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Space station Alpha crew tackles false fire alarm

Discovery headed for Wednesday landing

Departing Alpha Commander Bill Shepherd shakes hands with
Departing Alpha Commander Bill Shepherd shakes hands with incoming Commander Yury Usachev in a ceremony marking the first crew change for space station Alpha  

In this story:

Shuttle bringing home Alpha's first crew

Weather could delay landing


JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas (CNN) -- Just hours after the space shuttle Discovery undocked and pulled away, the new crew of space station Alpha had its first emergency -- a false fire alarm.

At about 9:45 a.m. EST, the crew said it heard a fire alarm in the Destiny science laboratory. Flight engineer Susan Helms checked the lab, and saw no evidence of fire, said NASA spokeswoman Eileen Hawley at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"We heard the alarm, the emergency alarm," Alpha Commander Yury Usachev told Russian mission control. "There was no smoke, no smell of the smoke. It is obvious that this is a false alarm."


The crew reported a short time later that readings in Destiny had returned to normal.

After the alarm sounded, Usachev said the ventilation system shut down in the service module and the lab. Ventilation was quickly restored in the service module but remained off in the lab.

The crew also had problems finding their troubleshooting procedures. Computer problems prevented them for reading the manuals off their monitors and kept NASA from e-mailing them to the crew. They were told to locate hard copies.

By 11 a.m. EST, ground controllers told the crew they would take over the rest of the troubleshooting procedures and also would disable the fire alarm.

Alpha flight engineer Jim Voss offered Mission Control a possible explanation for the false alarm. He said that there had been lot of activity around the smoke detector that might have kicked up dust that set off the alarm.

Shuttle bringing home Alpha's first crew

Discovery undocked from Alpha at 11:32 p.m. Sunday as the spaceships glided 245 miles (394 km) above South America. The two craft had been docked almost eight days and 22 hours.

The undocking marked the end of 4 1/2 months aboard Alpha for Commander Bill Shepherd and his two Russian crewmates, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev.

"We have made Alpha come alive," Shepherd said in a departure ceremony before the hatches closed between Discovery and Alpha.

"Sail her well," Shepherd said. "I am ready to be relieved."

Usachev congratulated Shepherd and took the ship's log, a symbol of the change in command. The two men then shook hands.

Earlier Sunday, Discovery's astronauts reloaded the Italian built Leonardo cargo module into the shuttle's payload bay. The module had been attached to Alpha for offloading of 5 tons of experiments.

Reloading the module with trash and used equipment for return to Earth took longer than expected and NASA extended the shuttle mission by one day to give the crew more time for the chore.

Weather could delay landing

Discovery is to land at the Kennedy Space Center Wednesday at 12:56 a.m. EST. But Hawley said NASA was monitoring severe weather moving through Central Florida. She said the system is expected to move offshore before landing time, but there's a chance it could leave behind strong crosswinds at the shuttle landing facility.

Hawley said the weather looked good at the shuttle's main backup landing site, Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Alpha's returning skipper ready to get home
March 18, 2001
Astronauts boost space station, take out trash
March 17, 2001
Shuttle mission extended
March 16, 2001
Shuttle to stay docked to Alpha an extra day
March 15, 2001
Discovery dodges space junk
March 14, 2001
Second spacewalk done
March 13, 2001
Discovery delivers Leonardo
March 12, 2001

International space station

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