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Ground Controllers Begin Week of Robotics Tests
Robotics Refueling Mission

The Canadarm2 with Dextre attached begins work on the Robotics Refueling Mission (RRM). Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 34 crew conducted an emergency escape drill Monday morning. The evacuation drill in the International Space Station simulates an emergency event such as a fire, pressure leak or toxic chemical release. The 3-hour drill requires the crew to split up and enter the docked Soyuz vehicles they arrived in.

The mission control centers in Houston and Canada worked together to begin a week’s worth of Robotics Refueling Mission (RRM) activities. The RRM is an experiment that uses Canadarm2 and Dextre to test techniques to service and refuel satellites to extend their original missions.

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Housed on the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier-4, the RRM is about the size of a washing machine. Dextre will retrieve tools from the RRM and practice removing launch locks and gas fittings. Dextre will also practice opening fuel valves to transfer liquid ethanol, slicing open thermal blankets and removing screws, bolts and electric caps.

Robotics Refueling Mission

This close-up video still shows Dextre performing fine-tuned robotics activity on the RRM payload. Credit: NASA TV

Inside the Columbus module, Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn worked together to replace knee braces. The braces enable a crew member to remain still during science and maintenance work inside the European lab.

Marshburn also continued work on the ongoing Capillary Flow Experiment. That study observes the behavior of liquids in microgravity. Results could help engineers build better fuel and liquid transfer systems on spacecraft.

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Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield powered up the InSPACE-3 hardware inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. That experiment applies different magnetic fields to vials of colloids, or liquids with microscopic particles, and observes how fluids can behave like a solid. Results may improve the strength and design of materials for stronger buildings and bridges.

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Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy, Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko conducted Russian science and maintenance on Russian systems. Prior to the emergency drill, the cosmonauts began their day conducting body mass measurements and measuring the volume of their calves.

Novitskiy reloaded antivirus software on laptop computers. He later worked on the Kulonovskiy Kristall experiment which studies plasma dust structures. Tarelkin worked on stowing gear from the docked ISS Progress 48 cargo craft and updated the inventory management system. Romanenko worked on the Zvezda service module’s ventilation system and later conducted ocean photography for the Seiner experiment.

› Read more about Seiner