Crew Preps for Spacewalk; Cargo Ship Departs
The International Space Station’s Expedition 35 crew kicked off the workweek Monday supporting a variety of science experiments, preparing for an upcoming spacewalk and monitoring the departure of a Russian cargo craft.
Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency started his day logging his breakfast as he began the seventh day of a 10-day prescribed diet for the Energy experiment, which is aimed at precisely measuring the dietary requirements for astronauts during long-duration space missions.
After a daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, Hadfield joined Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA in the Kibo laboratory to collect air flow measurements from vents throughout the Japanese module. In the absence of gravity, proper ventilation is needed to prevent dangerous pockets of carbon dioxide from building up inside the station.
Marshburn also charged the batteries for a trio of bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. On Tuesday, Marshburn will equip SPHERES with a stereoscopic camera setup dubbed the Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection of Generic Objects, or VERTIGO, to demonstrate technologies for relative navigation based on a visual model.
› Read more about SPHERES-VERTIGO
Marshburn’s fellow NASA astronaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy, spent his morning setting up a test sample for the Advanced Colloids Experiment inside the Fluids Integrated Rack. Results from this experiment may help researchers understand how to optimize stabilizers to extend the shelf life of products like laundry detergent, paint, ketchup and even salad dressing.
In the afternoon, Cassidy and Hadfield worked together on another colloid experiment. The two astronauts set up a sample for the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test and photographed the results.
Meanwhile, Marshburn conducted maintenance on the Combustion Integrated Rack. This facility, which includes an optics bench, combustion chamber, fuel and oxidizer control, and five different cameras, allows a variety of combustion experiments to be performed safely aboard the station.
On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko continued preparations for a spacewalk they will conduct Friday. The two cosmonauts are scheduled to venture outside the station Friday at 10:06 a.m. EDT for a six-hour spacewalk to deploy and retrieve several science experiments and install a new navigational aid.
› Read more about Friday's spacewalk
In preparation for that spacewalk, Vinogradov and Romanenko installed lights and tool belts to their Russian Orlan spacesuits. They also tagged up with spacewalk specialists at the Russian Mission Control Center in Star City outside Moscow to review procedures for Friday’s excursion.
Their fellow cosmonaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin worked with the Constant experiment, which studies the effect of microgravity on a model enzyme.
The Expedition 35 crew also bid farewell to an unpiloted Progress cargo ship as it clears the way for the arrival of the next Russian space freighter.
The ISS Progress 49 resupply ship undocked from the rear port of the station’s Zvezda service module at 8:02 a.m. after more than five months at the orbiting complex. At the time of undocking the station was flying 257 statute miles over northern China.
From a window in the Russian segment of the station, Russian crew members photographed the automated departure as the cargo craft fired its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the complex. After several days of thruster firings to help calibrate Russian radar systems on the ground, Progress 49 will re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Sunday, April 21 and will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. Progress resupply ships are not designed to be recovered, so, like its predecessors, Progress 49 was filled with trash and station discards after its cargo was unloaded.
Progress 49 delivered nearly three tons of supplies for the station crew when it docked to the station a little less than six hours after launch on Oct. 31. This was the second of three Progress launches in a row that used an abbreviated launch-to-rendezvous schedule instead of following the typical two-day flight profile to reach the station.
Progress 49's departure clears the way for the arrival of the ISS Progress 51 cargo craft. Loaded with more than 3 tons of food, fuel, supplies and experiment hardware for the six crew members aboard the orbital laboratory, Progress 51 is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:12 a.m. (4:12 p.m. Kazakh time) Wednesday, April 24, and dock to the station two days later.
Meanwhile at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Orbital Sciences Corp. continues preparations for the test flight of the Antares rocket, with a planned liftoff Wednesday at 5 p.m.
› Antares updates from Orbital
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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