Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) could have more time for scientific research, despite fewer crewmembers and NASA's ongoing difficulty in deciding when to restart shuttle launches. But there's still the problem of getting experiments and equipment into space.
"The difficulty now is in designing experiments that have merit but fit the constraints of volume and mass of the Soyuz supply craft," said Neal Pellis, NASA's program scientist for the ISS.
The grounding of the space shuttle fleet after the loss of Columbia has halted construction on the ISS and reduced the number of station service missions, both of which take up large blocks of work time that could otherwise be used for scientific research, Pellis said.
There are currently two crewmembers aboard the space station, NASA's Edward Lu and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, instead of the typical three-person crew. Until NASA resumes its shuttle flights, the Russian Soyuz...