Flight controllers in Houston and Moscow are monitoring no problems aboard the International Space Station as it circles the Earth every 92 minutes.
Routine battery cycling is the norm as all systems are behaving normally aboard the revitalized complex following the recent visit by Atlantis and the STS-101 crew.
This week the manual docking system aboard the Station was tested and, despite what’s believed to be a ground problem, the test was completed. Another test will be conducted closer to the arrival of the Zvezda service module, scheduled for launch to the ISS in mid-July. The TORU system, as it’s called, would only be used in the event that the automatic docking of the ISS to the Zvezda was not successful. This weeks test was designed to verify the angular rate sensors were reading within specification and that the outside television system was working properly.
The automatic docking system, Kurs, is planned to be tested once again next week in preparation for Zvezda’s arrival.
Week after next, Russian flight controllers will send commands to Zarya’s computer to initiate a propellant transfer onboard to ready it for firing of Zarya’s attitude control jets that will perform the final rendezvous with Zvezda once it is within close proximity of the Station. Previously, dry-run tests were conducted to ensure the system was working properly to perform the actual propellant transfer.
Three of ten smoke detectors inside Zarya remain disconnected after periodically giving false readings at random times. With the other seven detectors working fine, controllers know there is no problem on board and the detectors were powered off to prevent further erroneous messages being sent to the ground. If there were any real smoke on board, the other seven detectors would detect it and alert the ground.
Meanwhile at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a Proton launch earlier this week puts the ISS Program one step closer to the launch of the Zvezda service module. This launch was the first of a Proton using modified, or Phase 2, second and third stage engines like those that will lift the service module into space. A second modified Proton launch is scheduled for late this month or early next prior to the planned launch of Zvezda between July 10-12. Zvezda’s Proton arrived at Baikonur by railcar late last week.
Russian and American ISS managers will meet in Moscow on June 26 to conduct a final General Designer’s Review to assess the readiness of Zvezda, the Proton, and flight controllers to support the launch of the Station’s early living quarters, life support, and command and control systems.
The current orbit of the ISS is 245 by 230 statute miles (394 x 371 kilometers). Its orbit was raised an average of 24 miles (38 kilometers) by the Shuttle during the STS-101 mission. As of today, the Station has circled the Earth more than 8,750 times since November 1998.
NOTE: The next Mission Control Center ISS Status Report regarding on-orbit activities will be issued June 15. For further information, please contact the NASA Public Affairs Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 281-483-5111.
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