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Station Crew Awaits Soyuz, Shuttle Dockings

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Dec 1, 2010 10:19 am via: NASA
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All systems aboard the orbiting International Space Station continued to function well Tuesday, as the three-person Expedition 26 crew tackled some light-duty maintenance tasks while awaiting the arrival of three additional flight engineers aboard a Soyuz on Dec. 17 as well as the launch of space shuttle Discovery.

Commander Scott Kelly spent some time cleaning fans that provide crucial ventilation throughout the modules. With the absence of any natural wind to circulate the air, these fans prevent pockets of carbon dioxide from building up inside the closed space station atmosphere.

Later, working in the Tranquility module, Kelly performed in-flight maintenance on the internal thermal control system as he flushed the system and collected a sample for analysis back on Earth.

Working in the Russian segment of the station, Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka continued to unload cargo from the ISS Progress 40 supply ship, which docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment on Oct. 30.

Skripochka spent much of his afternoon laying cables that will establish a new high-speed data rate downlink capability for the Russian segment of the station, and also began work to replace one of the two Russian air conditioners used to remove excess moisture from the station’s atmosphere. That reclaimed moisture is later used to generate oxygen.

The station’s residents also had several opportunities for Earth observation and photography as they soared 220 statute miles above the planet. Among the sites suggested by researchers for photography Tuesday were Lake Eyre, a mostly dry lakebed in Australia, and the active Soufriere Hills Volcano, which has rendered more than half of the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean uninhabitable.

During his stay aboard the station, Kelly also will capture photos of interesting spots around the globe from his unique vantage point and post them online for a geography trivia game.

A new trio of Expedition 26 flight engineers, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 15. They will dock with the station and join its crew on Dec. 17.

The launch of space shuttle Discovery’s STS-133 mission to the space station is currently targeted for no earlier than Dec. 17. During Discovery’s final spaceflight, the STS-133 crew will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, which will be attached to the Earth-facing side of the Unity module. Discovery also will carry critical spare components, the Express Logistics Carrier-4 and Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot in space.

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