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Robonaut Tests, Cargo Transfers and Departure Preps for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Nov 5, 2011 10:46 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 29 crew members living and working aboard the International Space Station were busy with a series of robotic checkouts Friday as they continued to unpack the ISS Progress 45 cargo craft and prepare for their return to Earth.

Commander Mike Fossum and Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa assembled Robonaut 2 and powered it up to collect data on its tactile strength, the range of motion of its arms and the mechanics of its joints. About three hours into the testing, however, a sensor issue relative to the device’s computer program for the neck joints halted the testing for the day and ended the session prematurely. Robonaut was powered off for the day at 7:34 a.m. EDT. The testing will be picked up at a later date.

Robonaut is the first humanoid robot in space, and although its primary job for now is teaching engineers how dexterous robots behave in space, the hope is that through upgrades and advancements, it could one day venture outside the station to help spacewalkers make repairs or additions to the station or perform scientific work.

Flight Engineer Sergei Volkov focused on unpacking some of the 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies delivered aboard the ISS Progress 45 cargo craft. The unpiloted Russian resupply vehicle arrived at the station at 7:41 a.m. EDT Wednesday, docking to the Pirs docking compartment after a trip that began Sunday from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. After conducting leak checks at the docking interface and opening the hatch to the cargo craft, the Expedition 29 crew began the long process of inventorying and unloading the cargo.

Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov also spent some time Friday gathering and packing items for return to Earth. The trio is scheduled to undock from the station in the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft on Nov. 21.

Remaining aboard the station will be the Expedition 30 crew of Dan Burbank, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who are currently scheduled to launch to the orbiting complex aboard the Soyuz TMA-22 no earlier than Nov.13, beginning their stay on the station Nov. 16. Over the weekend, Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov will continue regular station maintenance duties and ongoing scientific research. They also will perform their daily physical exercise routines, enjoy some off-duty time and have an opportunity to speak with family members.

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