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Mission 3 – XR2 to TSS

Posted 07-07-2012 at 03:07 AM by Therius

A crew of 7 boarded the XR2 Ravenstar at Ascension Island, TSA headquarters, on June 28th at about 1:20 GMT. The mission was to rendezvous with the TSS and bring it fully online for operations. The mission would be a short one to drop off 3 passengers that would stay on board the station. One is a TSA member, the other two are the first customers to lease the station for experiments. Their affiliation is not being disclosed at this time per customer wishes. The other 4 members of the crew will pilot the XR2 and help bring the station online for service.


The Crew Habitat Module was loaded on board the XR2 in the cargo bay for extra work/living space while docked with the TSS. Some consumables were also carried on-board for use until the next shuttle mission which is scheduled for July 11th 12:05GMT. That will be Mission 4, to carry the docking module for ATV/CTV to the station along with a crew swap out.


XR2 launch was successful and occurred at 2:02GMT on June 28th. However, there was a slight miscalculation of the launch window so a couple of unexpected burns were performed for proper alignment. Orbit was finally aligned with the station at MET 1hr 57min.


The station was behind the XR2 so the orbit was “enlarged” to 204km x 649km. This allowed the station to catch up to the XR2. This occurred about 24hrs into the mission.


MET 28hrs 20min, the XR2 was approx. 4km from the TSS over India.
MET 28hrs 41min, XR2 hard dock with TSS occurred just before orbital sunset. The crew started procedures immediately to prepare for opening the hatch and boarding the station. Systems on board the station had to be verified operational. Once mission control gave the word, the airlock was opened and the station was boarded at MET 30hrs 14mins.


From this point on, the crew carried out normal procedures on station. Cargo was unloaded from the XR2, systems were tested and experiments were started. The station crew slept in crew quarters located in the Artemis Node. There are 4 crew quarters available in the Node. The XR2 crew slept in the Crew Hab Module on board the XR2.


After spending 30hrs 25min on station, nothing unusual was found. The station seemed quite comfortable considering it's early stages of construction. The XR2 members said their goodbyes, then undocked leaving the first crew on board the TSS.


Before de-orbit, the XR2 dumped it's excess fuel and Crew Hab Module for weight reduction. De-orbit maneuvers began at MET 2 days 14:22:00. Touchdown at Ascension Island occurred on time approx. 30 minutes later. Mission accomplished.


The XR2 remains on standby for rescue of personnel on-station should an emergency arise. In the future, a capsule will remain docked to act as a lifeboat.


Here are a few shots of mission highlights. Thanks for watching!



Take off!




Approaching the TSS.





XR2 docked with the TSS




Landing approach after a successful mission to the new station.


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