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Station Crew Focuses on Science to Improve Life on Earth and in Space

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:33 am via: NASA
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The International Space Station, designated a national laboratory in 2005, provides a platform for experiments that study phenomena that can only be observed in the microgravity environment. The results of the experiments can lead to improvements for life on Earth and in space.

Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum worked inside the Combustion Integrated Rack swapping out hardware that supports the experiments conducted inside. The rack is used to perform combustion experiments in microgravity, such as the Flame Extinguishment Experiment, or FLEX. FLEX uses small droplets of fuel to study the special burning characteristics of fire in space. Understanding how fires burn in microgravity will help to improve fire-safety in human spacecraft and will also contribute to the development of liquid fuel-burning engines by increasing their efficiencies on Earth.

Fossum also participated in an experiment called VO2max. VO2max is the standard measure of aerobic capacity. He wore sensors that observe and record changes in a crew member’s maximum oxygen uptake during strenuous activities.

Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa joined Fossum videotaping demonstrations and experiments for the Educational Payload Operations (EPO) program. Wednesday’s demonstration showed how a crew member sleeps in space and included a discussion of the importance of sleep. The demonstration was geared toward students and teachers in grades five through eight.

Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov, with assistance from Furukawa, worked in the station’s Russian segment configuring laptop computers for displaying high-quality mpeg-2 videos. Volkov also conducted ongoing Russian experiments such as Sonocard and Coulomb Crystal. Sonocard seeks to improve crew health monitoring techniques while Coulomb Crystal observes how a magnetic field can control materials that do not mix or react.

The Expedition 29 commander spent time Wednesday speaking to reporters from Texas television stations KRGV in Weslaco and KGEO in Brownsville. Fossum grew up in McAllen, Texas, and participated in the Boy Scouts. He talked about his youth and path to becoming an astronaut.

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