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Station Crew Ready To Pack Up And Go Home

File photo of Commander Leroy Chiao (R) and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov.
Houston TX (SPX) Apr 04, 2005
Following their second spacewalk, and nearing the end of a six-month flight, the Expedition 10 crew, last week, conducted science experiments, and prepared for the arrival of their replacements- readying the Station for the first post-Columbia Space Shuttle mission.

Commander Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov replaced the tools used during Monday's spacewalk, cleaned and stowed their Russian Orlan spacesuits and reconfigured the Pirs Docking Compartment airlock.

During their four-hour, 30-minute spacewalk, the crew installed antennas for a new automated European supply spacecraft and released a small Russian technology satellite

The crew began packing gear that will be returned on the Shuttle. They also checked out cameras the new Station crew will use to photograph the Shuttle's heat shield.

Chiao conducted some troubleshooting on one of the digital cameras that is experiencing intermittent card reading errors during downloads. Other cameras are available if needed.

The crew also continued work with the Station's Elektron oxygen generation system. The system has operated intermittently over the past few weeks. Additional troubleshooting was conducted this week by Sharipov, while Russian technicians continued to study repair options.

Multiple alternate sources of oxygen are available, and the Elektron problems have not significantly impacted activities.

Chiao and Sharipov participated in a question and answer session with students at the Sheridan Middle School in New Haven, Conn. yesterday and an amateur radio session with the Science Discovery Center in Denton, Texas.

Two of the Station's Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs), controlling orientation, continue to perform well. A brief, unusual vibration was detected on one of them, CMG 3, just after the end of the spacewalk on Monday.

Engineers are continuing to evaluate it. Two other gyroscopes are not operating. One of them is planned to be repowered and the other replaced during a spacewalk on the Shuttle mission.

Two gyroscopes are sufficient to control the Station, but additional gyroscopes will be needed as assembly resumes, and the size of the complex increases.

The next Station crew continued training this week at Russia's Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. The Expedition 11 crew, Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer John Phillips, along with European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Roberto Vittori, completed final exams and certification for launch.

They will travel to the launch site, the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, this weekend and conduct a check of their Soyuz spacecraft on Monday. Vittori will spend eight days on the Station under a commercial contract between ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency. Krikalev and Phillips will spend six months aloft.

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