Thursday, July 31, 2014

ISS Monthly Recap for July 2014

The six person Expedition 40 crew aboard the International Space Station have wrapped up a very busy month conducting various robotics operations, and a record amount of science and research aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Humans have been living on the ISS for over 5,000 consecutive days
The month began with astronauts in the US segment of the station carrying out maintenance on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly(CDRA). CDRA is responsible for taking unwanted carbon dioxide in the station's atmosphere out of air circulation. This is important in developing systems for removing CO2 from astronauts' breathing air on missions to Mars and beyond in future spacecraft like NASA's Orion Capsule, which will make its first test flight later this year.

July 12 marked the historic milestone of 5,000 days of humans living aboard the International Space Station. Since the first launch of the Expedition 1 crew back in November 2000, over 24,000 hours of science have been conducted aboard the orbiting lab over 40 expeditions. Coincidentally, the current crew aboard the station set a record in July for the amount of science conducted during a week. The six astronauts and cosmonauts completed 82 hours worth of science and research, which will benefit people back on Earth, as well astronauts living in space.

July was a busy month also for the arrival and departures of cargo spacecraft.
On July 16, the Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo craft arrived at the International Space Station. After launching from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on July 13. Expedition 40 commander Steve Swanson and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst supervised the rendezvous and docking procedures three days later on the 16th. Hatches between the ISS and Cygnus were opened on the following morning.

The arrival of Cygnus was followed up by the departure of the Russian Progress 55 resupply ship, which undocked from the station's Pirs Docking Compartment on July 21. 
Cygnus is captured by the station's robotic arm on July 16.

And we all know that things just wouldn't be the same at the ISS if there wasn't a Progress attached. So that's why just a couple of days later the Progress 56 resupply ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, arriving at station on July 24- just six hours after launch.

Finally, in the wee hours of the morning of July 30, the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle launched from the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana on the final mission of the ATV programme. 

ATV-5, which is named after Belgian astronomer George Lemaitre, will spend the next two weeks making its way to the station before it's automated docking to the Zvezda Service Module on August 12.

In summary, July was a very eventful, busy and successful month aboard the International Space Station. With all this new cargo aboard, August has all the makings of being yet another very busy and exciting month aboard the ISS with a series of spacewalks planned for mid-August, along with the arrival of George Lemaitre to the International Space Station.