Station Commander Begins Blood Pressure Study
The Expedition 35 crew of the orbiting International Space Station spent Wednesday rehearsing for an upcoming spacewalk and participating in space research that has potential benefits for people on Earth.
Prior to the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, the Expedition 35 crew members on the U.S. side of the station got an early start on the day with data collections for several studies tracking the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. Commander Chris Hadfield and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn tested their urine for the Pro K experiment as nutritionists monitor how dietary changes affect the bone loss that occurs during spaceflight. Marshburn, a medical doctor, also performed a periodic fitness evaluation on Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy.
Commander Hadfield spent most of his morning participating in a new Canadian medical experiment that seeks to understand why some station astronauts are prone to fainting spells after returning to Earth. Hadfield, the first of eight astronaut participants in the new BP Reg study, will collect data before, during, and after his mission using inflatable cuffs attached to his legs, looking for changes in blood pressure that may help predict risks of dizziness and fainting. BP Reg will not only help understand dizziness in astronauts, but also have direct benefits for everyday people right here on Earth – particularly those predisposed to falls and resulting injuries, as seen in the elderly.
› More on BP Reg from the Canadian Space Agency
The station marked another science first this week as the crew’s extensive work in installing the new High Rate Communications System hardware begins to pay off. The upgrade, which adds two additional video downlink channels from the station and doubles the number of space-to-ground channels, enabled investigators for the Capillary Flow Experiment and the Burning and Suppression of Solids to interact with their experiments aboard the station simultaneously.
Cassidy meanwhile continued his monthly fitness evaluation with the assistance of Marshburn. Cassidy donned heart monitoring equipment and a blood pressure cuff that collected data while he worked out on the station’s exercise cycle.
Marshburn then turned his attention to the EXPRESS Rack 6, loading software on a laptop computer associated with facility. EXPRESS Racks can support science experiments in any discipline by providing structural interfaces, power, data, cooling, water and other items needed to operate science experiments in space. Marshburn also loaded software for a pair of freezers associated with the EXPRESS rack – GLACIER and MERLIN.
Hadfield, Marshburn and Cassidy took a break from their work in the early afternoon of their day for a live chat with students participating in a Destination Station event at the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta. Destination Station is NASA's International Space Station Program national awareness campaign that promotes research opportunities, educates communities about activities performed on the station and communicates the real and potential impacts of the station on our everyday lives.
› Learn more about Destination Station events in Atlanta
Cassidy rounded out his day at the controls of the robotic workstation in the cupola as he assisted the team at Mission Control in Houston with a “walkoff” of the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. The 57-foot arm was maneuvered for a base change from the power and data grapple fixture on the Harmony module to the Mobile Base System.
On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko donned their Orlan spacesuits once again for a suited “dry run” dress rehearsal of the procedures they will conduct during a six-hour spacewalk scheduled for Friday. During that excursion slated to begin at 10:06 a.m. EDT, the two cosmonauts will exit through the Pirs docking compartment airlock and venture outside the station to deploy and retrieve several science experiments and install a new navigational aid.
› Read more about Friday's spacewalk
In addition to assisting Vinogradov and Romanenko with the spacewalk dress rehearsal, Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin collected data from the Matryoshka experiment. Named for the traditional set of Russian nesting dolls, Matryoshka analyzes the radiation environment onboard the station. Misurkin also conducted routine maintenance on the life-support system in the Russian segment of the station.
Meanwhile at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, the first launch attempt to send Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket on a test flight was scrubbed Wednesday at the T-12 minute mark due to a premature separation of the launch pad umbilical that mates to Antares.
Orbital Sciences Corporation has confirmed the next probable attempt to test launch its Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., will be no earlier than Friday, April 19, at 5 p.m.
NASA Television will begin live coverage of the second launch attempt beginning at 4:30 p.m.
› Latest Antares launch information
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.
› Read more about Expedition 35