Elektron working – German eyes on ISS

by Chris Bergin

The Elektron-VM oxygen generator on the International Space Station (ISS) is working again, following two previous attempts to re-start the equipment.

The ISS crew successfully activated the troublesome generator on the third attempt yesterday in 32 amp mode, after air bubbles were compressed out of the system.

At the time the information was sent on Thursday’s ISS On Orbit Status Report, the generator has not suffered a similar failure, as it did the previous time the system was activated.

That happened early last month when the system appeared to be running nominally on 24 amps. However, the generator then shut down for no apparent reason just hours later.

An issue with the power supply was suspected, as RSC-Energia performed troubleshooting, including a series of diagnostic system tests.

Since the arrival of Shuttle Discovery on STS-121, the ISS has returned to a three man crew. Discovery dropped off European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter for a six month stay on board the outpost.

It’s already been a busy start to his time on the ISS, as the German sets up experiments – including the new ESA experiment OEE (Oil Emulsion Experiment) – one of many that he’ll be conducting over the length of his stay.

Today even included a 20 minute live link to his native country to talk with German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, who praised his role on the station.

‘Space exerts not only a great fascination but also provides via scientific experiments great value, in particular for research in the health and medical sector,’ said Chancellor Merkel to Reiter, in what was an informal conversation between the two.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 13 crew, with focus on Reiter, took the standard 70-minute depress emergency OBT (on-board training) drill, with Russian and US specialists standing by at both control centers.

‘The rule is that the emergency egress exercise should be performed by every new station crew once within seven days after departure of the previous crew,’ noted the On Orbit status report. ‘Purpose of the drill is to familiarize the station residents with the stowage locations of emergency equipment and the position of valves used in emergency situations, to work through the Russian Segment (RS) deactivation procedures, and to develop crew emergency joint measures.

‘Crewmembers are to verify ISS readiness for emergency response by performing specific actions such as ascertaining the locations of emergency equipment, inspecting all translation paths to the Soyuz CRV and determining any obstructions that would hinder an emergency egress, inspecting all vehicle hatchways and determining if hatchways can be easily cleared in the event of an emergency.’

So busy is the German’s stay on the ISS, he even had one hour set aside in the schedule for ISS familiarization and adaptation, to help in adjusting to their new surroundings and activities.

He will return to Earth on Shuttle Discovery, STS-116, at the end of the year.

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