Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev reviewed procedures, gathered tools and outfitted equipment for their Feb. 3 spacewalk.
The walk may last up to six hours. It begins at 5:20 p.m. EST. During the walk, the crew will release the unusual SuitSat satellite. It's an old Russian Orlan spacesuit outfitted with amateur radio equipment. It will fly freely for several weeks of scientific research and amateur radio tracking. Eventually, SuitSat will burn up in the atmosphere.
The crew will also install a safety bolt in an emergency cable cutting system on the station's mobile transporter rail car. The transporter is used to move a platform containing the station's robotic arm along the truss of the complex. Other spacewalk tasks include relocation of an adaptor for the Russian Strela boom. The crane-like Strela is used to move spacewalkers and cargo.
Managers decided to extend Expedition 12's mission and delay launch of Expedition 13 by one week. Expedition 13 is planned to launch on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on March 29. It will dock on April 1. Expedition 12 is scheduled to return home April 8. The additional time will be used to prepare the Expedition 13 Soyuz spacecraft for flight.
The Protein Crystal Growth Monitoring by Digital Holographic Microscope for the International Space Station experiment operated on the station this week. The experiment uses diagnostic equipment to monitor the exact growth conditions of protein crystals. The experiment was activated Jan. 19. It operates for 15 days inside the Destiny Laboratory's Microgravity Science Glovebox. A better understanding of protein crystals may aid in the development of new medicines.
The ground-commanded Binary Colloidal Alloy Test captured time-lapse photography of its sixth sample using camera equipment borrowed from a student photography experiment called EarthKAM. The experiment studies the physics of the Earth's surface crystallization and fluids at their critical point. The payload operations team at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., coordinates U.S. science activities on the station. As part of NASA's education programs, McArthur also videotaped a description of how astronauts stay oriented in weightlessness. The video will be used in classrooms and NASA educational products.