Category The International Space Station


Lopez-Alegria, Tyurin, and Reiter quickly settled into a daily routine of performing experiments, housekeeping, maintenance, and exercise. Lopez-Alegria described some of his increment’s experiments:

“We’re trying to understand better the effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans, because our goal is to extend our presence not just in low Earth orbit but to go back to the moon with some kind of a longer-term presence, and hopefully on to Mars someday. So, a lot of the science is dedicated to human physiology. We are studying, everything… on a very small level. There’s an experiment called SWAB, which measures bacteria levels on surface[s], water, and air; it’s sort of an environmental thing—what actually grows up there and how do we have to worry about reacting with it. Another sort of related idea is something called Epstein – Barr virus. We see how our immune system reacts over time while we’re up there. We have a nutrition experiment that will, through taking blood and urine samples, track our intake and how we metabolize the food that we’re eating up there, because, in general, people tend to lose weight in space. In space they lose weight, but when they come back they’re usually a little bit lighter and over a lot of time, that obviously can be debilitating. [C]ertainly muscle function, bone loss are very important. We’re doing an experiment called TRAC [Test of Reaction and Adaptation Capabilities], which is pretty interesting neuron – reaction time—it’s an experiment [where] we’ve got to have a tracking task in one hand, where you’re trying to get a ‘pipper’ to stay over a target, and in the other hand you’re reacting with a keyboard, trying to do things as quickly as possible. Unfortunately because of the assembly and because of the stowage, time challenges, we don’t have as much science as we’d like. I guess it’s an investment. We’re investing the time now to build the Space Station, so that we can have a lot more science time available in the future.’’

The crew spent their first solo week onboard ISS preparing to move Soyuz TMA-9. They also practised an emergency egress from the station, checking all safety equipment in the process. Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin also completed their first medical experiments. Reiter completed loading unwanted items into Progress M-57 and carried out the standard off-loading of liquid waste from the ISS toilet to the empty water tanks in the Progress. The hatches between the two spacecraft were sealed on October 5. The following day, all three men completed monthly fitness evaluations on the station’s stationary bicycle. Tyurin also spent some time during the week troubleshooting the Elektron and replacing components of the instrument panel. The Elektron continued to intermittently malfunction and further repairs were delayed until replacement parts could be delivered on Progress M-58. Meanwhile, the station drew additional oxygen from the tanks mounted on the exterior of Quest. The last of the old design SFOGs had been burned and the igniters in Zvezda were changed out for new ones matching the design of the new SFOG candles now onboard.

CMG-3 began vibrating on October 9 and was shut down, leaving three CMGs to maintain the station’s attitude. This was a normal fall-back configuration and had no knock-on effect on the flight. The CMG would be replaced during the visit of STS-118, planned for August 2007. The malfunctioning gyroscope would be stowed on the station before its return to Earth on STS-122. In the meantime the station continued to function normally.

Having set ISS up for unoccupied flight, the three men sealed themselves in Soyuz TMA-9 and undocked from Zvezda’s wake at 15: 14, October 10, and re-docked to Zarya’s nadir at 15: 34. They then re-entered the station and reconfigured its systems for human occupation once more. The relocation manoeuvre cleared Zvezda’s wake for the arrival of Progress M-58, later in the month. The crew performed routine medical experiments and maintenance while continuing to load Progress M-57 with unwanted items. On October 23, Houston began a 5-day workout of the Thermal Radiator Rotary Joint (TRRJ) on the S-1 and P-1 ITS. NASA explained that the joints would, ‘‘… enable the radiators to auto-track, or revolve, when required to dissipate heat from the Truss’ avionics equipment…’’


Progress M-61 was launched from Baikonur at 13:33, August 2, 2007. After a standard rendezvous it docked automatically to Pirs’ nadir at 14: 40, August 5. The new Progress delivered a 2,569 kg cargo of propellants, water, oxygen, dry cargo, and personal items for the crew.




Scott Kelly


Charles Hobaugh


Tracy Caldwell, Rick Mastracchio, Barbara Morgan, Benjamin Drew Dafydd Williams (Canada)

STS-118 was Endeavour’s first flight in 4.5 years, during which the orbiter had undergone extensive modifications. With Endeavour on the launchpad in mid-July, NASA engineers displayed the usual “Go Endeavour’’ banner on the gate across the bottom of the crawlerway ramp, only the banner in question read “Go Endeavor,’’ the American spelling, while the Shuttle’s name is spelt the British way, having been named after the Royal Navy ship sailed by the British 18th-century explorer Captain James Cook. When the mistake was pointed out the banner was quickly removed and replaced by one with the correct spelling. It was a small thing with no effect on the launch preparations.

In the run-up to launch, much of the media coverage centred on Barbara Morgan, who had first been selected to fly the Shuttle into space in the early 1980s, when she was one of two high school teachers selected for President Ronald Reagan’s “Teacher in Space’’ programme. Ultimately, Morgan was selected as the back-up and she watched the launch of STS-51L from the roof of the VAB, at KSC, on January 28, 1986. From there she saw the Shuttle explode, just 75 seconds into its flight, killing Commander Richard Scobee, Pilot Mike Smith, Mission Specialists Judy Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis, and high school teacher Christa McAuliffe. Morgan had returned to teaching before applying to become a full-time professional astronaut. She was subsequently selected as part of the 1998 astronaut group. When President George W. Bush announced his Educator Astronaut Project, a plan to select one professional educator in each subsequent annual astronaut group, Morgan was named as the first Educator Astro­naut in 2002 and began training as a Mission Specialist on STS-118. The original Teacher in Space and the Educator Astronaut Project had the same objective, to encourage America’s schoolchildren and college population to study mathematics, science, and engineering and to be generally inspired by the act of spaceflight itself. In her pre-launch interview Morgan remarked:

“I’m really excited about going up and doing our jobs and doing them well. I’m excited about experiencing the whole spaceflight, seeing Earth from space for the very first time and experiencing weightlessness and what that’s all about. I’m excited about seeing what it’s like living and working onboard the International Space Station.’’

To some journalists it seemed appropriate that Christa McAuliffe’s back-up should make the first Educator Astronaut flight on Endeavour, the orbiter that had been constructed to replace Challenger. On the subject of STS-51L, Morgan said, “The legacy of Christa and the Challenger crew is open-ended. I see this as a continuation. The great thing about it is that people will be thinking about Challenger and thinking about all the hard work lots of folks over many years have done to continue their mission.’’

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin was more succinct, stating, “Every time we fly I know that we can lose a crew. That occupies a large portion of my thoughts. Unless we’re going to get out of the manned spaceflight business, that thought is going to be with me every time we fly.’’

Morgan’s Educator Astronaut tasks were secondary to her other mission tasks; she would operate Endeavour’s RMS to provide images of the installation of the S-5 ITS, which would be manoeuvred into place by the SSRMS, mounted on the MT. The S-5 was a spacer, used to provide sufficient room to allow the S-6 SAWs to function correctly when they were installed. A similar unit, the P-5 ITS, was already in place. The S-5 and P-5 spacers, which were each the size of a compact car, also included all of the plumbing and electronics needed to ensure that the S-6 and P-6 ITS elements could function as part of the overall ISS power and cooling system. It would require three EVAs to complete all of the necessary connections to make the S-5 ITS an integral part of the ITS. Anderson explained:

“We add this little spacer, S-5, which we call ‘Stubby’—P-5 was ‘Puny,’ so you had ‘Puny’ on the left and ‘Stubby’ on the right—and you add that piece so that when STS-120 comes to bring me home… we’re going to take the P-6 module that’s been sitting up on top of the station since its arrival, they’re going to take that off, move it outboard on the P[ort] side and stick it on. So now we’ll have three sets of solar arrays…’’

Lead Shuttle Flight Director Matt Abbott described the flight in the following terms, ‘‘This mission has lots of angles. There’s a little bit of assembly, there’s some

re-supply, there’s some repairs, and there’s some high-visibility education and public affairs events. It’s a little bit of everything.”

As well as the S-5 ITS, STS-118 would also carry the last SpaceHab logistics module to ISS. SpaceHab was carried rather than an MPLM because the S-5 ITS left insufficient room in the orbiter’s payload bay for the latter. The crew would also replace the CMG, in the Z-1 Truss, that had failed in October 2006, using procedures similar to those employed by the STS-114 crew when they replaced a malfunctioning CMG in 2005. In its basic form, STS-118 was a standard 11-day flight to ISS. However, Endeavour would be the first orbiter to carry the Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS). As the name suggested, the SSPTS allowed electrical power generated by the station’s ITS SAWs to be transferred to a docked Shuttle orbiter, powering its systems. If the SSPTS worked correctly, flight managers would have the potential to extend the stay on ISS by up to 3 days, and even to add a fourth EVA to the flight. Future Shuttle flights might be extended by up to 6 days by using the SSPTS.

During the countdown, a faulty valve caused a pressure leak in Endeavour’s crew compartment. It was replaced by a similar valve, removed from Atlantis. The leaking valve, together with thunder storms that caused delays in the pre-launch work on the launchpad, led to the August 7, 2007 launch being delayed by 24 hours on August 3. The delay gave NASA the opportunity to launch the Phoenix probe, which only had a 3-week launch window if it was going to reach its proposed landing site on Mars.

STS-118 finally lifted off at 18: 36, August 8,2007. Representatives of some of the STS-51L crew members’ families were at KSC to see the launch. Ironically, given the media’s concentration on Morgan, members of the McAuliffe family were not among them. As Endeavour left the launchpad, ISS was over the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Nova Scotia. Onboard cameras showed that nine pieces of foam separated from the ET and at least three appeared to strike Endeavour. The first was seen at T + 24 seconds, and looked as though it struck the body flap at the orbiter’s rear. The second piece was seen at T + 58 seconds, and resulted in a spray and decolourisation on the right wing. The third and subsequent pieces departed from the ET after STS-118 was above the sensible atmosphere and were therefore not thought to have had sufficient energy to damage the orbiter. A few minutes later, Endeavour was in orbit. In Houston, astronaut Rob Narvis announced, “… Class is in session.’’ Approximately 90 minutes after launch, a fragment of a Delta launch vehicle launched in 1975 passed within 2.4 km of Endeavour. Flight Day 1 ended at 00: 36, as the crew began their first sleep period in orbit.

Day 2 began at 08 : 37. During the first full day in space, Hobaugh, Caldwell, Mastracchio, and Morgan used the RMS to lift the OBSS from the opposite side of the payload bay at 11: 20, and spent the next 6 hours using its cameras and laser sensors to view the orbiter’s TPS. Elsewhere, the crew checked their rendezvous equipment, installed the docking system centreline camera, and extended Endeavour’s docking ring. During a television broadcast, Morgan told the audience, “Hey, its great being up here. We’ve been working really hard, but it’s a really good fun kind of work.’’ The day ended at 23: 36.


Figure 95. STS-118 crew (L to R): Richard A. Mastracchio, Barbara R. Morgan, Charles O. Hobaugh, Scott J. Kelly, Tracy E. Caldwell, Dafydd R. Williams, Alvin Drew, Jr.


Figure 96. STS-118 approaches ISS, the payload bay holds External Stowage Platform 3, the S – 5 Integrated Truss Structure and a SpaceHab module full of supplies for the station.

August 10 began at 07: 36. After eating their breakfast the crew commenced preparations for rendezvous and docking with ISS. Final rendezvous manoeuvres began at 11: 14, when Kelly performed the Terminal Initiation burn. He told the Expedition-15 crew, “We’re about 30,000 feet away. You’re looking very good.” Anderson replied, “All right, man, keep up the good work. We’re waiting for you.’’

Closing to within 200 m of the station, Kelly manoeuvred Endeavour through its r-bar pitch manoeuvre, allowing Yurchikhin and Kotov to expose a series of high – definition digital images of the orbiter’s underside, which were down-linked to Houston. When experts on the ground examined the photographs they identified a 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm gouge in the underside of Endeavour’s starboard wing, close to the main landing gear door. When he was told of the damage, Kelly replied, “Thanks for the update.’’ It was decided to carry out an OBSS inspection of the area with the orbiter docked to ISS.

Docking to PMA-2 on Destiny’s ram occurred at 14: 02. The hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 16: 04, and Endeavour’s crew entered Destiny, where they were greeted by Yurchikhin, Kotov, and Anderson. After a short ceremony, the new visitors received the usual safety brief from their hosts. At 16: 17 the crew activated the SSPTS and electrical power produced by the ISS’ SAWs flowed into a docked Shuttle for the first time. One of the first activities following docking was Mastracchio using the RMS to lift the S-5 ITS out of the payload bay and hand it over to the SSRMS, operated by Hobaugh and Anderson. The S-5 ITS was then left on the end of the SSRMS overnight to acclimatise to the space environment. Work began at 18: 00 to unload the first of the supplies from Endeavour’s SpaceHab module. Meanwhile, Mastracchio and Williams spent the night camped out in Quest with the air pressure reduced, in preparation for their first EVA the following day.

In Houston, engineers had inspected the video from the various cameras mounted on the Shuttle during lift-off. They showed that the gouge on the underside of the right wing had been caused by a grapefruit-sized piece of foam that had shed from the ET and struck a bracket on the fuel line at the rear of the tank as it fell away. The impact had changed its course, leading to the impact with the underside of the right wing. Although the planned OBSS inspection would go ahead, NASA now felt sure that Endeavour could re-enter Earth’s atmosphere without the need for an EVA to repair the TPS. Mission Manager John Shannon stated, “It’s a little bit of a concern to us because this seems to be something that has happened frequently.’’

During the night, Endeavour’s crew was woken up by an audible alarm, which had activated because the use of the SSPTS had allowed one of the Shuttle’s fuel cells to cool down more than on previous flights. The alarm’s tolerance level was adjusted to take the lower temperature into account.

Endeavour’s crew was officially woken up at 07: 38; they then ate their breakfast. After supplying electrical power to Endeavour throughout the night, the SSPTS was powered off prior to the EVA, which began at 12: 28, August 11, after Hobaugh had used the SSRMS to position the S-5 ITS at the exposed end of the S-4 ITS. Mastracchio and Williams left Quest and made their way to the area, where they gave verbal instructions to assist in the final positioning of the new ITS element. The tolerances between the S-5 ITS and other parts of the station were at times only a few centimetres, and with no cameras in the area, verbal instructions were vital. They then set about bolting the new ITS in place and completing the electrical and plumbing connections between the S4 and S-5 ITS. The S-5 ITS was considered to be officially “in place” at 14:26.

At 15: 52, while the EVA was underway, the primary American Command & Control computer, in Destiny, shut down without warning. The back-up computer immediately assumed the primary role and the third, stand-by computer assumed the back-up role, exactly as they had been programmed to do. The EVA was not affected and ISS was never in danger. Controllers in Houston began troubleshooting the problem.

After installing the S-5 ITS, Mastracchio and Williams made their way to the P-6 ITS, where they retracted the forward radiator. This was the final task to prepare the P-6 ITS for its removal from the Z-1 Truss and relocation to the exposed end of the P-5 ITS. That task would be completed by the crew of STS-120, after they had temporarily installed Harmony on Unity. The STS-118 EVA ended at 18: 45, after 6 hours 17 minutes. The SSPTS was powered on after the EVA was complete and began supplying power to Endeavour once more.

August 12 began on Endeavour at 07 : 07 and was the day that the Shuttle crew inspected the damage caused to their vehicle by foam and ice shedding from the ET during lift-off. Hobaugh and Anderson used the SSRMS to lift the OBSS from its storage position, and handed it off to Endeavour’s own RMS at 09: 45. Kelly, Caldwell, and Morgan then spent 3 hours operating the RMS to view five damaged areas of TPS on the underside of Endeavour using the cameras and laser instruments on the OBSS to form a three-dimensional image of the damaged areas. Four of the five areas inspected offered no threat to re-entry. The fifth and by far the largest area was the 7.5 cm x 7.5 cm gouge seen earlier in the flight. Engineers in Houston would reconstruct the large gouge and test it under simulated re-entry heating temperatures. In the event that the gouge was found to threaten Endeavour during re-entry, the crew had three options for repair, all of which would involve an EVA:

• Apply a thermal paint to the exposed surface of the gouge.

• Install a cover plate of TPS material.

• Fill the gouge with a caulking material.

Throughout the day, Williams, Hobaugh, Mastricchio, and Drew spent their time transferring equipment and logistics from SpaceHab to ISS. In Houston, flight managers reviewed the operation of the SSPTS and extended the flight of STS-118, pushing Endeavour’s undocking from the station back to August 20, with landing 2 days later. The extra time would be used for a fourth EVA, by Williams and Anderson, to install a berth on the exterior of ISS to hold the OBSS. Just after 21: 00, Mastracchio and Williams began their second overnight camp-out in Quest, in preparation for their second EVA.

That EVA began at 11 : 32, August 13, when the two astronauts left Quest and made their way to the Z-1 Truss, using the SSRMS operated by Hobaugh and Anderson. Once in location they removed the CMG that had failed in October 2006. The failed CMG was carried to a temporary stowage location, while they installed a new CMG, which had been carried into orbit in Endeavour’s payload bay, mounted on External Stowage Platform 3. With the EVA progressing well, Caldwell told Mastracchio and Williams, “You guys rock.’’ The final task was to move the failed CMG from its temporary location to External Stowage Platform 2 on the exterior of ISS, where they secured it to await recovery and return to Earth on a later Shuttle flight. The EVA ended at 18: 00, after 6 hours 28 minutes.

Throughout the EVA, Drew continued to transfer equipment from SpaceHab to ISS, a task that other crew members assisted with once the EVA was complete. In Zvezda, Yurchikhin and Kotov continued searching Zvezda for the cause of the computer failure that had occurred during the visit of STS-117. On removing some wall panels in the Russian module they discovered that condensation had collected behind them.

In Houston, mission managers announced that the OBSS survey had shown that the largest gouge on Endeavour’s underside passed right through the TPS tiles and had exposed the felt that was laid between the TPS tiles and the orbiter’s aluminium skin. Discussions were underway as to whether or not the crew should make a repair before leaving ISS, but Mission Manager John Shannon told a press conference, “This is not a catastrophic loss-of-orbiter case at all. This is a case where you want to do the prudent thing for the vehicle.’’ He added, “we have really prepared for exactly this case, since Columbia [STS-107]. We have spent a lot of money and a lot of people’s efforts to be ready to handle exactly this case.’’

Shannon explained that it might be better to add a complicated TPS repair EVA to the flight, rather than risk more serious damage being caused during re-entry that would require long repairs and throw the already tight launch schedule into further disarray. He also assured journalists that mission managers had ruled out the second repair option, screwing a pre-prepared plate of TPS material over the damage, as the damage did not warrant such drastic measures. The choice now was between the thermal protection paint and the caulking material. On the subject of what this foam – shedding event meant to the launch schedule, Shannon would not be drawn, saying only, “We have a lot of discussion to have before we fly the next [External] Tank.’’

Endeavour’s crew began their sleep period at 22: 06.

Two events were marked during the August 14 working day. Endeavour’s crew were woken up at 06: 07, by a recording of Caldwell’s nieces and nephews singing, “Happy Birthday, dear Tracy,’’ to mark the astronaut’s birthday. Also, at 11: 15, Zarya, the first American-financed ISS module to be launched, completed its 50,000th orbit.

Caldwell and Morgan used Endeavour’s RMS to lift External Stowage Platform 3 out of the Shuttle’s payload bay, and hand it over to the SSRMS. Hobaugh and Anderson then moved it into position. The 4 m x 2 m platform, which held a second, spare CMG, a nitrogen tank assembly, and a battery charger/discharger unit, was attached to the P-3 ITS at 12: 18. The previous two ESPs had been installed on Destiny and Quest by astronauts making EVAs.

During the day, Kelly, Caldwell, and Morgan were interviewed by news organisations, and Kelly answered a question on the damage sustained by Endeavour during launch, saying, “My understanding is that the tile damage is not an issue for the safety of the crew. We may still choose to repair, but I’m not concerned with our safety.”

Morgan then joined Anderson, Williams, and Drew in answering questions from children at the Discovery Centre in Boise, Idaho. One child asked Morgan how being an astronaut compared with being a teacher. She replied:

“Astronauts and teachers actually do the same thing, we explore, we discover and we share. And the great thing about being a teacher is you get to do it with students, and the great thing about being an astronaut is you get to do it in space and those are absolutely wonderful jobs.’’

The video conference continued with the students asking questions on a wide range of subjects and receiving answers from the astronauts on Endeavour. Asked about what it felt like to fly into space, Williams replied:

“As soon as the engines stop, you float forward in your seat, your arms rise up, and it’s an incredible sense of freedom. The first thing we like to do is go up to the window and look at the Earth. It’s an amazing sight.’’

On the ground, mission managers were still awaiting heating tests before deciding whether or not to repair the gouge in Endeavour’s underside. They continually made it clear during the day’s press conferences that any repairs undertaken would be to prevent prolonged repairs after flight and were not a matter of preventing the loss of Endeavour during re-entry. Mastracchio and Anderson spent the day preparing for their third EVA, the following day. They spent the night “camped out’’ in Quest. The crew’s day ended at 22: 06.

August 15’s work day began at 06: 07. Mastracchio and Anderson left Quest at 10: 38 to begin EVA-3. The two men worked together to relocate an S-band Antenna Sub-Assembly from the P-6 ITS to the P-1 ITS. They also installed a new transponder on the P-1 ITS, before removing the transponder on the P-1 ITS. Both men watched while Hobaugh and Kotov used the SSRMS to relocate the two CETA carts from the track on the port side of the MBS to its starboard side. In so doing, they cleared the track to the port side for the MBS to complete the transfer of the P-6 ITS, from the Z-1 Truss to the outer edge of the P-5 ITS, during the flight of STS-120. Throughout the movement of the CETA carts, Morgan used the cameras on Endeavour’s RMS to provide live images of what was happening.

At 14: 54, Mastracchio carried out one of the new periodic checks of his EMU gloves and discovered a cut in the thumb of his left glove that had passed through the outer two layers of the glove’s five layers of construction. The cut did not puncture the gas bladder, there was no leak, and Mastracchio was in no danger. Even so, he was instructed to return to Quest and return his Extravehicular Mobility Unit to the electrical power supply inside the airlock. In Houston, NASA spokesman Kyle Herring told a press conference, “The suit is perfectly fine. This is just a precaution.’’ Anderson completed the final task before returning to Quest at 16: 05, after 5 hours


Figure 97. STS-188: Canadian astronaut Dave Williams deploys a new Control Moment Gyroscope for installation in the Z-1 Truss. The old, failed CMG was temporarily stored on the exterior of the station. Williams is standing in a foot restraint held by the SSRMS.


Figure 98. STS-118: Astronaut Richard Mastracchio at work on the Integrated Truss Structure during the flight’s third EVA.

28 minutes. Plans to recover the MISSE-3 and MISSE-4 experiments were delayed until a later EVA.

Inside ISS, the remainder of the two crews spent the rest of the day on the transfer of equipment from SpaceHab to the station, which was half-complete. In Houston, mission managers delayed the fourth EVA from August 17 to August 18, but had not yet decided if it would be devoted to repairing Endeavour’s underside or to “get-ahead” tasks. Either way, on August 17 the crew would perform preparations for a repair, until managers told them that it was not required. If the repair went ahead, Mastracchio and Williams would ride on the end of the OBSS, which would be held in the end-effector of Endeavour’s RMS. They would be moved to the underside of the orbiter, where they would apply heat-resistant black paint to the gouge in the tiles then they would apply the caulking material to the gouge.

At 08: 06, August 16, Morgan and Drew spent time talking to students at the Challenger Centre for Space Science Education, Alexandria, Virginia. The centre had been set up by the families of the STS-51L crew. June Scobee-Rogers, the wife of STS-51L Commander Richard Scobee at the time of the STS-51L flight, was there to oversee the session. She began the session by greeting Morgan, “Barbara, we have been standing by, waiting for your signals from space for twenty-one years…’’ The questions that followed were many and varied. One student asked Morgan if she had had any special teachers in her own life. She replied that the seven people on STS-51L were mentors, “… that have meant more than anything to me. They were my teachers and I believe they are teaching us today, still.’’ As the broadcast ended, Morgan held an STS-51L mission patch up to the camera. The question-and-answer session was followed by interviews with a number of television and radio stations. Later in the day, Morgan also answered questions from the education district where she had been a high school teacher, during an amateur radio session.

The two crews spent most of the day transferring equipment between the two spacecraft, while Mastracchio, Williams, and Drew spent their time preparing for the fourth EVA and the repairs that they might have to make to Endeavour’s TPS. Just before the crew signed off for the day, Houston told them that the Mission Management Team (MMT) had decided that they would not carry out a repair to Endeavour’s underside. On receiving the news, Kelly replied, “Pass along our thanks for all the hard work the MMT and everyone down there is doing to support our flight.’’

In Houston, John Shannon told a press conference that the decision, “… was not unanimous, but pretty overwhelming.’’

The fourth EVA would now be dedicated to installing two antennae and a berth to hold the OBSS on the exterior of ISS between Shuttle flights. They would also recover the two MISSE trays that they had not recovered during the previous EVA. The day ended with both crews being given some off-duty time.

August 17 was another quiet day, with Mastracchio, Williams, and Drew preparing for the EVA now planned for the following day. The majority of the day was spent transferring equipment between the two spacecraft and talking with reporters in Houston and the Canadian Space Agency Headquarters in Montreal. Mission managers also had a new problem to consider, Hurricane Dean was approaching Houston, where the Shuttle control room was located. Plans were made to shorten the fourth EVA and even to undock a day early if the hurricane threatened the control centre. Mastracchio and Williams spent the night “camped out” in Quest when the crew began their sleep period at 23: 06.

The new day, August 18, began with a wake-up call at 05: 03. The crew were informed that due to the threat offered to Houston by the approaching hurricane the planned 6.5-hour EVA had been shortened by 2 hours. The shorter EVA would allow for the hatches between Destiny and Endeavour to be closed at the end of the day, preserving the option to undock one day earlier than planned. If required, mission control would move to a back-up facility at KSC, in Florida.

The final EVA began at 09: 17. Williams and Anderson installed the External Wireless Instrumentation System antenna, part of a system to measure stresses in the ISS structure. Next, they installed a stand for the OBSS, before recovering the two MISSE packages deferred from their previous EVA. Plans to secure micro-meteoroid shielding on Zvezda and Zarya and moving an external toolbox had been removed from the plan to facilitate the shorter EVA. During the EVA, ISS passed directly over Hurricane Dean, as it travelled across the Caribbean. Williams remarked, “Wow! Man, can’t miss that.” Anderson added, “Holy smoke, that’s impressive!” Both men returned to Quest at 14: 19, after an EVA lasting 5 hours 2 minutes.

Questioned during the crew’s joint press conference with the Expedition-15 crew about NASA’s decision not to repair Endeavour’s TPS, Kelly told journalists:

“I think it was absolutely the right decision to forego the repair… I think they took the appropriate amount of time to come to that conclusion.’’

He added,

“We have had Shuttles land with worse damage than this. We gave this a very thorough look; there will be no extra concern in my mind due to this damage.’’

Talking about the proposed repair, Mastracchio said:

“We were not looking forward to doing it, only because there was a lot of risk involved and a lot of long hard hours involved getting it all prepared… We felt comfortable we could go and accomplish it.’’

Williams had the final say:

“We [NASA] do not take chances; we manage risk. We are in the business of mitigating risk, and that is a data-driven process. To analyse all the appropriate data took time. They made the right decision. Going beneath the belly of the orbiter is something that has its own risk.’’

By 17: 10, the two crews had completed their goodbyes, during which Yurchikhin and Kelly embraced before the Russian told his American colleague, “Have a good


PROGRESS M-61Figure 99. STS-118: the decision was made not to repair this tile damage on Endeavour’s underside. The damage to the orbiter’s heat protection system had no effect on re-entry, and Endeavour was recovered successfully.

trip back to Earth.” Kelly led his crew back to Endeavour. The hatches between the two spacecraft were sealed and both crews settled down to their respective sleep periods.

Endeavour’s wake-up call came at 04: 37, August 19. After final checks, Endeavour undocked at 07:56 and backed away from Destiny’s ram. As the two spacecraft separated, Yurchikhin rang the ship’s bell on the station and remarked, “Endeavour departed.’’ Anderson added, “Thanks for everything Scott, and Endeavour crew, Godspeed.’’ Kelly replied, “We couldn’t have gotten everything accomplished without you guys. We look forward to seeing you back on planet Earth.’’

After a partial fly-around of ISS, the Shuttle was manoeuvred clear at 08:23. Following a second burn, at 09: 30, the crew used the RMS to lift the OBSS and use it to inspect Endeavour’s nosecap and the leading edges of both wings. They berthed the OBS back along the payload bay door hingeline at 14: 37. At 16: 35 the crew began four hours of free time in advance of their sleep period, beginning at 20: 36.

The last full day in space began at 04: 37, and the crew spent the day stowing their equipment prior to re-entry. Kelly, Hobaugh, and Mastracchio tested Endeavour’s thrusters and aerodynamic surfaces. Kelly, Morgan, and Williams took time to talk to schoolchildren in Canada, before closing out the SpaceHab module. The day ended at 20: 36.

Overnight, Hurricane Dean had hit land in Jamaica, in the process losing most of its power. It was downgraded from a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 1 tropical storm. Endeavour’s crew were woken up at 04: 36, August 21, and at 07: 26 began their final preparations for re-entry. The payload bay doors were closed at 08 : 45 and retrofire occurred at 11 : 25, resulting in a landing at KSC on the first of two opportunities that day. Kelly landed his spacecraft in Florida at 12: 33, after a flight lasting 13 days 17 hours 56 minutes. As Endeavour rolled out to wheel-stop, Capcom in Houston told the crew, “Welcome home. You’ve given ‘Higher Education’ a new meaning.’’

After the toxic fuels had been pumped from the spacecraft the crew were allowed to leave. On reaching the ground Kelly walked underneath Endeavour to look at the gouge in the TPS. He later described it as, ‘‘Somewhat underwhelming… it looked rather small.’’ Small or not, that one gouge had been the subject of some 4,000 hours of computer time and NASA Administrator Michael Griffin praised the engineers who had carried out those studies. He later reminded journalists at a press con­ference, ‘‘This is very much an experimental vehicle. Anyone who doesn’t believe that just doesn’t get it.’’

As to the cause of the gouge, NASA engineers believed that ice had formed on the ET, causing the foam to break away from one of the brackets holding the fuel line. That foam had then struck a second bracket and changed direction, striking the TPS on the underside of the orbiter. The bracket had already been redesigned to minimise foam loss, but tanks with the new brackets were not scheduled to come on-line until spring 2008, with the flight of STS-124. In the meantime, engineers were considering removing some of the foam from the bracket on the ETs of the three Shuttle flights before STS-124.

Predictably, throughout the flight of STS-118 much of the media coverage had concentrated on Barbara Morgan. There had been endless words written and spoken about her role as the back-up Teacher in Space for STS-51L, and how “Challenger exploded in January 1986, killing high school teacher Christa McAuliffe and six other crew members.” Regretfully, 21 years after the event, most of the journalists had seemed unable to name the “six other crew members”, or thought it was unnecessary to do so in their reports.


Progress M-58 was launched from Baikonur at 09:41, October 23, 2006 and climbed into orbit. The spacecraft performed a standard rendezvous before docking to Zvezda’s wake at 10: 29, October 26. As Progress M-58 approached Zvezda, telemetry failed to confirm that a KURS antenna on the front of the spacecraft had retracted as scheduled. If it had not retracted then it would interfere with the docking latches. Following soft-docking, Russian controllers in Korolev spent 3.5 hours trying to confirm the antenna had retracted. During this period the station’s attitude control systems were powered off and the station was allowed to drift so as not to disturb the Progress vehicle and misalign it. In this period the station’s drift led to a misalignment of the SAWs and a drop in electrical power. Following routine procedures, the crew powered off non-critical items to conserve power. Finally, the docking probe on the Progress was retracted and the docking latches engaged, securing a hard-dock at 14: 00. After hard-docking, the station’s attitude control systems were powered on and the station brought back to its correct attitude. The non-critical items were then powered on once more. Among its 2,393 kg of cargo, Progress M-58 carried replacement parts for the Elektron oxygen generator as well as 2.5 tonnes of food, water, propellant, oxygen, spare parts, supplies, and personal items for the crew.

The non-confirmation of the KURS antenna folding on the new Progress continued to worry Russian controllers in Korolev and they began planning a Stage EVA to confirm it was correctly stowed. Lopez-Alegrla and Tyurin would make the EVA on November 22. Tyurin would also hit a golf ball away from the Pirs docking compartment in a commercial “experiment” designed to result in the longest golf strike in history. Meanwhile, Reiter began packing material planned to be returned to Earth on STS-116, the Shuttle flight that would bring his 6-month stay on ISS to an end. As the preparations for the next Shuttle launch continued, the Expedition-14 crew continued with their experiments. In preparing for their EVA, Lopez-Alegrla and Tyurin attached American EVA lights to the helmets of their Orlan pressure suits. Meanwhile, controllers in Houston continued to test CMG-3, which had shown unplanned vibrations prior to being shut down on October 9. Tyurin repaired the Elektron unit in Zvezda on October 30, after which it was powered on and began supplying oxygen to the station’s atmosphere once more.

Lopez-Alegrla walked the SSRMS end over end from its position on the exterior of Destiny to the MT, which had been positioned at Workstation 4 on the ITS, on November 1. After manoeuvring the SSRMS so that both end-effectors could be photographed, the MT was moved to the far end of the P-4, where the SSRMS would be used to install the P-5 ITS during the flight of STS-116. Meanwhile, Reiter began preparing for his return to Earth. He would be relieved by American Sunita Williams. Even so, the European experiment programme on ISS continued unabated. The Elektron unit malfunctioned again, developing an internal water leak on November 7. Five days later, the crew began shifting their sleep pattern to match that of the STS-116 crew, then due for launch on November 22. They also closed the hatches between Pirs and Progress M-57.

At 19:17, November 22, Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin exited Pirs wearing Orlan suits. Expedition-14’s first Stage EVA began 1 hour late, after Tyurin had to deal with a pinched cooling hose in his suit. He had had to climb out of his suit and reposition the hose in order to release the pinch. Having re-entered the suit, closed the hinged Portable Life Support System behind him, and repressurised the suit he was finally ready to proceed. Once outside, Tyurin mounted a З-gramme golf ball on a spring mounted tee which he attached to the ladder on the exterior of Pirs. With his booted feet on the ladder he used a gold-plated six-iron to strike the ball away, towards Zvezda’s wake. Tyurin remarked, “There it goes, and it went pretty far, I can still see it as a little dot, moving away from us.’’

Controllers estimated that the ball would re-enter the atmosphere and burn up in three days. Tyurin said he was pleased with the shot and controllers chose not to have him make a second shot. The golf shot was paid for as a commercial venture by a Canadian golf company.

Moving to Zvezda’s wake, where Progress M-58 was docked, Tyurin attempted to release a latch on the KURS antenna that had failed to retract. Despite his best efforts using both his gloved hands and a crowbar, alongside commands radioed up from Korolev, the antenna continued to refuse to retract. The two men took a series of digital photographs, which would show that the antenna’s dish was stuck behind one of Zvezda’s EVA handrails. A tool to remove the antenna would be delivered on STS-116. Moving on, the two men relocated a communications antenna that would be used by the European ATV. By moving the antenna just 0.З m from its original location it no longer impeded the cover of one of Zvezda’s rocket motors. It was this antenna that had prevented an attitude control burn taking place on April 19, 2006, because the cover on the rocket motor could not be opened to its full extent. At Zvezda’s ram they installed the BTN-Neutron experiment, designed to record the flux of neutron particles found in low-Earth orbit following solar particle events. Their final task was to jettison a pair of thermal covers for the experiment. The EVA ended after 5 hours З8 minutes.

The last week of November was spent preparing for the arrival of STS-116, Discovery. The Expedition-14 crew prepared Quest for three planned EVAs and they prepared the equipment that would be returned to Earth. On November 29, Tyurin changed out batteries in both Zvezda and Zarya. On the same day, an attempt to re-boost the station using the thrusters on a Progress spacecraft was cut short due to a software problem. Over-sensitive software shut down the thrusters after detecting motion caused by the planned manoeuvre. The planned 18-minute 22-second burn lasted just З minutes 16 seconds. The manoeuvre was completed on December 4, and placed ISS in the correct orbit for Discovery’s rendezvous.

Tyurin and Reiter disassembled the Matryoshka human torso experiment in Pirs, to remove the З60 internally mounted radiation sensors. They also removed the KURS avionics packages from Progress M-57 and Progress M-58 and stowed them for return to Earth.

As November ended, the US National Research Council released a report criticising NASA for failing to obviously redirect the ISS science programme to meet the needs of Project Constellation, and in particular human flights to Mars, saying, “The panel saw no evidence of an integrated resource utilization plan for the use of the ISS in support of the Exploration Missions.” It continued, “The ISS may prove the only facility with which to conduct critical operation demonstrations needed to reduce risk and certify advanced systems.”




Mark Polansky.


William Oefelein.


Nicholas Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Robert Curbeam, Christer Fuglesang (ESA)

EXPEDITION-14 & 15 (up)

Sunita Williams

EXPEDITION-13 & 14 (down)

Thomas Reiter

In the wake of a December 7 launch attempt that had been cancelled, due to low cloud, the fact that the ET had been filled with fuel demanded that the next launch attempt could not take place for a further 48 hours. On the second attempt, STS-116 lifted off from Kennedy Space Centre at 20: 47, December 9, 2006. In the minutes before launch, Polansky told the launch team, “We look forward to lighting up the night sky.” It was the first Shuttle night launch in over four years. He also told the media, “There are always inherent risks when you take people off the planet and try to propel them a couple of hundred miles into space. We try to mitigate the risk as much as possible. If anyone says we can take all the risk out, they are just blowing smoke.”

Fuglesang was pragmatic, saying, “I hope this will increase interest in space for Sweden, and actually for science and technology in general. This flight is a small step in the assembly of the Space Station. The station is a small step toward the Moon and Mars.”

Meanwhile, Space Station Manager Mike Suffrendi told a press conference, “Many of us consider this the most challenging Space Station flight we’ve done since we began the assembly effort. When the Shuttle leaves, ISS will not look much different than when Discovery got there, but it will be a dramatically different vehicle inside.’’

Discovery’s seven-person crew would complete three EVAs, during which they would install the port-5 (P-5) ITS and then re-wire the station’s electrical system, bringing on-line the SAWs delivered by STS-115. Sunita Williams would join Expedition-14 crew members Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin, while Thomas Reiter would return to Earth in Discovery with the STS-116 crew. The Shuttle also carried a SpaceHab pressurised module full of equipment and supplies for the station. Asked about the mid-term hand-over Lopez-Alegria explained:

“Well, I think it all stems from the notion that the Russian Space Agency,

Roscosmos, would like to have the third seat in the Soyuz available for a paying

passenger… and so the third person can’t rotate there and he or she will rotate on Shuttle. So, that’s… the scheme that we have evolved to.’’

He continued:

“I think there are certain disadvantages, certainly. If you were to build a true Expedition crew, you’d like them to be sort of lockstep with each other all the time. I think this is a little bit different because we do have a fair amount of access to the ground, talking to people, e-mailing friends and family, using the internet protocol phone to be able to converse with people. That probably eases the difficulty in being isolated somewhat that is so specific to certain types of expedi­tions. I think that the result is that the need to bond really as a single unit is not as stringent as it might be if we were going to live that kind of an experience. However, it does bring up some interesting challenges. I think there’s also some advantages because six months with the same two faces all the time, if you don’t like one of those two faces it could get old. At least, in this fashion, we will have the opportunity to change those faces once in a while.’’

Commander of Expedition-15 Fyodor Yurchikhin would express a different point of view, which I quote on p. 277.

On reaching orbit, Discovery was configured for flight and her payload bay doors were opened to expose the vital radiators mounted on their interiors. During the first day in orbit the crew powered up the RMS, and lifted the OBSS from the payload bay door hingeline. They then used the OBSS cameras and lasers to inspect Discovery’s heatshield and the leading edges of the wings. Houston confirmed, “There is nothing anyone is excited about so far.’’ The crew also installed the usual selection of rendezvous equipment and cameras and checked the EMUs they would wear during their three EVAs.

Following a standard rendezvous. Williams got her first view of the station and reported excitedly, “Tally-ho on my new home. It’s beautiful. The solar arrays are glowing.’’ After the now routine r-bar pitch manoeuvre, Discovery docked to ISS at 17: 12, December 11. As usual, the station’s bell was rung to welcome the visitors. Following pressure checks, the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened and the Shuttle’s crew were welcomed aboard the station at 18: 54. As the hatches were swung open Lopez-Alegria joked, “We’re having a ball already.’’

The first order of business was to inspect the tip of Discovery’s port wing with the cameras on the RMS, after a vibration was picked up by the wingtip sensor 18 minutes after docking. The additional inspection delayed the crew using the RMS to un-berth the P-5 ITS from its position in Discovery’s payload bay. The P-5 ITS was subsequently handed over from the Shuttle’s RMS to the SSRMS and was then positioned over Discovery’s port wing, where it was left overnight. Williams described the P-5 ITS in the following terms:

“P-5 (and S-5) is a part, that goes between the two major solar array wings. Without them, the two wings would be too close together to actually operate.


Figure 78. STS-116 crew (L to R): Robert L. Curbeam, William A. Oefelein, Nicholas J. M. Patrick, Joan E. Higginbotham, Sunita L. Williams, Mark L. Polansky, Christer Fuglesang.


Figure 79. STS-116: astronauts operating the Shuttle’s RMS prepare to pass the P-5 Integrated Truss Structure over to the station’s SSRMS for installation on the station.

They’re a pass-through for all of the thermal, electrical lines going out to the end of the truss and absolutely critical… to make sure that the two big solar array wings will be able to operate.’’

At 01:00, Williams installed her couch liner in Soyuz TMA-9 and transferred her Sokol pressure suit from Discovery, thus transferring herself to the Expedition-14 crew. At the same time Reiter transferred his equipment to Discovery and became part of the STS-115 crew. For her first two weeks on the station Williams would spend 1 hour each day, in order to familiarise with the station and the Expedition-14 crew’s routines. These hours were unstructured, allowing Williams to concentrate on whatever she felt was necessary to bring her up to speed. Williams has described the advantages of a mid-term crew exchange:

“I think I’m really lucky… they’re going to be there to help me with any… turnover things that I don’t understand. I’m a rookie; never flown before. These two are both experienced space fliers; and them, having lived there for about three months before I get there, I think if I have any questions, they’ll be the perfect people to show me the way.’’

Prior to retiring for the night, the STS-116 crew reviewed the procedures for their first EVA, planned for the following day. Curbeam and Fuglesang sealed themselves in Quest and reduced the pressure in order to “camp out’’ in the airlock overnight, as part of their EVA pre-breathing regime.

Williams, who would operate the RMS during the P-5 installation, explained:

“The first EVA, which is the P-5 install. Me and Joanie Higginbotham will be operating the robotic workstations. We’ll be taking the P-5 Truss from a handoff position from the Shuttle robotic arm and we’ll be moving it to the end of P-3/P-4 for the installation. It’s a little bit of a tricky installation because the clearances to get the P-5 into its position are pretty tight, about three inches or so. Some of the issues with that is the P-3/P-4 solar array wing is live at the time, so there’s going to be some black boxes on the end of P-3/P-4 that are live powered. And so with that clearance, the biggest worry is that you don’t hit the box that has the live power on it, ’cause that’s going to cause a lot of problems. So, we’ve practiced this very intensely with the spacewalkers Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang. They’ll be out on opposite ends of the P-3/P-4 truss, guiding us in. So this is a very complicated, entire-crew-involved event to try to get this guy installed… Part of that EVA is also starting up the main bus power switching units, MBSU, and while we’re making sure that that’s all starting up correctly, the two space- walkers, Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang, will be moving the CETA carts to the opposite side that they’re on, in preparation for the next solar array, which is the S-3/S-4 installation. So, we’ll be working with the spacewalkers again as we’ll be picking them up and driving them over to the truss, while they’ll be grabbing on to the CETA carts. We’ll be flying them over to the other side of the MBS.’’

The first EVA began at 15:31, December 12, when Curbeam and Fuglesang transferred their suits from external power to internal batteries. Exiting Quest, they prepared their tools and then made their way across to the P-5 ITS. The two astronauts guided Higginbotham as she lifted the P-5 ITS into its installation position at 17:45. With the new ITS section in place, the two EVA astronauts bolted it into position, completing the task at 18: 21. Moving on, the two astronauts replaced a failed camera, removed the launch restraints and an RMS grapple fixture from the P – 5 ITS as well as a cover that would allow the P-6 ITS to be bolted to it when it relocated from its present position on the Z-1 Truss’ zenith. With the two astronauts back inside the airlock the EVA ended at 22:07, after 6 hours 36 minutes. During the day mission managers confirmed that Discovery’s heatshield was in good condition for re-entry at the end of the flight.

After a night’s sleep, phase two of the flight’s objectives got underway. The crew spent 6 hours, beginning at 18: 17, December 13, sending a series of over 40 com­mands to retract the port SAW on the P-6 ITS, which had been in place on the station since it was deployed in 2000. The retraction did not go well and the arrays had to be partially retracted, re-deployed, and retracted again. Despite everything, they failed to retract as planned. The guidewires became snagged with only 17 of 31 panels retracted, but it was enough to allow the day’s work to continue. At 20: 00, the P-4 SAWs began rotating to their operational position. When the ITS was complete and all the SAWs were deployed, they would be able to rotate to track the Sun as ISS orbited Earth. On the evening of December 13, 2006, P-4 became the first SAW to rotate. The manoeuvre was completed without difficulty, and just before 23: 00 the valves were opened to allow ammonia to flow into the ITS and the huge radiators mounted there. This was the first stage towards providing permanent cooling for the avionics and electronics on ISS. Inside, the two crews spent the day transferring equipment from Discovery’s SpaceHab module and mid-deck to the station.

Meanwhile, in Houston, mission managers met to discuss the various options for completing the retraction of the P-6 SAW. One option was to assign additional EVA tasks, to be performed by the Expedition-14 crew after Discovery’s return to Earth, in order to carry out the task manually. The meeting concluded that the partially retracted P-6 port array was in a safe configuration to be left for the remainder of the STS-115 flight and, if necessary, the arrival of the next Progress, planned for launch in January 2007. Despite the difficulties with the P-6 SAW the management team agreed to proceed with the second EVA as planned. As a result, Curbeam and Fuglesang spent a second night camping out in Quest under reduced atmospheric pressure. The two crews began their sleep period leaving the P-4 array rotating as it tracked the Sun and the ammonia flowing through the new cooling system, while they slept. Attempts to transfer orientation of the station back to the CMGs failed, possibly due to increased atmospheric drag as a result of increased solar activity. Discovery remained in control of the combination for the time being.

December 14 began with a planned major power-down of many of the ISS’ electrical systems. The systems were powered down because the electrical system that supplied them with power was about to be switched from the P-6 ITS SAWs to the P-4 ITS SAWs. Orientation of the Shuttle/ISS combination was controlled by

Discovery, which maintained orientation by firing the orbiter’s thrusters as demanded by its own attitude control system. Curbeam and Fuglesang began their second EVA at 14:41, approximately 30 minutes ahead of schedule. During their 5-hour EVA they worked swapping cable connectors to establish the station’s permanent cooling and power systems. By 16: 30, one of the external cooling loops was shedding heat into space and the direct-current-to-direct-current converter units were regulating electrical power. By 16: 45, controllers were applying power to Channels 2 and 3 for the first time. Additional tasks included relocating one of the CETA handcarts that would run along the ITS. Having caught up a further 30 minutes by performing their tasks more quickly than planned, the two astronauts returned to Quest and ended their EVA at 19: 41. Williams and Higginbotham had operated the SSRMS throughout the EVA.

December 15 was a day of internal work. During the first half of the day the crews transferred equipment between the two spacecraft. Following that work they performed two press conferences before taking the remainder of the day off. At 21: 04, Williams commanded the stuck P-6 SAW to deploy slightly and then retract by the same amount. The attempt left the SAW in exactly the same position as it was when she started, with just 17 of its 31 panels folded. In Houston, mission managers were still discussing the possibility of a fourth, unplanned EVA to try to complete the folding up of the P-6 SAW. Curbeam and Williams camped out in Quest during the night with the pressure reduced, in preparation for their third EVA the following day.

The flight’s third EVA began at 14: 25, December 16, but not before controllers in Houston had shut down half of the station’s electrical systems: the opposite half to that shut down on December 14. Curbeam and Williams left Quest and prepared their tools. They spent their time swapping electrical connectors once more to bring the station’s electrical system to its final configuration. In future, when additional ITS elements were added no new reconfiguration of the electrical and cooling system would be required, except to connect the new ITS elements to the existing system. By 16: 18, controllers in Houston were applying power to Channels 1 and 4 for the first time, as they brought the station’s electrical and cooling systems back on-line. Their primary task complete, the two astronauts fitted a grapple fixture to the SSRMS and positioned three bundles of radiation shielding for the Russian sector on the exterior of the station. The shielding would be installed in its final locations on a later EVA. Their final task was to position themselves on either side of the partially retracted P-6 photovoltaic array and take turns to shake their respective sides of the SAW while their colleagues inside the station attempted to retract it. Looking at the guidewires on the SAW, Curbeam reported, “It’s definitely hanging up.’’ He shook the array and it cleared temporarily allowing it to be further retracted before it snagged again. It was a frustrating procedure that had to be repeated several times.

“This is definitely the right approach. I think we are starting to get there,’’ encouraged Lopez-Alegria from inside the station.

In the control room in Houston, Steve Robinson watched the live television pictures and remarked, “That is an impressive amount of motion and very effective.’’ Curbeam replied, “I’m here to serve.’’

Curbeam shook the array 19 times and Williams 13 times while the retract command was issued 8 times. At the end of their efforts only 11 panels on the array remained unfolded. The EVA ended at 21:56, after 7 hours 31 minutes.

Whilst the third EVA was underway, mission managers in Houston confirmed that Discovery’s flight would be extended by one day to allow Curbeam and Fuglesang to make an unscheduled fourth EVA, in an attempt to finish the retraction of the P-6 SAW.

Working inside the station on December 17, the crews were slightly ahead of schedule in their work to transfer equipment between the two spacecraft. As a result, they spent much of the day preparing for the fourth EVA. Work included positioning the SSRMS and Discovery’s RMS to support the EVA. Cameras on the latter would be used to video the astronauts’ actions. Discovery’s crew also transferred two EMUs to Quest for use during the EVA. Curbeam and Fuglesang spent the night camped out in Quest with the airlock’s pressure reduced.

Curbeam and Fuglesang left Quest at 14: 12, December 18. Having collected their tools Curbeam mounted the SSRMS and was lifted over to the balky array. Fuglesang made his way manually to the P-6 ITS. Curbeam would attempt to free the stuck guidewires and push on hinges to ensure that they folded the correct way while Fuglesang would stand behind the “blanket box’’, into which the array was being folded and push it in an attempt to encourage retraction. With the manual work on­site completed controllers in Houston sent commands to retract the SAW one panel at a time. The SAW was finally fully retracted at 18: 54, and the two blanket boxes were locked at 19: 34. The EVA ended at 20: 50, after 6 hours 38 minutes. In making this unscheduled EVA, Curbeam became the first Shuttle crewmember to make four EVAs during a single flight.

During the farewell ceremony held on the station as Discovery’s crew prepared to return to Earth, Polansky said, “It’s always a goal to leave a place in better shape than it was when you came. I think we have accomplished that.’’

Williams told Reiter, “I hope Discovery takes you home as smoothly and safely as it brought me here.’’

With Oefelein at the controls Discovery undocked from ISS at 17: 10, December 19, and completed a half-circuit fly-around before finally manoeuvring away. During the fly-around the crew photographed the station in its new configuration. On the following day, Polansky, Oefelein, and Patrick used the RMS-mounted OBSS to survey Discovery’s heat protection system. The remainder of the crew began stowing equipment for landing. On the ground, NASA’s Phillip Engelhauf remarked, “We are assuming the vehicle is in a ‘go’ condition for landing unless somebody illuminates an issue out of that data. The assumption is that everything is fine.’’

At 19: 19, December 20, a pair of coffee cup-size Micro-Electromechanical System Based PICOSAT Inspector (MEPSI) satellites were launched from Discovery’s payload bay as a single unit, which then separated into its component parts. The technology was designed to allow similar satellites to photograph/film the larger vehicle from which they are launched. A pair of Radar Fence Transponder (RAFT) satellites were launched from the payload bay at 20: 58, the same day. They were designed by a group of students at the US Naval Academy to test the American


Figure 80. STS-116: Christer Fuglesang rides the SSRMS to relocate a Crew Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) cart on the Integrated Truss Structure.


Figure 81. STS-116: as the Shuttle departs the station its lop-sided configuration is obvious. The S-4 Solar Array wings are shown at left and one set of the P-6 Solar Array wings are deployed. The other set of P-6 Solar Array wings were folded and stowed by the STS-116 crew in anticipation of the P-6 Integrated Truss structure’s relocation in 2007. The P-5 ITS is partially hidden behind the P-1 ammonia radiators.

Space Surveillance Radar Fence designed to identify hostile objects approaching the continental United States from space.

Preparations for returning to Earth began in earnest on December 21. Oefelein and Curbeam tested Discovery’s aerodynamic surfaces and manoeuvring thrusters. Polansky and Oefelein practised simulated landings on a laptop computer. At 12: 23, Fuglesang and Higginbotham launched the Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment (ANDE) micro-satellite from Discovery’s cargo bay.

On December 22, the first opportunity to land at KSC was waved off due to the stormy weather conditions there. An opportunity to land at Edwards Air Force Base, California was also waved off due to gusty winds. As the day continued weather in Florida improved and Discovery was able to utilise the second landing opportunity at that site. Polansky glided his spacecraft to a perfect touchdown, just after sunrise, at 05: 32, having spent 12 days 20 hours 44 minutes in flight. Reiter had been in space for 171 days. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin was present to greet the crew. He told the assembled crowd,

“This was a big year… I’ve said if we could take the time to get things going properly, we could get back to an operational tempo and finish the station by the time it’s necessary to retire the Shuttle… We have a new understanding in this country that each and every time we do this, it’s a minor miracle.’’

On returning to JSC, Polansky told gathered workers and their families, “It’s awesome to see so many people. This is not about us, it’s not about this crew. This is about everybody that shares the same dream, the same drive and really believes in what we are doing with human space flight.’’


With the Shuttle gone, the Expedition-15 crew was alone on ISS once more. They quickly adjusted their sleep pattern and returned to their daily routine of exercise, maintenance, and experiments. Anderson has described some of the experiments in which he would take part:

“You know, some of them are quite simple. For example, scientists on the ground want to know what I eat, how much I eat and drink, and how often I eat and drink, and they want to know my vitamin-D content. Well, vitamin-D is some­thing we get from sunlight on Earth, primarily, but we need it for strong bones and muscles, and so folks, elderly folks that have trouble with bones and osteoporosis and those kind of problems can benefit by the scientists that are doing experiments and gathering data on how a crew member in space that doesn’t get sunlight anymore and has to supplement his vitamin-D with either drugs—or vitamin tablets—and what he eats and what he drinks, and that’s a key experiment that’s pretty simple. They just have to gather the data. Another experiment that’s quite interesting to me is I’m going to wear a special watch, for the entire increment, and it’s called an actiwatch, and it’s a sleep watch: it knows when you move, it knows when you go to sleep, it knows when the lights go on and when the lights go out, and scientists will gather that data that we’ll downlink periodically through the mission. What they’re trying to do is try to figure out ways to benefit people on Earth that do shift work or that have trouble sleeping or that sleep too much, and ways to work with your circadian rhythm and your body and try to help you not go through these periods when you can’t stay awake or when you can’t go to sleep. So that’s quite neat. And those are simple experiments. The more complex experiments include things, we’re going to look at combustion on the station through an experiment that has… several samples that just rotate through a chamber and they look at the flammability and take the data and then they’ll evaluate it on the ground. We’ll grow some plants, we’ll grow some worms, and the key there, of course, is when you go on long duration, can you grow plants, can you eat those plants, how do physical things like worms adapt to zero-g in a long-duration mission, such that we can apply that to humans.’’

As to his spare time, Anderson had plans of his own:

“From a personal standpoint, I like to write music and I’m going to try to write a song when I’m in space. Now I don’t know how much time I’ll have, I don’t know how successful I will be. The other thing I’d like to do is there’s a guitar on board and I’ve always wanted to learn to play guitar and hopefully I’ll have enough time and there’s some software on our computers that will try to guide me through the learning process to learn how to play the guitar. I think what I want to do the most, though, is I want to try to absorb as much as I can, all that I experience and see while I’m there, and try to take as much of that with me as a memory either through video media or computer e-mails or what have you, but I want to try to take as much of that away as possible so I can relate it to people back here on Earth.’’

PMA-3 had been delivered to ISS by STS-92 in October 2000 and installed on Unity’s nadir. In December of the same year, STS-97 had docked to it in that location in order to install the P-6 ITS on the Z-1 Truss. STS-98 had also docked to PMA-3, in order to install Destiny, in February 2001. During the visit of STS-102, in March 2001, PMA-3 was moved from Unity’s nadir to Unity’s port CBM, thus allowing Unity’s nadir CBM to be used for the berthing of MPLMs carried by Shuttles docked to PMA-2 on Destiny’s ram. On August 30, 2007, the Expedition-15 crew relocated PMA-3 in preparation for the arrival of STS-120. Anderson operated the SSRMS from inside Destiny, while Yurchikhin operated the relevant CBM docking mechanisms on Unity. Kotov backed up both of his colleagues. After latching the end-effector of the SSRMS onto PMA-3, Yurchikhin commanded the docking system on Unity’s port CBM to release and Anderson removed the PMA at 09: 18. During the undocking a fault alarm sounded when one of the latching bolts registered zero load. The work was stopped to study the situation before continuing. During the relocation fault, alarms sounded intermittently on three securing bolts and work was stopped a second time to further review the situation. Finally, Houston gave the command to continue. After Anderson had manoeuvred PMA-3 next to Unity’s nadir CBM, Yurchikhin commanded Unity’s docking mechanism to close, holding the PMA in place at its new location. The move was completed at 10: 07.

The relocation of PMA-3 was required so that Harmony could be temporarily docked to Unity’s port CBM. This temporary installation on Unity was necessary because the SSRMS could not reach to install a PMA on Harmony’s ram if the new module was docked directly to Destiny’s ram when it was delivered by STS-120. When STS-120 had departed, the SSRMS would be used to undock PMA-2 from Destiny’s ram and move it to Harmony’s port. Next, the SSRMS would be used to move Harmony, with PMA-2 on one end, and docking, via its exposed CBM on the other end, to Destiny’s ram, leaving PMA-2 exposed on Harmony’s ram to receive visiting Shuttles. Zvezda’s thrusters were fired on September 24, to adjust the station’s orbit in advance of the launches of Soyuz TMA-11 and STS-120, planned for October 10 and October 23, respectively.

Anderson updated the software in the American navigation systems and installed new American computer hardware, and Kotov tested and upgraded the Russian computers before the two computer systems were integrated as one system.

The station was re-oriented on September 11, to reduce drag as it passed through the upper atmosphere. It was estimated that the manoeuvre would save the equivalent of the total amount of manoeuvring propellant for Zvezda’s thrusters delivered on two Progress flights. Onboard, both loops of the Russian thermal control system suffered a single pump failure, leaving both loops operating on just one pump each. Repairs made by Kotov on October 3 returned one loop to full operation, the second loop would have to await the delivery of a new pump on Soyuz TMA-11. Both men worked to replace Russian EVA support equipment in Zvezda and Pirs on September 19-20. The original equipment had passed its use-by date.

Even as preparations for the arrival of STS-120 continued, Yurchikhin and Kotov were also preparing for the end of the stay on ISS. Progress M-60 was undocked at 19: 37, September 18, but was not commanded to re-enter immediately. Rather, it was commanded to perform six manoeuvres as part of the “Plasma – Progress” experiment. Progress M-60 finally re-entered on September 25.

As the Expedition-15 crew brought their experiment programmes to an end, they also began packing to go home. Before that could happen they had to relocate Soyuz TMA-10. On September 27, having prepared the station for unoccupied flight, all three men donned their Sokol pressure suits and sealed themselves in the Soyuz, which was docked to Zarya’s nadir. Yurchikhin undocked his spacecraft at 14: 20 and manoeuvred clear of the station before flying along its length and manoeuvring to dock at Zvezda’s wake. Docking occurred at 14: 47 and the crew returned to the station after leak checks. They then began the task of reconfiguring the station for occupation once more. The move cleared Zarya’s nadir for the docking of Soyuz TMA-11, flown by the Experdition-16 crew. That launch was planned for October 10.

The following day, September 28, Zarya’s starboard photovoltaic array was retracted. This was required to prevent impact with the starboard radiator, mounted on the ITS, that would be deployed during the visit of STS-120. Zarya’s port photovoltaic array was retracted on September 29, to prevent impact with the port radiator, which would be deployed after STS-120 had left the station. Meanwhile, on September 30, STS-120 was transferred from the VAB to LC-39A, in preparation for its launch on October 23.

In Destiny, Anderson activated the American Oxygen Generation System and measured the sound levels that the machinery produced on October 2. The new oxygen generator was set at 50% and left running, while Houston monitored its performance. When running at full power the American system would provide sufficient oxygen to fill the entire station at “Core Complete’’ plus the International Partners’ modules. It would be capable of supporting the entire station, even when operated by six Expedition crew members.

The MT/MBS combination was moved to the port side of ISS on October 3, in preparation for the arrival of STS-120 and the relocation of the P-6 ITS. Moving the P-6 ITS from the Z-1 Truss and relocating it to the far end of the port side of the ITS, and the installation of the S-6 ITS on STS-119, represented the ultimate tasks that the SSRMS would be called upon to perform during the construction of ISS. The SSRMS would be operating fully extended and at the extreme limit of its reach.

On the same day, the crew reopened the hatch to Progress M-61, which they had sealed prior to relocating Soyuz TMA-10.

October 4, 2007 was the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite. Asked about the significance of the anniversary in a pre-launch interview, Expedition-16 crew member Yuri Malenchenko said:

“I believe we have achieved a considerable progress over such a short time period. We learned to live in space just a short 50 years ago, but didn’t live in space. We weren’t even thinking, or rather we were thinking, but weren’t sure if it is possible, to live in space constantly. Currently we have a continuous presence of humans in space, not only living in space but performing complicated activities and tasks, performing science experiments, and it has been going on for years. Of course, space exploration is unique. All steps, all achievements, regardless of where, which country and when, have been completed, are important, and each step is an important stage for subsequent steps.’’

The Expedition-15 crew marked the anniversary onboard ISS, but also had to continue with their own work as well as their preparations for the arrival of Soyuz TMA-11 and their own return to Earth. Meanwhile, Anderson worked with Kotov to use the Oxygen Uptake Measurement equipment to collect data as he exercised on the stationary bicycle. The Oxygen Generation System in Destiny continued to operate at 50%, waiting for the system’s water supply to be depleted. During the week before the launch of Soyuz TMA-11, the crew mounted the centreline camera in Unity’s port CBM, where it would be used in support of the initial docking of Harmony during the flight of STS-120. The three men also completed the medical experiments and extra exercise that all long-duration crews perform as their flight approaches its end. They also made room in Zvezda where the Soyuz TMA-11 spaceflight participant would perform his experiments during his short visit to the station.

On October 6 the TVIS treadmill in Zvezda failed during Kotov’s exercise period. The crew worked with engineers in Korolev to replace three roller bearings and return the vital unit to use. As they prepared for their return to Earth, Yurchikhin and Kotov continued to work with both Russian and American experiments.




Peggy Whitson


Yuri Malenchenko


Sheikh Muszapher Shukor (Malaysia)

(spaceflight participant)

When Soyuz TMA-11 launched towards ISS at 09:21, October 10, 2007, it contained an extremely experienced crew. Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko served 126 days on Mir and had commanded the 185-day occupation of ISS as part of the Expedition-7 crew. He had also visited ISS during the 12-day flight of STS-106. Whitson had made two Shuttle flights, serving as Pilot. Whitson had also served on ISS for 185 days as part of the Expedition-5 crew. Following the Soyuz TMA-11 crew’s transfer from Soyuz to the station, she would become the first woman to command an ISS Expedition crew. Sheikh Muszapher Shukor was a commercial customer of the Russian Federal Space Agency on his first flight. On launch day, Russian engineers presented Whitson with a ceremonial Kazakh riding whip and suggested that she might use it to keep her male colleagues in line while on the station. Asked about how she viewed being the first female Commander of ISS, Whitson replied:

“I think being a woman doesn’t really play too much into that. I think it’s special that I get the opportunity to play that role, but I think it’s also special to have an opportunity to demonstrate how many other women also work at NASA. So I’d like to be able to do that as well.’’

In answer to a different question she explained:

“Actually it’s going to be kind of exciting. During STS-120 Pam Melroy will be commanding that Shuttle mission; my lead flight director is Holly Ridings. I also have Lead Flight Directors for two different Shuttle missions during those phases, Dana Weigel and Sally Davis. And so we have a big team, which is consistent with any mission, but it happens this time around we have a number of females in the leadership roles. So I think it’s exciting.’’

Soyuz TMA-11 lifted off from Baikonur at 09: 22, October 10, 2007. As was the standard procedure, during the launch and solo flight, Malenchenko served as Soyuz Commander. Following a standard 2-day rendezvous, Soyuz TMA-11 docked to Zarya’s nadir at 10: 50, October 12. After leak and pressure checks the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 12: 22 and Whitson led the Expedition – 16 crew on to ISS. After the standard safety brief, Shukor and Anderson moved their seat liners and Sokol pressure suits between the two Soyuz spacecraft, Anderson thus becoming a member of the Expedition-16 crew and Shukor preparing for his return to Earth in Soyuz TMA-10 with the Expedition-15 crew. The next 9 days were spent in joint experiment programmes while the new crew, who were both ISS veterans, also took time to re-associate themselves with the station. Shukor performed his experiment programme in Zvezda. That programme consisted of five Malaysian experiments and three ESA experiments. In a Malayan press release, he was identified as the country’s first angkasawan (astronaut). Meanwhile, Anderson replaced a failed audio terminal unit in Quest on October 11. The new unit would lock up during the Soyuz TMA-11 hand-over period. Houston began an investigation.

On October 16, China expressed an interest in getting involved with ISS. Li Xueyong, a Chinese minister of science and technology, stated:

“We hope to take part in activities related to the International Space Station. If I am not mistaken, this programme has 16 countries currently involved and we hope to be the 17th partner… The Chinese government has always pursued a foreign policy of peace and consistently worked for the peaceful use of outer space.”

In Whitson’s first in-flight press conference, the subject of Russian cosmonauts’ attitude towards their female colleagues was discussed. The new station commander remarked, “Russian cosmonauts are very professional. Having worked and trained with them for years before we got to this point makes it better.’’ Yurchikhin added, “It’s not a problem, women running operations. The problem is whether we are professional or not. We are professionals. She is our friend and colleague.’’ On the same subject, Anderson joked, “I’m a little concerned about this whip. I’m kind of waiting for her to take it out and put me in line sometimes.’’


Figure 101. Expedition-16 crew (L to R): Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, Yuri Malenchenko, Peggy Whitson.

After a week of shared maintenance, experiments, and daily exercise, the official hand-over of command took place on October 19, at which time Whitson told Yurchikhin and Kotov, “It’s been a very impressive mission, and you guys have performed exceptionally.’’ Yurchinkhin, Kotov, and Shukor said their farewells the following day and sealed themselves in Soyuz TMA-10. They undocked from the station around 03: 14, October 21. Following the standard retrofire manoeuvre, Soyuz separated into its three parts. The descent module re-entered the atmosphere but soon deviated from its planned trajectory and followed a much steeper, ballistic trajectory. The course change had been commanded by the onboard computer. After a re-entry in which the crew pulled higher ^-forces than planned, the spacecraft’s parachutes deployed and lowered Soyuz TMA-10 to a safe landing in Kazakhstan, at 06: 37. The Expedition-15 crew had been in flight for 196 days 17 hours 5 minutes. Shukor’s flight had lasted 10 days 21 hours 14 minutes. Although the landing was 338 km south of the target, the recovery forces had tracked its descent and recovery helicopter crews had the descent module in sight as it descended on its parachute. After removal from the module by the recovery forces, the cosmonauts used the satellite phone, added to the Soyuz spacecraft after a similar re-entry trajectory switch by Soyuz TMA-1, to speak to Korolev. Talking about the re-entry afterwards, Yurchikhin stated:

“The overload was really powerful, but nobody fainted… I remember the overload going to 8.5 or 8.6 g.’’

Shukor was more descriptive, stating:

“I was not really scared, it happened so fast… It felt like an elephant pressing on my chest, but the Russians trained us very well.’’

On the subject of his flight he remained optimistic, saying:

“I hope to go back and inspire a generation of Malaysian youth… I hope other Muslims would be united, stay away from war and be peaceful.’’




Pam Melroy


George Zamka


Scott Parazynski, Douglas Wheelock,

Stephanie Wilson, Paolo Nespoli (ESA)

EXPEDITION-16/17 (up)

Daniel Tani

EXPEDITION-15/16 (down)

Clayton Anderson

In the days leading up to the launch of STS-120, a degradation of the outer protective coating was observed on the leading edge of both of Discovery’s wings. One RCC panel on one wing and two on the other showed the degradation, which had been present for the past three of Discovery’s flights. Launch managers decided that the problem fell within the limits of acceptable risk and decided not to roll STS-120 back to the VAB and replace the panels in question. A roll-back would have caused the flight to be delayed by a minimum of two weeks.

Rain threatened on the morning of launch, but in the end the weather held back. One technical problem that had threatened to delay the launch was a build-up of ice on a propellant line under the left wing. By the time the countdown reached its final stages, the ice had melted sufficiently to offer little threat to the Shuttle.

Discovery lifted off on time at 11: 38, October 23, 2007, after what Launch Director Michael Leinbach described as, “One of the cleanest countdowns we’ve had since I’ve been a Launch Director.’’ Discovery passed through a succession of cloud layers as it sped towards orbit. Melroy reported that several pieces of ice struck the orbiter’s forward windows during launch, but did no damage. All observed ice shedding from the ET took place after the critical first 2.5 minutes of flight, by which time Discovery was beyond the thick lower atmosphere, where the supersonic slipstream might slam the ice into the orbiter, causing damage.

On NASA’s website, Commander Pam Melroy had shared her enthusiasm for the flight, saying:

“STS-120 is such a cool mission. Node-2 is the expansion of the Space Station’s capability to bring international laboratories up. It’s the expansion of our capability to carry additional people. It has additional life support equipment that will allow us to expand out beyond a three-person crew. It’s this big boost in capability which is really exciting.’’

With lift-off behind them, the crew opened the payload bay doors to deploy their vital radiators and deployed the Ku-band antenna before spending several hours configuring their spacecraft for orbital operations, before settling down to their first eat and sleep period at 17 : 30.

On ISS, Whitson and Anderson worked on the TVIS treadmill, while Malenchenko serviced the toilet in Zvezda. The following day, Malenchenko serviced the KOB-1 and KOB-2 Thermal Control Loops performing a major plumbing overhaul that returned both systems to partial operation.

Up again at 01: 30, October 24, the STS-120 crew’s first full day in space was occupied by using the OBSS on the end of the RMS to inspect Discovery’s Thermal Protection System, including the RCC panels on the leading edges of both wings. An initial review of the data showed no immediate problems for re-entry at the end of the flight. They also prepared the EMUs stored in Discovery’s airlock as well as the equipment they would use during the rendezvous and docking the following day, including installing the centreline camera and extending the docking ring. Inside the orbiter, a high-speed computer modem presented the one difficulty of the day. The modem was due to be used to download the crew’s digital photographs to MCC-


Figure 102. STS-120 crew (L to R): Scott E. Parazynski, Douglas H. Wheelock, Stephanie D. Wilson, George D. Zamka, Pamela A. Melroy, Daniel M. Tani, Paolo A. Nespoli.


Figure 103. STS-120 approaches ISS with Node 2, Harmony, in the payload bay.

Houston. On ISS, Anderson was approaching the end of his 4.5-month occupation, and was undergoing an increased daily exercise regime, in preparation for his return to Earth. Anderson and Malenchenko also prepared the cameras they would use to photograph Discovery’s underside during the now standard r-bar pitch manoeuvre prior to docking. Whitson performed pressure leaks in PMA-2 in advance of Discovery’s docking. The Shuttle crew’s day ended at 17: 38.

Awake once more at 01: 39, October 25, Melroy’s crew ate breakfast together before making the final preparations for rendezvous with the station. Melroy began the rendezvous manoeuvres just before 03: 00. Two hours from docking Anderson told Discovery’s crew, “We can’t wait to see you. We welcome you with arms open. The towels are clean and laid out.’’ At 07: 32, at a range of 200 metres below the station, Melroy had Discovery perform a nose-over-tail pitch manoeuvre so that Anderson and Malenchenko could photograph the TPS on the Shuttle’s underside. Those digital images were sent to MCC-Houston, so that specialists could search them for evidence of any damage caused by the ice or foam shed from the ET during launch.

Docking, with Melroy at the controls, occurred at 08: 40, off the coast of North Carolina, and was greeted with cheers from both crews. On ISS, Whitson rang the ship’s bell and announced, “Discovery arriving.’’

Parazynski remarked, “Everyone here is ecstatic. We are so fired up to be here.’’ As usual, docking was followed by pressure and leak checks, before the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened 2 hours later. As the hatches opened, Whitson, the first female commander of ISS, greeted Melroy, only the second female commander of a Shuttle flight. Before launch Melroy had talked about this moment, saying, “The most important thing to me is the picture we take when our hands first meet across the hatches.’’ In Russia, before her own launch, Whitson had sounded less enthusiastic about the meaning of that handshake, saying, “I look forward to their arrival… She thinks it will be a special moment.’’

In reality, Whitson embraced Melroy as she entered Destiny. The media-hyped meeting, as the female commanders in charge of two separate spacecraft, was pure coincidence, caused by the delays in past Shuttle launches. Originally, STS-120 had been scheduled to launch before Whitson took command of Expedition-16.

The remainder of Melroy’s crew were greeted with handshakes and hugs. After the formal greeting onboard the station and the standard safety brief, Discovery’s crew began moving spacewalking equipment into the Quest airlock. At 12: 12, Tani installed his couch liner and Sokol launch and re-entry suit in Soyuz TMA-11, becoming part of the Experdition-16 crew, while Anderson moved his equipment into Discovery, transferring him to STS-120. As the day ended, Melroy’s crew were told that initial inspection showed no damage to Discovery’s Thermal Protection System. Melroy replied to the news, saying, “Oh, man. That is fantastic news. Obviously, that was a question that has been on our minds.’’ Parazynski and Wheelock spent the night “camped out’’ in Quest, in preparation for the first EVA the following day.

October 26 began at 01 : 39. After breakfast, Discovery’s crew commenced preparations for their EVA. Wheelock and Parazynski exited Quest at 06 : 02, half an hour earlier than planned, at the beginning of a planned 6.5-hour excursion. Italian astronaut Nespoli choreographed the EVA from inside Discovery. As the preparations came to an end and Quest was depressurised, Whitson joked, “We’ll open the hatch so you guys can go out and play.’’

Parazynski replied, “They call it work, but there is no better job, is there?’’ As the outer hatch swung open, Parazynski was awed by the view of Earth and remarked to Wheelock, “You’re not going to believe this.’’ Their first task was to remove a malfunctioning S-band antenna from its position on the Z-1 Truss and store it in Discovery’s payload bay for return to Earth. They also disconnected the final umbilicals running between the Z-1 Truss and the P-6 ITS, in preparation of the latter’s relocation later in the flight. Parazynski was subjected to a small ammonia leak while disconnecting the umbilicals and had to undergo cleaning procedures after returning to Quest at the end of the EVA. As they passed over the Gulf Coast, Wheelock remarked enthusiastically, “Oh, boy, look at that; Hello, Houston.’’ Returning to the payload bay, they put in place a payload and data grapple fixture that could not be mounted on Harmony during launch, due to lack of room within the closed payload bay doors. Their next task was to disconnect the umbilicals supplying electrical power and cooling fluids to Harmony. Tani, Anderson, and Wilson then grappled the new module with the SSRMS, lifted it out of the payload bay, and manoeuvred it to its temporary location on Unity’s port CBM. It was the first new pressurised module to be added to ISS in six years.

As the EVA drew to a close, Parazynski remarked, “Great day in outer space.’’ The ammonia decontamination procedures were first used on STS-98 and consisted of partially pressurising Quest, venting the airlock to vacuum once more, in an attempt to remove any residue ammonia crystals, before pressurising Quest to allow the other astronauts to briefly open the internal hatch, pass in wet towels, and close the hatch once more. The two EVA astronauts then wiped down the exterior of each other’s EMUs, before bagging the towels and finally leaving the airlock to return to the station. The EVA ended at 12: 16, after 6 hours 14 minutes.

Flight Director Dereck Hassaman described Harmony in the following terms:

“It’s the gateway to the International Partners. As the station is configured today, there’s nowhere to put the International Partner modules until we deliver and activate Node-2. That’s the piece that makes the rest possible.’’

Flight Director Rick LaBode added:

“We’re going to put it on the left side of Node-1 [Unity], and then, after the mission undocks, we’ll robotically remove the port the Shuttle docks to [PMA-2] from the end of the lab [Destiny] and put it on Node-2 [Harmony]. And then we’re going to take the Node-2 [with PMA-2] and put it on the end of the lab.’’

In orbit, with the job of delivering Harmony already completed, Parazynski stated, “Now the crews that are hot on our heels have a place to come.’’

As the day continued the Mission Management team in Houston decided to add an unplanned task to the second EVA, planned for October 28. The starboard SARJ had been experiencing increased friction over the previous 6 weeks. Parazynski and Wheelock would remove the thermal covers and make a 360° inspection of the joint.

Meanwhile, October 27 began at 01: 39. After breakfast, Whitson and Nespoli worked together to prepare Unity’s port CBM, before the crew opened the hatch giving access to the interior Harmony. That happened at 08: 24, when the hatch was swung back allowing Whitson and Nespoli to become the first people to enter the new module. All crew members wore surgical masks during their first visit to the new module in case there was any loose debris floating around that might be inhaled. With Harmony only in a temporary location, their task was not to power up the module before preparing it for the arrival of Columbus and Kibo. Rather, they applied minimal electrical power and installed a temporary ventilation line to circulate air into Harmony’s interior. Later in the day the two crews used the new Node to host a press conference, during which Whitson remarked, “We think Harmony is a very good name for this module because it represents the culmination of a lot of International Partner work and will allow International Partner modules to be added on.’’ Melroy added, “This is a really special moment for the station. This kicks off the international science portion of the Space Station’s life cycle.’’ Flight Director Rick LaBrode told the media, “It’s beautiful; bright shiny. The report from the crew is that it’s as clean as can be. Perfect shape!’’ Melroy also praised the work of the other members of both crews during the previous day, saying, “I just sat around and made lunch for everyone, and watched them do a totally fantastic job.’’

During the morning Discovery’s OBSS was returned to its storage position along the orbiter’s payload bay hingeline. The second inspection of Discovery’s Thermal Protection System, planned for that morning, had been cancelled the previous day. During the remainder of the day, Tani reviewed the plan for him to inspect the SARJ during the second EVA, and he also spent time with Anderson, working on hand­over procedures. At 15: 23, as the crew’s day ended, Parazynski and Tani were locked inside Quest and the pressure was dropped, to allow them to “camp out’’ overnight, in preparation for their EVA the following day.

The crew’s wake-up call on October 28 came at 01 : 09. After breakfast, Parazynski and Tani donned their EMUs inside Quest, while Wilson and Wheelock manoeuvred the SSRMS to grasp the P-6 ITS, mounted on the Z-1 Truss. Exiting the airlock at 05: 32, Parazynski remarked, “It’s a beautiful day,’’ and Tani replied, “Awesome.’’ After collecting their tools they made their way to the base of the P – 6 ITS, where they disconnected the final electric cables and the bolts that held the structure in place. Wilson and Wheelock then lifted the P-6 ITS away from the Z – 1 Truss. The 15 m long P-6 was left hanging overnight on the end of the SSRMS. Meanwhile, the two EVA astronauts set about performing separate tasks. Parazynski moved to the exterior of Harmony, where he installed EVA handrails. Tani made his way to the starboard ITS, where he checked the CETA cart for sharp edges on its handrails and then moved on to the SARJ, where he removed the thermal covers and inspected the joint for friction points. He discovered the joint was covered in a black dust, which included metal shavings, and there was friction wear on the race ring, then he replaced the covers. Station managers decided to limit the amount of rotation that the joint was subjected to while the investigation into problem continued. Tani also reconfigured connections on the S-l ITS that would allow Houston to deploy the S-l cooling radiator at a later date. For their final task they worked together to install a second PDGF on the exterior of Harmony, by which it would be held during its transfer from Unity’s port side to Destiny’s ram. They also removed launch covers from the exterior of Harmony. The EVA ended at 12:05, after 6 hours 33 minutes. After the EVA, NASA’s Mike Suffredini commented to a press con­ference regarding the port SARJ, “I really don’t think we are in any situation we can’t recover from. It’s just a matter of time. We have an obligation to try and get our partners to orbit as quickly as we can.’’

October 29 was a day of robotic work, with astronauts inside ISS and Discovery moving the P-6 ITS around outside the station. The day began at 01: 39 and after breakfast the two crews set about their individual tasks. Parazynski and Wheelock had a relatively quiet day preparing Quest and the station’s EMUs for the third EVA, with Nespoli’s assistance. Meanwhile, the remainder of the two crews separated into their own work teams. Wilson and Zamka operated Discovery’s RMS while Anderson and Tani operated the SSRMS. At 04: 08 the RMS was manoeuvred to grapple the P-6 ITS, after which SSRMS was commanded to release it. Discovery’s RMS held on to the P-6 ITS while the MBS holding the SSRMS was commanded to travel to the far end of the port ITS, from where it would still be stretched to its limits to install the P-6 ITS in its final location. The MBS translation along the port ITS took 90 minutes.

Tani has described his activities during the 3 days of work required to relocate the P-6 ITS:

“Conceptually it’s not that difficult: It’s four bolts—very big bolts but four bolts—it’s about a dozen electrical connectors and, and some fluid connectors. During the first couple of EVAs we will disconnect the electrical connectors; on the second EVA I will help unbolt the actual element. We’ll have Doug Wheelock inside running the arm. He will initially move the P-6 out and away from the station. Now the difficulty here is that the arm is not long enough to take it from its initial position and move it out to its final position. So we have to do a juggling act. We move it out to the side of the Space Shuttle and I believe Stephanie [Wilson] or George [Zamka] will then grab the P-6 Truss so that the Space Station arm can let it go, and then we utilize the Mobile Transporter, which is this little rail car that’s on the truss, and they’ll drive this little rail car, with the Space Station arm on it, all the way out to the end of the truss as far as they can go. Then the next day, I’ll run that Space Station arm to go pick up the P-6 Truss again and hand it off from the Shuttle. On the next EVA, I’ll run the arm and we’ll do a final install during the EVA with Doug and Scott outside, to do its final install and bolt it to the end of the truss and then redo those electrical and fluid connectors… right now the P-6 solar arrays have been fully retracted. It’s a big element but at least it doesn’t have these huge wings hanging off them. It’s hard to think of an analogy, but we are adding a huge source of power to the Space Station, or we’re moving it, and the power reconfiguration to protect all the circuitry, once you hook that up, is very extreme. In fact, we’ll have to power down half the Space Station while we do this because you don’t want to do what we call a ‘hot mate’. You don’t want power in one connector and have arcing across these connectors. So we will be powering down half the Space Station while we do this. We mate the P-6 to the P-5 and then, as soon as we can, once the electrical connectors are made, the folks on the ground will start powering those channels back up and we will start attempting to deploy these solar arrays.’’

During the MBS translation, Whitson and Tani worked inside Harmony, installing avionics racks. The remaining crew members spent most of the day trans­ferring items from Discovery to the station. During the day, Houston informed them that an additional day had been added to the flight plan, giving them a day of additional light workload between EVA-4 and EVA-5. Also plans were added to try and clean the starboard SARJ during EVA-4. As a result of the last point an inspection of the port SARJ was added to EVA-3 in order to provide data with which to compare the descriptions of the starboard SARJ obtained during EVA-2. No attempt would be made to repair the port SARJ on this flight. The changes meant that plans to test a space age caulking gun, designed to be used to repair gouges in the Shuttle’s Thermal Protection System caused by foam or ice impacts during launch would be abandoned and moved to a later Shuttle flight. As the day ended, Parazynski and Wheelock were shut inside Quest and the pressure reduced, in preparation for EVA-3 the following day. Meanwhile the Mission Management Team had studied the effect of stopping the continuous rotation of the starboard SARJ, which was a reduction in electrical power production. The reduced electricity supply would be sufficient to support the launch of Columbus, then scheduled for December 2007, but might not support the addition of Kibo, due to be launched in early 2008. Work would continue to resolve the problem.

October 30 began at 00:38. After breakfast, Parazynski and Wheelock began dressing for their EVA while the RMS and SSRMS teams began their own prepara­tions for the hand-off of the P-6 ITS and its re-installation on the far end of the P-5 ITS. The two astronauts left Quest at 05 : 45. The P-6 ITS was offered up on the end of Discovery’s RMS towards the SSRMS, now positioned on the end of the port ITS. After the hand-off to the SSRMS, the P-6 ITS was manoeuvred and then offered up to the exposed end of the S-5 ITS. With few cameras in the area, Parazynski and Wheelock were there to give verbal instructions. Following a successful re-mounting, the two astronauts drove home the four bolts and completed the connections with the P-5 ITS and the station’s power system. This move and the similar installation of the S-6 ITS represented the design limits of the SSRMS, even so the two teams on ISS made the task look simple. As all astronauts are pleased to acknowledge, this was all down to the highly professional nature of their training and the dedication of their training teams.

Parazynski then moved to the port SARJ and removed the thermal covers. He described the joint as ‘‘pristine’’. The EVA ended at 12: 53, after 7 hours 8 minutes, but on getting out of his EMU, Parazynski discovered a small hole in the outer layer of the thumb on his right-hand glove.

As the EVA reached its final moments, controllers in Houston commanded the first SAW to deploy on the P-6 ITS. When it was fully extended, Discovery’s crew commanded the second SAW to deploy. When it had deployed to approximately 30 m, 80% of its full length, Melroy called a stop, “We’ve detected something that appears to be a wrap-around or some damage.’’ Houston replied, “We see it.’’

The live television pictures in the control room showed a tear in the SAW. Programme Manager Mike Suffredini later told a press conference, “This will take time and needs to be worked, but my personal opinion is we’ve got the time to work this issue, so we can be methodical about it, and we will.’’ The remainder of the day was spent discussing the new problem, transferring items from Discovery and talking to the press.

October 31 began at 00: 38. As breakfast ended, Parazynski and Wheelock began configuring a spare EMU to replace Parazynski’s original suit, which had suffered from cooling problems during the third EVA. Together with Nespoli, they would spend the day preparing for the fourth EVA, which was now planned for November 1, and would be dedicated to a thorough inspection of the starboard SARJ and sampling of the debris seen in the joint during the second EVA, as well as trying to identify the root cause of the friction. Meanwhile, Whitson and Tani worked inside Harmony, removing launch restraints and deploying the Zero Gravity Stowage Rack. On the subject of Harmony, Whitson explained:

“Node-2, Harmony, like Node-1 [Unity], has six different ports that we can add modules on to, to build the station. So it’s, it’s our next big connecting piece in our puzzle of putting this huge station together on orbit. Node-2 is required to power and provide the thermal heat rejection for the science laboratory modules that’ll be coming up, the one built by the European Space Agency and the one built by the Japanese Space Agency. So it’s a pretty key module for us, for the continued development of the station.’’

As the day proceeded, the priorities for STS-120 changed. Although the ripped SAW on the P-6 ITS was producing 98% of the electricity that it would if fully deployed, Houston decided to make it the priority for the remainder of Discovery’s flight. The fourth EVA would be slipped back 24 hours, to November 2, or even November 3, if more time was required for preparation, and would now concentrate on repairing the ripped P-6 ITS SAW before the damage got any worse. The Mission Management Team decided that the priority was to fully deploy the SAW and thus hopefully prevent further damage. Initial plans called for Parazynski to carry out the repair while riding the end of the OBSS mounted on the SSRMS, while Wheelock provided verbal instructions for Wilson and Tani operating the SSRMS. The repair itself would consist of threading wire through holes in the SAW blanket on either side of the tear and using an aluminium strip to support it from beneath, thus closing and supporting the tear in much the same way as a cuff-link works on a man’s shirt sleeve. Meanwhile, in Houston, Suffredini was blunt:

“I need this array. We believe over time we could tear the blanket further. If we do enough damage, we could potentially get into a configuration where we could not stabilise the array. If we can’t, we have to figure out what to do. We don’t have a lot of options, and the most likely option is that we would have to jettison it.’’

He continued:

“The station is a robust vehicle. We have many options with how to deal with the problems. It’s not a situation where anyone is particularly panicked. But on the other hand, we want to get this fixed to a point where we can continue with the assembly the way we planned… This is not about style points. It doesn’t have to look good. It just has to produce power.’’

Suffredini also paid a compliment to the team of engineers who had been working on the problem since the torn SAW was first identified:

“We give this team a little time to start thinking about creative solutions, and it doesn’t take them long to blow you away with what they come up with.’’

During the afternoon press conference with the crew, the President of Italy congratulated Nespoli on his flight, but predictably the conversation returned to the damaged SAW. Melroy described what she had seen as the second SAW deployed:

“It was a tough situation. The Sun was shining directly into our camera views. At one point, we did stop because we were concerned we had lost our big picture. We can second guess ourselves, and there may have been something we could have done, but I think we certainly aborted as soon as we saw something that was not right.’’

Parazynski added:

“My initial take was the guide-wires that became frayed earlier may have been the culprit. However, it looks to our eyes, via the binoculars and photos, like the guide-wires may be intact.’’

During the day the fourth EVA was pushed back to November 3, to give ground teams more time to come up with a work schedule and to give the astronauts additional time to prepare. Even so, Whitson, Commander of ISS, remained con­fident stating, “If there is a way to do this, we will figure out a smart way to come up with whatever workaround we need to make it happen.’’

The crew spent the remainder of the day making the hinge stabilisers that they would install when they repaired the SAW and preparing their EMUs. At one point Ex-President George Bush Senior and his wife Barbara visited the control room in

Houston and were able to talk to the crew. Talking to Melroy, he told her, “Good luck to you. Pam, we want to wish you well and all of your team. We’re so proud of your team… Barbara and I.’’

November 2 began at 01: 38 and was another day of preparation. During the morning, controllers moved the MBS back from the far end of the P-5 ITS to the centre of the ITS. There it was used to take hold of the OBSS and remove it from Discovery’s payload bay hingeline. The OBSS was then handed to Discovery’s own RMS, where it would stay overnight, while the MBS moved back to the far end of the port ITS.

In Houston, NASA made the media aware of some of the risks involved in making repairs to a SAW that was still actively producing electricity. Astronaut David Wolf, head of the EVA branch of the Astronaut Office, said, “We are faced with a difficult situation. At some point, we have to execute the plan we’ve got, as long as it’s very safe, instead of having a perfect plan and having it be too late to execute.’’ He added, “It’s a real test of the adaptability of this team, of our baseline knowledge of how to work in space … We have some risks here.’’

The two rips, one just under 1 m long and one 0.3 m long, would be repaired using five bracing straps made from 12-gauge wire with a 10 cm long aluminium strip at each end. The aluminium strips would be fed through existing holes in the SAW to hold the damaged areas together along a 5 m length. The straps, which the team that developed them had begun calling “cuff-links’’, varied in length from 1 m to 2m. To prevent an electrical discharge and possible injury to Parazynski, Kapton tape, an insulating material, had been wrapped around each of the straps, as well as the tools that would be used and the exposed metal parts on the outside of Parazynski’s EMU. The panel was “live’’, with up to 100 volts of electricity passing through it, and could not be turned off. As a result, the two EVA astronauts had been instructed in which parts of the P-6 ITS represented shock hazards. At the end of the day, Parazynski and Wheelock “camped out’’ in Quest under reduced pressure.

November 3 began at 01 : 38 and breakfast was followed by the hand-off of the OBSS from Discovery’s RMS to the SSRMS. The EVA started at 06:03. Melroy encouraged her two crew members as they left the airlock with the call, “Go out there and fix that thing.’’ Parazynski replied, “We will.’’ Even so, Houston warned, “Time is of the essence.’’

Having mounted the OBSS, Parazynski spent 90 minutes being swept through 180° of open space, taking him from the centre of the ITS to the worksite 30 m above Quest and 50 m out to the port side of the station. As he watched Earth sweep by below him, he told Houston, “This is just indescribable. Words just can’t do it justice. At least, not mine.’’

On arrival at the damaged area, he found that the guide wires used during the SAW’s deployment were damaged, but the wires carrying electrical current were not damaged. His helmet camera showed a view of the deployment guide wires that he described, “It appears severely frayed.’’

Melroy viewed the area with binoculars from Discovery and described it as a “furball’’. She added, “I’m sure that is causing shudders on the ground somewhere.’’ Tani told Parazynski, “You are a dot to us.’’


Figure 104. STS-120: damage to the P-6 photovoltaic array was stabilised with loops of wire referred to as “cufflinks” by the crew.


Figure 105. STS-120: Scott Parazynski rides the OBSS held in the SSRMS during the fourth EVA. During the EVA he installed six wire loops to stabilise damage to the P-6 photovoltaic array (see above).

Parazynski cut one of the guide wires with an insulated tool, and Wheelock, working at the base of the SAW, used a pair of pliers to feed it into the relevant take – up reel. Parazynski then installed the five cuff-links, poking the aluminium straps through existing holes in the SAW. As the EVA ended, Parazynski sighed, “What an accomplishment?” Whitson complimented them, “Excellent work guys. Excellent.” With the repair complete, just past 11:00 controllers in Houston began com­manding the SAW to complete its deployment. Fifteen minutes and 13 computer commands later the SAW was deployed to its full extent. Meanwhile, it took an hour to sweep Parazynski back through open space to the centre of the ITS, from where the two men made their way back to Quest, closing the hatch at 13: 22, after an EVA lasting 7 hours 19 minutes.

Lead Station Flight Director Derek Hassman called it, “One of the most satisfy­ing days that I’ve ever had in Mission Control.” Suffredini was equally enthusiastic, “We are in great shape, fixing the array lets us get on with the assembly… This was just a fabulous effort. Our baby is still beautiful to us.’’

The remainder of the day was spent clearing up after the EVA and transferring equipment. While electricity from the P-6 ITS 2B SAW was integrated into the station’s main power supply, that from the repaired 4B SAW remained isolated while testing of the repaired SAW continued.

November 4 began at 02: 08, before the clocks were put back an hour for the change from edt to est. During the morning briefing, Houston told the two astro­nauts, “This will go down as one of the biggest successes in EVA history. Words cannot express how proud you made everyone with the execution by the entire team.’’ After breakfast the two crews completed the final transfer of items between the two spacecraft before beginning to get ready for Discovery’s undocking. 992 kg of new supplies were now on ISS, in addition to Harmony, while 916 kg of scientific samples and other items would be returned to Earth in Discovery. Anderson’s occupation of ISS was at an end, but like everyone else before him he was in two minds about how he viewed the prospect of leaving the station:

“I have a lot of blood, sweat and tears left aboard the International Space Station. What we are doing here is very important for all of human kind. It’s worth the risk. It’s worth the cost… Five months ago I was on my back preparing to launch and wondering what the heck I had gotten myself in to. Now, I’m poised to return to Earth after having served very proudly… Part of me is ready to go and part of me wants to stay.’’

After saying their formal farewells, the two crews locked arms and swayed back and forth to music, laughing together and some of them even shed a few tears. At 12: 28 Melroy led her crew, including Anderson, back to the Shuttle, closing the hatch between the two spacecraft at 12: 03. Whitson, Malenchenko, and Tani remained on the station to continue the Expedition-16 occupation.

A 02: 38 wake-up call on Discovery on November 5 was followed by a quick breakfast and final preparations for undocking. Zamka backed Discovery away from PMA-2 at 05: 32. In Destiny, Whitson rang the station’s bell to mark their departure.


Figure 106. STS-120 departs ISS. The RMS holds the OBSS, which lies across the empty payload bay.


Figure 107. STS-120: a nadir view of ISS as STS-120 completed its fly-around. Harmony is shown docked to Unity’s port CBM, opposite the Quest airlock. The P-6 ITS has been re­located from the Z-1 Truss to outboard of the P-5 ITS.

She told them simply, “Thanks, guys.” Zamka performed a full 360° fly-around of the station while the crew photographed and videoed its new configuration from all angles. Back opposite PMA-2, Zamka performed the separation burn at 07: 15. Discovery’s crew spent the day using the OBSS mounted on the end of the RMS to inspect the orbiter’s wing leading edges and nosecap for damage sustained while in flight. They found none, and Discovery’s TPS was cleared for re-entry. Anderson spent the day exercising in the mid-deck, in advance of his return to Earth.

Discovery’s last full day in space, November 6, began at the 02: 38. Melroy and Zamka undertook the standard test of the orbiter’s flight surfaces and thrusters. The remainder of the crew spent the day packing for re-entry. During the afternoon Anderson’s recumbent chair was set up on the mid-deck and the Ku-band antenna was stowed. As Discovery passed over KSC, Melroy noted, “We can see the runway from orbit. So, the weather is looking pretty good.’’ Discovery had been planned for a night landing, but Melroy had asked for the flight plan to be changed in favour of a daylight landing, due to the unintended length and complexity of the flight.

During the day, Melroy talked to the media about how she felt “extremely concerned’’ for Parazynski’s wellbeing during the EVA to repair the 4B SAW.

Parzynski recalled, “It was a phenomenal personal experience to be out on the end of the boom.’’

Anderson discussed his mental preparations for his return to Earth, “I’ve enjoyed my time up there immensely, and it’s kind of a bittersweet time for me to come home, but I’m ready.’’

The final day of STS-120 began at 02: 38 November 7. Following breakfast, preparations for re-entry began at 08 : 03. Discovery’s payload bay doors were closed at 09: 20. Melroy and Zamka began preparing for the de-orbit burn, turning Discovery to a tail-first attitude before igniting the rocket motors at 11: 59. When the burn was complete, Melroy turned the orbiter so that its flat underside faced the on-coming atmosphere. Following the standard radio blackout caused by the sheath of ionised air surrounding the vehicle, Melroy flew a series of large, sweeping S-turns in the sky to bleed off energy. Finally, approaching Florida she flew the spacecraft across the state and headed out over the ocean as Discovery turned around the heading alignment circle to line it up with the end of the Shuttle Landing Facility at KSC. Melroy put the rear undercarriage on the runway at 13 : 01, after a flight lasting 15 days 2 hours 23 minutes. Anderson had been in space for 152 days.

After the flight, Melroy described the mission emotionally, saying, “What you saw is who we are at NASA.’’ NASA’s Administrator Michael Griffin watched the landing from alongside Runway 33, KSC. He took a similar tone when he described the flight to reporters as, “NASA at its best.’’


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.


With Discovery gone and the P-6 ITS relocated, Whitson, Malenchenko, and Tani settled down to the remainder of their occupation. They continued their daily routine of experiments, maintenance, and exercise, but beyond that they would oversee the


Figure 108. Expedition-16: Daniel Tani poses in his sleeping bag mounted between two EMUs inside the Quest airlock.

transformation of ISS into a truly International Space Station. The Expedition-16 crew had a quiet day on November 5, in the wake of Discovery’s departure and in advance of a busy period during which Harmony would be moved to Destiny’s ram. That work began on November 8, when the crew spent the day preparing their EMUs and the Quest airlock for a Stage EVA.

At 04: 54, November 9, Whitson and Malenchenko exited Quest to carry out work that should have been completed by the STS-120 crew, but had been resched­uled because of the urgent need to repair the P-6 ITS SAW. Making their way to Destiny’s ram, their first task was to disconnect the SSPTS cables from PMA-2, before disconnecting eight other cables between Destiny and the PMA. Whitson also removed a CETA light on Destiny, to clear the area for equipment trays to be installed at a later date. Their third task was to disconnect the rigid umbilicals on the side of Destiny. Both astronauts covered the receptacles left open by the de-mated umbilicals with dust caps as they worked. Separating, Whitson completed connec­tions for the PDGF that would be used when Harmony was relocated. Malenchenko moved up to the Z-1 Truss’ wake face to remove and replace a failed RPCM. Working together once more, they made their way back to Harmony, on Unity’s port CBM. On the new module’s exposed end, they removed a dust cover that had protected the CBM in that area. As they removed the dust cover, Tani observed from inside the station. Looking through the window here, all I can see is a big aluminium foil. It looks like turkey cooking in the oven.’’ Whitson and Malenchenko recovered the dust cover for disposal on a Progress spacecraft. Malenchenko’s next task was to re-route an electrical cable at the wake of the Z-1 Truss, while Whitson moved to the “rats’ nest’’, the area between the Z-1 Truss and the S-0 ITS, where she made changes to the electrical connections in that region. Next, Whitson recovered a base-band signal processor and returned to the airlock with it. It would be returned to Earth and refurbished. Finally, Malenchenko redistributed EVA tools between two storage bags and then moved one of those bags to the S-0 ITS. The EVA ended when they returned to Quest, at 10: 49, after 6 hours 55 minutes exposed to vacuum. Even as Whitson and Malenchenko completed their EVA, STS-121 Atlantis was moving out to the launchpad where the European Columbus Science Laboratory was already waiting in its payload container.

In orbit, Whitson and her crew began preparations on November 13, for the arrival of Columbus. On that date, Tani commanded the SSRMS from inside Destiny and used it to grapple the PDGF on PMA-2. At 04: 35 Whitson commanded the first of four mechanical bolts holding the PMA in place to unwind. The final bolt was released at 05 : 02, and Tani moved the PMA away from Destiny’s ram 10 minutes later. The SSRMS was used to manoeuvre the PMA to a position below Destiny where the station’s cameras were used to inspect its mating surfaces. When the survey was complete, Tani moved the PMA to its new position on Harmony’s outboard CBM, at which time Whitson commanded the four bolts to secure it in place. The final bolt was secured at 06: 29. Later that same day, Houston placed a ban on EVAs. A ground test of an EMU on Earth had resulted in a smell of smoke. Subsequent testing of the suit revealed no signs of burning.

The following day, Tani and Whitson repeated their roles, using the SSRMS to grapple Harmony and release the CBM bolts holding it in place. Whitson released the first bolt at 03:58 and the last at 04:21.Tani then used the SSRMS to move Harmony from its temporary position on the side of Unity and relocated it on Destiny’s ram. The relocation manoeuvre was completed at 05: 45, much earlier than planned. Capcom Kevin Ford told them, “You guys are really cooking with gas.’’ During the manoeuvre the station had passed over the Atlantic Ocean; Whitson looked out of Destiny’s window and remarked, “It’s amazing. I love my job!’’

On November 15, the P-1 radiator was deployed, increasing the area available to the station’s ammonia cooling system. On the same day, NASA cleared the EMUs on the station for future EVA work. NASA’s Lynett Madison stated, “There is no indication of combustion or an electrical event. We’ve been cleared to conduct spacewalks.” The smoke odour detected in the suit test earlier in the week was thought to have been caused by a canister of metal oxide used during ground tests of the suit.

Whitson described the two EVAs that she and Tani had originally been expecting to make to outfit Harmony, in the following terms:

“The EVAs that have to be conducted between the arrival of Node-2 [Harmony] and before arrival of Columbus are critical. We can’t accept the new module without the completion of those EVAs… [T]he two EVAs that Dan and I will conduct actually will lay what we call the umbilical trays, and they are the fluid lines that will connect the Thermal Control System that’s based in the truss. We have to run them along the laboratory module and then connect [them] to the Node-2. [T]he reason that’s important is the Node-2 has six different heat exchangers; some of those will be providing the thermal heat rejection for each of the new modules that come up later. So it’s got a big thermal job, and we have to connect all those lines that will allow it to happen. Obviously we also have to do the electrical and the data connections as well, so that we’ll be able to transmit data and receive telemetry back and forth throughout not only the Node-2 module but then later, through the laboratory modules on Columbus and the JEM … We do some mating on the inside: the internal Thermal Control System’s mated on the inside. We also have power and data connections that are done on the inside.’’

The first of those two EVAs began at 05: 10, November 20, 2007, when Whitson and Tani left the Quest airlock wearing American EMUs. Exiting the airlock as the station passed over the Atlantic Ocean, Tani remarked, “A nice day at the office here.’’

After preparing their tools, they set about individual tasks to maximise their time outside. Whitson removed an ammonia jumper, part of a temporary cooling system, on the outside of the station, vented it, and then stowed it securely in place. The jumper’s removal allowed for the establishment of the new Loop-A, one of two loops in the permanent cooling system. As she worked Whitson reported that frozen ammonia crystals were escaping from the open end of the system, “They appear


Figure 109. Expedition-16: Peggy Whitson makes a Stage EVA following the departure of STS – 120. In the background Harmony has been relocated to Destiny’s ram, and PMA-2 is on Harmony’s ram.

frozen and just bouncing off me.’’ Houston replied, “Not a problem at this time. We’re ready to press on.’’

At the same time, Tani retrieved a bag of tools left outside the station during the EVA on November 9. He then removed two fluid caps, as part of the preparation of the permanent cooling loop. His next task was to reconfigure an electrical circuit that was used to fire a pyrotechnic during the deployment of the P-1 cooling radiator on November 15. Both astronauts then made their way to the centre of the S-0 ITS where they co-operated to unbolt the 6.5 m long Loop-A fluid tray from its storage position. In order to move the tray, they took it in turns to move ahead of the tray and secure lines to ensure that it did not drift away if they lost control of it. The tray was then moved forward and the next set of lines attached to it before the previous set of lines were released. In that manner they moved the tray to the exterior of Harmony, where they secured it in place. Next, they secured six fluid connections, two at the tray, two on the S-0 ITS, and two inbetween those two locations. Tani’s final planned task was on the port side of Harmony, where he mated 11 avionics lines, meanwhile Whitson configured heating cables and connected electrical harnesses linking PMA-2 and Harmony. With time to spare they were also able to complete a number of “get-ahead” tasks. Tani connected five avionics lines on Harmony’s starboard side, before joining Whitson to connect a series of redundant umbilicals and connect the SSPTS cables to PMA-2 in its new location. The EVA ended at 12: 26, after 7 hours 16 minutes.

Whitson and Tani’s next EVA took place on November 24 and was for all intents and purposes a mirror image of the EVA completed four days earlier. Where the earlier EVA had set up Harmony’s primary cooling loop (Loop-A), the second EVA would establish the back-up cooling loop (Loop-В). Ammonia, circulated through the umbilicals installed during these two EVAs, would take up the heat produced by Harmony’s electrical equipment and transport it to the large radiators on the ITS, where the heat would be radiated to space and the ammonia recirculated. The EVA began at 04:50, with the crew exiting from Quest wearing American EMUs. They worked together to prepare their tools, before Whitson removed, vented, and stowed the ammonia lines associated with the original, temporary cooling loop. Tani disconnected two fluid caps in preparation for the establishment of Loop-В of the permanent cooling loop. His next task was to relocate an articulated portable foot restraint from its location on the port side of Harmony, to its new position on the lower portion of the module’s ram endcone. The two astronauts then joined together to move the Loop-В cooling tray from the S-0 ITS to its permanent location on the port avionics tray on Destiny’s zenith, where they bolted it in place. They used the same method to move the fluid tray as they had during the previous EVA. With the Loop-В fluid tray in place, they made the same six connections that they had made on the Loop-A fluid lines: two on the fluid tray, two on the S-0 ITS, and two inbetween. Whitson then made her way to Harmony’s starboard side where she removed the launch restraints from the petals on the CBM that would provide soft-docking for Columbus when STS-122 delivered it. That delivery was planned for December 2007. At the same time, Tani made his way to the starboard SARJ, removed one of the thermal covers, allowing him to photograph the joint and recover samples of the metal shavings contaminating the joint. It was a repeat of the work he had carried out during the visit of STS-120. During the inspection, Tani reported, “I see the same damage that I saw before… I would say there is more damage than I saw before.’’ Tani took the thermal cover back to Quest, leaving the joint open to the video cameras on the SSRMS. The video survey would be completed after the visit of STS-122 and would include at least one full rotation of the SARJ. The EVA ended at 11: 54, after 7 hours 4 minutes. The crew had light-duty days on November 25 and 26 following their week of hard work.

On November 28, NASA announced that they feared Harmony may have developed a pressure leak, although the overall pressure leakage rate for the whole station had not increased. (All pressurised modules leak. The rate of leakage is included in the module’s design stage and confirmed during manufacture and pre­launch testing. Under normal operations the gases used to pressurise the module are supplied at a rate that will maintain the correct internal pressure in addition to the known leakage rate.) That evening, Whitson was instructed to secure the area between Harmony and Unity’s hatches, so that the internal pressure could be monitored. The fact that the overall pressure leak rate had not increased suggested that the problem might actually lie in one of the measuring instruments and might not be a leak at all. The test was repeated and again showed no loss of pressure in the space between the two hatches. As a result, preparations went ahead on the station for the arrival of STS-121, in early December, while Houston continued to monitor the “pressure leak” problem.

With Harmony now on Destiny’s ram and PMA-2 on Harmony’s ram, ISS was finally configured to receive the next few Shuttle flights, which would deliver the European and Japanese modules to the station. The astronauts from those two nations would begin flying to the station in greater numbers and with increasing regularity. Following the delivery of Node-3, with its extra sleeping facilities, the station’s crew would be increased to six people, increasing its capacity to perform first-class orbital science. The last two items of American ISS hardware, the S-6 ITS and the Cupola, would also be launched and installed. In time the European ATV and the Japanese HTV would begin delivering consumables to the station alongside the Russian Progress spacecraft.

As the STS-122 launch was delayed in November 2007, the future schedule for ISS through the end of the Shuttle programme was mapped out:




ENDEAVOUR: JEM ELM-PS (placed in temporary position) and Canadian Dextere robotics system. Four EVAs to install equipment

Soyuz TMA-12

Expedition-17 crew up.


ATLANTIS: Kibo, two EVAs to install lab and Japanese RMS. Relocate JEM ELM PS to permanent position


ENDEAVOUR: MPLM. Establish six-person Expedition crew





Soyuz TMA-13

Expedition-18 crew up.






DISCOVERY: EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 & 2






ENDEAVOUR: Node-3 and Cupola


ENDEAVOUR: EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 5 & 6

As the Shuttle approaches the end of its career, the Russian Soyuz will become the principal vehicle for crew delivery and recovery including the astronauts from all of the ISS International Partners. Given the support of Congress and the new President (the Presidential election is in 2008) the American Project Constellation spacecraft, Orion, and its Ares-1 launch vehicle will be developed and flight-tested. As 2007 drew to a close, only Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had made positive statements on Orion during her campaign. Clinton’s spokesperson, Isaac Baker, had stated, “Senator Clinton does not support delaying the Constellation Programme and intends to maintain American leadership in space exploration.’’ Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama had called for Project Constellation to be delayed for 5 years and the money spent on education and social programmes.

If they are built, Orion and Ares-1 will assume the role of American crew delivery and recovery in the ISS programme, but flying to ISS is not the principal role for which Orion is being built.

As America prepares to return to the Moon, hopefully taking their International Partners with them, what role does that leave for ISS? During the pre-launch interview for his Expedition-11 flight, Sergei Krikalev voiced his view of the impor­tance of the ISS programme to Project Constellation and the future of human spaceflight in general:

“[The International Space] Station is not the ultimate goal. It’s an intermediate goal. That may be the significance of this Station. This is an intermediate step you have to make before you go any further. Life science experiments can be con­ducted on the Station to understand how far we can go with the configuration we have right now and what else we need to do to provide more efficiency of human beings on this long-duration mission, and long-distance mission. We continue to conduct technological experiments to see how materials change and how they behave inside, and outside, the Station, to know how to build new vehicles. We are even learning how micro-organisms change inside the Station, and some of these organisms might be a biological hazard for materials inside. Certain micro­organisms can destroy insulation on wires and create big trouble. We have to be prepared especially if we are to go on long-distance missions. On these long­distance missions (not only long-duration missions, as we are flying on the Station right now) you have to be much more autonomous. Even small things that people don’t think about very often can change the quality of our development. Being [a] participant on Mir flights and now [on an] ISS flight I see that [the] experience of people, on the ground, operational experience, is very important. Unless we gain this experience, unless we do this step, we will never be able to move any farther from the Earth. It needs to be done on the Station before we can make any further steps.’’




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.


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.

Project Constellation

As the Shuttle returned to flight following the loss of STS-107, initial definition was well under way on the new Project Constellation space vehicles, intended to fulfil President Bush Junior’s vision of returning humans to the lunar surface and then moving on to a human landing on Mars. The Constellation hardware consisted of two launch vehicles and two spacecraft. The Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), later named the “Orion” spacecraft, would be launched by the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV), renamed the “Ares-I”. The Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM), “Altair”, and its heavy-lift launch vehicle, called “Ares-V” are currently of no relevance to the future ISS flight programme and are therefore not reviewed in this volume.


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.