Headlines > News > Expedition 39 Begins First Full Week as Six-Person Crew

Expedition 39 Begins First Full Week as Six-Person Crew

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:42 pm via: NASA
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Expedition 39 began its first full week as a six-person crew Monday with experiment activity while the three newest crew members acclimate themselves to living and working aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Koichi Wakata began his workday setting up the Combustion Integrated Rack for another round of ground-commanded experiments. This facility, 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. Fire quite behaves differently in the absence of gravity, and the experiments performed in this facility could lead to improvements in spacecraft materials selection and strategies for putting out accidental fires aboard spacecraft. The research also provides scientists with improved computational models that will aid in the design of fire detection and suppression systems here on Earth.

Afterward, Wakata collected water samples from the potable water dispenser to check for any signs of microbial contamination and to measure the levels of iodine. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut also preserved some of the samples so they can be returned to Earth later for additional analysis.

Wakata then joined Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio to gather items for disposal aboard Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo commercial craft. Cygnus is currently scheduled to launch to the station on May 6 and spend about a month berthed to the station during the Orbital-2 mission to deliver experiment hardware and crew supplies. Like many of the other vehicles in the station’s unpiloted resupply fleet, Cygnus will be sent to a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere for disposal after completing its mission at the station.

Mastracchio also worked in the Columbus laboratory to perform power continuity measurements on a cable connected to the Fluid Science Laboratory. This facility provides a central location for fluid physics experiments onboard the station and provides insight into the physics of fluids in space, including aqueous foam, emulsions, convection and fluid motion.

Mastracchio later set up some new test samples for the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test – Kinetics Platform experiment, or BCAT-KP, which studies the kinetic behavior of solid materials suspended in a liquid. Results from this study will help material and industrial scientists develop product formulations to stabilize everyday commercial products.

Wakata rounded out his day familiarizing the station’s three newest crew members with the emergency hardware equipment throughout the space station.  Flight Engineers Steve Swanson, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev, who arrived aboard the station Thursday following Tuesday’s launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, were shown the locations of emergency equipment and the route they would take to their Soyuz spacecraft in the event of an emergency.

Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev also practiced donning emergency masks and demonstrated their ability to communicate with flight controllers from their Soyuz while wearing these masks.

In addition to getting acquainted with the systems aboard the station, Swanson processed his blood and saliva samples and stored them in the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, to help researchers track changes to his body during his six months aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The third Russian flight engineer aboard the station, veteran cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, cleaned air ducts and replaced filters in the Russian segment and performed routine maintenance on the life-support system in the Zvezda service module.

Tyurin also packed trash into the ISS Progress 54 cargo ship attached to the station’s Pirs docking compartment.  Progress 54, which arrived at the station back on Feb. 5 with 2.8 tons of cargo, is set to depart the station on April 7 for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.  Its departure will clear Pirs for the launch and docking of the next unpiloted Russian cargo craft, ISS Progress 55, on April 9.

To set the station up for the same-day launch and docking of Progress 55, a reboost of the station was conducted on Friday using the thrusters of the ISS Progress 53 cargo craft docked to Zvezda. The reboost, which increased the altitude of the complex at its perigee by 2.3 statute miles, also prepares the station for the mid-May undocking and landing of the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft carrying Wakata, Mastracchio and Tyruin.  The station now is traveling in a 260.7 x 254.8 statute mile orbit.

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