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Station Crew Works Science, Preps for Spacewalk and Upcoming Spacecraft Ops

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:30 pm via: NASA
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The six-member Expedition 38 crew continues an array of international, student and commercial research inside the orbital laboratory. The crew is also preparing for its fourth spacewalk and upcoming Progress and Soyuz vehicle activities.

Commander Oleg Kotov and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio partnered up during the afternoon for a version of the long running SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) experiment. The experiment uses student written algorithms that operate small bowling ball-sized satellites to demonstrate critical mission tasks such as formation flying and vehicle dockings.

Mastracchio started his morning loading software and swapping out a hard drive on a laptop computer that helps operate the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. At the end of the day, he conducted more research for the Vaccine-21 experiment that observes the interaction between microbes and antibiotics in microgravity.

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata continued more work with the NanoRacks commercial research facilities. He operated a microscope to analyze microbes on a petri dish for a student designed experiment. NanoRacks is a private company that offers its commercial research facilities on the space station to businesses and universities.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins joined Wakata after lunch time to stow U.S. spacewalk tools. The two astronauts gathered items such as safety tethers, pliers and wrenches. They stowed them in the Quest airlock and updated the station’s inventory management system.

Hopkins worked throughout his morning on the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test fluid physics experiment. He photographed samples for the study which observes microscopic particles suspended in a liquid. Benefits include better manufacturing processes for commercial products such as paint or food products.

Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy are counting down to their mission’s fourth spacewalk. The duo checked their Russian Orlan spacesuits and set up the suits’ replaceable parts. The cosmonauts will exit the Pirs docking compartment Jan. 27 at 9:10 a.m. to complete the installation of Earth observation cameras that was delayed during a Dec. 27 spacewalk.

Mission controllers postponed Wednesday’s orbital reboost due to the possibility of the International Space Station being placed in the vicinity of an old Delta-1 rocket fragment. The reboost is now planned for Friday at 7:17 p.m. EST. This places the station at the correct altitude to welcome the arrival of a Progress resupply craft Feb. 5 and ready the Soyuz TMA-10M for its undocking March 12.

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