altitude while the science program continued on board the station. In July, the final Shuttle mission (STS-135) visited the station, marking the end of Shuttle operations. From this point, the Soyuz and Progress vehicles of Russia, Europe’s ATV, and Japan’s HTY would be the only operational resupply systems for the station. There were plans under way to launch new commercial vehicles to the complex, in order to test the feasibility of such systems for future use. It also emerged that detailed studies were under way to evaluate the use of the station up to 2028, if the partners could verify that the various components could work effectively and safely for that long.

On August 1, Samokutyaev and Volkov completed a 6h 23min EVA, deploy­ing scientific experiments and an experimental high-speed laser communication system outside the Russian segment. The two cosmonauts also removed a rendez­vous antenna which was no longer needed and deployed by hand a small, 571b (25.85 kg) ham radio satellite, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Gagarin’s flight in Vostok. A planned relocation of the Strela-1 (“Arrow-1”) crane was postponed until 2012. The final task was to have photographs taken, with the two men holding pictures of Gagarin, spacecraft designer Sergei Korolev, and space theorist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and using the Earth as a backdrop. The three images had been displayed inside Zvezda for years and were returned there after their trip into open space.

Later that month, on August 24, station operations were dealt a blow with the loss of Progress M-12M some 5 minutes 25 seconds into the launch phase. The Soyuz-U (R-7) launch vehicle’s third stage ignited for 25 seconds but, following a loss of pressure, promptly shut down resulting in a loss of velocity and subsequent crash. This was the first ever loss of a Progress craft during launch since the series began back in 1978. On board the resupply craft was 5,8631b (2,659 kg) of sup­plies, propellant, and oxygen. Repercussions from this loss included delaying the landing of the TMA-21 crew by a week, but the TMA-02M crew would return as planned in mid-November. The next manned flight would have to be delayed from September 22 to late October or early November.

The Soyuz TMA had an on-orbit operational life (mothballed and docked with the ISS) of 210 days and there were more than enough supplies on board the station (thanks to the final Shuttle flights) to keep a crew sustained for over a year, so there was no immediate risk to the crew on board. Nevertheless, it was still a difficult time for the Russians, with talk of lack of confidence in their space hardware and manufacturing/processing systems and the potential prospect of abandoning the station by all crew members if the R-7 could not be recertified for operations. After the next two unmanned launches, one commercial and another Progress, this requalification would come during the ISS-29 crew duty shift; the ISS-28 crew was due to come home.

After the delay due to the loss of the Progress resupply craft, the handover of station command from Borisenko to Fossum took place on September 14. The TMA-21 crew returned to their Soyuz craft and closed the hatches late on the following day, with undocking occurring in the early hours of September 16. There was some anxiety in Russian Mission Control after the planned 3 min black­out period, when communications with the cosmonauts in the Descent Module could not be established. Fortunately, contact was soon restored and the trio landed safely, apparently unaware of any communication problems.

During the 165-day flight, the crew logged approximately 162 days on board the station, with 160 days as part of expeditions. This included 45 days as members of the ISS-27 phase and 115 days as the prime ISS-28 crew.


281st manned space flight 115th Russian manned space flight 108th manned Soyuz 21st manned Soyuz TMA 26th ISS Soyuz mission (26S)

27/28th ISS resident crew

Became the last crew to host a visiting Shuttle mission (STS-135)

Borisenko is accredited with being the 200th person to enter the ISS facility


Подпись: STS-134
Подпись: 2011-020A May 16, 2011 LC39A, KSC, Florida, U.S.A. June 1, 2011 Runway 15, KSC, Florida, U.S.A. OV-105 Endeavour/ET-122/SRB BI-145/SSME: #1 2059, #2 2061, #3 2057 15da 17h 38min 22s Endeavour ISS ULF-6

Flight crew

KELLY, Mark Ehward, USN, NASA commander, fourth mission Previous missions: STS-108 (2001), STS-121 (2006), STS-124 (2008) JOHNSON, Gregory Harold, USAF (Retd.), NASA pilot, second mission Previous mission: STS-123 (2008)

FINCKE, Edward Michael, USAF, NASA mission specialist 1, third mission Previous missions: Soyuz TMA-4/ISS-9 (2004), Soyuz TMA-14/ISS-18 (2008) VITTORI, Roberto, Italian Air Force, ESA mission specialist 2, third mission Previous missions: Soyuz TM-34 (2002), Soyuz TMA-6 (2005)

FEUSTEL, Andrew Jay, civilian, NASA mission specialist 3, second mission Previous mission: STS-125 (2009)

CHAMITOFF, Gregory Errol, civilian, NASA mission specialist 4, second mission

Previous mission: STS-124/126/ISS-17/18 (2008)

Flight log

The 25th mission of Endeavour, the last vehicle to join the fleet in 1992, was also to be its final space flight. Designated STS-134, this was a utilization and logistics mission that had originally been manifested as the final flight in the Shuttle program, until STS-135 was added. Endeavour’s swansong delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS-02) experiment to the space station. This is a particle physics detector designed to search for a range of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays. It was planned that the gathered data would be used in research into the study of the formation of the universe, in the search for evidence of dark matter, strange matter, and antimatter. In addition to the AMS, Endeavour carried the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3), a platform full of spares. The mission would also see the final scheduled EVAs by Shuttle crew members, ending an impressive 28 yr series of space walks by orbiter crews.


One of the first pictures of a Shuttle docked with the ISS from the perspective of a Soyuz spacecraft (TMA-20).

The original launch date in March was delayed due to technical issues. This was also compounded by the tragic shooting in Arizona of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, the wife of mission commander Mark Kelly. The event also placed NASA in a difficult situation, if Kelly required more time with his wife as she recovered. Replacing a commander of a mission so close to launch had never occurred in previous missions, so veteran Shuttle commander Richard Sturckow was assigned as backup commander as a precaution. Gabrielle Gifford’s recovery was remarkable, to the point that she was able to attend the planned April 29 launch attempt. However, as a result of technical problems with an Auxiliary Power Unit on the Shuttle, the launch was canceled four hours prior to liftoff and postponed until May. Fortunately, Gifford was also able to make it to the Cape to witness the May 16 launch, unlike U. S. President Barrack Obama and his family, who had witnessed the April 29 abort, toured the center, and met with the Gifford’s but were unable to reschedule a visit for the May launch. The series of delays also meant that Mark Kelly would not join his twin brother Scott in orbit. Scott had been on the space station since the previous October and was the serving space station commander, but returned home before STS-134 launched.

Endeavour and its experienced crew of six left the pad at KSC for the final time on May 16, 2011, just over 50 years after Alan Shepard became the first

American in space on May 5, 1961, and nine days prior to the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s commitment to place Americans on the Moon by the end of 1969. Though the entire Endeavour crew consisted of space flight veterans, Fincke and Vittori were making their first flights on the Shuttle, having previously flown to the ISS atop Russian rockets aboard Soyuz spacecraft. Vittori became the final non-NASA astronaut to fly a Shuttle mission.

During the standard 2-day flight to the ISS, the Shuttle crew checked out the RMS and used it to examine the Thermal Protection System. Meanwhile, the EVA crew prepared the EVA suits and equipment. The crew was also scheduled to evaluate the Sensor Test of Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation (STORRM) during their mission. This equipment evaluated sensor techniques for routine spacecraft docking with the ISS. Evaluations would be taken during ren­dezvous and docking and a later re-rendezvous with the station following the undocking towards the end of the mission.

Endeavour completed its 12th and final docking with the ISS on May 18 at PMA-2, with internal hatches opened just a few hours later. Following the usual welcoming ceremony and safety briefings by the resident station crew, the joint program of activities began. The ELC-3 pallet was transferred from the RMS to Canadarm2 some 5 hours after docking and was then installed on the P3 truss. Loaded on the pallet were two communication antennas, a high-pressure gas tank, and spare parts for the Dextre robotic device. The next day, the AMS-02 unit was transferred to the top of the S3 truss, where it is scheduled to remain to at least 2020. To avoid interference with other systems and storage platforms, the unit was installed at a 12° angle. The AMS science program is a global program involving 600 scientists and technicians from 56 institutions across 16 nations. The simpler AMS-01 flew on the Shuttle in June 1998, as part of the STS-91 payload.

During the mission, Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori carried out a program of six ASI-sponsored experiments under the DAMA Mission (named for the AMS search for dark matter). Vittori served as a test subject of two ESA experiments which studied possible changes to his body after the flight. This was part of a program of investigations in the fields of technology, nuclear power, biology, and materials. The Italian astronaut also assisted in the transfer of cargo into the station and unwanted material back into the orbiter.

The mission included four EVAs, totaling 28 h 33 min, shared between Feustel, Chamitoff, and Fincke. The first EVA (May 20, 6h 19 min) was conducted by Feustel and Chamitoff. They installed an ammonia jump cable that would connect the coolant loops of the station’s P3 and P4 segments, installed a cover on an SARJ and removed the MISSE 7A and 7B experiment packages from the Express Logistics Carrier-2, replacing them with the MISSE-8 experimental package. An external communication antenna was also installed on the Destiny Laboratory, to provide a link between the various ExPRESS Logistics Carriers mounted on the outside of the station. An issue with a carbon dioxide level sensor on Chamitoff’s suit caused concern in the latter stages of the EVA, with some tasks delayed to a subsequent space walk to maintain safety. Prior to this there had been no indication of a C02 problem, but the EVA ended a little earlier than planned and the issue did not reoccur.

The second EVA (May 22, 8h 7 min) by Feustel and Fincke featured a program of maintenance work. They refueled one of the station’s port side cooling loops with 51b (1.26 kg) of ammonia and also lubricated the port side SARJ and one of the “hands” on Dextre. Storage beams were fixed on the SI truss segment and a camera cover was installed on Dextre to end the space walk.

Between the second and third EVAs, the resident station crew was reduced from six to three with the departure of the ISS-27 crew in Soyuz TMA-20 on May 23. The delay in launching Endeavour, coupled with a delay in undocking the Soyuz, had created the unique situation of a Shuttle being docked with the station during the departure of a Soyuz crew. The remaining three TMA-21 crew members on the station now became the ISS-28 resident crew. As the TMA-20 retreated to about 600 ft (182.88 m) away from the Rassvet Module, Nespoli took a series of stunning digital images and video of Endeavour docked with the station from the viewing port in the Soyuz Orbital Module. At the same time, the whole station was rotated about 130°, which was a rare maneuver in itself, allowing the Italian astronaut some of the best views possible during a 30 min period.

Looking towards the future, the third EVA made use of a new EVA pre­breathe protocol, known as the In-Suit Light Exercise (ISLE). Instead of the normal Campout Pre-breathe Protocol System, where the astronauts breathe pure oxygen for 60 minutes in the airlock, this new technique saw the air pressure of the airlock lowered to 10.2 psi (703 hPa). The astronauts then put on their space suits and performed light exercise, before resting for an additional 50 minutes, breathing pure oxygen all the while prior to exiting the airlock to conduct the EVA.

Activities during EVA 3 (May 25, 6h 54 min) completed by Feustel and Fincke included an upgrade to Canadarm2, installing a power and data grapple feature on the Russian Zarya module that would enable the station arm to “walk” across to the Russian segment and conduct robotic operations there. This had not been possible before and would now extend the range of the station’s robotic arm system. The astronauts also installed additional cables between the American Unity module and the Russian Zarya module, which would provide backup power to the Russian segment. A series of photos were taken of the effects of the Zarya thrusters on the skin of the module, along with verbal information on the condition at various work sites which was relayed to the ground. The astronauts also completed the work postponed from the first EVA due to the suit malfunction.

The fourth and final EVA (May 27, 7h 24 min) by Fincke and Chamitoff was the last scheduled EVA by a Shuttle crew, ending a program which had started back in 1983 during STS-6. It had included 162 excursions, many of these essential for station assembly since 1998. Ironically, the final “Shuttle” EVA was not actually from a Shuttle Orbiter, but from the Quest airlock on ISS. The last EVAs directly from a Shuttle Orbiter had occurred in 2009 during the STS-125 Hubble Servicing Mission. Since 2001, most Shuttle crew EVAs had actually been from the Quest airlock on the station rather than through the middeck airlock/hatch system on the orbiter. For this final EVA, the astronauts assisted with the transfer of the 50 ft (15.24m) Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) from the orbiter across to the starboard truss and installed a new grappling system, extending the reach of the station’s robotic arm even farther. This EVA also saw station EVA operations pass the 1,000 h mark since assembly began in December 1998.

In three space walks, Fincke logged 22 hours 25 minutes, while Feustel accumulated 21 hours 10 minutes. Chamitoff recorded 13 hours 43 minutes in his two trips outside. The EVAs were followed by the completion of cargo transfers and logistics to and from the ISS.

The astronauts conducted a number of media and public outreach activities before undocking from the station on May 29, after 11 days 17 hours and 41 minutes attached to the complex. A fly-around and photo-documentation of the station’s exterior was followed by a final test of the STORRM rendezvous system from 1,044ft (318.21m) below and 300ft (91.44m) behind the station. When Endeavour landed at KSC, the youngest orbiter had completed the 25th mission of its career, having traveled 122,883,151 miles (19,771,898 km) in 4,677 orbits of Earth and 299 days in space. Endeavour would remain at the Cape for decommissioning before being dispatched to its new museum home.

With the installation of the AMS-2 payload, the official assembly complete point of the U. S. segment was met. In fact, most of the station was now complete, with only a couple of Russian modules and some desired large experiments to be launched. The station was no longer a construction site but a research facility. This was made possible by the series of Shuttle assembly missions since 1998 … and now there was only one left on the manifest.


282nd world manned space flight 164th U. S. manned space flight 36th Shuttle ISS mission 134 th Shuttle flight 25th and final flight of Endeavour 12th Endeavour ISS flight

Vittori first Italian ESA astronaut to fly on both Soyuz and Shuttle missions Last non-NASA astronaut to fly on a Shuttle mission (Vittori)


In 2004 a concept for a new program to send humans back to the Moon and out to Mars was announced by NASA as part of the Vision for Exploration. Under the label of the Constellation Program, a new Crew Exploration Vehicle was pro­posed for human crews to meet those objectives and eventually received the name Orion. In 2005 designs were sought from industry and in August 2006 Lockheed Martin Corporation won the contract. Development began on the spacecraft and program as the replacement for the Space Shuttle, but the change of administra­tion in the White House and a new President saw the cancellation of Constellation as originally envisaged. Orion was redesignated the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and is currently undergoing development for a wide range of missions to the Moon, Mars, and the asteroids as well as a backup vehicle for cargo and crews

An artist’s impression of the proposed Orion spacecraft.

A future Orion-class spacecraft docks with the ISS.

supporting ISS operations. Numerous ground and atmospheric tests and mock-ups have been developed and though it is expected that the first unmanned flight tests of the vehicle in space will commence around 2014, the first astronauts are not expected to fly on board the MPCV/Orion before 2020.


Подпись: International designator Launched Launch site Landed Landing site Launch vehicle Duration Call sign Objective 2011-023A June 7, 2011

Pad 1, Site 5, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Republic of


November 22, 2011

Near the town of Arkalyk, Republic of Kazakhstan Soyuz-FG (R-7) (serial number И15000-037),

Soyuz TMA-M (serial number 702)

167 da 6h 12 min 5 s Eridanus

ISS resident crew transport ISS-28/29 (7S)

Flight crew

VOLKOV, Sergei Alexandrovich, 38, Russian Federation Air Force, Russian, RSA, Soyuz TMA-M commander, ISS-28/29 flight engineer, second mission Previous mission: Soyuz TMA-12/ISS-17 (2008)

FURUKAWA, Satoshi, 47, civilian (Japanese), JAXA, Soyuz TMA-M and ISS-28/29 flight engineer

FOSSUM, Michael Edward, 53, NASA, Soyuz TMA-M flight engineer, ISS-28 flight engineer, ISS-29 commander, third mission Previous missions: STS-121 (2006), STS-124 (2008)

Flight log

Flying the second upgraded TMA-M spacecraft into space were another truly international trio, who docked their spacecraft with the Rassvet module on June 9 (June 10, Moscow time). They entered the space station in the early hours of the following day to complete the required safety and update briefings. During the 2-day flight to the space station, the crew had completed the flight development tests begun on Soyuz TMA-M, further qualifying the new vehicle for operational missions.

In the early part of their residency, the three new crew members participated in preparations for the departure of the ATV-2 resupply vehicle from the aft Zvezda port on June 20 and the arrival of Progress M-11M at that same docking location three days later. On June 28, the six crew members had to shelter in their respective Soyuz craft (TMA-21/TMA-02M) as an unidentified piece of orbital debris (designated Object 82618, unknown) passed within just 820 ft (249.93 m) of the station, possibly the closest near miss in the station’s history.

The crew’s experiment program included, in the Russian segment, 725 sessions on 50 experiments, of which 47 were continuations from the previous increments.


To accomplish this target, there were 359 hours 20 minutes planned for the crew, as well as supportive work during the exchange of crews. There was no dedicated ISS-29 press kit released (instead the kits went from ISS-27/28 to 30/31) to identify research work in the American segment, but it is clear that the work continued without interruption in all sections of the station during this period.

The final Shuttle mission (STS-13 5) arrived at the station on July 10 and remained docked with the station until July 18. On July 12, resident crew members Fossum and Garan donned American EMUs and exited the Quest airlock for a 6h 30min space walk (see STS-135 entry) which was the final space walk of the Shuttle era. On August 1, Volkov accompanied Samokutyaev on a 6h 23 min EVA from the Russian segment (see Soyuz TMA-21 entry).

On August 14, the Zarya module, the first element of the station launched in November 1998, completed 73,000 orbits of Earth.

On September 14, Fossum assumed command of the outpost from Borisenko, ending the ISS-28 phase and commencing the ISS-29 phase. The official end of the outgoing expedition occurred with the undocking of TMA-21 two days later. With the departure of the ISS-28 prime crew, the ISS-29 crew continued as a three – person residence pending the arrival of TMA-22. For the next few weeks, science and maintenance occupied the crew’s time. This included work with Robonaut 2, putting the unit through some at times difficult mobility tests of its hand and neck joints.

On September 29, after a decade of being the only space station in orbit, the ISS was joined by a new neighbor—the Chinese Tiangong-1 (“Heavenly Palace – 1”) mini space module. This was similar to, but slightly smaller than, the early Soviet Salyut space stations launched in the 1970s. A month later, on October 31, the unmanned Shenzhou 8 was launched into orbit on a mission to evaluate the new space station’s docking mechanism. Clearly, a new era of space station operations had begun.

Back on the ISS the science work continued. This trio would be joined by their colleagues when Soyuz TMA-22 docked at the Poisk module on November 16. This was to be a short six-person residency, due to the delays caused by the loss of Progress M-12M the previous August. The first few days of the full crew were a busy time, as the TMA-02M trio prepared to return home. The formal transfer of command from Fossum to Dan Burbank occurred on November 20 and the ISS-29 trio undocked their Soyuz in the early hours of November 22.

The atmospheric burn-up of the discarded modules was captured on video by the station residents as the Descent Module containing the three crew members continued its descent towards Earth. The crew landed safely, although in subzero temperatures. Shortly afterwards, Volkov was flown back to the Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow and Fossum and Furukawa flew on a NASA jet back to Houston, Texas for postffight readaptation and debriefings.

The crew had spent 166 days on board the station out of the 168 days logged in space. Of these, 97 days were spent as part of the ISS-28 expedition and 67 as prime ISS-29 residents.


283rd manned space flight 116th Russian manned space flight 109 th manned Soyuz

2nd manned Soyuz TMA-M and 2nd test flight of the new variant 27th ISS Soyuz mission (7S)

28/29th ISS resident crew


Подпись: STS-135
Подпись: 2011-031A July 8, 2011 LC39A, KSC, Florida, U.S.A. July 21, 2011 Runway 15, Shuttle Landing Facility, KSC, Florida, U.S.A. OV-104 Atlantis/ET-138/SRB BI-146/SSME: #1 2047, #2 2060, #3 2045 12da 18h 27min 52s Atlantis ULF-7

Flight crew

FERGUSON, Christopher John, 49, USN Retired, NASA commander, third mission

Previous missions: STS-115 (2006), STS-126 (2008)

HURLEY, Douglas Gerald, 44, USMC, NASA pilot, second mission Previous mission: STS-127 (2009)

MAGNUS, Sandra Hall, 46, civilian, NASA mission specialist 1, third mission Previous missions: STS-112 (2002), STS-126/ISS-18/119 (2008/2009) WALHEIM, Rex Joseph, 48, USAF (Retd.), NASA mission specialist 2, third mission

Previous missions: STS-110 (2002), STS-122 (2008)

Flight log

The finale of the 30 yr Space Shuttle program came in July 2011 with the flight of STS-135. This was a mission added to the manifest to utilize the remaining avail­able hardware and was a final opportunity to stock up the station and remove a quantity of unwanted material and trash before finally retiring the fleet.

When Ken Ham and the rest of the STS-132 crew returned in May 2010, discussions were already under way over the possibility of flying one more Atlantis mission. In light of this, Ham called his recent mission “the first last flight of Atlantis” and so it proved. The orbiter had one processing cycle to go through, as rescue orbiter for STS-134—the “first” last Shuttle flight—but once the new flight had been authorized, this became the final processing cycle as, following the STS – 134 mission, the vehicle was processed for STS-135.

Towards the end of 2010, it had become more likely that the mission would indeed fly once the funding had been organized, and by January 2011 the mission was included in the internal flight roster for planning purposes. In February,


The final Space Shuttle launch, July 8, 2011.

NASA management was told that the mission would fly even if adequate funds were not found, but the budget for the mission was authorized in April after saving funds in other areas. By that time, preparations for the mission were well on the way towards completion anyway.

For the final time, the Shuttle ground processing team geared up for a launch. The stacking of the SRBs began towards the end of March 2011, with the ET being attached on April 25. Atlantis was rolled from the OPF across to the YAB on May 16, and by May 18 the stack was completed. The rollout to the pad occurred on the night of May 31/June 1, with the Rafaello MPLM being installed in the payload bay of Atlantis on June 20. The manifest also included a significant number of commemorative items and the U. S. flag that had flown on STS-1, along with a special 9/11 flag. With everything ready for a planned July 8 launch, the July 4 Independence Day weekend was kept free to allow for some extra processing margin. All eyes looked at the weather, which appeared to be the only concern (as it had been so many times) but when NASA affirmed the July 8 launch date, even nature cooperated to see the Shuttle program off in fine style.

Designated ULF-7, the payload included the Raffaello MPLM packed with over 9,0001b (4082.4 kg) of supplies and the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) experiment. This was an experiment to demonstrate and test the tools, techniques, and technologies required to develop a robotic satellite-refueling capability, even though the target vehicle might not be designed to be refueled. The astronauts were also to return a failed ammonia pump for evaluation by engineers prior to refurbishment for relaunch at some future date.

After an incident-free launch and ascent to orbit, the crew prepared for the ISS docking by checking the vehicle, inspecting the TPS, and setting up the rendezvous tools and EMUs. Throughout the mission, the crew received well wishes from family, friends, fellow workers, and the general public as the final Shuttle flight continued. Docking with the station occurred on July 10, with the prime ISS resident crew tolling the ship’s bell for an incoming spacecraft one final time for a Shuttle orbiter. One hour and 40 minutes after docking, the hatches were opened and the two crews welcomed each other, followed by the mandatory safety briefings and status updates. The only EVA during the mission would be conducted by the station crew from Quest.

Work began almost immediately, with the RMS used to relocate the 50 ft (80.45 m) external boom to Canadarm2 for the inspection of the Shuttle Thermal Protection System. As the boom was now permanently part of the station, this inspection could not be completed by the crew the day after launch. On July 11, the Raffaello module was transferred to the Harmony Node in a 30 min operation. The supplies included 2,6771b (1,214.28 kg) of food, enough for a full year for the station crews. The crew relocated some of the cargo from Raffaello into PMA-3, with the supplies packed in 17 different racks inside the pressurized logistics module. These included eight Resupply Stowage Platforms (RSP), two Inter­mediate Stowage Platforms (ISP), six Resupply Stowage Racks (RSR), and one Zero Stowage Rack. An additional 2,2281b (1,010.62 kg) of cargo was stowed on the middeck of Atlantis which also had to be transferred to the station. Sandra Magnus was loadmaster over a planned 130 hours of unloading time during the docked phase. Once empty, the module would be refilled with 5,6661b (2,570.09 kg) of equipment no longer needed on the station, plus discontinued logistics and trash. After an evaluation of available consumables, an extra day was added to the mission to give the crew additional time to relocate all the cargo and supplies between the vehicles.

The EVA from the Quest airlock was performed by ISS astronauts Fossum and Garan on July 12. It lasted 6 hours 3 minutes. The reason for the station crew performing the EVA was essentially one of time and experience. Confirma­tion that STS-135 would actually launch came late in the cycle, so the training of the crew focused mainly on getting to and from the station and handling the massive cargo transfer. Contingency EVA training was included, but as the astro­nauts were all Shuttle veterans this made the compressed training cycle much easier to accomplish. The two station resident astronauts, Garan and Fossum, had logged nine previous EVAs between them, three of which were performed together during STS-124 in 2008, so they were used to working together as a team. It was also possible that with so many supplies being delivered, the weight saved from flying no more than four crew members could be reallocated to the logistics manifest.

The objective of this EVA was to retrieve a faulty 1,4001b (635.04 kg) ammonia pump module which had failed in 2010 and had been stowed in the

External Storage Module 2 during STS-133 earlier in the year. The two ISS astronauts relocated it to the cargo bay of Atlantis to be returned and refurbished as a spare unit. They also set up the RRM experiment on an external pallet and released a stuck latch on the Data Grapple Fixture at the front of Zarya. This would extend the operating envelope of Canadarm2 across to the Russian segment to support robotics work. A further material experiment was also deployed from a carrier located on the station’s truss. This was the eighth such experiment, with this one focused upon optical reflection materials. Originally attached during STS-134, it had not been deployed due to concerns from outgassing from the AMS unit. Finally, to close out the EVA, insulation was installed on the end of the Tranquility PM A in an area that was exposed to the effects of sunlight.

Throughout the mission, the Shuttle crew received a number of special wake-up calls in celebration of the end of the program. On July 11, much was made in reports of an “all American meal” which featured grilled chicken, corn, baked beans, cheese, and the traditional apple pie. This was also reported on the NASA website. The meal was originally planned for July 4, but the launch delays postponed it for a week.

On July 15, almost at the end of the 30 yr Shuttle program, U. S. President Barack Obama called Atlantis, wishing them well on their mission. The crew later solved a problem with the fourth general purpose computer on Atlantis, which required it to be rebooted to get it up and running again. Later, the EVA suits were reconfigured in order to leave them behind on the station. As the checklist of tasks remaining shortened, so the four Shuttle astronauts supported the station crew in relocating some of the cargo they had delivered to ease the post-docking workload for the resident crew as much as they could. The Shuttle crew also repaired a broken access door to the Shuttle air revitalization system, where the lithium hydroxide canisters that purified the air inside the orbiter were exchanged. On July 16, the 42nd anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, Ferguson formally presented the station crew with the historic U. S. flag that had flown aboard Columbia on STS-1 30 years before. This flag will remain on board the space station until the next crew launched from the soil of the United States arrives at the orbiting facility to return it to Earth once again.

Hatches between the two spacecraft were closed for the final time on July 18 after 7 days 21 hours and 41 minutes. The next day, after a few hours’ sleep on board Atlantis, the crew undocked from the station after 8 days 15 hours and 21 minutes of being attached to the orbital facility, ending a period of Space Shuttle station dockings that had begun 16 years before, with the flight of STS-71 to Mir in 1995. Safely undocked, the crew backed the orbiter away for the formal fly-around maneuver to photo-document the exterior of the station. The station was yawed 90 degrees for an optimum view during the 27 min photo opportunity, which captured never-before-seen views of the longitudinal axis of the station from the Shuttle. With this completed, it was time to fire the separation engines and depart from the vicinity of the station to begin final preparations for the flight home.

On the day before landing (July 20), the crew performed the traditional pre-landing checks of the Thermal Protection System, Flight Control Systems, and RCS engines for the final time on a Shuttle mission. The last science objectives of the program were completed with the deployment of the PicoSat technology demonstration satellite from a small canister in the payload bay and an onboard experiment on osmosis was also conducted by the crew. On July 21, to the wake – up call of God Bless America by Kate Smith, there was a tribute to all those who had been involved in the program since its inception over 40 years ago. Even the weather was cooperating, helping to celebrate the end of an era of American manned space flight in fine style as Atlantis swooped to a perfect pre-dawn landing at the Cape.

By the end of its last mission, Atlantis had traveled 125,935,769 million miles (20,263,063 km) over 33 missions, logging over 307 days in space, and completing 4,848 orbits of Earth. When the crew disembarked, there remained only the period of decommissioning after the mission and then a program of preparations for shipping the Atlantis to its new museum home. But before the vehicle had cooled down from its fiery reentry, the celebrations and emotional recollections had begun. For commander Ferguson, the realization that the Shuttle program was over came when the wheels stopped on the runway and the vehicle was powered down. In the pre-dawn darkness the displays went blank and the vehicle fell silent, creating a “rush of emotion” for the commander.

The Shuttle program had created many milestones and memories over 30 years, but never again would an orbiter of that design venture into space. Its work was done and it was time to move aside for new generations of human spacecraft to write the next pages in space history. The Shuttle era was finally over.


284th world manned space flight 165th U. S. manned space flight 37th and final Shuttle ISS mission 135th Shuttle flight 33rd and final Atlantis flight 12th Atlantis ISS flight Final Shuttle flight of program

First four-person Shuttle crew since STS-6 in April 1983


Whichever new vehicle design is finally chosen to return American astronauts to space from U. S. launch sites it will need to support programs not only in various types of Earth orbit, but also those planned for journeys far beyond our planet, using far more advanced spacecraft to make the actual journeys. There are a range of options available for future space planners and explorers to aim for.

Low (and other) Earth orhit operations

The ISS will continue to be at the forefront of Earth orbital operations for the remainder of this decade, barring any unforeseen major technical problem or emergency situation. Of course, ISS operations also depend upon adequate funding and continued cooperation between the partners, but hopefully we will see possibly 60 resident crews complete their missions and observations on board the ISS by the 20th anniversary of the permanent manning of the complex. It will also require confidence in the ability of the station to continue to support future crews safely and perform its scientific functions properly if operations are to continue into the 2020s. Studies are currently being conducted in order to qualify the main hardware to support ISS operations into 2028, making it a full 30 years since construction began. The work conducted on board the station over the next 15 years or so will presumably be aimed at supporting plans for whatever follows the ISS in low Earth orbit and for missions beyond our planet.

The question of what follows the ISS is an interesting one, as there are no firm plans or suggestions for a follow-on ISS. So can the ISS remain operational and useful for another 20 years without major issues surfacing? It seems doubtful, as there are already signs that the crews’ time is being taken up as much by main­tenance, repair, and housekeeping as with pure science research. It is also difficult to imagine the complex supporting more than a crew of six, or perhaps nine without additional resources added. Of course, increasing crew numbers will add to the challenge, as more people means more power, further supplies, and logistics, requiring more investment probably for limited extra returns. Then there is the question of added waste and unwanted materials to dispose of. All of this would require further spacecraft to support expanded operations, thus increasing the operating costs.

Merely adding crew members to work on more activities does not really solve the problem, unless the working environment can be made less reliant on crew input for keeping the vehicle operating. If this were possible, then more time would be available for the crews to perform science or research, but this is probably a step beyond the current and potential capabilities of the station. It would be more likely to be included in next-generation vehicles, especially those intended for deep-space operations (see below).

It will be interesting to witness the development of new manned space vehicles, such as Orion, as they are tested in low Earth orbit. Their level of auto­mated or manual operations, and the amount of crew input required for the tasks assigned will also be critical for their success. With advances in robotics and joint operations with automated space vehicles, the argument for involving the full par­ticipation of a human crew will be something of a challenge. Even in Earth orbit, a blend of human and automated space operations is useful. Robots can venture where it is dangerous for humans to go, while humans can be on hand to offer rational decision-making choices, repair, and servicing skills to a degree not found on fully automated machines. And can humans ever truly give up the need to explore and “be there”? Looking at Mars through the eyes of a rover may be thrilling in its own way, but it cannot possibly compare with taking those first steps ourselves.

As for other nations’ involvement in human space flight operations, perhaps a truly international program is the way forward, expanding upon the success of the ISS. China is expected to develop its space station program for the rest of this decade and create a viable infrastructure for bolder ventures farther away from Earth. India has also expressed a desire to place its own citizens in orbit, though recent reports have indicated that the supporting technologies required for such a large commitment are not as advanced as originally thought. The first manned domestic Indian flight is still some years in the future, possibly not before 2020. It is also important not to totally ignore comments from Russia about their desire to rekindle their purely national manned space program, though this will of course depend upon sufficient funding commitments.

Another branch of manned operations in Earth orbit are the commercial program, both suborbital and orbital. The forthcoming Virgin Galactic flights in SpaceShipTwo are expected to increase the popularity of short flights to the fringes of space, but not yet into orbit. Since 2009 space tourist flights to the ISS have been suspended due to the increased size of crews on the station, but could be resumed sometime in the near future if hardware and funding become available and the international partners agree to support them. At the time of writing this does not seem likely before 2015 or 2016. Commercially operated space stations are often discussed and the endorsement of privately developed launch and landing systems for ISS support operations are but a step away from developing commercial orbital space operations, perhaps with further moves toward orbital tourist flights.

The idea of factories, large power platforms, and five-star hotels in space may still be a dream of science fiction, but the time will be right when those ideas come to the forefront of space flight, as we are now seeing with commercial launching agreements. One area which will probably be eagerly fought over will be space salvage, the recovery or repair operations to clear up abandoned or failed satellites, opening up the location to new and updated spacecraft. Exciting devel-

A distant Moon beckons future explorers.

opments in low Earth orbit await future space explorers and investors. The head­line glory may come from venturing outwards, but the long-term investment in Earth orbital infrastructure will allow us to look after our own planet, utilizing the huge investments in space exploration to date to improve the quality of life here on the ground.

There are, of course other types of orbits around our planet yet to be investigated by human crews. Often spoken about in tales of science fiction or yet – to-be-achieved space plans these include polar, synchronous, and geostationary orbits and are primary candidates for human expansion in the future.


Подпись: International designator Launched Launch site Landed Landing site Launch vehicle Duration Call sign Objective 2011-067A November 14, 2011

Pad 1, Site 5, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Republic of


April 27, 2012

Approximately 56 miles (90 km) northeast of the town of Arkalyk, Republic of Kazakhstan Soyuz-FG (R-7) (serial number И15000-038),

Soyuz TMA (serial number 232)

165 da 7h 31 min 34 s Astra

ISS resident crew transport craft ISS 29/30 (28S)

Flight crew

BURBANK, Daniel Christopher, 50, U. S. Coast Guard (Retd.), NASA Soyuz TMA/ISS-29 flight engineer, ISS-30 commander, third mission Previous missions’. STS-106 (2000), STS-115 (2006)

SHKAPLEROV, Anton Nikolaevich, 39, Russian Federation Air Force, RSA Soyuz TMA commander, ISS-29/30 flight engineer

IVANISHIN, Anatoly Alekseevich, 42, Russian Federation Air Force, RSA Soyuz TMA and ISS-29/30 flight engineer

Flight log

The delayed launch of TMA-22 finally took place on November 14 through a raging snowstorm, but reached orbit without too much difficulty. When NASA tried to launch Apollo 12 through a thunderstorm exactly 42 years earlier, on November 14, 1969, things were very different. That vehicle was hit by lightning and almost suffered a major systems failure seconds after launch. It was a tense few minutes that convinced the American agency never to launch in the rain again. The Russians do not seem to share the same concerns, so the Soyuz was launched exactly on time for its rendezvous with the Poisk module of ISS, with which it docked on November 16.

Following the leak checks, the hatches were opened to begin a very full four and a half days of briefings and handover operations before the outgoing resident crew came home. In those four days, Burbank took over command of the station from Fossum, who returned to Earth with his TMA-02M colleagues on November 22, ending the ISS-29 expedition and starting the ISS-30 phase. The delays caused by the loss of the Progress in August had shortened the overlap of the two crews.

An unpiloted Progress resupply vehicle docks with the ISS, providing regular deliveries to each resident crew and a method of disposing of unwanted trash.



The first month for the new team was spent settling in to their new home and continuing the science program. The two Russians on this crew were planned to conduct just 28 hours of work in support of the abbreviated ISS-29 phase of science, but 204 hours under the ISS-30 science program in the Russian segment. This amounted to 356 sessions over 46 experiments, including two new investiga­tions. Most of the U. S. segment work in the Destiny, Columbus, and Kibo laboratories was continuations of earlier investigations.

Apart from the science, work continued on Robonaut 2 (or R2). During December 15 and 16 things did not go well, with fault messages regularly appear­ing in the android’s systems. Further work was delayed until January. For night passes over two days from December 22, Burbank observed and photographed the Comet Lovejoy, which he described as the “most amazing thing he had witnessed,” echoing the sentiments of the Skylab 4 astronauts when they observed Comet Kohoutek 38 years earlier.

The next resident crew arrived in the middle of these observations on December 23, docking at the Rassvet module on the nadir side of Zarya. The hatches opened and the day was spent in briefings, ceremonies, and bringing the newcomers up to speed before the З-day Christmas holiday. The New Year celebrations in orbit actually extended for 24 hours, as the station ventured over the International Date Line 16 times each Earth day. The celebrations were soon followed by Ivanishin’s 43rd birthday on January 15.

The mission progressed with more science, a new arrival in the form of Progress M-14M, more work with R2, and preparations for a planned February EVA from the Russian segment. On January 27 it was announced that the six – person presence on the station would be extended for a while. The next launch of a crew had been delayed until mid-May, as the planned Soyuz vehicle had to be exchanged with the next one in the sequence. This meant that the Burbank crew would not return home until late April and the Kononenko crew would also have to stay a little longer than planned, as their replacements were delayed from May to mid-July.

On February 15, Burbank’s hard work with R2 finally paid off, as the human astronaut shook hands with the robotic one for the first time inside the Destiny module, while NASA proudly announced: “Man meets machine aboard the ISS.” Further tests were planned over the next few weeks, but it was a great start for a machine that was hoped would assist in delicate operations on future spacecraft. The R2 device later used sign language to say: “Hello, world.”

The Russian EVA took place from Pirs on February 16. Kononenko and Shkaplerov relocated the Strela-1 (“Arrow-1”) crane from Pirs to Poisk in prep­aration for the replacement of the Pirs module with the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka (“Science”) component. This was planned for later in 2012 but subsequently delayed once again. The two cosmonauts also installed a material science experiment on Poisk, collected organic test samples from Zvezda, and installed five debris shields on the Service Module. The EVA ended after 6 hours 15 minutes.

More celebrations occurred on February 20. Not only was it Shkaplerov’s 40th birthday, it was also the 50th anniversary of the first American orbital flight of John Glenn aboard Friendship-7. Burbank, Pettit, and Kuipers spoke to Glenn from orbit as part of the celebrations of his flight. On March 7, the highly anticipated Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) began, with several days of exter­nal operations using Dextre and Canadarm2 coordinated by the Canadian Space Agency and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). This was a demonstration of the potential for robotic complexes to refuel satellites and included opening and closing valves, cutting through wires with millimeters of clearance, removal of insulation, and fuel transfer. The hardware had been delivered to a pallet during STS-135. Canadarm2 and Dextre returned to the Mobile Base System on March 12 at the end of the RRM exercise after about 43 hours of activity. Early results were deemed a success, which bodes well for future developments in this field.

After a 2-week delay in launch due to incorrectly stowed cargo bags, the third Automated Transfer Vehicle (named “Edoardo Amaldi”) was launched on March 23 by Ariane 5 from the Kourou Launch Center in French Guiana, South America. The docking occurred on March 28, with the ATV delivering 7.2 tons of supplies to the station. In the closing phase of the ISS-30 residency, most of the activities focused upon unpacking both the ATV and Progress M-14M. The latter was undocked from the Pirs module on April 19 and was replaced by Progress M-15M three days later.

As their science program wound down, Burbank formally handed over command of the station to Kononenko on April 25. Two days later they undocked from the Poisk module in the final Soyuz TMA spacecraft, followed just over three hours later by what was reported as a “bulls-eye landing”. It was a good way to end an impressive record of TMA missions begun a decade earlier with TMA-1.

Statistically, this expedition was a little unbalanced, although the overall mission logged as much as many others. The delays in launching the mission, caused by the loss of the Progress in August and qualification of the R-7/Soyuz-U and FG vehicles, meant that this crew spent only 6 days as formal members of the ISS-29 expedition, but 155 days as prime ISS-30 crew. In their 165-day flight, 163 days were spent aboard the station.


285th manned space ffight 117th Russian manned space flight 110th manned Soyuz 28th ISS Soyuz mission (28S)

22nd and final Soyuz TMA flight 29/30th ISS resident crew First post-Shuttle era ISS mission

Shortest ISS expedition residency (6 days on the ISS-29 phase by this trio) Ivanishin celebrates his 43rd birthday (January 15)

Shkaplerov celebrates his 40th birthday (February 20)

Return to the Moon

Should we go back to the Moon first or go straight to Mars? That question has been debated for years and continues to be discussed when trying to determine where we go next away from low Earth orbit. We have been to the Moon before, so it is to an extent familiar territory, but the last Apollo landed 40 years ago. So much has changed since we first stepped on to the lunar surface that returning will be almost like starting over again. A return to the Moon had been debated even before the final journeys of Apollo were completed, and many more times since we stopped going there in 1972.

Curiosity rover on Mars pioneers geological sampling.

Clearly NASA would love to return to the Moon, and soon. Russia never made it in the 1960s so to do so in the near future would give mixed emotions to those still alive who participated in the program to beat the Americans to the surface 50 years ago. It would hurt that they could not have done it sooner, but equally would give them pride that they had finally made it. And then there are the Chinese, who clearly have the Moon in their sights. But why go back?

Proving that it can be done again is one argument, but in this current global climate more is needed than national pride and technological achievement. It did not sustain a long-term program last time, so why would it do so now? Other reasons, such as a scientific research base, mining potential, a remote simulation facility for other extraterrestrial explorations deeper into space, an extensive Earth

observation platform, a medical isolation facility for those returning from distant targets, or a launching site for interplanetary probes have all been suggested and all have their merits and disadvantages.

No one really thought it would be so long before we considered going back but the argument remains the same: Why should we return, where on the surface – should we aim our seventh landing crew, and for what purpose? Would it be to support other programs or for definite objectives of its own?

What is clear though is that, being the closest celestial neighbor, the Moon will surely not be ignored in our expansion beyond low Earth orbit? Even if we initially fly past it on the way to somewhere else, we will return. The overriding questions of a sustained human return to the Moon are the same as they were in 1972—those of when, where, how, and most importantly why. The added question today is also who?


Подпись: International designator Launched Launch site Landed Landing site Launch vehicle Duration Call sign Objective 2011-078A December 21, 2011

Pad 1, Site 5, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Republic of


July 1, 2012

Near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Republic of Kazakhstan.

Soyuz-FG (R7) (serial number Л15000-39),

Soyuz TMA-03M (serial number 703)

192 da 18 h 58 min 21s Antares

ISS resident crew (ISS-30/31) transport 29S

Flight crew

KONONENKO, Oleg Dmitryevich, 47, civilian, RSA, TMA commander, ISS-30 flight engineer, ISS-31 commander, second flight Previous mission: Soyuz TMA-12/ISS-17 (2008)

PETTIT, Donald Roy, 56, civilian, NASA Soyuz TMA flight engineer, ISS-30/31 flight engineer, third flight

Previous missions: STS-113/ISS-6/TMA-1 (2002/3), STS-126 (2008) KUIPERS, Andre, 53, civilian (The Netherlands), ESA Soyuz TMA flight engineer, ISS-30/31 flight engineer, second flight Previous mission: Soyuz TMA-4/ISS-YC6/TMA-3 (2004)

Flight log

This was the third flight test of the new Soyuz TMA-M and the only qualification test flight of the vehicle. Following this mission, the TMA-M would be confirmed in its operational roles as both the primary crew transport to and from the ISS and as the Crew Rescue Vehicle for resident crew expeditions.

The three-man crew docked their spacecraft with the Rassvet module on December 23. The upcoming three-day Christmas break allowed the crew time to adjust to the station’s environment and to catch up with the work being conducted by the prime ISS-30 crew. The assignment of experienced NASA and ESA astro­nauts to the crew would help increase the science in the U. S. segment (and in particular the European Columbus lab) once again. Dr. Pettit, a chemical engineer, had spent over 158 days on the station as a member of the ISS-6 crew almost a decade before and, while much had changed on the station since then, his experience soon began to show in his regular, informative blogs from space as he delved into the expanding American segment science program with Burbank.


ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers is inside the European Columbus laboratory during the PromISSe mission.

Kuipers was also working on the station for a second time, but this time as a resident not a visitor. He also blogged his experiences to followers on Earth. Kuipers’ science program was called PromISSe, a name that was a reflection of the efforts and expectations placed on human space missions. It also continued the trend of the four previous European missions of including the acronym “ISS” as part of the science program name. This package included 30 investigations covering a range of disciplines in human research, fluid physics, materials science, radiation and solar research, and biology and technology demonstrations. In addition, Kuipers participated in over 20 experiments for NASA and JAXA using over 30 facilities spread across the station.

In the Russian segment, work continued on the experiments that were running during ISS-29, with Kononenko planned to assist for 56 hours 25 minutes in science operations during the ISS-30 phase. ISS-31 Russian segment science plans totaled 146 hours 20 minutes of science for Kononenko, Padalka, and Revin. The latter pair would arrive on Soyuz TMA-04M in May.

Following the Christmas holidays and New Year celebrations it was down to work for the TMA-03M crew as flight engineers for ISS-30. Kononenko assisted Shkaplerov on the 6h 15 min EVA from Pirs on February 16. As well as the science, maintenance, and housekeeping programs, the crew practiced required safety drills and supported the now familiar exchange of Progress resupply craft, as well as the arrival of the third ATV vehicle in March. Burbank passed command to Kononenko on April 25, effectively ending the ISS-30 expedition and starting the ISS-31 phase. Formal closure of ISS-30 occurred when the last Soyuz TMA (No. 22) was undocked two days later on April 27. The Kononenko crew had spent 122 days as flight engineers for ISS-30 and now took the prime role for ISS-31 for three weeks, until they were joined by the TMA-04 crew on May 17, returning the station to six-person operation.

On May 25, a new milestone was reached in ISS history with the arrival of the first “commercial” mission (though still largely funded by the U. S. government). The Dragon unmanned resupply vehicle was grabbed by Canadarm2 and attached to the nadir port on the Harmony Node. This vehicle was the first step on the road to replacing the Shuttle as a U. S. resupply vehicle. Operated by SpaceX from their Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, the vehicle had been launched on the Falcon 9 rocket from LC-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, three days before. A trial rendezvous with the station was com­pleted on May 24. The crew “entered the Dragon” as the media put it, on May 26 to begin the unloading process.

The spacecraft delivered 1,1041b (500.77 kg) of cargo and was subsequently loaded with 1,367 lbs. 620.07 kg) of hardware for the return to Earth. This was an important difference with Dragon. Unlike Progress, ATV, and HTV, this new vehicle could reenter the atmosphere and be recovered, greatly increasing the cargo return capacity over Soyuz (22.671b or 50 kg) and to a small degree com­pensating for the loss of the Shuttle’s significantly larger cargo return capability. The Dragon was grappled by Canadarm2 on May 31 and then released to begin its journey back to Earth, completing a successful splashdown under three parachutes in the Pacific Ocean some 563 miles (905.86 km) west of Baja, California, in the Pacific Ocean. The successful flight had logged 9 days 7 hours 57 minutes and was the first operational splashdown associated with a returning American spacecraft (admittedly unmanned) since Apollo 18 returned at the end of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project on July 24, 1975.

Aboard the ISS, the science work continued, along with preparations for the return of the TMA-03M crew at the end of their residence. On June 16, the inter­national crew was joined in orbit (but not on board) by three Chinese Shenzhou 9 crew on a mission to the Tiangong-1 space laboratory, that nation’s first space station mission. Meanwhile, on board the ISS station on June 25 Pettit logged his 365th cumulative day in space across his three missions, and in so doing became the 28th person and only the fourth American to achieve this feat.

On June 29, Kononenko handed command of the station over to Padalka, who became the first person to command three separate expeditions to the ISS. For his final hours on the station, Kononenko became flight engineer 4. The prime ISS-31 expedition had been in command for 65 days which, added to their ISS-30 phase, meant that the trio had logged 187 days across the two expeditions. The formal end of the ISS-31 residency was achieved two days later, with TMA – 03M making a safe and nominal return to Earth.


286th manned space flight 118th Russian manned space flight 111th manned Soyuz

3rd Soyuz TMA-M flight; completed the TMA-M test program 30/31st ISS resident crew

First commercial flight of SpaceX Dragon spacecraft Kononenko celebrates his 48th birthday in space (June 21)

Mission to Mars

The mysterious Red Planet, a land of imagination, dreams, and hopes, is one still to explore and is well within our reach. Again, the question is not so much whether we will go there, but more one of how do we get there, when would this be, and why would we send humans when robots still have difficulties operating that far from home. Out of all the probes sent to Mars, the failure rate is still higher than the success rate, though the odds are improving. No one ever said exploring space was easy or straightforward. Far from it, as the automated exploration of Mars has demonstrated time and time again since the early 1960s.

Again there are countless reasons for exploring the planet. Not least of these is the familiar desire to find evidence of fife as we know it or, more precisely, the chemical evidence of the potential for such life in ancient times. But there are other reasons to go to Mars, including mineral mining, a whole range of scientific studies of a different planet and its environment, and as a staging post for mis­sions farther into the outer reaches of the solar system.

Whatever the next decade or two brings in human space endeavor, it is clear Mars will feature highly in long-range objectives. It is hoped that the “long range” will be shortened somewhat to be achievable in our lifetime.


Подпись: International designator Launched Launch site Landed Landing site Launch vehicle Duration Call sign Objective 2012-022A May 15, 2012

Pad, 1 Site 5, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Republic of


September 17, 2012

85 km north of Arkalyk, Republic of Kazakhstan Soyuz-FG (serial number Л15000-041),

Soyuz TMA-04M (serial number 705) 30S

124 da 23 h 51 min 30 s


ISS resident crew transport (ISS-31/32)

Flight crew

PADALKA, Gennady Ivanovich, 54, Russian Federation Air Force (Retd.), RSA Soyuz TMA-M commander, ISS-31 flight engineer, ISS-32 commander, fourth flight

Previous missions: Soyuz TM-28 (1998), Soyuz TMA-4 (2008), Soyuz TMA-14 (2009)

REVIN, Sergey Nikolayevich, 46, civilian, RSA Soyuz TMA-M flight engineer, ISS-31/32 flight engineer

ACABA, Joseph Michael, 45, civilian, NASA Soyuz TMA-M flight engineer, ISS-31/32 flight engineer, second flight Previous mission-. STS-119 (2009)

Flight log

Arriving at the station on May 17, which also happened to be Acaba’s 45th birthday, the Soyuz TMA-04M brought three new residents to supplement the three-member ISS-31 crew already on board the complex. Less than four hours after docking, the six astronauts and cosmonauts of the ISS-31 phase were together inside the station, progressing through the welcoming routines and ceremonies. They soon began concentrating on the more formal work schedule, which included receiving the first SpaceX Dragon unmanned supply vehicle on May 25.

By the time this mission flew, the Shuttle had been retired for about a year and media coverage of major launches and events had become sparse at best, coupled with the shift in emphasis of the program away from the “drama” of assembly to the more “mundane” scientific operations and resupply. True, there remained some further Russian components to be delivered to the station, but science and research now moved to the forefront. Even the promotional science


The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is grappled by Canadarm2.

material for the mission emphasized a “beehive of activity” for the crew, with delivery of new research facilities and testing for a new microsatellite deployment system.

There were over 240 experiments planned (over 80 of which were brand new), supported by over 400 investigators across the globe. In the Russian segment, there were to be 303 sessions covering 38 experiments, with cosmonauts planned to work on the experiment packages for over 350 hours across the ISS-31 and 32 phases. The experiments included human research, biological and physical sciences, technology development, Earth observation, and education. The NASA press packs included explanations of overlapping science studies beyond ISS-32 into the ISS-33 and 34 expeditions. For ISS-31/32, there were 201 separate investi­gations planned, of which 123 were brand new and 82 were NASA led. A further 118 were internationally supported research investigations.

On May 31, after 9 days 23 minutes docked with the station, the Dragon spacecraft was unberthed using Canadarm2 to begin its return to Earth. While the new spacecraft was docked with the station, the crew had unloaded over 1,1001b (499 kg) of fresh supplies and then refilled the vessel with over 1,3001b (590 kg) of hardware. This time, however, it would be returned to Earth rather than burned up in the atmosphere as with the other types of resupply craft.

On June 21, there was a double birthday celebration on board the ISS, as Padalka celebrated his 55th birthday in space and Kononenko his 48th. For

Padalka this was a very special celebration, as it was the third time he had marked his birthday in space (previously celebrated in 2004 and 2009). It was also the second such occasion for Kononenko, having previously celebrated his birthday in space in 2008.

During the final two weeks of June 2012, the ISS crew was accompanied in space, if in different orbits, by the first Chinese space station crew aboard Tiangong-1. This milestone was noted in the press, though there would be no direct communications between the two crews.

Padalka took over formal command of the station from Kononenko during June 29. A couple of days later, during the early hours of July 1, Soyuz TMA-03 undocked from the station, at which point Expedition 32 officially began. Follow­ing a light-duty weekend, the remaining station crew of three resumed their schedule, although there were further light-duty shifts for the July 4 U. S. Independence Day and the weekend of July 7/8.

On July 17, Soyuz TMA-05M docked with the Rassvet module bringing the three Expedition 33 crew members. For the first two months of their mission, they would serve as Expedition 32 flight engineers under the command of Padalka. With the crew readjusting to six-person operations again, the Japanese HTV-3 was launched on July 20, carrying almost 4 tons of supplies for the station. The latest cargo craft was grappled on July 27 by Canadarm2 and attached to the nadir port of Harmony.

While the crew brought the Japanese resupply craft in to the station successfully, they experienced difficulties in redocking the Progress M-15M space­craft on July 24. M-15M had been undocked two days before and placed in a parking orbit and was due to attempt a redocking to test the new Kurs-NA system. The system failed at 9.3 miles from the station, so the unmanned resupply craft was “parked” a safe distance below the station while the failure was investi­gated. A second attempt was completed successfully, docking with the station in the early hours of July 29. The cause of the original failure was determined to be a fail-safe test which aborted the docking. Once the vehicle had been reattached to the station, Padalka dismantled the Kurs-NA avionics box and then stowed it aboard the Zarya module for later return to Earth for analysis. The Progress was undocked for a final time on July 30.

A new Progress, M-16M, docked with the Pirs module on August 2, delivering over 5,8001b (2600 kg) of cargo and propellant to the station. This was the 48th docking of a Progress to the station since August 2000. The difference with this flight was that the Progress took only four orbits (6 hours) to reach the station instead of the normal two days. This involved four very precise rendezvous man­euvers in the first 2 hours 40 minutes of flight, completed as a test for a proposed shortening of the journey to the ISS by Soyuz TMA-M flights in the hope of reducing the discomfort for the crew of two days in the cramped capsule. This new profile was not expected to be operational on manned flights for over a year.

For most of the month of August, the ISS crew kept busy with their science and preparations for the expedition’s first EVA. Performed by Padalka and Malenchenko, this took place on August 20 (for 5h 51 min) and featured the relocation of the Strela-2 cargo crane from the Pirs to the Zarya module. This was in readiness for the eventual undocking of Pirs to make room for the new Russian Nauka Multi-Purpose Laboratory. The cosmonauts also deployed a small TEKh-44 Sfera (“Sphere”) satellite by hand, which would be used for ground tracking tests over a two-to-five-month period to evaluate orbital debris and decay. The two cosmonauts also installed five micrometeoroid shields outside Zvezda, retrieved an exposure package, and installed support struts on the Pirs EVA ladder ready for relocation across to the Nauka module when it arrived. A second exposure experiment could not be retrieved, as the cosmonauts were unable to close the package enough for it to fit through the Pirs airlock hatch. It was left for a later crew to retrieve.

The Expedition 32 phase drew to a close in September, so while the three Soyuz TMA-04M crew members wound up their research and increased their con­ditioning routine for the return home, the other half of the crew prepared to take over prime command. They conducted two EVAs from the Quest airlock and supported the unberthing of Kounotori-3 from the station on September 12. The unmanned Japanese resupply craft, filled with 16.5 tons of unwanted material, performed a destructive reentry on September 14.

Five days after HTV-3 departed it was time to bid farewell to the TMA-04M crew, who undocked in the early hours of September 17 (Moscow time). They landed less than four hours later, after a 125-day mission. They had resided in the station for 123 days, of which they spent 43 days as part of the Expedition 31 crew and 78 days as the prime Expedition 32 crew. Formal handover of station command occurred on September 15 between Padalka and Sunita Williams.

By the end of the flight, Padalka had accumulated over 710 days in space, on three missions to the ISS and his visit to Mir in 1998/1999. This made him the fourth most experienced space explorer; he also had nine EVAs to his credit. During the post-landing press conference, Padalka (who is unlikely to fly a fifth mission) reportedly spoke openly about the condition of the Russian segment. He described the living conditions as sparse, noisy, cold, and overcrowded, with only one-seventh of the room afforded to the U. S. astronauts. It would not, he felt, be suitable for the proposed 1 yr missions that were being discussed for future expeditions. Some of these differences between the American and Russian seg­ments, especially the noise levels, have been clearly revealed in recent video tours of the station. The noise levels differ noticeably as the guided tour passes from the American to the Russian segment and back again.

Clearly there remains much to do in creating a universal comfortable environ­ment for a crew on long international expeditions. This needs to be addressed before we attempt to venture into deep space.


287th manned space flight 119th Russian manned space flight 112th manned Soyuz 30th ISS Soyuz mission (30S)

26th ISS Soyuz visiting mission 4th Soyuz TMA-M flight 31/32nd ISS resident crew

Acaba celebrated his 45th birthday (May 17—the day Soyuz TMA-4M docked with the ISS)

Padalka celebrates his 55th birthday (June 21)

Kononenko celebrates his 48th birthday (also June 21)

Padalka first three-time ISS commander


There have also been studies into sending humans to the asteroids over the decades. More recently, serious thought has been given to making such journeys, possibly using Orion-class spacecraft. NASA has commenced a series of pioneer­ing simulations and evaluations for such a mission, which could be mounted towards the end of the 2020s. This work would be valuable for obvious scientific reasons: to gather a better understanding of these strange small worlds and to help plan both robotic and manned missions to Mars. If flown before manned flights to the Red Planet, these asteroid missions would be the farthest humans have ventured into space, with a proposed 1 yr round trip mission some 3 million miles

Earth-based simulations of new space suits and surface exploration equipment.

from Earth and a stay of up to 30 days at the chosen asteroid. Studies into working on the surface of these objects would prove invaluable if one is discov­ered to be on a colhsion course with Earth. Other reasons for visiting asteroids are similar to those for Mars, such as the potential for mining minerals or to use them as staging posts for expeditions to the outer reaches of the solar system.