Crew Prepares for Robotics, Speaks to Students

Earthquake damage in Concepcion, Chile is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 22 crew member on the International Space Station. A dark smoke plume is visible at lower left near an oil refinery in Hualpen.

Orbiting 220 miles above the Earth, the Expedition 22 crew members of the International Space Station focused on science, station outfitting and photography Tuesday. They also took time to speak with students in Kansas.

Working in the Russian segment of the station, Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov conducted a session with the cardiovascular experiment Dykhanie-1, which studies the relation of gravity to respiration in cosmonauts. Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev assisted Kotov and photographed the session.

Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi spent part of his morning training with a computer-based simulator to prepare for the installation of the Small Fine Arm (SFA) of the Japanese Experiment Module’s robotic arm. Monday marks the start of a week-long effort to configure the module’s airlock and install the SFA to its attachment mechanism using the robotic arm. The SFA, which the crew assembled in January, will be used for experiment replacement work in the future.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer gathered items for return to Earth aboard space shuttle Discovery, scheduled to launch April 5. The STS-131 crew of Discovery will deliver a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks to be transferred to the station and conduct three spacewalks.

Creamer also spent some time sharpening his digital photography skills for the imagery he will collect of Discovery’s thermal protection system as it performs a back flip known as the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver prior to docking.

Later Creamer and Noguchi joined Commander Jeff Williams to talk with students at the Mueller Aerospace and Engineering Discovery Magnet School in Wichita, Kansas. The astronauts answered a variety of questions about living and working aboard the orbiting complex.

The station’s residents also had several opportunities for Earth observation and photography. The astronauts have paid particular attention to Chile as they continue to document the aftermath of the recent earthquake.