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Forum:Soviet - Russian Space
Topic:Soyuz TMA-20 mission to the space station
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Robert PearlmanNASA Television video release
Soyuz rolls out to pad for Wednesday launch

As their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft is mated to its launch vehicle and rolled out to its launch pad, Expedition 26 members Cady Coleman, Paolo Nespoli and Dmitry Kondratyev participate in crew activities in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Their launch to the International Space Station is scheduled for 1:09 p.m. CST on Wednesday.

Robert PearlmanNASA Headquarters photo release
Soyuz TMA-20: Pre-flight preparations in Baikonur
Robert PearlmanNASA Television video release
Soyuz TMA-20 Crew Hold Final Pre-Launch News Conference

As they make their final preparations for Wednesday's launch to the International Space Station, Expedition 26 members Cady Coleman, Paolo Nespoli and Dmitry Kondratyev talk with reporters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

They also participated in the Expedition 26 State Commission at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-20 launches to the space station

Soyuz TMA-20 lifted off at 1:09 p.m. CST on Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Roscomos cosmonaut Dmitry "Dima" Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Caterine "Cady" Coleman and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli are on their way to International Space Station (ISS).

They will dock to the station's Rassvet mini-research module Friday afternoon. After hatch opening the crew will participate in a traditional greeting ceremony, talk to family and officials on the ground and then be briefed on station safety procedures.

The current station residents, Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly and flight engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, have been living and working on the space station since Oct. 9. They are scheduled to end their stay in March when they land in Kazakhstan aboard Soyuz TMA-01M.

During Expedition 26, the six crew members will continue scientific research, perform station maintenance and welcome several visiting vehicles.

Kondratyev and Skripochka will conduct two spacewalks, which are scheduled for Jan. 21 and late February. They will install an antenna to complete an information transfer system that sends large computer files to and from the station. The spacewalkers also will perform work on the outside of the Russian station modules.

In addition to shuttle Discovery's planned visit during the STS-133 mission in February, the Expedition 26 crew is expecting the arrival of three resupply vehicles in January and February.

The second Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle, called Kounotori, or white stork, is scheduled to launch Jan. 20 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. It will be attached robotically to the Earth-facing docking port on the station's Harmony module on Jan. 27.

The second ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle, named for famed mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, is scheduled to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, on Feb. 15. It will dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module on Feb. 26.

The Russian Progress 41 resupply craft is scheduled to launch from Baikonur on Jan. 28 and dock to the Pirs docking compartment on Jan. 31.

The three new Expedition 26 crew members will officially become the Expedition 27 crew when Kelly, Kaleri, and Skripochka undock and return home. Kondratyev, Coleman, and Nespoli are scheduled to complete their stay in May.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-20 docks at the space station

Soyuz TMA-20 arrived at the International Space Station with three new crew members for Expedition 26.

The docking to the to the Rassvet mini-research module occurred at 2:11 p.m. CST (2011 GMT) as the space station flew over western Africa at an altitude of 224 miles.

Hatches between the two craft are scheduled to be opened around 5 p.m., when Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitry "Dima" Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli will join Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly and flight engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka as members of the station's crew.

Robert Pearlman
Robert Pearlman
Hatches closed between Soyuz and station

At 1:45 p.m. CDT on Monday (May 23), the hatches were closed between the International Space Station (ISS) and Soyuz TMA-20. Expedition 27 crew members Dmitry Kondratyev with Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli with the European Space Agency are preparing to undock at 4:35 p.m.

After it undocks, the Soyuz will move to between 590 and 650 feet from the space station and hold in place while Nespoli takes still photographs and video of the space station. The station will rotate 130 degrees to provide Nespoli with ideal views of the complex with shuttle Endeavour attached.

The deorbit burn targeted for 8:36 p.m. will lead to a landing at 9:26 p.m. in Kazakhstan.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz separates from station

Soyuz TMA-20, carrying three Expedition 27 crewmembers, departed the International Space Station Monday (May 23), on its way back to Earth with a brief layover to capture imagery of the orbiting complex and the space shuttle Endeavour attached to it.

The Russian spacecraft undocked from the ISS at 4:35 p.m. CDT beginning its journey home with a landing in Kazakhstan planned for 9:26 p.m. (8:26 a.m. May 24 local time).

Before leaving the vicinity of the station, Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev will fly the Soyuz to a distance of between 590 and 650 feet away and pause, allowing European Space Agency (ESA) flight engineer Paolo Nespoli to climb out his seat, enter the spacecraft's orbital module, and photograph the orbiting lab with space shuttle Endeavour docked.

This is the first time a Soyuz has departed the station while a shuttle has been present.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-20 lands on Earth

After spending 159 days in space — 157 onboard the International Space Station — Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli landed safely on Earth onboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft.

Touchdown was recorded at 9:27 p.m. CDT on Monday (May 23), southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Russian recovery teams were on hand to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after their five-month stay in space. Kondratyev will return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow, while NASA's Coleman and ESA's Nespoli will fly directly to Houston.

During their mission, the Expedition 26 and 27 crewmates worked on over 150 experiments in human research, biology and biotechnology, physical and materials sciences, technology development and Earth and space sciences.

A quick succession of international space vehicles arrived on the station's loading docks during the five months the trio spent in orbit. The Japanese Kounotori2, or "white stork," H-II Transfer Vehicle 2; two Russian Progress cargo ships; the European Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle-2; and, on their final flights, shuttles Discovery and Endeavour delivered more than 15 tons of supplies necessary for working and living aboard the station, as well as the new cosmic ray detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

A veteran of three spaceflights, Coleman has logged 179 days in space. During two flights, Nespoli has spent 174 days in space. It was the first mission for Kondratyev.

Expedition 28 commander Andrey Borisenko and flight engineers Ron Garan and Alexander Samokutyaev remain aboard the station.

Three new Expedition 28 crew members, Soyuz commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineers Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard Soyuz TMA-02M at 2:15 p.m. CDT June 7 (2:15 a.m. Baikonur time June 8) and will dock to the complex two days later.

Lewis007The 'Welcome-Home' ceremony was held for the Soyuz TMA-20 (ISS-26/27) crew in Star City on June 29. The astronauts were traditionally welcomed with bread and salt. They also put flowers at the statue of Gagarin, after which a reception was held indoors.

A surprise came for commander Kondratyev when he was presented with a black belt in Karate (as he passed exams in November, a month before the start of the mission). Embroidered on the belt was his name, in Japanese characters.

During a subsequent press conference, journalists asked about their impressions of the space missions and what they did in their spare time. Kondratyev spoke about his desire to do karate exercises aboard the ISS, but added that the absence of gravity made this problematic. Nespoli spoke about the numerous pictures he made of Earth, and Coleman about playing the flute aboard ISS.

[additional photos]

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