Status Report

NASA Space Station Status Report 9 Apr 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
April 9, 2004
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NASA Space Station Status Report 9 Apr 2004

Three weeks remain in the six-month voyage aboard the
International Space Station for Expedition 8 Commander Mike
Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri. The crew is
preparing to return home this month and focused on wrapping
up science experiments and tidying up for their replacement
crew, Expedition 9.

Yesterday, NASA managers conducted a Flight Readiness Review.
No issues were found for the planned launch of Expedition 9
at 11:19 p.m. EDT April 18. Commander Gennady Padalka, Flight
Engineer Mike Fincke and European Space Agency astronaut
Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands will arrive at the Station
April 21. Kuipers returns to Earth with the Expedition 8 crew
April 29.

The Expedition 9 crew completed a dress launch rehearsal
earlier in the week at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The crew will rest this weekend in Moscow before returning to
Kazakhstan Tuesday for final launch preparations.

While the on orbit crew completes its work, flight
controllers and engineers reviewing video of the outside of
the Station found a black mark on dish antenna. It was
determined, over time, as the antenna moves to track NASA’s
communications satellites; it very lightly has been brushing
against a locking pin and handrail. Changing the software
slightly to “tell” the dish to stop before gimballing that
far easily solved the problem. Neither the mark nor the
rubbing has effected the operation of the antenna.

Foale focused his attention on wrapping up two major
experiments conducted during his mission. The Pore Formation
and Mobility Investigation (PFMI) successfully finished its
last sample. PFMI has run 21 samples since the first sample
was processed on-orbit in September 2002. The experiment
melts materials at elevated temperatures, so it is operated
inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

As the sample is processed, a video system allows scientists
working at the telescience center at NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. to watch as bubbles form
and move around in the transparent modeling material sample.
Bubbles that become trapped in metals or crystals can form
defects that decrease the material’s strength and usefulness.

By studying bubble formation and the defects they cause in
metals in microgravity, scientists will gain insights to
improve solidification processing on future space experiments
and similar processes on Earth.

Foale wore a special pair of Lycra cycling tights for his
final session with the Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during
Space Flight (FOOT) experiment. It measure how much stress
his legs and feet endure on a typical day. FOOT will provide
a better understanding of bone loss and muscle mass loss
experienced by astronauts in microgravity. The theories being
explored in this project also have significance for
understanding, preventing and treating osteoporosis on Earth.

Both PFMI and FOOT experiments were completed and stowed.

Kaleri spent some of the week fixing a cooling fan that helps
control humidity in the Soyuz spacecraft in which he and
Foale will return home. The two also reviewed the inventory
of items that will be brought home as well.

Information about crew activities aboard the Space Station is
available on the Internet at:

Details about Station science operations are available on the
Internet at:

SpaceRef staff editor.