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Station Crew Preps for Spacewalk, Reaches Out to Students

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Feb 3, 2012 10:26 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 30 crew of the orbiting International Space Station tackled a heavy workload Thursday with a special focus on preparations for a spacewalk scheduled for Feb. 16.

Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Oleg Kononenko spent most of their day gathering tools and preparing their Orlan spacesuits. During the five-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, the two cosmonauts will move one of the two Strela hand-operated cranes from the Pirs docking compartment to the Poisk module and install five debris shields on the Zvezda service module. If time permits, Kononenko and Shkaplerov also will attach two experiments on the exterior of the station and install support struts on the ladder attached to Pirs.

Commander Dan Burbank lent a hand to the preparation efforts as he gathered U.S. tools for use during the excursion, the 162nd spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

Burbank, along with Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers, also conducted an experiment known as SOdium LOading in Microgravity, or SOLO. The two astronauts collected their blood samples and tested them with a portable analyzer. Afterward they placed the samples in a freezer to preserve them for additional study on Earth by researchers interested in the mechanisms of fluid and salt retention in the body during spaceflight.

Burbank later participated in the VO2Max experiment, which measures changes in the astronauts’ aerobic capacity during long-duration spaceflight.

The commander took a break from his work to answer questions from students from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy mentor schools in Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami and New London, Conn. Burbank, a retired Coast Guard captain and former professor at the academy, encouraged students to study science, technology, engineering and math.

Kuipers meanwhile talked with students in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal participating in the Mission X competition, a 6-week international educational challenge focusing on fitness and nutrition.

Flight Engineer Don Pettit spent part of his day working in the Japanese Kibo module, measuring ventilation flow and setting up equipment for the Space Sakura experiment. Pettit also activated data collection on an experiment that assesses the radiation environment inside the orbiting complex.

In the Russian segment of the station, Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin transferred water out of one of the storage tanks so it could be cleaned with a disinfectant. Ivanishin also cleaned ventilation screens in the Zarya module.

On Tuesday, NASA hosted a media telecon to discuss the status of the International Space Station and the progress toward an updated launch schedule, including international partner and commercial space vehicles. International Space Station Program Manager Michael Suffredini answered reporters’ questions.

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