Allard Beutel/Melissa Mathews
Johnson Space Center, Houston
July 1, 2005
International Space Station Status Report: SS05-034
The residents of the International Space Station were informed today they may have visitors arriving on the Space Shuttle Discovery in two weeks. NASA announced a July 13 launch date for the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight and mission to the Station. Discovery will dock with the Station on July 15.
The Space Station's Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer John Phillips spent time this week preparing for the first joint Shuttle and Station mission since Endeavour departed in December 2002. In preparation for docking, Phillips continued installation of a camera used to align the Shuttle and Station during the link up. A circuit breaker tripped during an installation attempt last Friday. Engineers determined a power supply was at fault. Once the power supply was replaced, Phillips completed the installation and checkout procedure Tuesday.
Krikalev and Phillips also practiced taking photographs from windows in the Zvezda living quarters module in preparation for Discovery's arrival. They will use two digital cameras with high-powered lenses to take images of the thermal tiles on the orbiter during its approach. The pictures will be sent to Mission Control to help engineers assess the health of Discovery's heat shield.
The crew also operated the Station's robotic arm, Canadarm2, as a checkout before Discovery arrives. The activity also served as training for Krikalev and Phillips. The arm was commanded to walk off the Destiny lab's operating base to the Mobile Base System (MBS) on the truss Wednesday, and then back again Thursday. A similar procedure will be done during the Shuttle mission.
The arm will be positioned on Destiny's base to observe the arrival of Discovery, for installation of the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and to support three spacewalks by the Shuttle crew. From the MBS operating position, cameras on the arm will be used for situational awareness during potential protective tile inspections the day after docking.
Phillips prepared for Discovery's arrival by consolidating equipment to make room for the nine-person joint crew and packing equipment for return to Earth. Krikalev installed and tested equipment for another visiting vehicle. When the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) arrives next year, it will use Proximity Communications Equipment (space-to-space communications) to rendezvous and dock to the Station's Russian segment. The ATV has the capability to bring more than eight tons of equipment and supplies to the crew.
The Russian Progress spacecraft docked to the Station was used Wednesday to raise the lab's altitude. The vehicle's engines burned for five minutes, 18 seconds to raise the Station's orbit to 221.5 by 215.9 statute miles. The boost began the adjustments needed for rendezvous with Discovery. Another burn is scheduled for July 6 at 10:58 a.m. EDT to enhance the rendezvous opportunities.
The Progress also was used to pressurize the Station's cabin atmosphere with additional oxygen. On Tuesday and Friday, eleven pounds of oxygen were added to the atmosphere. It's necessary as the Elektron oxygen generation system is inoperable. Other supplies aboard the Station could support the crew for the rest of this year. Additional supplies and a replacement liquids unit, the heart of the Elektron, are scheduled to arrive later this year.
Phillips, serving as NASA's Station Science Officer, conducted a physiological experiment Wednesday. Phillips wore a special pair of Lycra cycling tights equipped with sensors to study his movements. The sensors gather data to help researchers better understand how arms and legs are used in space. This information could lead to enhanced countermeasures to help astronauts better maintain bone density and muscle mass during long spaceflights.
He also wrote in a journal and filled out a questionnaire for the Journals experiment. Researchers hope to improve equipment and procedures to help astronauts cope with the isolation encountered during long duration spaceflights.
Monday, Phillips performed a training procedure and used a voice operated computer system for the first time on Station. The Clarissa system was developed at NASA's Ames Research Center in an effort to ease astronaut workload. Clarissa is hands-free and responds to astronauts' voice commands, reading procedure steps out loud as they work, helping keep track of which steps have been completed, and supporting flexible voice-activated alarms and timers.
Information about the crew's activities aboard the Station, future launch dates and sighting opportunities is available on the Web at: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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