Image above: Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams uses a still camera at a window in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Robotics and handover activities took center stage Tuesday aboard the International Space Station as Expedition 22 draws to a close and the crew prepares for new residents and a visit by space shuttle Discovery.
After breakfast and a checkout of station systems, Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi began his day with a ham radio call to students at Ikaruga Elementary School in the town of Taishi, Hyogo, Japan.
Afterwards, Noguchi joined Commander Jeff Williams and fellow flight engineers Maxim Suraev, Oleg Kotov and T.J. Creamer for a safety handover briefing. With the departure of Williams and Suraev set for March 18, the crew reviewed the changing roles and responsibilities during an emergency such as a fire, an ammonia leak or a sudden loss of air pressure within the station.
Williams and Suraev will return to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft, signifying the end of Expedition 22 and the beginning of Expedition 23 under the command of Kotov.
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, three additional Expedition 23 crew members – astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko -- are preparing for their April 2 launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-18. The trio conducted Sokol launch and entry suit training Tuesday and reviewed Russian systems manuals.
Tuesday also marked a busy day for robotics aboard the orbiting complex as both the Japanese and Canadian robotic arms were poised for upcoming activities.
First, Noguchi and Creamer maneuvered the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS) into position to transfer the Small Fine Arm assembly from the airlock. Over the next three days, the two flight engineers will check out the assembly and use the JEMRMS to install it for experiment replacement work on the station’s exterior.
Next, Noguchi and Creamer commanded the 57-foot Canadarm2 to a different grapple fixture in a procedure known as a “walk off.” This will allow flight controllers on Earth to move the arm to a grapple fixture on the Harmony node to conduct robotics work during the STS-131 space shuttle mission in April.
The Waste and Hygiene Compartment is temporarily down due to a separator issue. Tuesday, the crew replaced the pump separator with an on-board spare, but this did not resolve the issue. Mission Control in Houston has sent the crew additional troubleshooting instructions that will be used to replace the pump’s controller Wednesday.
NASA’s International Space Station Program Wins Collier Trophy
The International Space Station Program has won the 2009 Collier Trophy, which is considered the top award in aviation. The National Aeronautic Association bestows the award annually to recognize the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America.