The International Space Station completed this week’s deployment of the NanoRacks CubeSats. The six-member Expedition 38 crew also worked on various science activities and prepared for a March 10 Soyuz undocking.
The final set of CubeSats, used for Earth observations, were released from the Kibo laboratory’s Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) Friday at 2:30 a.m. EST. Japanese flight controllers then guided the Japanese robotic arm to place the MPEP back inside Kibo’s airlock. The airlock was then repressurized wrapping up the micro-satellite deployment activities.
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata worked on an internal robotics project partnering with NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio. The duo participated in the SPHERES-SLOSH experiment using tiny satellites to study how fluids behave inside a container in microgravity. The tiny satellites, also known as SPHERES, may provide advances for rocket fuel delivery systems.
Wakata also had time set aside Friday morning for work with the Aniso Tubule plant experiment. He retrieved experiment samples and set them up for microscopic observation.
Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins opened the Fluids Integrated Rack inside the Destiny laboratory for some maintenance work. He temporarily removed an optics bench in the rack to replace an avionics package and a white light lamp. Hopkins later joined Mastracchio for a live question and answer session with students from Osage Beach, Mo.
Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy teamed up to prepack gear for their upcoming return to Earth. Hopkins will join them for the ride home on March 10, officially ending Expedition 38. In preparation for the departure Kotov on March 9 will ceremonially handover command to Wakata, who will become the first Japanese station commander.
Veteran cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin photographed the conditions of the windows inside the Station’s Russian segment. He also monitored the reaction of jet and propulsion system exhaust on the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the space station’s external environment for the Relaxation experiment.
Waiting to replace the returning astronauts are Expedition 39/40 crew members Steve Swanson, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev. The trio is in Star City, Russia, conducting suited dress rehearsals inside a Soyuz simulator. They are scheduled to launch aboard a Soyuz TMA-12 Soyuz spacecraft on March 25 for a six-hour ride to the station’s Poisk mini-research module for a docking.