L+200: Logbook - Part 4

This is the fourth entry in a final series of logbooks looking back at departure, landing and re-adaptation!

Strapping in in the Soyuz is not as quick as fastening your seatbelt: the space is cramped, the position uncomfortable, some of the straps are hard to reach. Additionally, as I had learned during our Sokol leak check, being weightless doesn’t make it any easier, since your body doesn’t stay put in the seat. So I was glad when everything was done: oxygen and ventilation hoses attached, com and biomedical cables connected, shoulder, lap and knee straps fastened. I didn’t tighten them, since it would still be several hours before the deorbit burn and our re-entry in the atmosphere. In spite of the physical effort of strapping in, I still didn’t feel too warm in the Sokol, so I did not turn on the suit ventilation, enjoying a few more minutes of quietness.

Over the radio came the dear, familiar voice of our Soyuz instructor, Dima, who would be on space-to-ground from Moscow today, just like he had been our “control center voice” for hundreds of hours in the simulator back in Star City. He asked me for the status of our suit donning ops and I reported that I was strapped in and Anton was helping Terry in the orbital module. Then I selected the page on my command-and-control display showing the technical parameters of our vehicle. Everything looked good, except that our CO2 level was trending high, close to 4 mm Hg. I was about to report it, but Mission Control Moscow was obviously watching it already via telemetry: Dima instructed me over the radio to activate our CO2 scrubbing now, a bit earlier than it would have been foreseen in the checklist. 

A few more pressure reports from Terry and Anton, which I relayed to Moscow, and the leak check was deemed complete and passed: undocking from the ISS was safe. By the way, I should add that we had also performed a check of the attitude thrusters a few days before undocking. First, the flight controllers had taken the ISS in drift mode, meaning that the Station would allow itself to be brought slightly out of attitude by the Soyuz thrusters firings, without actively trying to compensate for those disturbances. Then Anton and I had taken our seats in the Soyuz, we had configured Soyuz systems so that the manual controls would control thrusters firings and Anton had deflected the controllers in all six degrees of freedom in sequence, giving us a chance to make sure that they would react properly to all control inputs, both the in primary and backup control loop.

Back to the departure day, it was now Terry’s turn to strap himself in the seat. Within a few minutes Anton also joined us in the descent module, closing the hatch that separated us from the orbital module.

Once we were all strapped in, we put on the gloves and closed the helmet to start the leak check of our suits. First we turned the blue regulator valve on our chests to the closed position and the simple ventilation flow from the fans blew up our suits just slightly. Then Anton gave a short 5-seconds countdown, at the end of which he started the stopwatch, as I simultaneously opened the valve that started an oxygen flow into our suits. We each monitored the increase of suit pressure on our wrist manometer and reported when we reached 0,1 atm and 3,5 atm, so that Anton could write down the “filling times”. The ground was also following along, since we had locked-in the transmit button before starting the leak check.
After reaching 3.5 atm each of us let the suit deflate, controlling the flow rate with the regulator valve in order to give time to our ears to compensate for the pressure drop. Then we opened our helmet and I closed the supply line from the oxygen tanks. We would not remove the gloves any more until after landing.

Good news: all of our suits had “filled up” within the required time, passing the leak check. Another potential hurdle on our departure schedule was behind us!

Photo: from this screenshot from our launch video you can see how cramped it is in the Soyuz!

Futura mission website (Italian): Avamposto42
avamposto42.esa.int
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(Trad IT)  Traduzione in italiano a cura di +AstronautiNEWS 
qui: http://www.astronautinews.it/tag/logbook

(Trad FR) Traduction en français par +Anne Cpamoa  ici: https://spacetux.org/cpamoa/category/traductions/logbook-samantha

(Trad ES) Tradducción en español por +Carlos Lallana Borobio 
http://laesteladegagarin.blogspot.com.es/search/label/SamLogBook

(Trad DE) Deutsche Übersetzung von http://www.logbuch-iss.de

(Trad RUS) Русский перевод +Dmitry Meshkov http://samlogbook-ru.livejournal.com
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