July 19 was the midpoint of the flight for ISS Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke, who launched Apr. 19 and are targeted to return Oct. 19. On Monday Fincke spoke with Charles Gibson of ABC-TV's "Good Morning, America" about the birth of his daughter, Tarali, in June while he was in space. Fincke's wife and children joined the discussion from Houston.
This week the crew continued packing unneeded equipment and trash in the Progress vehicle, scheduled to undock July 30. Undocking the Progress from Zvezda's aft docking port will clear the area for the next spacewalk, targeted for Aug. 3. Wearing Russian spacesuits and exiting from the Pirs Docking Compartment, Padalka and Fincke are to install retroreflectors and communications equipment needed for the docking of the Automated Transfer Vehicle, a European Space Agency cargo ship slated to make its first flight next year. Yesterday Padalka and Fincke maneuvered the Station's Canadarm2 into position so its cameras can view the spacewalk, and today they wrapped up a thorough review of the spacewalk timeline with specialists in Moscow.
Meanwhile, flight controllers in Houston continue to investigate why two U.S. spacesuits are not providing the proper cooling. This week spacesuit engineers monitored as Fincke conducted troubleshooting of a motor in the water pump of one of the spacesuits. An analysis of photos and video from that work is underway. Two spare water pumps will be launched in the next Progress supply ship, due to liftoff Aug. 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The failure on Monday of a computer on the Station's inactive starboard thermal radiator has no significant impact on current operations. The radiator is not in use in the present Station configuration, although the computer had assisted flight controllers with monitoring of temperatures and pressures of the unused equipment. The radiator is not scheduled to be used until several missions after the Space Shuttle's return to flight.
Tuesday Padalka and Fincke recognized the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and discussed both the past as well as the present and future of space exploration - and the role to be played by the International Space Station in future exploration - in an interview with CBS News.