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Station Crew Supports Science, Preps for Cargo Ship Capture

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Dec 9, 2013 10:51 pm via: NASA
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The six-person Expedition 38 crew of the International Space Station began the week Monday supporting a variety of scientific experiments, performing maintenance activities and preparing for the arrival of the orbiting laboratory’s next visiting vehicle.

Flight Engineers Mike Hopkins and Koichi Wakata participated in a round of on-board training to review procedures for the robotic capture and berthing of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus commercial cargo craft, which is scheduled to launch Dec. 18 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. When Cygnus approaches the station on Dec. 21, the astronauts will use the station’s 57-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple the vehicle for its installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node. This flight, designated Orbital 1, will be the first commercial resupply mission to the station by Orbital Sciences.

A number of experiments will be arriving aboard Cygnus, including a study of fluid motion that uses the station’s free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES.

Hopkins also swapped out a recycle tank in the Water Recovery System, while Wakata replaced a pre-treat tank in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment.

Meanwhile in the station’s Destiny laboratory, Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio prepared Robonaut 2 for an upcoming ground-commanded firmware update that will support the installation of a pair of legs for the humanoid robot. Robonaut was designed to test out the capability of a robot to perform tasks deemed too dangerous or mundane for astronauts. Robonaut’s legs are scheduled to arrive to the station aboard the SpaceX-3 commercial cargo mission in February.

Mastracchio also checked in on the Binary Colloid Alloy Test-C1 experiment, which takes a look at colloids – microscopic particles suspended in a liquid. Results from this experiment may lead to improvements in the shelf-life of household products, food and medicine. Mastracchio adjusted the settings of the experiment’s camera, changed its batteries and downloaded the latest photos for further study by the research team back on Earth.

On the Russian side of the complex, Commander Oleg Kotov continued unloading cargo from the Progress 53 cargo vehicle that docked to the station on Nov. 29.

Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy replaced fans in the Zvezda service module with low-noise units and used a sound level meter to measure the results.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin conducted the Seiner ocean-observation study, documenting color bloom patterns in the oceans’ waters for the fishing industry. Tyurin also performed routine maintenance on the life support systems inside Zvezda.

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