2 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 19, 1999
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

The International Space Station successfully completed an orbital test of the automatic docking system this week in preparation for the arrival of its next major component, the Russian-provided Zvezda living quarters module.

The test included several of the activities required for the Station to dock with the Zvezda module following its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan. Flight controllers in Houston and Moscow prepared the Station systems for docking. Moscow maneuvered the Station into the orientation that will be required for docking with the Zvezda module and performed an automated test of the Zarya module's automatic docking system.

Meanwhile, on the ground at Baikonur, work continued to prepare Zvezda for launch as technicians installed the module's high-gain communications antenna and attached thermal blankets to the exterior of the large diameter portion of the module's working compartment. Technicians have now completed 86 percent of the preflight electrical tests planned for the module, and all testing is expected to be completed on schedule for a launch in mid-November.

One of the Zarya module's six batteries remains disconnected from the Station's electrical system due to a degradation noted in its performance during the past several weeks. The other five batteries are functioning normally and provide sufficient electricity for all Station operations. Engineers are continuing to analyze the problem seen with the battery, and plans are being formulated to replace the battery and its associated electronics on the next assembly flight, mission STS-101, targeted for launch in December.

The International Space Station is now oriented with Unity pointed toward Earth and Zarya pointed toward space in a slow spin to conserve fuel and maintain an even temperature for both modules. The ISS is flying in an orbit with a high point of 249 statute miles and a low point of 236 statute miles, circling the Earth every 92 minutes. The complex has completed more than 4,240 orbits since the launch of Zarya in November 1998. Space Station viewing opportunities worldwide are available on the Internet at:

The next International Space Station status report will be issued on August 26. For further information, please contact the NASA Public Affairs Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 281-483-5111.