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ISS crew of three conduct drills to remove depressurisation

December 06, 2011, 11:40 UTC+3

Two Russians and an American from the ISS Expedition 30 crew are conducting drills to cope with the station’s depressurisation

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MOSCOW, December 6 (Itar-Tass) — Two Russians and an American from the International Space Station’s (ISS) Expedition 30 crew who have been on the orbital mission since November 16 on Tuesday are conducting drills to cope with the station’s depressurisation.

The Mission Control Centre (MCC) outside Moscow told Itar-Tass that “before lunch Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and Daniel Burbank will conduct comprehensive training on emergency procedures in case of the station’s depressurisation.”

They will be coping with the “holes” in the ISS skin in a virtual regime - the cosmonauts will “arm themselves” with instructions, and as diligent students will rehearse all the actions in an emergency. “The goal of the training is to make sure that all the necessary instructions and tools are in place, ‘at hand,’ and refresh the skills in handling all the operations,” the MCC explained.

Drills of actions against depressurisation are conducted by the station’s crews several times per flight, the MCC noted. There is documentation on board the ISS with detailed instructions what to do in that or other contingency. MCC specialists set the initial conditions for the astronauts - in which compartment of the station sensors recorded depressurisation, and the crew takes actions to remove the defect. The astronauts in the real conditions test the instructions that are then adjusted on the Earth, taking into account the proposals of crews.

Over the entire ISS history, partial depressurisation of one of the station’s compartments was recorded in January 2004, when experts of the Houston-based Mission Control Centre detected a gradual drop in ISS pressure of 2 mm per day. Then the ISS Expedition 8 crew found the air leak place in several days using a special technique: “cutting” the station’s sections one from another in sequence, the astronauts were testing their integrity until they found a leak. The universal method was tested on the Russian orbital station Mir after a Progress cargo spacecraft “rammed” the Spektr module during docking.

Meanwhile, NASA reported that Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank worked with the Preliminary Advanced Colloids Experiment-2, or PACE-2, on Monday. Housed in the Fluids Integrated Rack, PACE-2 studies the effects of vibration on particles suspended in fluid in the space environment. This work aids in the development and optimization of crew procedures for the future Advanced Colloids Experiment, also known as ACE. ACE will fly samples that may have an important impact on our understanding of fundamental physics. An immediate space application for this technology demonstration is in extending the shelf-life of consumables on future long-duration missions.

Burbank also performed routine work with the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA), which is necessary for checking drinking water quality. Total Organic Carbon is naturally present in the environment and by itself has no health effects, but it provides a medium for the formation of byproducts that may be harmful.

Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin cleaned fan screens and replaced dust filters aboard the outpost. The pair also did regular maintenance on the audio subsystem in the Zvezda service module. Ivanishin updated antivirus software on one of the station’s laptop computers. All three crew members spent some time familiarizing themselves with their orbital home.

Three additional Expedition 30 flight engineers – NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers – are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 21.

The ISS is a joint project between the five participating space agencies, the American NASA, the Russian RKA, the Japanese JAXA, the European ESA, and the Canadian CSA. The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements which divide the station into two areas and allow the Russian Federation to retain full ownership of Russian Orbital Segment (ROS)/(RS), with the US Orbital Segment (USOS) allocated between the other international partners. The station is serviced by Soyuz spacecraft, Progress spacecraft, the Automated Transfer Vehicle and the H-II Transfer Vehicle, and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.

The ISS provides a platform to conduct scientific research that cannot be performed in any other way. Whilst unmanned spacecraft can provide platforms for zero gravity and exposure to space, the ISS offers a long-term environment where studies can be performed potentially for decades, combined with ready access by human researchers over periods that exceed the capabilities of manned spacecraft. Kibo is intended to accelerate Japan’s progress in science and technology, gain new knowledge and apply it to such fields as industry and medicine. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which NASA compares to the Hubble telescope, could not be accommodated on a free flying satellite platform, due in part to its power requirements and data bandwidth needs. The Station simplifies individual experiments by eliminating the need for separate rocket launches and research staff.


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