Time To Tidy Up
The International Space
Station Expedition 11 crew was back to work last week, conducting
experiments, and more importantly, preparing for company. It's more
than just a quick visit and a brief chat, they've got to make some
room in case the visitors need to stay.
Assuming the Shuttle launches on schedule Wednesday, the seven
member crew should be docking with the ISS on the 16th.
Commander Sergei Krikalev and NASA Science Officer John Phillips
spent much of their time last week gathering and packing items on
board to be returned in the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics
Module (MPLM) during Discovery's visit to the Station.
The MPLM will weigh 18,166 pounds when it is launched aboard
Discovery and 19,745 pounds when it returns, after supplies for the
Station have been unloaded and unneeded gear loaded. The crew also
made room for additional stowage in the Quest Airlock to be
available during the docked operations.
Three spacewalks are scheduled during the mission using U.S.
spacesuits. To maximize the efficiency of the batteries, Phillips
conducted a series of charging and discharging cycles of the
spacesuit batteries this week.
The Space Station was raised nearly 4 miles on Tuesday to better
position the complex for the Space Shuttle rendezvous. Engines on
the docked Progress vehicle were fired for just over seven minutes,
increasing the amount of days the Shuttle can launch and rendezvous
on the third day of the mission.
Station television cameras captured video as it passed over then
Tropical Storm Dennis on Wednesday. The cameras captured views of
the storm as the Station passed over the Caribbean, south of Haiti.
Throughout the week, the crew had numerous other Earth observation
and photo opportunities including sightings of Mount Kilimanjaro in
Kenya, the Nile River Delta in Egypt, and Hong Kong.
Krikalev repressurized the Station atmosphere using oxygen from
the newly arrived Progress vehicle. He also transferred water from
tanks on the Progress to tanks in the Service Module.
Phillips and Krikalev conducted the second of three sessions
with the Renal Stone experiment. The experiment investigates
whether potassium citrate can be used as a countermeasure to
minimize the risk of kidney stone formation in space.
The preparations do have a serious nature. If the shuttle is
damaged during launch, and unable to return, the ISS will be used
as a space lifeboat. The next shuttle crew would then have the
worrisome task of going on a rescue mission.