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Expedition 38 Wraps Up First Week on Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:05 pm via: NASA
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The six astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the orbiting International Space Station wrapped up their first full workweek Friday as Expedition 38 with a variety of experiments and preparations to deploy a quartet of miniature satellites.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins spent much of his day in the Kibo lab installing the Japanese Experiment Module Small Satellite Orbital Deployer on the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform. Next week Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata will use the lab’s airlock table to pass the platform outside to Kibo’s Exposed Facility, often referred to as the station’s “back porch.” The Japanese robotic arm will unberth the platform from the Small Fine Arm airlock attach mechanism and maneuver it into position to release the small satellites known as Cubesats.  Three satellites — Pico Dragon, ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-2 — will be deployed on Tuesday, and the fourth Cubesat, TechEdSat-3p, will be deployed Wednesday.

Hopkins also assisted Wakata with another round of medical exams as the Japanese astronaut continues his participation in the Ocular Health study.  Vision changes have been observed in some astronauts returning from long-duration spaceflight, and researchers want to learn more about its root causes and develop countermeasures to minimize this risk.  With guidance from the team on the ground, Hopkins helped collect Wakata’s cardiac and blood pressure measurements.  Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio assisted as well, performing an ultrasound scan on Wakata’s eyes.

Mastracchio, who began his day setting up a unit to measure air quality inside the station, later swapped out a hard drive and installed software on a computer associated with EXPRESS rack 8. There are eight EXPRESS racks aboard the station, each capable of supporting science experiments in any discipline by providing structural interfaces, power, data, cooling, water and other items needed to operate science experiments in space.

Mastracchio capped off his workday in the Destiny laboratory exchanging a sample cartridge inside the Materials Science Laboratory’s Solidification and Quench Furnace. This metallurgical research furnace provides three heater zones to ensure accurate temperature profiles and maintain a sample’s required temperature variations throughout the solidification process. This type of research in space allows scientists to isolate chemical and thermal properties of materials from the effects of gravity.

On the Russian side of the complex, Commander Oleg Kotov spent some time repairing the Elektron oxygen-generating system while Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy collected dosimeter readings for the Matryoshka experiment. Named after the traditional Russian nesting dolls, Matryoshka analyzes the radiation environment onboard the station.

Ryazanskiy later teamed up with Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin to dismantle the docking mechanism of the ISS Progress 52 cargo vehicle berthed at the Pirs docking compartment. Afterward, Ryazanskiy performed the Uragan Earth-observation experiment, which seeks to document and predict the development of natural and man-made disasters on Earth.

As the newest crew members on the station, Tyurin, Mastracchio and Wakata each had an hour set aside to become reacquainted with living and working in space. The trio, all veteran space flyers, arrived to the station on Nov. 7 aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft about six hours after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Over the weekend, the crew will have some free time to relax, speak with family members back on Earth and take care of weekly housekeeping chores. The station’s residents 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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