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Russian Cargo Craft to Approach Station for Test

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:10 pm via: NASA
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While the Expedition 38 crew of the International Space Station tackles a variety of biological research and maintenance activities Wednesday, an unpiloted Russian cargo craft is approaching the complex for a “flyby” to test upgraded rendezvous equipment.

The ISS Progress 53 resupply vehicle, which launched Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, will make its closest approach at 4:53 p.m. EST during a “flyby” to test upgraded Kurs automated rendezvous equipment. The Progress will fly to within a mile of the complex, providing Russian flight controllers with valuable data on the revamped Kurs system that will be integrated into advanced Progress and piloted Soyuz vehicles in the future. During the “flyby,” Commander Oleg Kotov will monitor the Kurs data from a laptop computer aboard the complex.

Once it passes the station, the Progress will be commanded to fly above and behind the outpost over the next 48 hours, setting it up for a final rendezvous and docking to the aft port of the Zvezda service module Friday at 5:28 p.m. NASA Television will provide live coverage of the docking beginning at 4:45 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.

Meanwhile, station’s Expedition 38 crew continued their support of a variety of scientific studies aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins spent his morning working with NanoRacks, a facility that provides lower-cost microgravity research facilities for small payloads utilizing a standardized “plug-and-play” interface. Hopkins reviewed the on-board training materials for NanoRacks before installing and conducting a checkout of the NanoRacks BioRack Centrifuge.

Later, Hopkins installed a check valve in the Sabatier system, which extracts water from the station’s atmosphere by combining carbon dioxide from the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly and hydrogen from the Oxygen Generation System to form water and methane. The water is recycled by the Water Processor Assembly, and the methane is vented overboard.

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio continued his work setting up BioLab, a research facility located in the Columbus laboratory. BioLab is used to perform space biology experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates. Results from experiments performed inside this facility could benefit biomedical research in such areas as immunology, pharmacology, bone demineralization and biotechnology.

Afterward Mastracchio photographed test samples inside the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test science payload, which takes a look at colloids — microscopic particles suspended in a liquid — and may lead to improvements in manufacturing processes here on Earth.

Inside the station’s multi-window cupola, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata checked out a 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 a session with 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 also donned a small digital electrocardiograph for the first of two separate 24-hour recordings for the Biological Rhythms 48hrs experiment, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency study of the circadian variation of astronauts’ cardiac function during spaceflight.

Inside the station’s Poisk Mini-Research Module, Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy participated in the Virtual experiment, which seeks to obtain new data on changes to a cosmonaut’s sensory interactions and adaptations during long-duration space missions.

Ryazanskiy later teamed up with Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin to collect micro-accelerometer data for the Identification experiment to examine the station’s dynamic loads during events such as dockings and reboosts.

On Thursday, all six station crew members will gather together for an out-of-this-world Thanksgiving feast, featuring such holiday favorites as irradiated smoked turkey, cornbread dressing and rehydrated green bean casserole. This will mark the 14th Thanksgiving since the station began the era of continuous human presence in space back in November 2000.

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