McArthur and Tokarev will mark five years of continuous human presence on the International Space Station Nov. 2. They are the 12th station crew. The first station crew, Commander Bill Shepherd, Flight Engineers Sergei Krikalev and Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko, arrived at the fledgling complex Nov. 2, 2000. The size of an efficiency apartment at that time, the station has grown to a volume larger than the average three-bedroom house with the most sophisticated laboratory ever to fly in space.
McArthur and Tokarev sent an anniversary greeting this week to crews that have flown before and to the thousands that support the station in 16 nations around the world.
The crew devoted most of their attention to spacewalk preparations during the week. On Tuesday, they performed a checkout of the spacesuits they will wear. The spacewalk will be the first from the station to use U.S. spacesuits and originate from the Quest Airlock since April 2003. During their work outside, they will install a television camera important for future assembly work on the station's port side truss. They also plan to remove an experiment from the station's highest point, the top of the P6 truss, that measured the electrical environment around the exterior of the station.
On Wednesday, the crewmembers reviewed the procedures they will use to put on and take off the spacesuits, reviewed plans for the spacewalk and conferred with spacewalk specialists on the ground. On Thursday, they suited up and rehearsed the activities inside the station that they will perform outside the station Nov. 7. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin about 9:30 a.m. EDT.
All station systems are operating well. The Elektron oxygen-generating system, one of several methods of replenishing oxygen in the station cabin atmosphere, is functioning. It was restored to operation Saturday when Tokarev performed a maintenance procedure to purge air bubbles from its systems. Russian flight controllers completed a test firing of thrusters on the Progress cargo craft on Wednesday, thrusters that shut off early last week during a planned reboost of the complex. The thrusters were fired using a different manifold as Russian controllers continued to evaluate a loss of data from the system they had seen during the aborted reboost. During the test firing, the engines operated normally. They are planned to be used next for a reboost of the complex Nov. 10.
NASA’s payload operations team at the Marshall Space Flight Center coordinates U.S. science activities on the space station.