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Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

Expedition 7 Set For Ride Home

(Not Shown): Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko (left) and NASA
Station Science Officer Ed Lu shared their last week on the station with
the incoming Expedition 8 crew. Photo credit: NASA. 

Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA Station Science Officer
Ed Lu are about to catch a unique ride home. 

Malenchenko and Lu -- along with European Space Agency Astronaut Pedro
Duque -- are set to leave the International Space Station on October 27,
undocking in their Soyuz spacecraft at 6:18 p.m. EST, with landing in
Kazakhstan expected at 9:41 p.m. EST. 

Flight controllers in the U.S. and Russia have been closely monitoring
the predicted effects of recent solar activity and anticipate no change
to any of the landing plans (View Latest Status Reports). 

For the last week, Malenchenko, Lu and Duque have been conducting joint
experiments and handover activities with the Expedition 8 crew --
Commander and NASA Station Science Officer Michael Foale and Flight
Engineer Alexander Kaleri -- who arrived on a Soyuz on October 20. 

Malenchenko and Lu, who have been on board since late April, turned the
Station over to Expedition 8 in a change of command ceremony on Friday,
October 24. Both crews commented on the importance of carrying on the
mission in the wake of the Columbia tragedy. 

"We have continued the work ... because our friends have given their
lives so that ... all humanity as a whole could continue space
exploration," Malenchenko said through a translator. 

"In ten or 20 years when we look back at this ... I hope they say, 'Hey,
they did a really good job keeping this going.'"  
--Expedition 7 Science Officer Ed Lu 
During their time on board, Expedition 7 conducted a host of science
experiments and observed the Earth from their unique perspective 240
miles above. Among the many photos sent down from the station were
stunning images of a huge Hurricane Isabel as it churned toward the
Eastern Seaboard of the United States. 

With the shuttle fleet temporarily grounded, a key part of Expedition 7's
mission was station operations and maintenance. As Lu put it in a
pre-flight interview: "Our job is ... to keep this place running until
such time as we can finish the construction." 

"In ten or 20 years when we look back at this," Lu added, "I hope they
say, 'Hey, they did a really good job keeping this going. And in the end,
look at what they made out of this.'" 

Once the Expedition 7 crew undocks, Foale and Kaleri will settle down to
work, beginning a more than six-month stint in orbit. 

(Not Shown)   Image Left: The Soyuz carrying Foale, Kaleri and Duque
docks with the International Space Station more than 200 miles above the
Earth. Photo credit: NASA TV. 

Foale and Kaleri, both veterans of long-duration space flight, will
monitor the arrival of three Russian Progress resupply cargo ships filled
with food, fuel, water, new research experiments and supplies. They will
also upgrade the software in the on-board Station computers, work with
the robotic arm to observe the Station's exterior, and check out the
robotic system's performance in orbit.

The pair may also perform a spacewalk to swap out experiments on the
Zvezda Service Module, and prepare Zvezda for the planned arrival next
year of the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle, which
will deliver equipment and supplies. 

"The International Space Station is a very good step forward," says
Kaleri, "and it's a very good experience for us that can show us how to
work together in the future ... We can go together on Mars, we can go to
other planets. At least I would like to believe that." 

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