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STS-115 MCC Status Report #19



1 p.m. CDT Monday, Sept. 18, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas


STS-115 MCC Status Report #19

The crew of the International Space Station worked through an emergency 
procedure this morning after an oxygen generation unit apparently 
overheated. The overheating is believed to have melted a rubber seal, 
causing a small amount of smoke, a strong odor and possibly releasing a 
small amount of a chemical irritant.

Aboard the station are Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov, Flight 
Engineer and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer 
Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency. At the time of the problem, 
Vinogradov was working with the Russian Elektron oxygen generator, a 
device that recycles wastewater on the station into oxygen for the cabin 
air. The Elektron had been shut off for nine days as planned during the 
joint operations by the station and the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

At the request of Russian flight controllers, Vinogradov attempted to 
restart the unit at about 2 a.m. CDT. The Elektron operated only briefly 
before shutting down. Several subsequent attempts were made to restart 
the device in various modes. Just before 6 a.m. CDT, Vinogradov 
restarted the unit again after it had shut down.

A few minutes later, as the station was out of communications with the 
ground, Vinogradov noted the Elektron overheating, light smoke and a bad 
odor. When the station moved into communications, at about 6:16 a.m. 
CDT, Mission Control asked the crew to manually initiate a fire alarm 
onboard to allow software to automatically shut down ventilation fans 
between the station modules. Flight controllers also checked for 
contaminants in the cabin air and found only low levels that posed no 
danger to the crew. However, the crew was asked to briefly don surgical 
masks, goggles and gloves to protect against possible irritation by a 
chemical used in the Elektron, potassium hydroxide, that may have leaked.

Vinogradov reported that a small amount of clear liquid had leaked from 
an apparently damaged seal on the Elektron and cleaned it up, sealing it 
in airtight bags. Within an hour, the crew had powered back on all 
station ventilation equipment and had returned to working on normal 

The incident will not affect plans to undock a Progress cargo craft from 
the station tonight and the docking of the next station crew with the 
complex, set for 12:24 a.m. CDT on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, Soyuz Commander Mikhail 
Tyurin and Spaceflight Participant Anousheh Ansari lifted off at 11:09 
p.m. CDT Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan bound for the 
station. Their Soyuz spacecraft is in excellent condition.

Meanwhile, the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis -- Commander Brent 
Jett, Pilot Chris Ferguson and Mission Specialists Joe Tanner, Dan 
Burbank, Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve MacLean -- are continuing 
preparations for a return to Earth. The crew completed a late inspection 
of the heat shielding on the nose and wings of the shuttle today using a 
laser scanning system. They are scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space 
Center at 4:59 a.m. CDT Wednesday. They began a sleep period at 1:15 
p.m. CDT and awaken at 9:15 p.m. CDT for what is planned to be their 
final full day in orbit.

The next STS-115 mission status report will be issued as the shuttle 
crew awakens, or earlier if events warrant.

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