As the end of its mission approaches, the Expedition 9 crew aboard the International Space Station prepared for the trip home by wrapping up science experiments and continuing maintenance operations of the vehicle. After spending six months onboard, the crew will greet its first visitors one week from today.
Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke suited up in their entry spacesuits and slid into the ISS Soyuz 8 (TMA-4) spacecraft docked to the Station to check for a good fit. Meanwhile, Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao, Expedition 10 Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov and Russian Space Forces Test Cosmonaut Yuri Shargin also conducted an inspection and fit check of their ISS Soyuz 9 (TMA-5) spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The trio is scheduled to launch from Baikonur at 10:06 p.m. CDT Oct. 13. Their Soyuz will dock with the Station at 11:24 p.m. CDT Oct. 15. Padalka, Fincke and Shargin will land in Kazakhstan at 7:32 p.m. CDT Oct. 23.
In preparation for the next crew’s arrival, Fincke inspected the U.S. carbon dioxide removal system so that it can be activated in addition to the Russian system. During the docked mission it will remove the additional carbon dioxide with more people onboard. He also worked with the flight control team to discuss improvements to procedures for future routine maintenance work on the system.
Fincke also continued work on the U.S. spacesuits to restore cooling operations in two of the three suits. Fincke recently restored cooling in one of the suits and started the same procedures on the other by replacing a gas trap and pump inlet filter in the internal cooling system this week. He will work with Chiao during the docked mission to perform a procedure to replace a rotor pump, which is what ultimately restored cooling in the first suit. Next week, the third, fully operational, suit will be hooked up and used to flush water lines in the Quest Airlock in advance of the final repair work.
In other activities, Fincke installed a new cycle ergometer control panel that arrived on the last Progress spacecraft and collected potable water samples for in-flight analysis. They also completed a final bone scan using ultrasound equipment. The experiment, called Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity, simulates and tests procedures for telemedicine situations similar to those in rural areas on Earth. The information can also be used to analyze the changes in bone structure as a result of lengthy stays in microgravity.
The crew also continued photographing observations of interesting geologic, environmental and other sites on Earth. The images are periodically transmitted to the ground and may be viewed online at:
For information on the crew's activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as a list of opportunities to see the Station from anywhere on the Earth, visit: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/
Details on science operations provided by the Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., visit:
The next ISS status report will be issued following the Soyuz launch on Wednesday, Oct. 13, or earlier if events warrant.
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