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Station Crew Works With Science, Cargo Ships

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:32 pm via: NASA
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The six astronauts and cosmonauts of the International Space Station’s Expedition 36 crew began their week Monday supporting a variety of science experiments, working with cargo ships that keep the station supplied and preparing for the departure of three crewmates.

Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy, Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano kicked off their workday with routine periodic health evaluations to keep flight surgeons on Earth apprised of the astronauts’ health during their long-duration stays aboard the station.

Afterward, Nyberg turned her attention to the InSPACE-3 experiment, which examines colloidal fluids classified as smart materials, transitioning to a solid-like state in the presence of a magnetic field.  New manufacturing models based on the idea of having these nanoparticles act as self-assembling building blocks could be used to improve or develop active mechanical systems such as new brake systems, seat suspensions, stress transducers, robotics, rovers, airplane landing gears and vibration damping systems.

Cassidy meanwhile charged up a dozen batteries in preparation for another technology demonstration using a trio of bowling-ball-sized, free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. On Tuesday, Nyberg will integrate SPHERES with hardware known as the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System, or RINGS, for a demonstration of how power can be swapped between two satellites without physical contact.

Parmitano quickly set up the Combustion Integrated Rack for another round of combustion testing before moving on to a review of the plan to troubleshoot Biolab’s microscope cassette later this week. Located in the Columbus module, Biolab is used to perform space biology experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates.

Parmitano rounded out his day collecting and testing water samples to assure that the station’s water supply remains free of contamination.

As they begin their final two weeks aboard the station, Cassidy, Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin spent part of their day preparing for the journey home aboard the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft that brought them to the station back in March. The trio is set to undock from the station on Sept. 10 for a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

Vinogradov and Misurkin, along with Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin, otherwise focused their attention Monday on weekly housekeeping activities in the Russian segment of the station.  Vinogradov also refilled water containers from the storage tanks aboard the European Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module.

In preparation for the upcoming departure of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-4 (HTV-4), Nyberg gathered items for disposal inside the cargo ship while Cassidy scavenged its light bulbs for re-use aboard the station.  On Sept. 4,  the station’s 57-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm will unberth HTV-4 from the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node.  The unpiloted cargo ship will be commanded to de-orbit on Sept. 7 for a destructive re-entry over the south Pacific Ocean.

As the crew wrapped up their day aboard the station, the robotics team at Houston’s Mission Control Center went to work to stow the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator and move Canadarm2 a new location.  The team used the robotic hardware over the weekend to remove a spare Main Bus Switching Unit and a spare Utility Transfer Assembly from the Exposed Pallet and attach the spares to stowage locations on the station’s truss. The Exposed Pallet, which was delivered to the station inside the  unpressurized section of HTV-4 and attached to the “front porch” of the Kibo module two weeks ago, will be grappled by Canadarm2 and returned to HTV-4 on Friday.

Meanwhile at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, three new crew members are preparing for a Sept. 25 launch to join their crewmates aboard the station. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy studied procedures for next week’s final qualification simulations and reviewed their Soyuz flight plan for their expedited 4-orbit, 6-hour flight to the station from the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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