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ISS Update: Interviews (June 25-29, 2012)
Interviews: International Space Station Update

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ISS Update: NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke - 06.29.12
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NASA Public Affairs Officer Rob Navias talks with NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke inside the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center. They discuss the current activities taking place aboard the International Space Station as well as Fincke’s experience on orbit.

Fincke is NASA’s most experienced astronaut with 382 days in orbit. He was a flight engineer for Expedition 9, commander for Expedition 18 and finally a mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour during STS-134.

As Expedition 31 prepares to return to Earth, Fincke describes what the home bound trio is experiencing. The three crew members will pack their Soyuz spacecraft with personal items and science payloads. They will assist each other putting on their Sokol launch and entry suits, say goodbye to their crewmates and ready themselves for the return to Earth.

Fincke also discusses his experience aboard the orbital laboratory. He then compares and contrasts the return home aboard a Soyuz spacecraft versus the space shuttle. The Soyuz performs a deorbit burn and separation before entering the Earth’s atmosphere, deploying its parachutes and landing in Kazakhstan.

ISS Update: Spaceflight Meteorology Group – 06.28.2012
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NASA Public Affairs Officer Dan Huot interviewed Frank Brody, chief of the Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston. Brody discussed SMG support for the upcoming landing of the Expedition 31 crew in Kazakhstan as well as the Mission Control Center's preparations for the 2012 hurricane season.

According to Brody, the SMG is a special unit of the National Weather Service that supports NASA’s unique requirements for spaceflight. The group has been at Johnson since the early 1960s and has provided weather support for every U.S. spaceflight program since. For the space shuttle, for example, the SMG watched for lightning, low cloud ceilings, rain, turbulence and cross winds at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and the shuttle’s other landing sites in the U.S. and abort landing sites overseas.

While the SMG does not monitor weather for launch and landing of Russian vehicles such as the Soyuz TMA-03M that will bring home the Expedition 31 crew on July 1, it does forecast the weather that the NASA aircraft that brings astronauts home to the U.S. will encounter. The group also will support the Orion spacecraft’s Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014.

“One of our key duties,” said Brody, “is to forecast the weather for the local community and weather sensitive operations here at JSC.” The group issues lightning alerts and provides customized support for decision-makers at the center, as well as Mission Control, in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane.

ISS Update: 1st Annual ISS R&D Conference - 06.27.12
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NASA Public Affairs Officer Kelly Humphries talked by phone on Wednesday with Julie Robinson, ISS Program Scientist, about the 1st Annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference taking place in Denver.

The conference was organized by the American Astronautical Society and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Inc., or CASIS, in cooperation with NASA. The June 26-28, 2012, event in Denver focused on the full breadth of research and technology development on the space station—past, present and future.

The conference showcased the remarkable results obtained so far through space station research in the various disciplines of physical, life, Earth and space sciences, as well as spacecraft technology development. Experts shared first-hand experiences and research findings, and helped newcomers understand the pathways for turning their ideas into microgravity research reality.

To find out more about the conference, visit:

ISS Update: Smart SPHERES - 06.26.12
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NASA Public Affairs Officer Kelly Humphries talked by phone on Monday with Mark Micire, Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) Engineering Manager at NASA Ames Research Center.

Since 2003, station crew members aboard the International Space Station have operated these free-flying, bowling-ball-sized robots to test techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs.

The “Smart SPHERES” project uses a smartphone that was brought to the station on STS-135 to command the SPHERES robots and tell them where to fly. The smartphone, which is attached to one of the SPHERES robots, also communicates with the ground and provides video and other information to Micire and his team.

Researchers hope that the information gained using Smart SPHERES will lead to future advancements in communications and robotics which will help station crew members as well as teams at the various ground control centers here on Earth.

› Read more about Smart SPHERES