On March 11, Expedition 42 will wind up its mission on the International Space Station (ISS). Cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova and NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore will head back to earth after six months in space. Wilmore will hand over command of the space station to Terry Virts. The change of command and return will be livestreamed on NASA TV.
In preparation, the cosmonauts trained for Soyuz descent procedures and checked that emergency communications equipment were functioning properly. Astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts wrapped up their three spacewalks by scrubbing down the cooling loops of their spacesuits. They sampled the water in the loops, since there had been a problem with minor water leakage in one of the suits. They also discussed their spacewalk experiences with experts at mission control.
To prepare for the departure of the Soyuz craft, the ISS raised its orbit. The crew also deployed two more cubesats, bringing the total number to sixteen; the nanosatellites will perform a variety of scientific experiments.
Remaining behind on the ISS to join Expedition 43 are ESA astronaut Samantha Cristforetti, NASA astronaut Terry Virts, and Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. The three will form the crew of the ISS for two weeks before they are joined on March 27 by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Roscosmos cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka to begin Expedition 43.
The NASA Television coverage schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, March 10:
10:25 a.m. — Change of command ceremony in which Wilmore hands over station command to Virts
Wednesday, March 11:
3 p.m. — Farewell and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure scheduled at 3:25 p.m.)
6:15 p.m. — Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled at 6:44 p.m.)
9 p.m. — Deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn scheduled at 9:16 p.m., with landing at 10:08 p.m.)
Thursday, March 12:
12 a.m. — Video File of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities
10:30 a.m. — Video File of landing and post-landing activities and post-landing interview with Wilmore in Kazakhstan