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Progress 47 Undocks from Station; Cargo Vehicle Activities, Science for Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:23 am via: NASA
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The ISS Progress 47 resupply vehicle, loaded with trash, undocked from the International Space Station’s Pirs docking compartment for the final time Monday at 5:19 p.m. EDT. At a safe distance away from the station, it will undergo several weeks of unrelated engineering tests before it is deorbited for a fiery demise in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. The cargo ship undocked on July 22, then re-docked Saturday at 9:01 p.m. in a test of the new Kurs-NA automated rendezvous system.

Sunday, Expedition 32 Commander Gennady Padalka opened the Progress 47 hatch, dismantled the Kurs-NA equipment and closed the hatch back up in preparation for its final undocking. The Kurs-NA gear, which is now stowed in the Zarya module, will be returned to Earth for analysis by Russian engineers.

After the crew enjoyed some off-duty time Monday following a busy weekend, Flight Engineers Suni Williams and Joe Acaba teamed up to tackle the job of transferring cargo from the third Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV3), also known as Kounotori3, or “white stork.” Acaba and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide used the station’s robotic arm to grapple and install the HTV3 on the Harmony node’s Earth-facing docking port Friday as the spacecraft flew within about 40 feet of the orbital laboratory.

Hoshide set up equipment Monday for the NanoStep experiment in the station’s Kibo laboratory. The Japanese investigation aims to clarify the relationship between crystal growth mechanisms and crystal growth perfection. Protein crystals grown in microgravity are more perfect than those grown on Earth, and the reason is unclear.

Flight Engineer Sergei Revin worked with the Russian experiment PNEUMOCARD, which studies how the cardiovascular system responds to spaceflight conditions. The information recorded during PNEUMOCARD can be used to predict possible physical reactions of the crew members during their return to Earth.

The ISS Progress 48 cargo craft rolled out to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final preparations for its launch and single-day rendezvous to the station. Loaded with 1,962 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 925 pounds of water and 2,817 pounds of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware, Progress 48 is set to launch Wednesday at 3:35 p.m. (1:35 a.m. Baikonur time Thursday) for an expedited six-hour sprint to the station using a modified rendezvous burn plan. The exercise is designed to test a shortened transit plan to the station for possible use on future Soyuz manned missions to the complex.

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