The Expedition One crew today activated the last of its critical life support systems aboard the International Space Station and looked ahead to the launch of a resupply vehicle next week to the new outpost.
ISS Commander Bill Shepherd, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev reported that the Elektron oxygen-generation system was turned on late Wednesday night at the start of their workday. The Elektron uses the process of electrolysis to produce oxygen for the crew, while venting hydrogen overboard. Up to now, per the preflight plan, Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev have been burning solid fuel oxygen-producing canisters to maintain the proper level of oxygen in the ISS modules. The Elektron may be turned off from time to time to conserve electricity on board the ISS if the Station has to be maneuvered into an orientation, which reduces the electrical charge to Station systems through the solar arrays on the Zvezda and Zarya modules.
Once the large U.S. photovoltaic solar arrays are installed next month on the STS-97 mission, the Elektron can run continuously.
In addition to the Elektron, other Station life support systems, including a carbon dioxide removal system and an air conditioner are performing normally.
Russian flight controllers continue to prepare for the launch of the second Progress resupply vehicle next week from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress is loaded with supplies and spare parts for the Expedition One crew. Launch is set for November 15 at 7:32 p.m. CST (1:32 GMT November 16). Docking to the Zarya module’s nadir port is scheduled for November 17 at 9:07 p.m. CST (3:07 GMT November 18).
To prepare for the arrival of the Progress, the crew will shift its sleep period about two hours later starting this weekend, typically going to bed at about 3:30 p.m. CST for 8 ½ hours of rest. The crew will be given three days off Saturday, Sunday and Monday to relax following a busy period of activity since launch on October 31.
Because of an increase in solar flare activity, which is expected to continue for the next 48 hours, the crew was asked to set up a radiation detection monitor in the Zvezda living quarters. The monitor would signal a tone if radiation levels reach higher than expected levels.
Flight surgeons say the increased potential for higher radiation poses no danger or health risk to the crew, but as a precautionary measure, flight controllers asked Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev to sleep in the aft portion of Zvezda for the next two nights near the so-called transfer compartment, where there is increased shielding.
The ISS continues to operate in excellent shape at an altitude of 237 statute miles. Mission commentary on NASA Television will resume at 11 p.m. Central time tonight with the next Expedition One status report planned for Friday afternoon or sooner if developments warrant.
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