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Emergency Drill, Robotics on Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:51 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 34 crew of the International Space Station conducted an emergency drill Thursday, worked with science experiments and set up Robonaut 2 for another round of remote testing.

In the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory, Commander Kevin Ford completed a refill of the Internal Thermal Control System’s cooling loops. During the process, Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield used an adapter to collect a coolant sample for analysis back on Earth. Afterward, Ford disassembled and stowed the Fluid Servicing System he used for the refill task, wrapping up this 3-day maintenance effort on the U.S. side of the station.

Ford’s fellow NASA astronaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn, performed a software upgrade of the Water Processing Assembly, which is the portion of the station’s wastewater recycling system that removes free gas and solid materials such as hair and lint before the water goes through a series of multifiltration beds for further purification.

Marshburn also installed alignment guides and replaced two manifold bottles in the Combustion Integrated Rack. This facility, which includes an optics bench, combustion chamber, fuel and oxidizer control and five different cameras, allows a variety of combustion experiments to be performed safely aboard the station.

Hadfield, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, began his workday opening a window shutter for the SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV), which is designed to gain experience in automated data acquisition and provide images for disaster monitoring and assessment.

Hadfield spent the rest of his morning assembling and powering up Robonaut 2 for some remote testing for the first humanoid robot in space. Robonaut was designed with the intention of eventually taking over tasks deemed too dangerous or mundane for astronauts, perhaps even venturing outside the complex to assist spacewalkers. Robonaut’s form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools that astronauts currently use and removes the need for specialized tools just for robots.

Later, Hadfield performed another round of battery maintenance on spacewalk equipment, including helmet lights and pistol grip tools, to ensure that those items constantly remain in good working order in the event of a spacewalk.

On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy, Evegeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, all cosmonauts, continued unloading some of the 2.9 tons of cargo that arrived at the complex Monday aboard the ISS Progress 50 cargo craft.

Novitskiy also assisted Tarelkin with the Typology experiment, which studies a crew member’s ability to perform and communicate under stress. Romanenko meanwhile worked on the BAR experiment, studying methods and instruments for detecting the location of an air leak from one of the station’s modules.

In the afternoon of the crew’s day, all six Expedition 34 crew members participated in an emergency drill to review their response to an accidental release of ammonia inside the Destiny laboratory. Ammonia circulates through radiators on the exterior of the station as part of the Active Thermal Control System to shed heat from the orbiting complex. After the drill, the crew tagged up with the ground teams to discuss the results and make suggestions for improvement.

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