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11-18-2009
November 18, 2009
ISS On-Orbit Status 11/18/09

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Flight Day 3 of STS-129/ULF3.

Crew sleep cycle: Wake 4:30am, Sleep 8:00pm EST.

STS-129/Atlantis docked smoothly at the ISS PMA-2 (Pressurized Mating Adapter-2) port at 11:51am EST, five minutes ahead of timeline, after successfully completing the RPM (R-Bar Pitch Maneuver) and arriving at +V-Bar (310 ft straight in front of ISS) at few minutes later. The station now hosts twelve occupants as Mission ULF3 is underway. [The combined crew is comprised of ISS-CDR Frank De Winne (Belgium), FE-1 Maxim Suraev (Russia), FE-2 Nicole Stott (USA), FE-3 Roman Romanenko (Russia), FE-4 Bob Thirsk (Canada), FE-5 Jeff Williams (USA), STS-CDR Charlie “Scorch” Hobaugh, PLT Barry “Butch” Wilmore, MS1 Leland Melvin, MS2 Randy Bresnik, MS3 Mike Forman & MS4 Bobby Satcher. FE-2/MS5 Nicole Stott has joined the Shuttle crew for her flight home.]

Hook closure to rigidize the Shuttle-ISS linkup was at 11:51am. After the docking, the station was reoriented as planned to minimize the risk of micrometeoroid/debris impacts upon the Shuttle (-XVV = -x-axis in velocity vector, +z-axis in local vertical). [Earlier, at 10:15am-10:25am, the ISS maneuvered to docking attitude after attitude control authority was handed over from USOS (US Segment) to RS MCS (Russian Segment Motion Control System) at ~10:05am. Control returned to US Momentum Management at ~1:10pm.]

With MS1 Leland Melvin & MS2 Randy Bresnik operating the Shuttle RMS (Remote Manipulator System) and PLT Barry Wilmore & FE-5 Jeff Williams on the Canadian SSRMS (Space Station RMS), ELC1, the first of two ExPRESS Logistics Carriers, was lifted out of the Atlantis PLB (Payload Bay) at 2:52pm EST and transferred to the ISS where FE-2 Stott supervised its installation on the UCCAS 2 (Unpressurized Cargo Carrier Attachment System #2) on the P3 (port side) segment of the main truss. The mating was accomplished at 4:34pm.
[Pre-positioned spares carried on ELC1 are:
  • 1 BCDU (Battery Charge/Discharge Unit),
  • 1 CMG (Control Moment Gyro),
  • 1 NTA (Nitrogen Tank Assembly),
  • 1 PM (Pump Module),
  • 1 ATA (Ammonia Tank Assembly),
  • 1 PCU (Plasma Contactor Unit,
  • 1 LEE (Latching End Effector).
  • plus two empty sites for future payloads.]

Preparatory to the Shuttle arrival, FE-5 Williams verified closure of the Lab & Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module) science window shutters against thruster plumes. [The shutters must remain closed when Shuttle is within 3000 ft/915m of the ISS. It may be opened for no more than 15 minutes for photo documentation if the Shuttle is in free drift.]

Before the docking, FE-3 Romanenko performed final STTS communications configuration checks for the docking. Upon docking, Roman switched USOS/RS comm systems to their mated-flight mode.

FE-1 Suraev meanwhile configured the Russian TEKh-15/DAKON-M IZGIB (“Bend”) experiment hardware in the SM (Service Module), then activated & tested the hardware for taking structural dynamics data during the docking activities. [IZGIB has the objective to help update mathematical models of the ISS gravitation environment, using accelerometers of the Russian SBI Onboard Measurement System, the GIVUS high-accuracy angular rate vector gyrometer of the SUDN Motion Control & Navigation System and other accelerometers for unattended measurement of micro-accelerations at science hardware accommodation locations - (1) in operation of onboard equipment having rotating parts (gyrodynes, fans), (2) when establishing and keeping various ISS attitude modes, and (3) when performing crew egresses into space and physical exercises.]

Other pre-docking preparations by the ISS crew included:
  • Stott & Williams readying their RPM photo equipment, including camera battery checks, for Orbiter TPS (Thermal Protection System) documentation,
  • Williams checking the proper hook-up of the UOP DCP (Utility Outlet Panel/Display & Control Panel) power bypass cable at the CUP RWS (Cupola Robotic Work Station) for video coverage of the Shuttle’s approach & docking with the SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System) cameras,
  • Thirsk preparing his photo/video equipment for documenting approach & docking activities,
  • Powering up the PCS (Portable Computer System) CUP RWS & Airlock A31p laptops and swapping out tapes in the VDS VTR (Video Distribution Subsystem/Video Tape Recorder),
  • Configuring & later activating the camera timers upon Orbiter RPM initiation and handling the camcorder (the timers indicate beginning & end of the bottom-side photography window), plus
  • Configuring proper headset connection for supporting the RPM activity (which resulted in several hundred pictures of the Orbiter bottom TPS).

During the RPM photo session (11:00am-11:15am), Nicole wielded the 400mm-lens D2X camera (replacing the earlier DCS-760), Jeff the 800mm-lens D2X for documenting the tile acreage & bottom-side door seals). [The RPM was used by the crew for the bottom-side mapping of the Orbiter at the arrival of the Shuttle. During the RPM at ~600 ft from the station, the two “shooters”, had only ~90 seconds (out of the total 9 min of imaging) for taking high-resolution digital photographs of all tile areas and door seals on Atlantis, which Nicole prepared for downlinking after completion of the “shoot” at ~11:20am for launch damage assessment. Thus, time available for the shooting was very limited, requiring great coordination between the two headset-equipped photographers and the Shuttle pilot.]

Shortly before the docking, CDR De Winne configured the Russian MCS (Motion Control System) for the automatic “PMA-2 Arrival” mode, an operational sequence used to monitor Orbiter arrival at the PMA-2. [At “Capture Confirmed”, ISS attitude was immediately set to free drift for about 27 min. to allow dampening out relative motions of ISS and Atlantis (with the ODS (Orbiter Docking System) dampers/shock absorbers), then maneuvered to “Mated TEA” (Torque Equilibrium Attitude) to account for the new overall configuration with Atlantis docked.]

Docking took place at 11:51am. After leak checks of the ODS vestibule for about an hour, ISS/STS hatches were opened at 1:30pm.

After hatch opening, before installation of the ventilation airduct between station and Atlantis, Romanenko performed the standard collection of air samples with the Russian AK-1M sampler in the SM, FGB, Lab, and then also in the Orbiter.

After the traditional welcome ceremony (~1:50pm), the new arrivals received the mandatory 25-min. Safety briefing.

CDR Hobaugh set up the equipment for transferring N2 (nitrogen) to the Shuttle, followed by CDR De Winne & “Scorch” Hobaugh configuring the Node-2 O2 (oxygen) supply line, purging it with N2 and setting it up to allow the Shuttle to supply O2 to the ISS PBAs (Portable Breathing Apparatus) in support of pre-EVA mask prebreathe for denitrogenation.

Also after the docking, FE-1 Suraev terminated the run of the TEKh-15/DAKON-M IZGIB (“Bend”) experiment hardware, copied BUSD (Control & Data Gathering Unit) archive data to a USB-Flash, adjusted the BUSD clock and closed down the experiment.

In addition, Maxim pulled out Nicole Stott’s IELK (Individual Equipment & Liner Kit, Russian: USIL) out of Soyuz TMA-16/20S and transferred it to the JPM (JEM Pressurized Module). [When returning the Soyuz with 2 crewmembers, a balancing mechanism has to be installed in the third seat that is not compatible with the seat liner. Therefore, the seat liner needed to be removed in order to prepare the Soyuz for emergency return.]

Earlier today, after wakeup (~4:30am EST), Roman Romanenko did the regular daily early-morning check of the aerosol filters at the Russian Elektron O2 generator which Suraev had installed on 10/19 in gaps between the BZh Liquid Unit and the oxygen outlet pipe (filter FA-K) plus hydrogen outlet pipe (filter FA-V). [FE-3 again inspects the filters tonight at bedtime, currently a daily requirement per plan, with photographs to be taken if the filter packing is discolored.]

De Winne, Stott, Thirsk & Williams continued the current week-long session of the experiment SLEEP (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight), donning their Actiwatches, from which to log data to the HRF-1 (Human Research Facility 1) laptop. [To monitor the crewmembers’ sleep/wake patterns and light exposure, the crewmembers sometimes wear a special Actiwatch device which measures the light levels encountered by them as well as their patterns of sleep and activity throughout the Expedition and use the payload software for data logging and filling in questionnaire entries in the experiment’s laptop session file on the HRF-1 laptop. The log entries are done within 15 minutes of final awakening for seven consecutive days.]

Afterwards, Suraev performed the periodic inspection of the SRV-K2M Condensate Water Processor’s sediment trap insert. [The Russian SRVK-2M converts collected condensate into drinking water and dispenses the reclaimed potable water].

The FE-1 also conducted the periodic photography of the running BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 ("Plants-2") experiment in the SM, using the NIKON D2X with f17-55mm lens to shoot 2-3 pictures of the growing plants in the LADA greenhouse for subsequent downlink [Rasteniya-2, set up on 10/29 with a new batch of seeds, researches growth and development of plants under spaceflight conditions in the LADA-16 greenhouse from IBMP (Institute of Bio-Medical Problems, Russian: IMBP), currently planted with Mizuna seeds. Mizuna (Brassica rapa nipposinica) is a tasty variety of Japanese mustard greens, also known as California Peppergrass, eaten as a salad.]

Roman Romanenko used the CMS (Countermeasure System), a component of the SKDS GANK-4M suite, to perform the standard check on the SM cabin air, today looking for Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Chloride and Hydrogen Cyanide. [CMS uses preprogrammed microchips to measure for numerous contaminants such as O-Xylol (1,2-Dimethylbenzol, C8H10), Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), Formaldehyde, Isopropanol, Methanol, Toluene, Mercaptan, Sulphur dioxide, Hydrogen Cyanide, Phosgene, etc.],

The FE-4 started (later terminated) another 5-hr automatic sampling run, the 46th, with the EHS GC/DMS (Environmental Health System Gas Chromatograph/Differential Mobility Spectrometer), also known as AQM (Air Quality Monitor), controlled with “Sionex” expert software from the SSC-4 (Station Support Computer 4) laptop. [The AQM demonstrates COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) technology for identifying volatile organic compounds, similar to the VOA (Volatile Organics Analyzer). Today’s data will again to be compared with VOA and GSC (Grab Sample Container) measurements. This evaluation will continue over the course of several months as it helps to eventually certify the GC/DMS as nominal CHeCS (Crew Health Care Systems) hardware.]

In the Lab, Bob Thirsk installed the new CSI-03 (CGBA Science Insert 03) assembly in the CGBA (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus) payload. [CSI-03 is flying two butterfly habitats during this mission. The first contains four Vanessa cardui (commonly known as the Painted Lady butterfly) larvae which were six days old at the time of launch. The second habitat contains three Danaus plexippus (commonly known as the Monarch butterfly) larvae which are early in the 4th instar development stage. Approximately seven days after launch, both types of larvae should begin to pupate (pupa stage) where they remain in the chrysalis for seven to ten days. After the pupa stage, they will emerge as butterflies.]

Later, the FE-4 performed the periodic status & screen check on the running payload CGBA-5 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus), located in the ER-2 (EXPRESS Rack 2).

Maxim Suraev completed the periodic checkout & performance verification of IP-1 airflow sensors in the various RS hatchways. [Skipping the Soyuz hatch to DC1, inspected IP-1s are in the passageways PrK (SM Transfer Tunnel)–RO (SM Working Compartment), PkhO (SM Transfer Compartment)–RO, PkhO–DC1, PkhO–FGB PGO, FGB PGO–FGB GA, and FGB GA–Node-1.]

Roman continued the extended leak integrity checking of the spare BZh Liquid Unit (#056) for the Elektron O2 generator, recharged on 10/22 with nitrogen (N2) to 1 atm (1 kg/cm2), by conducting the usual pressure check and repressing to verify the unit’s hermeticity. [Objective of the monthly checkout of the spare BZh, which has been in stowage since March 2007, is to check for leakage and good water passage through the feed line inside of the BZh (from ZL1 connector to the buffer tank) and to check the response of the Electronics Unit’s micro switches (signaling “Buffer Tank is Empty” & “Buffer Tank is Full”. During Elektron operation, the inert gas locked up in the BZh has the purpose to prevent dangerous O2/H2 mixing. A leaking BZh cannot be used.]

Afterwards, the FE-3 supported the ground-commanded activation of the Elektron by monitoring the external temperature of its secondary purification unit (BD) for the first 10 minutes of operations to ensure that there was no overheating. [The gas analyzer used on the Elektron during nominal operations for detecting hydrogen (H2) in the O2 line (which could cause overheating) is not included in the control algorithm until 10 minutes after Elektron startup. Elektron had been turned off for Shuttle docking.]

Romanenko also conducted the periodic transfer of U.S. condensate water from CWCs (Collapsible Water Containers) to the RS for the periodic (about twice a month) replenishing of the Elektron’s water supply for electrolysis, filling the designated KOV EDV container. Once filled, the EDV was connected to the BPK transfer pump for processing through the BKO water purification (multifiltration) unit. [The 40-minute procedure is specially designed to prevent air bubbles larger than ~10 mm from getting into the BZh Liquid Unit where they could cause Elektron shutdown. BKO contains five purification columns to rid the condensate of dissolved mineral and organic impurities. It has a service lifetime of ~450 liters throughput. The water needs to be purified for proper electrolysis in the Elektron O2 generator.]

In the SM, the FE-3 completed the routine maintenance of the SOZh/ECLSS system, including ASU toilet facilities systems/replaceables. [Regular daily SOZh maintenance consists of replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers, replacement of an EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine container, and processing U.S. condensate water as it becomes available in a filled CWC from the Lab humidifier.]

Roman also performed the daily IMS (Inventory Management System) maintenance, updating/editing its standard “delta file” including stowage locations, for the regular weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur).

Using the ER 2 (EXPRESS Rack 2) laptop in the Lab, Jeff loaded ABRS (Advanced Biology Research Facility) software from a CD-ROM.

Bob Thirsk configured the ALTEA-DOSI (Anomalous Long Term Effects on Astronauts Dosimetry) equipment and activated it for dosimetry data collection.

After completing, earlier in the day, A/L EL (Airlock Equipment Lock) configuration for the first spacewalk tomorrow and conducting a joint review of EVA-1 timeline & procedures with all crewmembers tonight at ~4:25pm-5:25pm, the two spacewalkers, Mike Forman (EV1) & Bobby Satcher (EV2), began their “campout” in the “Quest” A/L, starting mask prebreathe with Nicole assisting, while configuring EVA tools, then closing hatches and initiating depressurization of the CL (Crewlock) from 14.7 to 10.2 psi. Sleep for them and the ISS crew commenced at 8:00pm, for the Shuttle crew at ~8:30pm. [The overnight Campout (nachalo desaturatsiy = desaturation start) in the A/L CL (Crewlock) for denitrogenation/pre-breathe at 10.2 psi lasts about 8.5 hrs. Before, the two spacewalkers will perform PBA (Portable Breathing Apparatus) mask prebreathe for denitrogenation, while readying their tools & equipment, then depress the CL from 14.7 to 10.2 psi for their sleep period, to last until ~4:30am ES tomorrow. The CL hatch will then be cracked (i.e., temporarily repressurized) for a hygiene break/with mask prebreathe for Forman & Satcher. Around 6:15am, the hatch will be closed again for EVA preps in 10.2 psi, followed by EMU purge & prebreathe. Afterwards, Stott & Wilmore will support CL depressurization until egress.]

EVA-1, beginning tomorrow nominally at ~9:25am EST, will last an estimated 6h 20min, i.e., ending at 3:45pm.
---EVA-1 main objectives are:
  • Transfer SASA (S-Band Antenna Support Assembly) from PLB (Payload Bay) to the Z1 truss for installation,
  • Lubricate POA (Payload ORU Attachment) & JEM RMS (Robotic Manipulator System),
  • Install NH3 BRKT (Ammonia Bracket) on Node-1 handrail,
  • Install Node-1-to-FGB LAN (Local Area Network) cable/MMOD Shield,
  • Install & route SGANT (Space-to-Ground Antenna) cable (TSA to Z1), and
  • Troubleshoot the S01/4 avionics cable.

Earlier today, the ISS crew performed their regular 2-hr physical exercise on the CEVIS cycle ergometer (FE-2, FE-4), TVIS treadmill (FE-1, FE-3), ARED advanced resistive exerciser (CDR, FE-2, FE-5), T2 treadmill (CDR, FE-4, FE-5) and VELO cycle ergometer with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1, FE-3).

Afterwards, Thirsk transferred the exercise data files to the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) for downlink, including the daily wristband HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) data of the workouts on ARED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).

At ~7:50pm EST, just before sleep time, Romanenko will set up the Russian MBI-12 SONOKARD payload and start his 12h experiment session, using a sports shirt from the SONOKARD kit with a special device in the pocket for testing a new method for acquiring physiological data without using direct contact on the skin. Measurements are recorded on a data card for return to Earth. [SONOKARD objectives are stated to (1) study the feasibility of obtaining the maximum of data through computer processing of records obtained overnight, (2) systematically record the crewmember’s physiological functions during sleep, (3) study the feasibility of obtaining real-time crew health data. Investigators believe that contactless acquisition of cardiorespiratory data over the night period could serve as a basis for developing efficient criteria for evaluating and predicting adaptive capability of human body in long-duration space flight.]

No CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today.

ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 3:41am EST [= epoch])
Mean altitude – 340.4 km
Apogee height – 344.5 km
Perigee height – 336.3 km
Period -- 91.34 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- 51.64 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0006116
Solar Beta Angle -- -8.6 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.76
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 131 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) -- 63024

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
11/25/09 -- STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3 undock – 4:57am
11/27/09 -- STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3 land/KSC – 9:47am
12/01/09 – Soyuz TMA-15/19S undock
12/01-12/23 ---> two-member crew
12/21/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S launch -- O. Kotov/S. Noguchi/T.J. Creamer
12/23/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S (FGB nadir)
01/20/10 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S relocation (from SM aft to MRM-2)
02/03/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P launch
02/04/10 -- STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 “Tranquility” + Cupola
02/05/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P docking
03/18/10 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S undock/landing
03/18/10 -- STS-131/Discovery/19A – MPLM(P), LMC
04/02/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S launch
04/27/10 -- Progress M-03M/35P undock
04/28/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P launch
04/30/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P docking
05/14/10 -- STS-132/Atlantis/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM-1
05/29/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P undock
05/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S launch
06/30/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P launch
07/02/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P docking
07/26/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P undock
07/27/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P launch
07/29/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P docking
07/29/10 -- STS-134/Endeavour (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS-02)
08/30/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P undock
08/31/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P launch
09/02/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P docking
09/16/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PLM)
09/18/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PLM) docking
09/22/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PLM) undock
09/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-20/24S launch
10/26/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P undock
10/27/10 -- Progress M-09M/41P launch
10/29/10 -- Progress M-09M/41P docking
11/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-21/25S launch
12/15/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P undock
02/08/11 -- Progress M-09M/41P undock
02/09/11 -- Progress M-10M/42P launch
02/11/11 -- Progress M-10M/42P docking
03/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-22/26S launch
xx/xx/11 – Progress M-11M/43P launch
05/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-23/27S launch
12/??/11 -- 3R Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) w/ERA – on Proton