Onboard the International Space Station, three residents are preparing for the arrival of a commercial cargo craft and an additional set of crew members to expand Expedition 37 to six people. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio remains busy with station maintenance, international science and exercise.
Commander and veteran station resident Fyodor Yurchikhin continued his activities inside the station’s Russian segment. His previous two stays on the station were Expedition 15 as commander in 2007 and Expedition 24/25 as flight engineer in 2010.
Yurchikhin worked with spacewalk tools Friday morning inventorying and photographing the gear. After lunch, he copied data captured for the Identification experiment to a laptop computer. That data provides researchers insight into the dynamic loads affecting the station such as vehicle dockings and orbital reboosts. Later the commander checked the ventilation system in the Zvezda service module and examined pressure and atmosphere sensors.
Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg is on her second mission to space. Here first was on space shuttle Discovery for two weeks during STS-124 to deliver Japan’s Kibo laboratory module in 2008.
She continued more data takes with the InSPACE materials science experiment inside the Destiny laboratory’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. The ongoing study applies a magnetic field to fluids containing ellipsoid-shaped particles which then change form. Potential benefits include stronger, smarter materials on Earth.
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano is on his first mission in space. ESA selected Parmitano as an astronaut in May 2009 and assigned him to training as a space station crew member in February 2011.
Parmitano worked throughout his morning in the Tranquility node replacing a mass spectrometer inside the Major Constituent Analyzer (MCA). The MCA measures the levels of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen and water vapor inside the space station’s atmosphere.
Parmitano and Nyberg got together again Friday for more preparations for Orbital Sciences’ new commercial cargo craft Cygnus. The duo practiced robotics procedures they will use when Cygnus arrives Sept. 22 for a demonstration mission. Orbital Sciences is now targeting a launch for Sept. 18 of its Cygnus resupply craft for a 4-day trip to the station where it will be captured by the Canadarm2 and berthed to the Harmony node.
Waiting to join Expedition 37 are two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut who are in Kazakhstan counting down to their Sept. 25 launch. Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov, Mike Hopkins and Sergey Ryazanskiy will launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in a Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft and dock to the Poisk mini-research module port vacated by Expedition 36.
Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-4, docked to Zvezda, will fire its thrusters for 3 minutes, 25 seconds at 8:42 a.m. EDT Sunday raising the station’s orbit. The reboost completes the phasing required for the single-day, 4-orbit rendezvous of Kotov, Ryazanskiy and Hopkins to reach the orbital laboratory following their launch.