Feb. 24, 2006

Allard Beutel
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-4769

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



Aboard the International Space Station this week, Expedition 12
Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev have been
preparing for upcoming spacecraft arrivals and departures.

Managers decided to postpone the planned station “campout” this week
until next month. It will test procedures to shorten the preparation
required for spacewalks. It was delayed after a device called the
Major Constituent Analyzer (MCA) could not be activated following
maintenance work by the crew. The device measures the composition of
the station’s air.

McArthur replaced a major component of the MCA last week, the mass
spectrometer, but attempts to activate the unit were unsuccessful.
McArthur continued troubleshooting the device Saturday. Engineers
suspect the problem may be damaged electrical connectors and are
evaluating ways to fix them.

The crew began preparations for the next shuttle mission, STS-121,
targeted for launch to the station no earlier than May. McArthur made
room in the storage racks inside the Destiny lab for new equipment
scheduled to arrive on Space Shuttle Discovery.

He cleared space in EXPRESS Rack 3 for a European Space Agency
experiment facility called the European Modular Cultivation System.
The facility will house biological experiments dealing with the
effects of gravity on plant cells, roots and physiology.

Tokarev and McArthur also continued packing the station’s Progress 19
cargo spacecraft with trash, readying it to undock March 3. The
supply craft’s thrusters were used a final time to reboost the
station Wednesday, increasing the altitude by eight miles.

McArthur continued science work, performing his third session with an
experiment called Foot/Ground Reaction Forces During Spaceflight. The
experiment investigates how muscles and joints of the legs and feet
are used differently in space than on Earth. To gather data, McArthur
wore the instrumented Lower Extremity Monitoring Suit, which measures
joint angles, muscle activity and forces on the feet as he exercised.
The experiment measures the musculoskeletal system and may lead to a
better understanding of bone loss during long-duration missions.

The SuitSat experiment, an unneeded Russian Orlan
spacesuit-turned-satellite, has stopped sending signals. SuitSat was
released by Tokarev during a spacewalk Feb. 3. It transmitted
recorded voices of school children to amateur radio operators as it
orbited the Earth. Hundreds of reports from individuals receiving the
faint signal from all over the world were logged at the project’s Web
site. For SuitSat information, visit:

For information about the station, including sighting opportunities,

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:


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