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11-27-2009
November 27, 2009
ISS On-Orbit Status 11/27/09

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below.

STS-129/Atlantis (ISS-ULF3) returned to Earth on the first opportunity, landing at KSC at 9:45am EDT (wheel stop) after 171 orbits and 4,490,138 stat.mi. [During the flight, Atlantis delivered two EXPRESS Logistics Carriers, ELC1 & ELC2, loaded with ISS spares, and returned Expedition 21 crewmember Nicole Stott to Earth. Expedition 22 began with five crewmembers, among them one American, Jeff Williams, as new station commander. Atlantis’ mission included three spacewalks and joint operation by the Shuttle and ISS robotic manipulator arms.]

FE-1 Suraev 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-1 again inspects the filters tonight at bedtime, currently a daily requirement per plan, with photographs to be taken if the filter packing is discolored.]

Williams, Romanenko, Thirsk & De Winne began the day with the periodic before-breakfast session of the Russian biomedical routine assessment PZEh-MO-8/Body Mass Measurement using the IM mass measurement device. Roman set up the IM and later stowed it away again. [For determining body mass in zero-G, where things are weightless but not massless, the Russian IM "scales" for MO-8 measure the inertial forces that arise during the oscillatory motion of a mass driven by two helical metering springs with known spring constants. By measuring the time period of each oscillation of the unknown mass (the crewmember) and comparing it to the period of a known mass, the crewmember’s mass is calculated by the computer and displayed.].

In preparation for Soyuz 19S undocking next Monday, Romanenko & De Winne spent an hour in the TMA-15 Descent Module (SA) supporting a ground-commanded checkout of the Soyuz motion control system (SUD, Mode 2/“Docked”) which included pressurization of the Combined Propulsion System (KDU) Section 2 and Tank 2, a test of the pilot’s translational hand controller (RUD), and a hot firing of the DPO braking thrusters (3:32am-3:50am EST). DPO lateral thrusters were not fired. [For the test, station attitude was handed over to Russian thruster control at 3:20am, commanded to free drift at 3:32pm, then back to LVLH XVV (Local Vertical Local Horizontal/x-axis in velocity vector) attitude. The one-minute firing started on Daily Orbit 1 at ~3:35am during an RGS (Russian Groundsite) pass. Attitude control was returned to the USOS (U.S. Segment) at 4:25am.]

Prior to the handover US to RS for the thruster test, the FE-5 closed the protective shutters of the Lab & Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module) science windows. They remained closed until attitude control authority had returned to US CMG momentum management.

After yesterday’s review of Soyuz TMA-15 descent procedures, Romanenko, De Winne & Thirsk spent three hours in the spacecraft’s SA Descent Module to conduct the Soyuz descent drill, a standard training exercise for every crew returning on a Soyuz. The exercise, which strictly forbids any command activation (except for switching the InPU display), was supported by a tagup and discussions with ground instructor at TsUP/Moscow via S-band. [The session includes a review of the pertinent ODFs (operational data files), specifically the books on Soyuz Ascent & Descent Procedures, Emergency Descents, and Off-Nominal Situations, crew responsibilities when executing the flight program, visual crew recognition of SUS (Entry Control System) failures, spacesuit procedures, etc., with special emphasis on operations with the Neptune-ME cockpit console. The training uses a Descent Simulator application on the RSK1 laptop. During the actual descent, Romanenko, as Soyuz CDR, will occupy the middle couch, with Thirsk in the right seat and De Winne in the Descent Module’s left Kazbek couch. Pending the final State Commission decision at about 3.5h before undocking, 19S return is expected for 12/1 (next Tuesday), with undocking at 10:56m EST on 11/30 and landing at ~2:16am (1:16m Kazakhstan time). See below for details.]

To get physically ready for his return to gravity next week, Romanenko completed his fourth preparatory (shortened) orthostatic hemodynamic endurance test session with the Russian Chibis suit, conducting the MedOps MO-4 exercise protocol in the below-the-waist reduced-pressure device (ODNT, US: LBNP/Lower Body Negative Pressure) on the TVIS treadmill. With Suraev acting as CMO (Crew Medical Officer), Roman was supported in his 55-min session by ground specialist tagup via VHF at 6:36am on DO3. There will be one more run. [The Chibis provides gravity-simulating stress to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system for evaluation of Romanenko’s orthostatic tolerance (e.g., the Gauer-Henry reflex) after his long-term stay in zero-G. Data output includes blood pressure readings. The preparatory training generally consists of first imbibing 150-200 milliliters of water or juice, followed by one cycle of a sequence of progressive regimes of reduced (“negative”) pressure, set at -25, -30, -35 and -40 mmHg for five min. each, while shifting from foot to foot at 10-12 steps per minute, while wearing a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure. The body’s circulatory system interprets the pressure differential between upper and lower body as a gravity-like force pulling the blood (and other liquids) down. Chibis data and biomed cardiovascular readings are recorded. The Chibis suit (not to be confused with the Russian “Pinguin” suit for spring-loaded body compression, or the "Kentavr" anti-g suit worn during reentry) is similar to the U.S. LBNP facility (not a suit) used for the first time on Skylab in 1973/74, although it appears to accomplish its purpose more quickly.]

After temporarily moving the ALTEA (Anomalous Long Term Effects on Astronauts) dosimeter unit out of the way as required to allow access to the OGS (Oxygen Generator System) rack, Jeff Williams installed the WDS (Water Delivery System) on the face of the rack in the Lab (loc. P1). Afterwards, ALTEA was restored to nominal operation. [Because the water balance situation has improved significantly over the last several days, Jeff did not have to connect the WDS to any water users, i.e., OGS, PWD (Potable Water Dispenser) or WHC (Waste & Hygiene Compartment). Since projections indicate that WDS usage will be required after the arrival of the Expedition 22 crew, today’s installation was a get-ahead for that timeframe (starting on 12/23).]

In the Kibo JPM, Jeff Williams serviced the JAXA experiment CERISE, today conducting the second sample collection and observation. [Activities included retrieving MEUs A (Measurement Experiment Units A) containing CERISE sample holders from CBEF IUs (Cell Biology Experiment Facility Incubation Units, Micro-G and 1G) plus MECBs (Measurement Experiment Culture Bags) from the MEUs and conducting sample observation using the CB (Clean Bench) microscope. The CBHs (Culture Bag Holders) were later placed into the MELFI (Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS) for return on Flight 20A. The CB, a subrack of the Saibo (“living cell”) Rack, provides a germ-free environment for life science and biotechnological experiments. It has a specially designed microscope that operates with bright-field, phase-contrast and fluorescence modes. RNA interference and protein phosphorylation in space environment using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (CERISE) is an experiment that addresses two scientific objectives: to evaluate the effect of micro-G on RNA (ribonucleic acid) interference, and to study how the space environment affects the protein phosphorylation (addition of a phosphate molecule) and signal transduction in the muscle fibers of gene knock-downed Caenorhabditis elegans.]

Bob Thirsk, also in the Kibo laboratory, worked on the new DECLIC payload (Device for the Study of Critical Liquids & Crystallization) in ER-4 (EXPRESS Rack 4), removing the HTI (High-Temperature Insert) and replacing it with the DSI (Directional Solidification Insert). [The French (CNES)/NASA-sponsored DECLIC, taking up two lockers, is a multi-user facility to investigate low & high temperature critical fluids behavior, chemical reactivity in supercritical water, directional solidification of transparent alloys, and more generally transparent media under micro-gravity environment. DECLIC uses the standard infrastructure offered by the ER-4 rack. Typical experiments for DECLIC include fluids (CO2, SF6) close to their near ambient critical point engineered in a dedicated insert (ALI), directional solidification of transparent materials (succinonitrile alloy) engineered in the dedicated DSI insert, high temperature, and high pressure critical fluids (H2O, NH3, etc.) engineered in the dedicated HTI insert. DECLIC is designed for remote science control, commonly called "Telescience". Operation capabilities offer scientists the possibility to remotely visualize and modify their selected experiment conditions in the ISS from User Home Base through the CADMOS User Support & Operation Centre.]

The FE-4 replaced the Scopemeter pressure probe of the ISA (Internal Sampling Adapter) with a new unit, since the previous probe (#1525) had exceeded its calibration date. Thirsk then used the ISA for another 45-min leak check on PMA-3 (Pressurized Mating Adapter 3).

Maxim Suraev performed several hours of testing & checkout of the Russian “Istochnik-M” (source, spring) telemetry reception & recording (SPR TMI) system in the SM (Service Module), which enables the ISS to receive telemetry from descending Soyuz spacecraft and record it on the Istochnik-M telemetry system. [With the VHF ham radio turned off, the BR-9TsU telemetry system on the Soyuz TMA-15/19S was powered on, and the FSH3 spectrum analyzer was used to measure the input signal from the SM antenna. The equipment, including the Istochnik TM station, power amplifiers, power supply, USB software sticks and cables, will capture Soyuz data through the amateur (ham) radio antenna, and transfer it to a laptop display where the crew and the ground will be able to immediately tell if a good separation of the three modules occurred during Soyuz 19S descent operations].

On the Multifunction Indicator Panel (MPI) in the MRM2 “Poisk” module, Suraev tested the three emergency alarm buttons (rapid depress, fire, toxic air) to verify that the algorithm of the uploaded software patch indeed effectively masks the annunciations as intended.

Continuing the current round of RS ventilation system maintenance, Maxim also cleaned Group E fan screens in the SM (VPkhO, FS5, FS6, VP).

Williams conducted the regular weekly maintenance on the TVIS (Treadmill with Vibration Isolation & Stabilization), primarily inspecting the condition of the SLDs (Subject Loading Devices), SLD cables and SPDs (Subject Positioning Devices), lubricating as required, plus recording time & date values.

Jeff also completed the monthly inspection of the COLBERT treadmill system (T2), checking out its components.

Using the electronic Velocicalc instrument, Bob Thirsk performed the periodic checking up on THC IMV (Temperature & Humidity Control / Intermodule Ventilation) performance, taking post-ULF3 airflow measurements between the Russian & US segments.

At ~6:30am EST, Bob had his periodic PMC (Private Medical Conference), via S- & Ku-band audio/video.

Frank De Winne filled out another weekly FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire) on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer). [On the FFQs, NASA astronauts keep a personalized log of their nutritional intake over time on special MEC software. Recorded are the amounts consumed during the past week of such food items as beverages, cereals, grains, eggs, breads, snacks, sweets, fruit, beans, soup, vegetables, dairy, fish, meat, chicken, sauces & spreads, and vitamins. The FFQ is performed once a week to estimate nutrient intake from the previous week and to give recommendations to ground specialists that help maintain optimal crew health. Weekly estimation has been verified to be reliable enough that nutrients do not need to be tracked daily.]

The FE-1 did the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM. [Regular daily SOZh maintenance consists, among else, of checking the ASU toilet facilities, replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers and replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers.]

Suraev 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).

Roman, Bob & Frank again had an hour each set aside for regular crew departure preparations, working on the standard end-of-increment cleanup preparatory to their return to Earth on 12/1. [It is usual for crewmembers to be granted reduced workdays for making their departure preparations, as their return date approaches.]

At ~3:55am EST, the crew held the regular (nominally weekly) tagup with the Russian Flight Control Team (GOGU), including Shift Flight Director (SRP), at TsUP via S-band/audio, phone-patched from Houston and Moscow.

At ~4:50am, with Roman assisting, Frank De Winn was interviewed by a reporter, Gary Jonston, from “Russia Today”. [“Russia Today” is the first Russian 24-hr news TV channel broadcasting in English. It started programming in 2005 and covers politics, business, social life, culture, sports and science. It can be received on all continents except South America.]

At ~5:40am, Maxim linked up with TsUP/Moscow stowage specialists via S-band to conduct the weekly IMS tagup, discussing inventory & stowage issues, equipment locations and cargo transfers.

At ~6:10am, De Winne conducted a tagup with the ESA staff at Col-CC (Columbus Control Center) at Oberpfaffenhofen/Germany. [This conference is scheduled once every week, between ISS crewmembers and Col-CC via S/G2 (Space-to-Ground 2) audio.]

The crew performed their regular 2-hr physical exercise on the CEVIS cycle ergometer (FE-5), TVIS treadmill (FE-1, FE-3/ODNT), ARED advanced resistive exerciser (CDR, FE-1, FE-4, FE-5), and T2 treadmill (CDR, FE-4).

Afterwards, Jeff transferred the exercise data files to the MEC 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).

Conjunction Alert: NASA FCT (Flight Control Team) is working two conjunctions of the ISS, one with a Delta rocket body (Object 25619), the second with HitchHiker 1 (Object 614). TCA (Time of Closest Approach) for 25619 is tomorrow evening (Saturday) at 6:05:36pm EST, with a radial miss distance of less than 100 m (overall spacing ~4.6 km) and PC (Probability of Collision) of ~1/74000, which puts it in the Red Zone. A DAM (Debris Avoidance Maneuver) is in preparation, to be executed tomorrow at 2:15pm EST (last Go/No Go decision: 00:35am). The second object, #614, has a TCA of 10:05am on 11/30 (Monday) but would “go away” if the DAM for 25619 is performed as currently planned.

Soyuz TMA-15/19S Descent Timeline Overview:
If everything is nominal, the return to Earth of the TMA-15 spacecraft during Monday night will proceed along the following approximate event sequence (all times EST):
  • ISS attitude control handover to RS --- 9:00pm (11/30);
  • ISS in free drift for FGB hooks open --- 9:19pm;
  • ISS to free drift for undocking --- 10:52pm
  • Hooks Open command (DO15) --- 10:53pm;
  • Separation springs action/physical sep (delta-V ~0.12 m/sec) --- 10:56pm;
  • Separation burn #1 (15 sec, ~0.543 m/sec) --- 10:59pm;
  • ISS attitude control handover to US --- 23:51pm;
  • Deorbit Burn start (delta-V 115.2 m/sec) --- 1:25:28am (12/1);
  • Deorbit Burn complete --- 1:29:53am;
  • Tri-Module separation (140.0 km) --- 1:49:34am;
  • Atmospheric entry (101.9 km, with ~170 m/sec) --- 1:52:30am;
  • Max G-load (41.1 km alt) --- 1:58:07am;
  • Parachute deploy command (10.7 km alt) --- 2:00:55am;
  • 19S Landing (DO1) --- 2:16am EST; 10:16am Moscow DMT; 1:16pm local Kazakhstan;
  • Local Sunset --- 6:28am (5:28pm local).
[Note: Kazakhstan time = GMT+6h; = EST+11h. Moscow DMT = EST+8h.]

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

ISS Orbit (as of this noon, 12:49pm EST [= epoch])
Mean altitude – 341.4 km
Apogee height – 346.5 km
Perigee height – 336.4 km
Period -- 91.36 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- 51.65 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0007496
Solar Beta Angle -- -52.5 deg (magnitude peaking)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.76
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 135 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) -- 63172

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
11/30/09 – Soyuz TMA-15/19S undock – 10:56m
12/01/09 -- Soyuz TMA-15/19S land – 2:16am (Kazakhstan: 1:16pm)
11/30-12/23 ---> two-member crew
12/07/09 -- Progress M-MRM2 (Poisk) PAO (Propulsion/Service Module) jettison – 7:16pm
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 (~6:30am EST)
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 (~1:30pm EST)
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 (~2:00pm EST)
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) (~7:30am EST)
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, PMM) (~12:01pm EST)
09/18/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PMM) docking
09/22/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PMM) 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