This week the crewmembers spent time each day reviewing plans for the spacewalk and checking out the tools and equipment they will use. Next Friday at 2:40 a.m. CDT, Korzun and Whitson will open the hatch on the Russian Pirs docking compartment to begin a 5-hour, 55-minute excursion. They will install protective panels on the Zvezda service module and a new set of samples in a Russian experiment verifying the effectiveness of devices designed to protect the station's exterior from contamination by thruster firings. Live coverage of the spacewalk begins on NASA Television at 2 a.m.
On Thursday Whitson maneuvered the station's Canadarm2 into position for its cameras to capture images of the EVA, the third spacewalk of Korzun's career and the first for Whitson.
Korzun and Treschev will make the second spacewalk of this mission (the first for Treschev) starting late Aug. 22 CDT. They will retrieve samples in a Japanese materials exposure experiment, install two additional amateur radio antennas and inspect a condensate collector. All activities will be on the Zvezda service module.
In conjunction with the spacewalk, Korzun and Whitson today tested their lung function for a Human Life Sciences experiment called PuFF (Pulmonary Function in Flight). Station crewmembers use equipment at the Human Research Facility rack in the Destiny module to gauge their lung function before and after a spacewalk so scientists can judge if there are long-term effects from the time spent in the lower-than-normal air pressure environment of a spacesuit.
Wednesday Whitson reactivated the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) in the Destiny laboratory for a fourth run of the experiment SUBSA (Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules). The experiment, conducted inside a transparent furnace in the MSG, tests what causes motion in melted fluids used to create semiconductors. If that motion can be reduced, the experiment could help lead to reducing defects in semiconductors made in space and on Earth. The crewmembers' routine exercise sessions were scheduled on the bicycle ergometer and a resistive exercise device for most of this week while engineers developed a repair plan for the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System in the Zvezda module. Last week the crew found that a ball bearing for a rod supporting one of the rollers under the tread on that apparatus had seized, and the rod was rubbing against the frame of the treadmill. That rod has now been secured, and the crew is cleared to use the treadmill in a non-motorized, reduced speed mode. Plans are being developed to send repair parts to the station on the next Progress resupply vehicle, targeted for launch Sept. 20.
Tuesday morning all the crewmembers gathered in the Destiny laboratory to answer questions from students at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, at the completion of a conference on "Women in Science." The session focused on life in a weightless environment.
This week, Russian officials said the next Soyuz crew return vehicle will be launched to the space station Oct. 28. The three-member taxi crew will spend eight days on the ISS. That crew will return to Earth Nov. 7 on the Soyuz now at the station.