Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Station Crew Prepares for Soyuz Relocation and Robotics

Tuesday aboard the orbiting International Space Station, the Expedition 22 crew geared up to move a Soyuz spacecraft to a newly-outfitted docking port and prepared for a weekend of intense robotics.

Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov and Maxim Suraev, who conducted a five-hour, 44-minute spacewalk Thursday to configure the Poisk module to serve as a docking port for Russian vehicles, began their workday stowing tools and equipment used in that excursion.

Later, Suraev tested the thrusters of the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft he will command Thursday morning when he and Commander Jeff Williams fly from the aft port of the Zvezda service module to Poisk for an inaugural docking. The Soyuz has been given a go for the relocation, slated to begin with an undocking at 5 a.m. EST Thursday. Live coverage on NASA TV begins at 4:45 a.m.

Meanwhile, Williams and Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and T.J. Creamer spent much of their day reviewing procedures and configuring tools for the three spacewalks planned when space shuttle Endeavour and the STS-130 crew arrive in February to install the Italian-built Tranquility node and the seven-windowed Cupola.

To clear the way for the installation of Tranquility, Creamer and Williams will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Saturday to relocate Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, currently attached to the port side of the Unity node, to the space-facing side of the Harmony node. Over the weekend, the Dextre robotic manipulator was moved from the Destiny lab to the Mobile Base System, providing the clearance required for Saturday’s robotics work.

Also on Tuesday, Noguchi took a break from his work to answer questions from students at the Kushiro Children’s Museum and the Rikubetsu Astronomical Observatory in Hokkaido, Japan.