August 27, 2009

Station Crew Prepares For Shuttle Discovery

As the Expedition 20 crew members continued preparations for a visit by space shuttle Discovery, they tackled a variety of science and maintenance duties aboard the International Space Station Wednesday.

The launch target for STS-128 is Friday at 12:22 a.m. EDT. A problem with a fill-and-drain valve inside Discovery's aft compartment scrubbed the Wednesday morning launch attempt.

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.

Flight Engineer Tim Kopra spent some time completing departure preparations as he will be returning home aboard Discovery. He arrived at the station on July 17.

Kopra, along with Flight Engineer Mike Barratt, also 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.

Meanwhile, flight engineers Bob Thirsk and Frank De Winne continued to record an educational video demonstration designed to inspire the next generation of space explorers. These videos recorded by crews living and working aboard the station are used in developing curriculum support materials for distribution to educators internationally.

De Winne also worked to troubleshoot the Multi-Protocol Converter (MPC) in the Kibo laboratory. The MPC is a Japanese video system used to downlink high definition video.

Throughout the day, crew members performed their daily physical exercise routines to counteract the effects of long-term exposure to weightlessness in space.


Image Caption: Expedition 20 Flight Engineer Michael Barratt works with the Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System experiment in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA


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