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Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC - Amsat #31468

Headquarters, Washington                   April 9, 2004
(Phone: 202/358-4769)


     Three weeks remain in the six-month voyage aboard the 
International Space Station for Expedition 8 Commander Mike 
Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri. The crew is 
preparing to return home this month and focused on wrapping 
up science experiments and tidying up for their replacement 
crew, Expedition 9.

Yesterday, NASA managers conducted a Flight Readiness Review. 
No issues were found for the planned launch of Expedition 9 
at 11:19 p.m. EDT April 18. Commander Gennady Padalka, Flight 
Engineer Mike Fincke and European Space Agency astronaut 
Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands will arrive at the Station 
April 21. Kuipers returns to Earth with the Expedition 8 crew 
April 29.

The Expedition 9 crew completed a dress launch rehearsal 
earlier in the week at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 
The crew will rest this weekend in Moscow before returning to 
Kazakhstan Tuesday for final launch preparations.

While the on orbit crew completes its work, flight 
controllers and engineers reviewing video of the outside of 
the Station found a black mark on dish antenna. It was 
determined, over time, as the antenna moves to track NASA's 
communications satellites; it very lightly has been brushing 
against a locking pin and handrail. Changing the software 
slightly to "tell" the dish to stop before gimballing that 
far easily solved the problem. Neither the mark nor the 
rubbing has effected the operation of the antenna.

Foale focused his attention on wrapping up two major 
experiments conducted during his mission. The Pore Formation 
and Mobility Investigation (PFMI) successfully finished its 
last sample. PFMI has run 21 samples since the first sample 
was processed on-orbit in September 2002. The experiment 
melts materials at elevated temperatures, so it is operated 
inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

As the sample is processed, a video system allows scientists 
working at the telescience center at NASA's Marshall Space 
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. to watch as bubbles form 
and move around in the transparent modeling material sample. 
Bubbles that become trapped in metals or crystals can form 
defects that decrease the material's strength and usefulness.

By studying bubble formation and the defects they cause in 
metals in microgravity, scientists will gain insights to 
improve solidification processing on future space experiments 
and similar processes on Earth.

Foale wore a special pair of Lycra cycling tights for his 
final session with the Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during 
Space Flight (FOOT) experiment. It measure how much stress 
his legs and feet endure on a typical day. FOOT will provide 
a better understanding of bone loss and muscle mass loss 
experienced by astronauts in microgravity. The theories being 
explored in this project also have significance for 
understanding, preventing and treating osteoporosis on Earth.

Both PFMI and FOOT experiments were completed and stowed.

Kaleri spent some of the week fixing a cooling fan that helps 
control humidity in the Soyuz spacecraft in which he and 
Foale will return home. The two also reviewed the inventory 
of items that will be brought home as well.

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


Details about Station science operations are available on the 
Internet at: 


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