Endeavour Mission Includes First "Dual Docked Operations" With Departing Soyuz

Endeavour Mission Includes First "Dual Docked Operations" With Departing Soyuz

As the Endeavour crew continues its tasks while docked with the International Space Station (ISS), the ISS crew will be executing a crew rotation, with three members of the ISS crew departing the ISS while the shuttle is there.

Russian Dmitry Kondratyev, American Cady Coleman, and Italian Paolo Nespoli will undock and return to Earth on May 23 aboard their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft while the shuttle is still docked with the ISS.

This is the first time NASA and its Russian counterparts have approved the use of “Dual Docked Operations” (DDO). The associated challenges are described on NASASpaceflight.com. They range from technical issues involving proximity operations to asynchronous sleep cycles for the ISS and shuttle crews.

Delays in the launch of Endeavour and to the launch of Soyuz TMA-02M with its replacement ISS crew members necessitated the decision to approve this unusual procedure. Soyuz TMA-02M is now scheduled for launch on June 7 EDT (June 8 Moscow Time) with Russian Sergey Volkov, American Michael Fossum, and Japanese Satoshi Furukawa. They will arrive after the shuttle has departed; it is scheduled to land on June 1.

Meanwhile, the Endeavour crew successfully installed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) particle physics experiment on the ISS starboard truss this morning.

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