Before the launch, station flight control rooms in Houston and Moscow on Sunday will conduct a dress rehearsal of the crew's docking with the station, sending all commands to the complex as they will be sent for the actual docking, which is scheduled for 3:20 a.m. CST on Thursday, Nov. 2. For the rehearsal and the actual docking, the station will be commanded to orient itself horizontal to the Earth's surface, perpendicular to its direction of travel, with the Zvezda module pointing southward and the Unity module pointing northward and the newly installed pressurized mating adapter 3 pointing up toward the sun. At present, the station is in an identical orientation except that the Z-1 truss is pointing up toward the sun to maintain proper temperatures on the complex while awaiting the crew's arrival.
For the next several days, final stores of propellant will be transferred from the Progress cargo craft now docked with the station to fuel tanks on the station's Zarya module. The Progress craft, currently attached to the aft docking port of the Zvezda module, will be commanded to undock from the station on Wednesday, Nov. 1, to clear the way for the crew's arrival. The Soyuz spacecraft carrying Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev will dock at the same aft Zvezda port. After it is undocked, the Progress craft will be commanded to reenter the Earth's atmosphere and will be destroyed during its descent.
No significant problems have been noted with any systems aboard the station since the Space Shuttle Discovery undocked from the outpost last week. However, early this week, one of three flight control computers in the Zvezda module was automatically taken off line. To back up one another, three flight control computers operate simultaneously aboard the module, performing the same functions. The remaining two computers are on line and operating well. Analysts at the Russian Mission Control Center in Moscow are evaluating the third computer's software to determine if there is any problem with its operation and when it may be commanded back on line. The station can operate on only one computer if necessary. Live coverage of the launch of the Expedition 1 crew will begin on NASA Television at 1 a.m. CST Oct. 31. NASA Television programming can be accessed through GE2, transponder 9C. The frequency is 3880 MHz with an orbital position of 85 degrees West Longitude, with audio at 6.8 MHz. This is a full transponder service and will be operational 24 hours a day. Mission audio may be accessed on GE2, transponder 13 with a frequency of 3960 MHz, vertical polarization.
Now in an orbit with a high point of 245 statute miles and a low point of 233 statute miles, the 81-ton, 143-foot long International Space Station can easily be seen from the ground under proper lighting conditions.