Expedition 45 prepares for spacewalk, conducts science
The crew of Expedition 45 of the International Space Station spent the week of Oct. 19 to Oct. 23 preparing for two upcoming spacewalks while conducting cutting-edge science.
Expedition 45 has been ongoing since Sept. 11. As of Friday, Oct 23, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov has spent 51 days in space. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Kimiya Yui, and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko have been in space for 93 days. The two-year-long crew members, astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, have been in space for 210 days.
On Monday, Oct. 19, the crew rehearsed an emergency simulation drill. They practiced procedures for two separate issues: rapid depressurization and fire. The crew physically translated through the orbiting lab to in order to visualize the use of station equipment and interfaces that would be used in an emergency. They also practiced communication skills with mission control centers in such events.
Additionally, the crew continued to review procedures for the upcoming spacewalk on Oct. 28 and Nov. 6. Kelly, Lindgren, and Yui reviewed a detailed timeline – Extravehicular Activity (EVA) tasks, photo requirements, and hand signals.
Later, Yui recorded a reading from “Max Goes to the Space Station”. The book, written by Jeffrey Bennett and illustrated by Michael Carroll, follows a dog named Max to the station where he shares about the adventures of astronaut life. Yui’s audio recording will be used for educational purposes.
Kelly recorded a Sleep Log entry. The Sleep ISS-12 experiment monitors ambient light exposure and crew member activity and collects evaluations of sleep and alertness. The study examines the effects of spaceflight and ambient light exposure on sleep during a year-long mission.
The Ocular Health study continued on Monday when Kelly and Kornienko initiated their Flight Day 210 Ocular Health testing. They completed vision and tonometry tests and took blood pressure measurements with the assistance of Yui.
President Barack Obama called and talked to Kelly and Lindgren later in the day on Monday. He congratulated Kelly breaking the record for the most days an American astronaut has been in space.
“That’s nothing to sneeze at,” Obama said. “How are you feeling generally?”
Kelly said he was feeling great and that he feels like he has been up on the orbiting lab for a long time with a long time yet to go.
“It shouldn’t be a problem getting to the end with enough energy and enthusiasm to complete the job,” Kelly said.
EVA preparation continued on Tuesday in the Quest airlock. Yui scrubbed cooling loops inside the spacesuits that Kelly and Lindgren will use on the spacewalks. Additionally, Lindgren collected and organized spacewalking tools.
Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko performed a sample exchange of the Observation Analysis of Smectic Islands in Space (OASIS). He installed the third of four sample cartridges into the hardware housed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the Destiny lab module. The study examines the unique behavior of liquid crystals in microgravity.
Later, Kelly opened the outer hatch of the Kibo module airlock and commanded the Slide Table outside. He monitored the Kibo robotic arm attach the Cubesat Deployer back onto the slide table before commanding it back in. Two weeks ago, two of the 16 CubeSats that were scheduled to deploy failed due to a secondary latch mechanism that hung up inside a deployer slot.
Overnight Monday into Tuesday, the Urine Processing Assembly (UPA) reported an error code during a reprocess cycle. The code indicated an issue with the Fluids Control and Pump Assembly (FCPA). Ground teams attempted to re-activate during the day, Tuesday, but the UPA reported the same failure indication. The FCPA is expected to last 600 hours without failure. This FCPA lasted for about 1,065 hours. The station has two spares on board with an additional spare scheduled to arrive in December aboard Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo ship.
Yui put a camera in the Cupola window on Wednesday and pointed it down with the horizon in view. It is part of the Tropical Cyclone investigation which captures images of cyclones and hurricanes that are rated Category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Kelly and Kornienko were assisted by Lindgren on Wednesday in performing more blood pressure measurements and ultrasounds for the Ocular Health study.
After that, Kelly and Lindgren practiced donning and doffing the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) on their spacesuits. Lindgren assembled a grease gun that will be used on the spacewalk to lubricate Latching End Effector (LEE) B of Canadarm2, the space station’s robotic arm.
Other activities for the middle of the week included downlinking more video for the upcoming IMAX film, “A Perfect Planet”, Sleep Logs, and software updates for hardware as part of the X2R14 software transition.
Kelly and Lindgren brought the CubeSat Deployer inside on Thursday. They secured the doors of deployer number six with loading latches and tape to prevent an inadvertent deploy of the two CubeSats in the deployer that failed to launch.
Later, Lindgren and Kelly tried on their spacesuits to make sure they fit. During spaceflight, an astronaut’s spine can stretch by an inch or two in space since there is no gravity pulling them down and compressing their spine.
Much of the rest of Thursday was spent conducting cutting-edge science.
Yui completed his Flight Day 90 NeuroMapping Neurocognitive test on a Human Research Facility laptop. This experiment studies whether long-duration spaceflight causes any changes to the brain.
Later, Yui teamed up with Lindgren and completed survey questionnaires as part of their Flight Day 90 session of the Microbiome investigation. The Microbiome study investigates the impact of space travel on the human immune system as well as the collection of microbes that live in and on the human body.
The crew continued EVA preparation on Friday by reviewing procedures for the spacewalk. The crew will conduct their weekly cleaning on Saturday and enjoy a day off on Sunday.
Derek Richardson is a student studying mass media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is currently the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also writes a blog, called Orbital Velocity, about the space station. His passion for space ignited when he watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on Oct. 29, 1998. He saw his first in-person launch on July 8, 2011 when the space shuttle launched for the final time. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized that his true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.