Russian launches to station delayed; shuttle affected
Posted: August 8, 2002

Launch of a new Russian Soyuz lifeboat to the international space station has been delayed a week, from Oct. 22 to Oct. 28, triggering a similar slip for a space shuttle flight currently targeted for launch Nov. 2. The Soyuz 5 delivery crew, which includes 'N Sync's Lance Bass, plans to remain aboard the station for 10 days, returning to Earth Nov. 7 aboard the Soyuz 4 vehicle currently docked at the station.

In other launch news, an unmanned Russian Progress supply ship, which had been scheduled for launch Sept. 10, has been delayed to Sept. 20.

NASA currently is gearing up to launch the shuttle Atlantis around Sept. 28 on a flight to deliver an outboard solar array truss segment to the station. Processing for that flight is running a bit behind schedule because of slower-than-expected work to repair cracks in a hydrogen fuel flow liner leading to main engine No. 1. While Sept. 28 remains the official target date, liftoff likely will slip a few days when all is said and done.

NASA had hoped to launch the shuttle Endeavour Nov. 2 on a mission to deliver a second outboard solar array truss segment. But flight rules forbid launching a shuttle while a Soyuz taxi mission is underway, so Endeavour's flight likely will slip to some point after the Soyuz undocks Nov. 7. As of this writing, however, a new target date has not been identified.

In the near term, the station's on-board crew - Expedition 5 commander Valery Korzun, Sergei Treschev and Peggy Whitson - is gearing up for two spacewalks Aug. 16 and 23.

The first excursion, space station EVA-7, will be carried out by Korzun and Whitson. The three primary tasks of the spacewalk are to A) install the first six of an eventual 17 debris shields on the hull of the Russian Zvezda command module to improve protection against micrometeoroid impacts; B) replace an experiment package "witness plate" bolted to the hull of the module that's designed to collect residue from thruster firings; and C) collect more samples of rocket plume residue on the opposite side of the module from the witness plate.

Korzun and Treschev then will stage EVA-8 on Aug. 23. The goals of this excursion are to install two additional ham radio antennas, spacewalk handrails and tether guides on the hull of the station, along with installation of another external experiment package.

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