Encyclopedia Astronautica
2006.11.03 - International Space Station Status Report: SS06-048


Repair of an oxygen generator, robotic arm operations and cargo unpacking were the top priorities aboard the International Space Station this week.

On Monday, Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin installed new valves and cables to repair the Elektron oxygen-generation unit which shut down in mid-September. Tyurin re-activated it after installing the new parts, and the Elektron is supplying oxygen for the cabin atmosphere.

The crew unpacked most of the items from the recently arrived Russian Progress cargo ship including the Elektron parts, fresh food and other systems hardware. The rest will be unpacked as needed and as time permits.

Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria worked on robotics proficiency tasks throughout the week. At the start of the week, ground controllers relocated the Mobile Transporter to a different worksite on the station's truss. On Wednesday, Lopez-Alegria maneuvered the Canadarm2 robotic arm over to the transporter and its operating base from the arm's normal home base on the Destiny Lab. The free end of the arm was photographed to help robotics specialists as they evaluate an issue that can cause snares to misalign inside the arm's end effector.

On Thursday, Lopez-Alegria connected the free end of the arm to another grapple fixture on the Mobile Base System and released the opposite end. Friday, the Mobile Transporter was moved by ground controllers to the outermost worksite on the port truss. It will provide support there for the Canadarm2 operations during the next shuttle assembly mission, STS-116. Next week Lopez-Alegria will check out the robotic system for the shuttle flight, which will bring and install a new truss spacer segment to the station.

Lopez-Alegria set up and activated cameras for a session of the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students, or EarthKAM experiment.

The middle school students study the Earth, then control a special digital camera mounted on the space station to photograph coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items from the unique vantage point of space. At the University of California at San Diego, an undergraduate student team manages the image requests and posts the photographs on the Internet for the public and participating classrooms around the world to view. More than 107 schools from 10 countries participated in this session.

The second sample of seeds for the Analysis of a Novel Sensory Mechanism in Root Phototropism was harvested and frozen in the Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer, a cold storage unit that maintains experiment samples at temperatures of -80 C, -26 C, or 4 C throughout a mission. Flight Engineer Thomas Reiter worked with the experiment, which will increase the understanding of the different systems plants use to determine the direction their roots and shoots should grow and which genes are responsible for successful plant growth.

Reiter also continued work on a suite of European Space Agency science experiments. One such experiment, called CARD, is helping scientists examine the relationship between salt intake and the cardiovascular system when exposed to the microgravity environment.

Crewmembers typically experience reduced blood pressure in microgravity. To help them readjust to gravity on Earth, they take salt tablets just before returning, which temporarily increases the blood volume. CARD is looking at the effects of ingesting occasional salt supplements throughout the long duration mission. This experiment's results could also help improve treatment of patients on Earth with heart failure.

The crew began gathering tools for a Nov. 22 spacewalk by Tyurin and Lopez-Alegria in Russian Orlan suits from the Pirs Docking Compartment. They will replace and retrieve several science experiments from the hull of the Zvezda Service Module.

Tyurin also plans to hit a golf ball from a bracket on Pirs as part of a Russian commercial activity.

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