Expedition 9 Completes Third Spacewalk

Two International Space Station spacewalkers began rolling out the welcome mat for a new cargo vehicle this morning. Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Fincke spent 4? hours outside the Station swapping out experiments and installing hardware associated with Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), scheduled to launch on its maiden voyage to ISS next year.

The ATV is an unpiloted cargo carrier like the Russian Progress supply vehicles, but has a cargo capacity about 2? times that of a Progress. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ATV is scheduled for its first launch in the fall of 2005 aboard an ESA Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. In addition to carrying cargo, including fuel, water, oxygen and nitrogen, it also can reboost the Station. Like the Progress, the ATV will burn up when it re-enters the atmosphere. During the spacewalk Padalka and Fincke worked smoothly around the exterior of the Russian Zvezda Service Module in their Orlan spacesuits. The pair exited the Pirs Docking Compartment airlock at 1:58 a.m. CDT and began work on the Russian segment immediately.

The crewmembers moved to the aft end cone of Zvezda, where they found a wide open workspace. ISS Progress 14 had been undocked from the area on Friday.

Their first task was to replace an experiment, called SKK that exposes materials the space environment with a fresh sample container. They also replaced a Kromka experiment unit that measures contamination from Service Module thruster firings.

Their attention then turned to preparing the Station for the arrival of ATVs by installing new rendezvous and docking equipment. They installed two antennas and replaced three laser reflectors with three more advanced versions than the ones launched with Zvezda in 2000. One three-dimensional reflector was also installed to replace three other old reflectors the spacewalkers removed.

While in the area, the crew also disconnected a cable for a camera that has broken and will be replaced on a future spacewalk. The crew also retrieved another materials experiment, Platan-M. The crew returned to Pirs with the Platan-M, Kromka No.2, SKK No. 2 and the six old laser reflectors in tow.

As they worked at the rear of the Service Module, the three 600-pound Control Moment Gyroscopes that control the orientation in space of the orbiting laboratory approached their saturation level, a condition that had been expected. The Station was placed in free drift while the spacewalkers continued working. Consequently, as power conservation measures were executed, S-band communication was temporarily lost.

At about 4:15 a.m. CDT, the spacewalkers, who were about 40 minutes ahead of their timeline, were asked to clear the area. Once they moved forward, the thrusters on the Service Module were activated to realign the Station’s attitude and S-band communication was also restored.

Subsequently, at about 5 a.m. CDT, the Control Moment Gyroscopes reassumed attitude control and the Service Module thrusters were turned off. The spacewalkers then returned to work at the rear of the Service Module.

The crew closed the hatch and ended the spacewalk at 6:28 a.m. CDT. This was the 55th spacewalk in support of Station assembly and maintenance, the 30th staged from the Station itself, the fifth for Padalka and Fincke’s third.

Information on the crew’s activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at:


Details on Station science operations can be found on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:


Original Source: NASA News Release

Astronauts Prepare for Third Spacewalk

The International Space Station’s Expedition 9 crewmembers are now past the halfway point of their six-month mission. This week, they prepared for a third spacewalk and joined the world in observing the 35th anniversary of the first landing of humans on the moon.

July 19 was the midpoint of the flight for ISS Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mike Fincke, who launched Apr. 19 and are targeted to return Oct. 19. On Monday Fincke spoke with Charles Gibson of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning, America” about the birth of his daughter, Tarali, in June while he was in space. Fincke’s wife and children joined the discussion from Houston.

This week the crew continued packing unneeded equipment and trash in the Progress vehicle, scheduled to undock July 30. Undocking the Progress from Zvezda’s aft docking port will clear the area for the next spacewalk, targeted for Aug. 3. Wearing Russian spacesuits and exiting from the Pirs Docking Compartment, Padalka and Fincke are to install retroreflectors and communications equipment needed for the docking of the Automated Transfer Vehicle, a European Space Agency cargo spacecraft scheduled to make its first flight next year. Yesterday, Padalka and Fincke maneuvered the Station’s Canadarm2 into position so its cameras can view the spacewalk, and today they wrapped up a thorough review of the spacewalk timeline with specialists in Moscow.

Fincke and Padalka also continued their support this week of an experiment that looks at the interactions between the crew and the ground teams. This experiment involves a questionnaire on a laptop computer, which the crew and members of their ground support team complete once a week. The data is being used to examine issues involving tension, cohesion and leadership roles in both the crewmembers and their support team. The information gained will lead to improved training and in-flight support of future space crews.

As part of Fincke’s Saturday Afternoon Science, he conducted another session of the Educational Payload Operations or EPO. This EPO activity demonstrated what crewmembers can observe about pollution and the environmental problems on Earth. Fincke showed the window where he observes the Earth, and described what types of pollution can be seen — such as air pollution in urban areas, smoke from wildfires, deforestation and strip mining.

The activity was videotaped and will be used later in classrooms and NASA educational products. EPO is an education payload designed to support the NASA Mission to inspire the next generation of explorers.

Meanwhile, flight controllers in Houston are continuing to investigate why two U.S. spacesuits are not providing the proper cooling. This week, Fincke conducted troubleshooting of a motor in the water pump of one of the spacesuits as engineers on the ground monitored. An analysis of photos and video from that work is underway. Two spare water pumps will be launched in the next Progress supply ship, due to lift off Aug. 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The failure of a computer on the Station’s inactive starboard thermal radiator on Monday has no significant impact on current operations. The radiator is not in use in the present Station configuration, although the computer had assisted flight controllers with monitoring of temperatures and pressures of the unused equipment. The radiator is not scheduled to be used until several missions after the Space Shuttle’s return to flight.

Tuesday, Padalka and Fincke celebrated the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and discussed the past, present and future of space exploration — and the role to be played by the International Space Station in future exploration — during in an interview with CBS News.

For information about NASA and agency missions on the Internet, visit:


Information about crew activities on the Space Station, future launch dates and Station sighting opportunities from Earth, is available on the Internet at:


Details about Station science operations are available on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:


Original Source: NASA News Release

NASA Learns More About Bone Loss in Space

Image credit: NASA
A new NASA-funded study revealed how bone loss increases the risk of injuries, highlighting the need for additional measures to ensure the health of spacecraft crews.The study provides new information about bone loss caused by prolonged spaceflight. The study is in the online version of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The research team was from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The team used three-dimensional X-ray computed tomography (CT) to study the effect of prolonged weightlessness on the bone mineral density and structure of the hip in a group of 14 American and Russian International Space Station crewmembers. The crewmembers spent from four to six months onboard the Station. The research suggests additional conditioning exercises and other countermeasures may be necessary to prevent bone mineral loss.

“This study underlines the importance of continuing to develop countermeasures to preserve musculoskeletal conditioning in long-duration space travelers,” said Guy Fogleman, director of Bioastronautics Research in NASA’s Office of Biological and Physical Research, Washington. “Results of this research, which may aid people on Earth who suffer for similar conditions including osteoporosis, are being shared with the medical community,” he added.

This study is the first to use CT imaging to three-dimensionally quantify spaceflight-related bone loss in the hip and to estimate changes in hipbone strength. Previous studies used a two-dimensional imaging technology called dual X-ray absorptiometry.

The CT measurements in the hip were performed pre- and post-flight to measure bone loss in the porous bone in the interior of the hip and in the dense outer shell of the hipbone. On average, the Station crew lost interior bone at a rate of 2.2 to 2.7 percent for each month in space and outer bone at a rate of 1.6 to 1.7 percent per month.

“Our study demonstrates that bone loss occurs in the Space Station crewmembers at a rate comparable to that observed almost a decade before in the crew of the Russian Mir spacecraft,” said Thomas Lang, UCSF associate professor of radiology and principal investigator on the study. “The lack of clear progress in the interval between Mir and Station missions indicates a need for continued efforts to improve musculoskeletal conditioning regimens during longer space missions, such as those proposed for the moon and Mars,” Lang said.

The investigators used information from the CT images to estimate changes in the strength of the hipbone. They found on average the hipbone strength declined by 2.5 percent for each month of flight. Since the amount of bone loss increases with mission length, crewmembers on multiyear explorations may face increased risk of fracture upon return to Earth gravity. In addition, those who do not recover the lost bone may be at increased risk of fracture as they age.

The researchers also analyzed loss of density in vertebrae (back bones). Vertebrae, along with the hip, are the skeletal sites associated most with serious osteoporotic fractures in the elderly. The study found on average, the Station crew lost vertebral bone at a rate of 0.8 to 0.9 percent per month, which was consistent with data from earlier long-duration missions.

To view the study on the Internet, visit:


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Original Source: NASA News Release

French Astronaut Gets Government Position

Image credit: ESA

Claudie Haigner?, an astronaut with the European Space Agency, has been appointed to the post of Minister for Research and New Technologies in the French government. She joined the European Astronaut Corps in 1999 and has been to space twice on board Russian Soyuz spacecraft – she was the first European woman to visit the International Space Station in 2001.

Claudie Haigner?, the ESA astronaut, has been appointed to the post of Minister for Research and New Technologies in the French government announced yesterday.

Claudie Haigner?, 45, with an outstanding ‘cursus honoris’, a doctor with a specialisation in rheumatology and a Ph.D in neurosciences, was selected in 1985 as a candidate astronaut by the French space agency, CNES. She has played a prominent role in the development of scientific applications of manned spaceflight and in fostering scientific relations with Russia. Mrs Haigner? is a permanent member of the French Academy of Technology and holds the honours of Officier de la L?gion d’Honneur and Chevalier de l’Ordre National du M?rite.

In 1999 she joined the European Astronaut Corps of the European Space Agency. She has taken part in two space missions with the Russians, ‘Cassiop?e’ in August 1996 and ‘Androm?de’ in October 2001. She was the first woman to qualify as a Soyuz Return Commander (July 1999), responsible for the three-person Soyuz capsule during a re-entry from space, and was the first European woman to visit the International Space Station (October 2001).

ESA’s Director General, Antonio Rodot?, expressed delight at this appointment, “In our ‘space world’ Claudie Haigner? has demonstrated really outstanding capabilities as a scientist as well as an astronaut during her time with us. This appointment honours the European Space Agency and puts Mrs Haigner? in a key position to shape the future of Europe’s science and technology. I wish her all the best in her new responsibilities.”

Original Source: ESA News Release

Second Spacewalk Goes Well

During a 5-hour spacewalk, astronauts Franklin Chang-D?az and Philippe Perrin completed installation of the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System on the International Space Station’s Mobile Transporter. This gives the Canadarm2 the ability to move around the station, assisting with construction and maintenance. The astronauts will perform their third and final spacewalk on Thursday to replace the Canadarm2’s wrist joint.

In a 5-hour spacewalk today, Endeavour astronauts Franklin Chang-D?az and Philippe Perrin completed installation of the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System, or MBS, on the International Space Station?s railcar, the Mobile Transporter. With those tasks completed, they established a moveable base for future use by the station?s robotic arm, Canadarm2.

Chang-D?az and Perrin ventured outside the station?s Quest airlock at 10:20 a.m. Central time. With the help of Pilot Paul Lockhart, who guided the spacewalk from inside the shuttle, Chang-D?az and Perrin first connected primary and backup cables for video and data, and primary power cables between the Mobile Transporter railcar and the MBS. Once the connections were made, ground controllers sent commands for the MT to remotely plug in its umbilical attachments to receptacles on the S0 (S-Zero) truss railway.

With that complete, Chang-D?az and Perrin then deployed an auxiliary grapple fixture on the MBS called the Payload Orbital Replacement Unit Accommodation, or POA, and placed it in its final configuration. Identical to the end effectors on Canadarm2, the fixture can grapple payloads and hold them as they are moved along the station?s truss atop the MBS.

Continuing to run ahead of schedule, the two spacewalkers then secured four bolts between the MBS and the railcar, completing installation of the new MBS platform. Later this month or next, Canadarm2 will ?walk off? the Destiny Laboratory and mate its free hand to any one of four power and data fixtures on the new platform so it can be driven up and down the length of the station?s truss for use in future station assembly and maintenance operations.

The spacewalkers then relocated a television camera to its final position on top of a mast atop the MBS. The camera will provide views of station assembly and maintenance operations to ground controllers. Final tasks included adding an extra extension cable for the platform, a wire tie to one of the cables installed earlier during the spacewalk and to photograph connectors near the lower portion of the MBS that tie into the MT.

Following an inventory of the tools they used during the spacewalk, Perrin and Chang-D?az re-entered Quest. Airlock repressurization began at 3:20 p.m. Central time, signaling the end of the spacewalk. It was the 40th spacewalk in support of ISS assembly and maintenance and the second of the mission, bringing the total spacewalking time for STS-111 to 12 hours and 14 minutes.

After flight controllers verified that all connections on the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System were working properly, the capture latch on Canadarm2 was released. The arm, which had been supplying power to the MBS, was then repositioned for Thursday?s third and final spacewalk of the mission, which will see replacement of its wrist roll joint.

Handover conferences between the two Expedition crews and the transfer of equipment and supplies to the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module also continued today. Working ahead of schedule, the crew continued to refill the module with unneeded supplies to be returned to Earth.

At 9:19 Central time tonight, Endeavour crewmembers and former Expedition Four Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch will set a new U.S. space endurance record, exceeding Shannon Lucid?s record of 188 consecutive days spent in space. Walz will set another record in the process, exceeding Lucid?s U.S. record for cumulative days spent in space as he reaches 223 days accrued over the course of five flights. Expedition 4 Commander Yury Onufrienko has spent a total 381 days in space, but remains far behind the world record for time in space of 747 days, held by Sergei Avdeyev.

The next STS-111 status report will be issued Wednesday morning after crew wakeup, or earlier, if events warrant.

Original Source: NASA News Release