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Station Crew Prepares for Cargo Ship Undocking

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:23 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 30 crew of the International Space Station wrapped up a busy week Friday with a focus on scientific research and preparations for the departure of an unpiloted cargo craft.

The crew members awoke at 4:30 a.m. EST Friday, three and a half hours later than usual, as they adjust their schedule to prepare the ISS Progress 45 cargo craft for its departure from the station Monday at 5:10 p.m. Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Oleg Kononenko spent part of their day performing a leak check of the hatches between the Progress and the Pirs docking compartment where the supply ship has been berthed since Nov. 2.

Before the Progress is sent to its fiery demise in the Earth’s atmosphere, Russian ground controllers will command it to a higher orbit to deploy the Chibis-M nanosatellite Tuesday. Chibis-M will remain in orbit for at least four years studying the interaction of plasma waves with the ionosphere.

The departure of Progress 45 will clear the way for the next Russian resupply vehicle, ISS Progress 46, which rolls to its launch pad Monday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for liftoff Wednesday at 6:06 p.m. (5:06 a.m. Thursday, Baikonur time). The unpiloted cargo craft will deliver 2,050 pounds of propellant,110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 2,778 pounds of maintenance and experiment hardware for the station crew when it docks to Pirs on Jan. 27.

In other station activities Friday, Commander Dan Burbank performed a software update on the backup Commercial Orbital Services UHF Communications Unit, or CUCU, in anticipation of the launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle on its demonstration flight to the station later this year. The commander also spent some time unpacking and stowing cargo that arrived aboard Progress 45.

Flight Engineer Don Pettit installed hardware for a combustion experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The Structure and Liftoff In Combustion Experiment, or SLICE, investigates the nature of flames in microgravity and could lead to improvements in technologies aimed at reducing pollution and improving burning efficiency for a wide variety of industries.

Pettit later participated in an educational activity as he assembled a weather satellite model with Lego bricks to demonstrate to children and student groups the challenges faced when building things in a weightless environment.

Pettit and Burbank took a break from their work aboard the orbiting complex to answer questions from CNN and the Associated Press.

Using ultrasound equipment onboard and remotely guided by experts on the ground, Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers 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. The research may also have benefits for people on Earth with heart problems.

Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin performed the Typology experiment, which studies a crew member’s psychophysical state during long-duration spaceflight, as well as the Seiner ocean observation experiment. Ivanishin later conducted an inspection of the windows in the Zvezda service module, collecting detailed photographs for further review by Russian flight controllers.

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