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October 24, 2003

Dave Steitz
Headquarters, Washington

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Release: #H03-347

NASA Monitors Solar Flare Activity During Space Station Mission

All systems remain go for a return to Earth Monday for the seventh International Space Station crew, as recent solar activity levels are not anticipated to pose a concern. The solar flare activity should not affect Space Station operations or be harmful to the crew.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Ed Lu will undock from the orbiting complex Monday at 5:18 p.m. CST. They will fire the descent engines aboard their Russian Soyuz spacecraft at about 7:47 p.m. CST and land in Kazahkstan at approximately 8:41 p.m. CST.

Flight controllers in the U.S. and Russia have been closely monitoring the predicted effects of recent solar activity and anticipate no change to any of the landing plans. NASA flight control personnel have determined no additional radiation exposure to the Space Station crew is expected as a result of the solar activity.

"As part of our normal support of International Space Station operations, we continually monitor solar activity levels," said Mike Golightly, Manager of the Space Radiation Analysis Group at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. "To date the recent eruptions, or coronal mass ejections, have not resulted in any additional radiation exposure to the crew, nor is any increase expected from these events," he said.

Increased solar activity is forecast for the next few weeks, and the control team will continue to monitor the progress of events with support from the NOAA Space Environment Center, Golightly added. Lu and Malenchenko have been in space since April 26. For more information about NASA and human space flight on the Internet, visit:


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