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26 September 2008

International Space Station Status Report

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September 26, 2008 Expedition 17 Crew

The International Space Station's Expedition 17 crew is busy with scientific investigations. Research includes studying how the human body adapts in a microgravity environment. The international experiments Friday observe changes in an astronaut’s cardio-vascular system, immune system and sleep cycle.

 

While many experiments continue over several expeditions, new ones are being set up and old ones are being deactivated with the results being studied on the ground.

 

Crew members also continue their exercise regimen to counteract the effects of weightlessness. The station residents work out each day using equipment such as a treadmill and a resistive exercise device.

 

Meanwhile, the Expedition 18 crew prepares for its mission with a launch to the International Space Station planned for Oct. 12. Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke, Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov and spaceflight participant Richard Garriott are relaxing in Star City outside Moscow. They will head to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday.

 

A General Designers Review was held in Moscow on Friday, Sept. 19. The purpose of this review is similar to a flight readiness review for the Russians. NASA had folks in the meeting to listen and discuss the U.S. ability to support the upcoming expedition launch on Oct. 12. NASA will hold an ISS stage readiness review on Oct. 1 and flight readiness review on Oct. 7 for the upcoming launch. Flight readiness will be assessed through these reviews. As such, this is the first of a series of reviews ultimately leading to launch.

 

The results and status of the ongoing Soyuz investigation was presented. There were 26 possible failure causes identified for the recent Soyuz and propulsion module failure to separate. Of these, plasma and electrical degradation in the pyro igniters at a single location on the vehicle is believed to be the most likely cause of the separation failure. The Russians have made changes to the next Soyuz to reduce the impact of external vehicle charging and upgraded the pyros designed to be less susceptible to degradation. They also have made changes to reduce the consequences if the propulsion module fails to separate. Details can be obtained from Roscosmos. NASA will review this information as the ISS program progresses through the review cycle.

 

Jules Verne, Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, is being readied for its deorbit and fiery re-entry over the Pacific Ocean on Monday. Two engine firings will be conducted early Monday. An imagery experiment will be conducted during deorbit.

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