Expedition 5 Commander Valery Korzun, astronaut Peggy Whitson and cosmonaut Sergei Treschev began their 4½-month tour of duty on June 5 when they launched on board space shuttle Endeavour, They arrived on the ISS June 7. Since the shuttle undocked from ISS on Saturday, the new crewmembers have spent time familiarizing themselves with the station and its systems while unpacking the gear that arrived on board with them.
This week the crewmembers started loading unneeded equipment and other trash into the Progress 7 supply ship docked to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module. That cargo ship is slated to undock from ISS at 3:23 a.m. CDT Tuesday and will be destroyed during entry into Earth's atmosphere. A new unpiloted capsule, Progress 8, loaded with food, fuel, clothing and other supplies for the station crewmembers, is targeted to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan at 12:36 a.m. CDT Wednesday, and will dock automatically to ISS early June 29. Korzun and Treschev are scheduled to spend time this weekend refreshing their knowledge of the station's backup approach and docking system in preparation for Progress operations next week.
This week Whitson completed operations with the StelSys experiment in the Biotechnology Specimen Temperature Controller (BSTC), which supports investigations in cell biology and tissue engineering in a weightless environment. The BSTC houses stationary bioreactors that maintain samples at a specified temperature in a controlled environment. The StelSys Liver Cell Research experiment, a Space Product Development investigation done under a licensing agreement with StelSys, Inc. of Baltimore, Md., seeks to compare the function of liver cells in microgravity with that of duplicate cells on Earth as a means of learning more about how to maintain the health of humans living and working in space. Whitson's tasks included analyzing the growth media in those bioreactors, replacing the media, preserving and photographing sample cultures, and purging the growth chamber with carbon dioxide to prepare it for its next use. The StelSys samples are stowed in a refrigerator/freezer in the Lab for return to Earth on the next space shuttle assembly mission, STS-112/9A, targeted for launch in August.
Each day station crewmembers are assigned time for physical exercise, using the station's treadmill, bicycle ergometer, or resistive exercise devices, to strengthen the muscles and cardiovascular systems which don't get the workout in weightlessness that they do on Earth. Along with their routine exercise this week, Korzun and Treschev completed two sessions of a Russian-Japanese experiment in which they shot close-up high-definition video of themselves while running on the treadmill. Researchers study the crewmembers' facial features as part of the medical evaluation of a crewmember on orbit.
The ISS Expedition 4 crewmembers --Commander Yury Onufrienko and astronauts Carl Walz and Dan Bursch--completed a 196-day mission when they and their STS-111 crewmates touched down at Edwards Air Force Base in California at 10:58 a.m. PDT Wednesday. Walz and Bursch are now the co-holders of the record for the longest single spaceflight in U.S spaceflight history, 196 days,and Walz' total of 231 days on orbit during his five missions makes him the American astronaut with the most cumulative time in space.