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Station Crew Preps for Cargo Ship, Spacewalks

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Aug 7, 2013 9:02 pm via: NASA
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The six-person Expedition 36 crew of the International Space Station tackled a variety of research experiments Wednesday, while continuing preparations for Friday’s arrival of a Japanese space freighter and a pair of upcoming Russian spacewalks.

Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg spent part of her morning working with the Advanced Colloids Experiment, or ACE, housed inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox of the station’s Destiny laboratory. Nyberg cleaned up the experiment following its previous run, replaced a used oil dispenser and prepared ACE for its next round of data collection. Results from ACE will help researchers understand how to optimize stabilizers to extend the shelf life of products like laundry detergent, paint, ketchup and even salad dressing.

Afterward she joined Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy in the Kibo laboratory to check out of a pair of bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. The two NASA astronauts put the miniature satellites through their paces for a dry run of the SPHERES Zero Robotics tournament scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 13. Teams of middle school students from Florida, Georgia, Idaho and Massachusetts will gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to see which teams’ algorithms do the best job of commanding the free-flying robots through a series of maneuvers and objectives.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano set up acoustic dosimeters that Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Cassidy will wear for 24 hours to measure their exposure to noise.

With an eye toward the arrival of the “Kounotori” H-II Transfer Vehicle-4 (HTV-4) on Friday, Parmitano gathered equipment that will be used to outfit the vestibule of the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node where the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency cargo ship will be berthed.  Nyberg and Cassidy will use Canadarm2, the station’s Canadian Space Agency-provided robotic arm, to reach out and capture the vehicle at 7:29 a.m. Friday for its installation on Harmony. HTV-4 launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan Saturday at 3:48 p.m. EDT (4:48 a.m. Sunday, Japan time) with around 3.6 tons of cargo for the Expedition 36 crew.

NASA Television coverage of the rendezvous and capture of HTV-4 begins at 6 a.m. Friday. Coverage of the final installation of the resupply craft to Harmony will resume at 9 a.m.

In his role as Crew Medical Officer, Parmitano also conducted an ultrasound scan on Cassidy’s eyes to provide an ocular health assessment for flight surgeons and researchers.

In the Russian segment of the complex, Misurkin and Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin continued preparing their Orlan spacesuits and spacewalking tools for a pair of spacewalks they will conduct on Aug. 16 and 22.  During the first of the two excursions, Misurkin and Yurchikhin will install a panel of experiments on the Poisk module, deploy a gap spanner between the Zarya module and Poisk and install Ethernet cables on Poisk to prepare for the arrival of a new Russian laboratory module later this year. Six days later they will venture outside again to replace a laser experiment with a pointing platform for an optical telescope that will arrive later.

Vinogradov meanwhile performed maintenance on the Elektron oxygen generator and the ventilation system of the Zvezda service module. The commander also downloaded data from the Identification experiment, which examines the station’s dynamic loads during events such as dockings and reboosts.

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