The return of three astronauts from the International Space Station marks the end of Expedition 41

Alexander Gerst, Maksim Surayev and Gregory Reid Wiseman assisted after landing in the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Alexander Gerst, Maksim Surayev and Gregory Reid Wiseman assisted after landing in the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A few hours ago, astronauts Gregory Reid Wiseman of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA and Russian cosmonaut Maksim Surayev returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft, which landed smoothly in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent about six months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on May 28, 2014. Initially, they were part of Expedition 40, in the second half of their stay they were part of Expedition 41 with Maksim Surayev as commander of the Station.

In the course of the six months spent on the International Space Station, the three crew members carried out various maintenance routine and many scientific experiments. During Expedition 40, there were the typical arrivals and departures of various spacecraft.

The period of the Expedition 41 was a bit chaotic. The CRS-4 mission of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft took place normally with its arrival in September and its departure at the end of October. Unfortunately, the Orb-3 mission of the Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft went bad because it was destroyed a few seconds after lift off by the explosion of the Antares rocket.

The crew of the International Space Station never had any lack of supplies problems because there’s always food, water and oxygen in abundance in order to avoid risks in the event of resupply delays. Anyway, in this case tyhe arrival of the Russian cargo spacecraft Progress 57 was already scheduled and due to a coincidence it blasted off a few hours after the Cygnus explosion.

The work schedule on the International Space Station included the unloading of everything that was to be transported on the Cygnus, the beginning of the scientific experiments and the installation of the instruments arrived on this spacecraft. Their destruction forced the various space agencies to change dramatically and also quickly the crew schedule. For this reason, some activities planned for the following weeks were brought ahead.

In October, there were three spacewalks. On October 7, Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst carried out some maintenance work outside the International Space Station moving a faulty cooling pump and installing new equipment. On October 15, Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore (of Expedition 41/42) replaced an energy regulator and moved some equipment. On October 22, Maksim Surayev and Alexander Samokutyaev (of Expedition 41/42) carried out some maintenance.

On Saturday, November 8, Maksim Surayev officially handed over command of the International Space Station to the American astronaut Barry Wilmore, marking the beginning of Expedition 42. The crew will be completed by the arrival of three new members, scheduled for late November.

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