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Station Crew Supports Materials Research as Cargo Ship Closes in on Station

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:23 pm via: NASA
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The International Space Station’s Expedition 38 crew continued its focus on research and technology Tuesday, while over the river and over the woods – over everything, in fact – a Russian cargo spacecraft loaded with food, fuel, supplies and holiday gifts continues its trek to the orbital outpost.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins began his workday configuring hardware and positioning a camera inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. This research rack, which includes an optics bench, combustion chamber, fuel and oxidizer control and five different cameras, allows a variety of combustion experiments to be performed safely aboard the station.

Afterward, Hopkins spent much of the remainder of his day conducting maintenance work with the Internal Communications System power and distribution components.

Working in the station’s Destiny laboratory, Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio exchanged sample cartridges 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.

Hopkins and Mastracchio took a break from their work to field questions from students from Charles County Public Schools in La Plata, Md.

Meanwhile inside the station’s cupola, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata continued his checkout of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s ultra-high definition camera system, setting it up to capture detailed imagery and video of Comet ISON as it begins its slingshot around the sun.

Wakata then moved on to setting up hardware for Sprint VO2, which measures oxygen uptake, ventilatory threshold (the point at which during intense exercise the body feels that it cannot draw in enough air) and other parameters for evaluation of the Sprint exercise protocol. The Sprint study is taking a look at the effectiveness of high-intensity, low-volume exercise training in maintaining fitness while minimizing the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs during long-term exposure to weightlessness. Wakata’s Sprint VO2 exercise session, which will include the Portable Pulmonary Function System hardware to collect data, takes place on Wednesday.

On the Russian side of the complex, Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy conducted another session of the Bar experiment, studying methods and instruments for detecting the location of an air leak from one of the station’s modules.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin meanwhile performed routine maintenance on the life-support system inside the Zvezda service module.

The unpiloted ISS Progress 53 cargo ship is headed for a close approach to the station Wednesday following its launch at 3:53 p.m. EST Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A rendezvous burn of the Progress engines Tuesday afternoon will fine tune the vehicle’s path to the orbiting outpost for a “flyby” Wednesday at 4:53 p.m., bringing the Progress within one mile of the station to test upgraded Kurs rendezvous equipment.

Once the Russian ground teams have verified that the new lighter, enhanced Kurs hardware is working as expected, the Progress will approach the station on Friday for a docking to the aft port of the Zvezda service module at 5:28 p.m.

Progress 53 is loaded with 2.9 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the station crew, including 1,763 pounds of propellant, 48 pounds of oxygen, 57 pounds of air, 925 pounds of water and 3,119 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and holiday gifts.

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