Station Crew Wraps up Workweek; New Crew Checks Out Soyuz
The Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station wrapped up its workweek Friday with research experiments and preparations for the arrival of three new crewmates set to launch to the orbiting complex next week.
Commander Kevin Ford of NASA began his day measuring the water quality inside the Aquatic Habitat, which is currently home to some space-faring Medaka fish. Astronauts experience a loss of bone density during long-duration spaceflight, and Japanese scientists are using the fish as a model animal to understand the causes with the Medaka Osteoclast experiment.
› Read more about Medaka Osteoclast
› Read more about the Aquatic Habitat
Later, Ford collected data from the Ultrasonic Background Noise Test experiment, which studies the feasibility of audibly detecting micrometeoroid debris hits on the station as well as leaks. Afterward the commander conducted the InSPACE-3 experiment, taking a look at the physical property changes in fluids containing ellipsoid-shaped particles when a magnetic field is applied. These colloidal fluids are classified as smart materials, transitioning to a solid-like state in the presence of a magnetic field, and this technology may lead to the design of bridges and buildings that can better withstand earthquakes.
› Read more about InSPACE-3
In the Russian segment of the station, Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy continued an audit of hardware and tools. Later he transferred cargo from the Progress 49 resupply vehicle that has been docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module since Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin packed trash and unneeded items into the Progress 48 cargo craft for disposal when that vehicle completes its mission at the station in February and undocks from the station’s Pirs docking compartment for a destructive re-entry. Tarelkin also collected some data on the Matryoshka experiment. Named for the traditional set of Russian nesting dolls, Matryoshka analyzes the radiation environment onboard the station.
› Read more about Matryoshka
Tarelkin and Novitskiy teamed up for the Identifikatsia experiment, which investigates dynamic loads on the station during events such as dockings, reboosts and crew exercise sessions.
› Read more about Identifikatsia
The two cosmonauts then conducted a video downlink test from the station to Mission Control in Moscow in anticipation of next week’s arrival of three new crew members aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.
Tom Marshburn of NASA, Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to launch to the space station in their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft at 7:12 a.m. EST (6:12 p.m. Baikonur time) Wednesday, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio will dock the Soyuz spacecraft to the station's Rassvet module Friday, Dec. 21, at 9:12 a.m.
› Video: Soyuz launch preparations
› NASA TV schedule for Soyuz launch coverage
Marshburn, Romanenko and Hadfield conducted their final unsuited “fit check” dress rehearsal inside their Soyuz on Friday. All three stages of the Soyuz will be mated together Sunday and transported by railcar to the launch pad the following day.
› Read more about Soyuz launch preparations