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Waspie_Dwarf

Station Crew Preps for Spacewalk

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Crew Preps for Spacewalk; Cargo Ship Departs

The International Space Station’s Expedition 35 crew kicked off the workweek Monday supporting a variety of science experiments, preparing for an upcoming spacewalk and monitoring the departure of a Russian cargo craft.

Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency started his day logging his breakfast as he began the seventh day of a 10-day prescribed diet for the Energy experiment, which is aimed at precisely measuring the dietary requirements for astronauts during long-duration space missions.

After a daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, Hadfield joined Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA in the Kibo laboratory to collect air flow measurements from vents throughout the Japanese module. In the absence of gravity, proper ventilation is needed to prevent dangerous pockets of carbon dioxide from building up inside the station.

Marshburn also charged the batteries for a trio of bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. On Tuesday, Marshburn will equip SPHERES with a stereoscopic camera setup dubbed the Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection of Generic Objects, or VERTIGO, to demonstrate technologies for relative navigation based on a visual model.

› Read more about SPHERES-VERTIGO

Marshburn’s fellow NASA astronaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy, spent his morning setting up a test sample for the Advanced Colloids Experiment inside the Fluids Integrated Rack. Results from this experiment may help researchers understand how to optimize stabilizers to extend the shelf life of products like laundry detergent, paint, ketchup and even salad dressing.

In the afternoon, Cassidy and Hadfield worked together on another colloid experiment. The two astronauts set up a sample for the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test and photographed the results.

Meanwhile, Marshburn conducted maintenance on the Combustion Integrated Rack. This facility, which includes an optics bench, combustion chamber, fuel and oxidizer control, and five different cameras, allows a variety of combustion experiments to be performed safely aboard the station.

On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko continued preparations for a spacewalk they will conduct Friday. The two cosmonauts are scheduled to venture outside the station Friday at 10:06 a.m. EDT for a six-hour spacewalk to deploy and retrieve several science experiments and install a new navigational aid.

› Read more about Friday's spacewalk

In preparation for that spacewalk, Vinogradov and Romanenko installed lights and tool belts to their Russian Orlan spacesuits. They also tagged up with spacewalk specialists at the Russian Mission Control Center in Star City outside Moscow to review procedures for Friday’s excursion.

Their fellow cosmonaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin worked with the Constant experiment, which studies the effect of microgravity on a model enzyme.

The Expedition 35 crew also bid farewell to an unpiloted Progress cargo ship as it clears the way for the arrival of the next Russian space freighter.

The ISS Progress 49 resupply ship undocked from the rear port of the station’s Zvezda service module at 8:02 a.m. after more than five months at the orbiting complex. At the time of undocking the station was flying 257 statute miles over northern China.

From a window in the Russian segment of the station, Russian crew members photographed the automated departure as the cargo craft fired its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the complex. After several days of thruster firings to help calibrate Russian radar systems on the ground, Progress 49 will re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Sunday, April 21 and will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. Progress resupply ships are not designed to be recovered, so, like its predecessors, Progress 49 was filled with trash and station discards after its cargo was unloaded.

Progress 49 delivered nearly three tons of supplies for the station crew when it docked to the station a little less than six hours after launch on Oct. 31. This was the second of three Progress launches in a row that used an abbreviated launch-to-rendezvous schedule instead of following the typical two-day flight profile to reach the station.

Progress 49's departure clears the way for the arrival of the ISS Progress 51 cargo craft. Loaded with more than 3 tons of food, fuel, supplies and experiment hardware for the six crew members aboard the orbital laboratory, Progress 51 is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:12 a.m. (4:12 p.m. Kazakh time) Wednesday, April 24, and dock to the station two days later.

Meanwhile at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Orbital Sciences Corp. continues preparations for the test flight of the Antares rocket, with a planned liftoff Wednesday at 5 p.m.

› Antares updates from Orbital

Antares is undergoing testing that will enable the rocket to eventually carry experiments and supplies to the International Space Station aboard a Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This test flight will not launch a Cygnus spacecraft or rendezvous with the space station.

Orbital is testing the Antares rocket under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit.

› Read more about Expedition 35

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Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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Station Crew Tests Robotic Visual Navigation

The Expedition 35 crew of the International Space Station tackled a technology demonstration and a variety of science experiments Tuesday while continuing preparations for an upcoming Russian spacewalk.

The crew’s workday began almost immediately after the standard 2 a.m. EDT wakeup time as Commander Chris Hadfield and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn performed the Reaction self-test, a short reaction time task that allows the crew and researchers to track the effects of fatigue on performance. The two astronauts also tested their urine to provide data for the Pro K experiment as nutritionists monitor how dietary changes affect the bone loss that occurs during spaceflight.

After the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, Marshburn set up two of a trio of basketball-sized, free-flying satellite known Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. Marshburn equipped one of the SPHERES with a stereoscopic camera setup dubbed the Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection of Generic Objects, or VERTIGO, to demonstrate technologies for relative navigation based on a visual model. Throughout the day, Marshburn tested the SPHERES robot’s ability to perform accurate visual-inertial tracking and navigation about a stationary target and captured video of the satellite in action.

After removing and replacing a wastewater recycling tank inside the Environmental Control and Life Support System , Hadfield took a break from his work to talk with students participating in the Canadian Science Challenge at Lockview High School in Fall River, Nova Scotia, Canada. During the live event televised on NASA TV, Hadfield, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, performed an experiment suggested by the students by demonstrating what happens when a soaking wet washcloth is wrung out in microgravity.

Cassidy spent much of his day working with an experiment known as Burning And Suppression of Solids, or BASS, which studies how a variety of solid materials burn and extinguish in microgravity. Results from BASS may lead to improvements in spacecraft materials selection, strategies for extinguishing accidental fires aboard spacecraft and improved computational models used in the design of fire detection and suppression systems here on Earth.

› Read more about the BASS experiment

Cassidy also adjusted some manifold bottle valves inside the Combustion Integrated Rack to help calibrate its Fuel and Oxidizer Management Assembly. This rack, which includes an optics bench, combustion chamber, fuel and oxidizer control, and five different cameras, allows a variety of combustion experiments to be performed safely aboard the station.

In preparation for a six-hour spacewalk planned for Friday, Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko donned their Russian Orlan spacesuits to conduct translation exercises in the Pirs docking compartment. With the assistance of Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin, Vinogradov and Romanenko tested their ability to move around in the spacesuits. On Wednesday, they will don their spacesuits again for a full dress rehearsal of spacewalk procedures inside Pirs.

During Friday’s spacewalk slated to begin at 10:06 a.m., the two will exit through the Pirs airlock and venture outside the station to deploy and retrieve several science experiments and install a new navigational aid.

› Read more about Friday's spacewalk

The Russian crew members also closed the hatch to the ISS Progress 50 cargo craft docked to Pirs to prepare that compartment for the start of Friday’s excursion.

Meanwhile at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Orbital Sciences Corp. continues preparations for the test flight of the Antares rocket on Wednesday.

NASA's Wallops Flight Facility Site Director Bill Wrobel has granted Authority to Proceed (ATP) for Orbital Science Corporation's test launch of its Antares rocket, scheduled for 5 p.m., April 17. ATP verifies the project managers, the Wallops range and range safety are ready to support the established plans and procedures for launch operations. This followed Monday afternoon's Launch Readiness Review, at which Orbital managers gave a “go” to proceed toward launch.

› Antares updates from Orbital

Antares is undergoing testing that will enable the rocket to eventually carry experiments and supplies to the International Space Station aboard a Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This test flight will not launch a Cygnus spacecraft or rendezvous with the space station.

Orbital is testing the Antares rocket under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit.

› Read more about Expedition 35

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Spacewalk Preps and Communications Upgrade on Station

On the eve of a scheduled six-hour spacewalk, the Expedition 35 crew completed a wide-range of science experiments and wrapped up the installation of a new communication system that will enhance the research capabilities of the International Space Station.

Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA began their workday by participating in several ongoing human research studies. Both astronauts tested their urine for the Pro K experiment as nutritionists monitor how dietary changes affect the bone loss that occurs during spaceflight. Afterward, Hadfield drew a blood sample from Marshburn who then processed and stored the sample in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, to preserve it until it can be returned to Earth for study.

Marshburn’s fellow NASA astronaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy, began his day downloading sound environment data from acoustic dosimeters worn by crew members earlier this week. Cassidy then deployed the dosimeters at various locations throughout the complex to continue tracking the noise levels that crew members are exposed to.

After the crew’s daily planning conference with flight control teams around the world, Cassidy spent much of his day setting up and operating the Capillary Flow Experiment. Results from this experiment, which takes a close look at how fluids flow across surfaces with complex geometries in a weightless environment, will improve computer models used to design fluid transfer systems and fuel tanks on future spacecraft.

› Read more about the Capillary Flow Experiment

Hadfield and Marshburn meanwhile wrapped up the upgrades to the new High Rate Communications System today by connecting coaxial cables to bus-tie the new Ku Communications Unit 1 to its redundant Ku Communications 2. Ku band communications were down for several hours during the mating of these cables and the ensuing checkout. The upgrades, which add two additional video downlink channels from the station and doubles the number of space-to-ground channels, has greatly enhanced the ability of researchers on Earth to get data to and from their experiments aboard the station.

Commander Hadfield also completed his final day with the Energy experiment. During the 10 days he participated in the study, Hadfield followed a prescribed diet and participated in data-collecting exercise sessions aimed at precisely measuring the dietary requirements for astronauts during long-duration space missions.

› Read more about the Energy experiment

Marshburn rounded out his day reviewing procedures for his first onboard session with the BP Reg experiment slated for Friday. BP Reg is a Canadian medical experiment that seeks to understand the causes of fainting and dizziness seen in some astronauts when they return to Earth following a long-duration mission. BP Reg collects data before, during and after the mission using inflatable cuffs attached to the legs. The experiment will not only help understand dizziness in astronauts, but also have direct benefits for people on Earth – particularly those predisposed to falls and resulting injuries, as seen in the elderly.

› More on BP Reg from the Canadian Space Agency

On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko completed final preparations for a six-hour spacewalk they will conduct Friday. The two cosmonauts, along with Commander Hadfield, participated in a procedure review with Russian spacewalk specialists to discuss the timeline for Friday’s excursion. Vinogradov and Romanenko later refilled and installed drink bags into their Orlan spacesuits.

During the spacewalk slated to begin at 10:06 a.m. EDT, Vinogradov and Romanenko will deploy and retrieve several experiment packages on exterior of the Russian segment of the complex. The two spacewalkers also will replace a faulty retro-reflector device, one of a suite of navigational aids that will provide assistance to the European Space Agency's Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle 4 cargo ship during its final approach for an automated docking to the space station in June.

NASA Television will broadcast the spacewalk live beginning at 9:30 a.m.

› Watch NASA TV

› Read more about Friday's spacewalk

The third Russian cosmonaut, Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin, worked with the Constant experiment, which studies the effect of microgravity on a model enzyme. Misurkin rounded out his day with the Vzaimodeystviye (Interactions) experiment, which monitors the crew’s adaptation to long-duration spaceflight.

On Wednesday, the first launch attempt to send Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket on a test flight was scrubbed at the T-12 minute mark due to a premature separation of the launch pad umbilical that mates to Antares.

Orbital Sciences Corporation has confirmed its Antares rocket team has developed a go-forward plan to address the umbilical disconnect issue that resulted in the launch scrub. The program is currently working toward the next launch attempt on Friday, April 19, at 5 p.m. EDT, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., weather permitting. NASA TV coverage of the test launch would begin at 4:30 p.m.

› Latest Antares launch information

Antares is undergoing testing that will enable the rocket to eventually carry experiments and supplies to the International Space Station aboard a Cygnus cargo spacecraft. This test flight will not launch a Cygnus spacecraft or rendezvous with the space station.

Orbital is testing the Antares rocket under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit.

› Read more about Expedition 35

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Russian Spacewalk Set for Friday

Two members of the Expedition 35 crew will venture outside the International Space Station Friday for a six-hour spacewalk to deploy and retrieve several science experiments and install a new navigational aid.

NASA Television will broadcast the spacewalk live beginning at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Russian flight engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko will open the hatch to the Pirs airlock and docking compartment to start the spacewalk at 10:06 a.m.

› Watch NASA TV

The spacewalkers' first task will be to install the Obstanovka experiment on the station's Zvezda service module. Obstanovka will study plasma waves and the effect of space weather on Earth's ionosphere.

They will retrieve the Biorisk experiment, which studied the effect of microbes on spacecraft structures. If time permits, they also will retrieve one section of the Vinoslivost experiment, which exposed materials samples to space.

While at the far end of Zvezda, Vinogradov and Romanenko will replace a faulty retro-reflector device, one of a suite of navigational aids that will provide assistance to the European Space Agency's Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle 4 cargo ship during its final approach for an automated docking to the space station in June.

› Learn more about the Automated Transfer Vehicle

This spacewalk will be the 167th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the seventh for Vinogradov and the first for Romanenko. Both spacewalkers will wear spacesuits marked by blue stripes. Romanenko's suit will be equipped with a helmet camera to provide close up views of the spacewalk activity as it progresses.

This is the first of as many as six Russian spacewalks planned for this year. Two U.S. spacewalks are scheduled in July.

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