by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 25, 2014
The six-person Expedition 40 crew enjoyed an abbreviated workday Thursday, having worked late the previous night to welcome the arrival of a Russian cargo craft a little less than six hours after its launch from Kazakhstan.
The ISS Progress 56 resupply spacecraft, packed with almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies, automatically docked to the station's Pirs docking compartment at 11:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday. The space freighter launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:44 p.m. to begin the 4-orbit trek to the orbiting complex.
After they completed a leak check at the interface between the Progress and Pirs, Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Max Suraev opened the hatch Thursday morning to begin unloading cargo from the resupply vehicle. The new Progress is loaded with 1,764 pounds of propellant, 48 pounds of oxygen, 57 pounds of air, 926 pounds of water and 2,910 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and other supplies for the Expedition 40 crew.
Commander Steve Swanson began his day in the Kibo laboratory cleaning the Saibo experiment rack's glovebox, known as the Clean Bench.
Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman recharged a battery associated with one of the U.S. spacesuits to make sure that the necessary equipment remains ready to support a spacewalk.
Swanson and Wiseman then took a break from their work to talk with U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and committee members. The two NASA astronauts discussed the importance of space station research and technology, getting students interested in STEM fields and the station's role in setting the path for America's next giant leap to send humans to Mars.
Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency focused much of his attention on preparations for the deployment of small CubeSat nanosatellites in the weeks ahead. Gerst installed NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer hardware onto the Multipurpose Experiment Platform, which will be passed through the Kibo module's scientific airlock to launch the various CubeSats into orbit.
Among the cargo aboard Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo ship when it arrived at the station last week were 16 deployers containing a total of 32 CubeSats, including 28 Dove nanosatellites built and operated by Planet Labs Inc. for a humanitarian Earth-imaging program.
Gerst and Swanson rounded out their day reviewing procedures for a test they will conduct Friday with a trio of soccer-ball-sized, free-flying robots known the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES.
For this upcoming experiment session, the SPHERES will be outfitted with stereoscopic goggles dubbed the Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection of Generic Objects, or VERTIGO, to enable the free-floating robots to perform relative navigation based on a 3D model of a target object.
The third Russian cosmonaut aboard the station, Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev, worked with a cell cultivation experiment known as Kaskad and performed routine maintenance on the toilet in the Russian segment of the station.
Artemyev, Skvortsov and Swanson also continued their participation in a study of lightweight, commercially available clothing designed to resist odors. Since there's no washing machine on the station and launching enough clothes for a change every day would consume valuable cargo space on resupply vehicles, the station's crew members re-wear their garments for multiple days.
The three crew members have been wearing the new germ-resistant test clothes to check for comfort and odor control.
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