Mission day #16 April 7: Arrival of the Dragon 2 cargo ship
The Dragon 2 cargo was about to arrive at MoonDotStation after a short 3-day cruise from Earth to this orbit around the Lagrange point EML-1 with MoonDotStation. It was bringing some important cargo to the Station: a replacement Solar panel and Xenon fuel for the APP module, water and some cheese. Yeah!
The new version 2 of the Dragon cargo ship has some upgrades compared to the first version. One of the upgrades is an automatic docking system. As you know version one of that ship needed to be captured with the CanadArm to be berthed to the ISS. That is an crew-intense task. Not so here: I was just sitting in the Cupola of the station and was watching for anomalies during the approach of the Dragon 2 cargo ship. In the case of an anomaly my only task was to press the RED button to abort the approach of the ship.
I was a bit nervous when I was noticing that the nose cap of the Dragon was not exactly in the expected position. I figured out that this was not a real problem and was happy that the docking maneuver was successfully completed. The important cargo had arrived. Unfortunately, the Dragon 2 ship arrived too late for an ingress at the same day. So I had to be patient a bit waiting for the next day to come.
Mission day #17 April 8: Housekeeping and cheese at MoonDotStation
I had a short night and did an early ingress into the Dragon 2 cargo ship. The delivered cheese in the Dragon may have played a role for this behaviour of yours truly. 😉 Obviously, my early ingress was not going to be undiscovered. Therefore some images of this ingress do exist.
Next was the housekeeping at MoonDotStation – as always on a Saturday. That is a tradition based on what human spaceflyers do on-board of ISS. After finishing this task I had the pleasure to enjoy a bit of the delivered cheese. Well deserved! 😉
Mission day #18 April 9: Sleeping for science and leisure time
This night was a very special one. I was wearing a suit prepped with several scientific sensors. This was an experiment to actually take pictures of my dreams. And surprise, surprise – the experiment worked.
Dreams are often quite strange as they mix several influences to something bizarre. Thus, this night I was dreaming that I was on spacewalk surfing on a monolith made of cheese in absolute nothingness. Note that I watched my favourite movies „2001“ and „2010“ very recently – and these movies are full of these monoliths. And cheese and spacewalks were main topics during the recent mission days. And now I have pictures of this bizarre dream mixing all of these influences.
In the evening I took the opportunity to look from the cupola of the station to the millions and millions of stars. Absolutely amazing! And I tried to take pictures …
Mission day #19 April 10: Preparations for spacewalk #2
Tomorrow the next spacewalk is planned. One of my main work sites will be the end of the trunk of the Dragon 2 cargo ship. To get an idea how that looks like I released the mini satellite to take a few pics of the trunk.
Inside the station I collected all items that I will need for my spacewalk. One of these important items is the flexible tube for refuelling the Xenon tanks from the tanks in the Dragon trunk.
In the evening I had a bit time to relax and to take a breathtaking view at the full moon from inside the Cupola. That was stunning as the Moon is only in a distance of about 60,000 km from the station.
Mission day #20 April 11: Spacewalk #2 – repairing the APP module
This was a very important day. My task was to repair the APP module to enable that the entire MoonDotStation can be relocated to the desired orbit around the Moon. In the Moon orbit the station will serve as a gateway for missions to the surface of the Moon and for missions to explore the Solar System.
The first task of the EVA was to refill the Xenon fuel tanks of the APP module. For this I had to connect the two full tanks in the Dragon tank with the ones in the APP module with an flexible tube system. This was working very smoothly without any issue, also thanks to my new jet pack.
The next task was more difficult: Unmounting the defect Solar panel from the APP module. The unmounting itself was easy as the panels are designed to be replaced. It was helpful that the panel had been successfully folded back into the stowed position. The tricky part was now to get rid of the defect panel. It is too big to be stored outside or inside the station. Thus, unfortunately, I had to throw it away from the station. I had to push it away with quite some force to avoid later recontacts with the station. And I was successful with this part of the operation! Yeah!
Next was to pick up the replacement Solar panel from the trunk of the Dragon 2 cargo ship and to mount it at the APP module. That was easily done! That was also finishing the critical repair of the APP module.
The final main task of my spacewalk was to mount a special plate honouring Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit Earth, at the Dragon ship. This first human spaceflight happened on April 12, 1961. Tomorrow will be 56th anniversary of this historic event. And tomorrow we will do a special ceremony because of that.
With mounting the Gagarin plate to the Dragon ship my spacewalk was almost over. Cleaning up the worksites was left. I stored my jet pack at the APP module. I protected the stored jet pack with a special cover. And finally I picked up the foot restraint that I had forgotten outside during my first spacewalk last week. And then, after 3.5 hours I finished this very successful spacewalk by closing the hatch of the airlock form inside.
Mission day #21 April 12: Departure of the Dragon – honouring Gagarin
During the night Mission Control had successfully unfurled the newly installed Solar panel of the APP module. Now the module had again the full power supply ready to support the upcoming important mission to relocate MoonDotStation to Lunar orbit. In Lunar orbit the station will serve as a gateway for missions going to the surface of the Moon and missions into deep space opening the Solar System to mouse- and menkind.
Interestingly, NASA, ESA, JAXA, the Russian and the Canadian space agencies are now planning a small station in Lunar orbit that is relatively similar to MoonDotStation. They call it Deep Space Gateway. It consists of Solar electric propulsion module and 2-3 small modules that allow 4 person crews to stay for a few months on-board. Later on a big habitat module may follow allowing crews to stay for one year testing the life support systems and other systems for future flights to Mars. And Lunar landings could stage from the gateway, too.
We have similar plans for MoonDotStation. Next step is have a Moon lander. It might be an uncrewed one first. As we want to build a little MoonDotVillage we have to make sure that we have access to water ice at the planned site for the base. For this reason a Lunar rover may look for the best potential sites at the Moon first. But plans are not fixed yet. An alternative might be that I will do this exploration job at the surface of the Moon.
To be able to releocate MoonDotStation to a Lunar orbit suitable for the upcoming tasks the station needs to shed some unnessary weight. Therefore the Dragon 2 cargo ship had to undock. Again, that was an automatic process and I was only an observer. After undocking the cargo ship made a small maneuver with the remaining fuel flying towards the Moon. It was gravitationally captured by the Moon and will stay forever in this wide Lunar orbit. This includes the Gagarin plate mounted at the cargo ship. Now 56 years after the historic flight of Yuri Gagarin a plate honouring Gagarin has found its place in space and eternity!
After the departure of the Dragon cargo ship I did some first preparations for my departure planned for the next day.
Fortunately, there was enough time to enter the Cupola for a final time before departure. It may take a while until I will be back at the station.
Mission day #22 April 13: Leaving MoonDotStation
After a very successful mission bringing MoonDotStation in the best shape possible for its long cruise to a Nearly Rectilinear Orbit (NRO) of the Moon I was ready to leave MoonDotStation. After loading the final items necessary for the trip back to Earth into my MoonDot spaceship I was closing the hatch of the station behind me.
I needed some time to prepare the spaceship for undocking. Mainly I did tests if all systems are working – and they did. Thus, undocking occured as planned without any issues. Well, it was my fourth undocking from MoonDotStation after all.
Well, I had the nice blue intense light switched on in my MoonDot capsule during undocking. Actually, that is a bit against the rules as light reflections could be irritating. But as I am a very experienced spaceflyer I was able to deal with that nicely.
The free flying mini satellite equipped with a camera did its final job after undocking: taking pictures of my spaceship. I did not pick up the satellite as its cold gas was almost depleted.
And so the long cruise back to Earth begun …
Mission day #23 – #26 April 14-17: The long cruise back to Earth
This time the cruise back to Earth took almost 5 days. An optimal trajectory needs about three days normally. As my mission took a few days more than expected due to the inspection and repair of the APP module the trajectory was not that optimal anymore. This could have been compensated if there would have been enough fuel left in tanks of the European Service Module. But I had spent a lot fuel for the additional maneuver for inspecting the APP module. So I had to take it as it is and return to Earth just over the Easter period. Well, I had enough cheese left for this, and a nice Easter egg made of chocolade, and several movies to watch …
On Easter Sunday I was sending my Easter greetings to Earth. The images for this were prerecorded at MoonDotStation. In my tiny capsule isn’t enough space for taking meaningful pictures. In my new spaceship there will eventually more space available.
And I was very happy that people were sending pictures and Easter greetings to me. Many, many thanks for this. I made the long cruise much more fun than I had feared. Thanks a lot!
Overall, the 5 day cruise back to Earth went very well. And now I was looking forward to put my feet back at Earth again.
Mission day #27 April 18: Touchdown
Today I have returned to Earth. The landing happened before dawn at the beach of Clearwater, Florida. In Florida, what? Most of you know that I was landing with my capsule in Spain so far. That was also an option today but would have needed a skip reentry maneuver we have never done before. Additionally, winds were calmer in Florida than in Spain. As you remember we had problems with strong winds during earlier landings leading to hard touchdowns. To avoid similar issues we opened two landings sites this time, and finally decided to use the site in Florida.
The final midcourse correction maneuver put me right on track for the touchdown in Florida. The entire procedure including separation of the European Service Module, reentry and ejection of the main parachute went fine. Finally, my #MoonDot capsule touched down at 10:27 am UTC at the beach of Clearwater after a total mission duration of 25 days, 17 hours and 45 seconds.
The recovery crew, my American friends the Astros K. & S., were helping me to get out the capsule. Finally I was able to put my feet again on Earth! Great to be back!
Many thanks for following my final mission to MoonDotStation – orbiting the Lagrange point EML-1. This mission was a great success. MoonDotStation is now on the way to Lunar orbit after the succcessful repair of the APP module.
1.6 million thanks to every single one of the total audience of this mission. 14.3 million impressions are a new record for all my missions. This is very appreciated.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
P.S.: That was not enough of a MoonDot mission for you? Well, here is the link for MoonDot mission #3: https://mausonaut.wordpress.com/eng-the-third-mission-to-the-moondotstation-an-assembly-mission/