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Station Crew Conducts Drill, Awaits New Crewmates

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Dec 7, 2011 10:28 am via: NASA
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The International Space Station’s Expedition 30 crew – Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin – conducted scientific research that supports NASA’s future exploration plans and participated in an emergency drill Tuesday.

Burbank, a NASA astronaut, began his workday almost immediately after the crew’s regular 1 a.m. EST wakeup time as he conducted the Reaction Self Test. This five-minute test helps crew members objectively identify any changes in performance caused by sleep loss, fatigue and disruptions to circadian rhythms.

Following the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control centers around the world, Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin teamed up for an emergency drill to sharpen their response to a rapid, unexpected loss of cabin pressure within the station. In cooperation with mission control centers on the ground, the trio worked through the response procedures as if there were an actual depressurization event on the station, which includes boarding the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft after confirming that it is not the source of the leak. Afterward the crew tagged up with flight controllers to review the results and discuss any needed changes.

Burbank later participated in the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment, which measures the atrophy of the heart muscle that appears to develop during long-duration spaceflight. Investigators use the data from these tests to develop countermeasures to keep the crew healthy, which is crucial as NASA moves toward sending humans deeper into space than ever before. The research also may have benefits for people on Earth with heart problems.

Burbank also spent some time getting ready for the installation on Thursday of the Amine Swingbed prototype hardware, which will be tested for use in the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle for removing carbon dioxide while conserving water. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry crews beyond low Earth orbit.

The remainder of Burbank’s workday was dedicated to completing the removal and replacement of a recycle tank in the Water Recovery System that keeps the crew supplied with drinking water.

Shkaplerov spent much of his day transferring and tracking cargo from the ISS Progress 45 resupply ship that docked to the orbiting complex Nov. 2. He also worked with the Coulomb Crystal experiment, which gathers data about charged particles in a weightless environment.

Ivanishin, meanwhile, performed routine maintenance on the Elektron oxygen generator and other life support systems in the Russian segment of the station.

Throughout the day, Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin, who arrived aboard the orbiting complex Nov. 16, each had an hour set aside for crew orientation to become accustomed to living and working within the station’s 13,696 cubic feet of habitable volume during their first two weeks on orbit.

While the crew worked inside the station, flight controllers for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency remotely controlled the small arm outside the Kibo laboratory. Controllers in Tskuba, Japan, directed the arm through several prescribed moves to test their ability to control the arm without help from the onboard crew. Preliminary results showed the test went well. The arm is designed primarily to work with space-exposure and Earth-observation experiments on the Japanese Exposed Facility, or “front porch.”

Three additional Expedition 30 flight engineers — NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers — are scheduled to join the crew aboard the station Dec. 23. They will wrap up some administrative work this week at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, before moving on Thursday to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft is being prepared for its Dec. 21 launch to the station.

Burbank spoke with school children in Quebec, Canada via amateur radio on Monday as part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station program. The students have started a space club and have been learning about the space station, so they had plenty of questions ready.

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