International Space Station flight controllers resumed the transfer of propellants this week from tanks aboard the Progress cargo supply craft to tanks aboard the station's Zvezda module and made other preparations for the planned arrival of the Space Shuttle Atlantis early next month.
One set of fuel and oxidizer tanks aboard Zvezda is now full following the unloading of propellants from the cargo craft. Propellants will be transferred from the Progress tanks to a second set of tanks on Zvezda this week. The transfer of propellants was interrupted last week due to a sensor problem that was quickly resolved.
Also in preparation for the rendezvous by Atlantis in a few weeks, station controllers in the United States and Russia completed two firings of engines on the Progress craft last week. The firings raised the station's average altitude by about 4.5 statute miles. Another engine firing is planned in early September to further adjust the station's orbit in preparation for the shuttle's launch. The seven-member crew of Atlantis, currently targeted for launch Sept. 8, will open the doors to the station's new Zvezda living quarters for the first time in space and prepare the outpost for the arrival of the first resident crew later this fall.
Early Monday, Station flight controllers noted irregularities in the charging and discharging of one of five batteries aboard Zvezda and are now troubleshooting the problem. The other four batteries on Zvezda are operating well and the single battery problem has no impact on the station's normal operation. Three additional batteries are currently planned to be installed in Zvezda during Atlantis' mission next month.
Station managers are continuing to evaluate and plan the possibility of manually deploying a docking target on the aft end of Zvezda during a space walk to be conducted by astronauts Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko when Atlantis visits. The target is positioned near where Lu and Malenchenko are already scheduled to work on other tasks during the planned space walk
Meanwhile, International Space Station partners agreed this week to update the station's planned assembly sequence launches, adjusting the launch schedule for some elements in the latter years of station assembly. Target launch dates for the first phase of assembly in orbit, missions planned through the end of 2001, remain basically unchanged. The launches of remaining missions were, for the most part, adjusted later than the previous schedule. The final station assembly flight is now planned for April 2006. The full International Space Station Assembly Sequence, Revision F, is available at
Now in an orbit with a high point of 228 statute miles and a low point of 222 statute miles, the 67-ton, 143-foot long International Space Station can easily be viewed from the ground under proper lighting conditions. To see when the station is visible, check the human space flight web site at:
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