Space Station (ISS) Status 1/27/06
Preparations for a walk in space took center stage this week on the
space station. Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight
Engineer Valery Tokarev reviewed procedures, gathered tools and
outfitted equipment for their spacewalk scheduled for February 3, 2006.
The walk may last up to six hours. It begins at 5:20 p.m. EST; NASA TV
coverage starts at 4:30 p.m. EST. During the walk, the crew will
release the unusual SuitSat satellite. It's an old Russian Orlan
spacesuit outfitted with amateur radio equipment. It will fly freely
for several weeks of scientific research and amateur radio tracking.
Eventually, SuitSat will burn up in the atmosphere.
The crew will also install a safety bolt in an emergency cable cutting
system on the station's mobile transporter rail car. The transporter
is used to move a platform containing the station's robotic arm along
the truss of the complex. Other spacewalk tasks include relocation of
an adaptor for the Russian Strela boom. The crane-like Strela is used
to move spacewalkers and cargo.
Managers decided to extend Expedition 12's mission and delay launch of
Expedition 13 by one week. Expedition 13 is planned to launch on a
Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on March 29, 2006. It
will dock on April 1. Expedition 12 is scheduled to return home April
8, 2006. The additional time will be used to prepare the Expedition 13
Soyuz spacecraft for flight.
The Protein Crystal Growth Monitoring by Digital Holographic
Microscope for the International Space Station experiment operated on
the station this week. The experiment uses diagnostic equipment to
monitor the exact growth conditions of protein crystals. The
experiment was activated Jan. 19. It operates for 15 days inside the
Destiny Laboratory's Microgravity Science Glovebox. A better
understanding of protein crystals may aid in the development of new
The ground-commanded Binary Colloidal Alloy Test captured time-lapse
photography of its sixth sample using camera equipment borrowed from
a student photography experiment called EarthKAM. The experiment
studies the physics of the Earth's surface crystallization and fluids
at their critical point. The payload operations team at NASA's
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, coordinates U.S.
science activities on the station. As part of NASA's education
programs, McArthur also videotaped a description of how astronauts
stay oriented in weightlessness. The video will be used in classrooms
and NASA educational products.