A Russian Progress resupply ship arrived at the station last week delivering a ton of food, fuel, clothing and other materials that should sustain Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin, and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit through at least the end of June, if required.
The Progress' engines were used Tuesday to boost the altitude of the ISS by about 6 miles to an average 248-mile orbit. This was the first of three planned maneuvers to prepare the station for the arrival of a new Soyuz return spacecraft in late April. During the reboost maneuver, scientific accelerometers in the Destiny lab measured vibrations from the engines to help scientists study how motion may affect delicate microgravity experiments.
Bowersox, Pettit and Budarin spoke with reporters gathered at various NASA centers across the country in their first news conference since the Columbia accident. Most questions focused on the crew's reaction and thoughts on Columbia's astronauts and how the accident might affect their mission.
"We've had time to grieve our friends," Bowersox said. "When you're up here this long, you can't just bottle up your emotions and focus all the time. It's important for us to acknowledge that the people on STS-107 were our friends and we had a connection with them and that we feel their loss. Each of us had a chance to shed some tears. But now it's time to move forward and we're doing that slowly. This press conference today is a huge step that's helping us move along towards our normal objectives and fulfilling our mission here."
Thursday, Bowersox and Pettit operated Canadarm2, the Space Station Robotic Manipulator System. The activities helped maintain the crew's proficiency in using the Robotic Work Station in Destiny to control the system as they performed checkout procedures to validate the arm's capabilities in space.
Early this week, flight controllers noticed a slight decrease in the flow of air through the Inter-Module Valve system between the various components of the station. Bowersox and Pettit removed several fans in the ductwork and cleaned lint and dust from the filters, significantly increasing the airflow.
Troubleshooting of the Microgravity Science Glovebox by specialists from the European Space Agency and the Payload Operations Center at Marshall Space Flight Center continues. Last week, a circuit breaker tripped when Pettit installed replacement parts that arrived on the Progress. Pettit powered down the equipment until the experts develop a plan for him to implement on orbit.