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December 09, 2009
ISS On-Orbit Status 12/09/09

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

FE Suraev started out with the regular daily checkup of the aerosol filters at the Elektron O2 generator, installed by him 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). [Photographs are to be taken if the filter packing is discolored.]

CDR Williams continued his current week-long session of the experiment SLEEP (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight), logging data from his Actiwatch 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.]

Jeff Williams concluded his third ICV (Integrated Cardiovascular) Ambulatory Monitoring session, doffing the two Actiwatches and HM2 (Holter Monitor 2) about 24 hrs after the end of yesterday’s “midpoint” activity. [For the ICV Ambulatory Monitoring session, during the first 24 hrs (while all devices are worn), ten minutes of quiet, resting breathing are timelined to collect data for a specific analysis. The nominal exercise includes at least 10 minutes at a heart rate ≥120 bpm (beats per minute). After 24 hrs, the Cardiopres is doffed and the HM2 HiFi CF Card and AA Battery are changed out to allow continuation of the session for another 24 hours, with the Makita batteries switched as required. After data collection is complete, the Actiwatches and both HM2 HiFi CF Cards are downloaded to the HRF PC1, while Cardiopres data are downloaded to the EPM (European Physiology Module) Rack and transferred to the HRF PC1 via a USB key for downlink. The primary objective of the accompanying CCISS (Cardiovascular Control on return from the ISS) experiment is to maximize the information about changes in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular function that might compromise the ability of astronauts to meet the challenge of return to an upright posture on Earth.]

FE Suraev started the fourth onboard run of the Russian SSTV (Slow Scan TV) equipment of the MAI-75 experiment as part of OBR-3 (Obrazovanie-3, Education 3) ops, essentially a ham radio set-up with Kenwood TM D700 Transceiver and Kenwood VS-N1 (Visual Communicator) gear for downlinking photographic images of the overflown terrain to ground stations. Later in the day, the radio session was terminated and the equipment closed out. The second of the back-to-back sessions is scheduled tomorrow. [The payload is named after the renowned MAI (Moscow Aviation Institute) whose reputation is based on the large number of famous aviators and rocket scientists that received their academic education here. Among the alumni are Academicians and Corresponding Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Over 100 General and Chief Designers earned their degree at MAI, with famous rocket scientists like Makeyev, Mishin, Nadiradze and Yangel. MAI also fostered 20 Pilot-Cosmonauts, almost 100 famous test pilots, Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia. The amateur radio (ham) equipment aboard the ISS for downlinking SSTV imagery is a MAI product.]

Later, Suraev had ~2.5 hrs to perform IFM (Inflight Maintenance) on the RS (Russian Segment)’s Electrical Power System, uninstalling unit #1 (A101) of the eight 800A batteries in the SM (Service Module), repairing the battery-to-airduct interface sealing using screws and washers from a repair kit and then replacing it with a new 800A battery from FGB stowage. [The activity involved working with wrenches, screwdriver, tweezers and gray tape, plus demating & remating five cable connectors.]

The two crewmembers took the periodic O-OHA (On-Orbit Hearing Assessment) test, a 30-min NASA environmental health systems examination to assess the efficacy of acoustic countermeasures, using a special software application on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) laptop. [The O-OHA audiography test involves minimum audibility measurements for each ear over a wide range of frequencies (0.25-10 kHz) and sound pressure levels, with the crewmembers using individual-specific Prophonics earphones, new Bose ANC headsets (delivered on 30P) and the SLM (sound level meter). To conduct the testing, the experimenter is supported by special EarQ software on the MEC, featuring an up/down-arrow-operated slider for each test frequency that the crewmember moves to the lowest sound pressure level at which the tone can still be heard. The baseline test is required not later than about Flight Day 14 for each new Expedition and is then generally performed once per month. Note: There have been temporary hearing deficits documented on some U.S. and Russian crewmembers, all of which recovered to pre-mission levels.]

CDR Williams had ~3.5 hrs for conducting another interesting session with the payload SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). After making room in the Lab by removing (later replacing) the WHC (Waste & Hygiene Compartment) “Kabin” enclosure, Jeff set up the work area in the Lab and two PD-100 camcorders for video capture, dimmed the GLAs (General Luminaire Assemblies) and readied an SSC (Station Support Computer) laptop to control the test satellites. Today’s session was the ZERO Robotics Pilot Program final event. [The test (T21) had competing high school students at MIT operating the satellites using a special simulation & programming interface built during the Summer, plus algorithms programmed by them for facing each other in competition aboard the ISS. Rules: Each school has programmed a “helper” satellite and a “blocker” satellite. The “helper must get to a “goal (opposite of its starting position), while the “blocker” tried to prevent it from reaching the goal. Each team (of two, from Idaho schools) competed against each other and against MIT-designed algorithms, watching Jeff run their programs live. Background: SPHERES is a test bed for the development and testing of formation flying and other multi-spacecraft control algorithms. SPHERES, done first by Jeff Williams on Expedition 13 and later by Greg Chamitoff (Expedition 18), serves to mature autonomous satellite formation flight, rendezvous and docking algorithms in a long duration, microgravity environment. Single-satellite experiments test new thrusting algorithms utilizing onboard accelerometers and gyroscopes to more accurately apply velocity commands; they also use a new technique to more accurately estimate velocity. The two-satellite sessions introduce new controllers and path planning tools for purpose of docking to a tumbling satellite. Formation flight experiments test initialization of a formation, and obstacle avoidance. These tests help to develop the concept of a “fractionated spacecraft,” which uses a loose formation of small satellites to perform the tasks of a single large spacecraft. Per applicable Flight Rule, SPHERES operations have no CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) output constraints if the CDRA (CO2 Removal Assembly) is operating in dual-bed or single-bed mode. The experiment run is time-critical since Ku-band is required for real-time video downlink.]

With the U.S. CDRA (Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly) deactivated by the ground this morning (~9:00am-2:00pm) after the conclusion of the SPHERES ZERO Robotics session, Jeff demated and took down the ITCS LTL (Internal Thermal Control System/Low Temperature Loop) jumper at the CDRA-supporting LAB1D6 rack. [With ppCO2 (Carbon Dioxide partial pressure) remaining below 5.00 mmHg and Vozdukh (“able to support 2.7 persons”) running, CDRA is not required.]

The CDR turned off the ALTEA-DOSI (Anomalous Long Term Effects on Astronauts Dosimetry) equipment for ~5 min, then re-activated it for dosimetry data collection.

In support of a JAXA activity, Jeff took still photographs of a Japanese commercial payload and transferred them to an SSC for later downlink.

Williams also performed the periodic status & screen check on the running payload CGBA-5 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus), located in the ER-2 (EXPRESS Rack 2). [CGBA-5 is currently activated for DTN (Delay Tolerant Network) activities that are acting as a test bed for NASA HQ-sponsored communications research. DTN software transmits messages between ISS and Mission Control Centers, and most of its operations run from the ground. The DTN software sends CGBA-5 payload data to the ground, and automatic acknowledgement messages are generated by the ground to be passed back to the payload.]

FE Suraev conducted another photography session for the DZZ-13 “Seiner” ocean observation program, using an HDV (high-definition video) camcorder at a specific time to record bio-luminescent glow of high production zones in the Pacific Ocean. [The glow can be observed as light spots having a weak greenish tint. It is mandatory for Maxim to record his voice commentary while filming, giving information on the exact time when bioluminescence is detected, glow variations depending on cloud pattern, and his recommendations as to what procedure to use for observation.]

The FE also completed the periodic service of the RS radiation payload suite “Matryoshka-R” (RBO-3-2), recording data from detectors in the Bubble-dosimeter reader and deploying dosimeters. [Eight Bubble dosimeter detectors (A01-A08) are positioned at their exposure locations around the RS. An additional eight detectors were placed by Maxim at the spherical “Phantom” unit in the DC1 Docking Compartment. The deployment locations of the detectors were photo-documented with the NIKON D2X camera and also reported to TsUP via log sheet over OCA. The complex Matryoshka payload suite is designed for sophisticated radiation studies. Note: Matryoshka is the name for the traditional Russian set of nested dolls.]

In preparation for the T61p laptop OpsLAN reload, Williams worked on protecting the IPV (International Procedures Viewer) contents by inserting two jump drives (with their prior data saved elsewhere) for ground-commanded backup of the IPV. [For the reload, which will overwrite old files, all A31p clients (laptop) imagery has to be taken off, to be downlinked by the ground for archiving.]

Suraev completed the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM. [This includes 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.]

Maxim 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),

Jeff Williams completed the weekly inspection of the COLBERT treadmill system (T2), checking out its components (e.g., jam nut witness mark).

Jeff & Max performed their regular 2-hr physical exercise on the ARED advanced resistive exerciser (CDR, FE) and T2/COLBERT advanced treadmill (CDR, FE).

Later, 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).

NUTRITION Blood Draw Rescheduled: Yesterday’s NUTRION w/Repository blood draw operation for CDR Williams, reported here, had an anomaly and is now rescheduled for Friday.

BGA 2A Latch 2 Update: On 12/8, ground teams succeeded in unlocking latch #2 on the 2A BGA (Beta Gimbal Assembly). Following Soyuz 19S undocking last week, this latch was not able to operate as designed while the station was in a very high solar Beta region. The 2A BGA is on the cold side relative to the sun, and a paraffin component in the locking mechanism was not being heated to temperatures necessary to actuate a limit switch. Meanwhile, the paraffin has warmed up sufficiently to allow the latching mechanism to operate nominally. Following successful unlatching, the BGA was returned to Autotrack as are the other BGAs. The port SARJ (Solar Alpha Rotary Joint) will remain parked until a flight rule for responding to a longeron shadowing event has been updated (est. 12/11).

PMA-3 Leakage: There is a tiny leak into PMA-3 (Pressurized Mating Adapter 3), considered negligible and of no concern regarding O2/N2 consumables supplies. The regular leak check takes ~15 min, and the next one is planned on Friday (12/11). The “Bell Jar” leak assembly manifested on ULF3 to determine a leak with bulkhead feedthroughs is not required since installation of feedthrough seals is sufficient to protect crew and vehicle. Analysis is continuing.

CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today were New Delhi, India (looking left. The city can be difficult to detect: the best visual cue is the Yamuna River on which the city lies), Malé, Maldive Islands (Malé is both the name of an island in the Maldives, as well as the name of the capital city. Looking left for Malé), Djibouti, Djibouti (looking just right on the coastline), Victoria, Seychelles (nadir pass over this capital city, which lies on the largest of this scatter of islands. The Seychelles “micro-continent”, which forms the geology of the Seychelles, has a shallow sea floor, appearing light blue from space. These hydrocarbon-hosting rocks were laid down when the Seychelles was connected to southeast Africa), Lomé, Togo (nadir pass on the coast), Accra, Ghana (looking right on the coast. Accra lies 170 km west of Lomé), Porto-Novo, Benin (looking left on the coast. Porto-Novo lies 160 km east of Lomé), St. Helena Island, Atlantic Ocean (HMS Beagle site. Nadir pass over this 5 mile by 10 mile island. Darwin called in here on the return leg of the Beagle’s second voyage in 1836, at a time of his great interest in island biogeography. The settlement of Jamestown, big enough to have a cathedral, lies on St. Helena’s protected northwest shore. Napoleon’s house is near the middle of the island. Napoleon’s association with St. Helena [imprisoned here 1815–1821] is commemorated in the name Bonaparte Seamount which lies 75 nm west of the island), and Iquique, Chile (HMS Beagle site. Looking left for general views of the northern Chilean coastline. On the first voyage of the Beagle, arriving at Iquique in mid-July 1835, Darwin wrote: “The coast was here formed by a great steep wall of rock about 2000 feet high; the town containing about a thousand inhabitants, stands on a little plain of loose sand at the foot of this barrier. The whole is utterly desert… In this climate a light shower only falls once in many years;….” “This is the first true desert I have ever seen…; in truth few spots 200 yds square could be found without any vestige of vegetation. ― This country is very remarkable by being in the greater part covered by a thick crust of Salt… ”).

ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 7:57am EST [= epoch])
Mean altitude – 340.6 km
Apogee height – 345.8 km
Perigee height – 335.3 km
Period -- 91.35 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- -51.64 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0007809
Solar Beta Angle -- -53.4 deg (magnitude decreasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.76
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 116 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) -- 63358

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
12/20/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S launch -- O. Kotov/S. Noguchi/T.J. Creamer – 3:51pm
12/22/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S docking @ FGB nadir -- 4:58pm
01/14/10 -- Russian EVA-24
01/20/10 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S relocation (from SM aft to MRM-2)
02/03/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P launch
02/05/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P docking
02/07/10 -- STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 “Tranquility”+Cupola (target date)
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
05/29/10 -- 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