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Telerobotics and Spacewalk Preps for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:11 pm via: NASA
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The six-person Expedition 36 crew of the International Space Station had its hands full Monday with activities related to the recent arrival of a European Space Agency cargo craft, robotics, science experiments and preparations for an upcoming spacewalk.

Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano spent their morning performing leak checks of the docking interface at the aft end of the Zvezda service module where the “Albert Einstein” Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 arrived Saturday at 10:07 a.m. EDT. The “Albert Einstein,” which launched June 5 from Kourou, French Guiana, delivered 7.3 tons of supplies to the station, including science experiments, hardware, propellant, water and air. The planned Monday morning hatch opening has been postponed while mission managers discuss whether the crew needs to disinfect three cargo bags that are suspected of carrying either mold or bacteria, neither of which pose any danger to the crew.

Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin focused their attention on preparations for a spacewalk scheduled for Monday, June 24. During their excursion, the two spacewalking cosmonauts will work on the exterior of the Zarya module replacing a fluid flow control valve panel and installing clamps that will later hold cables bringing power from the U.S. segment of the station to a new Russian laboratory targeted to arrive at the station later this year.

Yurchikhin and Misurkin began the day preparing their Orlan spacesuits. Afterward they studied the worksite and translation paths of their planned spacewalk both visually through the windows of the station as well as virtually through a computer graphics program.

Yurchikhin rounded out his day with the Seiner ocean-observation experiment while Misurkin prepared microbial test kits.

Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg performed some routine maintenance in the Tranquility module and the Destiny laboratory before joining Parmitano to talk with the principal investigator for the Spinal Ultrasound experiment that they will be participating in this week. 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 and techniques for use on the station as well as here on Earth.

Afterward, Parmitano conducted some routine maintenance on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, or ARED, one of several exercise devices the station’s residents can use for their daily two-hour exercise regimen to combat the loss of muscle mass and bone density experienced by long-duration crews.

Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy conducted the first-ever test of how well a crew member in space can remotely control a robot on the surface of a moon, planet or asteroid. After reviewing the computer interface and procedures for the Surface Telerobotics experiment, Cassidy remotely controlled the K10 rover at the Ames Research Center in California to simulate deploying a radio telescope. Telemetry, live video from the rover and virtual terrain displays provided Cassidy with an overall view of the rover’s activities during the session. This technology demonstration also will look at how communication delays over vast distances affect an astronaut’s ability to take supervisory control of an automated rover if it gets into a difficult area.

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