Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov also spent much of the latter part of the week stowing tools used during the spacewalk, cleaning and stowing their Russian Orlan spacesuits and reconfiguring the Pirs Docking Compartment airlock. The crew installed antennas that will be used by a new automated European supply craft and released a small Russian technology satellite during the 4-hour, 30-minute spacewalk.
Chiao and Sharipov began preparing the Station for the first visit by a Space Shuttle mission since the Columbia accident. The Shuttle Discovery is targeted for launch on mission STS-114 in a planning window that begins May 15 and ends June 3. The crew began packing gear that will be returned on the Shuttle and they checked out cameras that the upcoming Station crew will use to photograph the Shuttle's heat shield. Chiao conducted some troubleshooting on one of those digital cameras that is experiencing intermittent card reading errors during downloads. Other cameras are available if needed.
The crew also continued work with the Station's Elektron oxygen generation system. The system has operated intermittently over the past few weeks. Additional troubleshooting was conducted this week by Sharipov while Russian technicians continued to study repair options. Multiple alternate sources of oxygen are available and the Elektron problems have not significantly impacted activities.
Chiao and Sharipov participated in a question and answer session with students at the Sheridan Middle School in New Haven, CT Thursday and an amateur radio session with the Science Discovery Center in Denton, Texas.
Two of the Station's Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs) continue to perform well, controlling the Station's orientation. A brief, unusual vibration was detected on one of them, CMG 3, just after the end of the spacewalk on Monday. Engineers are continuing to evaluate the indication. Two additional gyroscopes are not operating. One of them is planned to be repowered during a spacewalk on the upcoming Shuttle mission and another will be replaced at that time. Two gyroscopes are sufficient for control of the current Station, but additional gyroscopes will be needed as assembly resumes and the size of the complex increases.
The next Station crew continued training this week at Russia's Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer John Phillips, along with European Space Agency Astronaut Roberto Vittori, completed final exams and certification for launch. They will travel to the launch site, the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, this weekend and conduct a check of their Soyuz spacecraft on Monday. Vittori will spend eight days on the Station under a commercial contract between ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency. Krikalev and Phillips will spend six months aloft.