The International Space Station crew this week prepared for the exchange of unpiloted Progress cargo carriers and for the next shuttle mission, which will deliver an additional crew member.
Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Jeff Williams will welcome European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter, giving the station a third crew member for the first time since May 2003. Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch to the station no earlier than July 1.
Discovery will bring equipment and supplies to the station, much of it in the multi-purpose logistics module known as Leonardo. The Italian-built pressurized transporter will be taken from Discovery's cargo bay and attached to the station's Unity module, where it will be unloaded and later refilled with equipment, experiment results, other items and trash for return to Earth.
On Wednesday, Vinogradov and Williams trained for a photo session during Discovery's predocking maneuver. The orbiter does a back flip near the station to expose its belly to camera-wielding station crew members. The images are sent to Earth for examination to check for any damage to thermal protection tiles. Crew members also spent some time this week packing material for return to Earth on Discovery.
Both crew members worked to pack ISS Progress 20 with trash to get ready for its June 19 undocking, deorbit and incineration in the Earth's atmosphere. They continued to use oxygen from its tanks for the station's atmosphere. They closed the hatch and performed a leak check Friday.
The crew also tested the Toru manual docking system. It would be used in the unlikely event the Kurs automated docking system is unable to bring ISS Progress 22 to the Pirs docking port. The new Progress is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome June 24 and dock with the station June 26. It will carry about 2.5 tons of equipment and supplies.
Vinogradov and Williams had a day off on Monday, Russian Independence Day. Tuesday activities included disassembly of the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test experiment hardware, replacement of an avionics inlet fitting on the Crew Health Care System rack in the Destiny laboratory and work on noise reduction around the Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal system. Also on Tuesday, Williams, a Wisconsin native, took time to talk with a reporter from WEAU-TV in Eau Claire, Wis.
On Wednesday Vinogradov replaced interior panels and relocated smoke detectors in the Zvezda service module. Thursday work included a recharge of the station's defibrillator while Friday saw work with the microgravity science glovebox and stowage of the InSPACE, also known as Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions experiment.
The next station status report will be issued on Friday, June 23. For more about the crew's activities and station sighting opportunities, visit: