Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crew Keeps Eye on Science, Prepares for Progress Docking

With systems aboard the International Space Station performing well Tuesday, the orbiting Expedition 23 crew tackled a variety of experiments, conducted a periodic fire drill and prepared for the docking of an unpiloted Russian cargo craft.

With the launch of the new ISS Progress 37 cargo ship from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan set for 1:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov reviewed procedures for manual rendezvous techniques with TORU, the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system. The crew can use TORU to monitor the Progress’ approach for docking or take control of the process if difficulties arise. Scheduled to dock Saturday, Progress 37 is loaded with 2.6 tons of food, fuel, oxygen, propellant and supplies for the Expedition 23 crew.

Image above: Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov is pictured near fresh fruit floating freely in the Zvezda service module of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The old ISS Progress 35 that undocked from the station’s Pirs docking compartment Thursday was deorbited Tuesday as its engines fired for a final time at 2:05 p.m., sending the craft to a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

As part of a periodic medical exam, Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell Dyson, T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi performed ultrasound scans of each other’s eyes. Through diagnostic telemedicine, flight surgeons on Earth can use the data collected during these exams to measure and assess any changes in crew health.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko, who spent much of his morning performing routine daily servicing on systems in the Zvezda service module, joined the rest of the Expedition 23 crew after lunch for a fire drill to practice initial crew actions in response to an emergency.

The station’s residents also had several opportunities for Earth observation and photography as they orbited the world every 90 minutes. Two sites in South Africa were suggested to the crew for photography, including Cape Town, which is experiencing extensive immigration and a building boom as the city prepares to host the Soccer World Cup in June.

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