Commander Chris Hadfield (right) and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn are pictured in the cupola on the International Space Station during the operations that ultimately led to the release of the SpaceX Dragon-2 spacecraft for its return to Earth. Credit: NASA
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Commander Chris Hadfield and Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko tackled a full agenda of science and maintenance Wednesday aboard the International Space Station as they awaited Thursday's launch and docking of their remaining three Expedition 35 crewmates.
Hadfield, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, began his workday with the Reaction Self-Test, a short reaction time task that allows the crew to track the effects of fatigue on performance.
Hadfield spent the remainder of his morning outfitting the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, with ice bricks. The astronauts store biological samples inside MELFI from the many life science experiments aboard the station to preserve them at ultra-cold temperatures for later analysis on Earth.
Afterward, Hadfield installed some jumpers and collected power meter measurements on the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier that houses the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02). Previous tests indicated that the fiber optic transmit and receive lines were inverted, and Hadfield's efforts should restore them to the proper configuration. AMS-02 is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector, collecting information from cosmic sources emanating from stars and galaxies millions of light years beyond the Milky Way.
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The commander also opened a window shutter for the SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV), which is designed to gain experience in automated data acquisition and provide images for disaster monitoring and assessment.
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Marshburn, a NASA astronaut, spent most of his day participating in the Energy experiment, which is aimed at measuring how much food is needed for astronauts during long-duration space missions. Following a strictly prescribed menu on Tuesday, Marshburn carefully logged his meals throughout Wednesday, provided urine samples for testing and completed four 45-80 minute sessions monitoring his oxygen intake through a mask.
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Large gantry mechanisms on either side of the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft are raised into position to secure the rocket at the launch pad on Tuesday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA
On the Russian side of the station, Romanenko installed a thermostat for the Cascade biotechnology experiment, which is investigating cell cultivation in microgravity. The Russian cosmonaut later focused on transfer activities with the ISS Progress 50 cargo vehicle attached to the Pirs docking compartment and updated the station's inventory management system to keep track of all the cargo.
Meanwhile three additional Expedition 35 crew members are making their final preparations for a six-hour flight from their launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the station Thursday.
Chris Cassidy of NASA, along with Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), are scheduled to launch in their Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:43 p.m. EDT, Thursday (2:43 a.m. Friday, Baikonur time). Live coverage on NASA Television begins at 3:30 p.m.
Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin will become the first station crew members to make an expedited trip to the orbiting laboratory. Instead of taking the standard two days to rendezvous and dock with the station, they will need only four orbits of Earth to reach the station. This flight will employ rendezvous techniques used recently with three unpiloted Russian Progress cargo spacecraft.
The crew will dock with the station's Poisk module at 10:32 p.m., with NASA TV coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. Hatches are scheduled to open between the Soyuz and station at 12:10 a.m. Friday with NASA TV coverage beginning at 11:30 p.m.
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