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Research and Robotics Aboard Station Tuesday

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:28 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 31 crew inside the International Space Station tackled science, technology and housekeeping tasks Tuesday while a robotics test of remotely operated satellite refueling began outside the orbiting complex.

Flight Engineer Don Pettit reviewed procedures and gathered tools for the Amine Swingbed hardware assembly scheduled for Wednesday. This technology experiment is testing a smaller, more efficient carbon dioxide removal system than the ones currently aboard station. Size and efficiency are key factors as NASA begins building the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle that will take astronauts deeper into space than ever before.

Inside the Kibo module, Flight Engineer Joe Acaba reconfigured the backup drive system of the Japanese robotic arm, setting up to refill the Fluid System Servicer in the Fluid Control Pump Assembly and gathering hardware for tasks later in the week.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers prepared the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility for the setup and installation of a experiment studying the Marangoni effect, which is the flow of liquids caused by surface tension. Kuipers also analyzed samples from the potable water dispenser with the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer to check for any microbial contamination.

In the afternoon, Kuipers, Acaba and Pettit took a brief break from their duties to answer questions from the American Geophysical Union and Fox Business News.

On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka performed an experiment looking at plasma crystal formation in microgravity. Padalka also assisted fellow Flight Engineer Sergei Revin with the Typology experiment, which studies changes in a cosmonaut’s reaction time during long-duration spaceflight.

Commander Oleg Kononenko inspected and photographed windows in the Russian segment of the station and later performed routine maintenance on the toilet system.

Kononenko later joined Pettit and Kuipers for a conference with search and rescue specialists as they prepare for the end of their mission. The trio will land in the remote steppe of Kazakhstan on July 1 aboard the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft after 193 days in space.

On Wednesday at 9:55 a.m. EDT, the thrusters of the Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module will be fired for 9 minutes, 20 seconds, to reboost the station and place it in the correct phasing for the departure of Pettit, Kuipers and Kononenko.

Beginning Tuesday afternoon, ground controllers will be remotely operating the station’s Canadarm2 and its two-arm extension, Dextre, to perform three days of Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) operations. RRM is pioneering robotic tools and techniques that can be used with existing on-orbit hardware and legacy interfaces to perform on-orbit satellite servicing. For this latest test, a T-valve and ambient cap will be removed from the coolant valve panel on RRM, and a plug beneath the cap will be manipulated.

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