Crew Preps Combustion Facility; Reboost Rescheduled
With less than a week remaining until the launch of three additional flight engineers, the International Space Station’s Expedition 34 crew conducted science research Thursday and refurbished hardware for another round of combustion experiments. Meanwhile, a planned reboost of the station was deferred by three days.
Commander Kevin Ford of NASA spent much of his day performing maintenance on station systems and experiment hardware. In the morning, he used a vacuum to clean duct screens in the Tranquility node.
After a break for lunch, Ford replaced some parts inside the Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus (MDCA) installed in the Combustion Integrated Rack. The MDCA contains hardware and software to conduct unique droplet combustion experiments in space. Understanding how liquid fuel droplets ignite, spread and extinguish under microgravity conditions will help scientists develop more efficient energy production and propulsion systems, reduce combustion-generated pollution and mitigate fire hazards associated with liquid combustibles on Earth and in space.
› Read more about the Combustion Integrated Rack
Russian Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin began their day performing an extensive inventory of tools and hardware in the Russian segment of the station. The two cosmonauts also conducted the BAR experiment, which looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of a sudden loss of pressure in the station’s modules.
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Tarelkin also conducted routine maintenance on the life-support system in the Russian segment and participated in the Seiner ocean-observation experiment.
› Read more about Seiner
Novitskiy wrapped up his workday with the Albedo experiment, which studies the feasibility of generating electricity through solar radiation reflected off the Earth’s surface.
Grounds teams at the mission control centers in Houston and Moscow postponed Thursday morning’s test of the Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver after encountering some challenges latching down one of the Beta Gimbal Assemblies that rotate the station’s huge solar arrays. Now scheduled for Sunday, the test of the operation, which increases the efficiency and ease of reboosting the station’s altitude, will also place the station in the optimal position for next week’s launch and docking of the Soyuz carrying three additional crew members.
Tom Marshburn of NASA, Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to launch to the space station in their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft at 7:12 a.m. EST (6:12 p.m. Baikonur time) Wednesday, Dec. 19, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio will dock the Soyuz spacecraft to the station's Rassvet module Friday, Dec. 21, at 9:12 a.m.
As they count down their final days before launch, Marshburn, Romanenko and Hadfield will conduct a final unsuited “fit check” dress rehearsal inside the Soyuz on Friday. All three stages of the Soyuz will be mated together Sunday and transported by railcar to the launch pad the following day.
› Read more about Soyuz launch preparations