Columbia’s crew began their second week in orbit today, continuing a pace of varied experiments in the shuttle cabin and payload bay that they will maintain for the next nine days in orbit.
Although Thanksgiving will be a working holiday aboard the shuttle, the astronauts do have canned turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie on their menus for dinner today, a meal that is scheduled for the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, Houston time.
On board today, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla will continue work in the glovebox facility on Columbia’s lower deck to study the characteristics of creating composite materials in space. Called PEP, experiment samples of composite materials are heated inside the glovebox and recorded as they resolidify. Also on the middeck, Ukrainian Payload Specialist Leonid Kadenyuk will continue studies of plant growth in weightlessness as part of the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiment. School students both in the U.S. and the Ukraine are also participating in comparative plant growth studies on Earth. Kadenyuk was honored with the wakeup music played to Columbia by Mission Control this afternoon, the Ukrainian National Anthem.
Commander Kevin Kregel performed a small engine firing Wednesday evening to adjust Columbia’s orbit, raising it by about 5 miles to an orbit with a high point of 175 miles and a low point of 173 miles. The adjustment was made to prepare for a three-day experiment sample run in the remotely operated Advanced Automated Directional Solidification Furnace in the cargo bay. The furnace will study the weightless processing of metal alloys used to make infrared detectors and lasers.
Kregel and Mission Specialists Winston Scott and Tokao Doi will take time out from their duties to be interviewed by CNN at 4:36 a.m. CST Thursday. Columbia remains in excellent condition with no mechanical problems.
The crew will go to sleep at 7:46 a.m. Thursday. The next mission status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 27.
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