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Station Crew Prepares for Soyuz and Shuttle Dockings

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:26 am via: NASA
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(NASA) – With a Soyuz spacecraft and a space shuttle on tap to arrive at the International Space Station in early April, the Expedition 23 crew continued to pack items for return to Earth, review timelines and tackle the usual workload of science and station maintenance Tuesday.

Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and T.J. Creamer began their day by conducting a periodic health status evaluation. The results from these routine physical examinations are downlinked to researchers who are charting any changes to crew health that could be due to the long-term exposure to weightlessness.

Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer (foreground) and Soichi Noguchi both work in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer (foreground) and Soichi Noguchi both work in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Later, Commander Oleg Kotov joined Noguchi and Creamer for a review of items to be transferred to and from the station when space shuttle Discovery arrives. They also conducted an audio conference with logistics specialists in Houston to discuss the choreography involved in the transfers. The STS-131 crew of Discovery is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 5, bringing a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks for the station’s laboratories.

After a break for lunch, all three station crew members tagged up with the STS-131 crew in a private video conference for more discussions of their joint mission.

Most of the systems aboard the station continue to perform well, but flight controllers are looking into the failure of the station’s water recycling system and a problem with one of the station’s treadmills.

The station’s water processor assembly, which cleans wastewater through a series of treatment processes, failed Monday night due to a temperature fault related to the catalyst reactor. A flight investigation team is developing a recovery plan to bring the system back online. Plenty of potable water remains onboard, and wastewater awaiting treatment is being collected and stored until the processor assembly returns to operation.

A routine inspection of the treadmill in the Zvezda service module uncovered the failure of two of the four gyroscope wire ropes, part of the system that isolates vibrations from the treadmill to prevent disturbances to sensitive experiments. With replacement parts already onboard the orbiting complex, flight controllers in Moscow are developing a plan to repair the treadmill prior to the arrival of other crew members. In the meantime, the crew will use the COLBERT treadmill as part of the daily two-hour exercise regimen to stave off the muscle and bone density loss that occurs during long-duration spaceflight.

Meanwhile at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three additional Expedition 23 flight engineers continue preparations for their April 2 launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft. Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson attended the ceremonial raising of U.S. and Russian flags outside their Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters Tuesday.

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