The main objective of the STS-106 flight was preparation of the Zvezda module for arrival of the first resident crew. That crew, Expedition Commander Bill Shepherd, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, will launch in a Soyuz capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in late October for a four-month mission aboard the ISS.
Dr. Edward Lu and Yuri Malenchenko conducted a 6½-hour space walk on the fourth day of the flight to hook up electrical, communications and telemetry cables between Zvezda and the Zarya Control Module. Lu and Malenchenko also installed a magnetometer to the exterior of Zvezda. The magnetometer serves as a three-dimensional compass designed to minimize Zvezda propellent usage by relaying information to the module's computers regarding its orientation relative to the Earth.
Scientific payloads included the Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA), Aria-1, National Institutes of Health-B1 and Space Experiment Module-8. CGBA experiments explore the ways biological processes are affected by microgravity and may allow researchers to better understand the nervous system. Scientists also plan to use the CGBA to investigate growing human tissue for use in surgical procedures such as skin grafts and organ transplants and in developing medicines.
Aria-1 was an educational project that gave elementary and high school students an opportunity to be involved in hands-on space science. Aria-1 was a joint project of the School of Engineering and Applied Science of Washington University in St. Louis and the Cooperating School Districts, an educational consortium of 47 school districts in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.
NIH.B1b investigated the effects of space flight on nervous system development and neuromuscular synapse formation in the embryos and larvae of Drosophila melanogaster, more commonly known as the fruit fly. This was the conclusion of the experiment started on STS-93.
Eye lenses, seeds, water, DNA, and steel were just some of the materials that were subjects of student research on the eighth flight of the Space Experiment Module (SEM) project. SEM is NASA's educational initiative to increase access to space for students from kindergarten to college. All together, 13 passive experiments were flown on STS-106.
Detailed Supplementary Objectives (DSOs) flown on STS-106 were Spaceflight and Immune Function, Eye Movements and Motion Perception Induced by Off-Vertical-Axis Rotation (OVAR) at Small Angles of Tilt After Space Flight, Individual Susceptibility to Postflight Orthostatic Intolerance (Tilt Test), and Monitoring Latent Virus Reactivation and Shedding in Astronauts Using Saliva Kits. A DSO is a NASA-sponsored investigation performed by Space Shuttle crewmembers, who serve as the test subjects. These studies are designed to require minimal crew time, power, and stowage. Biomedical DSOs focus on operational concerns, including space motion sickness, cardiovascular deconditioning, muscle loss, changes in coordination and balance strategies, radiation exposure, pharmacokinetics and changes in the body's biochemistry.
Development Test Objectives (DTOs) flown during this mission were Crosswind Landing Performance, SIGI Orbital Attitude Readiness, and Single-String Global Positioning System. A DTO is a NASA-sponsored investigation that is performed by Space Shuttle crewmembers to evaluate new hardware and procedures involving the orbiter, its subsystems, and its support equipment.
On the tenth day of flight, Atlantis undocked from the space station, and a fly-around was conducted of the newly expanded station to allow photo documentation of the outpost. Two days later, Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.