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Station Crew Tackles Spacewalk Preps, Science

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:12 am via: NASA
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The six Expedition 32 crew members aboard the International Space Station took part in a safety briefing Thursday in advance of Monday’s scheduled spacewalk by Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko, the first of the mission. Padalka and Malenchenko moved the Orlan spacesuits they will don and gathered tools they will use during the Russian excursion, which is slated to begin at 10:40 a.m. EDT and continue for about 6.5 hours.

The spacewalkers will relocate the Strela-2 hand-operated crane from the Pirs docking compartment to the Zarya module, preparing Pirs for its replacement with a new laboratory and docking module. Strela-1 was moved from Pirs to the Poisk Mini-Research Module during an Expedition 30 spacewalk in February. Padalka and Malenchenko also will deploy a small satellite and install some debris shields on the Zvezda service module.

A U.S. spacewalk is set for Aug. 30. Flight Engineers Suni Williams and Aki Hoshide will head out to the station’s truss to replace a faulty Main Bus Switching Unit – a distribution hub for the station’s power system. The spacewalkers also will replace a camera on a robotic arm extension boom and route cables for the Russian Multipurpose Laboratory replacing Pirs.

While Padalka and Malenchenko prepared for their spacewalk, Flight Engineer Joe Acaba spent some time with the Burning and Suppression of Solids experiment, known as BASS. The investigation examines the burning and extinction characteristics of a wide variety of fuel samples in microgravity. The BASS experiment will help to develop procedures and methods for extinguishing accidental fires in microgravity, and it will contribute to the design of fire detection and suppression systems in microgravity and on Earth.

Williams performed some maintenance on the experiment Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions (InSPACE). She replaced two cameras on its optics assembly. InSPACE studies the fundamental behavior of magnetic colloidal fluids under the influence of various magnetic fields. These fluids are classified as smart materials because they transition to a solid-like state by the formation and cross-linking of microstructures in the presence of a magnetic field. They can potentially be used in such applications as brake systems and robotics and to improve the design of structures like bridges and buildings.

Hoshide replaced batteries in the Integrated Cardiovascular (ICV) experiment. ICV measures the atrophy of the heart muscle that appears to develop during long-duration spaceflight and seeks to identify its mechanisms.

Flight Engineer Sergei Revin worked with the Bar experiment. The Russian investigation looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of a loss of pressure aboard the station.

Wednesday, flight controllers performed a reboost of the orbiting complex by firing thrusters on the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3). The burn was slated to last 31 minutes but was prematurely terminated at about 20 minutes. European engineers are reviewing the cause of the termination, and station program officials are discussing a second reboost to make up the attitude shortfall of about two statute miles. The reboost was intended to make use of extra propellant in the ATV-3 and to put the station at the appropriate altitude for the departure of Padalka, Acaba and Revin in the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft in September.

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