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Station Crew Ready for Holiday Weekend

Published by Matt on Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:32 pm via: NASA
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After a week of preparations, Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency’s robotic handyman, took part in a series of tasks Thursday that will officially certify the robot for duty.Commander Scott Kelly conducted an experiment that studies colloids, which are substances microscopically interspersed throughout other substances. The Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-5 (BCAT-5) observes colloids and their interactions in microgravity. Benefits of the experiment may include improved engineering and industrial applications back on Earth.

Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka worked in the Russian segment of the station performing scheduled maintenance and conducting science experiments.

The newest crew members, Flight Engineers Dmitry Kondratyev, Catherine Coleman and Paolo Nespoli, continued to familiarize themselves with their new home in orbit throughout the week, taking part in orientation activities and participating in emergency drills.

The station was boosted into a higher orbit Wednesday when the docked Progress 39 spacecraft fired its thrusters for 21 minutes. The atmospheric drag of low-Earth orbit lowers a spacecraft’s orbit over time requiring periodic reboosts to maintain proper altitude.

A second reboost is planned for January to put the orbital laboratory into position for three new vehicles scheduled to dock next year. The second Japanese H2 Transfer Vehicle, Progress 41 and space shuttle Discovery are scheduled to arrive over a period of two weeks in January and February. The Progress 40 spacecraft also will be in position for a Jan. 20 undocking.

Over the holiday weekend, the crew will enjoy some off-duty time and have an opportunity to speak with family members. The lighter weekend schedule will include regular maintenance and exercise activities as well as opportunities for voluntary science investigations.

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