Jan. 5, 2007

Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston


HOUSTON - New gear helped the astronauts on the International Space
Station kick off a new year as they prepared a second
oxygen-generating system, upgraded soundproofing in the living
quarters and unpacked supplies delivered just before Christmas by the
space shuttle.

After a New Year’s Day holiday, station Expedition 14 Commander
Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Suni Williams spent most of
the week installing the U.S. oxygen generation system activation kit
in the Destiny laboratory. The parts had been delivered on shuttle
mission STS-121 in July 2006. The new generator will supplement the
Russian Elektron oxygen system on the station. The additional oxygen
generating capacity will be important as the standard station crew
size increases to six as the complex grows. In their work with the
new system this week, Lopez-Alegria and Williams installed a hydrogen
vent valve and power, data and fluid hoses and cables. The system
will be activated and tested later this year.

Meanwhile Expedition 14 Flight Engineer and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin
worked in the Russian segment of the station, where he upgraded
soundproofing of the ventilation system. Tyurin installed new fans,
sound-deadening vibration isolators and air ducts with acoustic
shields to reduce the noise they create.

This morning, Lopez-Alegria and Williams took time out from their work
to share their mission with a group of students in the fifth through
eighth grades from the Columbia Explorers Academy. From the Adler
Planetarium in Chicago the students asked the astronauts about living
in orbit and the goals of their mission.

Also this week, the crew finished unpacking and stowing supplies
delivered last month on shuttle mission STS-116, and they marked
milestones in two laboratory experiments. On Tuesday, Williams set up
the hardware for the Test of Reaction and Adaptation Capabilities, or
TRAC investigation. It is a NASA-sponsored experiment jointly managed
by scientists from Germany and Canada. Crew members’ hand and eye
coordination are tested before, during and after missions. For the
tests, subjects use a joystick to control a cursor on a computer
screen and respond to audio and visual stimuli. The experiment
gathers data about how, and to what extent, the brain adapts to

Crew members completed the final operations of a biological experiment
on the impact of varying levels of light and gravity on plant root
growth. The final images of samples in the European Modular
Cultivation System were taken and downlinked, and the samples were
stowed in a freezer for eventual return to Earth.

For more about the crew’s activities and station sighting
opportunities, visit: