With no significant issues affecting the on-orbit operation of the International Space Station, managers meeting in Moscow today selected the period from July 8-14 for launch of the Zvezda service module atop a Russian Proton launch vehicle. The ISS Partners formally will be presented the dates for final approval within the next several weeks, in accordance with the ISS Control Board policy.
Battery management aboard the Station's Zarya module continues to occupy the majority of time of flight controllers in Houston and Moscow, with Battery 5 now showing symptoms of pressure irregularities similar to those previously seen on Battery 1. Controllers are evaluating the data to assess the health of the battery, but at present, it remains connected to the electrical bus and is fully functional. Only Battery 2 is failed and will be replaced on a Shuttle visit scheduled for April. The ISS is capable of operating fully on as few as three of six batteries and on less than three by managing electrical usage on board.
Engineers continue to assess the relative position of a small crane mounted outside Zarya. Astronauts on the STS-96 mission installed the crane - called the Orbital Replacement Unit Transfer Device (OTD). It has been determined that, although a bit loose, the device is secure in its interface socket and cannot damage any components of the ISS. Evaluations are continuing into whether any tasks associated with the crane need to be added to the scheduled spacewalk on the next visit of a shuttle to the ISS.
A retest of the Kurs automatic docking system aboard Zarya is scheduled for late next week to determine whether electromagnetic interference is the cause of its self-test failure last month. The Kurs system is used to dock the ISS with the Zvezda service module.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, station managers wrapped up meetings to assess the readiness for flight of Zvezda, which will provide the ISS with command and control functions, as well as the early living quarters and life support for astronauts. The Joint Program Review and General Designer’s Review determined the module is in excellent shape and ready for launch on a Proton outfitted with modified second and third stage engines to improve reliability.
The International Space Station is in an orbit of 242 by 227 statute miles. Since the launch of Zarya in 1998, the ISS has completed more than 7,000 orbits. Space Station viewing opportunities worldwide are available on the Internet at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/
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