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Station Crew Keeps Cool and Prepares for Shuttle Arrival

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Jul 7, 2009 8:13 pm
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(NASA) – The Expedition 20 crew focused Tuesday on preparing items for return to Earth aboard space shuttle Endeavour later this month and servicing the International Space Station’s thermal systems.

Flight Engineer Bob Thirsk packed up additional items for the return to Earth on Endeavour at the conclusion of the STS-127 mission. The shuttle is slated to launch Saturday from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., to deliver the final elements of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory and bring Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata home. STS-127 Mission Specialist Timothy Kopra will remain aboard the station to replace Wakata.

Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata works with the Fluid Control Pump Assembly, which is a part of the Internal Thermal Control System in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata works with the Fluid Control Pump Assembly, which is a part of the Internal Thermal Control System in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Flight Engineer Mike Barratt worked through the second of four days of planned activities to adjust the manual flow control valves for the internal thermal control systems in the U.S. segment of the station. In a related task, Wakata began a two-day effort to finish refilling coolant in the thermal control systems of both Kibo and the Columbus lab.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Frank De Winne took a break from his station maintenance activities to talk with European Space Agency officials gathered in Bremen, Germany. De Winne answered questions about life in orbit and discussed the “Johannes Kepler” Automated Transfer Vehicle, an unpiloted cargo craft that will be launched to the station next year as the second in a succession of European resupply vehicles.

Commander Gennady Padalka assisted Flight Engineer Roman Romanenko with a Russian biomedical experiment designed to test the response of cosmonauts to the effects of stress factors in flight. Later, Padalka and Romanenko fielded questions from students of the International Youth Science School visiting the Russian Mission Control Center. The students are participating in a Russian Federal Space Agency-sponsored program to study various aspects of cosmonautics.

The Expedition 20 crew also had time set aside for Earth observation and photography. Targets for Tuesday focused on attempts to acquire images of polar mesospheric clouds, also known as noctilucent clouds. Particularly striking ground observations of these phenomena have been reported over Scandinavia for the past several weeks.

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