The first permanent residents of the International Space Station (ISS) pressed ahead today, installing key life support systems and additional communications equipment in their first full day aboard the orbiting outpost.
Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev successfully installed the Russian Vozdukh system in the Zvezda living quarters of the ISS today. The Vozdukh system is a regenerative air-scrubbing unit that removes carbon dioxide and essentially vents it overboard from the station. It will take the place of disposable lithium hydroxide canisters initially being used by the crew to absorb carbon dioxide. The Elektron system, a system that uses water to produce oxygen for the crew to breathe, is scheduled to be installed on Monday. It will be activated later. The crew is now using oxygen-generating canisters to replenish the onboard atmosphere.
Shepherd spent part of the day hooking up cables and laptop computers associated with the Station’s Early Communications System, which when activated in the Zvezda living quarters enabled the Expedition crew to have extended conversations with flight controllers through U.S. satellites. The system, which is working well, also lets the crew members send and receive electronic mail files, images and video.
Krikalev worked through the day to install a central computer in Zvezda which will be used for a large share of commanding Russian module functions in this early phase of ISS assembly. Although he encountered some difficulty with the hookup of electrical cables, the computer was expected to be activated soon.
Krikalev, who is the first person to visit the ISS twice, joined Gidzenko to try to troubleshoot a problem with one of Zvezda’s eight batteries, which has failed to charge properly since it was installed by a visiting Space Shuttle crew in September. Krikalev reported that one of the pins on the connector for one of the battery’s electrical components appeared to be bent or broken. Russian flight controllers said they would conduct further analysis of the battery before any additional troubleshooting would be conducted. Zvezda’s six operating batteries are producing more than enough power for Station systems.
The crew plans to work on Saturday and take a day off on Sunday. The normal work schedule for Expedition crews will call for five-day work weeks with weekends free.
Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev began their sleep period aboard the ISS at about 2 p.m. Central time and will be awakened at about 10 p.m. tonight. The ISS is orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 237 statute miles with its systems in good shape.
The next Expedition One status report will be issued on Saturday near the end of the crew work day.
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