Expedition 31


ISS Expedition 31
Mission typeISS Expedition
Space StationInternational Space Station
Began27 April 2012, 08:15 (2012-04-27UTC08:15Z) UTC[1]
Ended1 July 2012, 04:48 (2012-07-01UTC04:49Z) UTC[2]
Arrived aboardSoyuz TMA-03M
Soyuz TMA-04M
Departed aboardSoyuz TMA-03M
Soyuz TMA-04M
Crew size6
MembersExpedition 30/31:
Oleg Kononenko
André Kuipers
Don Pettit

Expedition 31/32:
Joseph M. Acaba
Gennady Padalka
Sergei Revin
ISS Expedition 31 Patch.png Expedition 31 crew portrait.jpg
(l-r) Acaba, Padalka, Revin, Kuipers, Kononenko and Pettit 

Expedition 31 was the 31st long-duration expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). It began on 27 April 2012 with the departure from the ISS of the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft, which returned the Expedition 30 crew to Earth.[1] The expedition ended on 1 July 2012, when crew members Oleg Kononenko, André Kuipers and Don Pettit departed from the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-03M, marking the beginning of Expedition 32.[2]


Position First part
(April 2012 to May 2012)
Second part
(May 2012 to July 2012)
Commander Oleg Kononenko, RSA
Second spaceflight
Flight Engineer 1 André Kuipers, ESA
Second spaceflight
Flight Engineer 2 Don Pettit, NASA
Third spaceflight
Flight Engineer 3 Joseph M. Acaba, NASA
Second spaceflight
Flight Engineer 4 Gennady Padalka, RSA
Fourth spaceflight
Flight Engineer 5 Sergei Revin, RSA
Only spaceflight

Mission highlights

Soyuz TMA-22 departure

Expedition 31 formally began on 27 April 2012, with the departure from the ISS of the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft. Soyuz TMA-22 successfully returned Expedition 30 astronauts Dan Burbank, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoli Ivanishin to Earth.[1] The ISS was left under the command of astronauts Kononenko, Kuipers and Pettit, who had arrived at the station aboard Soyuz TMA-03M on 23 December 2011.

Soyuz TMA-04M arrival

The final three members of Expedition 31 – Acaba, Padalka and Revin – arrived at the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-04M, which launched on 15 May 2012,[7] and docked to the ISS on 17 May at 4:36 UTC.[8]

SpaceX Dragon test mission

SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft conducted a test rendezvous with the ISS during Expedition 31, as part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program; it was the first commercial spacecraft to rendezvous with the ISS. Following a series of delays,[9] Dragon launched on 22 May 2012, and berthed successfully with the ISS on 25 May, after conducting a series of orbital test manoeuvres.[10][11] Dragon carried around 544 kilograms (1,199 lb) of cargo to the ISS, including food, clothing, a laptop computer and 15 student experiments.[10][12] After being loaded with 660 kilograms (1,460 lb) of downmass cargo, including completed experiments and redundant equipment, it undocked from the station and returned to Earth on 31 May 2012.[13][14] Dragon landed intact in the Pacific Ocean and was successfully recovered, allowing SpaceX to begin regular cargo flights to the ISS.[15] The first such logistics mission, CRS SpX-1, launched successfully in October 2012.[16][17]

Soyuz TMA-03M departure

Soyuz TMA-03M departed from the ISS on 1 July 2012, successfully returning Kononenko, Kuipers and Pettit to Earth. Their departure marked the formal end of Expedition 31, and the beginning of Expedition 32.[2]

In popular culture

In the 2012 The Big Bang Theory episode "The Friendship Contraction", character Howard Wolowitz revealed that he would be a member of a fictionalized Expedition 31.[18]



Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ a b c "Soyuz TMA-22 returns to Earth with three outbound ISS crewmembers". NASASpaceflight.com, 27 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Harding, Pete (1 July 2012). "Soyuz TMA-03M undocks from ISS and returns to Earth". NASASpaceFlight (not associated with NASA). Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  3. ^ NASA HQ (2009). "NASA and its International Partners Assign Space Station Crews". NASA. Retrieved 7 October 2009.
  4. ^ NASA HQ (2010). "NASA And Partners Assign Crews For Upcoming Space Station Missions". NASA. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  5. ^ ESA astronaut André Kuipers to spend six months on the ISS starting in 2011
  6. ^ "Expedition 31 crew page". NASA. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Three New Crew Members En Route to Station". Latest News. NASA. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  8. ^ Harwood, William (17 May 2012). "Three-man crew docks at International Space Station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  9. ^ "SpaceX Dragon chokes at the last second". The Register. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  10. ^ a b "SpaceX Launches Private Capsule on Historic Trip to Space Station". Space.com. 22 May 2012.
  11. ^ "Station grabs SpaceX Dragon ship". BBC. 25 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Private cargo rocket launch a giant leap for space entrepreneur". Austin American-Statesman. 23 May 2012.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "SpaceX Dragon Capsule opens new era". Reuters via BusinessTech.co.za. 28 May 2012.
  14. ^ "Splashdown for SpaceX Dragon spacecraft". BBC. 31 May 2012.
  15. ^ "Its First Mission Done, SpaceX Looks to More Private Flights". The New York Times. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  16. ^ Bergin, Chris (31 August 2012). "SpaceX conduct successful WDR on their latest Falcon 9". NASASpaceFlight.com. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  17. ^ "Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission". Space.com. 8 October 2012.
  18. ^ "The Friendship Contraction". The Big Bang Theory. Season 5. Episode 15. 2 February 2012. 02:20 minutes in.

External links

  • NASA's Space Station Expeditions page
  • End of Expedition 30/Beginning of Expedition 31 video
  • Expedition 30/31 - Change of Command Ceremony video
  • End of Expedition 31/Beginning of Expedition 32 video
  • Expedition 31/32 - Change of Command Ceremony video
  • Expedition 31 Photography