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Station Crew Prepares for Progress 46 Arrival

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:07 am via: NASA
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To prepare for the impending arrival of the ISS Progress 46 cargo craft to the International Space Station, Expedition 30 Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Oleg Kononenko reviewed procedures for the use of TORU, the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system. The crew can use TORU to monitor the docking of a Progress cargo craft with the station or take control of the process if difficulties arise.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, meanwhile, Progress 46 was hauled to its launch pad by rail and vertically erected for final preparations for launch Wednesday at 6:06 p.m. EST (5:06 a.m. Baikonur time Thursday).

Rollout occurred at sunrise at the Baikonur Cosmodrome with temperatures around zero degrees Fahrenheit. The Progress 46 craft is loaded with 2,050 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 2,778 pounds of spare parts and experiment hardware for a total of 2.9 tons of food, fuel and equipment to be delivered to the six crew members on the orbital laboratory. NASA TV coverage of the launch begins at 5:45 p.m.

Commander Dan Burbank spent a large portion of his day collecting fluid samples from the Internal Thermal Control System in the station’s U.S. segment. This sample collection is part of regular station maintenance. He also spoke to students in Placerville, Calif., via amateur radio.

Astronaut Don Pettit, a flight engineer, participated in a session with the Integrated Cardiovascular (ICV) experiment. ICV researches the extent and causes of weakening of the heart during long-duration missions. Additionally, Pettit conducted a safety video tour of the station, which is required once every increment for the benefit of ground controllers.

Kononenko participated in a Russian medical test called SPRUT-2, which investigates the distribution and behavior of human body fluids in zero gravity.

Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin worked with the radiation payload suite Matryoshka-R. The Russian payload is designed for sophisticated radiation studies and is named after the traditional Russian set of nested dolls.

Andre Kuipers, also a flight engineer, set up and tested the Urine Monitoring System. He also initiated charging of batteries some of the Russian crew members will use for pistol grip tools during a spacewalk slated for Feb. 16. The spacewalkers will attach five debris shields to the Zvezda service module and move one of the two Strela booms from Pirs to the Poisk module.

At Mission Control, the robotics officers maneuvered the Canadarm2 in a viewing position to inspect the Common Berthing Mechanism on Harmony’s Earth-facing port, to which the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will be berthed when it reaches the complex.

Ground controllers had been following reports earlier in the week from U.S. Space Command that a piece of Chinese satellite debris about 4 inches (10 centimeters) in diameter might come close enough to the station to warrant moving out of the way, what is called a debris avoidance maneuver. Planning for the move was called off when tracking showed the highly erratic debris was not a concern.

The ISS Progress 45 cargo ship that undocked from the station’s Pirs docking compartment late Monday afternoon is set to serve as a launching pad Tuesday, ejecting an 88-pound mini-satellite named Chibis-M at 6:19 p.m. Chibis-M will spend several years in orbit studying the interaction of plasma waves with the ionosphere. At the time of deployment, Progress 45 will be 62 miles above and 7,300 miles behind the station. About three hours later, Russian flight controllers will command the Progress to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, where it will safely burn with its remaining cargo of trash from the station.

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