Aug. 25, 2006

Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston



With the countdown clock ticking toward the launch of Space Shuttle
Atlantis on the STS-115 mission, the International Space Station crew
continues to prepare for visitors.

Commander Pavel Vinogradov, Flight Engineer, NASA Science Officer Jeff
Williams and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter of Germany
are ready for Atlantis to deliver a new section of the station’s
girder-like truss. Atlantis is set for launch on Sunday, which would
result in docking with the station on Tuesday. During Atlantis’
mission, astronauts will attach the new P3/P4 truss, a segment that
includes a huge new set of solar arrays and a giant rotary joint to
allow them to track the sun.

To prepare for Atlantis’ visit, the station crew members packed items
that will be returned to Earth on the shuttle. They also reviewed
spacewalk plans, talked with the shuttle crew in a long-distance
conference and trained to photograph the shuttle’s heat shield as
Atlantis does a backflip while approaching the station.

Flight controllers tested the operation of a U.S. air scrubbing system
in advance. The Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly, or CDRA, was turned
on for an extended period to test its capability to remove carbon
dioxide from the air. The CDRA augments the Russian air scrubber,
Vozdukh, which was turned off during the test. Engineers are
continuing to evaluate data from the CDRA operations.

The station was raised 2.5 miles by firing the ISS Progress 21 engines
Wednesday. The boost places the complex at the optimum position for
Atlantis’ rendezvous and docking. It also puts the station at the
optimum altitude for the launch of the next station resident crew,
Expedition 14, from Kazakhstan in September.

Williams replaced filters in part of the station’s cooling system. The
used filters will be returned to Earth for engineering analysis to
confirm their success at removing fine particles from water in
coolant lines.

Williams completed runs of the Dust and Aerosol Measurement
Feasibility Test, or DAFT experiment. DAFT is testing the
effectiveness of a commercial hand-held air quality monitor called
P-Trak that counts ultra-fine dust particles in microgravity. The
study provides data that may help in the design of fire detection
systems on future spacecraft. Its data also may prove useful for fire
detection hardware in extreme environments on Earth, such as
submarines or underwater laboratories.

The station crew continued with the set-up and check-out of the
European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) that was delivered on
STS-121. This experiment system contains a centrifuge that can
subject a wide range of small plant and animal experiments to partial
gravity conditions.

The first experiment that will be performed in EMCS is the Analysis of
a Novel Sensory Mechanism in Root Phototropism, called Tropi, which
seeks to identify the genes responsible for successful plant growth
in microgravity. The experiment studies mustard seeds.

Vinogradov and Reiter participated in European Space Agency science
experiments that test the cardiovascular system’s response to
microgravity for long durations.

The next station status report will be issued after the STS-115
shuttle mission. The status of the ISS will be included in the
twice-daily shuttle mission status reports issued during STS-115. For
more about the crew’s activities and station sighting opportunities,