Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ISS Expedition 40 ready to go Soyuz TMA-13M launch

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst in Soyuz TMA-13M, the spacecraft that will carry him, Roscosmos commander Maxim Suraev, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman to the International Space Station on 28 May 2014. 

Five days before launch, the Expedition 40/41 astronauts took one last look at their spacecraft in the scaffolding. 

The next day it was rolled out to the pad for the flight to space. 

Credit: ESA

From unusual training to upholding cherished traditions, everything is being done to ensure that ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and his crewmates arrive at the International Space Station on Thursday safely and in good health – including being flipped upside down and relieving themselves on the wheel of a bus.

The crew landed at the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan two weeks before the 28 May launch and continue preparing themselves for the disorientation of living in weightlessness.

Russian physicians believe that tilting astronauts heads-down and spinning them in chairs gives balance organs a first taste of the confusion they will experience in weightlessness.

Most astronauts suffer space sickness during the first days in orbit as their bodies adapt to the new environment, rather like sea sickness.

The brain and other organs receive conflicting signals in weightlessness – Alexander's eyes will signal that he is moving around the Space Station but his sense of motion will report the opposite.

However, crews must operate the Soyuz immediately after launch and then start work as soon as they board the Space Station.

During the first days in space many human physiology experiments study how the body adapts to the new environment.

Crews are quarantined before launch, as contact with people other than physicians and key personnel is kept to a minimum. A simple cold puts the whole mission at risk and Alexander has been training 2.5 years for his flight.

The Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft is rolled out by train from its MIK preparation building to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad on Monday 26 May 2014 in Kazakhstan. 

Credit: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2014

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