Thursday, March 11, 2010

Robotics and Departure Preparations for Crew

Expedition 22 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi works at a robotic workstation in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station.

The Expedition 22 crew members aboard the International Space Station were busy Thursday with robotics activities and preparations for upcoming spacecraft departures.

Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and T.J. Creamer performed a series of checkouts and calibrations on the Kibo laboratory’s newest robotic arm, known as the small fine arm. Once its deployment is complete, the small fine arm will be used on the end of the laboratory’s larger main arm to move small science experiments and pieces of hardware on the Kibo Exposed Facility.

Creamer also had time to work with the 3D Space experiment, which involves distance, writing and illusion exercises designed to test the hypothesis that altered visual perception affects motor control.

Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov packed and transferred unneeded items into ISS Progress 35, which is scheduled to be undocked for a destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere next month. He also had time to conduct a variety of scheduled maintenance activities in the Russian segment of the station.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev packed items and made preparations for their departure from the station next week. They are scheduled to undock in the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft at 4:03 a.m. EDT March 18, with a landing about 3.5 hours later.

Kotov, Creamer and Noguchi will remain on the station to become the Expedition 23 crew, with Kotov taking over as station commander. New crew members Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko will launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-18 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 2.

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