Friday, September 24, 2010

Crew Boards Russian Craft For 2nd Attempt To Return To Earth

Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut closed the hatch between their Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station tonight as they prepare to make a second attempt to return to Earth.

Outgoing station skipper Alexander Skvortsov and flight engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson floated into the Soyuz through the Russian Piosk docking compartment about 6:30 p.m. and soon will be donning partial-pressure flight suits for the trip back to Earth.

Hooks and latches between the craft failed to open during an initial attempt to depart the station late Thursday and early today. Flight controllers said computer commands intended to initiate the opening of the mechanisms did not reach the Soyuz.

The crew earlier today installed jumper cables to route the commands around suspect electrical connectors and an initial set of hooks and latches was successfully opened. Flight controllers do not expect trouble during the undocking later tonight.

You can watch live coverage of the undocking starting at 9:45 p.m. here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer. The Soyuz is scheduled to pull away from the station around 10 p.m.

Live coverage of a planned deorbit burn and return to Earth will pick at midnight. The deorbit burn is slated to take place around 12:30 a.m. Saturday and landing in Kazakhstan is scheduled for 1:21 a.m. Saturday.

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