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Station Crew Conducts Research; Cygnus on Track for Wednesday Launch

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Jan 6, 2014 11:23 pm via: NASA
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The Expedition 38 crew of the International Space Station kicked off the workweek Monday with biomedical research and routine maintenance, while the newest cargo vehicle to join the station’s resupply fleet continued its progress toward a Wednesday launch.

The Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket with its Cygnus cargo vehicle is now sitting on the launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia awaiting its launch  to the station Wednesday at 1:32 p.m. EST. Antares and Cygnus were rolled out to Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Sunday, following a one-day delay due to a hydraulic sensor issue on the transporters.

International Space Station Program managers met Monday morning and gave their approval to proceed with Wednesday’s launch, which will put Cygnus on track to rendezvous with the station on Sunday.  That launch was previously set for Tuesday, but the station program and Orbital Sciences decided late Friday to reschedule due to the forecast of cold temperatures at the launch site.

When Cygnus arrives at the station Jan. 12, Flight Engineers Mike Hopkins and Koichi Wakata will be standing by to capture the capsule with the station’s robotic arm and install it on the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.

Cygnus will carry a total of 2,780 pounds of supplies to the station, including vital science experiments to expand the research capability of the Expedition 38 crew members aboard the orbiting laboratory, crew provisions, spare parts and experiment hardware. Also aboard the flight are 23 student experiments that will involve more than 10,000 students on the ground. These experiments will involve life sciences topics ranging from amoeba reproduction to calcium in the bones to salamanders.

Meanwhile aboard the station Monday, Hopkins spent much of the day collecting Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) fluid samples inside the Destiny and Kibo laboratories as well as the Harmony and Tranquility nodes. The NASA astronaut measured the pH of the samples, checked for the presence of ammonia and packaged some of the samples for return to Earth. While the external portion of the station’s active thermal control system uses ammonia and may be more well-known these days thanks to a recent pair of spacewalks to replace an ammonia pump module, the ITCS within the crew modules uses a safer, water-based cooling system.

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio meanwhile removed and replaced some piping in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment — the station’s toilet located in the Tranquility node. He also collected samples from the station’s drinking water and tested them for signs of microbial contamination.

Mastracchio and Hopkins took a break from their work to speak with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for an in-flight interview. The two NASA astronauts discussed the research taking place aboard the station, the recent holidays as well as their two spacewalks to replace a degraded, 740-pound pump module in late December.

Wakata participated in the Cardio Ox study, which is taking a look at the potential long-term effects of long-duration spaceflight on cardiovascular health. Hopkins assisted the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut with Monday’s session by helping to place electrocardiogram electrodes and performing an ultrasound scan.

Afterward, Wakata took part in a periodic fitness evaluation as he worked out on the station’s exercise bike – the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization – while Mastracchio measured his blood pressure.

On the Russian side of the complex, Commander Oleg Kotov stowed trash inside the ISS Progress 52 cargo ship. That unmanned cargo vehicle is set to undock from the Pirs docking compartment in early February for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific ocean.

Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy conducted another session of the Coulomb Crystal experiment, gathering data about charged particles in a weightless environment. Later he performed routine maintenance on the life-support system inside the Zvezda service module.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin participated in an experiment known as Virtual, which looks at changes to a cosmonaut’s sensory interactions and adaptations during long-duration space missions. Tyurin rounded out his day with an inspection of the windows in the Russian segment.

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