The International Space Station’s Expedition Two Crew spent this week loading the Progress supply craft with trash and unneeded items in preparation for its undocking next week to clear the aft port on the Zvezda module for the relocation of the Soyuz capsule. This air traffic control activity clears the way for the arrival next week of Space Shuttle Endeavour and the STS-100 crew delivering the Canadian built station robot arm and another high tech moving van full of supplies.
Remaining fuel and oxidizer from the Progress vehicle was transferred into tanks on the Russian Zvezda module yesterday and today, and plans call for final fuel and oxidizer transfer to the Zarya module tomorrow and Friday. The Progress engines were fired earlier this week in a small reboost maneuver that verified for the first time a command link of the thrusters through the Zvezda module’s computer.
The Progress is scheduled to be remotely undocked from Zvezda’s aft docking port about 3:30 a.m. CDT Monday after which it will be deorbited to burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere. The relocation of the Soyuz spacecraft that delivered the first expedition crew to the station is planned for 7:30 a.m. April 18. The 35 minute procedure calls for the three crewmembers to climb aboard the Soyuz, undock from a docking port on Zarya and fly-around to the aft docking location on Zvezda. This will provide the necessary clearance for the Raffaello Multi Purpose Logistics Module’s (MPLM) attachment to the Unity module’s nadir port during STS-100.
The resident crew of the International Space Station – Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms – is nearing the end of its first month aboard the complex, having begun its increment work on March 18.
The activation of the station’s Ku-Band communication system is essentially complete and several television downlinks this week have shown the crew in its daily routine of experimenting, housekeeping and maintenance aboard the station. One of the major tasks accomplished is a complete checkout of two Robotic Work Stations, which will serve as the command and control locations for the station Remote Manipulator System, known as Canadarm2.
The high-tech robot arm and the second Italian Space Agency-built MPLM are the major cargo aboard Endeavour. The seven-person crew will fly to Florida Monday morning for the final three days of the countdown to launch. The countdown is set to begin at 5 p.m. CDT Monday leading toward liftoff at 1:41 p.m. CDT April 19. An on time launch will see Endeavour dock to the station at about 8:36 a.m. CDT April 21.
In and around preparations for the Progress departure, the Soyuz fly-around and upcoming shuttle arrival, the Expedition crew continues to conduct science investigations aboard the ISS. With the station’s Ku-band television system working, experimenters are working to activate the Human Research Facility (HRF) rack in the Destiny Laboratory and are preparing for the arrival of new racks of experiments on the upcoming shuttle visit. The HRF is managed and operated by a team in the Telescience Support Center at the Johnson Space Center. All station payloads are overseen from NASA’s Payloads Operations Center in Huntsville, Alabama. For details on the science investigations ongoing aboard the ISS, visit the following website:
The International Space Station continues to orbit the Earth in good shape at an altitude of 240 statute miles (386 km). The next ISS Status Report will be issued following Endeavour’s mission, unless developments warrant. Until that time, station updates will be provided in the twice daily shuttle status reports.
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