Tim Furniss/LONDON

The International Space Station (ISS) is closer to being ready for the arrival next month of its first resident crew, after an 11-day mission by the Space Shuttle Atlantic to deliver food and other household items. The flight ended on September 20.


The STS 106 mission astronauts locked the ISS' 11 hatches after the visit during which the crew stocked the station with more than 3,000kg (6,600lb) of food, clothes, personal computers, printers, cleaners and a treadmill for the Expedition One crew, who will be launched in a Soyuz TM on 30 October.

The next visit will be by STS 92 Discovery, which launches on 5 October, to continue assembly work on the ISS. The mission will be the 100th by the Space Shuttle.

Two teams of two astronauts will conduct four back-to-back EVAs to fix the Integrated Truss Structure Z1 in its temporary location on the Unity node module.

The truss is the exterior framework for the first US solar arrays that will provide early power. The arrays will be fitted during the November Shuttle mission after Discovery's. STS 92 will also install the Ku band communications system that will support early science capability, control moment gyros for attitude control, and a pressurised mating adaptor that provides a docking port for the solar array installation mission and for the US laboratory module, Destiny, scheduled to be joined to the ISS next year.

Meanwhile, one of eight batteries on the Zvezda module is not working. This is not thought critical since there are seven more aboard and the faulty equipment can be replaced on a later mission. All eight batteries will be needed by the time Destiny is launched, probably in March.

The Progress M1 F4 unmanned tanker mission to the ISS has been delayed from 21 September to 14 November. The postponement will make it possible for the first expedition crew to dock with the main port on the Zvezda service module, avoiding a more risky docking at the nadir port.

Another reason for the delay was the success of the STS 106 mission which raised the orbit of the station, meaning that a new fuel supply from the Progress mission is not immediately required. This will also mean that the December Progress M1 F5 mission can be delayed until next year.

Source: Flight International