Three new astronauts are expected to arrive at the International Space Station Dec. 22 after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Dec. 20. Docking is scheduled for 5:54 p.m. EST.
NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, all flight engineers, will complete the Expedition 22 crew, joining current ISS residents NASA astronaut and Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Max Suraev.
As the shorthanded crew waited for the new arrivals, they "kept busy with science and maintenance" projects, according to Klaus Schmidt of Space Fellowship. Williams inspected the crew's ARED (Advanced Resistive Exercise Device). "Used as part of a daily workout routine, ARED helps the station inhabitants preserve muscle strength during their extended time in microgravity." Schmidt continued:
""Williams also recorded some video of the Advanced Plant EXperiments on Orbit - Cambium (APEX-Cambium) experiment. APEX-Cambium uses willow plants flown on the International Space Station to better understand the fundamental processes by which plants produce cellulose and lignin, the two main structural materials found in plant matter. Understanding the role of gravity in wood formation is expected to enable wiser management of forests for carbon sequestration as well as better utilization of trees for wood products. Later, he harvested some of the plant specimens that will be chemically preserved for post-flight analysis.""
Suraev "worked on a replacement of the condensate separation and pumping unit, part of the water reclamation system in the Russian segment of the orbital outpost. He then spent the majority of his afternoon performing maintenance on the station's smoke detectors. Additionally, Suraev completed his periodic fitness evaluation using one of the station's treadmills."
Of the new arrivals, Creamer, 50, a U.S. Army colonel from Upper Marlboro, Md., is on his first spaceflight. He joined NASA's Johnson Space Center in 1995 as a space shuttle vehicle integration test engineer. "Selected as an astronaut in 1998, Creamer was a support astronaut for the Expedition 3 crew and worked with hardware integration and robotics," NASA said in an ISS update.