September 23, 2005
International Space Station Status Report: SS05-045
NASA and Russian flight controllers outside Moscow are in control of the International Space Station, after mission control in Houston was evacuated ahead of Hurricane Rita. Aboard the station, Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer John Phillips have a key piece of life support equipment up and running, just in time for the next space station crew.
The crew activated the repaired Elektron oxygen generator this week. The Elektron, which extracts oxygen from water, was put into service early Monday. Krikalev and Phillips repaired the Elektron with a new liquids unit that was brought up on a recent Progress spacecraft. Krikalev and Phillips also performed maintenance on the on-board treadmill, a key piece of exercise equipment to help keep astronauts' bones and muscles strong during long stays in zero-gravity. They worked on an experiment designed to test the effects of certain compounds on kidney stones, and they collected water samples to be analyzed once they return to Earth.
The Expedition 11 crew is nearing the end of its six-month stay on the station, and crew members spent part of the week packing up their return spacecraft, the same Russian Soyuz that brought them to the station in April. They also tested out their shock-absorbing seats for their landing, scheduled for October 10, U.S. time.
With Hurricane Rita strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico and targeting the Texas shoreline, the space station program activated a well-rehearsed plan to allow flight controllers based at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, to evacuate. They transitioned full control of the station to Moscow, where Russian mission control and a permanently staffed cadre of NASA flight controllers, known as the Houston Support Group, are keeping the station operating smoothly. Other agency resources were tapped to ensure the station's safe flight. For example, at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., two flight controllers arrived from Houston to maintain communications with the station through Goddard's Network Integrated Communications flight control room.
The next space station crew, Expedition 12's Bill McArthur and Valery Tokarev, are beginning their journey toward launch. They traveled this week from the Russian training facility at Star City to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where they'll launch to the station Sept. 30 aboard a Soyuz. During their station stay, McArthur and Tokarev will mark five years of continuous human presence in orbit and pursue the station's mission of learning how to live and work for long periods in space.
For information about the space station on the Internet, visit:
For information on NASA's preparations for Hurricane Rita on the Internet, visit:
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