Ahead of schedule in their work and with a growing record of success, the astronauts and cosmonauts of Discovery and the International Space Station will spend today finalizing the swap of crew members aboard the orbiting science complex and continuing to unload supplies.
Discovery’s crew was awakened this evening for the seventh day of the mission with the song “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty, a favorite of astronaut Susan Helms who today will take up official residence on the station as a member of the outpost’s second crew. She will trade places with first expedition Commander Bill Shepherd, who is completing four and a half months aboard the complex. Though the crew transfer is complete tonight, the official end of the Expedition One increment occurs on Saturday when Discovery departs the ISS.
Usachev, Helms and Jim Voss are beginning a four-month stay in space. Shepherd, Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev and Pilot Yuri Gidzenko have brought the station to life as members of the inaugural crew, launched Oct. 31, 2000, aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan. Both the first and second station crews will have several hours set aside today to compare notes and hand over duties.
The crews are ahead of schedule in unloading the Leonardo logistics module, with all seven systems racks – equipment that includes electronics, communications gear, experiments and medical facilities – already moved to the station’s Destiny Laboratory. Included among those racks is the first major piece of station science equipment, called the Human Research Facility, which will study the effects of weightlessness on the human body. They will continue unloading supplies from the Italian Space Agency-developed cargo carrier today.
Helms, a Portland, Oregon, native, Usachev, Voss and Discovery Commander Jim Wetherbee will take a brief break from their work just after midnight for an interview with three Portland-area television stations.
Discovery and the International Space Station remain in excellent condition, orbiting Earth once every 92 minutes. The next Mission Control Center status report will be issued Wednesday morning.
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