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For release: 03-10-03
Science Ops status report #: 03-036

International Space Station crew demonstrates benefits of humans in space with hands-on repairs and life science experiments

Photo description: Bowersox completes experiments on the Space Station.

International Space Station Commander Ken Bowersox is checking out how microgravity is affecting muscles and bones in his hips, legs, and ankles. He's serving as the test subject for a human life sciences experiment. Bowersox works closely with the team at NASA's Payload Operations Center at the Marshall Center — the command post for all science activities on the Station. Read more about other science activities on the Space Station.

Photo: Bowersox completes experiments on the Space Station. (NASA/JSC)


Whether it’s by being repairmen or being experiments themselves, the Expedition Six crew continues to demonstrate the benefits of having humans in space.  The three Expedition Six crewmembers worked with ground controllers in the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. to conduct some hardware troubleshooting.  They also continued to carry out their research mission on the Space Station. 

This week, the Expedition Six crew marked their 100th day in space, conducting research on the Station for 14 weeks.  For many of the experiments, they are serving as test subjects, studying how their bodies adapt to living in space.  All three crewmembers conducted another session on the Pulmonary Function in Flight experiment also known as PuFF.  The session included five lung function tests.  Among other things, the experiment measures the changes in evenness of gas exchange in the lungs since unevenness of gas exchange is a hallmark of almost every pulmonary disease.  By better understanding the effects of gravity or lack of gravity on the human pulmonary system, clinical medicine on Earth may benefit.  The PuFF experiment will also help prepare crews for longer missions in space.

Commander Ken Bowersox also served as the test subject for another human life sciences experiment that looks at how living in a microgravity environment causes stress on the bones and muscles in the lower extremities.   Last week, Bowersox worked with the control team on the ground to troubleshoot this experiment called Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during Space Flight (FOOT).   Bowersox recreated the previously encountered data recording problem, and then learned how to fix it by rebooting the data acquisition system.  Information learned from this troubleshooting will help avoid the data recording problem during future experiment sessions.

International Space Station Science Officer Don Pettit also took a repairman’s role in troubleshooting problems with the Microgravity Science Glovebox.  The glovebox is a Space Station facility that has a sealed work area for safely holding fluids and other materials while the crew does hands-on experiments using gloves attached to the front of the facility.

The glovebox has been inactive since November when power was lost from an internal Power Distribution and Conversion box.  The power box was returned to the ground, repaired, returned to orbit, and re-installed successfully.  With that box repaired, power can now be re-applied to the Facility to continue troubleshooting the initial problem, which occurred in November.

The first step in the latest round of troubleshooting began with Pettit turning the

glovebox on. Then ground-based engineers observed the facility in standby mode for four hours.  During that time, the circuit breaker problem did not reoccur, allowing the troubleshooting to continue to the next step.  Last week, Pettit began the task of rotating the glovebox forward to access a series of electronic cable hook ups.  Following procedures developed by the glovebox team on the ground, he disconnected cables from an electronics box. The Facility was successfully powered in this minimum configuration eliminating additional portions of the circuitry as the source of the problem.  Troubleshooting is scheduled to continue this week as Pettit and the glovebox team narrow down the probable cause of the breaker trips.

Other routine activities continued including crystal growth experiments and downloading radiation monitoring data.  Crew Earth Observations continue this week with opportunities to photograph tropical cyclone Japhet off the coast of southern Mozambique. All science activities are planned and executed by NASA’s payload operations team at the Marshall Center. Planners here continue to choreograph activities for the rest of Expedition Six and Expedition Seven, scheduled to start with the arrival of a Soyuz spacecraft this spring.

For more information:
New flag graphicStatus report
New flag graphicPhoto
Expedition Six experiment fact sheets
Space Research Web site
More Marshall news


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