Headlines > News > New Flock of Mini Satellites Launched From Station, Crew Packs Spacewalk Gear

New Flock of Mini Satellites Launched From Station, Crew Packs Spacewalk Gear

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:17 pm via: NASA
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The launch of more miniature satellites and cleanup activities following Monday’s Russian spacewalk were the focus of activities Tuesday aboard the orbiting International Space Station.

The station’s six-man Expedition 40 crew began the day a bit later than usual, waking up at 6 a.m. EDT rather than the usual 2 a.m. reveille after an extended workday Monday to conduct a 5-hour, 11-minute spacewalk. During that excursion, Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev manually deployed a Peruvian nanosatellite and installed and retrieved science packages on the station’s exterior.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev (blue stripes) and Alexander Skvortsov (red stripes, partially obscured), attired in Russian Orlan spacesuits, participate in an Aug. 18 spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev (blue stripes) and Alexander Skvortsov (red stripes, partially obscured), attired in Russian Orlan spacesuits, participate in an Aug. 18 spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Following the daily planning conference with the flight control teams around the world, Skvortsov and Artemyev removed the U.S. helmet cameras and lights from their Russian Orlan spacesuits and handed them back to Commander Steve Swanson.  The two cosmonauts spent much of the remainder of their morning drying out their spacesuits.

Skvortsov later packed up some of the science samples retrieved during Monday’s spacewalk for return to Earth.  Artemyev meanwhile stowed medical gear and began the discharge of an Orlan spacesuit battery to condition it for storage.

The third Russian cosmonaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer and future Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev, focused his attention on routine tasks in the Russian segment, including the regularly scheduled daily maintenance of the life-support system in the Zvezda service module.

Swanson started his day scanning his forearm with several dermatology tools for the Skin B study, which is investigating the accelerated aging of skin that seems to occur during spaceflight. Results from this European Space Agency (ESA) study will improve understanding of the mechanisms of skin aging as well as provide insight into the aging process of similar body tissues to help determine the impacts on astronauts during future missions to the moon or Mars where environmental conditions will be more challenging.

Swanson then teamed up with Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman to assemble the external television camera group hardware to be installed on the station’s truss segment during a spacewalk currently expected to take place around October.

Wiseman took a breather from his work to talk with WJZ-TV in his hometown of Baltimore. Wiseman, who has generated a swarm of interest in the mission thanks to his participation in social media, discussed the process for posting his Twitter photos from space and shared how he is following the Baltimore Orioles baseball games while orbiting 260 miles above Earth.

Meanwhile in the Japanese Kibo module, Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst supported the robotics ground team for the deployment of a new series of NanoRacks CubeSat miniature satellites.  Gerst operated the Japanese Experiment Module’s airlock and slide table as the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform containing the CubeSat deployer mechanism was passed outside the station and grappled by the Japanese robotic arm.

Once the robotic arm had moved the assembly into position, the first pair in this second “flock” of Planet Labs Dove satellites was ejected into orbit at 2:25 p.m.  Wiseman was on hand in the station’s cupola to photograph the Earth-imaging satellites as they floated away from the complex. A second pair of Dove satellite deployments is planned for Tuesday evening.

By next Monday, 16 CubeSats out of the 28 on tap for this series are expected to be deployed from the station. The CubeSats were among the nearly 3,300 pounds of science and supplies delivered to the station in July by Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo vehicle.

With the planned spacewalks for Expedition 40 now completed, Gerst and Skvortsov rounded out the workday by reopening the hatch to ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) docked to the aft port of Zvezda. This fifth and final ATV, dubbed the “Georges Lemaitre” in honor of the Belgian astronomer who first proposed the Big Bang theory, delivered around 7 tons of cargo to the station when it docked on Aug. 12.

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