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ATV-5 Open for Business While Cygnus Closes Shop

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:55 pm via: NASA
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Europe’s “Georges Lemaître” Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 (ATV-5) is now open for business as the station crew begins five months of cargo transfers. Meanwhile, Cygnus, Orbital Sciences’ private cargo carrier, is winding down its one-month stay at the Harmony node’s Earth-facing port Friday morning.

European Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst opened the ATV-5’s hatches for the final time Thursday morning after scrubbing the space freighter’s atmosphere the day before. The ATV-5 will remain attached to the aft end of the Zvezda service module until January.

The ATV-5 will undock loaded with trash for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean. Cameras inside the ATV will downlink video of the breakup of the vehicle during its atmospheric reentry. Scientists will use the data to understand the effects of fiery deorbits in the future.

The new ATV-5 is scheduled to fire its thrusters for seven minutes, 48 seconds at 12:58 p.m. EDT boosting the station to a slightly higher orbit Thursday. The new orbit will get the station ready for the Sept. 10 departure of the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft for a landing in Kazakhstan.

During the afternoon, Gerst partnered with Commander Steve Swanson and worked in the Columbus laboratory to unpack the Electromagnetic Levitator (EML) delivered aboard the ATV-5 and temporarily install it in the European Drawer Rack. The EML is a materials research furnace that studies the properties of high-tech alloys and semiconductor materials in their melted state.

Swanson joined NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman during the morning to get Cygnus ready for its departure Friday at 6:40 a.m. EDT. The duo disconnected cables in the vestibule, the area between Cygnus and the Harmony node, and installed hardware necessary for Friday morning’s unberthing.

Wiseman then depressurized the vestibule between Cygnus and Harmony before floating over to the ATV-5 to help with cargo transfers.

The station’s three cosmonauts are counting down to an Aug. 18 spacewalk in the midst of science and maintenance tasks in their segment of the International Space Station.

Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev gathered spacewalk tools and readied their Orlan spacesuits’ communications and telemetry gear. They then worked with a software application to review their spacewalk translation paths and work areas.

The duo will exit the Pirs docking compartment Monday morning to deploy a Peruvian CubeSat, retrieve old experiments and install new ones, among other external tasks.

Veteran cosmonaut Max Suraev assisted the future spacewalkers with the telemetry connectors. Suraev then participated in an experiment that explores the loss of calcium in bones while living in microgravity. He spent the rest of the afternoon inside Pirs readying the module for Monday’s spacewalk.

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