Houston flight control of the station was resumed about 6 p.m. Thursday. That was a little over 12 hours after reactivation of MCC Houston, begun when it became apparent that Lili would not hit the area.
Members of the Houston Support Group in Mission Control Moscow had taken over control of the station's U.S. segment early Wednesday, when Lili was churning in the Gulf of Mexico and its landfall uncertain. The group followed a contingency plan setting up a Backup Control Center (BCC) in MCC Moscow. They communicated with the station using Russian and U.S. ground stations, and remained in close telephone contact with flight control teams gathered in a conference room at Johnson Space Center.
While the BCC was in operation, high-rate data downlink from the station was not available. Since they were unable to monitor the movement of the solar arrays, flight controllers put them in a fixed position. As a result, power to some station payloads and systems was reduced. The repowering process is being carried out largely by flight controllers.
Russian and Houston-based station officials praised the smoothness of the handovers to the BCC and back to Mission Control Houston, as well as the performance of the BCC itself. The Houston Support Group, U.S. flight controllers and others based in Mission Control Moscow, and Mission Control Houston practiced for just such a contingency less than three weeks ago.
As Lili approached on Wednesday, power at MCC Houston was turned off in a carefully planned sequence, and its electronic equipment covered with waterproof plastic sheets. Today, operations are essentially back to normal.
The hurricane precautions in Houston led to a delay in the launch of Atlantis on the STS-112 flight to the space station. Atlantis, bringing the Starboard 1 Truss segment to the station, is now scheduled to launch on Monday. Preparations for the launch are going smoothly.
The situation also caused the Russians to cancel a scheduled Wednesday test of thrusters on Progress 9, the unpiloted cargo vehicle that docked to the rear of the station's Zvezda Service Module on Sunday. They also canceled a station reboost by the Progress, which had been scheduled for today.
The Expedition 5 crew, Commander Valery Korzun, NASA International Space Station Science Officer Peggy Whitson, and Cosmonaut Sergei Treschev, had a relatively quiet Friday to wind up their hurricane-impacted workweek about 240 statute miles above the Earth's surface. Science activities and station maintenance continued. The crew also devoted some time to unloading the Progress 9 unpiloted supply spacecraft docked at the back of the station's Zvezda Service Module.