Search Marshall


Text Size

Link to Marshall Newsroom home page

Fact sheet number: FS-2004-02-22-MSFC
Release date: 09/03

International Space Station Expedition Eight:
Science Operations Overview

Photo description: International Space Station in December, 2002
International Space Station, photographed by a crewmember on board Space Shuttle Endeavour on December 2, 2002 (NASA/JSC)

Expedition 8, the eighth science research mission on the International Space Station is scheduled to begin in October 2003, when the station's eighth crew arrives at the Station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. It is designated the 7S mission for the seventh Soyuz to visit the Space Station. A crew of two will replace Expedition 7 crewmembers, Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko, who are scheduled to return home in October on another Soyuz spacecraft (6S), currently docked at the Station. During Expedition 8, three Russian Progress cargo flights, called 13P, 14P and 15P for the 13th, 14th and 15th Progress vehicles, are scheduled to dock with the Station. The Progress re-supply ships will transport supplies to the Station and also may carry scientific equipment.

Most of the research complement for Expedition 8 will be carried out with scientific research facilities and samples already on board the Space Station. Additional experiments are being evaluated and prepared to take advantage of the limited cargo space on the Soyuz or Progress vehicles. The research agenda for the expedition remains flexible. A few perishable samples, such as urine samples and crystals, may be returned to Earth on the Soyuz, but most equipment and samples can remain on board the Station with minimal or no detrimental effects.

Expedition 8 crewmembers are Commander Michael Foale, who will also serve as Space Station Science Officer, and Alexander Kaleri, who will serve as Commander of the Soyuz and Space Station Flight Engineer. They will continue maintaining the Space Station and work with science teams on the ground to operate experiments and collect data.

European Space Agency astronaut Pedro Duque will fly with the Expedition 8 crew to the Station to conduct research for a 10-day period, and then return to Earth with the Expedition 7 crew.

The Expedition 8 crew is scheduled to devote more than 200 hours to research, while continuing to maintain the orbiting research complex. Station science also will be conducted by the ever-present additional "crewmembers" - the team of controllers and scientists on the ground who will continue to plan, monitor and operate experiments from control centers around the United States.

A new cadre of controllers for Expedition 8 will replace their Expedition 7 colleagues in the International Space Station's Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Controllers work in three shifts around the clock, seven days a week in NASA's Payload Operations Center -- the world's primary science command post for the Space Station. Its mission is to link Earthbound researchers around the world with their experiments and the crew aboard the Space Station.

Experiments using on-board resources

Many experiments from earlier Expeditions remain aboard the Space Station and will continue to benefit from the long-term research platform provided by the orbiting laboratory. These experiments include:

Space Station image of Hurricane Claudette over Texas, July 15, 2003
Space Station image of Hurricane Claudette over Texas, taken July 15, 2003

Crew Earth Observations (CEO) take advantage of the crew in space to observe and photograph natural and man-made changes on Earth.

Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM), an education experiment, allows students to program a digital camera aboard the Station to take pictures of a variety of geographical targets for study in the classroom.

Exploration Research (ESTER), an Earth observation experiment, records images revealing surface changes on Earth, with particular emphasis on short-lived events, such as hurricanes, plankton blooms and volcanic eruptions. This experiment uses on-board hand-held cameras and the Station's high-quality optical window. Digital images are sent to scientists on the ground.

Crew Interactions will identify and characterize interpersonal and cultural factors that may affect crew and ground support personnel performance during Space Station missions. This experiment has been conducted on several other Space Station expeditions and was performed during five joint NASA/Russian Mir Space Station missions. Crewmembers answer a questionnaire and send data back to Earth using the Station's Human Research Facility.

A metal sample is pockmarked with defects caused by bubbles trapped inside the sample as it was melted and solidified.
A metal sample is pockmarked with defects caused by bubbles trapped inside the sample as it was melted and solidified. The Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation will melt samples of a transparent modeling material inside a furnace on the International Space Station. (NASA/MSFC/ E.Given)

Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI), an experiment performed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox, will melt samples of transparent modeling material to study how bubbles can be trapped in metal or crystal samples during space processing. Eliminating these bubbles could contribute to the development of stronger materials. Several samples were processed inside the glovebox during Expedition 5 and Expedition 7. These samples can be processed several times, allowing investigators to study different phenomena.

Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) is a suitcase-sized experiment attached to the outside of the Space Station. It exposes hundreds of potential space construction materials to the environment. The samples will be returned to Earth for study during a later expedition. Investigators will use the resulting data to design stronger, more durable spacecraft.

Protein Crystal Growth Single-locker Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-STES) will continue to process crystals that began growing during Expedition 6. This experiment was also flown on Expeditions 2, 4 and 5. The facility provides a temperature-controlled environment for growing high-quality protein crystals of selected proteins in microgravity for later analyses on the ground to determine the proteins' molecular structure. Research may contribute to advances in medicine, agriculture and other fields.

Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) and Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS) sensors measure vibrations caused by crew, equipment and other sources that could disturb microgravity experiments.

Pre- and Post-flight Human Physiology

Many continuing experiments will use pre- and post-flight measurements of Expedition 8 crewmembers to study changes in the body caused by exposure to the microgravity environment.

Promoting Sensorimotor Response to Generalizability: A Countermeasure to Mitigate Locomotor Dysfunction After Long-duration Spaceflight (Mobility) studies changes in posture and gait after long-duration spaceflight.

Space Flight-Induced Reactivation of Latent Epstein-Barr Virus (Epstein-Barr) performs tests to study changes in human immune function.

Foot/Ground Reaction Forces During Space Flight (FOOT), an experiment to characterize the load on the lower body and muscle activity in crewmembers while working on the Station.

Biopsy allows researchers to take biopsies of their calf muscles before and after their stay on board the International Space Station. This will allow scientists to begin developing an in-space countermeasure exercise program aimed at keeping muscles at their peak performance during long missions in space.

Subregional Bone uses tests to study changes in bone density caused by long-duration spaceflight.

Experiments Requiring Transport by Soyuz or Progress Vehicles

Expedition Eight may include these experiments:

Cell Biotechnology Operations Support Systems (CBOSS) is used to grow three-dimensional tissue that retains the form and function of natural living tissue, a capability that could hold insights in studying human diseases, including various types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and AIDS. These types of cellular experiments were conducted during Expeditions 3 and 4. A critical step in performing these cell experiments involves mixing fluids. To improve future experiments, a fluid-mixing test will be conducted using the CBOSS fluid samples transported to the Station.

Two new fundamental space biology experiments may be transported to the Station, if space is available on a Progress. These experiments can operate in standalone mode on battery power, or if space is available, may be transported in the Advanced Separation (ADSEP) payload facility. Both of these experiments will contain dormant living organisms that will be activated at various times on-orbit. Most will be preserved before they are returned to Earth.

C. elegans Model Specimen in Space (CEMSS) uses a small cassette from the ADSEP to hold 1-2-millimeter-long round worms that are very common as model specimens for medical research. These worms have a short life span, which makes it possible for scientists to study multiple generations during a single space mission.

S. pneumoniae Expression of Genes in Space (SPEGIS) uses two ADSEP cassettes to contain common bacteria often found in healthy humans. Scientists will observe how this organism changes in space and use the information to develop more effective treatments for infections.

Education Payload Operations (EPO) includes three educational activities that will focus on demonstrating science, mathematics, technology, engineering or geography principles. Items such as tomato seeds and a blues harp will be used in demonstrations.

Experiments Requiring Upmass

Group Activation Packs — YEAST will evaluate the role of individual genes in the response of yeast to space flight conditions. The results of this research could help clarify how mammalian cells grow under microgravity conditions and determine if genes are altered.

Viscous Liquid Foam- Bulk Metallic Glass (Foam-BMG) will study the structure of viscous or thick liquid foam produced by processing bulk metallic glasses - a new family of glasses discovered by NASA-funded researchers in the 1990s. Investigators will compare samples produced on the Space Station to samples on the ground and will determine if microgravity made it easier to control the processing of the materials..

Fluid Merging Viscosity Measurement (FMVM) will study the viscosity or thickness of fluids - a property of fluids that causes them to resist flowing because of the internal friction created as the molecules move against each other. Understanding the viscosity of molten materials is important for everything from designing laboratory experiments to industrial production of materials.

Binary Colloidal Alloy Test - 3 (BCAT - 3) will study the long-term behavior of colloids in a microgravity environment, where the effects of sedimentation and convection are removed. Crewmembers will even out the samples, photograph the growth and formations of the colloids, and downlink the images for analysis.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) will allow scientists to study maturing technologies in the flights of self-directed, or autonomous satellites, as well as their rendezvous.

Renal Stone collects urine samples from the crew and tests a possible countermeasure for preventing kidney stone formation. This experiment can continue only if resupply hardware is able to be launched.

The Capillary Flow Experiment (CFE) will provide fundamental insight that can be applied by designers of low-gravity fluids systems. Experiments will produce conclusive data about how fluids move by capillary flow in long, complex geometries.

Zeolite Crystal Growth Furnace (ZCG) is a commercial furnace used to grow larger zeolite crystals in microgravity. The furnace remains onboard, and new samples may be delivered to the Station on a Russian Progress or Soyuz. These crystals have possible applications in chemical processes, electronic device manufacturing and other uses on Earth.

Destiny Laboratory Facilities

Several research facilities are in place aboard the Station to support Expedition 8 science investigations.

The Human Research Facility is designed to house and support a variety of life sciences experiments. It includes equipment for lung function tests, ultrasound to image the heart and many other types of computers and medical equipment.

The Microgravity Science Glovebox is the other major dedicated science facility inside Destiny. It has a large front window and built-in gloves to provide a sealed environment for conducting science and technology experiments. The Glovebox is particularly suited for handling hazardous materials when a crew is present. The facility's hardware is working and is available for Expedition 8 operations.

The Destiny lab also is outfitted with five EXPRESS Racks. EXPRESS, or Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the Space Station racks are standard payload racks designed to provide experiments with a variety of utilities such as power, data, cooling, fluids and gasses. The racks support payloads in a several disciplines, including biology, chemistry, physics, ecology and medicines. The racks stay in orbit, while experiments are changed as needed. EXPRESS Racks 2 and 3 are equipped with the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS) for countering minute vibrations from crew movement or operating equipment that could disturb delicate experiments.

On the Internet

For fact sheets, imagery and more on Expedition Eight experiments and payload operations, visit the Science Operations Web site at:

Steve Roy
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

Graphic for line

Get releases sent directly to you!
Betty Humphery

Graphic for line