Today's activity, with Lu working with flight controllers in Houston, began a little after 3 a.m. CDT. It was a feasibility study. Lu performed task the ground cannot yet do - operating the latching end effector and initiating joint motion, for example. The task was completed successfully before 7 a.m. Results will be used in validation of the concept and in determining software, hardware or procedural changes that would be needed for arm control from the ground.
Lu also spent some time working with the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures (CSLM) experiment's sample processing units (SPUs) in the Microgravity Science Glovebox of the U.S. laboratory Destiny. One unit Lu installed was found to be distorted, so he reinstalled the previous SPU. The CSLM experiment was delayed from early in the week because of internal humidity and dew point concerns. The experiment is expected to begin next week. It will study "coarsening" during which the strength of a material is reduced. This phenomenon is seen in many materials, including water droplets in rain clouds and dental fillings. It can weaken high-temperature turbine blades. Meanwhile, Malenchenko worked for more than two hours to load discarded items into the Progress 10 unpiloted cargo craft docked at the rear of the Zvezda Service Module.
Last Monday the crew focused on medical experiments and an inventory by Malenchenko of 44 Russian medical, food supplement and ointment kits, about a two-hour task. Tuesday saw additional medical tests and Mission Control Moscow continued testing a new satellite navigation system antenna. Both crewmembers took time to answer questions from elementary, middle and high school students relayed to them by educators at Kennedy Space Center.
After Soyuz descent training and continued work with the week-long process of space suit batteries conditioning Wednesday, Lu and Malenchenko on Thursday prepared for today's robotic operations and Malenchenko continued participation in a Russian study of bioelectrical heart activity while at rest.
Throughout the week both crewmembers continued regular maintenance activities on the Station, and performed their daily exercise sessions, designed to ward off the effects of lengthy exposure to the microgravity environment of the orbiting laboratory.
NASA announced on Friday that astronaut Michael Foale and Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri will be the Expedition 8 crew of the International Space Station. They are scheduled to launch on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with European Space Agency astronaut Pedro Duque of Spain on Oct. 18. Duque will return to Earth with the Expedition 7 crew, which arrived at the station April 28. Their Soyuz is scheduled to land in Kazakhstan Oct. 28.