The Expedition Three crew is in its fifth week of a four-month stay aboard the space station. The crew is continuing to work with a variety of scientific experiments aboard the station and perform periodic maintenance on station systems as required. The crew and flight controllers are preparing for Friday's launch of a new Russian station component from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Liftoff of the Soyuz rocket carrying the Pirs Docking Compartment, a Russian airlock and docking port, is planned for 6:35 p.m. Central time September 14. Pirs, the Russian word for pier, is scheduled to dock with the station at 8:08 p.m. September 16, at an Earth-facing port on the station's Zvezda module.
Last Friday, the crew released about five gallons of wastewater from vents on the Destiny Lab to allow ground controllers to study the behavior of the expelled water crystals. The crew also took the first measurements for the PuFF experiment that is studying the function of an astronaut's lungs over the course of a long-duration space flight. The crew tested their lung capacity using equipment in the Human Research Facility Rack.
The International Space Station (ISS) is orbiting at an average altitude of 240 statute miles (385 km).
Early Wednesday morning, the crew sent down video taken Tuesday of the smoke plume rising from the World Trade Center area. The crew also sent down a view of the New York City area filmed shortly before sunrise this morning. Yesterday, Culbertson also extended his condolences to the victims of the New York attack saying, "Our prayers and thoughts go out to all the people there, and everywhere else. Here I am looking up and down the East Coast to see if I can see anything else, and to the people in Washington."