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*International Space Station Status Report #06-9*
*1 p.m. CST, Friday, March 3, 2006*
*Expedition 12 Crew*

Entering the homestretch of a half-year mission, International Space 
Station Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev 
monitored the departure of one of two Russian cargo ships today.

Filled with trash and items no longer needed, the Progress 19 vehicle 
undocked from the Zvezda living quarters module at 5:06 a.m. EST. Three 
hours later, Russian flight controllers commanded its engines to fire to 
put it on course to plunge into the atmosphere and burn up over the 
Pacific Ocean. The cargo ship was docked to the station since September 

The station's Progress 20 cargo vessel, which arrived in December 2005, 
remains attached to the Pirs Docking Compartment.

Also this week, McArthur replaced the trace contaminant control system 
in the Destiny Laboratory. The system removes impurities from the cabin 
air. It experienced a slightly degraded performance over the past few 
months, but is operating normally.

On Monday, McArthur will attempt to reconnect and activate the major 
constituent analyzer in Destiny. It is a mass spectrometer that measures 
compounds in the station's atmosphere. Efforts to activate the system 
two weeks ago were unsuccessful due to what is believed to be damaged or 
bent electrical connectors.

Once the device is activated, plans can resume for a crew “campout” in 
the Quest Airlock to test streamlined spacewalk preparation procedures. 
The new procedures will shorten the time needed to cleanse nitrogen from 
spacewalkers' bodies to prevent decompression sickness. For the test, 
the crew will spend the night in Quest at a reduced pressure, lessening 
the time needed to breathe pure oxygen in advance of a spacewalk.

The “campout” technique will be used for the first time for spacewalks 
on the STS-115 shuttle mission later this year. If the major constituent 
analyzer is successfully activated, the campout test will be scheduled 
around March 23.

McArthur continued preparations for the arrival of the next shuttle 
mission. Discovery is targeted for launch no earlier than May on that 
flight, designated STS-121. This week, McArthur put unneeded items in 
racks earmarked for return to Earth aboard Discovery.

McArthur and Tokarev will soon begin preparations for a short trip from 
the station. Managers have agreed on a tentative schedule on March 20 
for the crew to relocate their Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft from the 
Earth-facing docking port of the Zarya module to the aft docking port of 
Zvezda. McArthur and Tokarev will undock from Zarya and conduct a 
37-minute flight to re-dock at Zvezda. The move will clear the Zarya 
port for the April 1 arrival of the Soyuz carrying the next station 
crew, Expedition 13.

Expedition 13 is commanded by Pavel Vinogradov. Jeff Williams is NASA 
Flight Engineer. Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes will fly with them to 
the station for a short stay, returning to Earth a week later with 
McArthur and Tokarev.

Next week, McArthur will brush up on his robotics skills, operating the 
Canadarm2 for engineering tests. The arm also will be remotely commanded 
by flight controllers in Houston. They will operate the arm to survey 
one of two integrated umbilical assembly mechanisms on the mobile 
transporter rail car. The assembly's cutting blade system malfunctioned 
Dec. 16, severing one of two umbilicals on the transporter. The assembly 
will be replaced on the second of the three spacewalks planned for 
Discovery's mission. Controllers also will use the arm to survey a vent 
port for the carbon dioxide removal assembly on the Destiny Laboratory.

For information about the station, including sighting opportunities, visit:


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The next station status report will be issued Friday, March 10, or 
earlier if events warrant.
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