Johnson Space Center, Houston
April 14, 2006
International Space Station Status Report: SS06-017
The 13th crew of the International Space Station is wrapping up its first week flying solo in its new orbiting home. The crew's work has included station maintenance, medical and other experiments and standard daily exercise.
Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams said farewell to their predecessors last Saturday. The Expedition 12 crew and a visiting Brazilian astronaut undocked that afternoon and landed in Kazakhstan at 7:48 p.m. EDT.
Vinogradov and Williams had light duty Sunday and Monday, a break after completing eight days of extensive handover activities with their counterparts.
Maintenance work included a three-and-one-half hour scheduled replacement of station toilet components on Tuesday. Both crew members also took time to talk with two Russian news organizations and participants at a Russian school children's aerospace festival.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the crew from the Kremlin. Putin's call came on the 45th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, a landmark event commemorated by the Russian holiday Cosmonautics Day. That date, April 12, was also the 25th anniversary of the first NASA space shuttle launch in 1981.
Putin told the crew it was a pleasure to see representatives of the United States and Russia working together on the same spacecraft. During the light-hearted exchange, Vinogradov invited Putin to visit the space station.
The crew continued loading the station's Progress cargo craft with trash and conducted physical evaluations and experiments Thursday. Vinogradov and Williams practiced an emergency evacuation drill Friday. Throughout the week, they had time to familiarize themselves with their new home.
Vinogradov and Williams will remain in orbit for six months. During that time, they plan to welcome two space shuttles and perform two spacewalks. Shuttle Discovery's STS-121 mission, targeting a launch no earlier than July 1, will bring European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter aboard the station.
Reiter will increase the station crew size to three for the first time since May 2003 when the crew size was reduced to conserve station supplies following the Columbia accident.
Back on Earth for almost a week, Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev remain in Star City, Russia, near Moscow. They continue to undergo debriefing and rehabilitation after 190 days in space. With them is Marcos Pontes, Brazil's first astronaut, who launched with Expedition 13. He returned to Earth with the Expedition 12 crew after spending about eight days on the station conducting experiments.
Tentative plans call for McArthur to return to Houston later this month. The next status report will be issued Friday, April 21, or earlier if events warrant.
Information on the crew's activities aboard the space station, future launch dates, and station sighting opportunities are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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