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Station Crew Gearing Up for Next Week’s Spacewalk

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:22 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 36 crew of the International Space Station tackled an agenda of science research and system maintenance Thursday while continuing preparations for a follow-up spacewalk set for Tuesday.

Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano started their day with several health evaluations as flight surgeons and medical researchers track the crew’s health during these long-duration missions aboard the station.  Immediately after the crew’s standard 2 a.m. EDT wakeup time, Nyberg and Parmitano conducted the Reaction experiment, a short reaction time test that tracks the effects of fatigue on performance.

Nyberg then participated in a periodic fitness evaluation following the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world. With the assistance of Parmitano in the role of crew medical officer, Nyberg donned medical monitors and exercised on a stationary bike known as the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization, or CEVIS.

Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy briefly checked in on the Binary Colloid Alloy Test experiment, which takes a look at colloids — microscopic particles suspended in a liquid. Results from this experiment may lead to improvements in the shelf-life of household products, food and medicine. Cassidy adjusted the settings of the experiment’s camera, changed its batteries and downloaded the latest photos for further study by the research team back on Earth.

Afterward, Cassidy replaced a filter and urine receptacle in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment — one of the toilets aboard the station – while Parmitano and Nyberg drained and refilled water storage tanks of the Water Processor Assembly.  Part of the station’s overall Environmental Control and Life Support System, the station’s Water Recovery System recycles condensation and urine into drinkable water, reducing the amount of fresh water that must be sent to the crew aboard resupply ships.

Meanwhile their Russian colleagues aboard the station – Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Fyodor Yurchikhin – gathered in the Japanese Kibo module to talk with International Youth Science School students visiting the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev near Moscow. The three cosmonauts answered a variety of questions about Russian experiments, international cooperation and life in space.

Afterward, Vinogradov turned his attention to stowing trash aboard the ISS Progress 50 cargo ship berthed at the Pirs docking compartment.  Progress 50 is scheduled to undock from the station on July 25 for a destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean to make way for the same-day launch and docking of the ISS Progress 52 craft on July 27.

At 7:37 a.m. the crew reported a fire alarm in the Poisk module, but it turned out to be a false alarm and had no impact on any activity aboard the station.

Following a break for lunch, the crew turned its attention to planning and preparations for a spacewalk to be performed by Cassidy and Parmitano on Tuesday, July 16. During the excursion, currently estimated to last about six-hours and 15 minutes, Cassidy and Parmitano will primarily focus on completing tasks begun on the spacewalk on Tuesday, July 9, including the installation of some bypass jumpers to provide power redundancy to critical station components and routing cables for a new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module set to arrive later this year.

Cassidy, Parmitano and Nyberg conducted a review of the detailed timeline for the upcoming spacewalk and tagged up afterward with spacewalk specialists at Houston’s Mission Control Center to discuss any changes or issues.

Nyberg rounded out her day swapping out a battery for the EarthKAM camera mounted in the Window Observational Research Facility inside the Destiny laboratory.  EarthKAM allows students to program a digital camera aboard the station to photograph a variety of geographical targets for study in the classroom.

Misurkin installed some samples on a panel for the Vynoslivost experiment, which studies material fatigue in the space environment. Results from this study will provide data for estimating the life-span of structural elements for current and future station modules.

Yurchikhin resumed his work with the Kulonovskiy Kristall experiment, gathering data about charged particles in a weightless environment. He also downloaded data from the Identification experiment, which examines the station’s dynamic loads during events such as dockings and reboosts. He later joined Vinogradov for a survey of the hull surfaces of the Russian segment of the station.

The station’s residents also had several opportunities throughout the day to photograph the Earth below as part of the ongoing Crew Earth Observations program. Potential targets for Thursday included Typhoon Soulik churning through the western Pacific Ocean, wildfires in Canada and the western United States and flooding in Europe. The crew’s photographs are made available on the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

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