11 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 9, 2000
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

The International Space Station (ISS) continues to orbit the Earth in good shape with no significant problems being worked by flight controllers in Houston and Moscow.

The focus of attention for the two flight control teams is preparation for the launch of Atlantis next month on the STS-101 mission, the first Shuttle flight to the ISS in almost a year. Six American astronauts and a veteran Russian cosmonaut will spend six days docked to the Station to conduct maintenance work on the Unity and Zarya modules and to transfer a ton of logistical supplies for use by the first resident crew which will occupy the ISS later this year.

Atlantis is nearing completion of processing for its first flight in a year and a half after undergoing significant upgrades. Rollover from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building is currently scheduled for no earlier than March 16. Launch remains targeted for the mid-April timeframe. Managers plan to discuss the launch date for Atlantis at the traditional Orbiter Rollout Review meeting, which will take place tomorrow.

Meanwhile, aboard the ISS, battery cycling on Zarya continues with power levels well within normal ranges to support mission activities. Currently, the Unity module power levels are 430 watts. Zaryaís Battery 1, which will be replaced during the STS-101 mission along with its associated electronics components, has been fully discharged, and will not be reactivated prior to the visit of Atlantisí crew members. Battery 2 remains off-line after a component called a Storage Battery Current Converter (PTAB in Cyrillic), which controls its charging and discharging capability, failed several weeks ago. That component will also be replaced during STS-101. Discussions continue between U.S. and Russian managers regarding battery management from now until the Shuttle maintenance mission.

Late Monday night, U.S. time, the ISS will be maneuvered by Russian flight controllers to simulate the ultimate orientation the Station will be in for Atlantisí docking next month. That will be followed by one final test of Zaryaís ìKursî system, the automatic docking system which will be used this summer when Zarya controls the final phase of the Stationís approach and docking to the Zvezda Service Module following its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Unityís power output will be lowered to eliminate any potential for radio frequency interference with the ìKursî system during the test.

The International Space Station is in an orbit of 235 by 226 statute miles. Since the launch of Zarya in November 1998, the ISS has completed more than 7,430 orbits.

Space Station viewing opportunities worldwide are available on the Internet at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/

NOTE: The next Mission Control Center status report updating on-orbit activities of the International Space Station will be issued on Thursday, March 16 or as events warrant. For further information, please contact the NASA Public Affairs Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 281-483-5111.