Encyclopedia Astronautica
2001.12.21 - ISS Status Report: ISS 01-50


Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch have completed their first week of independent operations aboard the International Space Station.

Last Saturday, the three new station crewmembers bid farewell to their predecessors, the Expedition Three crew, and the crew of Endeavour as the shuttle undocked to begin its journey home. The Expedition Three crew of Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin returned to Earth on Monday and to Houston on Wednesday. The three have begun several weeks of physical rehabilitation to help their bodies readjust to the pull of Earth's gravity

Aboard the station, Onufrienko, Bursch and Walz spent the week activating science experiments, including a cell growth experiment used to study colon and ovarian cancer cells and human kidney cells. They also continued to familiarize themselves with their new home, unload the Progress 6 cargo ship, and unpack equipment and supplies brought aboard Endeavour.

The crew will continue experiment work next week, and they will have a day off on Christmas Day to observe the holiday. The station's food stores include turkey and some other traditional holiday foods. The crew also will observe a holiday on New Year's Day.

All International Space Station systems are currently operating well. However, on Tuesday flight controllers noted that the Beta Gimbal Assembly that rotates the port-side U.S. solar array experienced strain on its electric motor and briefly stalled. The mechanism was restarted quickly and has since been performing normally. The stall had no significant impact on station operations and is similar to events seen several times in the past. The Beta Gimbal Assemblies rotate the station's arrays, allowing them to precisely track the sun, generating the maximum possible power for the station.

During Endeavour's flight, thermal blankets were installed on both assemblies to better insulate them in hopes of alleviating such problems. Engineers have confidence the mechanisms will continue to operate, and they are continuing to gather data from both the port and starboard mechanisms to evaluate the effectiveness of the new insulation.

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