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March 15, 2010
ISS On-Orbit Status 03/15/10

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Underway: Week 16 (last week) of Increment 22.

At wake-up, FE-4 Kotov performed 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-4 again inspects the filters tonight before bedtime, currently a daily requirement per plan, with photographs to be taken if the filter packing is discolored.]

Also at wake-up, CDR Williams & FE-6 Creamer collected their final liquid saliva collection of the current biomed experiment INTEGRATED IMMUNE run, storing the sample at ambient temperature. [INTEGRATED IMMUNE (Validating Procedures for Monitoring Crew member Immune Function) samples & analyzes participant’s blood, urine, and saliva before, during and after flight for changes related to functions like bone metabolism, oxidative damage and immune function to develop and validate an immune monitoring strategy consistent with operational flight requirements and constraints. The strategy uses both long and short duration crewmembers as study subjects. The saliva is collected in two forms, dry and liquid. The dry samples are collected at intervals during the collection day using a specialized book that contains filter paper. The liquid saliva collections require that the crewmember soak a piece of cotton inside their mouth and place it in a salivette bag; there are four of the liquid collections during docked operations. The on-orbit blood samples are collected right before undocking and returned on the Shuttle so that analysis can occur with 48 hours of the sampling. This allows assays that quantify the function of different types of white blood cells and other active components of the immune system. Samples are secured in the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS). Also included are entries in a fluid/medications intact log, and a stress-test questionnaire to be filled out by the subject at begin and end. Urine is collected during a 24-hour period, conventionally divided into two twelve-hour phases: morning-evening and evening-morning.]

Oleg Kotov, Jeff Williams, TJ Creamer & Soichi Noguchi started out with the periodic before-breakfast session of the Russian biomedical routine assessment PZEh-MO-8/Body Mass Measurement using the IM mass measurement device. Kotov set up the IM and later stowed it away again. Additionally, Oleg did PZEh-MO-7/Calf Volume Measurement. [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. MO-7 Calf measurements (left leg only) are taken with the IZOG device, a custom-sewn fabric cuff that fits over the calf, using the knee and lower foot as fixed reference pints, to provide a rough index of deconditioning in zero-G and effectiveness of countermeasures. ].

In preparation for his return to gravity in three days, FE-1 Suraev performed Part 1 of his fifth & final training session of the Russian MO-5 MedOps protocol of cardiovascular evaluation in the below-the-waist reduced-pressure device (ODNT, US: LBNP) on the Russian VELO ergometer, assisted by Kotov as CMO (Crew Medical Officer). The activity was then closed out. [The 1.5-hour assessment, supported by ground specialist tagup via VHF (7:22am EDT), uses the Gamma-1 ECG equipment with biomed harness, skin electrodes and a blood pressure and rheoplethysmograph cuff wired to the cycle ergometer's instrumentation panels. HR (Heart Rate) & BP (Blood Pressure) readings were reported to the ground specialist. The Chibis ODNT provides gravity-simulating stress to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system for evaluation of Suraev’s orthostatic tolerance (e.g., the Gauer-Henry reflex) after several months in zero-G. The preparatory training generally consists of first imbibing 150-200 milliliters of water or juice, followed by two cycles of a sequence of progressive regimes of reduced (“negative”) pressure, set at -20, -25, -35, and -40 mmHg for five min. each, then -25, -30, and -40 mmHg (Torr) for 5 min. each plus 30mmHg for 5 min. 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. Part 2 will be conducted tomorrow.]

With the protective shutters of the Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module), Lab and Cupola windows closed, Suraev & Williams prepared for Soyuz 20S undocking next Thursday by spending an hour in the TMA-16 Descent Module (SA) supporting a ground-commanded checkout of the Soyuz MCS (Motion Control System SUD, Mode 2/“Docked”) which included pressurization of the KDU (Combined Propulsion System) Section 2 and Tank 2, a test of the pilot’s translational hand controller (RUD), and a hot firing of the DPO braking thrusters (5:47am-6:10am). DPO lateral thrusters were not fired. [For the RST (rasstjkovkoy/undocking) test, station attitude was handed over to Russian thruster control at 5:42am, commanded to free drift at 5:47pm, then back to LVLH XVV (Local Vertical Local Horizontal/x-axis in velocity vector) attitude. The one-minute firing started on Daily Orbit 15 during an RGS (Russian Groundsite) pass. Attitude control was returned to the USOS (U.S. Segment) at 6:55am.]

Williams & Suraev also 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, Suraev, as Soyuz CDR, will occupy the middle couch, with Williams in the left Kazbek couch. The right seat is occupied by a strapped-down payload container. Pending the final State Commission decision at about 3.5h before undocking, 20S return is expected for 3/18 (next Thursday), with undocking at 4:06am EDT and landing at ~7:25am.]

For the two Russian Flight Engineers, it was time again for recharging the Motorola Iridium-9505A satellite phones located in Soyuz TMA-16/20S (docked at MRM2) & Soyuz TMA-17/21S (at FGB nadir), a monthly routine job and Oleg’s second, Maxim’s fifth time. [After retrieving them from their location in the spacecraft Descent Modules (BO), the crewmembers initiated the recharge of the lithium-ion batteries, monitoring the process every 10-15 minutes as it took place. Upon completion, the phones were returned inside their SSSP Iridium kits and stowed back in the BO’s ODF (operational data files) container. The satphone accompanies returning ISS crews on Soyuz reentry & landing for contingency communications with SAR (Search-and-Rescue) personnel after touchdown (e.g., after an “undershoot” ballistic reentry, as happened during the 15S return). The Russian-developed procedure for the monthly recharging has been approved jointly by safety officials. During the procedure, the phone is left in its fire-protective fluoroplastic bag with open flap. The Iridium 9505A satphone uses the Iridium constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites to relay the landed Soyuz capsule's GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates to helicopter-borne recovery crews. The older Iridium-9505 phones were first put onboard Soyuz in August 2003. The newer 9505A phone, currently in use, delivers 30 hours of standby time and three hours of talk, up from 20 and two hours, respectively, on the older units.]

Kotov performed the periodic maintenance of the active Russian BMP Harmful Impurities Removal System by starting the "bake-out" cycle to vacuum on absorbent bed #1 of the regenerable dual-channel filtration system. The process will be terminated tonight at ~4:40pm EDT before sleeptime, followed tomorrow by regeneration of Bed #2. (Last time done: 2/22-2/23/10). [Regeneration of each of the two cartridges takes about 12 hours and is conducted only during crew awake periods. The BMP’s regeneration cycle is normally done every 20 days.]

The FE-4 also worked 2 hrs in the DC1 Docking Compartment on the Orlan-MK #5 spacesuit, removing two switching devices (AP-4, AP-5) from inside its backpack and replacing them with new units delivered on Soyuz 21S. The discarded units were prepared for return to the ground.

In the US A/L (Airlock), FE-5 Noguchi terminated the regeneration test on a METOX (Metal Oxide) CO2 absorption canister in the “bake-out” oven. Performance of the regenerator was entirely nominal, resulting in one additional regenerated canister. Afterwards, the FE-5 reconfigured the video setup which had monitored the process for ground observation.

Also in the A/L, Noguchi set up EMUs (Extravehicular Mobility Units) 3005 & 3009 with their SCUs (Service & Cooling Umbilicals) and started the standard one-hour scrubbing process on the spacesuits’ cooling water loops, filtering ionic and particulate matter (via a 3-micron filter), followed by reconfiguring the cooling loops and starting the ~2hr biocide filtering. [Loop scrubbing, incl. iodination of the LCVGs (Liquid Cooling & Ventilation Garments) for biocidal maintenance is done to eliminate any biomass and particulate matter that may have accumulated in the loops.]

In the Kibo JPM, Soichi terminated the JAXA EPO (Educational Payload Operations) “Dewey’s Forest” science payload, closing out the PUs (Plant Units) and PU Case with which he had created a “garden” for HD video recording on 3/8. [Dewey’s Forest, one of the Japanese educational payloads, is intended to show how gravity controls the laws of nature and influences our ways of thinking. The project is “a catalyst to rediscover our relationship with plants on the ground and the age-old history of our gardens.”]

Working in the COL (Columbus Orbital Laboratory) on the ESA FSL (Fluid Science Laboratory), Noguchi demated the FSL LAN cable from the O1 UIP (Utility Interface Panel) J46 connector, installed a dedicated adaptor cable to the FSL LAN cable and reconnected it to the O1 UIP J47 connector (and vice versa).

FE-1 performed troubleshooting on the BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 ("Plants-2") science payload, checking out the function of the auto water feed system to the KM-22 Root Module. [Its failure had necessitated manual operation of the water pump in the last few days.]

Later Maxim made preparations for the usual pre-departure microbial air sampling session scheduled tomorrow with the MedOps SZM-MO-21 ECOSFERA equipment, initiating charging on the Ecosphere power pack (BP) and readying the KRIOGEM-03 thermostatic container for the samples. [The equipment, consisting of an air sampler set, a charger, power supply unit, and incubation tray for Petri dishes, determines microbial contamination of the ISS atmosphere, specifically the total bacterial and fungal microflora counts and microflora composition according to morphologic criteria of microorganism colonies.]

The FE-6 initiated (later terminated) another 5-hr sampling run (the 77th) with the EHS GC/DMS (Environmental Health System Gas Chromatograph/Differential Mobility Spectrometer). The CDR took documentary photography. [Also known as AQM (Air Quality Monitor), the system is controlled with “Sionex” expert software from the SSC-12 laptop. The AQM demonstrates COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) technology for identifying volatile organic compounds, similar to the VOA (Volatile Organics Analyzer). 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.]

Williams conducted the last of 8 SWAB (Comprehensive Characterization of Microorganisms and Allergens in Spacecraft: Surface, Water and Air Biocharacterization) water evaluation sessions, collecting two water samples, allowing the hot sample to cool prior to stowing. The SWAB sample kit was then pre-packed with the other 19A return cargo. [SWAB uses advanced molecular techniques to comprehensively evaluate microbes on board the space station, including pathogens (organisms that may cause disease). This study will allow an assessment of the risk of microbes to the crew and the spacecraft. Surface & Air samples have been collected in previous Increments. Sampling will occur every 4 weeks (±1 week). Water samples (~200 mL) are collected from the PWD Hot and Ambient lines.]

In the COL, after connecting the MPPL (Multi Purpose Payload Laptop) 16VDC power cable to the EPM (European Physiology Module) laptop and activating the EPM, Timothy Creamer began Day 1 of his two-day CARD (Long Term Microgravity: Model for Investigating Mechanisms of Heart Disease) activity. [For the session, Creamer first set up the PFS (Pulmonary Function System) with PFM/PAM (Pulmonary Function Module/Photoacoustic Analyzer Module) and GDS (Gas Delivery System), which requires a 45-minute warm up of the PFM/PAM prior to use for the CARD rebreathe exercises. TJ then donned & activated the HLTA BP (Holter Arterial Blood Pressure) instrument, to run for the next 24-hrs, then calibrated the PAM for the subsequent rebreathing exercises with mixing bag, and started urine collections. The CARD protocol included a 24h urine collection on Day 1, a 24h blood pressure monitoring with the HLTA, a blood draw (in the morning of Day 2), and five cardiac output measurements performed with the HRF-2 PFS via re-breathing technique (three double re-breathing sessions with the 4L Re-breathing Bag on Day 1 and two on Day 2).]

After setting up the video equipment to record activities, Soichi Noguchi undertook the U.S. PFE (Periodic Fitness Evaluation) protocol as subject, a monthly 1.5-hr. procedure which checks up on BP & ECG during programmed exercise on the CEVIS cycle ergometer in the US Lab. Readings were taken with the BP/ECG (blood pressure/electrocardiograph) and the HRM (heart rate monitor) watch with its radio transmitter. TJ Creamer acted as Operator/CMO. [BP/ECG provides automated noninvasive systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements while also monitoring and displaying accurate heart rates on a continual basis at rest and during exercise.]

TJ also prepared the MELFI 2 (Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS 2) for sample preservation by inserting 14 “ice bricks” (-32degC), two each into sections of Dewar 1/Trays A, B, C, D.

Closing up the RS (Russian Segment) radiation payload suite “Matryoshka-R” (RBO-3-2), Oleg removed the AST Spectrometer of the payload and prepared it for return on Soyuz 20S by wrapping it in padding material and a layer of Bogatyr cloth, then stowed it in the 20S Descent Module in the payload container currently fastened to the right seat. [Also to be returned: Matryoshka memory cards.]

In the SM, Kotov also did the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS). [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.]

FE-4 also completed the regular weekly maintenance on the TVIS (Treadmill with Vibration Isolation & Stabilization), primarily inspecting the condition of the SLDs (Subject Loading Devices) in contingency configuration, SLD cables for fraying and SPDs (Subject Positioning Devices), lubricating as required, plus recording time & date values.

Max & Jeff again had an hour each reserved for regular crew departure preparations, working on the standard end-of-increment cleanup preparatory to their return. [It is usual for crewmembers to be granted reduced workdays for making their departure preparations, as their return date approaches.]

Soichi prepared two large Ziploc bags for packaging COL CCFs (Centralized Cabin Filters) for Earth return.

The crewmembers worked out with their regular 2-hr physical exercise on the CEVIS cycle ergometer with vibration isolation (FE-5), TVIS treadmill (FE-1, FE-4), ARED advanced resistive device (CDR, FE-5, FE-6), T2/COLBERT advanced treadmill (CDR, FE-6) and VELO ergometer bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1, FE-4).

At ~6:10am, Jeff Williams had his periodic PMC (Private Medical Conference), via S- & Ku-band audio/video.

At ~1:30pm, with Increment 22 coming to an end, the CDR will tag up with the Inc-21/22 Lead Flight Director (David Korth) to discuss crew handover operations and how to improve them, focusing on the joint 18S/20S direct handovers, the Inc-21-to-22 time before 19S departure, 21S arrival, pre-20S departure, and any other issues of interest to enhance crew-to-crew handover procedures.

At ~3:45pm, the ISS crew is scheduled for an end-of-Inc 22 teleconference with NASA Program Management.

Jobs listed for Suraev & Kotov for today on the Russian discretionary “as time permits” task list were –
  • Activating the water pump for Root Module #22 of the BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 ("Plants-2") experiment for 10 minutes plus doing the periodic status check of the payload, and
  • Doing 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).

ARED Anomaly Update: As a workaround to the ARED anomaly (upper stop cables removed due to damage and racking mechanism disengaged), ground specialists have developed an exercise procedure that allows the crew to do the important Squats and Heel Raises from a lower start position (with decreased load to avoid injury). All other exercises can be performed nominally.

METOX (Metal Oxide) Regenerator Update: Yesterday’s attempt to regenerate a METOX canister in the “bake-out” oven was entirely successful.

SSU Shunt Test: Beginning at 1:33pm EDT today and running through three orbits for 20 min each (1:33pm-1:53pm; 3:05pm-3:25pm; 4:36pm-4:56pm), MCC-H performs the periodic U.S. solar array efficiency test, which assesses the degradation of the photovoltaics over time. Before the test, at 1:00pm, the BGAs (Beta Gimbal Assemblies) will be moded to Autotrack (from fixed dual-angle, i.e., no auto biasing) to improve power generation during the test, and afterwards returned to dual angle, with "night glider" drag reduction feathering. [For the test, the solar array output is shunted (switched) for ~10 min before and unshunted ~2 min after entering eclipse (Earth shadow) such that the circuit current of the SSUs (Sequential Shunt Units) can be recorded to determine solar array output capability. The amount of current (Ampères) shunted by the arrays will decrease slowly over time as they degrade in the orbital environment. The test is performed approximately twice a year, once during each equinox, at a Beta angle of 0 plus/minus 5 deg. to allow engineers to track the performance over time and compare degradation trends against the a priori (expected) curve (today’s Beta: ~1 deg). The monitoring has started in Fall 2003 and runs for the life of the station.]

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

ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 4:32am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude – 347.4 km
Apogee height – 352.8 km
Perigee height – 342.1 km
Period -- 91.49 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- 51.65 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0007951
Solar Beta Angle -- -3.2 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.74
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 158 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) – 64,869

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time and subject to change):
03/15/10 -- US Solar Array Efficiency Test (1:33pm etc.)
03/18/10 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S undock/4:03am; landing/7:25am, (M. Suraev/J. Williams)- End of Inc. 22
--------------Three-crew operations-------------
04/02/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S launch – Skvortsov (CDR-24)/Caldwell/Kornienko – 12:04:34am EDT
04/04/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S docking – ~1:28am
04/05/10 -- STS-131/Discovery/19A – MPLM(P), LMC
--------------Six-crew operations-----------------
04/27/10 -- Progress M-03M/35P undock
04/28/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P launch
04/30/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P docking
05/10/10 -- Progress M-04M/36P undock
05/12/10 -- Soyuz 21S relocation (FGB Nadir to SM Aft)
05/14/10 -- STS-132/Atlantis/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM-1 “Rassvet”
06/02/10 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S undock/landing (End of Increment 23)
--------------Three-crew operations-------------
06/14/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S launch – Wheelock (CDR-25)/Walker/Yurchikhin
06/16/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S docking
--------------Six-crew operations-----------------
06/28/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P launch
06/30/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P docking
07/07/10 -- US EVA-15 (Caldwell/Wheelock)
07/23/10 -- Russian EVA-25 (Yurchikhin/Kornienko)
07/26/10 -- Progress M-05M/37P undock
07/29/10 -- STS-134/Endeavour (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS-02)
08/30/10 -- Progress M-06M/38P undock
08/31/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P launch
09/02/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P docking
09/16/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S undock/landing (End of Increment 24)
09/16/10 -- STS-133/Discovery (ULF5 – ELC4, PMM)
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 – Kelly (CDR-26)/Kaleri/Skripochka
10/xx/10 -- Russian EVA-26
10/27/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P launch
10/29/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P docking
11/26/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S undock/landing (End of Increment 25)
12/10/10 -- Soyuz TMA-21/25S launch – Kondratyev (CDR-27)/Coleman/Nespoli
12/15/10 -- Progress M-07M/39P undock
12/26/10 -- Progress M-08M/40P undock
12/27/10 -- Progress M-09M/41P launch
12/29/10 -- Progress M-09M/41P docking
03/16/11 -- Soyuz TMA-20/24S undock/landing (End of Increment 26)
03/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-22/26S launch – A. Borisienko (CDR-28)/R, Garan/A.Samokutayev
04/01/11 -- Soyuz TMA-22/26S docking
04/27/11 -- Progress M-09M/41P undock
04/28/11 -- Progress M-10M/42P launch
04/30/11 -- Progress M-10M/42P docking
05/17/11 -- Soyuz TMA-21/25S undock/landing (End of Increment 27)
05/31/11 -- Soyuz TMA-23/27S launch – M. Fossum (CDR-29)/S. Furukawa/S. Volkov
06/02/11 -- Soyuz TMA-23/27S docking
06/21/11 -- Progress M-11M/43P launch
06/23/11 -- Progress M-11M/43P docking
08/30/11 -- Progress M-12M/44P launch
09/01/11 -- Progress M-12M/44P docking
09/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-24/28S launch
10/28/11 -- Progress M-13M/45P launch
10/30/11 -- Progress M-13M/45P docking
11/25/11 -- Soyuz TMA-25/29S launch
11/27/11 -- Soyuz TMA-25/29S docking
12/??/11 -- 3R Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) w/ERA – on Proton.