The newest spaceship to visit the orbital laboratory is Orbital Sciences Corp’s. Cygnus commercial cargo craft. There are four other spaceships currently docked to the International Space Station including two Soyuz spacecraft and two Progress resupply ships.
Cygnus has been at the station two days since being captured and berthed to the Harmony node Sunday morning. The hatches were opened shortly afterwards and cargo transfers began. Cygnus will be released Feb. 18 and deorbit the next day over the Pacific Ocean and burn up during reentry.
Commander Oleg Kotov and his Soyuz TMA-10M crewmates, Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy and Mike Hopkins, practiced an emergency descent drill Tuesday morning in their docked Soyuz. In the unlikely event of an emergency on orbit the crew would use their Soyuz spacecraft as a lifeboat to return to Earth.
Kotov continued stowing trash inside the docked ISS Progress 52 resupply craft which is due to undock Feb. 3 for a fiery demise over the Pacific Ocean. The commander also updated the inventory management system which allows the crew and ground controllers to keep up with gear and trash on the station and docked vehicles.
Hopkins later worked maintenance on the Water Recovery System pumping and transferring fluids using a particulate filter. He also photographed the station’s newest experiment the Ant Forage Habitat which houses ants and observes their behavior and colonization in microgravity. The student experiment could provide solutions to real world problems such as routing cargo traffic and scheduling airline flights.
Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata started his day setting up an ultra-high definition video camera in the Kibo lab module. He videotaped day and night views of the Earth along the station’s orbital track. Wakata also retrieved samples from a science freezer for the Aniso Tubule plant experiment that observes root growth in microgravity.
After some Cygnus cargo transfers, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio joined Hopkins and Wakata during the afternoon for a conference call. The trio and ground controllers discussed the onboard training they received before the Cygnus rendezvous and approach.
Mastracchio inspected hatch seals in the station’s U.S. segment soon after the conference. Later he performed life science work studying vaccines in the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA).