The Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft rolled out to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome Wednesday morning for its launch Friday at 12:04 a.m. EDT. The Russian vehicle will carry three more Expedition 23 flight engineers, Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko, to dock with the International Space Station Sunday.
Meanwhile aboard the station, the Expedition 23 crew prepared for the arrival of its new crew members while getting ready for the coming of the STS-131 crew aboard space shuttle Discovery.
Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov, along with Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi, reviewed the STS-131 joint-mission timeline with control teams on Earth.
After launching April 5, Discovery and the STS-131 crew will arrive at the orbital laboratory April 7. Discovery is delivering new science racks and ammonia tanks. While there, two shuttle astronauts will perform three spacewalks to switch out ammonia tanks on the station.
After the Soyuz and shuttle arrive, there will be 13 people living in space for over a week. Two Japanese astronauts will be working in space together for the first time – Noguchi and Mission Specialist Naoko Yamazaki.
There also will be four female astronauts living in space concurrently for the first time – Caldwell Dyson, Yamazaki and Mission Specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson.
A leak was detected in the Water Processing Assembly following inspections made by the crew and specialists in Mission Control this week.
Spare parts for the mechanism will be delivered on Discovery and a replacement will likely have to be made. The crew will set up an alternative method to deliver water for drinking using a hose system and collapsible water containment bags hooked up to the Potable Water Dispenser. They also will get water from the Russian segment of the station.