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Station Crew Cleans Up After Spacewalk, Performs Research

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:52 am via: NASA
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The International Space Station’s Expedition 30 crew tackled a number of science and housekeeping tasks Friday, capping off a very busy week of robotics and spacewalk activities.

The six crew members awoke at 5 a.m. EST Friday, four hours later than their usual wakeup time as they rested up following Thursday’s six-hour, 15-minute spacewalk. Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov spent most of their day Friday drying out the Orlan spacesuits they wore during the excursion, recharging the suits’ batteries and tagging up with Russian spacewalk specialists for a review.

During that spacewalk, Kononenko and Shkaplerov relocated one of two Strela hand-operated cranes from the Pirs docking compartment to the Poisk module and installed a materials exposure experiment.

Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin reopened the hatchway between the Pirs and the ISS Progress 46 cargo craft that had been sealed off for Thursday’s spacewalk and installed some air ducts to provide ventilation in the Progress.

Meanwhile, Commander Dan Burbank attended to the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI. Burbank checked the nitrogen pressure level in MELFI, assuring that the valuable samples collected from various experiments aboard the station stay preserved until they can be returned to Earth for further study.

While Burbank kept things cool, Flight Engineer Don Pettit delved into the fiery side of station research with the Structure and Liftoff In Combustion Experiment, or SLICE, which investigates the nature of flames in microgravity. Pettit calibrated the SLICE hardware inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and performed some methane flame tests. Results from SLICE could lead to improvements in pollution control technology and fuel efficiency.

Pettit also conducted some routine maintenance on the robotics workstation inside the cupola, the station’s seven-window observation deck.

Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers focused on setting up hardware for the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, or MARES, which enables scientists to study the effects of weightlessness on the human muscle-skeletal system. Resembling exercise equipment one might find in a gym on Earth, MARES is capable of collecting measurements on and exercising seven different joints. MARES also provides a means to evaluate countermeasures to the negative effects of long-duration spaceflight, especially muscle atrophy, which is important as NASA moves toward sending humans deeper into space than ever before.

Earlier in the week, Robonaut 2 completed its initial checkouts aboard the station and went on to make history with the first human/robotic handshake to be performed in space.

Burbank and Pettit will talk with U.S. Sen. John Glenn on Monday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his orbital flight aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will be on hand as well as NASA kicks off its two-day Future Forum at Ohio State University in Columbus. NASA Television will air the event beginning at 1:30 p.m.

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