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Station Crew Works with Robotics, Prepares for Spaceflight Transports

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:55 am via: NASA
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(NASA) – The Expedition 22 crew of the International Space Station began installing a robotic arm Wednesday while preparing for upcoming spacecraft departures and arrivals.

Inside the Japanese Kibo Laboratory, Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and T.J. Creamer used the Japanese Kibo laboratory’s 33-foot-long main arm to move a smaller robotic arm, known as the small fine arm, out of Kibo’s airlock and into place for deployment. Over the next two days, the two flight engineers will perform a series of checkouts and calibrations of the small fine arm, which will be used on the end of the main arm to move small science experiments and pieces of hardware.

The Japanese Experiment Module Robotic Manipulator System grapples and moves the small fine arm from the Kibo laboratory’s airlock. Credit: NASA TV

The Japanese Experiment Module Robotic Manipulator System grapples and moves the small fine arm from the Kibo laboratory’s airlock. Credit: NASA TV

Meanwhile, Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev worked on pre-packing activities and the transfer of cargo to the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft for their departure from the station on March 18.

In preparation for space shuttle Discovery‘s arrival next month, Creamer conducted a rehearsal photography session. On flight day 3 of the STS-131 mission Creamer and Oleg Kotov, who will by then be Expedition 23 commander, will photograph the shuttle’s heat shield as it performs the rendezvous pitch maneuver shortly before docking. The photos will be sent down to Earth to be analyzed by experts at Johnson Space Center.

Creamer also worked with the Advanced Plant EXperiments on Orbit – Cambium (APEX-Cambium) experiment. APEX-Cambium uses willow plants flown on the International Space Station to better understand the fundamental processes by which plants produce cellulose and lignin, the two main structural materials found in plant matter. Understanding the role of gravity in wood formation is expected to enable wiser management of forests for carbon sequestration, as well as better utilization of trees for wood products.

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