Monday, March 15, 2010

Crew Members Prep for Undocking, Future Arrivals

Expedition 22 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi performs maintenance on the cooling loops in the U.S. spacesuits housed in the International Space Station’s Quest airlock.

Soaring high over the Earth in the International Space Station, the astronauts and cosmonauts of the Expedition 22 crew began a new week Monday, the final week in space for two of their number.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev will depart the station Thursday aboard the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft. They will undock from the orbiting complex and take a three-and-a-half-hour ride that will culminate in a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan early that morning.

Williams and Suraev began their final week in orbit by testing the Soyuz spacecraft’s motion control system and recharging the satellite telephone they will carry with them in the unlikely event that they land off course in the barren landing region and need to contact search and recovery forces. They also spent three hours going over procedures for their homeward flight with specialists on the ground.

As members of the Expedition 21 and 22 crews, Williams and Suraev will have spent 169 days in space. Including his time on the Expedition 13 and STS-101 crews, this will give Williams a total of 362 days in space, placing him fourth on the all-time U.S. list of space travelers behind Peggy Whitson with 377 days, Mike Foale with 374 and Mike Fincke with 366. Williams will be 26th on the all-time endurance list for all space travelers.

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