Headlines > News > Station Crew Preps for Visiting Vehicles, Robotics

Station Crew Preps for Visiting Vehicles, Robotics

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Jul 8, 2014 6:45 pm via: NASA
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55 days into the Expedition 40 mission aboard the orbiting International Space Station, Commander Steve Swanson and his five crewmates supported a variety of science and technology investigations while preparing for the arrival of a number of visiting vehicles throughout the summer.

Following the crew’s usual 2 a.m. EDT reveille and a daily planning conference with the flight control teams around the globe, Swanson set up two acoustic dosimeters that Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Oleg Artemyev will wear for 24 hours to measure the noise levels they are exposed to throughout the day. Swanson also participated in an on-orbit hearing assessment as flight surgeons keep close tabs on all aspects of the astronauts’ health during these long-duration stays aboard the orbiting laboratory.

This nighttime view of a portion of the International Space Station's Russian segment is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 40 crew member on the station. The ISS Progress 55 resupply spacecraft, docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment, is visible at left.  Image Credit: NASA

This nighttime view of a portion of the International Space Station's Russian segment is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 40 crew member on the station. The ISS Progress 55 resupply spacecraft, docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment, is visible at left. Image Credit: NASA

Swanson also spent some time cleaning the Cell Biology Experiment Facility and performing routine maintenance on the Combustion Integrated Rack and the Fluids Integrated Rack to keep those facilities in good working order for upcoming experiment sessions.

Wiseman and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst started the day reviewing procedures and setting up hardware for a test they will conduct Thursday with two soccer-ball-sized, free-flying robots known the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. Wiseman also recharged the battery packs for some hoop-shaped hardware called the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System, or RINGS, which will be integrated onto the SPHERES to test formation flight using electromagnetic fields and wireless power transfer between satellites.

Afterward, Gerst set up a laptop computer for the Multi-End-To-End Robotic Operations Network, or METERON, which is a technology demonstration that examines the operational and technical capability for the station crew to remotely control robots on Earth. This investigation will serve as a precursor and proof of concept for future human exploration scenarios including immersive remote control of a robot by an astronaut in orbit around a distant target such as the moon or Mars.

Wiseman meanwhile performed two simultaneous runs with the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test Low Gravity Phase Kinetics-Critical Point experiment, or BCAT-KP-1, to allow the principal investigator to assess the second sample’s behavior during the first sample’s run. Results from this ongoing investigation of colloids – mixtures of small particles distributed throughout a liquid – will help materials scientists to develop new consumer products with unique properties and longer shelf lives.

This is a close-up image photographed during a run of the Burning and Suppression of Solids experiment onboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.  Image Credit: NASA

This is a close-up image photographed during a run of the Burning and Suppression of Solids experiment onboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineer Max Suraev performed the VIRU experiment, which aims to increase the efficiency of training and experiment operations through the use of 3D “virtual” manuals aboard the station.

Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov meanwhile packed trash and unneeded items into the ISS Progress 55 cargo for disposal. Progress 55 is slated to undock in two weeks for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean to make way for ISS Progress 56.

After a break for lunch, Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev conducted a fit check of their Kazbek seat liners inside the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft that brought them to the station back on March 27. The trio is scheduled to return to Earth aboard that same Soyuz in September.

Skvortsov and Gerst then teamed up in the Zvezda service module to perform a checkout of the control panel and video systems to be used in next month’s docking of the European Space Agency’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATV-5. Named for the Belgian physicist and astronomer Georges Lemaitre, ATV-5 is scheduled for launch from Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket no earlier than July 25.

Gerst rounded out his day with the Capillary Flow Experiment, which takes a close look at how fluids flow across surfaces with complex geometries in a weightless environment. Results from this experiment will improve computer models used to design fluid transfer systems and fuel tanks on future spacecraft.

Wiseman focused his attention on another session with a combustion experiment known as the Burning and Suppression of Solids, or BASS, inside the station’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. BASS is investigating the hypothesis that some materials may actually become more flammable in space, and the results from BASS will help screen materials for their use aboard future spacecraft. The research also provides scientists with improved computational models that will aid in the design of fire detection and suppression systems both in space and here on Earth.

Swanson meanwhile performed an inspection of the fiber optic cable jumpers in the vestibules of the Harmony node, which serves as the connecting port and passageway between the Destiny, Kibo and Columbus laboratories as well as for visiting cargo ships. The next visiting vehicle destined for Harmony’s Earth-facing port, Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft, is set to launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday at 1:40 p.m. EDT. Swanson will use the 57-foot Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus on July 15 at 7:24 a.m. for its berthing to Harmony. Cygnus is set to deliver more than 3,000 pounds of cargo to the station, including 1,684 pounds of crew supplies, 783 pounds of station hardware and 721 pounds of science and research.

Swanson also completed some routine maintenance on the station’s water recycling system and Tranquility node’s toilet, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. The commander wrapped up the workday in space setting up a new HD encoder and video camera inside Kibo.

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