Category The International Space Station


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 Finally, the docking probe on the Progress was retracted and the docking latches engaged, securing a hard-dock at 14: 00.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.’’


After a review process in which contractor alliances, led by Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, produced designs for the CEV, Lockheed-Martin was named prime contractor for the new spacecraft on August 31, 2006. The Lockheed spacecraft was promptly named “Orion”. Development of the new spacecraft was spread over three schedules.

• Schedule-1: September 2006-September 2013, a $3.9 billion contract to support

the design, development, test, and evaluation of the Orion spacecraft.

• Schedule-2: September 2009-September 2019, a $3.5 billion contract to support

post-development orders for the spacecraft.

• Schedule-3: September 2009-September 2019, a $750 million contract to support

additional spacecraft engineering services.

Orion will be the replacement for the Shuttle when that vehicle is retired in 2010. The new spacecraft is being designed to carry four astronauts to ISS, or to the Moon, and six to Mars. It will consist of a conical crew module and cylindrical service module, which function as one spacecraft until just before re-entry, when the unpro­tected service module will be jettisoned. Only the crew module is protected to allow it to survive re-entry. Orion will have an overall appearance that is superficially similar to the Apollo Command and Service Module. The crew module will be a cone with a 5-metre diameter, a mass of 25 tonnes and 3 times the volume of the Apollo Command Module. The access hatch and windows will all be on one side of the vehicle, with a docking system and a transfer tunnel, surrounded by recovery para­chutes, in the apex. Manoeuvring thrusters will be located around the base and in the apex of the module. The rounded base of the crew module will be covered by a circular heatshield, the backshell, for which Lockheed currently intends to use the Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Thermal Protection System developed by NASA Ames Research Centre. Meanwhile, JSC has also purchased Shuttle thermal protec­tion material (blankets) for use on the sides of the cone where the heating regime is less severe. This purchase will also ensure that a Thermal Protection System is available for Orion’s early flights to ISS, if problems delay the Thermal Protection System required for the more severe re-entry from a lunar or deep-space flight. The primary recovery zone will be on land, in the open spaces of North America. Final descent will be supported by parachutes, and landing impact loads will be negated by use of retrograde rockets, or inflatable airbags. The use of airbags with their heavy deployment and inflation systems would require the spacecraft’s backshell to be jettisoned prior to their deployment, while the lighter solid propellant retrograde rockets could be mounted on the parachute harness and the backshell retained in place. Work continues to decide which of these systems will be used. A launch abort, or failed ascent to orbit would require a water landing in the Atlantic Ocean. The water-landing option will also be available as a back-up in the event that land landing is not possible at the end of a completed flight. The crew module will be reusable for up to ten flights.

The crew module will be constructed from aluminium lithium employing stir­welding technology and will provide 10.2 m3 of habitable volume. Life support systems, providing a two-gas oxygen-nitrogen environment, will be manufactured by Hamilton Standard and the flight control avionics by Honeywell, both members of


Figure 111. Constellation (early concept): the component parts of the new Orion spacecraft are from top to bottom: Launch Abort System with Boost Protection Cover, Crew Compartment, Service Module with circular Solar Array Wings, and launch vehicle adapter.

Lockheed-Martin’s original CEV alliance. The flight avionics will be based on the automated systems employed on the Boeing-787 commercial jet liner. The space­craft’s main instrument panel will be a “glass cockpit’’, employing four large computer screens to display relevant information to the crew. The screens will be accessed via computer keypads and mechanical switches will be kept to a minimum. This is in keeping with modern military jet fighter technology, with which the present and future groups of pilot astronauts will be increasingly familiar. Rather than having repeated controls on both sides of the console, or having need for crew members to swap seats in order to perform particular functions, astronauts will merely call up the relevant data on the computer screen nearest to them. The computers will display easy-to-read visual representations of major systems, rather than the endless strings of numbers so common during the Apollo Moon flights. Almost the entire flight will be automated, with manual override available at critical points. Three primary computers would provide redundancy to the point that two could fail completely and the third could still return Orion to Earth from any point on a lunar flight. A fourth emergency computer will also be installed and will be completely independent of the three primary computers, to the point that it will employ different hardware and a different electrical supply. Rendezvous and docking will employ automated systems, probably based on NASA’s Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) technology, which was tested, not altogether successfully, in 2005. The Orion spacecraft would carry NASA’s new Low Impact Docking System (LIDS).

The Orion service module will serve a similar role to its Apollo predecessor, namely the mounting for the spacecraft’s main propulsion system and reaction control system, and storage of propellants, water, and avionics. The module will be a cylinder 5 metres in diameter and will contain the service module propulsion system, the principal propulsion system in the spacecraft. This engine, which will burn liquid methane in liquid oxygen, has yet to be developed. Manoeuvring thrusters will be mounted in clusters at 90° around the exterior of the module. The spacecraft’s electrical power will come from two large circular photovoltaic arrays mounted at the rear of the service module. These will be folded at launch and deployed once the spacecraft is in orbit. The photovoltaic arrays will provide electricity to storage batteries in the spacecraft. A completely independent battery set will provide emergency power in the event of a major power system failure.

In December 2007, NASA selected Boeing to develop the guidance system for the Orion spacecraft. Jeffrey Hanley, Constellation programme manager for NASA, told a press conference:

“Finally, with the last team in place, we can move on with the development of this new system… This last contract was a key piece that will now allow us to go to the preliminary design phase with a full team in the new year and begin to build and test this new system.’’

The new spacecraft is intended to return humans to the Moon, and then progress to Mars, but in the first instance it will be used for crew rotation on ISS. The first crewed flight to ISS is planned for no later than 2015. In comparison with the Shuttle, this new combination is estimated to be 10 times safer due to the in-line design of the stack, with the crewed spacecraft placed above the launch vehicle, rather than along­side it. The positioning of the Orion spacecraft, on top of a vertical launch vehicle, means that NASA can return to the use of the rocket-propelled Launch Abort System (LAS) to pull the crew module clear of a catastrophic launch vehicle failure during or

just prior to launch. The Orion LAS design is similar to that used for Apollo, with the Crew Module sitting beneath a Boost Protection Cover. In the event of a launch vehicle emergency just prior to launch, or during the Ares-I first-stage boost phase, the solid propellant rocket motor in the LAS would be fired to lift just the Crew Module to an altitude from which it could make a safe parachute recovery. At that point the LAS would be jettisoned and the crew module would descend under its own parachutes. In the event that the LAS was not required it would be jettisoned at the same time that the Ares-I first stage was jettisoned. In both scenarios the LAS will fall into the Atlantic Ocean and will not be recovered. In August 2007, wind tunnel testing of various LAS configurations showed that a Sear-Haack design provided considerable aerodynamic advantages over earlier designs. The LAS will be devel­oped by Orbital Sciences, while the solid propellant rocket motor for the escape rocket itself will be developed by Alliant Techsystems. In November 2007, the first boilerplate Orion spacecraft were being manufactured, for use during flight-tests of the LAS, which will be subjected to a series of pad abort and launch abort tests at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, starting in November 2008.

Orion was originally to be developed in three configurations.

• Block-1A: for low-Earth orbital flights.

• Block-IB: an uncrewed cargo vehicle (subsequently cancelled).

• Block 2: for crewed lunar flights.

As the Shuttle programme works towards its final flight, NASA has begun planning the changes to the Launch Complex 39 facilities that it uses at Cape Canaveral.

The Ares-I/Orion spacecraft combination will be stacked on the mobile launch platform inside the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB), just like Apollo and the Shuttle before it; that procedure will take place in High Bay I. Ares-I/Orion is 150 feet taller than the present Shuttle and will be accessed by folding work platforms similar to those used to access the Saturn/Apollo vehicles.

Apollo’s 3 Mobile Launch Platforms (MLPs) were re-configured to carry the Shuttle and will be reconfigured once more for the Ares launch vehicles. NASA is considering building a fourth MLP, so that two Ares-I and two Ares-V launch vehicles can be prepared at the same time. The new MLP design will include a Launch Umbilical Tower. The contract to design the Ares-1 MLP has been awarded to Reynolds, Smith & Hills Incorporated, a local company based in Merritt Island, Florida.

The two Apollo era Crawler Transporters that currently carry the Shuttle to the launchpad will continue in that role for the Ares launch vehicles. Although no additional work is required before the Crawler Transporter can carry the Ares-I to the launchpad, additional strengthening will be required in order to carry the Ares-V.

Launch Pad 39B will be converted to launch the Ares-I/Orion combination. Launch Pad 39A will be converted to launch the Ares-V. Work to convert Launch Complex 39, Pad B to take the Ares-I is planned to start in the spring of 2008. It will include removing the fixed and rotating service structures. A new launch tower will be constructed on the mobile launch platform, in a similar manner to that used for the Saturn/Apollo launch vehicle. Elevators and swing arms will give access to all areas of the Ares-I launch vehicle and the Orion spacecraft. The current emergency escape system, baskets sliding down a wire, will be replaced with a system that resembles a roller coaster, consisting of a car riding down a rail.

In the LaunchControl Centre next to the VAB, Firing Room 1 will be re-fitted to handle Ares-1 launches from Pad 39B. The room is presently vacant, but will be fitted with the ground support equipment required to support the preparation and launch of the Ares-I/Orion combination. The new vehicle is much simpler than the Shuttle, and therefore NASA is looking to use a smaller launch control team than 200 people required to launch a Shuttle.

The original Orion/Ares-I launch schedule was announced as

• April 2009: un-crewed Ares-1 four-segment SRB (inert fifth segment), dummy second stage, and ballast replacing the Orion spacecraft.

• October 2009: option to repeat of first flight if original fails.

• July 2012: un-crewed Ares-1 with five-segment SRB and live second stage.

• Late 2012: un-crewed flight of Ares-1 and Orion spacecraft.

• Fall 2014: un-crewed flight of Ares-1 and Orion Spacecraft.

• September 2014: first crewed flight of Ares-1 and Orion spacecraft.

When Project Constellation was announced, President Bush promised NASA a small annual budget increase to support the programme. Congress has failed to support that budget increase almost every year since then, with the exception of FY2007, when the budget request was actually increased by Congress. In late 2007, NASA announced that the first crewed Orion/Ares-1 launch had slipped into 2015 and all subsequent launches had been delayed accordingly.

As 2008 began, NASA announced that the first two Orion spacecraft to fly to ISS would each deliver a docking adapter, one of which would be left on PMA-2 on Harmony’s ram and the other on PMA-3 at Node-3’s nadir. One end of the adapter would provide for docking with the Russian-designed Androgynous Peripheral Attach System (APAS) currently used to dock the Shuttle to ISS, while the other end would support the American-designed LIDS to be used by the Orion spacecraft. During docking with ISS the LIDS docking system would be used to mount the docking adapter at the apex of the conical Orion Crew Module. The exposed APAS docking system would then be used to dock to the relevant PMA. At undocking, the Orion spacecraft’s LIDS would be released, leaving the docking adapter mounted on the end of the PMA with its LIDS docking system exposed. Future Orion spacecraft would use their own LIDS docking systems to dock to the new adapters. The docking adapter has been named the APAS-To-LIDS Adapter System (ATLAS).

In May 2006, NASA officials and representatives of 13 other countries agreed 6 reasons that justified the Project Constellation effort to return human astronauts to the Moon. These are listed in the next section.


1. A training ground for human and robotic exploration of Mars and more distant destinations.

2. Scientific studies that answer fundamental questions about the early history of the solar system and provide sites for astronomical observatories.

3. A place to acquire the technical skills to sustain a human presence on another world.

4. A growth point for the global economy.

5. A means to forge new global partnerships and strengthen old ones.

6. A source of inspiration.

NASA’s Deputy Administrator Shana Dale told the media:

“These are huge endeavours we are embarking upon. We have seen the benefits of collaboration on the International Space Station. As we move forward, we want to make sure we are working very collaboratively with both the international and the commercial sector… In the long run it makes for a much more sustainable program. This is definitely not just the United States doing this on its own.’’

America will continue to use ISS to concentrate its research on the reactions experienced by the human body to the unique environment of long-duration space­flight. At the same time America will seek partners for Project Constellation. The new spacecraft will initially serve as the principal American crew delivery and recovery vehicle for ISS. In time it would carry humans back to the Moon. Although Orion would remain in lunar orbit while a number of Altair Lunar Surface Access Modules were used to develop a permanent base on the lunar surface, the ISS experience would not be forgotten. No doubt new hardware will be tested on ISS, but ISS will also give back to Constellation. When the Moon base is established the astronauts working on the surface would be rotated on 6-month increments, just as ISS crews are today. Their wellbeing will be supported by the medical data that today’s astronauts are collecting on ISS. Their missions will be controlled using techniques developed by NASA and the Russians over decades of human spaceflight.


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




Fyodor Yurchikhin


Oleg Kotov


Charles Simonyi (spaceflight participant)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Anderson later explained:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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