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Station Crew Preparing for Cargo Ship, Spacewalk

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:41 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 33 crew of the International Space Station spent Tuesday gearing up for Wednesday’s arrival of a Russian cargo craft and Thursday’s spacewalk to repair an ammonia leak.

The ISS Progress 49 cargo vehicle is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:41 a.m. EDT Wednesday, docking to the aft end of the station’s Zvezda service module at 9:40 a.m. Progress 49 is delivering 2.9 tons of supplies to the orbiting complex, including 2,050 pounds of propellant, 62 pounds of oxygen, 42 pounds of air, 926 pounds of water and 2,738 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and maintenance equipment.

If any technical issues arise, the Russian flight control team may default to a two-day rendezvous plan that would result in docking on Friday.

NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday and resumes at 9 a.m. for the rendezvous and docking.

To prepare for the arrival of the Progress, Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Yuri Malenchenko spent several hours Tuesday practicing with TORU, the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system. The Progress is designed to dock automatically via the Kurs automated rendezvous system, but crews can use TORU to take over the process if difficulties arise.

Meanwhile Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineers Aki Hoshide and Kevin Ford had a conference with flight controllers to review the procedures for Thursday’s spacewalk. During the 6 ½-hour excursion slated to begin at 8:15 a.m., Williams and Hoshide will venture out to the port side of the station’s truss to repair an ammonia leak in one of the station’s radiators. Since flight controllers are not able to pinpoint the source of the leak within that radiator, the two spacewalkers will install jumpers to bypass it with a spare radiator already located on the truss.

NASA TV coverage of the spacewalk kicks off at 7:15 a.m.

Williams and Ford took a break from their work to talk with reporters from the Associated Press and The Weather Channel. When asked about the viewing Hurricane Sandy from space, Williams, who hails from Massachusetts replied, “You could really see the swirl, pretty close to the center of the hurricane, and it was just massive. There’s people down there that were suffering a lot of wind and rain and snow, and we’re safe and sound up here, and we’re just hoping they’re all okay down there.”

Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin spent his morning participating in the Typology experiment, which studies a crew member’s psychophysical state and ability to perform and communicate under stress.

As the station’s newest residents, Tarelkin, Novitskiy and Ford also had time set aside on their own for crew orientation to become accustomed to living and working aboard the orbiting complex during their first two weeks on orbit. The trio arrived in their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft on Thursday, Oct. 26, to begin a five month stay aboard the complex.

Mission Control is tracking a piece of space junk that may require a debris avoidance maneuver by the station. The debris, a piece of a communications satellite named Iridium 33, is a small object with movements that are difficult to predict. To be prudent, Mission Control is preparing overnight for a possible adjustment to the station’s orbit if tracking indicates that the debris could become a threat to the station. If it becomes necessary, the maneuver would be performed using the ISS Progress 48 thrusters about 9 hours after the planned 9:40 a.m. Progress 49 docking to the aft station’s Zvezda service module.

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