Headlines > News > Cargo Craft Departure and Robotics Competition on Station

Cargo Craft Departure and Robotics Competition on Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:33 am via: NASA
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The undocking of a Russian cargo craft Monday afternoon capped a busy day for the International Space Station’s Expedition 30 crew.

The ISS Progress 45 cargo craft undocked at 5:10 p.m. EST Monday from the Pirs docking compartment where it had been berthed since Nov. 2. In the open hatchway of the departing Progress was the 88-pound Chibis-M mini-satellite, which will be deployed Tuesday at 6:19 p.m. to spend several years in orbit studying the interaction of plasma waves with the ionosphere. At the time of deployment, the Progress will be 62 miles above and 7,300 miles behind the station. Three hours later, Russian flight controllers will command the Progress 45 to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, where it will safely burn with its remaining cargo of trash from the station.

The departure of Progress 45 clears the way for the next Russian resupply vehicle, ISS Progress 46, which rolled 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 automatically docks to Pirs on Friday at 7:08 p.m.

In other station activities Monday, Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers configured bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, for a student competition. During the Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge Finals at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students remotely operated the satellites through a series of maneuvers and objectives. Station crews beginning with Expedition 8 have operated these robots to test techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.

Meanwhile, Commander Dan Burbank spent much of his day removing and replacing a component of the Air Revitalization System.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin, Anton Shkaplerov and Oleg Kononenko, all flight engineers, tackled a variety of experiment work and routine maintenance tasks in the Russian segment of the station.

Ivanishin conducted a bimonthly inspection of the Zvezda service module and the Zarya module, photographing the condition of the structural elements and pressurized shell ring and cleaning any stains discovered. Shkaplerov replaced components of the Zvezda’s toilet.

Kononenko meanwhile worked with the BAR experiment, which looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of a loss of pressure aboard the station. Kononenko later conducted a video downlink test in preparation for the undocking of Progress 45.

Flight controllers were monitoring a piece of Fengyun Chinese satellite debris that might have required the station to perform a debris avoidance maneuver Tuesday, but additional tracking data indicated that the debris did not pose a threat to the station.

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