Commander Pavel Vinogradov, Flight Engineer Jeff Williams and European Space Agency Astronaut Thomas Reiter are gearing up for the second space shuttle visit to the station during Expedition 13. The shuttle Atlantis, targeted to launch in a window that opens Aug. 27, will resume major orbital construction of the complex. During its mission, designated STS-115, Atlantis will deliver and install a 17.5-ton, bus-sized segment of the station's girder-like truss that includes another set of solar arrays, batteries and associated electronics.
The station crew started out the week with two days of standard maintenance work on the treadmill vibration isolation system, a special exercise treadmill located on the floor of the Zvezda living quarters module. Crews perform the maintenance task every six months to inspect the treadmill's components, replace worn items and install new bearings. The treadmill is a complex system that uses gyroscopes to stabilize itself and isolates the vibrations created by exercise from being transmitted to the station's structure, where they could disturb sensitive experiments. Extensive exercise is a daily regimen for all station crew members as one method of counteracting the effects of long exposure to weightlessness.
The crew had time set aside each day this week to pack up and prepare items that will be moved from the station to the shuttle during Atlantis' flight. In addition, ground controllers worked with the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to prepare for the upcoming shuttle flight. On Thursday, they moved the arm to position cameras to view markings on the station used for a graphical computer alignment aid when new components are attached. That aid, called the space vision system, will be used during Atlantis' flight to help with the attachment of the new truss section.
On Friday, controllers moved the arm to perform an early checkout of its systems, ensuring it is ready for the shuttle mission.
The station crew greeted special guest calls this week. On Tuesday, the coach and players from the FC Barcelona soccer team talked with the crew as they visited NASA's Johnson Space Center prior to an exhibition game in Houston. Reiter, a soccer fan, showed the team a space soccer move during the call. On Thursday, the crew members spoke with Chef Emeril Lagasse about space food and their mission. Lagasse sent NASA several recipes that were prepared and delivered to the station aboard the last shuttle flight. The Expedition 13 crew tried the dishes this week.