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Science, Post-Spacewalk Activities for Station Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:12 pm via: NASA
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Following the completion of a 5-hour, 58-minute spacewalk on Thursday – the second Expedition 36 excursion outside the International Space Station in a week – the orbiting crew wrapped up the workweek with spacesuit maintenance activities and more science experiments.

Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin spent their day drying out the Orlan spacesuits they wore during Thursday’s spacewalk to replace a laser communications experiment with a new platform for a small optical camera system, install new spacewalk aids and inspect antenna covers. The two cosmonauts then participated in a debriefing with specialists at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev outside Moscow to discuss the spacewalk.  Afterward, Yurchikhin and Misurkin stowed their spacesuits and related equipment.

Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano re-opened the hatch to the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 cargo ship docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module. The hatch had been closed on Thursday to support the spacewalk out of the Pirs docking compartment airlock.  ATV-4, nicknamed “Albert Einstein,” delivered more than 7 tons of supplies to the station when it docked to the station on June 15.

Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg  continued work with the InSpace-3 experiment, which examines colloidal fluids classified as smart materials, transitioning to a solid-like state in the presence of a magnetic field.  The InSPACE-3 team believes the knowledge gleaned from this investigation may contribute to new technologies and new manufacturing processes based on the idea of having these nanoparticles act as self-assembling building blocks for larger structures.

Nyberg also set up the Combustion Integrated Rack for another round of experiments studying the process of combustion in a weightless environment. She replaced a manifold bottle inside the facility, which includes an optics bench, combustion chamber, fuel and oxidizer control and five different cameras.

Inside the crew equipment lock of the Quest airlock, Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy performed a water recharge of the U.S. spacesuits.  He also stowed spacewalk tools that had been loaned to Yurchikhin and Misurkin for their recent spacewalks.

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano meanwhile installed an improved Ethernet hub gateway to support science payloads inside the Columbus module.

Throughout the day Parmitano and Cassidy also cooperated on a number of tasks as they tested air and surface samples throughout the station for microbial contamination and performed regularly scheduled maintenance on the Water Recovery System. This system recycles condensation and urine into drinkable water, reducing the amount of fresh water that must be sent to the crew aboard resupply ships.

As the crew wrapped up their day aboard the station, the robotics team at Houston’s Mission Control Center went to work to begin moving the Mobile Transporter railcar that runs along the station’s truss segment to support the relocation of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.  Either end of 57-foot Canadarm2 can be used as its anchor point, giving it the unique ability to walk around the station. The robotics team will command the arm to “walk off” the Harmony’s power and data grapple fixture to a similar fixture on the Mobile Base System. Canadarm2 is being prepared for the upcoming ground-commanded robotic movement of spare parts from the Exposed Pallet now residing on the front porch of the Japanese Kibo Module to their proper locations on the truss of the station. The Exposed Pallet was delivered to the station inside the unpressurized section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-4 on Aug. 9.

Over the weekend, the Expedition 36 crew will have some free time to relax, speak with family members back on Earth and take care of weekly housekeeping chores. The six astronauts and cosmonauts also will continue their daily exercise regimen to prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs during long-duration spaceflight.

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