3 p.m. CST Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston
International Space Station Status Report #06-49
The International Space Station crewmembers spent this week getting ready for an upcoming spacewalk, performing scientific research and voting in the elections back on Earth.
Throughout the week, the crew prepared the Pirs docking compartment for the Nov. 22 spacewalk by Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin. They gathered tools and equipment they will use on the nearly six-hour spacewalk.
Next week, they will prepare the Russian Orlan spacesuits they will wear for the excursion. During the spacewalk, they will relocate a communications antenna, install new experiment hardware and photograph a Kurs rendezvous system antenna on the Progress supply ship that docked to the Zvezda module’s aft docking port last month. Tyurin will also conduct a Russian commercial demonstration by hitting a golf ball teed up on the exterior of Pirs.
A top priority for Flight Engineer Thomas Reiter this week was packing material destined to return to Earth on the Space Shuttle Discovery in December. Lopez-Alegria completed a routine checkout of the Mobile Servicing System in support of that shuttle assembly flight.
On mission STS-116, targeted to launch Dec. 7, the shuttle crew will deliver another component of the station’s truss structure and perform spacewalks to rewire the station's electrical system. The shuttle crew includes astronaut Suni Williams, who will relieve Reiter on board. Reiter will have spent six months on the complex.
Lopez-Alegria, the NASA ISS Science Officer for Expedition 14, collected his third set of blood and urine samples for the Nutritional Status Assessment, or Nutrition experiment. This experiment measures physiological indicators of the changes in the human body during spaceflight.
The samples are stored in the Minus-Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI). Once returned to Earth the blood and urine samples will be analyzed to understand a wide variety of systems, including markers of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, vitamin and mineral status and hormonal changes and how they relate to stress, bone and muscle metabolism.
The findings are expected to give researchers a better understanding of what happens to crewmembers in space and when it happens during a mission. It also will help to define nutritional requirements and develop food systems for future missions to the moon and Mars.
Working hundreds of miles away from home didn’t stop Lopez-Alegria from participating in this week’s general election. Texas law permits residents who happen to be on orbit on Election Day to cast a ballot from space -- it was first done by David Wolf from the Mir space station in 1997. Lopez-Alegria made his choices on an encrypted computer ballot that was downlinked to Mission Control and forwarded to the county clerk’s office in Houston for tabulation.
The next station status report will be issued Nov. 17, or earlier if events warrant. For more about the crew's activities and station sighting opportunities: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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