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Tuesday Night De-Orbit for Kounotori2

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:44 am via: NASA
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After the Expedition 27 crew’s daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, Flight Engineer Cady Coleman began her workday Tuesday aboard the International Space Station with the Nanoskeleton experiment. Coleman set up a camera and prepared a test sample for this experiment, which looks at the effect of gravity on oil flotation, sedimentation and convection on crystals generated in microgravity.

In the wake of Monday’s grapple and release of the Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV2), Coleman also spent some time Tuesday stowing the hardware command panel for the Japanese cargo ship. Kounotori2, which spent two months at the orbiting complex, is scheduled to be de-orbited Tuesday night. A final thruster firing at 10:36 p.m. EDT puts the HTV2 on track to begin entering the Earth’s atmosphere around 11:09 p.m. for a destructive re-entry over the southern Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and South America.

Coleman later took a break from her duties to speak with WGBY-TV in Springfield, Mass., as well as the Springfield Technical Community College.

Cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, commander of Expedition 27, dedicated much of his morning to the replacement of part of the water purification unit in the Russian segment of the station.

Kondratyev also worked with two experiments, Rusalka and Relaxation. Rusalka uses science hardware and a camera to take readings of carbon dioxide and methane in the Earth’s atmosphere. Relaxation makes ultraviolet spectrometer observations of the chemiluminescent reactions in the Xenon plasma from firings of the two plasma contactor units installed on the station’s Z1 truss.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli swapped some cables on the Boiling Experiment Facility as he continues to set it up. Research conducted with this facility should enable more efficient cooling systems to be developed for use in space and here on Earth.

Nespoli also conducted an analysis of the water onboard the station using the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer. Later Nespoli began gathering the tools needed for the spacewalks that the STS-134 crew will conduct when space shuttle Endeavour visits the station for the final time in April.

All three crew members participated in a rapid depressurization drill, as they rehearsed roles and responsibilities in the unlikely event of a rapid loss of the station’s atmosphere. Afterward the crew tagged up with flight controllers back on Earth in a conference call to discuss the results of the drill.

The station’s residents also had several opportunities to observe and photograph the world below them as they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes. Among the targets suggested for photography by researchers were two sites visited by Charles Darwin during the second voyage of the HMS Beagle in the 19th century: the Galápagos Islands and Ascension Island.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Ron Garan and cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev are just a week away from beginning their journey to the orbital complex where they will join the Expedition 27 crew as flight engineers. Their Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, named for Yuri Gagarin, is scheduled for liftoff on April 4 (April 5, local time), just one week shy of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s historic journey into space from that same launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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