Headlines > News > Station Crew Ready to Capture Japanese Cargo Craft

Station Crew Ready to Capture Japanese Cargo Craft

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Aug 8, 2013 8:25 pm via: NASA
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The six astronauts and cosmonauts of the International Space Station’s Expedition 36 crew supported a variety of experiments Thursday while focusing much of their attention on final preparations for Friday’s rendezvous, grapple and berthing of a Japanese space freighter.

Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg began her day setting up the Capillary Flow Experiment for another round of data collection to help researchers learn more about how fluids flow across surfaces with complex geometries in a weightless environment. Coordinating with the Payload Operations and Integration Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Nyberg set up the experiment to study an interior corner fluid flow and positioned an HD video camera to record the results. The data from this experiment will improve computer models used to design fluid transfer systems and fuel tanks on future spacecraft.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano both participated in a periodic fitness evaluation. The two astronauts took turns working out on the station’s exercise bike, the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization (CEVIS), while the other collected blood pressure measurements.

Afterward, Cassidy, Nyberg and Parmitano tagged up with flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control Center in Houston to discuss the final plan for Friday’s capture of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-4). Nyberg and Cassidy are scheduled to use Canadarm2, the station’s Canadian Space Agency-provided robotic arm, to reach out and capture HTV-4 at 7:29 a.m. Friday for its installation on the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.  Also known as “Kounotori” – Japanese for “white stork” — HTV-4 launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan Saturday at 3:48 p.m. EDT (4:48 a.m. Sunday, Japan time) with around 3.6 tons of cargo for the Expedition 36 crew.

NASA Television coverage of the rendezvous and capture of HTV-4 begins at 6 a.m. Friday. Coverage of the final installation of the resupply craft to Harmony will resume at 9 a.m.

After a break for lunch, Nyberg and Cassidy conducted one final Canadarm2 robotics proficiency run using a laptop computer program to keep their skills honed.  For Fridays’ capture of HTV-4, Nyberg will be the primary operator of the robotic arm, with Cassidy providing assistance and communicating with the ground teams at Mission Control. Parmitano will monitor the systems of the HTV-4.

Nyberg then moved on to installing a hardware command panel that the crew will use to monitor the approach of HTV-4, and, if necessary, send commands to the Japanese spacecraft to abort its approach in the unlikely event of a system malfunction.

Cassidy also removed a Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) sensor from the Columbus laboratory’s Microgravity Science Glovebox to make way for a new standalone sensor that arrived aboard the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 in June. The SAMS sensor will be moved to another location in Columbus to support scientific investigations and augment station structural integrity monitoring.

Nyberg, Cassidy and Parmitano rounded out their day reviewing the transfer choreography that will begin once Kounotori’s hatch is opened on Saturday to enable the crew to start unloading cargo from the racks inside the pressurized section of the spacecraft.

On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Fyodor Yurchikhin continued preparations for a pair of spacewalks they will conduct on Aug. 16 and 22.  The two cosmonauts reviewed the worksites and translation paths for the excursions, photographing the sites through the station’s windows for additional study.

During the first of the two spacewalks, Misurkin and Yurchikhin will install a panel of experiments on the Poisk module, deploy a gap spanner between the Zarya module and Poisk and install Ethernet cables on Poisk to prepare for the arrival of a new Russian laboratory module later this year. Six days later they will venture outside again to replace a laser experiment with a pointing platform for an optical telescope that will arrive later.

Misurkin and Vinogradov also repaired the Chibis-M suit, which simulates the stress of gravity to the body’s cardiovascular system by reducing the pressure on the lower half of the body.

Earlier, 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.

Commander Pavel Vinogradov meanwhile continued unloading some of the nearly three tons of supplies from the ISS Progress 52 cargo craft, which docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment less than six hours after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 27.

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