Space Station (ISS) Status 4/14/06
The 13th crew of the International Space Station is wrapping up its
first week flying solo in its new orbiting home. The crew's work has
included station maintenance, medical and other experiments and
standard daily exercise.
Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer and NASA
Science Officer Jeff Williams said farewell to their predecessors
last Saturday. The Expedition 12 crew and a visiting Brazilian
astronaut undocked that afternoon and landed in Kazakhstan at 7:48
Vinogradov and Williams had light duty Sunday and Monday, a break
after completing eight days of extensive handover activities with
Maintenance work included a three-and-one-half hour scheduled
replacement of station toilet components on Tuesday. Both crew
members also took time to talk with two Russian news organizations
and participants at a Russian school children's aerospace festival.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the crew from
the Kremlin. Putin's call came on the 45th anniversary of the first
human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, a landmark event commemorated by
the Russian holiday Cosmonautics Day. That date, April 12, was also
the 25th anniversary of the first NASA space shuttle launch in 1981.
Putin told the crew it was a pleasure to see representatives of the
United States and Russia working together on the same spacecraft.
During the light-hearted exchange, Vinogradov invited Putin to visit
the space station.
The crew continued loading the station's Progress cargo craft with
trash and conducted physical evaluations and experiments Thursday.
Vinogradov and Williams practiced an emergency evacuation drill
Friday. Throughout the week, they had time to familiarize themselves
with their new home.
Vinogradov and Williams will remain in orbit for six months. During
that time, they plan to welcome two space shuttles and perform two
spacewalks. Shuttle Discovery's STS-121 mission, targeting a launch
no earlier than July 1, will bring European Space Agency astronaut
Thomas Reiter aboard the station.
Reiter will increase the station crew size to three for the first time
since May 2003 when the crew size was reduced to conserve station
supplies following the Columbia accident.
Back on Earth for almost a week, Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur
and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev remain in Star City, Russia, near
Moscow. They continue to undergo debriefing and rehabilitation after
190 days in space. With them is Marcos Pontes, Brazil's first
astronaut, who launched with Expedition 13. He returned to Earth with
the Expedition 12 crew after spending about eight days on the station
Tentative plans call for McArthur to return to Houston later this