Headlines > News > Station Crew Sets Up for Spacewalk, Cargo Vehicle Traffic

Station Crew Sets Up for Spacewalk, Cargo Vehicle Traffic

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Aug 8, 2014 7:33 pm via: NASA
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The International Space Station’s Expedition 40 crew closed out the work-week Friday with preparations for the arrival of one space freighter and the departure of another, upgrades to the station’s robotic crew member and a checkout of a pair of spacesuits for an upcoming spacewalk.

Commander Steve Swanson of NASA and his team of five flight engineers began the day with the usual 2 a.m. EDT wakeup, followed by a planning conference with the flight control teams around the world.

One of the Expedition 40 crew members aboard the International Space Station, from an altitude of 221 nautical miles, photographed this image of Typhoon Halong at 08:02:41 GMT on Aug. 7, 2014.

One of the Expedition 40 crew members aboard the International Space Station, from an altitude of 221 nautical miles, photographed this image of Typhoon Halong at 08:02:41 GMT on Aug. 7, 2014.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev then proceeded with preparations for their spacewalk slated to begin on Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. The pair spent the day activating their Russian Orlan spacesuits, preparing the cooling loops and installing the replaceable elements into the suits. Once all that was completed, Skvortsov and Artemyev looked through the station’s windows to study the paths they will take to the various worksites on the exterior of the station for the spacewalk.

During that excursion, the two cosmonauts will deploy a nanosatellite, install two experiment packages on the station’s hull and bring three other packages back inside. NASA Television will provide live coverage of the spacewalk.

Cosmonaut Max Suraev assisted his colleagues with some of the preparations Friday, installing an Orlan battery charger in the Zvezda service module, before moving on to clean air ducts in the Poisk Mini-Research Module-2. He later rejoined his crewmates to review the airlock procedures that will precede and follow the spacewalk.

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman spent most of his morning removing and replacing the Activated Carbon/Ion Exchange (ACTEX) cartridge in the Oxygen Generating System in the U.S. segment of the station.

Commander Swanson meanwhile retrieved a seedling sample chamber from the Minus Eighty-degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, and placed it into the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, which includes a centrifuge for controlled gravity levels. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Resist Tubule experiment, which studies the mechanisms for gravity resistance in plants, will help researchers learn more about the evolution of plants and enable efficient plant production both on Earth and in space.

Next, Swanson went to work in the U.S Destiny laboratory to wrap up the second of two days of mobility upgrades this week for the station’s robotic crew member, Robonaut 2. Since arriving aboard the station in May 2011, Robonaut has tackled a series of increasingly complex tasks as engineers test the feasibility of a humanoid robot taking over routine and mundane chores to free up the astronauts for more critical work. For the next phase of testing, Robonaut will be outfitted with a pair of climbing legs to enable it to move around the station. These legs, which are equipped with end effectors to allow them to grip handrails and sockets, were delivered to the station during the SpaceX-3 cargo mission in April. To prepare the robot for the installation of its legs at a later date, Swanson rewired some connectors and installed a kidney fan inside Robonaut before reattaching its backpack, cortex box, chest cover and side panels. Robonaut will remain set up on its stanchion post in the lab until Monday to allow the ground team to perform some remote checkouts.

After setting up a video camera to capture Swanson’s work with Robonaut, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst recorded an educational video for the Story Time From Space project, which combines science literary outreach with demonstrations of scientific concepts.

Gerst then moved on to packing trash and other unneeded items inside Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo vehicle berthed at the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node. Cygnus, which delivered 3,300 pounds of science and crew supplies to the station on July 16, will be remotely detached from the station on Aug. 15 by the station’s 57-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm. Once Cygnus is maneuvered to the release point, Wiseman and Gerst will command Canadarm2 to let go of the commercial cargo craft at 6:40 a.m. Cygnus will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday, Aug. 17, for its fiery disposal.

Following a break for lunch, Swanson participated in another round of Ocular Health exams as flight surgeons keep track of any possible diminishment in crew vision during long-duration spaceflight. NASA has observed that some astronauts experience changes in their vision, which might be related to effects of microgravity on the cardiovascular system as the body’s fluids tend to move toward the upper body and head and cause the pressure in the skull to rise. With remote guidance from the Ocular Health team on the ground, Wiseman performed an ultrasound scan of the commander’s eyes and assisted with an echocardiogram.

Meanwhile, Gerst set up Ethernet cables to downlink data files from the Capillary Channel Flow experiment, which is taking a look at capillary fluid flow rates in the absence of gravity. Results from this study will help engineers develop hardware for “pumping” liquids from one reservoir to another aboard spacecraft without the need for a pump with moving parts.

Afterward, Gerst worked in the Quest airlock to stow equipment intended for a pair of U.S. spacewalks later in August that have since been postponed. Station program managers decided Tuesday to postpone the U.S. spacewalks planned for Aug. 21 and 29 until the fall to allow new Long Life Batteries to be delivered to the station aboard the SpaceX-4 commercial resupply services flight.

Gerst also rounded up some spacewalk equipment to loan to his Russian crewmates for their spacewalk. While he was working in Quest, Gerst also reconfigured some of the stowage to support the installation of the Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System, or NORS, at a later date.

While the crew worked inside the station Friday, ESA’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) was closing in on the complex for a late afternoon close encounter in advance of its automated docking to Zvezda on Monday at 9:30 a.m. Nicknamed the “Georges Lemaitre” in honor of the Belgian physicist and astronomer who first proposed the Big Bang theory, ATV-5 is carrying roughly seven tons of scientific experiments, food and other supplies for the station’s crew.

The “Georges Lemaitre” is scheduled to fly directly under the station Friday at a distance of a little less than four miles to test sensors and radar systems designed for future European spacecraft. After its “fly-under” of the station and closest approach at 6:45 p.m., the ATV-5 will move in front of the station and transition above and then behind the station for the final four days of its two-week rendezvous. ATV-5 launched atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, on July 29.

NASA Television coverage of the ATV-5 docking begins Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Over the weekend, the station’s astronauts and cosmonauts will take care of weekly housekeeping chores as they wipe down surfaces and vacuum dust. They also will continue their daily 2.5-hour workouts to stay fit and to prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs in microgravity.

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