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More Details for 2006-03-04
International Space Station Status Report: SS06-009

The International Space Station crew's week included a robotic arm first and a docking communications test to prepare for a new European cargo ship.

Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev repaired a cabin air analyzer. They also completed a scientific study of the effects of weightlessness on the muscles, joints and bones of the lower body.

For the first time, Mission Control, Houston, moved the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm by remote control from the ground for normal station operations. Previous remote operations of the arm were done only as capability tests, but this week controllers used it to survey several exterior station components.

On Thursday and Friday, controllers used the arm's TV cameras to view one of two integrated umbilical assembly mechanisms on the station's mobile transporter rail car. One umbilical was cut when an assembly malfunctioned in December. They also checked a Destiny laboratory vent for contamination. Initial reports indicate the vent, used to dump carbon dioxide overboard, is clean. McArthur operated the arm for in-flight proficiency training on Wednesday.

McArthur repaired electrical connectors in the major constituent analyzer, restoring the device to operation. It is one of several systems used to monitor the composition of station air, and it is needed for an upcoming test of new spacewalk preparation procedures. With the successful repair, managers plan to conduct the "camp out" test of spacewalk preparations in early April. The test may occur during handover from the crew to the Expedition 13 crew scheduled to arrive April 1.

This week, McArthur wore specially instrumented cycling tights for a final session with the Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during Space Flight experiment, which began on Expedition 6. The experiment investigates the differences between use of the lower extremities on Earth and in space. For this session, McArthur wore the instrumented Lower Extremity Monitoring Suit, which measured his joint angles, muscle activity and forces on the feet during his exercise routines on the cycle ergometer and the resistive exercise devices.

The data provided valuable information on the exact loads crew members experience on their lower extremities in spaceflight. This will aid in understanding bone loss during long duration space missions. The experiment may help in developing methods to counteract that effect. NASA's payload operations team at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., coordinates U.S. science activities on the station.

Tokarev performed a test associated with the automatic docking system for the European Automated Transfer Vehicle. The European Space Agency unpiloted cargo carrier, set to launch next year, will have twice the capacity of the Russian Progress cargo craft. This week's test involved transmitting docking radio signals from the station to ground stations located in the Canary Islands and near Madrid, Spain.

Also this week, McArthur videotaped a demonstration of sleeping on the station and a typical morning routine for use in NASA educational products.

The crew will soon begin preparing for a short trip away from their orbiting home. They plan to relocate their Soyuz capsule from the Earth-facing docking port of the station's Zarya module to an aft port on the Zvezda module. The flight will take approximately 30 minutes on March 20. It will clear the Zarya port for the Expedition 13 arrival.

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