lundi 29 septembre 2014

Newly Expanded Station Crew Tackles Research, Spacewalk Preps

ISS - Expedition 41 Mission patch.

September 29, 2014

The International Space Station’s Expedition 41 crew, which doubled the number of humans in space when three new crew members arrived last week, began its first full workweek as a six-person crew Monday with biological research and preparations for a pair of U.S. spacewalks.

Flight Engineers Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova joined their Expedition 41 crewmates on the station early Friday following a six-hour, four-orbit trek aboard their Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft from the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Wilmore, Samokutyaev and Serova are slated to spend 5 ½ months aboard the station. Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst, who arrived on May 28, will return to Earth in November.

Read more about launch and docking of new station trio:

Shortly after the usual 2 a.m. EDT reveille, the entire crew conducted body mass measurements, inspected their orbital home and participated in a daily planning conference with the flight control teams around the world to review the day’s activities.

Image above: Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman posted this Twitter photo showing Flight Engineers Barry Wilmore (left) and Alexander Gerst at work in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA.

For Wiseman, Gerst and Wilmore, most of those activities were centered primarily on gearing up for their upcoming spacewalks. During an Oct. 7 excursion outside the station, Wiseman and Gerst will transfer a previously uninstalled pump module from its temporary stowage location to the External Stowage Platform-2. The two spacewalkers also will install the Mobile Transporter Relay Assembly that adds the capability to provide “keep-alive” power to the Mobile Servicing System when the Mobile Transporter is moving between worksites.

Wiseman and Gerst spent some time reviewing the procedures for that spacewalk and later participated in a conference call with spacewalk specialists on the ground.

Wilmore meanwhile began “scrubbing” the cooling loops of the U.S. spacesuits, including the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment that he will wear under his own spacesuit when he joins Wiseman for the second Expedition 41 spacewalk on Oct. 15. Wiseman completed the spacesuit water recharge in the afternoon.

Gerst also checked in on the Zebrafish Muscle study as he assessed the water condition inside the Aquatic Habitat, which is housing a school of spacefaring fish popularly known in the aquarium trade as zebra danios. The goal of the study is to determine whether zebrafish muscles weaken in microgravity similarly to human muscles and, if so, isolate the cause. Results from the Zebrafish Muscle investigation may help identify molecular changes involved in the deterioration of muscles exposed to microgravity. The findings could potentially benefit patients on extended bed rest or with limited mobility. In addition, this information would aid researchers in developing countermeasures for muscle weakness in astronauts living in microgravity during extended missions.

On the Russian side of the complex, Serova transferred test samples from the Kaskad cell cultivation experiment, while Samokutyaev performed a study of hardware designed to provide aseptic conditions for biotechnological experiments.

Meanwhile, Commander Suraev stowed trash and unneeded items for disposal inside the Progress 56 cargo ship currently attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The Russian space freighter, which delivered nearly three tons of cargo when it docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment on July 23, will undock from the station in late October for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

Image above: Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman tweeted this photo of the International Space Station's Canadarm2 and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator preparing to remove external cargo from the SpaceX Dragon resupply vehicle. Image Credit: NASA.

All six crew members teamed up in the afternoon for a review of their roles and responsibilities during an emergency aboard the station.

As the newest crew members, Wilmore, Samokutyaev and Serova also had an hour set aside on their own to learn the ropes of their orbiting home.

While the crew worked inside the station, the robotics officer at Houston’s Mission Control Center maneuvered the Canadarm2 robotic arm and its Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator to the trunk of the recently arrived SpaceX Dragon cargo ship attached to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node. There the arm was commanded to grapple and extract an adapter mechanism from Dragon’s trunk and install it to a bracket on the front of the Columbus module. On Tuesday, the ISS-Rapid Scatterometer, or RapidScat, will be removed robotically from the trunk for installation on the adapter device.

Designed to monitor ocean winds from the station’s vantage point, RapidScat is a space-based scatterometer that uses radar pulses reflected from the ocean's surface from different angles to calculate surface wind speed and direction. This information will be useful for weather forecasting and hurricane monitoring.

Related links:

Zebrafish Muscle study:

ISS-Rapid Scatterometer, or RapidScat:

For more information about the International Space Station (ISS), visit:

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA.


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