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Research and Maintenance for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Dec 3, 2010 9:41 am via: NASA
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The three Expedition 26 crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted research and performed maintenance tasks Thursday while awaiting the arrival of three additional flight engineers aboard a Soyuz on Dec. 17.

Commander Scott Kelly conducted another test session with the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) experiment. Inspired by the practice “remote” that Luke Skywalker used to hone his light saber skills in “Star Wars,” SPHERES consists of three bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites that perform flight formations within the station. Each satellite is self-contained with power, propulsion, computers and navigation equipment. The results could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.

Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka installed cables in the Russian segment of the station to establish a new high-speed data rate downlink capability. The Radio Technical System for Information Transfer will enable large data files to be downlinked from the Russian segment, but won’t be complete until an external antenna is installed on Zvezda during the 27th Russian assembly spacewalk, currently planned for Jan. 21.

Later, Kelly and Skripochka had time set aside to complete Crew Medical Officer training.

A new trio of Expedition 26 flight engineers, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 15. They will dock with the station and join its crew on Dec. 17.

Currently in Star City, Russia, Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli participated in medical exams and finalized some administrative work. On Friday they will fly to Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan for two weeks of pre-launch training and activities.

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