Engineers at the Mission Control Center outside of Moscow conducted a series of tests and verified that the exterior connections made by Commander Frank Culbertson and Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov during Monday's space walk had successfully brought the Pirs Docking Compartment's automated Kurs telemetry system to full functionality.
With the help of Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin, they spent Wednesday cleaning up, servicing and storing the Orlan spacesuits they had used on the 5-hour, 4-minute space walk. They also spent about 20 minutes answering questions posed by middle school students in Texas and Kansas as part of a regional education conference.
With those activities complete, the trio of space researchers began getting ready for a series of comings and goings, and packing for their impending return home. The Progress 5 resupply craft currently docked to the Zvezda service module is scheduled to undock Nov. 22; it later will be commanded to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will burn up along with refuse being stored inside by the crew this week. Another supply vehicle, Progress 6, is scheduled to launch Nov. 26 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and dock with the station Nov. 28.
All preparations for the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour and the Expedition Four crew - Commander Yuri Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Dan Bursch and Carl Walz - are on schedule for launch at 6:42 p.m. CST Nov. 29. Mission managers will meet at Kennedy Space Center this Thursday to review all preparations for launch; an official launch target is expected at the conclusion of that meeting. The shuttle crew - Commander Dom Gorie, Pilot Mark Kelly and Mission Specialists Linda Godwin and Dan Tani - joined the new station crew in Florida for a final dress rehearsal of the launch last week.
While visiting the station, the shuttle crew will conduct a space walk to install insulation blankets on the beta gimbal assemblies for the station's large solar array wings. These large swivels, which allow the solar arrays to track the Sun's rays and provide maximum power generation, appear to be experiencing adverse effects related to the extreme temperature swings that occur as the station moves in and out of direct sunlight. These multi-layer insulation blankets are expected to reduce the temperature swings and allow normal operation of the solar arrays.
Meanwhile in Florida, the next major component to be launched to the space station has successfully completed acceptance testing and been moved to a work platform for final closeouts. One last software test remains, and that will be completed in January. The S-zero truss, which will serve as the base section of a framework connecting more large solar array wings, is scheduled for launch on STS-110 in March 2002.
With systems operating normally, the station is orbiting at an average altitude of 247 statute miles (397 km).
Science work aboard the station continues with emphasis on human physiology experiments as the crew nears the end of its time on orbit, and with autonomous microgravity materials research. Overall coordination of the research is the responsibility of the Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The Human Research Facility is managed by the Johnson Space Center.