Headlines > News > Station Crew Awaiting Dragon After Successful Launch

Station Crew Awaiting Dragon After Successful Launch

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed May 23, 2012 4:10 am via: NASA
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The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched Tuesday at 3:44 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a demonstration flight to the International Space Station. Dragon will be the first commercial cargo vehicle employed to deliver supplies to the complex, paving the way toward regular operational commercial cargo missions.

Early Thursday morning, Dragon will perform a burn that will bring it to a path 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) below the station, and it will establish UHF communication with the orbital laboratory. Once this fly‐under is complete, Dragon will move away from the station, setting the spacecraft up for a re‐rendezvous the next day.

Friday, Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit will use the station’s robotic arm to grapple the vehicle. With the help of Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers, Pettit will guide Dragon to the Earth‐facing side of the Harmony node, where it will be berthed to the station.

Meanwhile aboard the station Tuesday as they awaited the arrival of Dragon, the Expedition 31 crew members participated in research into the effects of spaceflight on the human body as well as orientation activities for the three newest crew members.

Pettit began his day with a Canadian Space Agency experiment that tracks changes in the blood vessels of astronauts. With assistance from Kuipers, Pettit provided a blood sample, processed it and stored it in one of the station’s freezers for additional analysis back on Earth. Results from this experiment will help scientists to develop countermeasures to keep the crew healthy during long-duration missions as well as assist with understanding the mechanisms that contribute to premature aging of the cardiovascular system.

Afterward, Pettit replaced a recycle filter tank assembly in the station’s Water Recovery System before joining up with Kuipers and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba for Crew Medical Officer proficiency training.

Acaba also participated in the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment, which measures the atrophy of the heart muscle that appears to develop during long-duration spaceflight.

On the Russian side of the station, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka installed cables associated with the Kurs automated rendezvous system to support future vehicle dockings to the Pirs docking compartment and the Rassvet Mini-Research Module.

Padalka also unloaded cargo from the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft that brought him, Acaba and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin to the station Thursday.

As the station’s newest residents, Padalka, Revin and Acaba each had an hour set aside on their own for crew orientation, learning the layout of the station and familiarizing themselves with the orbiting laboratory’s operations.

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