Status Report

Expedition 20 Awaits Arrival of Discovery, New Crew Member

By SpaceRef Editor
August 29, 2009
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Expedition 20 Awaits Arrival of Discovery, New Crew Member

Space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.’s Launch Pad 39A at 11:59 p.m. EDT Friday, beginning the STS-128 mission.

Discovery is carrying more than seven tons of supplies, science racks and equipment, as well as additional environmental hardware to sustain six crew members on the orbital outpost. The shuttle also will deliver the newest Expedition crew member, astronaut Nicole Stott, for a three-month stay aboard the station.

The Expedition 20 crew members conducted a variety of maintenance tasks aboard the International Space Station Friday as they concluded a busy work week filled with science and preparations for the arrival of space shuttle Discovery.

Flight Engineer Mike Barratt collected samples from surfaces throughout the station and tested them for microbial contamination. For this task, the crew uses LOCAD, the Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System, which detects biological and chemical substances within 15 minutes.

Flight Engineer Tim Kopra continued with departure preparations as he will be returning home aboard Discovery. He arrived at the station on July 17.

Weekly maintenance was performed on the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System (TVIS) by Flight Engineer Bob Thirsk. The TVIS is an important part of the crew members’ daily exercise routines, which help to counteract the effects of long-term exposure to the microgravity environment aboard the station.

Throughout the week, the crew worked with different science experiments. Barratt and Kopra spent time with the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) experiment. SPHERES is comprised of three free-flying spheres that fly within the station, performing flight formations. Each satellite is self-contained with power, propulsion, computers and navigation equipment. The results are important for satellite servicing, vehicle assembly and formation flying spacecraft configurations.

Flight engineers Frank De Winne and Thirsk recorded educational video demonstrations designed to inspire the next generation of space explorers. The demonstrations focused on surface tension and wave motion properties in microgravity conditions. These videos recorded by crews living and working aboard the station are used in developing curriculum support materials for distribution to educators internationally.

SpaceRef staff editor.