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Expedition 35 Crew Begins Final Week Aboard Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon May 6, 2013 10:32 pm via: NASA
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As they began their final full workweek together Monday, the six-person Expedition 35 crew prepared for the return home of three crew members and participated in science experiments that take advantage of the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.

Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA kicked off their day shortly after the crew’s usual 2 a.m. EDT wakeup time with the Reaction experiment, a short reaction time task that allows the crew and researchers to track the effects of fatigue on performance.

Following the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, Hadfield and Marshburn joined Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko for a Soyuz descent drill to review the cargo stowage plan and work through descent procedures. The three will be boarding their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft on Monday, May 13, and returning home after nearly five months aboard the orbiting complex.

Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko also performed leak checks on the Russian Sokol pressure suits they will wear during the descent to the landing site in southern Kazakhstan.

Throughout the day, Hadfield, Marshburn and Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA performed spinal ultrasound scans on each other. Medical researchers have observed that astronauts grow up to three percent taller during their long duration missions aboard the station and return to their normal height when back on Earth. The Spinal Ultrasound investigation seeks to understand the mechanism and impact of this change while advancing medical imaging technology by testing a smaller and more portable device.

Cassidy meanwhile spent much of his afternoon working with the Binary Colloid Alloy Test, which takes a look at how gasses and liquids come together and separate in space. Cassidy set up a camera and photographed all the experiment samples. Results from this experiment may lead to improvements in the shelf-life of household products, food and medicine.

Afterward, Cassidy joined Marshburn for a video review of Tuesday’s activities with Robonaut, the first humanoid robot in space.

Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Pavel Vinogradov spent much of their day transferring cargo from the ISS Progress 51 cargo craft docked to the rear of the Zvezda service module.

Vinogradov also conducted a session with the Uragan experiment. Named for the Russian word for “hurricane,” Uragan seeks to document and predict the development of natural and man-made disasters on Earth.

Out on the station’s starboard truss, the ground-commanded Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) continued its latest round of tests to demonstrate the tools and technologies needed to remotely service satellites in space that were not originally designed to be serviced. The robotics team at Houston’s Mission Control Center is commanding Canadarm2 and Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency’s twin-armed “handyman,” to use specially designed tools to perform simulated satellite servicing tasks on the washing-machine-sized RRM payload. Monday’s tasks included cutting through some Kapton tape, lifting up the multi-layer insulation typically found on space hardware, snipping wires and replacing the insulation.

Meanwhile, the three new crew members who will return the station to its full six-person complement following next week’s departure of Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko are continuing preparations for their May 28 Soyuz launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Karen Nyberg of NASA, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin conducted another round of qualification simulations Monday in Soyuz and Russian segment trainers at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City outside Moscow. They were joined by their backups, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, who are scheduled to launch to the station in late November.

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