The first crew exchange aboard the International Space Station is complete now that Susan Helms has moved her custom-fitted Soyuz seat liner into the Russian return vehicle about midnight CST today.
Helms was the third and final Expedition Two crew member to make the move, following Commander Yury Usachev and fellow Flight Engineer Jim Voss. Helms traded places with Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd, who now joins Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev as a member of the STS-102 crew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Though the crew transfer is complete, the official end of the Expedition One increment will occur Saturday when Discovery undocks at 9:54 p.m. CST.
Just after completing the transfer, Helms, who calls Portland, Oregon, home, floated into an interview with three Portland-area television stations wearing her Sokol space suit, which she would use in the unlikely event the crew needed to return home in the Soyuz capsule. The Expedition Two crew is scheduled to return home aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in July following the second station crew exchange.
The hatches between Discovery and the station remain open and cargo transfer activities continue ahead of schedule. More than 70 percent of the equipment and supplies already has been moved from the Italian-built Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module into the station. All seven systems racks – equipment that includes electronics, communications gear, experiments and medical facilities – already are in the Destiny laboratory. Included among those racks is the first major piece of station science equipment, called the Human Research Facility, which will study the effects of weightlessness on the human body. The remaining cargo to be transferred consists of supplies in soft-sided transfer bags.
Commander Jim Wetherbee also conducted two tests using the shuttle’s steering jets, looking at the potential for using the shuttle’s primary reaction control system thrusters to control station attitude and at the optimum method for reboosting the station using those jets. Wetherbee also set up the shuttle’s autopilot to reboost the station overnight, eventually raising the station’s altitude by about 8.5 statute miles.
Both crews begin their sleep periods at 9:42 a.m. today. They will be awakened at 5:42 p.m. Wednesday.
On Saturday, after two more days of cargo transfers and the return of the Leonardo module to the shuttle’s cargo bay, the crews are scheduled to exchange farewells and close the hatches at 7:12 p.m. CST.
Discovery and the International Space Station remain in excellent condition, orbiting Earth at an altitude of approximately 235 statute miles. The next Mission Control Center status report will be issued Wednesday evening.
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