Flight controllers will continue to review information and evaluate whether further crew action is required to remove an apparent blockage in Columbia’s waste water dump line, after efforts today to bypass a clogged filter, did not resolve the problem.
Commander Rick Searfoss and Pilot Scott Altman bypassed the clogged filter, routing a hose through a spare filter and venting waste water overboard. Flight controllers initially saw a good flow rate, which then became more sporadic indicating a blockage likely still exists. Adequate waste water stowage is available on board Columbia through its planned landing on Sunday without further action by the crew. However, flight controllers may ask the crew to dump some water overboard or into contingency waste containers (CWC’s) tomorrow to keep the waste tank level as low as possible. The CWC’s provide additional water stowage capacity in the event weather keeps Columbia from landing on Sunday.
The Mission Management Team decided today not to extend the Neurolab mission, after the science community indicated an additional day of science would not be necessary. Coupled with weather conditions, which are expected to deteriorate in the early part of next week, the decision was made to land on Sunday as originally scheduled. Landing currently is set for 11:09 a.m. CDT on Sunday, May 3.
Today, Columbia’s science crew -- Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and Dave Williams and Payload Specialists Jay Buckey and Jim Pawelczyk – completed the second and final inflight dissections of the adult male rats on board to support studies on how the adult nervous system adapts to a changing environment.
During conversations today with science managers, the STS-90 crew said that as a group, the youngest group of rats on board continue to be improve for the most part. One additional neonate died late yesterday, bringing to 52 the total number of unexpected neonate deaths. Of the remaining 38 rats in the youngest age group most are stable and eating well with a few being tended to by Columbia’s astronauts.
One of the rats in the Animal Enclosure Module which lost the hypderdrive unit attached to its head, had been scheduled to be euthanised as part of scientific protocols designed to keep the animal from suffering. However, Linnehan reported that the animal appeared very healthy, did not appear to be suffering in any way, and Linnehan therefore elected to let the animal live.
Before going to sleep tonight, Mission Specialist Kay Hire, along with Buckey and Pawelczyk will don specialized gear designed to monitor their breathing, muscle activity, and eye motion as they sleep. Investigators believe that altered breathing patterns while on orbit may affect the astronauts’ ability to sleep.
Columbia remains in a 153 x 133 nautical mile orbit, circling the Earth every 90 minutes.
The next STS-90 status report will be issued about 6 a.m. Friday or as events warrant.
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