After a final orbit-raising engine firing was successfully conducted today, the International Space Station's Zarya module reached an orbit in which it will await the arrival of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, planned to launch Dec. 3 and rendezvous with Zarya on Dec. 6.
Flight controllers in Moscow commanded a 1-minute, 56-second long firing of one of Zarya's two large engines today to raise the spacecraft to an orbit of 251 by 240 statute miles. The engine firing was the fifth such firing performed since Zarya's launch, all using the same engine, to raise the module's orbit to the proper altitude for a capture by Endeavour. Zarya's altitude is expected to gradually decrease to an almost circular orbit of roughly 242 statute miles by the time Endeavour arrives.
Ground controllers also continued checks of the module, which is in excellent condition with no systems problems of significance for any planned station operations. Tomorrow, flight controllers plan to continue systems checks of the spacecraft with tests of computers, or multiplexer-demultiplexers, on the module that will be used with an early communications system to be installed by Endeavour's crew in Unity that will transmit data from the Zarya systems to the ground as a backup to the Russian communications system.
During times when Zarya is not actively performing systems checks or other operations, it is put into a slow spin to conserve fuel and maintain moderate temperatures on the spacecraft. Zarya is circling Earth once every 92 minutes.
The next International Space Station status report will be issued Wednesday morning, or as developments warrant.
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