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Station Crew Unloads Progress, Performs Science

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:24 am via: NASA
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Soaring high above the Earth aboard the International Space Station Friday, the Expedition 28 crew unloaded items from the newly arrived ISS Progress 43 cargo ship. The spacecraft docked to the orbital complex at 12:37 p.m. EDT Thursday delivering three tons of fuel, air and supplies. The unpiloted Russian resupply vehicle docked automatically to the aft port of the station’s Zvezda service module via the Kurs automated rendezvous system.

As they helped with the unloading, Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov spent some time updating the station’s inventory.

The crew members also engaged in several science activities. Flight Engineer Mike Fossum collected samples for the station’s Human Research Facility, placing them in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer (MELFI). MELFI supports a wide range of life science experiments by preserving biological samples collected aboard the orbital outpost for later return and analysis on Earth.

Ron Garan, one of Fossum’s fellow flight engineers, worked with the SOdium LOading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment, placing blood samples in the MELFI. Since average and high sodium intake in microgravity exacerbates the increased bone loss space travelers experience, SOLO is researching the ways in which the human body retains fluid and salt during bed rest and space flights. Subject crew members follow a diet of constant low or normal sodium intake and increased fluid consumption.

Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa worked with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Protein Crystal Growth (JAXA PCG) experiment. The main scientific objective of JAXA PCG is to make fine quality protein crystals in the microgravity environment of space. These space-grown crystals will be used in applied structural biology and pharmaceutical activity on Earth.

Furukawa also packed some items for return to Earth aboard space shuttle Atlantis during the upcoming STS-135 mission to the station. This final flight of Atlantis and of the space shuttle program is slated for a July 8 launch.

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