Washington | Three ‘Expedition 47′ crew members today docked safely at the International Space Station (ISS) where they would spend five months to continue the key research that advances NASA’s Journey to Mars, the US space agency said.
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, with Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, orbited Earth four times, and docked at the station. Williams is now the first American to become a three-time, long-term resident of the ISS.
The arrival of Williams, Ovchinin and Skripochka returns the station’s crew complement to six, NASA said. The three join ‘Expedition 47′ Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, they said. The ‘Expedition 47′ crew members will spend five months conducting more than 250 science investigation in fields that benefit all of humanity, such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
Investigations arriving on Orbital ATK’s fifth NASA- contracted commercial resupply mission in late March will include a study of realistic fire scenarios on a spacecraft, enable the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere from space, explore how regolith, or soil, behaves and moves in microgravity, NASA said.
The study will also test a gecko-inspired adhesive gripping device that can stick on command in the harsh environment of space, and add a new 3-D printer for use on station. ‘Expedition 47′ crew members also are expected to receive the first expandable habitat, which will allow NASA its first test of an innovative habitat concept that can support astronauts who live and work in the harsh environment of space.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is an experimental expandable module scheduled for delivery on SpaceX’s eighth NASA-contracted cargo resupply mission this spring. Although astronauts will not live in BEAM, it will be attached to the space station, expanded and tested for a minimum two-year demonstration, and crew members will enter periodically to evaluate performance of the habitat, NASA said.
NASA is considering the use of expandable habitats to support crew members traveling to an asteroid, Mars and other destinations. An expandable habitat such as BEAM takes up less room on a rocket, while allowing additional volume for living and working in space, they said. ‘Expedition 47′ is the current and 47th expedition to the ISS.