If all goes as planned, this time next week the International Space Station will house visitors for the first time since the visit by the crew of STS-96 last year. All continues to go smoothly with preparations for the launch of Atlantis to start the STS-101 mission on Monday.
Final processing of the Shuttle is underway with the seven-member scheduled to arrive in Florida tomorrow at 3 p.m. East Coast time. Their arrival will be shown live on NASA Television.
The countdown begins tomorrow at 7 p.m. EDT leading toward a launch at the opening of a five-minute window at 4:15 p.m. Eastern.
Meanwhile, the on orbit Station is completing the final battery cycling of its four usable systems and will be in a good configuration for docking by the Shuttle next Wednesday. All systems are in good shape to support the rendezvous, docking and maintenance work scheduled throughout the STS-101 mission.
In addition to completing battery cycling, controllers will warm up the Unity moduleís shell so that it will be at the proper temperature when the Shuttle arrives. That activity should be completed before Mondayís Shuttle launch.
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, workers have completed electrical testing of the Zvezda service module, which is the next component of the ISS. Zvezda will be launched atop a Proton rocket in mid July. The ISS will dock with Zvezda about two weeks later near the end of July.
STS-101 will be commanded by Jim Halsell. Joining him on the crew are Pilot Scott Horowitz and Mission Specialists Mary Ellen Weber, Jeff Williams, Jim Voss, Susan Helms and Yuri Usachev.
The current orbit of the ISS is 229 by 213 miles (368 x 342 kilometers). The average decay of the Stationís orbit is about 1-1½ miles per week. While docked, Atlantisí reaction control system thrusters will be used to raise the orbit of the Station by as much as 19 miles (about 30 kilometers). The actual orbit raising distance is calculated to position the ISS at the desired rendezvous altitude with Zvezda. As of midday today, the Station has circled the Earth more than 8,095 times since November 1998.
SPECIAL NOTE: The next Mission Control Center ISS Status Report regarding on-orbit activities will be issued on the first Thursday following Atlantisí STS-101 mission (currently May 11). Until that time, ISS information will be incorporated into the daily Shuttle Mission Control status reports. For further information, please contact the NASA Public Affairs Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 281-483-5111. If all goes as planned, this time next week the International Space Station will house visitors for the first time since the visit by the crew of STS-96 last year. All continues to go smoothly with preparations for the launch of Atlantis to start the STS-101 mission on Monday.
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