The latest crewmembers to live and work aboard the International Space Station took a brief break early this week following handover from their departing colleagues, then began in earnest to acclimate themselves to their new home and orbiting laboratory.
Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov activated one experiment, the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle Schools (EarthKAM), participated in several ongoing medical studies related to lengthy stays in microgravity and performed routine maintenance tasks. Their six-month mission will include two spacewalks and preparations for the resumption of Space Shuttle flights, and end with a scheduled return to Earth on April 25, 2005.
Early in the week, the pair received word from Mission Control that the Elektron oxygen generation system's telemetry readings were normal and that the device had been approved for around-the-clock operation. Elektron had been used only when the crew was awake until Sharipov and departing Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka were able to install several replacement parts during joint crew operations.
The return to normal operations came after engineers in Russia used the new hardware to verify that the Elekton was successfully separating oxygen and hydrogen atoms from recycled water after the repairs, and Mission Management Team members reviewed and validated the recommendation on Monday. A software adjustment was uplinked by Russian flight controllers on Tuesday to implement the decision.
Later in the week, Chiao and Sharipov received on-board training in emergency departure procedures and equipment, as well as window inspection techniques. These training sessions were in addition to an hour a day reserved for general familiarization with Space Station systems and procedures; something afforded each new crew as it settles in.
Chiao took time Wednesday for his first solo interviews aboard the Station, answering questions about his plans to vote by secure electronic mail in upcoming local, state and national elections. He spoke with reporters from ABC and CNN.
Meanwhile, Expedition 9 Science Officer and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke, Padalka and Russian Space Forces Test Cosmonaut Yuri Shargin returned to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, where they began rehabilitation and debriefings. Padalka and Fincke will remain in Star City for several weeks of post-flight debriefings and medical exams before returning to Houston in mid-November.
Information on the crew's activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/
Details on Station science operations can be found on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at: http://scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/
The next ISS status report will be issued on Friday, Nov. 5, or earlier if events warrant.
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