Aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition 9 crew concentrated on a host of scientific experiments and routine systems maintenance work in a busy 13th week in orbit.
Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke conducted numerous biomedical experiments. They participated in a Russian experiment named “Profilaktika,” which was designed to measure Padalka’s cardiovascular condition while he pedaled on a bicycle in the Zvezda Service Module.
Fincke began working with the Fluid Merging Viscosity experiment. This physical science experiment is studying viscosity, a property that causes fluids to resist flowing because of the internal friction created as the molecules move against each other. Understanding the viscosity of molten materials is important for everything from designing laboratory experiments to industrial production.Fincke also set up the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (EarthKAM) hardware for another run. EarthKAM is available for students who submit image requests and conduct geographic research. The requests are uplinked in a camera control file to a laptop computer. The computer activates an onboard digital camera at specified times and receives the digital images for subsequent downlink.
Details on Station science operations, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, can be found on the Payload Operations Center’s Web site at:
The crew spent part of its week stowing trash in the Progress resupply craft docked to the far end of Zvezda. The unpiloted Progress will detach from the Station by Russian flight controllers on July 30 and deorbited to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. A new Progress cargo ship is scheduled for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on August 11 for a docking to the Station on August 14. It will carry food, fuel, water, and supplies for Padalka and Fincke and for the Expedition 10 crew that is scheduled to launch to the Station in October.
On Thursday, Russian flight controllers were unable to upload new software into the Zvezda’s computers in preparation for next year’s maiden launch of the unpiloted European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo ship that will operate in tandem with the Russian Progress vehicles. Russian specialists are analyzing what may have caused the unsuccessful upload and plan to try again next Wednesday. The computers are operating normally with the current load of software.
Earlier today, Padalka replaced a pump assembly in Zvezda that malfunctioned on Wednesday, causing the temporary loss of one of two redundant loops that provides cooling for Russian segment systems. The backup cooling system kept all Russian systems operating at the proper temperatures until the replacement work occurred. Both cooling loops are now working normally.
Padalka and Fincke also participated in a pair of simulated emergency drills on board to maintain proficiency in handling medical emergencies and the unlikely depressurization of the Station cabin.
Next week, Fincke plans to conduct additional troubleshooting work on U.S. spacesuits with help from Mission Control. The Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMU) have cooling problems, which have tentatively been traced to pumps that circulate water inside the suits. Fincke plans to remove and examine one of the pumps. Repair parts for the suits are to be launched next month aboard the next Progress supply craft.
The next spacewalk, using Russian Orlan suits, is planned for Aug. 3. During the spacewalk, the crew will retrieve science experiments, install others, and prepare the outside of the Zvezda module’s docking port for next year’s first flight of the ATV. Next week, the crew will begin preparations for the spacewalk and will review procedures for the excursion.
Information about crew activities on the Space Station, future launch dates, and Station sighting opportunities from Earth, is available on the Internet at: