[image-78]The Expedition 38 crew of the International Space Station enjoyed a mostly off-duty day Friday to wrap up a workweek packed with science research and the completion of a U.S. cargo spacecraft’s first commercial resupply mission to the orbiting outpost.
Flight Engineers Mike Hopkins and Koichi Wakata participated in a debrief with flight controllers at Houston’s Mission Control Center to discuss the departure of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus cargo ship, which took place earlier this week. Hopkins and Wakata used the station’s 57-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm on Tuesday to uninstall Cygnus from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node. After its release from Canadarm2, Cygnus moved to a safe distance away from the station for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday afternoon.
During its first official commercial resupply mission, designated Orbital-1, Cygnus delivered 2,780 pounds of supplies to the space station, including vital science experiments for the Expedition 38 crew. Cygnus launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Jan. 9 aboard an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket and arrived at the complex Jan. 12.
[image-51]Wakata spent a little time Friday refilling the water supply for the Aniso Tubule experiment, which is studying the mechanisms that plants use in growing stems of the right thickness to support them against gravity. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut also set up a microscope to allow researchers to closely observe the thale cress seedlings within the experiment’s sample chamber.
Wakata rounded out his day talking via ham radio with Australian Air League cadets in Elizabeth, South Australia.
Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio, with an occasional helping hand from Wakata, spent his afternoon removing some unneeded equipment from one of the eight EXPRESS racks aboard the station. Short for EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments for Space Station, EXPRESS racks support a variety science experiments in any discipline by providing structural interfaces, power, data, cooling, water and other items. Each EXPRESS rack can accommodate up to ten small payloads.
On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy checked in on the Cascade biotechnology experiment, which investigates cell cultivation in microgravity. He also performed routine daily maintenance on the life-support system in the Zvezda service module.
[image-94]Although Friday was a day off for the crew, all six crew members – including Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin – still kept up with their daily two-hour exercise regimen. The crew uses a variety of exercise machines aboard the station to keep fit and to ward off the loss of bone density and muscle mass that occurs during long-duration space flight. Hopkins, a lifelong athlete and fitness buff, has been stepping up his routine with a series of specially-designed workouts he developed with his strength and conditioning coach Mark Guilliams.
Over the weekend the crew will have some free time to relax and recharge, speak with family members back on Earth and take care of weekly housekeeping chores before heading into another week of supporting scientific research aboard the orbiting laboratory. The crew has a number of research tasks on tap for next week, including another round of combustion experiments with BASS, the Burning and Suppression of Solids experiment, and the deployment of the second batch of NanoRacks CubeSats into orbit.