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*International Space Station Status Report #06-16*
*4 p.m. CDT Friday, April 7, 2006*
*Expedition 12 Crew*

Camaraderie and hard work highlighted this week's joint operations on 
the International Space Station. Aboard the complex, one crew prepared 
for a return to Earth while another focused on taking the helm in orbit.

Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur, Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev 
and Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes head home Saturday, closing 
hatches as they leave the station at 1:35 p.m. EDT. They will undock 
their Soyuz spacecraft at 4:28 p.m. EDT. That sets the stage for a 
deorbit burn at 6:58 p.m. EDT to drop the 15,000-pound spacecraft out of 
orbit. The Soyuz will parachute to a landing at 7:48 p.m. EDT on the 
steppes of Kazakhstan. NASA Television will broadcast all landing events 

Their preparations to return home began in earnest following last week’s 
arrival of the 13th station crew, Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight 
Engineer Jeff Williams along with Pontes. Brazil's first astronaut will 
have spent eight days on the station conducting experiments as part of a 
commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

This week began with a partially completed “campout” by McArthur and 
Williams in the Quest Airlock. The planned overnight stay in the airlock 
tested procedures that can shorten the time needed to prepare for future 

Quest was sealed off from the rest of the station at 6:45 p.m. EDT 
Monday with McArthur and Williams inside, and its air pressure was later 
lowered to 10.2 pounds per square inch. The rest of the station remained 
at the normal air pressure of 14.7 psi. An overnight stay at the lower 
air pressure assists with purging nitrogen from the body, a necessary 
step in spacewalk preparation to avoid decompression sickness. McArthur 
and Williams were awakened four hours into their sleep in the airlock by 
an error tone.

The tone was generated by software that monitors the composition of air 
on the station. Flight controllers opted to end the campout test Tuesday 
at 12:43 a.m. EDT, open the airlock hatch to the station, and allow the 
crew to go back to sleep. Despite the glitch, all of the test objectives 
were achieved. Engineers are reviewing data to determine whether changes 
are needed to use the technique during the STS-115 shuttle mission later 
this year. Engineers could decide to repeat the test at another time.

On Wednesday, Williams trained with the station’s robot arm, Canadarm2. 
Late this week, McArthur briefed Williams on payload operations in the 
Destiny laboratory while Tokarev, the Soyuz commander, stowed equipment 
and payloads in the Soyuz for the trip home. Tokarev also reviewed 
procedures for the undocking, entry and landing with flight controllers 
at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow.

Information on the crew's activities aboard the space station, future 
launch dates, as well as station sighting opportunities from anywhere on 
the Earth, are available at: www.nasa.gov/station

The next status report will be issued Saturday night, April 8, following 
landing of Expedition 12 and its Soyuz spacecraft.

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