Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg (left) and Chris Cassidy demonstrate weightlessness aboard the International Space Station to students gathered at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kan. Credit: NASA TV
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The Expedition 36 crew of the orbiting International Space Station unloaded science experiments and other items from a recently arrived European Space Agency cargo ship Wednesday while continuing preparations for a spacewalk slated to begin in less than a week.
Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy, Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano spent much of their day unloading some of the 7.3 tons of cargo delivered to station aboard the "Albert Einstein" Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4). The European space freighter docked to the rear of the station's Zvezda service module Saturday following its launch from Kourou, French Guiana back on June 5.
› Read more about Saturday's "Albert Einstein" docking
One of the items unpacked from the ATV-4 Wednesday was an experiment known as the Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability, or FASES. Parmitano installed the experiment into the station's Fluid Science Laboratory to begin a study of the behavior of emulsions – a combination of two liquids that do not mix well – in a weightless environment. Microgravity provides an excellent opportunity to study the fundamental mechanisms of emulsion stability, revealing processes normally cloaked by the effects of gravity. Results from FASES may lead to more stable and long-lived emulsions and enhance the shelf life of many products here on Earth.
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› Read about research aboard ATV-4
Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg gets a workout on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) in the Tranquility node of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Cassidy replaced a rope on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, or ARED, one of several exercise devices the station's residents can use for their daily two-hour exercise regimen to combat the loss of muscle mass and bone density experienced by long-duration crews.
After recharging the batteries for the U.S. spacesuits, Cassidy joined Nyberg for a live link-up with students gathered at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. The two NASA astronauts answered questions about living and working in space and shared details about some of the important research taking place aboard the orbiting laboratory.
› Watch the Kansas Cosmosphere educational event
Commander Pavel Vinogradov began his day installing a docking mechanism in the Pirs docking compartment to prepare that port for the July departure of the ISS Progress 50 cargo craft and the launch and arrival of ISS Progress 52. Afterward, he performed routine maintenance on the toilet in the Russian segment of the station and downloaded data from the Identification experiment, which examines the station's dynamic loads during events such as dockings and reboosts.
Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Fyodor Yurchikhin focused their efforts on spacewalk preparations as they checked the communication systems of their Orlan spacesuits and installed U.S. helmet cameras and lights. The two cosmonauts also studied airlock procedures for their excursion scheduled to begin Monday at 9:35 a.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, Yurchikhin and Misurkin will replace a fluid flow control valve panel on the Zarya module and install clamps that will later hold cables bringing power from the U.S. segment of the station to a new Russian laboratory targeted to arrive at the station later this year. The two spacewalkers are also slated to install handholds for future spacewalk activities and retrieve experiments from the hull of Zvezda.
At 9:05 a.m. a pair of thrusters on ATV-4 were fired for six minutes, 47 seconds to test the cargo ship's propulsion capability while docked to Zvezda and to reboost the station for the single-day launch and docking of Progress 52. The "test" reboost increased the station's altitude by 3/10 of a mile at apogee and 1.9 miles at perigee and left the ISS at an altitude of 265.5 x 251 statute miles.
Just minutes earlier at 8:52 a.m., Russian flight controllers sent commands to deorbit the ISS Progress 51 cargo craft, sending it to a fiery re-entry over the Pacific Ocean for disposal. Progress 51, which delivered 2 ½ tons of cargo to the station when it arrived at the station April 26, was refilled with trash and undocked from Zvezda on July 11 to make way for the "Albert Einstein."
› Read more about Expedition 36