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Forum:Soviet - Russian Space
Topic:Soyuz TMA-18 mission to the space station
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Credit: NASA TV

hoorenz
The traditional crew poster presented by the crew to Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov has the theme of a famous Russian detective series called "Sledstvie vedut ZnaToKi" ("Investigation handled by Experts"). It became "Soyuz handled by Experts".

The smaller titles seen on the DVD sleeve were changed to "launch," "docking" and "landing."


Credit: Energia/Spacepatches.nl/Roscosmos

Robert PearlmanNASA Television video release
Expedition 23 Makes Rounds Before Launch

Expedition 23 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov and Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Tracy Caldwell Dyson conducted a series of pre-launch activities in Baikonur, Kazakhstan April 1 as they prepared for their next-day liftoff to the International Space Station on the Soyuz TMA-18 vehicle. Among the events: an appearance before the Russian State Commission and their final pre-launch news conference.

Credit: NASA TV
Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-18 launches to the International Space Station

Soyuz TMA-18 commander Alexander Skvortsov together with flight engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Tracy Caldwell Dyson launched to the International Space Station (ISS) at 11:04 p.m. CDT April 1 (10:04 a.m. Kazakhstan time April 2) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.


Credit: NASA TV

Although the spacecraft safely reached orbit and live camera views from inside the cabin showed the crew to be doing well, Russia's mission control outside Moscow was unable to maintain clear audio communications with the cosmonauts. Per contingency checklists, the crew, working with flight controllers, were to continue troubleshooting the issue during the next line-of-sight communications pass.


Credit: NASA TV

The three TMA-18 crew members are scheduled to dock with the ISS at 12:26 a.m. CDT on Sunday.

Once aboard, they will join Oleg Kotov, a Roscosmos cosmonaut and the station's commander, T.J. Creamer, a NASA astronaut and flight engineer, and Soichi Noguchi, a JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut and flight engineer. The expanded Expedition 23 crew will continue science investigations and support two U.S. space shuttle missions to the station.

Kotov, Creamer and Noguchi launched to the station on Dec. 21, 2009. They are scheduled to return to Earth on June 2. Before their departure, Kotov will hand over command of the station to Skvortsov for Expedition 24.

In June, NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker, and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin will join Skvortsov, Caldwell Dyson and Kornienko in orbit to complete the Expedition 24 crew.


Credit: NASA TV
Robert PearlmanNASA video release
See the video of the Expedition 23 launch from a remote HD camera at the launch pad!

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Robert PearlmanNASA Headquarters photo slideshow

Robert Pearlman
New Expedition 23 crew members welcomed aboard station

Three new Expedition 23 crew members boarded the International Space Station Sunday morning.


Credit: NASA TV

Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko, together with NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, docked Soyuz TMA-18 to the station at 12:25 a.m as the two spacecraft orbited 222 miles above Kazakhstan.

Following the completion of leak checks, the hatches between Soyuz TMA-18 and the station were opened at 2:19 a.m. CDT. A welcome ceremony for the new arrivals followed.


Credit: NASA TV

The TMA-18 crew members were greeted by Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov and flight engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi who arrived at the station Dec. 22 aboard the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft.

"It's great to see you on board the ISS," radioed NASA's deputy ISS program manager Kirk Shireman from Russia's mission control outside Moscow. "I wanted to wish you all a happy Easter. And for Soichi, T.J. and Oleg, it's great to see all of you as a crew of six on board ISS and wish you all the best on this holiday."

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz undocking delayed

The undocking of Soyuz TMA-18 from the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed two orbits to allow troubleshooting of hooks and latches on the Poisk mini-research module side of the docking mechanism.

Expedition 24 crew members Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko remain safely inside the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft, docked to Poisk.

Undocking had been scheduled for 8:35 p.m. CDT.

The new undocking time will be approximately 11:40 p.m., followed by a deorbit burn at 2:14 a.m. and a landing approximately 62 miles (100 km) north of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan -- about 250 miles (400 km) north of the original landing site -- at about 3:05 a.m. CDT.

Earlier Thursday evening, the crew encountered issues sealing the hatches between the Soyuz and station. The problem was resolved and the hatches were closed.

The undocking will mark the end of ISS Expedition 24 and the start of Expedition 25 under NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock's command. Wheelock will remain on the station with flight engineers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin until late November.

Skvortsov handed command of the station over to Wheelock during a ceremony held Wednesday.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz landing postponed

Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, and Mikhail Kornienko will remain onboard the International Space Station (ISS) at least one more day as a result of problems encountered trying to undock their Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft from the Poisk mini-research module.

At 11:12 p.m. CDT Thursday, the Mission Control Centers in Houston and Moscow concurred on a plan to reopen the Soyuz hatches, allowing Skvortsov, Dyson and Kornienko to reenter the station. The planned undocking was prevented when commands being sent to disengage the hooks and latches holding the Soyuz TMA-18 failed. The spacecraft remains securely docked to the Poisk module.

Engineers are continuing to troubleshoot the problem. Expedition 25 commander Doug Wheelock and flight engineeers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin sent down video and still photos of a small star-shaped gear with two broken teeth, and experts are evaluating whether the part is related to the commanding problem.

Flight controllers are tentatively aiming to retry undocking at 9:02 p.m. CDT Friday, resulting in a landing at 12:22 a.m. CDT Saturday, or 11:22 a.m. local Kazakhstan time.

Robert Pearlman
Jumpers installed, Soyuz cleared for landing

The stage is set for Soyuz TMA-18 to undock from the International Space Station (ISS) at 9:02 p.m. CDT Friday after overnight repairs successfully fixed a troublesome docking mechanism.

Station crew members installed a series of jumpers, bypassing a failed component that had prevented commands from being received by the Russian Poisk mini-research module's docking mechanism. Once the jumpers were in place, the Poisk module hooks and latches were successfully opened.

A similar series of hooks and latches on the Soyuz side of the docking mechanism remains in place, firmly holding the spacecraft to the space station.

The station crew will sleep until 1 p.m. before they begin preparations for tonight's undocking and an early Saturday landing for Expedition 24 crew members Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko.

The ISS On-Orbit Status for Sept. 24 provides additional detail about how the problem was addressed and what the crew will experience after undocking tonight.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-18 undocks from the space station

Soyuz TMA-18, with Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, and Mikhail Kornienko onboard, undocked from the Poisk mini-research module on the International Space Station at 9:02 p.m. CDT Friday while flying 222 miles above the Russian-Mongolian border.

The crew members aboard the station bid farewell to one another and closed the hatches between the two spacecraft at 5:35 p.m. CDT.

Three minutes after undocking, two thrusters fired on the Soyuz for a 15-second separation burn, enabling the spacecraft to move away from the space station to a distance of 12 kilometers over the course of two orbits.

A deorbit burn, scheduled for 11:31 p.m., will put the Soyuz on track for a 12:21 a.m. CDT landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan, wrapping up 176 days in space -- 174 onboard the station -- for Skvortsov, Caldwell Dyson and Kornienko.

The successful undocking came one day later than originally planned. A first attempt on Thursday was delayed after hooks failed to open and mission controllers in Moscow had not received the expected "hatch locked" signal from the Poisk module.

Though leak checks between the station and the Soyuz were good, the Poisk hooks failed to open when commanded. After waiting two orbits past the original undocking time, the departing crew members exited the Soyuz vehicle and spent the night in the station.

Flight engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin installed jumper cables to bypass a failed hatch sensor, which allowed Mission Control in Moscow to successfully command the Poisk hooks to open Friday morning.

Soyuz TMA-18's departure marked the end of Expedition 24 and the start of Expedition 25 under the command of Doug Wheelock, who will remain on the station with Shannon Walker and Yurchikhin until late November.

Three additional Expedition 25 crew members, Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, are set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft Oct. 7 (Oct. 8, local time) and dock to the station two days later.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-18 lands safely on Earth

Expedition 24 commander Alexander Skvortsov and flight engineers Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko landed onboard the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft in Kazakhstan on Saturday, wrapping up a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Skvortsov was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at 9:02 p.m. CDT Friday from the Poisk docking port on the station's Zvezda module, a day later than planned because of a hatch sensor problem on Thursday night. That problem prevented hooks on the Poisk side of the docking interface from opening, resulting in a one-day landing delay.

Following undocking and a normal descent, the crew landed at 12:23 a.m. near Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, as the space station orbited 220 miles above over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan.

Russian recovery teams were on hand to help the crew exit the Soyuz and adjust to gravity after 176 days in space. Skvortsov and Kornienko will return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow. Caldwell Dyson will return to Houston aboard a NASA plane.

The three launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in April. As members of the Expedition 23 and 24 crews, they spent 174 days on the station.

Caldwell Dyson and Expedition 25 commander Doug Wheelock made three spacewalks to replace a failed coolant pump module on the station's truss. Kornienko made one spacewalk to perform assembly work on the Russian segment of the complex.

The station is now occupied by Wheelock, who assumed command of the station Wednesday, NASA flight engineer Shannon Walker and Russian flight engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin, who arrived in mid-June.

Three more crew members for Expedition 25, Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, will launch from Baikonur on Oct. 7 (U.S. time) and will arrive on the station about two days later.


Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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