[image-51]As they await next week’s arrival of their remaining three crewmates, Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano of the Expedition 37 crew kicked off the workweek aboard the International Space Station with scientific research and preparations for the robotic grapple of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus commercial cargo craft, now slated to launch Wednesday.
Nyberg began her workday setting up the Resist Tubule experiment located inside the Saibo rack of the Japanese Kibo module. This experiment, which takes a look at the mechanisms of gravity resistance in plants, will help researchers learn more about the evolution of plants and enable efficient plant production not only here on Earth but in space as well. During a long-duration mission to an asteroid or Mars, plants can provide future astronauts with regenerative sources of food and supplemental methods of converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Afterward Nyberg replaced emergency mask kits and updated the procedure books related to this equipment. She then tagged up with Parmitano and Yurchikhin to review the proper procedures for donning these masks in the event of an emergency such as an ammonia leak aboard the station.
[image-94]Parmitano spent the remainder of his morning conducting Crew Medical Officer training and checking air and water samples for signs of contamination.
Nyberg took a brief break from her work to talk with Marcia Dunn of the Associated Press about life aboard the station and the challenges associated with being away from her family during her time in space.
With Cygnus given a “go” by mission managers to proceed toward a 10:50 a.m. EDT launch Wednesday from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia, the station’s crew spent much of the afternoon preparing for Sunday’s arrival of the commercial cargo craft. Launch of Cygnus was postponed from Tuesday due to a combination of poor weather Friday, which delayed roll-out of the Antares rocket to the launch pad, and a technical issue identified during a combined systems test Friday night.
[image-78]Nyberg and Parmitano used the Robotics OnBoard Trainer, or ROBoT, to review the procedures for grappling Cygnus with the station’s 57-foot robotic arm, Canadarm2. Once Cygnus is firmly within the grasp of the robotic arm, it will be guided to its berthing port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node for a one month stay at the station. Cygnus, which is capable of carrying over 3,700 pounds of cargo within its 662 cubic foot pressurized cargo hold, is delivering 1,300 pounds of crew supplies on this demonstration flight.
Parmitano also installed the Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) Centerline Berthing Camera System (CBCS) inside Harmony to help the flight control teams monitor the activities Sunday. He also gathered and verified the hardware needed to outfit the vestibule where Cygnus will be attached.
Yurchikhin rounded out his day working with the Kulonovskiy Kristall experiment, gathering data about charged particles in a weightless environment. He also collected data from the Matryoshka experiment. Named after the traditional Russian nesting dolls, Matryoshka analyzes the radiation environment onboard the station.
Meanwhile, the three crew members who will return the station to its full six-person complement are now at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan completing final launch preparations. On Saturday, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy suited up in their Russian Sokol launch and entry suits for a dress rehearsal exercise. The trio will launch from Baikonur on Sept. 25 (Sept. 26, Kazakh time), in their Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft for a five and a half month mission on the station.
To place the station in the optimal phasing for the arrival of the Soyuz TMA-10M, the thrusters of the Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 docked at the aft end of the station’s Zvezda service module were fired for three minutes, 25 seconds beginning at 8:42 a.m. Sunday. The reboost raised the perigee of the station’s orbit by one mile and left the complex in an orbit of 262.7 x 253.7 statute miles.