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Robotics, Spacewalk Preps for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:52 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 32 crew members aboard the International Space Station worked with robotics and made spacewalk preparations Friday as they wrapped up another busy week aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Suni Williams used the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to transfer the External Pallet into its home in the H-II Transfer Vehicle-3 (HTV-3). The pallet’s scientific payload was unloaded and moved to the Exposed Facility on the exterior of the Japanese Experiment Module during a series of robotic operations earlier this week.

HTV-3 was grappled and berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node on July 27. The vehicle will remain at the station until Sept. 6 when, like its predecessors, it will be detached from the Harmony node by Canadarm2 and released for a fiery re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

Acaba and Williams also worked together on the Capillary Flow experiment, which investigates how fluids flow across surfaces in a weightless environment. Results from this experiment will improve computer models used to design fluid transfer systems and fuel tanks on future spacecraft.

Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide performed some maintenance and conducted a review of the station’s Portable Emergency Provisions, which includes the Portable Breathing Apparatus and the Portable Fire Extinguisher. Hoshide and Acaba also performed some cabin duct maintenance in the Japanese Experiment Module.

Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko studied procedures and gathered equipment for a spacewalk they will conduct on Aug. 20 to prepare the Pirs docking compartment for its replacement, a new Russian multipurpose laboratory module. During the spacewalk, the cosmonauts will relocate the Strela-2 hand-operated crane from the Pirs docking compartment to the Zarya module. Strela-1 was moved from Pirs to the Poisk Mini-Research Module during an Expedition 30 spacewalk in February.

Throughout the day, Padalka, Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin worked in the Russian segment of the station, performing a variety of routine maintenance duties and monitoring its life-support systems.

Thursday marked a special day for honorary crew member Smokey Bear, who celebrated his 68th birthday with a special visit to the International Space Station Flight Control Room at Johnson Space Center in Houston. On May 14, Smokey went where no bear had gone before when Acaba and the Expedition 31 crew chose a plush Smokey doll to be the team’s launch mascot.

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