Spacewalk and Undock Preps for Crew
The six-member Expedition 35 crew is getting up to speed as three new arrivals familiarize themselves with space station systems. Important science and maintenance work is under way while preparations for a spacewalk and a resupply vehicle undocking are ongoing.
New Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy, Alexander Misurkin and Pavel Vinogradov had time set aside Tuesday for orientation sessions as they get used to living and working in space. The trio arrived at the International Space Station on March 28 docking to the Poisk module aboard the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft.
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Two important science experiments took precedence Tuesday morning as Commander Chris Hadfield began day one of a 10-day study that measures a crew member’s nutrition and energy balance. Cassidy worked on a combustion experiment called BASS, or Burning and Suppression of Solids, in the Destiny laboratory’s Microgravity Science Glovebox.
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Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn worked in the Tranquility node updating the software on the Water Processing Assembly’s laptop computer. He also set up Robonaut-2 for more check-outs of its systems today. The tests included work on a soft-goods task board and motion checkouts by the ground team.
Vinogradov and fellow cosmonaut and flight engineer Roman Romanenko are working together preparing for an April 19 spacewalk. The duo reviewed spacewalk plans, checked out their tools and charged the batteries that will power the Orlan spacesuits they will wear outside.
For the first Expedition 35 spacewalk, the duo will exit the station to set up and retrieve experiments and install a navigational aid. The aid, known as a retro-reflector, will help guide the European Space Agency’s fourth cargo vehicle for an automated docking to the Zvezda service module. The Automated Transfer Vehicle-4, nicknamed “Albert Einstein,” is targeted for launch June 5 from French Guinea.
Misurkin worked throughout the station’s Russian segment cleaning fans and filters and installed a software patch on an experiment.
An ISS Progress 49 resupply craft filled with trash and discarded gear is ready for an April 15 undocking and fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean. Vinogradov and Romanenko powered up the vehicle Tuesday afternoon and closed the hatches between it and the Zvezda.
Over the weekend, a new rocket designed to carry the next spacecraft to join NASA’s commercial resupply fleet was rolled out to its launch pad for a test flight.
Orbital Sciences Corp. completed roll-out of the first fully integrated Antares rocket to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Saturday, April 6. Orbital has confirmed an April 17 target launch date for the rocket test flight with a planned liftoff of 5 p.m. EDT.
Antares is undergoing testing that will enable the rocket to eventually carry experiments and supplies to the International Space Station aboard a Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This test flight will not launch a Cygnus spacecraft or rendezvous with the space station.
Orbital is testing the Antares rocket under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit.
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