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Station Crew Practices Cargo Craft Capture

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jul 9, 2014 8:36 pm via: NASA
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The six-person Expedition 40 crew of the International Space Station supported a range of scientific studies Wednesday while gearing up for the arrival of a commercial spacecraft now set to launch Saturday.

Commander Steve Swanson kicked off the workday by setting up two acoustic dosimeters that Flight Engineers Alexander Gerst and Max Suraev will wear to track the noise levels they are exposed to during the next 24 hours.

Swanson then worked out on the station’s exercise bike — the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System, or CEVIS – while flight surgeons tracked his blood pressure and electrocardiogram readings for the Sprint study. Station crew members currently work out 2.5 hours every day to counter the loss of bone density and muscle mass that occurs during long duration spaceflight. The researchers behind Sprint aim to reduce that total exercise time through short periods of high-intensity exercise, leaving the crew more time to focus on research, maintenance and other activities.

Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman meanwhile fired up BASS, the Burning and Suppression of Solids experiment, to prepare for another round of combustion experiments inside the 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.

Gerst began his day recording a “Flying Classroom” educational video to demonstrate the foaming of water in microgravity.

Afterward Gerst used three different dermatology tools on his forearm to collect data for the Skin B experiment, which investigates the accelerated aging of skin that seems to occur during spaceflight. Results from this study will improve understanding of skin aging as well as provide insight into the aging process of similar body tissues.

Wiseman and Gerst both spent some time reviewing procedures for a test they will conduct Thursday with a pair of soccer-ball-sized, free-flying robots known the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. The mini-satellites will be encircled with hoop-shaped hardware called the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System, or RINGS, to test formation flight using electromagnetic fields and wireless power transfer.

Gerst then joined Swanson to help out with the replacement of an exercise rope on the station’s weightlifting machine, the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, or ARED.

Suraev and his fellow cosmonauts, Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev, gathered together in the Japanese Kibo module to answer questions from students visiting the Russian Mission Control Center.

Afterward, Skvortsov and Artemyev recorded an educational video focusing on the Otklik payload, which tracks the impacts of particles on the station’s exterior using piezoelectric sensors.

Suraev meanwhile performed the Relaxation experiment, which studies chemical luminescent reactions in the Earth’s atmosphere.

After a break for lunch, Swanson, Wiseman and Gerst participated in an in-flight interview with reporters from TIME.com and Time Warner Cable News in Albany, N.Y. The astronauts discussed life and work in space, the World Cup games and their active participation in social media. Wiseman and Gerst have been tweeting photos of Earth from space, including recent dramatic images of Hurricane Arthur and Super typhoon Neoguri.

During the afternoon, the three astronauts focused much of their attention on preparations for next week’s arrival of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo ship, now scheduled to launch Saturday on an Antares rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 1:14 p.m. EDT. When the commercial space freighter approaches the station next Tuesday, Swanson will use the 57-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus for its berthing to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node.

Orbital Sciences postponed the launch of its Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Friday to Saturday due weather conditions that delayed the rollout of the Antares rocket to Launch Pad 0A at Wallops on Wednesday. Rollout of the rocket has been rescheduled for Thursday morning.

After Swanson checked out the backup Robotics Work Station Display and Control Panel inside the Destiny lab to make sure it was ready for action, Gerst and Wiseman joined the commander to practice grapple procedures with Canadarm2. Cygnus will deliver almost 3,300 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.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. NASA TV coverage of capture and installation will begin Tuesday at 6:15 a.m. Grapple is scheduled at approximately 7:24 a.m. Coverage of the installation of Cygnus onto Harmony will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Wiseman rounded out his workday with four more flame tests with BASS, while Swanson interacted with an experiment known as the eValuatIon And monitoring of microBiofiLms insidE the ISS, or VIABLE, as he touched and breathed on sample bags as directed. The VIABLE study involves the evaluation of microbial biofilm development on space materials.

Inside the Zvezda service module, Skvortsov replaced cables and conducted a test of the Telerobotically Operated Rendezvous System, or TORU, to prepare for the upcoming undocking of the ISS Progress 55 cargo ship on July 21 and the launch and docking of its replacement – ISS Progress 56 — on July 23. The crew can use TORU to manually guide a Russian spacecraft in the event of a problem with its Kurs automated rendezvous and docking system.

Suraev spent part of his afternoon conducting the Kulonovskiy Kristall experiment as he gathered information about charged particles in a weightless environment. Artemyev meanwhile collected air samples in Zvezda and the Zarya module and performed routine maintenance on the Russian segment’s life-support system.

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