The International Space Station has become home to its new residents – the Expedition Two crew of Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms – who are settling in for a four-month stay after assuming command of the complex 10 days ago.
Minor issues being worked by the crew and flight control teams in Houston and Moscow are not impacting the operation and health of the complex, but are occupying time of engineers in preparing troubleshooting procedures for items on board.
The activation of the station’s Ku-Band antenna is on standby until procedures are put in place for a possible software patch to account for an apparent pointing error with the dish-shaped antenna. The Ku Band system is used to transmit television, voice and high-speed data to the ground. Normal communication is being managed through the S-Band audio system. Any required TV images, in the meantime, can be accommodated through the use of the laptop computer-based digital video system. Until that problem is corrected, transmission of experiment data from the Human Research Facility experiment rack in the Destiny laboratory is on hold.
A Destiny condensate venting system is not working and while troubleshooting continues, the thermal loop temperatures have been increased so that no water currently is being condensed. As a point of verification, a contingency water container has proven to be useful in serving as a storage location for condensate, if required.
In and around maintenance tasks and routine housekeeping chores, the crew has been busy setting up additional equipment and conducting status checks on some of the payloads. A new bicycle exercise machine called CEVIS (for Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation System) was setup this week, while engineers assess the work needed to repair the station’s treadmill, which is showing wear in many of the slats that provide support to the unit designed to allow exercise with little or no vibration that could impact sensitive experiment work.
The Progress supply craft docked to the Zvezda module delivered 89 kilograms of oxidizer to the service module’s storage tanks via remote commanding from the ground. The Progress will be undocked from the station in mid-April in preparation for the arrival of the next shuttle flight carrying the station’s Canadian-built robot arm and another Italian Space Agency supplied logistics module called Raffaello.
The Progress undocking provides an open port for the relocation of the Soyuz capsule around April 16-18 which will provide clearance for the placement of Raffaello during the shuttle mission, which launches April 19.
Later this week the Expedition Two crew is scheduled to perform some maintenance work in an attempt to get the carbon-dioxide removal assembly in Destiny working. The plan calls for a test of a cable to ensure it is working before changing the pump with a spare brought up on the most recent shuttle flight. As of now, with only three people onboard, carbon dioxide removal from the cabin air is adequately conducted by Zvezda’s Vozdukh system.
The crew plans to take part in its first interview opportunity on Friday with reporters from CBS and the Associated Press at 10 a.m. CST Friday. The interview will be broadcast on NASA TV, but will be audio only.
Meanwhile down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crew of shuttle mission STS-100 is conducting its traditional countdown dress rehearsal in preparation for launch to the ISS April 19. The international crew consists of Commander Kent Rominger, Pilot Jeff Ashby, Flight Engineer John Phillips, Mission Specialist Scott Parazynski, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, European astronaut Umberto Guidoni and Russian Aviation and Space Agency cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov.
The International Space Station continues to orbit the Earth in good shape at an altitude of 238 statute miles (384 km). The next ISS Status Report will be issued April 4.
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