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Crew Stows Spacesuits, Completes Robotics Checkout
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Aug 08, 2011

In the station's Kibo module, Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa and Ron Garan completed a week-long checkout of the Japanese Robotic Manipulator System's Small Fine Arm and grappled it for its reberthing on the external experiment platform.

The six Expedition 28 crew members aboard the International Space Station wrapped up a busy workweek Friday as they stowed equipment used in Wednesday's spacewalk and completed an extensive checkout of Japanese robotic technology.

Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Alexander Samokutyaev, who completed a 6-hour, 23-minute spacewalk Wednesday, stowed the remainder of their Orlan-MK spacesuit equipment as well as tools and tethers used during the excursion.

During that spacewalk, Volkov and Samokutyaev installed an experimental high-speed laser communications system, retrieved a rendezvous antenna that no longer is needed and installed the Biorisk experiment.

They also deployed the small Amateur Radio on the International Space Station Satellite-1 (ARISSat-1), also known as Radioskaf-V, which will broadcast messages commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's pioneering spaceflight.

Although one of the micro-satellite's two antennas was apparently missing or damaged, ARISS personnel have reported good uplink and downlink capability despite the slightly degraded uplink antenna system performance.

Commander Andrey Borisenko, with assistance from Samokutyaev, spent some time dismantling the docking mechanism of the ISS Progress 43 cargo craft to reintegrate it with the station following Wednesday's spacewalk. Borisenko also installed two handles on the external side of the Progress hatch.

In the station's Kibo module, Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa and Ron Garan completed a week-long checkout of the Japanese Robotic Manipulator System's Small Fine Arm and grappled it for its reberthing on the external experiment platform.

While the main Japanese arm can move up to 6.4 metric tons (14,000 pounds) of hardware, the Small Fine Arm, as its name suggests, is designed to handle more delicate operations. Crew members can control the robot arms to install or exchange experiment payloads and hardware located on Kibo's external platform.

Flight Engineer Mike Fossum spent some time working with the Plant Signaling experiment, which studies the effects of microgravity on the growth of plants. Fossum processed samples and stored them in the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS for later analysis by researchers.

Results from this experiment can lead to information that will aid in food production during future long-duration space missions, as well as data to enhance crop production on Earth.

Afterward, Fossum and Garan took a break from their duties to talk to reporters from ABC News Radio and WOFL-TV in Orlando, Fla.

The station's residents also had several opportunities to observe and photograph the condition of our home planet as they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes at an altitude of 240 statute miles. Among the sites suggested for photography Friday were the Florida Everglades, where ongoing research is focused on understanding the ecosystems along the major drainage basins of the region.

Read more about Expedition 28

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"Hello from space!" greets astronaut Ron Garan as an opening to his recently published video blog. Garan's goal is to show how this orbital research facility can help improve life on Earth, while also inspiring people to make a difference. How better to introduce the world at large to the International Space Station, than for Garan to welcome viewers on a guided tour of his amazing home and live ... read more

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