Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crew Prepares for ISS Progress 35 Undocking

The Expedition 23 crew members aboard the International Space Station were busy Wednesday preparing for the undocking of the ISS Progress 35 supply ship. They also performed routine station maintenance and worked with science experiments.

The unmanned Progress cargo resupply vehicle is scheduled to undock at 12:32 p.m. EDT Thursday from the Pirs docking compartment. Filled with trash and station discarded items, the cargo craft will deorbit and burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

ISS Progress 35 arrived at the station Oct. 17 after launching Oct. 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko tested the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system, TORU, which they can use to monitor the Progress undocking or take control of the process in the unlikely event that difficulties arise with the automated Kurs system.

The Russians also performed maintenance on the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System (TVIS). The TVIS is an important part of the exercise regimen aboard the station. Each crew member exercises for 2.5 hours daily to stave off the effects of long-term exposure to weightlessness.

Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Tracy Caldwell Dyson worked on a variety of research, including the Evaluation of Maximal Oxygen Uptake and Submaximal Estimates of VO2max Before, During, and After Long Duration International Space Station Missions (VO2max) experiment, which looks at the working capacity of humans in microgravity, and the Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System (TAGES) experiment, which uses plants specially fitted with genes that make them glow so that scientists can monitor how they grow in the space environment.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi inspected hatch seals around the station. He also worked with the Reaction Self Test experiment that helps monitor the daily effects of living in space.

Space shuttle Discovery descended to a smooth landing Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to conclude the STS-131 mission that brought 7.6 tons of supplies and equipment to the station, including a new crew sleeping quarters, a new ammonia tank, a new gyroscope and four experiment racks.