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Station Crew Begins Week With Robotics

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Aug 5, 2013 9:16 pm via: NASA
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Robotics took center stage Monday aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 36 crew set up a humanoid robot for some remote tests and trained for Friday’s arrival of a Japanese space freighter now en route to the complex.

The fourth Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-4, which launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan Saturday at 3:48 p.m. EDT (4:48 a.m. Sunday, Japan time), remains on track for its rendezvous with the orbital laboratory Friday morning to deliver around 3.6 tons of cargo.  Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Chris Cassidy of NASA will use Canadarm2, the station’s Canadian Space Agency-provided robotic arm, to reach out and capture the vehicle at 7:29 a.m. Friday for its installation on the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano, who will be monitoring the systems of HTV-4 during its rendezvous, joined Nyberg and Cassidy at the robotics workstation in the station’s cupola Monday for another practice run of HTV-4’s capture with Canadarm2. The three astronauts rehearsed the procedures for an offset grapple of the cargo craft, making sure they are prepared to capture the craft as it holds at a position about 35 feet below the station even if it is in a less-than-optimal orientation.  Later this week, Cassidy and Nyberg will conduct additional training using the Robotics Onboard Trainer to maintain their proficiency with the arm.

With Monday’s “hands on” robotics training completed, the robotics team at Mission Control in Houston remotely maneuvered the arm to a “high hover” position — the correct orientation for its capture of the HTV-4 cargo craft Friday.

Cassidy also worked in the Destiny laboratory assembling and powering up Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, for another round of ground-commanded testing. After Cassidy configured Robonaut, the team at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. put the robot through its paces at a task board and commanded it to grab and use a disinfectant wipe. Robonaut was designed with the intention of eventually taking over tasks deemed too dangerous or mundane for astronauts and even venturing outside the complex someday to assist spacewalkers.

Parmitano spent some time replacing cables for a camera port in the Quest airlock that recently experienced difficulty transmitting a clean picture.  Parmitano later took a break from his work to discuss life and work aboard the station with Italian media gathered at the European Space Research Institute near Rome.

Nyberg meanwhile rounded out her day conducting routine maintenance on the Waste and Hygiene Compartment.

On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin focused on preparations for a pair of spacewalks they will conduct on August 16 and 22 to deploy experiments and connect cables for the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module set to arrive later this year. The two cosmonauts prepared their Russian Orlan spacesuits and configured systems inside the Pirs docking compartment.

Commander Pavel Vinogradov meanwhile performed some maintenance on the ventilation system of the Zvezda service module and conducted an audit of medical kits.

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