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ISS Update: Interviews (Feb. 11-15, 2013)
Interviews: International Space Station Update

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ISS Update: Progress 50 Launch and Docking with Tom Erkenswick – 02.11.13
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NASA Public Affairs Officer Rob Navias conducts an interview with Visiting Vehicle Officer Tom Erkenswick about the launch of the ISS Progress 50 resupply ship and its docking to the International Space Station.

The ISS Progress 50 resupply ship blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:41 a.m. EST (8:41 p.m. Kazakhstan time) on an accelerated, four-orbit journey to rendezvous with the station. The space freighter docked to the Pirs docking compartment at 3:35 p.m., delivering 1,764 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 3,000 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and logistics equipment --- 2.9 tons of supplies in all.

During the interview, Erkenswick talked about the preparations that he and his team in Houston and the flight control team in Russia make leading up to the Progress launch and docking. He also talked about the coordination and communication between the U.S. and Russian team during the actual visiting vehicle docking operations as well as the differences between the various vehicles.

› Read about the Progress 50 launch and docking

Questions? Ask us on Twitter @NASA_Johnson and include the hashtag #askStation.

ISS Update: ISTAR -- International Space Station Testbed for Analog Research – 01.31.13
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NASA Public Affairs Officer Kelly Humphries interviews Sandra Fletcher, EVA Systems Flight Controller, in the Mission Control Center. They discuss the International Space Station Testbed for Analog Research (ISTAR) activity that mimics robotic and remotely controlled activities that may one day be used on a voyage to Mars.

The station offers a unique platform to test future exploration systems and operations because it provides a long-duration, zero-gravity space environment and the opportunity to evaluate many factors not available in other analog missions.

Future crew members on an extended mission to the moon, Mars or an asteroid would require adjusting to a communications delay due to the extreme distances from Earth. Astronauts would be less dependent on ground support and rely more on themselves and their vehicle to solve potential problems. The space station provides a platform to mimic these situations allowing researchers to plan and prepare for future long-duration missions beyond Earth orbit.

Questions? Ask us on Twitter @NASA_Johnson and include the hashtag #askStation.

ISS Update: Capillary Flow Experiments-2 – 01.31.13
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NASA Public Affairs Officer Kelly Humphries interviews Dr. Mark Weislogel, Principal Investigator for the Capillary Flow Experiments-2 (CFE), from the Portland State University in Oregon. The CFE is a set of handheld experiments conducted by astronauts which observes the flow of liquids in microgravity using surface tension.

The astronauts work in conjunction with controllers on Earth using containers of various geometries that affect the flow of liquids at various rates. The shapes of the containers help manipulate and guide the flow and location of liquids in microgravity.

Future spacecraft could avoid using centrifugal pumps to deliver fuels and other liquids if designers are able to develop Capillary Flow Systems.

Questions? Ask us on Twitter @NASA_Johnson and include the hashtag #askStation.

ISS Update: Studying Smart Fluids in Space – 01.30.13
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Aboard the orbiting International Space Station, an experiment known as Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions-3, or InSPACE-3, is providing researchers with new insights into smart fluids whose properties change when influenced by a magnetic field.

The principal investigator for InSPACE-3, Dr. Eric Furst of the University of Delaware, recently joined NASA Public Affairs Officer Kelly Humphries in the Mission Control Center in Houston via telephone to discuss the science behind this experiment and its potential benefits.

InSpace-3 takes a look at a magnetorheological fluid, which consists of microscopic particles suspended in water that quickly transitions to solid when a magnetic field is applied. Furst and his team are investigating the underlying phenomena of how these particles come together and assemble into structures and how to control the process.

Performing this experiment in the station’s microgravity environment prevents the particles from falling out of suspension. By eliminating that effect, the results from InSPACE-3 become easier to generalize and apply to particles of all different sizes. “What we’re especially interested in are particles that are really small,” noted Furst, “nanoparticles that we can’t necessarily do experiments easily like this with anywhere."

Furst foresees the knowledge gleaned from this investigation contributing to new technologies and new manufacturing processes based on the idea of having these nanoparticles act as self-assembling building blocks for larger structures.

Questions? Ask us on Twitter @NASA_Johnson and include the hashtag #askStation.