Category The International Space Station


With Discovery gone, the Elektron oxygen generator was powered on as ISS was reconfigured for routine operations. It had been powered off on December 10, because Discovery’s oxygen supply had been used to support the station during the joint flight. The Expedition crew had a light day on December 20. Monday, December 25, was Christmas Day and the Expedition-14 crew had the day off, before returning to work the following day. They unpacked the material delivered by Discovery, entering it in the computerised inventory, and stowing it around ISS. The crew also resumed their regular schedule of exercise, maintenance, and experiments.

Lopez-Alegria and Williams spent much of the first week of 2007 installing the Oxygen Generation System (OGS) activation kit in Unity. The American system, which would complement the Elektron oxygen generator in the Russian section of the station, was installed in preparation for the intended increase in Expedition crew to six astronauts, following the delivery of extra sleeping quarters in Node-3, by STS-132. The OGS would be activated later in the year. Meanwhile, Tyurin installed


Figure 82. Expedition-14 (L to R): Sunita Williams replaced Thomas Reiter as the third crew member of the Expedition-14 crew. She joined Micheal LOpez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin partway through their occupation.


Figure 83. Expedition-15: three SPHERES micro-satellites float in Zvezda during testing.

new fans, vibration isolators, and acoustic shields in the Russian modules in order to upgrade the soundproofing there. During the week the crew installed and ran the first experiments on the Test of Reaction and Adaptation Capabilities (TRAC) experiment, in which they used a joystick to react to movements of a cursor on a computer screen. They also completed the last round of experiments with the European Modular Cultivation System taking the final round of photographs before storing the plants in the freezer for return to Earth.

The crew had a three-day rest period to mark the Russian Orthodox Christmas, before spending the week packing rubbish into Progress M-57, which would be undocked from Pirs at 18: 28, January 16, commanded to re-enter the atmosphere several hours later, where it would be heated to destruction. Progress M-59 would replace it at Pirs’ nadir. As the week progressed the crew removed the Robotics Onboard Trainer from Zvezda and relocated it to Destiny, Tyurin repaired and tested numerous pieces of equipment in the Russian modules, and Williams per­formed similar maintenance on American equipment. Automated and hands-on experiments also continued in both sectors of the station.


When David Harland wrote the Postscript for Creating the International Space Station in 2001, the Shuttle-supported ISS was the only American human spaceflight programme funded by Congress. As I complete this Postscript in 2007, that is no longer true.

Following the loss of STS-107 in February 2003, the American human space programme was given a new set of priorities by President George W. Bush. The Shuttle would be used to complete ISS and then be retired in 2010. NASA would develop two new spacecraft and two new launch vehicles in order to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon, establish a permanent base there, and ultimately send a crew to set foot on Mars. President Bush has invited other nations to join America in Project Constellation, but so far none has signed up. Russia has recently announced its national space budget for the period up to 2015. Although ISS features prom­inently in that budget, there is no mention of Project Constellation. The Russians have stated that after 2015 they may reconsider their position regarding their parti­cipation in Project Constellation, but have made no promises. ESA and JAXA are only just beginning their major participation in the ISS programme, following the delivery of their laboratory modules. The delays to the station’s construction (a two-year delay in launching Zvezda and a further three years following the loss of STS-107) have meant that those nations will not receive the length of use from their laboratories that they had originally planned. ESA and JAXA have so far not committed themselves to Project Constellation. China is the third nation to launch astronauts into orbit, and they have recently expressed an interest in becoming part of the ISS programme. In 2007, China sent a successful probe into lunar orbit, returning stunning photographs of Earth from that location. China has expressed an intention to place one of their astronauts on the lunar surface before the 13th American astronaut gets there.

NASA had originally planned to participate in the ISS programme until 2016, with the Shuttle operating throughout that period, and possibly until the mid-2020s.

The loss of STS-107 led NASA and the American government to admit the short­comings of the Shuttle system, which is basically 1970s’ technology, although some of the orbiters have undergone major upgrades. The President’s public announcement that the Shuttle would be retired in 2010 meant that it would not be available to support ISS until 2016. The new Crew Exploration Vehicle, Orion, would not be available to fly crews into Earth orbit until 2015, and only then if NASA received sufficient funding to meet its optimistic early schedules for the new programme. Those funds have not been made available and Orion’s schedule is already slipping. With no Orion spacecraft available, NASA will have no choice but to purchase seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft in order to continue to have access to their hardware on ISS. This will be the second time that access to the station has only remained available to human crews because of Russian spacecraft and launch vehicles, and yet there are still many individual Americans who argue that the Russians should not have been invited to participate in the ISS programme and insist that Russian space hardware is antiquated, unreliable, and dangerous—for no other reason than because it is not American space hardware. They forget that Soyuz has been carrying cosmonauts into orbit since 1967 and that ISS is only permanently manned today because Zvezda is based on the Mir base block, which was itself based on the Russian experience in operating seven Salyut space stations in Earth orbit, starting in 1971. If it is not cancelled following the 2008 election, the Orion spacecraft and its Ares-I launch vehicle will be developed and its early crews will fly to ISS, where it may well replace Soyuz as the principal Crew Transfer Vehicle and CRV, holding four astronauts at a time, a task that would require two Soyuz spacecraft. American operators and any International Partners that do sign up to Project Constellation will gain confidence in the new spacecraft and its launch vehicle during those flights to ISS, while Constellation’s “Altair” Lunar Surface Access Module and its Ares-V launch vehicle is developed and flight-tested. That confidence in and flight experience with the Orion/Ares-1 combination will make it easier for programme managers to decide when Project Constellation is ready to return humans to the lunar surface.

In 2007, even as Harmony was being installed on Unity in advance of its relocation on to Destiny’s ram, the first boilerplate Orion spacecraft were under manufacture. They would be used to test the Launch Abort System and the Crew Module’s parachute systems, as well as the landing system. These tests would be uncrewed. The first Solid Rocket Booster, for use on the first Ares-1 flight-test was also under development. Two successful drop tests of the parachute that would be used to recover that first stage had already taken place, using mass simulators, over the American desert.

The ISS has proved that nations with large cultural differences can work together in space in the name of science. Many of the ISS partner nations are politically opposed to the American-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, but ISS is not a machine of war. It is a place of peaceful scientific research, and therefore individual nations continue to support it without contradicting their opposition to the two wars in question. The ISS is also a great showcase for national technological achievements. As I have stated, ISS is only crewed today because of Russia’s Zvezda module and has only remained crewed throughout the past 7 years thanks to the Russian Soyuz and

Progress spacecraft and many of the routines established flying to the Russian Salyut and Mir space stations. The Pirs docking module provides EVA capability using the Russian Orlan-M pressure suit. The Russians have much to be proud of in the ISS programme.

The cargo-carrying capability of the American Shuttle has been indispensable. It has delivered the American Destiny laboratory module, the Z-1 truss with its attitude control system, and the P-6 ITS which provided temporary electrical power and ammonia cooling systems while the ITS was constructed. The large sections of the ITS have bolted together perfectly and the reconfigured electrical power and ammonia cooling systems have allowed the station to reach the point where it is now ready to support the European and Japanese laboratory modules. Shuttle can also deliver large quantities of supplies and take away equally large amounts of rubbish and unwanted items that might otherwise fill up the station making it difficult for the crew to perform their tasks. Shuttle also produces large amounts of water, just by running its fuel cells, which it does throughout each flight; that water can be bagged and left on the station each time the Shuttle visits, thus preventing the heavy liquid having to be transported to the station separately.

Canada’s RMS on the Shuttles and the SSRMS on the station, along with the MBS, have also proved indispensable. Without them the station would not have been constructed so smoothly. Europe and Japan have both produced their crewed space­craft modules to the highest standards demanded of such vehicles, and their robotic transfer vehicles will relieve the Shuttle of its cargo delivery and rubbish removal role when it is retired. All of these nations, 16 in total, have had to overcome mistrust and misgivings about working with different political, social, and even engineering and scientific cultures to make the ISS programme what it is today. The close-knit teamwork and the personal friendships that have developed across geographical and political borders are one of the greatest achievements of this multi-faceted programme.

Engineering demands during the ISS programme have included constructing the station itself, a mammoth task, and then just keeping the spacecraft systems functioning as they should. This had demanded regular maintenance and frequent repairs of equipment both inside and outside the station. On many occasions those repairs have only been possible after replacement parts have been delivered to the station on the next Progress, or the next Shuttle flight. If Project Constellation establishes a permanent base on the lunar surface that capability to supply spare parts in real time might still exist, but it will not be possible on the initial human flights to Mars. The lessons learnt from each failure on ISS must be applied in full to future spacecraft in an attempt to increase reliability to the point that the Mars crew’s lives are not put in danger because of a minor mechanical failure.

Science on ISS has proved the Russian experience on Salyut and Mir, suggesting that two crew members are required just to perform maintenance and a third to perform science, is not necessarily correct. The automation of many of the experi­ments on ISS, allowing them to run in the background, without any regular input from the crew, along with the capability to have ground controllers activate and de-activate experiments on the station has relieved the crew of many tedious tasks.

Those experiments that do require a human input are managed as part of the flight plan and performed alongside the maintenance tasks. Many of the experiments performed on ISS have possible applications in future spacecraft. These include engineering experiments, materials exposure to see which materials perform best in the space environment, and plant growth experiments which might one day provide fresh food and even a natural oxygen production system as part of a hybrid Life Support System.

Following the announcement of Project Constellation in 2004, NASA concen­trated its experiment programme on subjects directly applicable to long-duration spaceflight. This included experiments to show how the human body behaves in space and what adaptations are made naturally during long-term exposure to that environment. In short, NASA does not want to send astronauts to the surface of Mars and find that they are unable to function when they get there. Experiments on ISS might show that that will not happen or, more importantly, they might show how to prevent that from happening.

It remains to be seen if Project Constellation will be a national project by the richest and most technologically advanced nation on the Earth, or if the experience of the ISS programme will encourage other nations to join the quest. Will the human race leave Earth and explore the solar system, or will it be left to America to return to the Moon and press on to Mars alone?

America explores space because of what the space programme gives back to America. It encourages students to study the sciences and engineering, subjects that they will need if they want to be a part of the space programme. The demand for these subjects ensures that colleges and universities across the nation will teach them to the highest standards. Better educated students can only be a good thing for the future of America. In developing hardware and computer software for spaceflight, America’s private companies expand their experience and their knowledge. The demands of human spaceflight regularly lead to new manufacturing techniques and new materials. New management techniques and new skills on the shop floor, as well as technological spin-off from the original products developed for spaceflight all add to America’s manufacturing base, and that in its turn helps to improve their national economy. Large space programmes employ huge numbers of people across a vast range of skills. Those workers are paid by their companies, and they spend that money inside America, again helping to improve the national economy. Achieve­ments accomplished inside a highly visible space programme add to America’s national prestige around the world. Surely, America cannot be the only nation to see the upside of this arrangement.

So, what of ISS now that NASA is planning how to return to the Moon?

No longer is the International Space Station an end in itself, it has more meaning now than it ever did in the past. The ISS has become the Space Station that Werner von Braun foresaw in the famous articles that he wrote for Colliers Magazine in the early 1950s. The International Space Station has finally become an important step­ping stone on the long road that is the age-old human desire to leave Earth and explore the solar system.


Progress M-59 was launched from Baikonur at 21: 12, January 17, 2007, and was successfully placed into orbit. The spacecraft’s launch shroud carried a painted portrait of Sergei Korolev, the famous Soviet spaceflight pioneer, to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. Following a standard rendezvous, the unmanned cargo vehicle docked to Pirs at 21 : 59, January 19. The arrival of 2,561 kg of new supplies was followed by a week of routine exercise, maintenance, and experiments. Lopez-Alegria, Tyurin, and Williams spent time unloading Progress M-59 and also began preparations for a Stage EVA. On January 25, controllers in Houston manoeuvred the SSRMS to the position from which it would support the first EVA, while the crew reviewed their equipment and procedures.

The 50th EVA from ISS, as opposed to from a Shuttle airlock, began at 11: 14, January 31, as Lopez-Alegria and Williams left Quest wearing American EMUs. After collecting their tools they made their way to the area between the Z-1 Truss on Unity and S-0 ITS on Destiny, at the centre of the ITS. They worked to de-mate and re-route two electrical connectors running between the Z1 Truss and S0 ITS, to Destiny. During the next EVA the electrical harness would be extended from Destiny to PMA-2. When complete, the Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS) would allow docked Shuttles to draw electrical power from the station, thereby extending their flights to 14 days in duration. The SSPTS was due to be used for the first time during the flight of STS-118, then planned for July 2007.

They also redirected four cooling lines, part of the temporary Early External Active Thermal Control System, which had been maintaining the station’s temperature since the P-6 ITS had been erected on the Z-1 Truss in 2000, and attached them to connectors for the permanent cooling system, the Low Temperature


Figure 84. Expedition-14: Sunita Williams runs on the treadmill in Zvezda. The elastic harness keeps her in place in the microgravity environment.

Loop (Loop-А), which connected them to the heat exchangers in Destiny. The Low Temperature Loop carried heat away from the station’s environmental systems.

Having completed their work with the SSPTS the two astronauts joined together with controllers in Houston to continue their work on the station’s cooling system. Controllers commanded the starboard radiator, one of three, on the P-6 ITS to retract. Lopez-Alegria and Williams secured the retracted radiator in place. The second P-6 radiator would be retracted on the following EVA and the third later in the year, during the flight of STS-118. They covered the radiator to keep it at the correct temperature for the months between its retraction and re-deployment. The astronauts then turned their attention to disconnecting a fluid line to a reservoir, the Early Ammonia Servicer (EAS), on the P-6 ITS, securing it in a storage position. The Expedition-15 crew were to unbolt and jettison the EAS, but in the meantime, by securing the fluid line leading to it, the astronauts were preserving the ability to re­instate the system if needed. The two astronauts returned to Quest at 18: 09, after 7 hours 55 minutes.

After two days of rest and a third of preparations, Lopez-Alegria and Williams left Quest again, at 08:38, February 4, 2007. Once again, they made their way to the area between the Z-1 and S-0 ITS, where they had started their previous EVA. There they re-routed a further two electrical and four fluid lines. This time they reconfigured the Moderate Temperature Cooling Loop (Loop-В), which carried heat from the station’s avionics and payload racks. Next they joined with controllers in Houston to retract the P-6 aft radiator. The station’s orientation in relation to the Sun meant that the aft radiator did not require the installation of a thermal shield to maintain its temperature. With the radiator retracted, the astronauts disconnected and stowed the second EAS ammonia fluid line. Lopez-Alegria, positioned at the base of the P-6 ITS, photographed the starboard SAW and the blanket box into which it would be retracted during the flight of STS-117. With the photographs taken, both astronauts returned to re-routing the electrical system, from the S-0 ITS across the exterior of Destiny, and on to PMA-2, on the laboratory’s ram. The cables provided electrical power for the SSPTS. Three of the six cables were connected during this EVA. Lopez – Alegria also removed a sunshade from a data relay box on PMA-1, between Unity and Zarya. The EVA ended at 15: 49, after 7 hours 11 minutes, at which time Williams held the record for the total time spent in EVA by a woman.


On March 7, NASA dismissed Lisa Nowak from her position as a NASA astronaut. It was the first time that such a thing had happened. Nowak, a US Naval officer had been arrested by police following criminal allegations related to her private life that also involved astronaut William Oefelein and a female US Air Force officer. Nowak and Oefelein were both returned to service with the US Navy. Nowak had flown to ISS on STS-121, in July 2006, and Oefelein had visited ISS on STS-116, in December 2006.


The next Expedition-14 EVA began at 08: 26, February 8, when Lopez-Alegria and Williams left Quest. They moved to the CETA carts on the ram face of the ITS. Placing their equipment on one cart, they moved it along the rails on the ITS, to the P-З ITS segment. There, they removed thermal shrouds from the RJMC on P-З. Next, they removed two thermal shrouds from Bay 18 and Bay 20 of the P-З ITS, to avoid them trapping heat as a result of the station’s present orientation to the Sun. Each of the RJMC shrouds was wrapped in one of the bay shrouds and thrown away, towards the station’s ram. They then deployed an Unpressurised Cargo Carrier Assembly Attachment System (UCCAAS) on the zenith face of the P-З ITS. This was done in anticipation of a cargo platform being attached during the flight of STS-118. While Lopez-Alegria worked with the UCCAAS, Williams made her way to the end of the P-5 ITS and removed two launch locks, in preparation for the re-location of the P-6 ITS on to the exposed end of the P-5 ITS. The two astronauts then completed their work, connecting the final four STSPTS electrical cables between Destiny and PMA-2. Whilst in the area they photographed a suspect communications con­nector on PMA-2 that carried communications between ISS and docked Shuttles while the hatches were closed. Communications at those times had been intermittent on recent Shuttle flights. The EVA ended at 15: 06, after 6 hours 40 minutes. Lopez-Alegria completed the EVA as the new American record holder for cumulative EVA time with 61 hours 22 minutes spent in open space.

In the very early hours of February 11, communications were lost between ISS and Houston. A switching unit had suffered a malfunction that caused a circuit breaker to trip, in turn causing a loss of power to the station. All three crew members worked to recover communications and restore power. The difficulties lasted for 90 minutes, but the work to restore the station to its normal routine and return all the affected systems to operation took the remainder of the day. NASA was at pains to point out that, “… the safety of the Expedition-14 crew and the complex was never an issue.’’ The astronauts also began their preparations for their final EVA, when Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin would work out of Pirs wearing Orlan suits. The EVA was planned for February 22, and the two men spent the week beforehand preparing their suits and other equipment, as well as going over their work schedule. Meanwhile, Atlantis was moved to the launchpad in Florida for STS-117. In prep­aration for that flight, controllers in Houston commanded the MT to move the SSRMS to the starboard side of the ITS.

At 05: 27, February 22, Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin exited Pirs to begin their EVA. Tyurin reported that the sublimator, which dumped heat from his suit to the vacuum, had failed to function. As a result, the inside of his faceplate had fogged over. NASA, engineers suggested that the problem was caused by activating the sublimator in the airlock before it was at full vacuum. Tyurin turned the sublimator off and then reactivated it, after which it functioned correctly and cleared his faceplate. Making their way to the stuck KURS antenna on Progress M-58, they cut one of four supporting struts and pulled it back, thus ensuring that it would not impair the spacecraft’s undocking. The antenna had become stuck behind one of Zvezda’s EVA handrails during docking, but it was now 6 inches clear of that rail.

Their next task was to photograph a Russian satellite navigation antenna, before they changed a Russian materials exposure experiment. They also photographed docking targets and an antenna intended for use by the European ATV when it approached and docked to ISS, then scheduled for later in the year. Photographs were also taken of a German experiment and portions of the Strela-2 crane mounted on the exterior of Pirs. A series of other tasks completed the EVA, which ended at 11:45, after the pair had stowed two foot restraints on the ladder outside Pirs; it had lasted 6 hours 18 minutes, 15 minutes longer than planned. The week following the recordbreaking fifth EVA was spent cleaning up and performing routine experiments and maintenance.

When a thunderstorm passed over KSC on February 26, hail damaged the foam at the top of STS-117’s ET as it stood on the launchpad. The Shuttle stack was rolled back to the VAB for inspection and repair. The planned March 15 launch was cancelled and rescheduled for no earlier than May 11, but more likely June. Soyuz TMA-10, carrying the Expedition-15 crew was planned for lift-off on April 7. To raise ISS to the correct orbit to support the rendezvous and docking, two Progress engine burns would be made on March 16 and 28. The Expedition-14 crew’s schedule was changed to make the most of the available time before the delayed Shuttle launch. On the last day of the month Williams used a simulation on her laptop to maintain her skills with the SSRMS. She also joined Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin in their experiment programme.

On March 1, the crew was woken up by a caution and warning alarm, when the signals from the RJMC to the Thermal Radiator Rotary Joint (TRRJ) dropped out. The TRRJ, which turned the radiator to the best attitude for heat loss, automatically switched to another command link and operations were not affected. As the month continued, Lopez-Alegria and Williams completed setting up the American OGS in Destiny. Tyurin spent part of the week performing maintenance in the Russian segment. In Zvezda he set up equipment to allow ground controllers to test the satellite navigation system to be used by the European ATV, stowed spare liquids for the Elektron oxygen generator, and installed a new liquid crystal display for the TORU manual docking system for Progress spacecraft. They also completed a series of Russian and American experiments. In Korolev, Russian programme managers agreed to have the crew relocate Soyuz TMA-9 from Zarya’s nadir to Zvezda’s wake, on March 29. Before that could happen, Progress M-58 would be undocked from Zvezda’s wake on March 27. In the meantime, work began to load Progress M-58 with rubbish.

The crew installed a new window with a camera berth in Unity’s port-side hatch on March 14. The starboard hatch window had been installed by the Expedition-6 crew, the work being part of the preparation for the relocation of PMA-3 to Unity’s nadir, later in the year. A number of water bags had to be relocated to give the crew access to the interior of PMA-3, where they installed upgraded computer cabling. They also cleared everything out from PMA-3, with the exception of a Bearing Motor and Roll Ring Module, which they secured in place, so they would not be lost when

the PMA was relocated. The crew also completed packing rubbish into Progress M-58, in preparation for its disposal. As planned, the Progress M-58 thrusters were fired on March 15 to raise the station’s orbit.

As the flight progressed, Lopez-Alegrla and Williams took part in an experiment to examine how cosmic rays affect brainwaves. For the ALTEA experiment they wore a soft cap with sensors to record brain function and a hard cap with instruments to record cosmic rays passing through the station. It was hoped that the experiment might lead to preventative measures that might be used on long-duration flights to the Moon and Mars. They also worked on a series of medical experiments studying how the human body adapts to spaceflight. With STS-117 delayed, they were able to work on establishing the station’s laptop computer network, which would employ new wireless and Ethernet connectivity to avoid cables being deployed between the American and Russian segments of the station. It was estimated that the new network would be up to ten times faster than the present system. During the week, the last propellants were pumped out of Progress M-58’s tanks and the last items of rubbish were loaded into its pressurised compartment. Progress M-58 was undocked from Zvezda’s wake at 14: 11, March 27, to make way for the Soyuz TMA-9 relocation. A few hours later the Progress was commanded to enter Earth’s atmosphere, where it burned up.

On March 29, the crew placed ISS in automatic mode and sealed themselves in Soyuz TMA-9. After undocking from Zarya’s nadir at 18: 30, they flew around the rear of the station and docked at Zvezda’s wake at 18 : 54. After pressure checks they re-entered the station and began the long job of putting it back into occupied operation. The following day was a rest day, to allow the crew to re-adjust their sleep cycle, which had been altered to facilitate the Soyuz relocation. They performed only light duties, routine maintenance, and their daily exercise regimes. The return of Soyuz TMA-9 to Zvezda’s wake, which it had only left on October 10, 2006, was to make way for Soyuz TMA-10, at Zarya’s nadir.

The crew performed the first SPHERES formation flight inside the station. The 8-inch diameter satellites were battery-powered and each used 12 carbon dioxide thrusters to manoeuvre. They were designed to test automated rendezvous, station-keeping, and docking as an experiment testing possible technologies for use on future spacecraft. The first formation-flying session was considered to be a great success.

As the Expedition-14 occupation approached its end, Lopez-Alegrla and Tyurin began preparations for their return to Earth. On April 2, Lopez-Alegrla set a new endurance record for an American astronaut on a single flight, when he passed the 196-day record held jointly by Dan Bursch (set in 2001) and Carl Walz (set in 2002). The crew also worked on experiments, repairs, and their daily fitness routines. Experiments included the Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development Portable Test System (LOCAD-PTS), a portable bacteria detector small enough to fit in a compact ice cooler. The experiment would be used five times over the coming weekend science sessions. Lopez-Alegrla and Tyurin both tested their hand-eye co-ordination on the TRAC experiment. They also completed a further session with the ALTEA experiment.


The Russian Central Research and Development Institute of Machine Building (TsNIM) announced that they would develop a free-flying industrial module, designated OKA-T, that would fly alongside ISS and dock to it for servicing, in much the same way as the original European Columbus module had been designed to do. They claimed the module would be launched in 2012.




Fyodor Yurchikhin


Oleg Kotov


Charles Simonyi (spaceflight participant)

Two members of the Expedition-15 crew, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov, along with spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi were successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome onboard Soyuz TMA-10 at 13:31, April 7, 2007. Simonyi, a founder member of Microsoft Corporation, flying under contract to the Russian Federal Space Agency, would return to Earth in Soyuz TMA-9 with Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin, while Williams would remain on ISS, transferring her couch liner and Sokol pressure suit from Soyuz TMA-9 to Soyuz TMA-10, and become the third member of the Expedition-15 crew. Asked, before launch, to describe his role as Commander of Expedition-15 Yurchikhin replied:

“The main goal of our increment will be to continue the assembly of the station and at the same time we have a lot of people who have a very brief spaceflight experience. I have only one spaceflight, Oleg Kotov has no flight experience, Suni Williams has no flight experience, and astronaut [Clayton] Anderson [who would relieve Williams partway through Expedition-15] has no flight experience. We would like to really prove that we are very good crew members compared to our previous colleagues. We would like to continue their good work. So, all of us are highly motivated to complete our personal goals. My personal goal will be to maintain all the crew members’ motivation within the goals of the increment, and to make sure all my crew members are working as a team to achieve their personal goals.’’

Simonyi had a simpler view of his flight, “I enjoy the whole process of training, and I view the spaceflight as kind of an exclamation point at the end of a very long sentence.’’

Following a standard approach and a KURS-guided final approach, Soyuz TMA-10 docked to Zarya’s nadir at 15: 10, April 9. Following pressure checks,


Figure 85. Expedition-14: The Expedition-14 and 15 crews pose together in Zvezda. (rear row) Michael Lopez-Alegria, Sunita Williams, Mikhail Tyurin. (front row) Oleg Kotov, spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi, Fyodor Yurchikhin.

the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 16:30 and the three new arrivals transferred to the station, to be received by the Expedition-14 crew. The standard safety brief commenced 10 days of hand-over procedures. High-priority Russian experiment samples were removed from Soyuz and placed in freezers on ISS. Yurchikhin and Kotov would begin working with the samples almost immediately. As with previous spaceflight participants, Simonyi recorded his reactions to space­flight and took swab samples from the station’s inner surfaces in support of ESA experiments. He also recorded radiation readings for the Hungarian Space Agency.

On April 11, Kotov set up the ESA Exhaled Nitric Oxide-2 experiment. It would measure the nitric oxide exhaled by EVA crew members before and after their EVAs. The following day was Cosmonautics Day in Russia, April 12, the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight on Vostok-1. Lopez-Alegria spent much of the day servicing the EMUs that the Expedition-14 crew had used for their three recent EVAs. When the two crews began preparing their main meal together, Simonyi produced a package of gourmet French meat, to add to the day’s sense of celebration.

Tyurin and Lopez-Alegria spent part of April 14 in Soyuz TMA-9, running through systems checks and test-firing the thrusters. Tyurin also removed the television cameras and lights from Soyuz TMA-10 and transferred them to Soyuz TMA-9 for return to Earth. Two days later, they returned to their Soyuz and spent 4 hours rehearsing re-entry. They also removed the KURS avionics packages from the orbital compartment of the Soyuz and stored them on ISS, for return to Earth on a later Shuttle. Even as the hand-over continued, both Expedition crews maintained their exercise and experiment programmes. Tyurin worked with the Russian Bio­emulsion experiment, designed to produce micro-organisms for bacterial, fermenting, and medical preparations. Later in the week, he worked with the Pilot experiment, designed to measure changes in his ability to fly a spacecraft following a long – duration spaceflight.

Also on April 16, Williams became the first person to run a full marathon in space. Running on the TVIS treadmill, she officially competed in the Boston Marathon, which was being run on the ground at the same time. As a regular marathon runner, Williams watched live television coverage of the marathon as she ran on the treadmill, held in place with a harness to counteract microgravity. She finished her run in just under 4 hours 24 minutes.

The two crews held their official hand-over ceremony to pass responsibility for ISS to the Expedition-15 crew, Yurchikhin, Kotov, and Williams, in Unity, on April 17. During the day the landing of Soyuz TMA-9 was delayed by 1 day, to April 21. The primary landing site in Kazakhstan was too wet following the spring thaw and flooding after heavy rainfall, precluding recovery operations. The 24-hour delay would allow the Earth to turn beneath the spacecraft, resulting in a landing at a secondary site farther to the south.

The Condensate Feed Unit in the Russian sector of the station, which processed water condensate from the American sector and turned it into potable water, failed at the weekend. Over the next week the amount of potable water on the station decreased considerably, but the station still carried sufficient water to last until the Progress M-60 spacecraft delivered more, in May.

After saying their farewells, the crew of Soyuz TMA-9 sealed themselves inside their spacecraft and undocked from the station at 05: 11, April 27, 2007. On ISS, Kotov sounded the station’s bell to mark the departure. Simonyi described his feelings at undocking as “bittersweet”. Following the standard de-orbit burn, at 07 : 42, and spacecraft separation, the descent module re-entered the atmosphere and landed safely at 08:31. Tyurin and Lopez-Alegrla had completed a flight lasting 215 days 8 hours 48 minutes, a new American endurance record. Simonyi had been in flight for 13 days 19 hours 16 seconds.


Following the busy hand-over period the Expedition-15 crew began their occupation of ISS with a few days of light workload. While Yurchikhin and Kotov oriented themselves on the station, Williams used her three months of experience to assist them. The new crew participated in drills to maintain medical and emergency skills. Before his launch Yurchikhin had discussed the advantages of having Williams serve with both the Expedition-14 and Expedition-15 crews:

“[U]p to now, almost all the increments were launched together and landed

together. At the initial International Space Station development stage, [Expedi-

tion crews] always rotated by Shuttle flights, then it moved to Soyuz flights. Now that the Shuttle flights [have] resumed we do combined crew rotation… The main problem all the increments are facing is the short time allocated for crew hand-over. And to have somebody on board (Suni will have already spent three months on board) that will have several EVAs as well experience working with robotic operations—and experience working on the unit, USOS [United States Operating Segment]. The main problems were, when the previous crew members would close the hatch and would undock and then we realized, ‘Oh, I forgot to ask this.’ We’re not going to have this problem because we’re going to have Suni with us.’’

Contrast this comment with that made by Michael Lopez-Alegria on p. 259.

In Korolev, Russian flight controllers test-fired the two manoeuvring engines on Zvezda on April 25, raising the station’s orbit in advance of the Progress M-60 and STS-117 launches. An earlier attempt to make this burn had been prevented when an ATV antenna had prevented the engine covers from opening. That antenna had been moved during an EVA. It was the first time the engines in question had been fired since 2000, when they had been used to help deliver Zvezda into orbit. A second burn took place on April 28, and raised the station’s orbit.


Figure 86. Expedition-15: Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhin pose in their underwear in Zarya’s docking node. They are floating in the hatch leading to Soyuz TMA-10, which is docked at Zarya’s nadir.

Williams performed a series of flights with the SPHERES satellites. Yurchikhin and Kotov carried out maintenance work, replacing the water separation unit in the air-conditioning system of the Russian segment. The following week was spent undertaking routine maintenance, in preparation for the arrival of Progress M-60. The crew removed the docking system from Progress M-59, for return to Earth on STS-117, while maintaining their experiment programme. Williams completed a session with the Elastic Memory Composite Hinge experiment, designed to study a new hinge composite in space. She also used a hand-held device intended to identify biological and chemical substances on the station, as part of the crew’s health and safety measures. Kotov collected air samples in the Russian modules using the Real-Time Harmful Contaminant Gas Analyser. He also completed maintenance on one of Zarya’s battery temperature sensors. The crew also worked together to perform maintenance in Destiny.

On May 8, they tested communications between ISS and Progress M-59. The following day was one of light duties in recognition of Russia’s Victory Day, that nation’s celebration of the end of the Great War for Independence, World War II. In Houston, flight controllers tested the failed CMG-3 mounted in the Z-1 Truss. By tilting the CMG in different directions they were able to measure the friction involved. At no time was the CMG, which was due to be replaced during the flight of STS-118, spun up to full speed.


The Progress M-60 cargo vehicle was launched at 23: 25, May 11, 2007. After following a standard 2-day rendezvous, automated docking occurred at Zvezda’s wake at 01: 10, May 15. During the final approach the KURS antennae on the Progress were retracted earlier than on previous Progress flights, allowing the crew on ISS to confirm visually that it had indeed retracted. Following pressure checks, the hatches between the two vehicles were opened later that night, and the unpacking of the 2,561 kg of supplies took place over the next few weeks. On May 27, Williams was informed that she would now return to Earth on STS-117, then targeted for launch on June 8, 2007, rather than STS-118, planned for August 8, 2007, as originally planned. Clayton Anderson, her relief, had been moved forward one Shuttle flight after NASA managers had assured themselves that it would not impact any future operational goals. On receiving the news she replied, “All right, thanks very much. I might see you guys sooner than we all thought. That is pretty good.’’

Anderson later explained:

“I had an inkling that it was coming, but at first it was being evaluated… to make sure that there were no big showstoppers… [T]he answer came back essentially, “no.’’ … I tell Suni that I’m her knight in shining armour, I’m going to come up there and I’m going to rescue her from her potential nine-month duration on orbit and I also tell people that it’s a clever plot by Michael Lopez-Alegria to keep Suni from breaking his new long-duration endurance record… It’s a very hectic time for me. We had been scheduled to launch on STS-118 at the end of June, and then, when the hailstorm damage happened to 117’s External Tank, STS-118 had moved to August. So… we breathed a little sigh of relief and I thought, hey, a little extra time to maybe get all this together and relax a little bit. At that point they decided to move me to 117, which now launches earlier than my original date on 118, so, from the perspective of my family getting ready, my guests being ready to go to Florida to watch a launch, all that’s a little hectic but it’s going to work out.”

While commencing preparations for the end of her 6 months in space, Williams made repairs to some exercise equipment and rode the station’s stationary bicycle while doctors in Huntsville measured her oxygen intake. She also updated the software in the station’s laptop computers. Meanwhile, Yurchikhin and Kotov began preparations for their first EVA, planned for May 30. They checked out Pirs, their Orlan pressure suits, and gathered together and tested the tools that they would use. They also closed the hatch to Progress M-59, docked to Pirs’ nadir. On May 23, controllers in Korolev fired Progress M-60’s thrusters to place the station in the correct orbit to receive STS-117.

After dealing with an unexpected communications problem, Yurchikhin and Kotov left Pirs, 45 minutes late, at 15: 05, May 30, 2007. Having gathered their tools, they moved to the Strela-2 crane on the exterior of Pirs. There, they attached an extension to the Strela boom, to increase its length from 14m to 18.75m. Kotov then positioned himself on the end of the extension while Yurchikhin turned the handle to extend the crane until his partner was suspended above PMA-3 on Unity. Using Kotov’s verbal instructions, Yurchikhin manoeuvred the crane until its end-effector locked on to a grapple fixture on an adapter stowage rack attached to PMA-3. The rack carried 17 micro-meteoroid debris panels in three bundles, and was referred to by the cosmonauts as the “Christmas Tree’’. Yurchikhin then manoeuvred the Strela crane, holding Kotov and the “Christmas Tree’’ to Zvezda’s ram, before making his own way to the same location and helping secure the Strela to a grapple fixture. Their first task was nothing to do with the debris panels. It required them to make their way to Zvezda’s large conical section where they re-routed a cable for the Global Position­ing System which would be used in association with ESA’s ATV. With that task complete they returned to the “Christmas Tree’’, where they removed and opened a bundle of five debris panels each measuring 66 cm x 1m and installed the panels between Zvezda’s large and small diameter sections before returning to Pirs and sealing the hatch at 20: 30. The EVA had lasted 5 hours 25 minutes.

The cosmonauts followed the EVA with an easy day, drying their Orlan suits and recharging their batteries. Williams began packing for the end of her flight. May 4 and 5 were spent preparing for the next EVA.

Yurchikhin and Kotov began their second EVA from Pirs at 10: 23, June 6. Initially, they installed sample containers on the exterior of Pirs, for a Russian experiment called Biorisk, which was designed to look at the effect of the space environment on micro-organisms. Next, they deployed a length of Ethernet cable on the exterior of Zarya to complete a remote computer network that would allow the


Figure 87. Expedition-15: Oleg Kotov works with the Period Fitness Evaluation experiment keyboard.

Russian modules to be commanded from the US sector if required. As they worked to clamp the cable securely in place they noticed a 6 mm diameter hole in Zarya’s insulation. They reported, “This is a dent from a meteorite; it looks like a bullet hole.’’ The remainder of the EVA was taken up with deploying the remaining 12 micro-meteoroid debris panels on the centre section of Zarya. During this work Korolev requested that Yurchikhin return inside Pirs to confirm that the pressurised oxygen bottles were closed correctly: they were. While Yurchikhin returned outside to assist Kotov, Korolev identified that the unexpected reading they were receiving from Pirs was caused by a small amount of oxygen escaping from a fluid umbilical that had improperly sealed when it was disconnected from one of the cosmonauts’ Orlan suits. Controllers closed off the flow of oxygen to the hose in order to preserve oxygen. They commanded the flow back on once more, after the two men returned to Pirs; after 5 hours 37 minutes the hatch was closed to end the EVA at 16: 00.



Soyuz TMA-7 was launched from Baikonur at 23:55, September 30, 2005, while ISS was over the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Chile. McArthur and Tokarev were the Expedition-12 crew, and planned to spend 6 months on the station, while American Gregory Olsen was a paying passenger making a 10-day flight under a commercial contract with the Russians. A medical condition had grounded the American businessman from a Soyuz flight in 2004, but he returned to the pro­gramme the following year. Olsen insisted that he would be doing good work on the station and to that end he would perform a number of experiments for Russia and ESA.

The spacecraft docked to Pirs nadir at 01: 27, on October 3. Following pressure and leak checks the hatches between the two vehicles were opened at 04: 36. As with all new crews aboard the station, the newcomers were treated to the traditional Russian greeting of bread and salt upon their entry into the station. The usual safety briefing and emergency evacuation exercise followed before the new crew were allowed to settle in and Olsen’s couch liner was transferred to Soyuz TMA-6. American ISS commander Bill McArthur had arrived on ISS by Soyuz, but at that time, there was a faint possibility that he might have to stay on the station until a Shuttle could return him to Earth. During his occupation Russia’s original contract to supply Soyuz spacecraft for ISS would come to an end. If America could not find a away around the Iran Non-proliferation Act then the Russians would be under no legal obligation to return McArthur to Earth, even in the event of an emergency evacuation of the station! NASA made it clear that they expected to find a solution to the problem and negotiations were underway to overcome the problem.

A week of joint hand-over activities followed, along with the performance of a number of short-term experiments carried to the station in the new Soyuz. Mean­while, Olsen completed his 8-day experiment programme. Krikalev and Olsen even filmed a television commercial for a Japanese company while on the station. On October 4, Phillips and McArthur reviewed the software for the SSRMS, before they performed several manoeuvres with the SSRMS itself the following day. The crew also took a message from Mikhail Fradkov, the Russian Prime Minister.


Figure 63. Expedition-12: Sergei Krikalev is on the right, with Expedition-12 crew member William McArthur in the centre and American spaceflight participant Gregory Olsen on the left. Olsen flew to the station in a Soyuz with the Expedition-12 crew and returned to Earth with the Expedition-11 crew.

Following the official hand-over and final farewells Krikalev, Phillips, and Olsen sealed themselves inside Soyuz TMA-6. Prior to undocking the crew discussed a pressure leak between the re-entry module and the orbital module with engineers in Korolev. Krikalev finally undocked the Soyuz under manual control, at 17:49, and backed it away from the station. Throughout the separation manoeuvre and de-orbit burn the pressure leak continued to cause concern until the orbital module was jettisoned, at which time it ceased. The re-entry module landed at 21:09, on target 85 km northeast of Arkalik. The Expedition-11 flight had lasted 179 days 23 minutes and Krikalev’s personal endurance record now stood at 803 days 9 hours 39 minutes. Phillips felt light-headed after being helped out of the spacecraft by the recovery forces, but could not remember afterwards if he actually blacked out. The long- duration crew were subjected to the usual 45-day medical rehabilitation. Olsen had been in flight for 9 days 21 hours 15 minutes. At a post-flight press conference he repeated his dislike of the term “space tourist’’, used by much of the media to describe commercial passengers on Soyuz taxi flights. He explained, “I dedicated 2 years of my life to this. It’s not a hop-on-and-go kind of thing.’’

Meanwhile, McArthur had described his hopes for the Expedition-12 increment before launching to the station, “Above all that we launch and land safely; that we conduct this mission in a safe manner. Having said that, I think for it to be considered a success my criteria is that we will complete meaningful science during our stay, and that we will leave the Station more capable than we found it.”

During October, the Russian government approved funding for the national space programme through 2015. It was supposed to include the joint development, with ESA, of the Kliper spacecraft and the development by Krunichev of the new Multi-purpose Science Module to be launched to the Russian sector of ISS.


In 2004, NASA had announced that it intended to stop funding ISS in 2016, as the Administration turned its attention to the Orion spacecraft, the Ares-1 launch vehicle, and the ultimate return of human astronauts to the lunar surface. Three years later, in April 2007, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced that ISS

was to be included in NASA’s budget requests through 2020. Griffin stated: “The partners have been working for a decade and a half to put in place these four laboratories. I don’t think political leaders in 2016 will end their involvement. Assets like the ISS live a lot longer than anticipated. I doubt it will turn into a pumpkin in 2016.’’

In mid-2007, Roscosmos announced that they had no plans to co-operate with NASA on Project Constellation until at least 2015. The Russians said that their budget had been allocated so as to allow them to support NASA’s commitment to ISS until that time, during which they would re-commence lunar exploration with robotic probes while supporting India’s and China’s robotic lunar exploration programmes. After 2015 ,Russia would be free to reconsider their position regarding Project Constellation. Meanwhile, the Russians continued to talk about building science modules for the ISS, but no new modules had been completed, as yet.

On February 26, STS-117 had been delayed by damage to the ET caused by hailstones while it stood on the launchpad. The delay caused the Shuttle’s launch programme to be rescheduled yet again:

STS-117 Atlantis

July 8, 2007

S-3/S-4 Truss structure

STS-118 Endeavour

August 9, 2007

S-5 Truss structure

STS-120 Discovery

October 20, 2007


STS-122 Atlantis

December 2007


All subsequent flights were similarly delayed.

At the same time NASA announced that they would swap the orbiters assigned to three of those flights in order to ease the pressure in the schedule:

• STS-120 would now use Discovery rather than Atlantis.

• STS-122 would use Atlantis rather than Discovery.

• STS-124 would use Discovery rather than Atlantis.

The rescheduling meant that plans to retire Atlantis in 2008 and cannibalise it to provide spare parts for Discovery and Endeavour had been changed.

NASA also announced that it had added $719 million to its contract with Roscosmos to purchase additional Soyuz TMA flights for American astronauts, to deliver and recover Expedition crews, during the period between the last Shuttle flight in 2010 and the first flight of the Orion/Ares-1 combination to ISS, currently scheduled for 2015. Despite this schedule, continual failure to make the promised annual increase to NASA’s budget to support Project Constellation made that date seem highly unlikely.

Asked previously if the Shuttle would continue to fly beyond the announced 2010 deadline set by President Bush, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin had made a one word reply, “No!” That, added to the 2007 schedule delays, meant that NASA would have to concentrate the remaining Shuttle flights on delivering the primary ISS elements into orbit before the Shuttle stopped flying in 2010. Any planned Utility flights, to support ISS operations, might yet prove to be expendable.




Rick Sturckow


Lee Archambault


Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson, John Olivas,

James Reilly

EXPEDITION-15/16 (up)

Clayton Anderson

EXPEDITION-14/15 (down)

Sunita Williams

A thunderstorm passed over KSC on February 26, and hailstones “the size of golf balls” struck the foam exposed at the top of STS-117’s ET, leaving visible damage. They also damaged approximately 25 tiles on the orbiter’s left wing. The Shuttle stack was rolled back to the VAB for inspection and repair. and the planned March 15 launch was cancelled and rescheduled for no earlier than May 11, 2007. That date slipped back to June as NASA and contractor engineers ensured that the ET was safe to use. Shuttle programme manager Wayne Hale told journalists:

“The speculation that a lot of people have engaged in is that the last flight of the Shuttle to the space station will get pushed out of 2010. That just will not happen due to this problem.’’

He further stated:

“There might be some small effect to a couple of the later flights, but by the time we roll around to the end of the year, I expect we would be fully able to catch up.’’

The Shuttle was rolled back to LC-39A on May 15, with lift-off scheduled for June 8. On that date, Atlantis lifted off into the twilight, at 19: 38, beginning the first of four Shuttle flights planned for 2007. In the payload bay was the S-3/S-4 ITS, which would be mounted on the S-1 ITS and deployed during a series of three EVAs. The second set of SAWs on the P-6 ITS would then be retracted into its storage box, in order to allow the S-3/S-4 SAWs to rotate as they tracked the Sun.

Mission Commander Rick Sturckow had previously reviewed the work of earlier crews that had worked with the ITS elements on ISS at a prelaunch press conference, saying, “We’re really fortunate that we have those guys to follow. Almost everything went great on those missions, and the things that didn’t go so well, we’re able to learn from.’’

To overcome any repeat of the difficulties experienced on STS-115, such as when a bolt locking the SARJ in its launch position had taken much longer than planned to remove Sturckow explained:

“We have a torque multiplier… that they didn’t have. So if we do encounter the same difficulty with high torques that they had, we’ll break out this tool. And we’ll apply whatever torque it takes to break the bolt or back it out at the higher torque settings. So I don’t have any doubt that we’ll be able to remove those launch restraints.’’ He added, “When you’re doing assembly operations, everything that you plan to do is contingent on the flight prior to you and the hardware that’s already in orbit.’’

The STS-117 ascent into orbit was flawless, with no obvious signs of foam falling away from the ET in video of the launch. However, while video of the jettisoned ET showed that repairs to the hail damage had remained in place, one piece of foam, approximately 15cm x 8cm was missing. Orbital insertion was followed by the deployment of the payload bay doors and the Ku-band antenna. On ISS, Yurchikhin, Kotov, and Williams watched the launch on a video uplink from Houston.

In the latter part of the day, Forrester and Swanson activated the RMS, to test its function. As they raised the arm from its cradle they noticed that an area of insulation blanket near the port OAMS pod pulled away from the adjacent thermal tiles. Video cameras on the RMS were used to relay views of the 10 cm by 7 cm area to Houston. Similar damage had been identified on Discovery during two earlier flights and both had returned to Earth without incident. Initial reviews of the images of the blanket suggested that the airflow over the OAMS pod during the early phases of the launch had lifted the edge of the blanket and caused it to fold back on itself. Other options included: bad installation of the blanket during processing, or impact damage during launch. The Shuttle crew began their sleep period at 01: 38, June 9.

Day 2 began with a wake-up call at 10: 10 that morning. Archambault, Forrester, and Swanson activated the RMS, mounted the OBSS in the end-effector, and com­pleted the first inspection of Atlantis’ TPS. Prior to placing the OBSS back along the door hingeline, the cameras were used to view the port OAMS pod, with the detached insulation blanket. John Shannon, of the Mission Management team told a press conference, “If we decide this is a problem, we have a lot of capabilities to go address it.’’ He made it clear that Atlantis carried the equipment necessary to repair the blanket, by folding it flat and pinning it in place. While the video inspection was underway, Olivas, Reilly, and Anderson inspected the EMUs that they would use during the flight’s three EVAs. During the day the crew also extended the docking ring and installed the centreline video camera that would allow Archambault to see PMA-2 during the final approach to docking.

Following a second sleep period, June 10 began at 09 : 08. During the morning Olivas used a 400 mm lens on a digital camera to record the lifted corner of the thermal blanket on the port OAMS pod through the flight deck aft windows. The photographs had been requested during the morning briefing given to the crew by controllers in Houston. The written daily briefing was sent up to the crew and


Figure 88. STS-117 crew (L to R): Clayton C. Anderson, James F. Reilly, II, Steven R. Swanson, Frederick W. Sturckow, Lee J. Archambault, Patrick G. Forrester, John D. Olivas.


Figure 89. STS-117 delivers the S-3/S-4 Integrated Truss Structure to ISS.

included the reassurance that, “Although this [damage] does not appear to be a big issue, the teams are discussing several options.” On the ground John Shannon told another press conference, “It’s not a great deal of concern right now, but there is a great deal of work to be done.’’ He added further detail saying, “There’s one option on the table where we just put an astronaut out there on a spacewalk, and they just tuck the fabric right back down. There are other options where they go and try to secure it down with something.’’ A third option was to have the crew use a pressure suit repair kit to sew the blanket back into place using an instrument with a rounded end that looked like a small darning needle.

Rendezvous manoeuvres began at 10:38. Following the r-bar pitch manoeuvre at 14: 37, Sturckow moved his spacecraft in for docking with PMA-2 at 15: 36. As usual, extensive pressure checks were made to ensure the seal between the two spacecraft before the hatches were opened, at 17: 04. Williams rang the station’s bell to welcome the new crew aboard ISS at 17: 20.

Following the initial greetings and safety briefing Williams transferred her Soyuz couch liner to Atlantis, while Anderson placed his couch liner in Soyuz TMA-10. Williams had been in orbit for 183 days, longer than any other female astronaut. She would now return to Earth in Atlantis, while Anderson began a four-month occupation as part of the Expedition-15 and Expedition-16 crews.

The first task for the STS-117 crew was for Archambault and Forrester to use the RMS to lift the S-3/S-4 ITS out of Atlantis’ payload bay and hand it over to the


Figure 90. Expedition-15: Clay Anderson poses with an American Extravehicular Mobility Unit in the Quest airlock.

SSRMS, which was operated by Williams. The hand-over was completed at 20: 28, and the S-3/S-4 ITS was left on the SSRMS throughout the crew’s sleep period, allowing it to warm in the unfiltered sunlight. Reilly and Olivas spent the night camped out in Quest with the airlock’s pressure reduced to purge nitrogen from their bloodstream in advance of their first EVA, planned for the following day.

The crew were up and about at 09: 08, but Reilly and Olivas were allowed to sleep in for an extra 30 minutes. After breakfast, Archambault and Forrester used the SSRMS to move the S-3/S-4 ITS towards the exposed end of the S-l ITS and held it in place. The resulting asymmetry of the new ITS being moved around caused the CMGs in the Z-l Truss to become saturated and drop off-line and the station began to drift. This had been anticipated by controllers in Houston. Archambault, Forrester, and Kotov commanded the bolts holding the S-3/S-4 ITS in place to close. As a result of the CMG dropout, the EVA began at 16: 02, approximately one hour late. Reilly and Olivas made their way to the joint between the S-l and S-3/S-4 ITS. There, they connected power cables between the two ITS elements and released the launch restraints on the S-3/S-4 ITS SAW blanket boxes and opened them. They also released the launch restraints on the S-3/S-4 radiator, rigidised the four Alpha Joint Interface Structure struts, installed one Drive Lock Assembly, and released the launch locks on the SARJ. The EVA ended at 22: 17, after 6 hours 15 minutes. Meanwhile, controllers in Houston activated the two new power channels and deployed the new radiator. Elsewhere on ISS, Williams and Anderson continued their planned hand-over tasks.

During the evening, mission managers extended the flight by 2 days and added a possible fourth, impromptu EVA, to provide time to inspect and repair the lifted thermal blanket on the port OAMS pod. Meanwhile, engineers and astronauts on the ground were trying to establish the best way to make the repair. In the regular end-of – shift press conference at MCC-Houston, Shannon informed the press and media, “We do not want to re-enter until we have done this. I don’t want to take a risk of damaging flight hardware, when we have something that looks easy to do, so it’s a pretty easy decision to make.’’ On the ground, the various repair methods were being rehearsed and subjected to testing under simulated re-entry conditions. Shannon explained that Shuttle engineers did not think that the re-entry heating on the OAMS pod would be sufficient to burn through the graphite structure beneath the lifted blanket, causing an STS-107 style break-up, but it might cause sufficient damage to require a relatively major repair, thereby throwing the Shuttle launch schedule into total disarray. The 90-minute repair would be carried out by two astronauts riding the Shuttle’s RMS. Atlantis would now land on June 21, after a 13-day flight. In orbit the day had gone well, and the crew began their sleep period. Learning from past experience, Houston commanded the new SAWs to extend in a series of small lengths. The first segment was deployed by controllers in Houston while the astronauts slept.

On June 12, the astronauts’ day began at 08: 08. At 11: 43, Sturckow, Arch – ambault, Forrester, Swanson, Olivas, Reilly, and Williams took over the task of deploying the S-3/S-4 SAWs and observing that deployment from inside ISS and Shuttle. Each SAW was deployed separately and in small stages, with regular stops to let the Sun warm the array. The first SAW was fully deployed by 12: 29, and the second by 13:58. Reilly told Houston, “We see a good deploy.” The new arrays would provide sufficient electricity to power the European and Japanese laboratory modules when they are docked to Harmony.

After dinner the Shuttle crew were given some free time before commencing preparations for the following day’s EVA. Throughout the SAW deployment, the station’s attitude had been controlled by Atlantis. As the day drew to a close, the station’s attitude control was switched back to the station’s computers. At that time all three navigation computers and all three command and control computers failed in Zvezda. The computers were built by Daimler-Benz in Germany, under an ESA contract, and one of their tasks was to activate Zvezda’s thrusters if ISS attitude manoeuvres were beyond the capabilities of the CMG. Controllers elected to let the CMGs continue to manage the station’s attitude, but Atlantis’ thrusters would be used for large manoeuvres, rather than Zvezda’s thrusters. The day ended with the pre-positioning of the MBS on the ITS and that night Forrester and Swanson camped out in Quest; both were preparations for the EVA planned for the following day. While the astronauts slept, controllers in Houston began the retraction of the remaining SAW on the P-6 ITS. They succeeded in retracting 7.5 of the 31.5 panels of the array.

The day started at the usual time and the EVA began at 14:03. Forrester mounted the RMS end-effector and was lifted to the P-6 ITS, mounted on the Z-1 Truss, while Swanson made his own way to the location. Once in place, they oversaw and assisted with the retraction of a further 5.5 panels of the 2B SAW, as commanded from inside the station. Moving back to the S-3/S-4 ITS, they removed the remaining locks holding the SARJ. Although they had originally been planned to remove the launch restraints, they left them for the third EVA. When the restraints were finally removed the joint would be free to rotate, as the SAWs tracked the Sun. They also installed a second drive-lock assembly. and that was where their problems arose. Commands sent to the second drive-lock assembly were received by the unit installed during the first EVA. Controllers in Houston confirmed that the first unit was in the “safe” condition and had to confirm that the second unit was similarly configured. The SAW retraction would continue during the following day. The EVA ended at 20: 33, after 7 hours 16 minutes. Once again Anderson spent the day completing hand-over tasks in preparation for his 5-month stay on ISS, as well as assisting Expedition-15 crewmates Yurchikhin and Kotov to transfer supplies from Atlantis to ISS. During the day mission managers confirmed that at least part of the third EVA would be spent repairing the port OAMS pod thermal blanket.

On June 14, Houston awoke the crew officially at 08: 39. In fact, they had been woken up at 07: 23, when a fire alarm sounded in Zarya. It was a false alarm set off by the loss of three Russian command and control computers, affecting the life support system and causing power outages throughout the Russian sector of the station. During the day controllers in Korolev temporarily rebooted the navigation computer and then turned it off again to continue work on the original problem. By 11 : 38, Sturckow, Lee, Archambault, Swanson, Williams, and Anderson resumed the attempt to retract the P-6 SAW. Meanwhile, Forrester, Reilly, and Olivas reviewed the procedures for their third EVA. The three of them practised the plan to staple the


Figure 91. STS-117: Patrick Forrester works removing launch restraints from the S-4 Solar Alpha Rotary Joint.


Figure 92. STS-117: James Reilly and John Olivas work with the retracted P-6 Solar Array Wings.

two sections of thermal blanket on Atlantis together and pin it to an adjacent thermal tile. Sturckow told Houston, “When we first saw it, we were not too concerned. We’re still not. This is just the right thing to do, the conservative thing to do. We appreciate everyone taking a look to make sure we have the right configuration for re-entry.’’

In Moscow, Russian engineers continued to work with their American counter­parts on the computer problem throughout the day. The leading theory as to the cause of the computer problem was a bad electrical power feed between the American and Russian sectors of ISS, as the computers now drew their power from the ITS. NASA’s Mike Suffredini explained, “A power line has a certain magnetic field around it, and that can affect systems near it.’’ Plans included disconnecting power cables between the two sectors of the station, rebooting the computers, and then reconnecting the power cables. If the problem recurred, the computers in the Russian sector could receive electrical power from the photovoltaic arrays on the Russian modules. Sturckow was objective, “These challenges, they come up when you bring new pieces of hardware or when computers are improved. This is to be expected. Things aren’t always going to go well.’’ Meanwhile, NASA Associate Administrator for space operations Bill Gerstenmaier was positive, telling a press conference, “This is a complex station. This failure is not easy to understand. It’s some combination between Russian systems and our systems. It’s just going to take a little bit of time to get this worked out.’’ He added, “We’re still a long way from where we would have to de-man the station.’’

NASA was at pains to point out that the station had 2 months of oxygen supply if the Russian oxygen generator could not be brought to full operation. Also the American oxygen system was nearly completely installed. Carbon dioxide removal systems were also available in both the Russian and American sectors. In Russia, the difficulties led to discussions as to whether or not to advance the next Progress launch by two weeks, to July 23, and use that launch to deliver new computer parts to the station.

Before going to bed, Williams and Anderson checked power lines and circuits connected to the new S-3/S-4 ITS that supply electricity to the Russian modules with a number of diagnostic instruments, but found nothing that could account for the computer difficulties. Meanwhile, the STS-117 crew had been instructed to power down some of Atlantis’ systems, just in case the Shuttle mission needed to be extended by a further day, to continue supplying back-up attitude control. A NASA spokesman told the press, “I expect we will have the computers back in the next several days. It’s not an urgent situation, but we clearly need to get this resolved.’’ Asked if the station would be evacuated if the computer problem persisted NASA’s Mike Suffredini insisted, “The best thing we can do is keep the crew onboard to keep working this problem until we sort it out. That is what our plan is.’’ Meanwhile, John Shannon confirmed that Atlantis would remain docked to ISS until June 20. Reilly and Olivas spent the night camped out in Quest breathing oxygen at a lowered pressure in preparation for the crew’s third EVA.

As the new day started Russian controllers disconnected the Russian modules from the new electrical power supply, returning them to the supply provided by their own photovoltaic arrays. The STS-117 crew’s wake-up call came at 08: 41, June 15,

Reilly and Olivas began preparations for their EVA straight after breakfast. The EVA began at 13:38. After collecting their tools they prepared to repair Atlantis’ thermal blanket. Olivas mounted the Shuttle’s RMS and was manoeuvred to the port OAMS pod, where he pushed the folded thermal blanket back into the correct position. Using a stapler from the Shuttle’s medical kit he fixed the offending blanket to the blanket next to it. Finally, he drove a metal pin through the blanket, securing it to the adjacent thermal tiles. The repair took the full 2 hours that had been allocated for it. As he completed the task Olivas told controllers in Houston, “Hopefully it’s going to be good, good enough.’’ Sturckow, the Shuttle’s Commander added, “He’s done an absolutely wonderful job.’’

While Olivas repaired the thermal blanket, Reilly installed a hydrogen vent in the forward face of Destiny. The vent would be used by the new American oxygen generation system. The new system would separate water into oxygen as the Russian Elektron oxygen generator did, for the crew’s life support system, and hydrogen which would be vented overboard through the new vent. With the repair and the valve installation complete, both men moved to the P-6 ITS, where they assisted in the retraction of the last 15 bays of the 2B SAW. While the retraction was com­manded from inside the station, the two EVA astronauts assisted by helping to fold the SAW and ensuring that they were correctly stored in the blanket box. Finally, they secured the lid of the blanket box itself. The retraction was completed at 20:40. The EVA ended at 21: 36, after 7 hours 58 minutes.

While the Americans concentrated on their EVA, the Russians continued to work on the failed computers. All of the computers were taken off-line at 06: 00 and left off-line throughout the day. Yurchikhin and Kotov used a jumper cable to bypass a power switch, thus allowing them to get both C&C computers partially running. It was decided that the one processor in each computer that did not re-boot would be replaced using spares to be delivered by the next Progress. The computers, which only required one processor each to perform their role on ISS, were left running overnight. A telemetry downlink over a Russian ground station allowed controllers in Korolev to monitor the computers’ performance over the test period. NASA spokeswoman Lynette Madison told the press, “They’re up and operational and this is good news for all.’’ Mike Suffredini made a similar comment, “We feel like the computers are stable and back to normal.’’

Whilst the two crews were asleep, Sunita Williams became the most experienced female astronaut in history. At 01: 47, June 16, she passed the female endurance record of 188 days 4 hours set by her NASA colleague, Shannon Lucid. Later in the day Williams remarked:

“I feel like a lot of this was just sort of being in the right place at the right time. It just sort of happened. It’s just an honour to be up here. Even when the station has little problems, it’s just a beautiful, wonderful place to live. I’m just happy to be part of history that provides a steppingstone for the next generation of explorers and women to come up here and do that. To me, it’s no big deal.’’

Williams admitted:

“My biggest desire is to go for a walk on the beach. I grew up near the beach in New England, and I love going to the beach.”

Lucid, who had worked in MCC-Houston during Williams’ flight, told a press conference, “She’s done an absolutely wonderful job. I think it’s really great because it shows the space programme is getting more mature when you have more and more people stay in space for longer periods of time.’’ She added, “I said [to Williams], ‘Enjoy your last few days because all too soon you will be back to bills, dirty dishes and laundry’.’’

The Shuttle crew’s wake-up call came at 08:38, June 16. They spent the day transferring supplies from Atlantis to ISS and preparing for the flight’s fourth EVA. Yurchikhin and Kotov used a second external cable to redirect the power supply, allowing them to bring the final two computer processors on-line. With Zvezda’s computers performing well, controllers in Korolev began assigning them some of their usual control tasks. The computers were now talking to the equivalent C&C computers in the American sector of ISS, something they had not been doing for the past 3 days. By this time most people did not believe the S-3/S-4 power supply had caused the computer problem. Flight Director Holly Ridings stated, ‘‘In the last 24 hours, we’ve had a lot of successes.’’ ISS programme manager Mike Suffredini, summed up his feelings succinctly, ‘‘Spaceflight is a challenging business and these are the things you occasionally have to deal with. We can all go home and not do it, or we can choose to explore. We choose to explore.’’ He told the media, ‘‘We’re having a great day on orbit.’’ As the day continued NASA suggested that Atlantis would land on June 21. On hearing the news, Sturckow replied, ‘‘That’s great news.’’

June 17 began at 07: 38. Following breakfast everyone began preparations for the final EVA. Forrester and Swanson had spent the night camping out in Quest. Their EMUs were transferred to internal battery power, commencing the EVA at 12: 25. Kotov shadowed Reilly as intravehicular crew member, in preparation for his assum­ing that role during an up-coming Expedition-15 Stage EVA. Having collected their tools, Forrester and Swanson set to work. Their first task was to retrieve a camera and its stand from a mounting on the exterior of Quest and move it to the S-3 ITS. While on the S-3/S-4 ITS, they confirmed the Drive Lock Assembly-2 configuration and then removed the final six SARJ launch restraints, leaving the SAWs free to rotate and track the Sun as ISS orbited Earth. Reilly told them, ‘‘Great job, Guys,’’ Swanson replied, ‘‘That’s what we came here to do.’’

Still on the ITS, they moved the temporary stops installed on the MBS rails, leaving the MBS free to travel along its rails on the new length of ITS. They also removed additional equipment that had held the S-3/S-4 ITS in the Shuttle’s payload bay. The task was the final one scheduled for STS-117 and was completed by 16: 17. The remaining activities were ‘‘get-ahead’’ tasks. First they installed a computer network cable on the outside of Unity and then moved to open the newly installed hydrogen vent valve on Destiny. Finally, they tethered two debris shield panels on Zvezda. The EVA ended at 18: 54, after 6 hours 29 minutes. Inside, the Russian computers had been returned to controlling the station’s systems, and even the

Elektron oxygen generator was powered on, but not configured to produce oxygen. The computers remained stable.

During an evening press conference, Anderson was asked how he was adapting to life on ISS. He replied, “I think I’m hanging in there. It kind of reminds me of my first swimming lesson. I just got tossed in the water and told to survive.’’ Questioned on the subject of Zvezda’s computers, Yurchikhin remarked cautiously, “We’re slowly moving back toward a normal mode of operations.’’

While the two crews slept, American controllers in Houston activated the SARJ on the S-3/S-4 ITS and tested its rotation. At 20:00, the SARJ was placed in auto­track mode. The ISS now had a new symmetrical shape, with a pair of SAWs at either end of the ITS and the P-6 SAWs fully retracted, although the P-6 ITS was still attached to the Z-l Truss, with one of its huge radiators still deployed.

The final day of docked Shuttle operations began with the crew rising early, at 07: 08, June 18. The crew of Atlantis had the morning off after the hectic pace of the past few days. They completed the final transfer of equipment to Atlantis during the afternoon. At 10: 28, the Shuttle’s thrusters were used to manoeuvre the station into the correct position for a combined potable water and waste water dump and then manoeuvre it back to the original position. Once the combination was stable, after the second Shuttle manoeuvre, at 10: 34, attitude control was passed to the Russian terminal computer. The computer activated the thrusters on the Russian modules to maintain the station’s attitude. At 12: 09, attitude control was handed back to the American computers and the CMGs mounted in the Z-l Truss. The test was summed up by NASA’s Phil Engelhauf, “There was absolutely nothing anomalous out of the testing. Everything performed exactly as it should have.’’ Only after the test of the Russian computers was successfully completed did NASA managers confirm that Atlantis would undock at 10: 42, June 20.

After saying their goodbyes to the Expedition-15 crew, Sturckow led his crew back to Atlantis, securing the hatches between the two vehicles for the final time at 18: 51. Sunita Williams was included in that crew, returning to Earth after almost 6 months in space. Williams remarked, “It’s sad to say goodbye, but it means that progress is being made.’’ Yurchikhin told controllers, “We had a really great time with Suni up here.’’ Her place on the Expedition-15 crew had been taken by Clayton Anderson who remarked, “I hope I can carry on, and do half as well as she did.’’

Atlantis undocked at 10: 42, June 20, with Archambault at the controls. The Pilot manoeuvred the orbiter around the station so that the crew could complete a photographic and video survey, before performing the separation manoeuvre. Sturckow told the Expedition-15 crew, “Have a great rest of your mission.’’ Yurchikhin replied, “Godspeed, and thanks for everything.’’

Following the separation burn, the crew used the RMS-mounted OBSS to carry out further scans of the Shuttle’s nosecap and wing leading edges. The images were down-linked to Houston before the astronauts began their evening meal and sleep period. Following an early morning start, the crew spent what should have been their last full day in space carrying out all of the routine preparations for re-entry. These included a test of the aerodynamic surface and a test-firing of each of the Shuttle’s manoeuvring thrusters. While the crew prepared to come home, the weather over


Figure 93. STS-117: image shows the protruding corner of a thermal blanket on the orbiter’s OAMS pod.


Figure 94. STS-117 departs ISS. Note the station’s new symmetry and the retracted P-6 Solar Array Wings.

Florida threatened the plans for returning to that location. Sturckow told controllers in Houston, “Get us some good weather for Thursday, if you can. It doesn’t have to be good, just good enough.’’

On June 21, the final preparations were made. Following breakfast the Ku-band antenna was stowed, and the payload bay doors were closed at 10:05. Retrofire was planned for 12: 50. That attempt was cancelled due to bad weather. The day’s final landing opportunity demanded retrofire be completed at 14: 25, but that attempt was cancelled at 13:38, as the weather in Florida showed no signs of clearing. Sturckow was informed, “The rain showers and cloud ceilings will keep us from making it into Florida today. We are going to try again tomorrow.’’

Atlantis’ payload bay doors were re-opened and a manoeuvre was performed to adjust the orbit to support the five available landing attempts (two at KSC in Florida and three at Edwards Air Force Base in California) on June 22. The crew spent the extra day and night in orbit, before beginning re-entry preparations again.

On June 22, Sturckow was informed, “Our mindset is we’re going to land you somewhere safely today.’’ The payload bay doors were closed at 09: 32. The first attempt to land in Florida was cancelled. Landing finally occurred on the dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, at 16: 49. The flight of STS-117 had lasted 13 days 20 hours 11 minutes. Williams had been in space for 195 days. At the post­landing press conference NASA Associate Administrator for space operations Bill Gerstenmaier told the media, “My hat’s off to the team that really pulled off an awesome mission.’’ Returning Atlantis to Florida on the back of a Boeing 747, NASA carrier aircraft would require a week’s work and cost $900,000.

In the weeks following Atlantis’ recovery, pressure suit engineers discovered a small cut in the outside layer of one of Curbeam’s EMU gloves. As a result, NASA introduced a new rule that required astronauts on an EVA to examine their gloves approximately every 60 minutes while they were in a vacuum.


After the standard weekend of light work McArthur and Tokarev began working full time on their experiment programme, as well as commencing their housekeeping, maintenance, and daily exercise regimes. They reviewed procedures for an emergency escape from the station, changed a battery in Zvezda, and rearranged the items stowed inside Unity. McArthur began work with the Pulmonary Function Facility in Destiny. Both men also began the first of a series of Renal Stone Experiment food logs and gave urine samples for the same experiment. By the second week of October the new crew were beginning preparations for their first Stage EVA, which would be made from Quest and would be the first to use American EMUs since 2003. The 5.5-hour EVA was planned for November 7. The Elektron oxygen generator in Zvezda shut down unexpectedly on October 13. The problem was a result of a partially filled source water tank being connected to the system, rather than a full tank.

Progress M-54’s engines were to be used to boost the station’s orbit on October 18. The engines began thrusting at the correct time but the procedure was aborted when a Russian navigation computer lost telemetry and shut them down. Trouble­shooting began at Korolev. On October 17 and 21 the station’s atmosphere was repressurised using oxygen from Progress M-55. Meanwhile, planning was underway at Korolev for another attempt to repair the Elektron unit. Tokarev purged the air bubbles from the Elektron oxygen generator’s systems during a 5-hour work session on October 22, thereby restoring the unit to use. During the same week, McArthur checked out the second Pulmonary Function Facility, developed by ESA for use inside their Columbus laboratory module and carried to ISS on STS-114, the unit had been installed in HRF-2 in Destiny.

On October 25, the two men carried out routine tests of the two EMUs that they would wear during their first EVA. The following day they reviewed the procedures for donning and operating the EMUs. On October 27, they donned the suits and rehearsed their EVA activities inside the station. Meanwhile, on October 26, Russian controllers had performed a test-firing of Progress M-55’s engines, using a different manifold to that used during the aborted re-boost firing. The engines operated normally and there was no loss of telemetry. Tokarev celebrated his birthday on October 29. The following day, both men worked to strip down and sample the airflow in the Trace Contaminant Control System. Engineers had noticed a reduction in the airflow and the astronauts’ work led to the conclusion that replacement parts might be required. Following re-assembly, the unit continued to work at a reduced

airflow rate. During the week they also replaced a faulty pump in a thermal control loop in Zvezda, and replaced smoke detectors, also in Zvezda.

McArthur and Tokarev marked the fifth anniversary of permanent human presence on ISS on November 2, 2005. They sent messages to everyone who had flown to the station and to the engineers and scientists from 16 nations who supported its activities.

At 10:32, November 7, McArthur and Tokarev began their first EVA as they placed their EMUs on to battery power and began depressurising Quest. During the preparations they had to repressurise the airlock and re-enter the inner chamber of the two-chamber module and reset a misaligned valve. They then had to seal them­selves back in the outer chamber and depressurise it for a second time. Exiting the airlock, they collected their tools and retrieved a stanchion for a television camera from a toolbox mounted on the exterior of Quest, before making their way to the outer limit of the Port-1 ITS, where they installed a television camera on a stanchion and installed this on the outer limit of the Port-1 ITS. When power was applied to the camera the first pictures were received just before 13: 00. The new camera would be used during future assembly tasks, when additional SAWs would be added to the port side of the ITS. The camera should have been installed as part of the final STS-114 EVA, but the installation was delayed to allow for the removal of the two gap fillers from the underside of the orbiter. Their next job was a “get-ahead” task. They removed a failed Rotary Joint Motor Controller (RJMC), a box of electronics. It had not yet been used, and was to be returned to Earth on the next Shuttle for evaluation of why it had failed.

Both men then used their hands to make their way to the top of the P-6 Truss, the “highest” point on the station. There, McArthur removed the now defunct Floating Potential Probe and pushed it away from the station. It would burn up when it re­entered Earth’s atmosphere, in approximately 100 days. It had been installed by the STS-97 crew in December 2000, to help define the electrical environment around the station’s SAWs. Images taken on STS-114 had shown it to be breaking up, so the decision was taken to remove it. With both of their primary tasks completed, the crew received permission to progress on to a second “get ahead’’ task. They removed a failed circuit breaker controlling redundant heating on the Mobile Transporter, and installed a new one. The two astronauts then returned to Quest after an EVA lasting 5 hours 22 minutes. In the days following the EVA both men spent time servicing the suits they had worn.

On November 10, Progress M-54’s thrusters were fired to boost the station’s orbit. The 33-minute, two-stage re-boost was the longest yet carried out using the engines of a Progress spacecraft, and was designed to place the station in the correct orbit for the arrival of Progress M-55, in December. During the week the station toilet control panel malfunctioned and Tokarev replaced it. The following week, McArthur spent several hours photographing the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test experiment that had been undisturbed in microgravity for over a year.

After configuring the station for automatic function the crew sealed themselves inside Soyuz TMA-7 on November 18. At 03: 46, Tokarev undocked the Soyuz from Pirs and manoeuvred along the station to dock at Zarya’s nadir, at 04: 05. McArthur and Tokarev returned to ISS just after 10:00. The newly installed Port-1 ITS television camera transmitted images of the manoeuvre, which cleared Pirs’ nadir for the crew’s second Stage EVA, during which they would wear Orlan suits. The EVA was originally planned for December 7, but was under review as the crew moved their spacecraft. Mission managers were considering delaying the EVA to early 2006, in order to give the crew more time to unload Progress M-54 and prepare it for undocking.

McArthur powered up the SSRMS on November 21, and put it through a series of engineering tests. He left it in a suitable position for its cameras to monitor the crew’s second EVA, which had been rescheduled to February 2, 2006 by that time. A possible third Stage EVA was cancelled, because the “get ahead’’ tasks had been achieved during their first EVA, in November. November 24 was a day off for the crew to celebrate the American Thanksgiving Holiday.

During the week ending December 2, McArthur worked with the HRF-2 experiment rack in Destiny. He set up a refrigerated centrifuge and worked with the BCAT-3 and InSPACE Magnetic Materials experiments. He also replaced fuses in a Trace Contaminant Monitor in Destiny. At the same time Tokarev used oxygen contained in Progress M-54 to repressurise the station. Propellant was also trans­ferred from Progress to Zarya. Tokarev also installed a muffled adjustable fan in the crew quarters to reduce noise in that region. Both men spent time collecting rubbish for disposal in Progress M-54. Oxygen from the spacecraft was pumped into the station’s atmosphere and the 221 kg of propellant that it carried was transferred to Zvezda’s tanks. McArthur replaced an air circulation fan in one of Destiny’s experiment racks and updated the software used by all five experiment racks in the laboratory module. Tokarov repaired air ducts in the American sector, thereby improving airflow in the modules. He also installed muffled fans in the sleeping quarters, thereby reducing the noise that the fans in that important area produced. As part of the preparation for Progress M-54’s undocking they removed the space­craft’s Kurs automatic docking system for return to Earth. Ultimately, plans to undock Progress M-54 on December 20 were cancelled in favour of keeping the craft docked to the station for several more months, thereby allowing the crew to continue to use its oxygen supply and to load it with additional rubbish. The second week of December was taken up with biomedical experiments and maintenance work. On December 16, one of two cables carrying power, command data, and video to and from the Mobile Transporter was severed, causing loss of data. Telemetry suggested that the cable had been deliberately cut by the disconnect actuator system, designed to cut the cable if it became snagged or tangled. This was a malfunction of the cutting system. The cable being severed resulted in one of two redundant electrical power circuit breakers being tripped. The second cable, on the other side of the ITS, remained undamaged.

As the year drew to a close, ESA announced that technical difficulties had led to the first Ariane-V/ATV flight being delayed by almost a whole year, to 2007. ESA had also transferred the launch of the European Robotic Arm from the American Shuttle to a Russian Proton launch vehicle. A third ESA announcement gave details of how the organisation had refused the requested $51 million to undertake a joint


Figure 64. Expedition-12 (L to R): Valeri Tokarev and William McArthur pose at the Zvezda mess table with Christmas tree, stockings, and a Russian doll.

Preparatory Design Study with Roscosmos of Russia’s proposed Kliper spacecraft. The vote went against the proposal because ESA would have no control over the programme and would receive only minor industrial contracts. NASA also had an announcement: with the redirection of the American human spaceflight programme towards the new Project Constellation, the Administration had already begun cancelling some experiment projects designed to be flown to ISS. On the positive side, Congress had approved the purchase of additional access to Russian Soyuz spacecraft, despite the wording of the Iran Non-proliferation Act. The new spacecraft would provide access to ISS and CRV responsibilities for American astronauts through 2012. It was accepted that some of the “taxi” flights would carry spaceflight participants in the third couch. At the same time, Russia agreed to double the production rate of Soyuz spacecraft from 2009, thereby allowing the ISS Expedition crew to be made up to six people, supported by two Soyuz CRVs docked to the station at all times. Seven Soyuz spacecraft would be flown in the period 2008-2011. Eight Progress spacecraft would fly in the same period.