The fourth Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-4, is set for launch aboard an H-IIB launch vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 3:48 p.m. EDT Saturday (4:48 a.m. Sunday, Japan time) to begin a six-day journey to the International Space Station. The rocket is scheduled to roll out to its ocean side launch pad late Friday and will be fueled early Saturday for its scheduled launch.
HTV-4 will deliver more than 3.5 tons of supplies, food and experiment hardware to the Expedition 36 crew when it is berthed to the docking port on the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony node on August 9.
NASA TV coverage of the launch of HTV-4 begins at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 36 crew members were busy with a variety of science experiments and research opportunities Friday as they continue troubleshooting work on the U.S. spacesuits and prepare for a pair of upcoming Russian spacewalks.
Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg continued her work with the InSPACE-3 experiment, which examines colloidal fluids classified as smart materials, transitioning to a solid-like state in the presence of a magnetic field. The InSPACE-3 team believes the knowledge gleaned from this investigation may contribute to new technologies and new manufacturing processes based on the idea of having these nanoparticles act as self-assembling building blocks for larger structures.
Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy performed maintenance on the U.S. spacesuits in the Quest airlock, supervising the scrubbing of cooling loops as spacesuit troubleshooting procedures continue. Cassidy and Parmitano have been working closely with teams of experts on the ground on a variety of troubleshooting activities aimed at identifying the problem that caused water to leak into Parmitano’s helmet during a spacewalk conducted by the two astronauts on July 16.
Nyberg and Parmitano sealed up the MISSE and ORMatE-III experiments that Cassidy and Parmitano retrieved during their July 9 spacewalk, getting them ready for return to Earth.
Nyberg and Cassidy also had some time set aside for in-flight interviews with Minnesota Public Radio and the U.S. Navy’s Emerging Media Division, answering a variety of questions about their research and life aboard the station.
Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Fyodor Yurchikhin gathered tools and supplies to prepare for a pair of upcoming spacewalks, currently set for August 16 and 22. During the first excursion, the duo will wear their Russian Orlan spacesuits and exit the Pirs docking compartment to route power cables from the Russian segment to the Zarya module. They will also continue the routing of an Ethernet cable from Zarya to the Poisk module in preparation for the arrival of the new Multipurpose Laboratory Module and set up another suite of experiments on the hull of the Poisk module.
Commander Pavel Vinogradov continued the transfer of supplies from the docked Progress 52 resupply ship after opening its hatches for the first time on Sunday. The unpiloted Russian cargo ship docked to the station less than six hours after launch on July 27 with a payload of nearly three tons of supplies for the Expedition 36 crew. Included in the delivered cargo are tools for possible repairs to the U.S. spacesuits.
Over the weekend, the Expedition 36 crew will have an opportunity to relax and speak with family members back on Earth. The station’s residents also will take care of weekly housekeeping activities and continue their daily exercise routines to prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs during long-duration spaceflight.