Approaching four months in space, Commander and NASA Science Officer Mike Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri this week finished unloading their supply ship and performed some maintenance and repair work on the station's oxygen and air purification system and reviewed preliminary procedures for the first station-based spacewalk since spring 2003.
The spacewalk is set to begin about 3 p.m. CST on Feb. 26 with a scheduled duration of 51/2 hours. The crew begins shifting its sleep schedule this weekend to accommodate the start time of the spacewalk and to optimize near continuous communications with the crew through both U.S. and Russian communications resources.
Earlier this week, Foale moved the robotic arm - Canadarm2 - to a strategic position so that its cameras can provide the best video coverage of the spacewalk. Additionally, the arm operations provided Foale some proficiency training from the workstation within the Destiny laboratory.
Foale this week also prepared the lab's window for installation of a new flex hose used to prevent condensate buildup between panes of the high fidelity optical window. The new hose was delivered in the Progress after the previous hose was determined to be the cause of a small pressure degradation aboard the station a few weeks ago. In advance of the installation of the hose, which has not been scheduled, the inner panes of the window will be vented this weekend to remove residual condensation that has built up over the past few weeks.
Foale and Kaleri Thursday joined school children in California for a long-distance "interview" answering questions ranging from how a yo-yo works in space, to the engineering challenges of keeping the ISS and its systems updated over its lifetime.
The week wrapped up with the two crewmembers preparing for their spacewalk by reviewing detailed procedures with flight controllers at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow. The spacewalk, or Extravehicular Activity, will begin and end from the Russian Pirs Docking Compartment with the crew wearing Orlan spacesuits.
Next week the crew focuses more intently on the spacewalk by checking out the spacesuits and procedures in addition to continuing to slowly adjust their sleep/wake schedule to match the time of the EVA.