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    Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC - Amsat #31468

Allard Beutel
Headquarters, Washington                    March 19, 2004
(Phone: 202/358-4769)


     Heading into the homestretch of their six-and-a-half month 
mission aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 8 
Commander Michael Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri 
spent the past week conducting biomedical experiments and 
performing maintenance for a key Station component.

Foale and Kaleri spent two days replacing a liquids unit and a 
water flow system in the Russian Elektron oxygen-generation 
device in the Zvezda Service Module, after weeks of 
troubleshooting failed to coax it back into service. The 
Elektron produces oxygen for the Station cabin atmosphere 
through electrolysis, the separation of hydrogen and oxygen 
from water that flows through a series of pumps and valves. The 
hydrogen is vented overboard, leaving the oxygen for crew 

Russian specialists spent several weeks trying to track down 
the cause for repeated shutdowns of the system after just a few 
minutes of operation. They concluded contaminate particles of 
potassium hydroxide electrolytes, a by-product of the 
electrolysis process, created air bubbles in the liquids unit, 
resulting in the unit's repeated shutdown.

Since last Saturday, the crew has derived oxygen from solid-
fuel oxygen generation (SFOG) canisters that are activated in 
Zvezda. The crew has used an average of two SFOGs daily, since 
air and oxygen was depleted from tanks in the Russian Progress 
supply vehicle, following the first shutdown of the Elektron.

Russian engineers will spend the weekend reviewing the results 
of the repair procedures. They plan to activate the refurbished 
Elektron tomorrow for a few days of checkouts and diagnosis. If 
the Elektron repair is successful, the SFOG canisters will no 
longer be needed. There is an ample supply of canisters, as 
well as oxygen contained in the Quest airlock tanks, to provide 
oxygen for the Station for several months, if needed.

Today, Foale did a leak check of the window in the Destiny 
laboratory. In January, a flex hose that helps to vent air from 
the inner panes of the window was causing minor pressure decay 
from the Station. Although the flex hose is operating normally, 
today's check revealed a slight leak from one of the inner 
panes of the window.

The leak will not affect the pressure in the Station, but it 
will require another venting procedure in the next week or so 
to prevent condensation buildup.

Foale spent time this week conducting experiments with a 
cellular biotechnology device to test methods for improved cell 
culture growth and with a device designed to measure the forces 
imparted on the joints of the lower extremities and the feet in 
the absence of gravity.

The crew also worked on the Pore Formation and Mobility 
Investigation in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. This 
experiment studies how bubbles form in materials. It gives 
scientists an opportunity to observe bubble dynamics in a 
sample being processed in a way similar to industrial methods. 
Researchers hope to gain insights that will improve 
solidification processing in a microgravity environment. The 
generated data may also promote our understanding of processes 
on Earth.

Last week, scientists saw the completion of a record-breaking 
31-day experiment on the Station, called PromISS-3. It's the 
longest duration experiment ever conducted inside the 
Microgravity Science Glovebox, built by engineers and 
scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration 
with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. 
The Glovebox, a sealed container with built-in gloves, provides 
an enclosed workspace for investigations conducted on the 

Sponsored by the ESA, PromISS-3 was an experiment to study the 
growth of protein crystals. Among the proteins grown were iron 
storage proteins found in all living things. They help protect 
humans from bacterial infection and proteins related to anemia 
and neuromuscular disease in humans. The heart of the 
experiment was the use of a holographic microscope, which sent 
back images of the crystals while they were growing. The 
holographic microscope provided a capability to look at the 
physics involved in the growth of these types of crystals in 
order to better understand why some crystals grow better in 
space and some do not. 

Foale and Kaleri also took time out from their schedule to 
answer questions from a syndicated talk show host from the 
Premiere Radio Networks and from students at the Howard Bishop 
Middle School in Gainesville, Fla.

Information about activities aboard the Space Station is 
available on the Internet at:


Information about Station science operations is available on 
the Internet at:



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