Expedition 8 Commander and NASA Science Officer Foale and Kaleri, the flight engineer, began unloading more than two and a half tons of supplies on Sunday, among them fresh food and clothes, spare parts and new experiments. The ISS Progress 13 cargo craft carrying the gear docked with the Station on Jan. 31.
Shortly after a test of the docked Progress craft's thrusters on Thursday, Foale and Kaleri saw a single, small, thin strip of material floating away from the Station. Viewing and photographing it through a window in the Zvezda living quarters module, they said the item did not appear to represent any hazard. They described it as about 8-10 inches long, appearing to be made of a soft, non-metallic material and moving very slowly away from the Station. The item drifted out of sight after a few minutes. All systems aboard the Station continue to function normally, and flight controllers in the U.S. and Russia are confident it does not pose a concern for the complex. However, they are continuing to evaluate possible sources of the material.
Also this week, Foale initiated an experiment in cell culture growth in weightlessness. The experiment, which grows cultures of yeast cells, arrived at the Station aboard the Progress craft and may provide insight to improve cell culture techniques of tissues on the ground and during future space experiments. The study is performed in conjunction with an investigator at Tulane University Medical Center.
Foale and Kaleri took time out today to speak with some of more than 700 teachers from around the world who are gathered in Houston. The teachers are attending the International Space Station Educators Conference to learn how they may use the excitement of space flight to motivate students in math and science.