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Station Crew Preps for Return Home, Commercial Cargo Craft Visit

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:41 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 30 crew of the International Space Station took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a relatively light workday Friday before activities ramp up for cargo vehicle traffic and the departure of three crew members in two weeks.

Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who will be returning to Earth April 27 aboard the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft that brought them to the station back in November, participated in an audio conference with support teams on the ground to review the departure preparations. Afterward Shkaplerov and Ivanishin continued the conference to discuss the cargo returning with them aboard the Soyuz.

Shkaplerov later worked with the Bar experiment, which looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of a loss of pressure aboard the station.

Burbank’s duties for the remainder of the day included installing three alignment guides in the Combustion Integrated Rack and conducting some proficiency training in his role as Crew Medical Officer.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers conducted more robotics training to prepare for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft set to launch April 30. After Dragon completes a series of maneuvers and system checkouts and approaches the station May 2, Pettit will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Dragon. Kuipers will then take control of the arm and guide the craft to its docking port on the station. Dragon will carry about 1,200 pounds of cargo for the station’s crew on its demonstration flight.

Pettit took a break from his tasks to join Burbank to talk with National Public Radio’s Ira Flatow. During the interview for the “Science Friday” program, the two astronauts answered questions about science experiments currently running aboard station and the upcoming SpaceX Dragon mission.

In addition to his robotics training, Kuipers set up the Super Sensitive HDTV camera in the station’s observation deck, the seven-windowed cupola, to capture video of auroras. Later he collected data from NanoRacks, a commercial research facility on the station that provides room for up to 16 payloads through a standardized interface.

In the Russian segment of the station, Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko participated in the Typology experiment, which studies a crew member’s psychophysical state during long-duration spaceflight, and conducted an audit of trash bags and tools.

The station’s residents also had several opportunities to observe and photograph the Earth below as they orbit the world every 90 minutes. Among the sites suggested by researchers Friday were a pair of volcanoes in Java, Indonesia, and glaciers in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field between Argentina and Chile.

Over 832,000 photos of Earth from the space station are available online at the Gateway to Astronaut Photography.

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