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EXP-12 & 13 STATUS


Joe Pally
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-7239

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(281) 483-5111


International Space Station Status Report: SS06-012

The Expedition 12 crew members have the International Space Station 
poised and ready for their replacements to arrive March 31.

Soyuz Commander Valery Tokarev and Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur 
moved their Soyuz spacecraft from the Zarya module to the Zvezda living 
quarters module early Monday. They will use the same vehicle to return 
to Earth April 8. This week's move opened the Zarya docking port for the 
arrival of the Expedition 13 crew.

The Expedition 13 crew, Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer 
Jeff Williams, are in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, awaiting launch. They are 
scheduled to lift off at 9:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, March 29. Coverage of 
the launch will be broadcast live on NASA TV beginning at 8:45 p.m.

Managers reviewed preparations for the mission and approved moving 
forward with launch at the Soyuz Flight Readiness Review on Thursday. 
Although no spacewalk is planned from the station until July, managers 
also reviewed issues with spacewalking capability. They approved a 
temporary solution to allow a spacewalk if needed.

The concern with U.S. spacewalks surfaced when engineers found blisters 
on handrail bars during production work on the ground. The finding led 
to an ongoing evaluation to ensure the handrails' strength is 
sufficient. The evaluation is expected to be completed by the end of 
April. Meanwhile, the approved procedure for spacewalks, if one were to 
be needed, involves attaching crew safety tethers at the base of the 
handrails rather than on the bar of the rails.

Tokarev and McArthur also are continuing to look for Russian lithium 
hydroxide canisters on the station. The canisters are used to scrub 
carbon dioxide from Russian Orlan spacesuits and would be used if a 
spacewalk required using those suits. Regardless of the outcome of their 
search, a new supply of canisters will be carried to the station on a 
Progress cargo vehicle in April, and the next spacewalk planned using 
Russian spacesuits is set for August.

Vinogradov and Williams are planned to dock to the station at 11:19 p.m. 
EST next Friday. They will be joined by Brazil's first astronaut, Marcos 
Pontes, for launch. Pontes will spend eight days on the station under a 
commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency and return 
home with McArthur and Tokarev.

After a day of light duty and rest Tuesday, McArthur and Tokarev resumed 
normal operations, focusing on packing and preparing for the trip home. 
They packed personal items as well as hardware and science supplies that 
will return with them.

They also continued several science experiments that study plants in 
weightlessness and crystal growth in space. The studies included work 
with the Russian Matroshka and PLANT experiments and two Japan Aerospace 
Exploration Agency experiments, the Granada Crystallization Facility and 
the Photon Crystals Growth Facility. McArthur disassembled and stowed 
components from the U.S. Foot/Ground Reaction Forces During Spaceflight 
experiment. The crew recently completed that study which investigated 
the effects of weightlessness on the legs and feet.

McArthur took time to talk with students during two amateur radio 
sessions, one with the Sir James Lougheed Elementary School in Calgary, 
Alberta, Canada and a second with more than a thousand students in 
Rutigliano, Italy. McArthur has conducted 34 such sessions with students 
during his six months in orbit, more than any other station crew member.

The next status report will be issued after the March 29 Soyuz launch or 
earlier if events warrant. Information about the crew's activities 
aboard the station, future launch dates, as well as sighting 
opportunities is available on the Web at:


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