Thursday, March 11, 2010

Station Crew works with Robotics, setups for Spaceflight Transports

Inside the Japanese Kibo Laboratory, Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and T.J. Creamer utilizes the Japanese Kibo laboratory’s 33-foot-long main arm to move a smaller robotic arm, known as the small fine arm, out of Kibo’s airlock and into place for operation. Over the next two days, the two flight engineers will perform a sequence of checkouts and calibrations of the small fine arm, which will be used on the end of the main arm to move small science experiments and pieces of hardware.

Temporarily, Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev worked on pre-packing activities and the transfer of cargo to the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft for their departure from the station on March 18.

In preparation for space shuttle Discovery‘s arrival next month, Creamer accomplished a rehearsal photography session. On flight day 3 of the STS-131 mission Creamer and Oleg Kotov, who will by then be Expedition 23 commander; will photograph the shuttle’s heat protect as it performs the rendezvous pitch plan shortly before docking. The photos will be sent down to Earth to be examined by experts at Johnson Space Center.

Creamer moreover worked with the Advanced Plant Experiments on Orbit – Cambium (APEX-Cambium) experiment. APEX-Cambium uses willow plants flown on the International Space Station to better appreciate the fundamental processes by which plants produce cellulose and lignin, the two main structural materials found in plant matter. Understanding the role of severity in wood formation is probable to enable wiser management of forests for carbon sequestration, as well as better utilization of trees for wood products.

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