The crew of the International Space Station has held an emergency evacuation drill.
Last weekend Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and American astronaut Edward Lu acted out an accident prevention operation, the RIA Novosti correspondent quotes the Russian Mission Control as saying. The crewmen promptly put on pressure suits and took their seats in the Soyuz TMA-2 lifeboat, docked to the Russian ISS segment.
"The operation has to be mastered by all newcomers. None has had need of it but every crew must act it out," said the Mission Control.
In the past two weeks of flight, the 7th crew has been busy holding medical observations of themselves (adaptation to zero gravity) and staging research experiments. One was the observation of second-generation pea seeds earlier grown by their predecessors.
The crewmen have almost no time for research, stressed the center. "They have to keep the life-support systems going. The 180-ton ISS has almost 450 cubic meters of 'living floorspace' and its solar batteries are about 900 square meters in area. All this has to be kept under close and technically wise observation. To say nothing of maintaining safe navigation in adjacent space, where the wreckage of earlier destroyed spacecraft which had outlived their service life /space garbage/ can be met. A collision with space debris, flying at about 8 kilometers a second, is dangerous," said the control center.
This crew will stay in the ISS station till late October, said the Russian Mission Control.