The crew members also began preparing the Station for a visit by the Space Shuttle on its Return to Flight mission that is targeted to launch in a window that opens in less than three weeks.
Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev completed integrating the systems of a new Progress supply ship into those of the Russian section of Space Station. Krikalev and Flight Engineer John Phillips also unpacked portions of the more than two tons of supplies on the cargo craft. The craft docked to the Station Saturday evening.
Along with food, fuel, clothing and new hardware, the Progress contained about 80 days worth of oxygen in tanks and solid fuel oxygen generators, plus supplies for further repair efforts on the Elektron oxygen generation system. The Elektron, one of multiple sources of oxygen available on the Station, derives oxygen from water. The system has been inoperable for a few months.
This week, Krikalev installed a new supply of electrolyte in the Elektron's liquids unit and a new set of aerosol filters. During initial test activation, the unit started up but immediately shut down. After a second activation it operated for less than half an hour before shutting down once again. Russian specialists at Mission Control Moscow are evaluating further troubleshooting. With the Progress oxygen supply and other supplies aboard the Station, enough oxygen is available to supply the crew for at least the remainder of this year without an operating Elektron unit. A new Elektron liquids unit also is planned to be shipped to the Station later this year.
The Station's Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 was opened for the first time in four years this week to be used as storage space. The operation is part of the effort to prepare for cargo transfer operations during the Space Shuttle's return to the complex. The Return to Flight Space Shuttle mission, STS-114, remains on track for launch in a window that extends from July 13-31. The Flight Readiness Review for STS-114 is set for June 29-30 at the Kennedy Space Center, and will conclude with the establishment of a target launch date.
One priority for the mission on Discovery is the delivery of supplies and removal of material that has accumulated on the Station since the grounding of the Shuttle fleet more than two years ago. The majority of that material will be moved on and off of the Station in a pressurized cargo module that will be docked to the nadir side of the Unity connecting module. This week, the Station crew verified the proper operation of the berthing mechanism at that docking port, which had not been operated in two and a half years. Phillips also began installation of a camera in the window of that docking port that is used to align the cargo module when the Shuttle is docked. Phillips halted the camera installation, however, when a circuit breaker tripped. Flight controllers have postponed his completion of the task pending further evaluation.