Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin practiced using the manual docking system for the Russian Progress cargo ship. They rehearsed rendezvous; fly around maneuvers and approach and docking with an on-board simulator.
During the training, technicians at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan completed preparations for the launch of a Progress cargo craft on Monday, Oct. 23 at 9:40 a.m. EDT. It is scheduled to dock to the complex Thursday, Oct. 26 at 10:28 a.m. EDT.
The Progress is filled with more than two tons of food, fuel and supplies for the station and its crew. Also aboard are new spare parts for the Russian Elektron oxygen-generation system, which has been shut down since last month.
Earlier Friday, Lopez-Alegria replaced equipment in the Carbon Dioxide Removal System, used to remove impurities from the station's atmosphere. Only one of its two systems designed to purge carbon dioxide from the air has been operating due to particulate matter clogging an air valve. Lopez-Alegria installed a new air flow regulator valve and a filter to recover the use of the second of two adsorbent beds in the device.
He also joined Tyurin to inspect and photograph the Zvezda Service Module windows and conducted a video tour of the station for training of future expedition crews.
Lopez-Alegria, who also serves as the NASA science officer, collected his second set of blood and urine samples for the Nutrition Experiment. This is NASA's most comprehensive in-flight study of human physiological changes during long-duration spaceflight. The experiment measures bone metabolism, oxidative damage, nutritional assessments and hormonal changes. It also will help to define nutritional requirements and develop food systems for missions to the moon and Mars.
Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin also completed a medical officer proficiency training session. European Space Agency Flight Engineer Thomas Reiter began the first of three runs of the Analysis of a Novel Sensory Mechanism in Root Phototropism experiment in the European Modular Cultivation System. Seeds will sprout next week in the modular cultivation facility, where plants and other small organisms can grow in variable gravity conditions using a centrifuge.
By sprouting seeds under different levels of partial gravity and different frequencies of light, this study will increase the understanding of the different systems plants use to determine what direction their roots and shoots should grow and which genes are responsible for successful plant growth.
NASA's payload operations team at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., coordinates U.S. science activities on the station. Other science work this week included sessions of the Profilaktika and Urolux Russian experiments.
The station remains under the control of three gyroscopes after one was shut down more than a week ago. On Monday, flight controllers conducted a test of Control Moment Gyro (CMG) 3, which was turned off due to excessive vibrations. Monday's test, looking at the health of the accelerometer, spun the CMG up to 500 rpm and then let it coast down to zero while acceleration data were taken with the Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System to correlate and compare with data from the internal CMG accelerometer. An initial review indicated no unusual vibrations, but engineers continue to analyze the results.
On Monday, flight controllers will begin a five-day checkout of the Thermal Radiator Rotary Joints (TRRJ) on the S1 and P1 trusses that will rotate once the station's upgraded external thermal loops are activated during the STS-116 mission. The TRRJ test will enable the radiators to auto track or revolve when required to dissipate heat from the trusses' avionics equipment.