Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, IZ0UDF, now on an International Space Station duty tour that has been extended by about a month, will return to Earth on June 11. Cristoforetti has conducted several Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contacts during her ISS stay. In early May, NASA and its international partners postponed the return of Cristoforetti, astronaut Terry Virts, and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, following the failure in late April of the Russian robotic Progress 59 cargo spacecraft to reach the ISS. The Progress went out of control, eventually burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.
“NASA and its international partners agreed to set a new schedule for spacecraft traffic to and from the International Space Station,” NASA said in a May 12 media release.
“Looks like it’s not time to get my spacesuit ready yet…what a present!” Cristoforetti said after the delay was announced. She arrived on the ISS in November.
Cristoforetti’s departure from the ISS will leave only Russian cosmonauts to support the ARISS program until late July, when Kjell Lindgren, KO5MOS; Oleg Kononenko, RN3DX, and Kimiya Yui arrive at the ISS as part of a scheduled crew rotation. Before flights were reshuffled, they had been scheduled to arrive in May. All three are set to return December 22.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko, RN3BF, and Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, arrived on station in March as part of the Expedition 43/44 crew increment. Kelly and Kornienko will remain on the ISS for 1 year. Padalka also will return to Earth in December.
The next Russian cargo craft, Progress 60, will launch in early July to deliver several tons of food, fuel and supplies. The space station has sufficient supplies to support crews until the fall.
A private SpaceX robotic Dragon capsule is still slated to blast off on its next resupply mission on June 19, but the timing of that flight is now under review, NASA officials said.