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Experiments and Educational Events for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:24 am via: NASA
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International Space Station Commander Mike Fossum and Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov, working through their first full week as the Expedition 29 crew since the departure last week of their Expedition 28 crewmates, devoted a busy day Tuesday to research experiments and educational activities.

After the crew’s daily planning conference with flight teams around the world, Fossum began his workday setting up the Microgravity Experiment Research Locker Incubator, or MERLIN. This multi-purpose unit can function as an incubator or as a refrigerator or freezer to store test samples for later study back on Earth.

Fossum later reviewed the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-5 hardware and procedures to get a head start on his work with it on Wednesday. This experiment takes a look at colloids — microscopic particles suspended in a liquid — and will lead to improvements in manufacturing processes here on Earth.

Fossum took a break from his activities to answer questions from students visiting the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado at Boulder. This in-flight interview was just one of the “Destination: Station” events beginning this week in the Denver area.

Meanwhile, Furukawa also participated in an educational activity as he assembled a model of the Hubble Space Telescope out of Lego bricks to demonstrate to children and student groups across the country the challenges faced when building things in a weightless environment.

Later, Furukawa set up a plant growth experiment in the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus as he installed two brackets and camera modules into the device and planted six germination flasks.

Working in the Russian segment of the station, Volkov set up laptop computers and hooked them into the station’s network. He also conducted a detailed inspection of the Zvezda service module’s structural elements, cables and shell.

All systems aboard the station continue to function well, with the exception of the Urine Processing Assembly, which recycles wastewater into clean, drinkable water for the crew’s use. Flight controllers are developing a plan for the crew to remove and replace the unit’s failed Fluid Pump Control Assembly Module on Friday. In the meantime, urine is being stored in tanks for later recycling.

Expedition 29 began Thursday with the departure of Expedition 28 crew members Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan. The trio landed their Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft in Kazakhstan a few seconds before midnight EDT Friday. Russian recovery teams were on hand to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after 164 days in space.

NASA and its international partners have agreed to a tentative launch schedule with crew flights to the station resuming on Nov. 14. The Space Station Control Board, with representation from all partner agencies, set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s findings on the Aug. 24 loss of the ISS Progress 44 cargo craft. The dates may be adjusted to reflect minor changes in vehicle processing timelines.

According to the current plan, the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft, carrying NASA’s Dan Burbank and Russia’s Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov, will launch Nov. 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and arrive at the station Nov. 16.

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