Finishing up a month which saw the crew conduct two spacewalks, Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and Astronauts Dan Bursch and Carl Walz spent a quiet week aboard the complex this week, completing a host of maintenance tasks, physical exercise and evaluations, and science experiments.
The crewmembers took a few breaks from their schedule during the week to field questions from a Cleveland, Ohio, television station and a New York, N.Y., radio station during an event on Thursday and to address more than 650 educators from across the United States on Friday that were gathered in Houston for the Eighth Annual International Space Station Educators Conference.
Maintenance activities included some minor repairs on the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS), replacing the hard drive of one of the command and control computers, troubleshooting the slight echo usually heard during space-to-ground communications, removing the automated docking system from the Russian Progress resupply vehicle and installing a laptop computer in the Quest airlock. The ARIS dampens the vibrations caused by movement by the crew in an effort to isolate the sensitive science experiments located in the Destiny Laboratory. A shock absorber pushrod was replaced after malfunctioning because of normal wear and tear on the system.
The crew replaced the hard drive on the third and final command and control computer with the new solid-state mass memory unit that is expected to operate better in the microgravity environment than the spinning disk type hard drive. The new unit is now activated and operating well.
Ground controllers in Mission Control Houston and Moscow are guiding the crew through several tests of the station's communications system. The crew is trying several configurations of the system to help find a solution to an echo. The echo does not impact flight operations, but slightly decreases the quality of the audio heard on the ground.
With systems operating normally, the station is orbiting at an average altitude of 247 statute miles (397 km).
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