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Station Crew Tackles Robotics, Emergency Medical Training

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:29 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 – performed science experiments and maintenance Tuesday and prepared for the rendezvous and attachment of a commercial cargo craft on its demonstration flight targeted for February.

Following the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control centers around the world, Burbank began his day working with an experiment known as 2D Nano Template 2. Sponsored by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, this experiment fabricates large and highly oriented nano-scale two-dimensional arranged peptide arrays in microgravity. Researchers on the ground plan to use the templates to manufacture substrates for electronic devices.

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 may also have benefits for people on Earth with heart problems.

Meanwhile, Shkaplerov worked with the Coulomb Crystal experiment, which gathers data about charged particles in a weightless environment. Ivanishin wiped down surfaces in the Zarya module to prevent the growth of fungi.

Before taking a break for lunch, all three crew members teamed up for a training drill to sharpen their response to a medical emergency aboard the station. Working through the simulation, Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin refreshed their memories of the location and use of Crew Health Care System equipment. Afterward the crew tagged up with flight controllers to review the results and discuss any needed changes.

In the latter half of his workday, Burbank spent some time performing robotics proficiency training to prepare for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services demonstration flight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft targeted to launch Feb. 7, 2012. During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the rendezvous with the station. As Dragon makes its final approach to the station, the crew will grapple the vehicle with the station’s robotic arm and berth it to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. Later the crew will reverse the process, detaching Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Burbank rounded out his busy day with some quarterly maintenance work on the COLBERT treadmill and an interview with Owen Conflenti of KPRC-TV in Houston.

On the Russian side of the station, Shkaplerov unloaded additional cargo from the ISS Progress 45 resupply ship that docked to the orbiting complex Nov. 2. Ivanishin, meanwhile, performed routine maintenance on the life support systems in the Zvezda service module.

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 spent their Tuesday reviewing docking timeline procedures at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft is being prepared for its Dec. 21 launch to the station.

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