At 12:24 p.m. CST (1824 GMT) today, the Progress 6 resupply craft, filled with fresh supplies for the station, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and successfully reached orbit nine minutes later. Progress 6 is planned to dock to the station Wednesday at 1:40 p.m. CST (1940 GMT). The Progress 5 capsule that was attached to the docking port at the rear of the Zvezda service module undocked from the station last Thursday and reentered the atmosphere, where it was destroyed.
Today, the crew also tested a manual docking system, called the TORU, which can be used should the Progress 6 experience any problems with its automated docking system as it approaches the aft docking port of the Zvezda Service Module Wednesday. The crew also prepared some of the spacewalking equipment that will be used by STS-108 astronauts Linda Godwin and Dan Tani. Godwin and Tani will conduct a 4-hour spacewalk next week with Endeavour docked to the ISS to install thermal blankets over the station's mechanisms which enable the large U.S. solar wings to rotate to track the sun for the manufacture of electricity for station systems.
Flight controllers at Houston's Mission Control Center have seen those mechanisms experience occasional unexpected surges in the power required to turn the wings. They believe the surges are related to extreme temperature swings that occur as the station moves in and out of direct sunlight. Installation of the blankets is expected to reduce the temperature fluctuations and eliminate the "power spikes" seen as the wings pivot.
The major purpose of the 108 mission, however, is to bring the Expedition Four crew, Russian Commander Yury Onufrienko and U.S. Astronauts Dan Bursch and Carl Walz, to the station and bring home Expedition Three.
With systems operating normally, the station is orbiting at an average altitude of 247 statute miles (397 km).
Human physiology experiments continue to be a focus of crew science activities as the crew prepares for its return home. Autonomous microgravity materials research continued to accumulate scientific experiment run time hours in a variety of disciplines.