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Dextre Enables Crew to Focus on Station Science Objectives

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:16 am via: NASA
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Monday evening, while the Expedition 28 crew of the orbiting International Space Station slept, the flight control team back on Earth successfully replaced a Remote Power Controller Module – a kind of circuit breaker box – on the exterior of the orbiting complex. Robotics flight controllers operated Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency’s robotic handyman outside the station, and commanded it to swap out the breaker box with a new one and place the failed unit in a storage container.

With the repair completed without the need for a spacewalk, the six station crew members were able to dedicate their time supporting scientific research and routine maintenance after they awoke at 2 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

Flight Engineers Mike Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa spent much of their workday repairing hardware for the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, or MARES, which will be used for research on musculoskeletal, biomechanical, and neuromuscular human physiology. The hardware did not function when first activated due to some damaged bolts and electrical problems, so engineers on the ground recreated the issues on a test unit and developed procedures for the crew to get it up and running. Fossum reported that the procedures were good, and the crew will continue the repair effort Wednesday.

Furukawa, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut, took a break from his work to discuss the progress of his mission with the members of the Young Astronauts Club at three different locations in Japan during an in-flight interview.

Three Expedition 28 astronauts work aboard the International Space Station Tuesday. Credit: NASA TV
Flight Engineer Ron Garan transferred payload hardware from the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module to the appropriate science modules to free space for additional stowage.

Meanwhile, Commander Andrey Borisenko focused on maintenance tasks as he replaced dust filter cartridges and cleaned fan screens in the Russian segment of the station, while his fellow cosmonauts, Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev, conducted scientific research.

Samokutyaev participated in the Typology experiment, which studies a crew member’s psychophysical state and ability to perform and communicate under stress.

Volkov conducted another session with the Uragan experiment. Named for the Russian word for hurricane, Uragan seeks to document and predict the development of natural and man-made disasters on Earth. Building upon a sequence of visual observations that began aboard the Mir space station, Uragan may provide researchers and cosmonauts the opportunity to notify authorities about impending catastrophes.

In the wake of the loss of a Progress supply ship that failed to reach orbit Sept. 24, a Russian commission is looking into the root cause of the loss and the impact it will have on future flights.

International Space Station Program Manager Michael Suffredini held a press conference Monday at 10 a.m. at the Johnson Space Center to discuss the status of the vehicle loss investigation and impacts to upcoming vehicle launches and crew exchanges.

Station managers are weighing changes to the scheduled return of Expedition 28 Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Ron Garan and Alexander Samokutyaev on Sept. 8. One likely option would extend the crew members’ mission to mid-September. The remaining crew members will return as planned in mid-November.

There are enough supplies on board to last the crew into March without needing an additional cargo delivery.

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