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Station Crew Preps for Progress Departure

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Oct 26, 2011 8:15 am via: NASA
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Marking their 138th day aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum and Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov spent Tuesday performing maintenance and science research as well as preparing a cargo craft for its departure.

Fossum, a NASA astronaut, dedicated much of his day to removing the Verification Gas Assembly from the Destiny laboratory and installing it in the Tranquility node. This assembly is a component of the Major Constituent Analyzer, which measures the concentration of gases within the space station.

Throughout the day Fossum checked on the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test science payload, which takes a look at colloids — microscopic particles suspended in a liquid — and may lead to improvements in manufacturing processes here on Earth. The commander also took time to talk with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin and MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan for a live in-flight interview from the station’s Kibo module.

Furukawa began his workday with botanical research. The Japanese astronaut inserted three new seedling germination flasks in the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus for an experiment that seeks to determine whether seed roots and shoots can be encouraged to grow in a particular direction in the absence of gravity.

Later, with assistance from Fossum, Furukawa participated in a monthly fitness evaluation as he exercised on the station’s exercise bike while sensors measured and recorded his cardiovascular health. Furukawa also spent some time in the Quest airlock checking systems and switches to assure that they are in a good configuration should the space station be without a crew for awhile.

In the Russian segment of the orbiting complex, cosmonaut Volkov devoted much of his morning to performing the Plasma Crystal-3 experiment, studying the crystallization dynamics of materials exposed to a low-frequency electrical field in microgravity.

Volkov also continued loading unneeded hardware and trash for disposal in the ISS Progress 42 cargo craft docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment. The unpiloted supply ship, which arrived at the station in late April, is scheduled to undock Saturday at 5:04 a.m. EDT for a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The departure of Progress 42 will clear the way for the arrival of the next cargo craft, ISS Progress 45, carrying 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the station’s residents. The new Progress atop its Soyuz booster will launch Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and dock with the station Nov. 2.

To reboost the station into the optimal altitude for the arrival of Progress 45 as well as the docking of the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft carrying Expedition 29 Flight Engineers Dan Burbank, Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov on Nov. 16, the engines of the Zvezda service module will be fired Wednesday at 8:52 a.m. for one minute, 54 seconds. This final burn in a series of reboost maneuvers will place the station at an altitude of 251.3 statute miles at its apogee and 233.2 miles at its perigee.

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