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Experiment Work and Systems Maintenance for Station Crew, Progress Preps for Launch

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:23 pm via: NASA
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The six Expedition 35 crew members living aboard the International Space Station worked with science experiments and performed maintenance duties Monday as preparations for the launch of the ISS Progress 51 cargo craft continue in Kazakhstan.

Commander Chris Hadfield tested the connectivity between one of the Main Bus Switching Units and a Russian environmental system air handler. He also collected hardware in the Columbus module for Tuesday’s scheduled replacement of a water valve.

Later, Hadfield participated in an in-flight question and answer session with students as part of an event to launch a website for the Canadian National Film Board’s Space School in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy replaced components for the Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus (MDCA) installed in the Combustion Integrated Rack. The MDCA contains hardware and software to conduct unique droplet combustion experiments in space. Understanding how liquid fuel droplets ignite, spread and extinguish under microgravity conditions will help scientists develop more efficient energy production and propulsion systems, reduce combustion-generated pollution and mitigate fire hazards associated with liquid combustibles on Earth and in space.

Cassidy also set up and activated equipment for EarthKAM, a NASA education program that enables thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew’s perspective. Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera mounted aboard the station. This enables them to photograph the Earth’s coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. The team at EarthKAM then posts these photographs on the Internet for the public and participating classrooms around the world to view.

After completing a 6-hour, 38-minute spacewalk on Friday, Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko participated in a debriefing with spacewalk specialists at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow.

Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn stowed tools and equipment used during Friday’s spacewalk and changed out the pre-treat tank for the Waste and Hygiene Compartment.

Marshburn also set-up hardware for 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.

Meanwhile at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the ISS Progress 51 cargo craft was rolled out by rail car from the Integration Building to the Site 254 launch pad for final launch preparations. The cargo craft is set for launch Wednesday at 6:12 a.m. EDT on a traditional two-day trip to the station. Unlike its three predecessors, this Progress vehicle is relegated to the typical two-day rendezvous because of the phasing and orbital mechanics associated with this launch date. Docking to the aft port of the Zvezda service module is scheduled for Friday at 8:26 a.m.

Sunday morning, the ISS Progress 49 cargo craft, loaded with trash and discarded items, was deorbited by Russian flight controllers and burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, six-days after undocking from the Zvezda service module’s aft port. After undocking, the cargo craft served as an experiment platform that conducted daily thruster firings to help ground controllers in Russia calibrate radar systems.

NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corporation Sunday launched its Antares rocket at 5 p.m. Sunday from the new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The test flight was the first launch from the pad at Wallops and was the first flight of Antares, which delivered the equivalent mass of a spacecraft, a so-called mass simulated payload, into Earth’s orbit.

Antares is undergoing testing that will enable the rocket to eventually carry experiments and supplies to the International Space Station aboard a Cygnus cargo spacecraft.

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