Russian Cargo Craft Docks With International Space Station
December 2, 2013

Russian Cargo Craft Docks With International Space Station

[ Watch The Video: Russian Resupply Ship Makes Holiday Arrival at Space Station ]


A Russian space freighter docked to the aft port of the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module at 5:30 p.m. EST Friday, delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, supplies and holiday gifts for the Expedition 38 crew.

The ISS Progress 53 cargo ship, which launched Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, performed an automated approach to the station using upgraded Kurs automated rendezvous equipment. The on-orbit performance of the new Kurs hardware was tested earlier by Russian flight controllers during a “flyby” of the station Wednesday during which the Progress came to within one mile of the orbiting complex. The lighter, revamped Kurs system will be integrated into advanced Progress and piloted Soyuz vehicles in the future.

When the Progress was about 60 meters from the docking port, it went into an unexpected station keeping mode. Station Commander Oleg Kotov took over manual control of the vehicle using TORU, the telerobotically operated docking system, and guided the vehicle in for a successful docking. At the time of docking, the station was flying about 260 miles over Kazakhstan.

On Saturday, the crew will open the hatch to the Progress to begin unloading its cargo. Progress 53 is filled with 2.9 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the station crew, including 1,763 pounds of propellant, 48 pounds of oxygen, 57 pounds of air, 925 pounds of water and 3,119 pounds of spare parts, experiment hardware and holiday gifts.

The Expedition 38 crew also supported a range of research activities and maintenance work aboard the orbiting complex Friday.

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio began his workday with the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test science payload, which takes a look at colloids -- microscopic particles suspended in a liquid -- and may lead to improvements in manufacturing processes here on Earth. Mastracchio mixed some new test samples for the experiment and photographed the hardware.

Afterward, Mastracchio continued setting up BioLab, a research facility located in the Columbus laboratory. BioLab is used to perform space biology experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates. Results from experiments performed inside this facility could benefit biomedical research in such areas as immunology, pharmacology, bone demineralization and biotechnology.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins relocated stowage items to make room for new NanoRacks payload hardware. NanoRacks provides lower-cost microgravity research facilities for small payloads utilizing a standardized “plug-and-play” interface. The new payload hardware will be arriving to the station aboard the Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft during  its first commercial resupply mission in December. Cygnus successfully completed a demonstration mission to the station in October.

Inside the station’s dome-shaped cupola observation module, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata prepared a high-definition camera system to capture any sightings of Comet ISON.

Wakata later interacted with an experiment known as the eValuatIon And monitoring of microBiofiLms insidE the ISS, or VIABLE ISS, as he touched and breathed on sample bags. The VIABLE study involves the evaluation of microbial biofilm development on space materials.

Wakata rounded out his day downloading and saving data from a small digital electrocardiograph he wore this week for the Biological Rhythms 48hrs experiment. This Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency study takes a look at the circadian variation of astronauts’ cardiac function during spaceflight.

On the Russian side of the complex, Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy studied chemical luminescent reactions in the Earth’s atmosphere for the Relaxation experiment. He and Kotov also participated in a Russian medical study to assess their physical condition during their long-duration stay aboard the station.


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