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Friday, 3 November, 2000, 14:57 GMT
Space crew get down to work
Yuri Gidzenko opens the hatch into the ISS
The first, long-term residents of the International Space Station (ISS) got down to work a day after they celebrated boarding their new home.

US astronaut William Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko were spending Friday preparing the platform's air-cleaning system and switching on some of the on-board computers. Battery repairs were also scheduled.

However flight controllers were keeping the crew's workload light to start with.

"At first, the spacemen need time for adaptation," a spokesman for Russia's space authorities told the news agency Itar-Tass. He added that four months on board the platform would give the men "ample opportunities to work hard".

Call sign Alpha

Shepherd, Krikalev and Gidzenko entered the ISS at about 1100 GMT on Thursday, shortly after their Soyuz capsule had docked with the station's Zvezda module.

"It's a great moment for all of us," said Shepherd, the station's commander, as the crew took occupancy of their new home.

747 AP
Discovery was forced to land in California
According to the Russian mission control centre, the orbital altitude of the International Space Station, which is temporarily carrying the radio call sign Alpha, is between 403 and 379 kilometres.

As the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the ISS to deliver the crew on Thursday, the overall weight of the station reached slightly more than 70 tonnes.

ISS 'lifeboat'

When complete in 2006, the multi-billion-dollar space station will weigh about 450 tonnes and measure about 100 metres in length.

The US space shuttle Discovery which last month returned to Earth after its construction mission to the ISS took another trip across America on Friday.

The orbiter was forced by bad weather at the end of the mission to land at the Edwards Air Force Base in California and was being returned to base in Florida riding piggyback aboard a Boeing 747.

The American space agency Nasa also said the latest test of the ISS "lifeboat" had gone extremely well.

The unmanned X-38 vehicle was released from the wing of a B52 bomber about 12,000 metres (40,000 feet) over the Mojave Desert. The prototype vehicle glided smoothly to the ground using a large parafoil.

X-38 AP
The ISS 'lifeboat' passed its latest test flight

See also:

25 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Shuttle lands in California
02 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Crew enters historic home
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