September 21, 2009
ISS On-Orbit Status 09/21/09

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Underway: Week 17 of Increment 20

Progress M-67/34P successfully undocked from the SM (Service Module) aft port this morning at 3:25am EDT after hook opening command at 3:22am. 34P will free-fly for several days to support a Plasma observation experiment and is scheduled to re-enter destructively on 9/27.

FE-4 Robert Thirsk started out with the extended U.S. “Bisphosphonates” biomedical countermeasures experiment for which Bob ingested an Alendronate pill before breakfast. [The Bisphosphonates study should determine whether antiresorptive agents (that help reduce bone loss) in conjunction with the routine in-flight exercise program will protect ISS crewmembers from the regional decreases in bone mineral density documented on previous ISS missions. Two dosing regimens are being tested: (1) an oral dose of 70 mg of Alendronate taken weekly starting 3 weeks prior to flight and then throughout the flight and (2) an intravenous (IV) dose of 4 mg Zoledronic Acid, administered just once approximately 45 days before flight. The rationale for including both Alendronate and Zoledronic Acid is that two dosing options will maximize crew participation, increase the countermeasure options available to flight surgeons, increase scientific opportunities, and minimize the effects of operational and logistical constraints. The primary measurement objective is to obtain preflight and postflight QCT (Quantitative Computed Tomography) scans of the hip. The QCT scans will provide volumetric bone density information of both cortical and trabecular (spongy) bone regions of the hip.]

First task for FE-3 Roman Romanenko was the recurring checkup behind ASU panel 139 in the SM (Service Module) on a fluid connector (MNR-NS) of the SM-U urine collection system, looking for potential moisture.

Afterwards, the FE-3 performed the periodic status checks on the Russian BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 ("Plants-2") experiment in the SM (Service Module). [Rasteniya-2 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.]

FE-1 Mike Barratt undertook the periodic US PHS (Periodic Health Status)/Without Blood Labs exam, assisted by Nicole Stott as CMO (Crew Medical Officer). Mike later logged the data and stowed the equipment. A subjective evaluation was part of the test. [The assessment used the AMP (Ambulatory Medical Pack), stethoscope, oral disposable thermometer and ABPC (Automatic Blood Pressure Cuff) from the ALSP (Advanced Life Support Pack). All data were then logged on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) and the hardware stowed. The PHS exam is guided by special IFEP (In-Flight Examination Program) software on the MEC laptop.]

To support ground planning of upcoming stowage activities, Mike conducted an inventory/audit of quantity and size of available tie wraps

FE-2 Stott downloaded her ICV CDP (Integrated Cardiovascular Cardiopres) data from the CBPD (Continuous Blood Pressure Device) to the Cardiolab computer in the EPM (European Physiology Module) rack. Nicole also transferred Actiwatch data and the HM2 (Holter Monitor 2) cards to the HRF (Human Research Facility) PC1 for downlink. [Since the EPM laptop cannot be powered up today, CDP data transfer to the HRF PC1 for downlink to the ground will have to wait.]

Nicole Stott checked out the US SLM (Sound Level Meter) instrument and then used it to conduct the periodic noise level measurements program in the station interior for a 2-hr acoustic survey, including transfer of the recorded data to the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer). [A total of 50 acoustic measurements were to be obtained, specifically at 13 locations in the Lab, to assess the newly added WHC (Waste & Hygiene Compartment) noise), 12 locations in the SM, 10 in the JPM , four in the JLP (JEM Logistics Pressurized Segment), and eight locations in Node-2, and 3 locations in the HTV. The SLM gives instantaneous noise levels and their frequency spectra, which are transferred to the MEC laptop via an RS232 cable and later downlinked with regular CHeCS (Crew Health Care Systems) data dump or via OCA.]

FE-3 Romanenko, FE-4 Thirsk & FE-5 De Winne performed a 1h10m special emergency egress drill, followed by a discussion with the ground. [Purpose of the OBT (Onboard Training) was to prepare the Soyuz TMA-15/19S crew to become the Primary responders for Emergency response prior to assuming these duties. For the purpose of this drill, the Soyuz TMA-14/18S crew did not participate, so that the 19S crew had to execute all primary functions. It is assumed that a “Soyuz TMA-16” (i.e., a third) crew has retreated to a Soyuz at the SM aft end and is monitoring from there. This is a new style of emergency drills.]

Romanenko broke out and set up the hardware for the Russian MBI-21 PNEVMOKARD experiment and conducted the 1h15m session, his fourth, which forbids moving or talking during data recording. The experiment is controlled from the RSE-med A31p laptop, equipped with new software, and uses the TENZOPLUS sphygmomanometer to measure arterial blood pressure. The experiment, supported by ground specialist tagup, was then closed out and the test data stowed for return to the ground on Soyuz TMA-14. [PNEVMOKARD (Pneumocard) attempts to obtain new scientific information to refine the understanding about the mechanisms used by the cardiorespiratory system and the whole body organism to spaceflight conditions. By recording (on PCMCIA cards) the crewmember’s electrocardiogram, impedance cardiogram, low-frequency phonocardiogram (seismocardiogram), pneumotachogram (using nose temperature sensors), and finger photoplethismogram, the experiment supports integrated studies of (1) the cardiovascular system and its adaptation mechanisms in various phases of a long-duration mission, (2) the synchronization of heart activity and breathing factors, as well as the cardiorespiratory system control processes based on the variability rate of physiological parameters, and (3) the interconnection between the cardiorespiratory system during a long-duration mission and the tolerance of orthostatic & physical activities at the beginning of readaptation for predicting possible reactions of the crewmembers organism during the their return to ground.]

Padalka completed his first orthostatic hemodynamic endurance test session with the Russian Chibis suit in preparation for his return to gravity on 10/11 with 14S, 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 Romanenko acting as CMO (Crew Medical Officer), Gennady was supported in his one-hour session by ground specialist tagup via VHF at 6:20am. [The Chibis provides gravity-simulating stress to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system for evaluation of Padalka’s orthostatic tolerance (e.g., the Gauer-Henry reflex) after his long-term stay in zero-G. Data output includes blood pressure readings.]

The CDR also undertook his sixth session with the Russian behavioral assessment TIPOLOGIA (MBI-20), setting up the workstation, connecting equipment, suiting up and launching the program on the RSK1 laptop. [The FE-3 assisted in donning the electrode cap, preparing the head for the electrodes, applying electrode gel from the Neurolab-RM2 kit and taking photographs. Data were recorded on a PCMCIA memory card and downlinked via OCA comm. MBI-20 studies typological features of operator activity of the ISS crews in long-term space flight phases, with the subject using a cap with EEG (electroencephalogram) electrodes. The experiment, which records EEGs, consists of the Lüscher test, “adaptive biological control” training, and the games Minesweeper and Tetris. The Lüscher color diagnostic is a psychological test which measures a person's psychophysical state, his/her ability to withstand stress, to perform and to communicate. It is believed to help uncover the cause of psychological stress, which can lead to physical symptoms. An EEG measures and records the electrical activity of the brain.]

Barratt, Stott, Thirsk & De Winne each spent about 1.5 hrs with HTV unloading and cargo transfers to the ISS.

Working in the JAXA JLP (JEM Logistics Pressurized Segment), Mike temporarily removed and relocated stowage goods (Collapsible Water Containers-Iodine) from the JLP’s P2 rack front to gain access to RFTA (Recycle Filter Tank Assembly) hardware for an WRS (Water Recovery System) RFTA replacement scheduled tomorrow (9/22).

Later, the FE-1 reconfigured the Lab THC CCAA (Temperature & Humidity Control / Common Cabin Air Assembly) air conditioner, swapping it from its portside channel (P6) to the alternate system on starboard (S6) of the Lab, then switching the ITCS LTL (Internal Thermal Control System/Low Temperature Loop) accordingly, i.e., from starboard to port, by closing the LAB1S6 MFCV (Manual Flow Control Valve) and opening the LAB1P6 MFCV. [The CCAA is a network of ducting that draws in the air through filters, delivers it for conditioning, and returns it to the modules. The swap-over between the CCAA channels is generally done by the crew once a month, with ground support, to dry out the heat exchanger of the deactivated side. MCC-H commands the required systems configurations for the dryout via S-band.]

Continuing the extended leak integrity checking of the spare BZh Liquid Unit (#056) for the Elektron O2 generator, recharged on 8/21 with nitrogen (N2) to 1 atm (1 kg/cm2), Roman Romanenko conducted the usual pressure check and repress to verify the unit’s hermeticity. [Objective of the monthly checkout of the BZh, which has been in stowage for about 2 years, 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.]

The CDR performed the periodic update of the AntiVirus program in the Russian auxiliary laptops (VKS) RSS2, RSK1, RSE1, RSE2 from a new uplinked program copy on the RSS1 laptop, first scanning the latter, then transferring the database by flash-card to the other computers and scanning them one by one.

Padalka conducted another periodic health check of the KhSA Cooler/Dehumidifier Assembly’s V1 fan in the Soyuz 18S spacecraft’s DM (Descent Module) by turning the V2 fan off and the V1 fan on, then checking air flow. [On 6/25, a planned replacement of the apparently faulty fan in the Soyuz 18S DM with a new unit proved to be not necessary after Padalka configured a jumper bypass which successfully recovered functionality of the air conditioner fan. Today’s activity was to check up on the fix.]

Starting a new round of periodic preventive maintenance of RS (Russian Segment) ventilation systems, Gennady worked in the DC1 (Docking Compartment), replacing the PF1 & PF2 filter cartridges and cleaning the V1 & V2 fan grilles and VD1 & VD2 air ducts.

Both Padalka & Barratt had an hour set aside for regular crew departure preparations, working on the standard end-of-increment cleanup preparatory to their return to Earth on Soyuz 14S. [It is usual for crewmembers to be granted reduced workdays for making their departure preparations, as their return date approaches.]

After setting up the video equipment for training coverage, FE-4 Thirsk worked with the ROBoT onboard trainer to simulate/rehearse using the SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System) for the upcoming activity (on 9/23) of extracting the EP (Exposed Pallet from the HTV, moving it to the Kibo EF (Exposed Facility) “veranda” and returning it later to the HTV for insertion. Afterwards, the video hardware was stowed again.

FE-5 De Winne deactivated the COL PWS2 (Columbus Orbital Laboratory / Portable Workstation 2) laptop and subsequently used it to load the new C12 (Cycle 12) software on the MMU-2 (Mass Memory Unit). Afterwards, Frank loaded the new PWS image for C12 onto the PWS2, for Phase 1, which required disconnecting the PWS2 from the COL LAN (Local Area Network) to prevent interferences. [Transition to the Columbus C12 software begins tomorrow.]

Thirsk unstowed and configured the hardware for the on-camera LES2 Mass Measurement demonstration. After the recording, De Winne labeled the video tape and stowed it.

Frank prepared the diet log for his upcoming first six-day SOLO (Sodium Loading in Microgravity) session, which will entail a series of diet intake loggings, body mass measurements and blood & urine samplings in two session blocks. [SOLO is composed of two sessions of six days each. From Day 1 to 5 (included) Frank will have to eat special diet (Session 1: Low salt diet; Session 2: High salt diet which corresponds to normal ISS diet salt level). Solo Diet starts with breakfast on Day 1. Day 6 of each session is diet-free. For both diets, specially prepared meals are provided onboard. All three daily meals are being logged on sheets stowed in the PCBA (Portable Clinical Blood Analyzer) Consumable Kit in the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS) along with control solution and cartridges for the PCBA. SOLO, an ESA/German experiment from the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne/Germany, investigates the mechanisms of fluid and salt retention in the body during long-duration space flight. Body mass is measured with the SLAMMD (Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device). Blood samples are taken with the PCBA. Background: The hypothesis of an increased urine flow as the main cause for body mass decrease has been questioned in several recently flown missions. Data from the US SLS1/2 missions as well as the European/Russian Euromir `94 & MIR 97 missions show that urine flow and total body fluid remain unchanged when isocaloric energy intake is achieved. However, in two astronauts during these missions the renin-angiotensin system was considerably activated while plasma ANP concentrations were decreased. Calculation of daily sodium balances during a 15-day experiment of the MIR 97 mission (by subtracting sodium excretion from sodium intake) showed an astonishing result: the astronaut retained on average 50 mmol sodium daily in space compared to balanced sodium in the control experiment.]

FE-3 Romanenko –
  • Made preparations for the upcoming periodic RS window inspection & photography in the SM & DC1 which looks at the condition of the window panes for comparison to earlier inspections,
  • Did 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), and
  • Completed 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.]

Barratt started (later terminated) another 5-hr automatic sampling run (the 31st) 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.]

At 1:54pm EDT, the FE-1 conducted the periodic VHF-1 emergency communications proficiency check over NASA’s VHF (Very High Frequency) stations, today at the Wallops VHF site (1:54:33pm-2:00:50pm), talking with Houston/Capcom, MSFC/PAYCOM (Payload Operation & Integration Center Communicator), Moscow/GLAVNI (TsUP Capcom), EUROCOM/Munich and JCOM/Tsukuba in the normal fashion via VHF radio from a handheld microphone and any of the USOS ATUs (Audio Terminal Units). [Purpose of the test is to verify signal reception and link integrity, improve crew proficiency, and ensure minimum required link margin during emergency (no TDRS) and special events (such as a Soyuz relocation).]

FE-1, FE-2 & FE-5 had their recurring PMCs (Private Medical Conferences), via S- & Ku-band audio/video, Frank at ~4:20am, Nicole at ~12:25pm, Mike at ~1:35-pm EDT.

The crew completed their regular daily 2.5-hr. physical workout program on the CEVIS cycle ergometer (FE-4, FE-5), TVIS treadmill with vibration isolation (CDR, FE-1, FE-2, FE-3) and ARED advanced resistive exerciser (FE-1, FE-2, FE-3, FE-4, FE-5). For Gennady, it was Day 3 of 2-hr work-out on TVIS, Day 2 for Roman on TVIS.

Later, Mike Barratt 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).

Soyuz 20S Launch Preview: Pre-launch activities for Soyuz 20S are continuing without issues at Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The launch is scheduled on 9/30; final launch decision will be made on 9/25 (Friday).

MRM-2 Altitude Strategy: For the docking of the Russian 5R/MRM-2 (Mini Research Module 2) on Soyuz-U on 11/12, ISS altitude needs to be lowered. The attempt will be made to achieve the reduction by removing the SA (Solar Array) biases originally implemented to reduce orbital drag. An additional drag component could be added by positioning the Starboard SARJ (Solar Alpha Rotary Joint) suitably. Later, a reboost will be required to recover the lost altitude but this can be accomplished by the Shuttle during mated operations with STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3 in November. The SA positioning would save about 75-150 kg of propellant. [“Night Glider” drag reduction biasing of the solar arrays with BGAs (Beta Gimbal Assemblies) has been in use since the early days of ISS ops.]

CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today was another chance at the Beagle Workshop, Brazil (Beagle Site. A scientific and educational workshop organized by several organizations [including NASA] will be taking place in Paraty, Brazil over this coming week. Part of the workshop includes scientific cruises aboard the Brazilian tall ship Tocorime set to coincide with ISS overpasses in order to obtain photographs of the ship. City and bay were in nadir today, with sun glint forward.).

CEO photography can be studied at this “Gateway” website:
http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov (as of 9/1/08, this database contained 770,668 views of the Earth from space, with 324,812 from the ISS alone).

ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 7:41am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude -- 346.7 km
Apogee height – 353.0 km
Perigee height -- 340.5 km
Period -- 91.47 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- 51.64 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0009322
Solar Beta Angle -- -3.1 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.74
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 60 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) -- 62112

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
09/30/09 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S launch
10/02/09 -- Soyuz TMA-16/20S docking (SM aft, until MRM-2 w/new port)
10/11/09 -- Soyuz TMA-14/18S undock
10/14/09 -- H-IIB (JAXA HTV-1) unberth (under review)
10/15/09 -- Progress 35P launch
11/10/09 -- 5R/MRM-2 (Russian Mini Research Module 2) on Soyuz-U
11/12/09 -- 5R/MRM-2 docking (SM zenith)
11/12/09 -- STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3- ELC1, ELC2 (may move up to 11/9)
11/23/09 – Soyuz TMA-15/19S undock
12/07/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S launch
12/09/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S (FGB nadir)
12/24/09 -- Soyuz relocation (20S from SM aft to MRM2)
12/26/09 -- Progress 36P launch
02/03/10 -- Progress 37P launch
02/04/10 -- STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 + Cupola
03/05/10 -- Progress 38P launch
03/18/10 -- STS-131/Discovery/19A – MPLM(P), LMC
04/02/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S launch
04/30/10 -- Progress 39P launch
05/14/10 -- STS-132/Atlantis/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM-1
05/29/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S launch
06/30/10 -- Progress 40P launch
07/29/10 -- STS-133/Endeavour (ULF5 – ELC4, MPLM) or STS-134/Discovery (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS)
07/30/10 -- Progress 41P launch
09/16/10 -- STS-133/Endeavour (ULF5 – ELC4, MPLM) or STS-134/Discovery (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS)
09/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-20/24S launch
12/??/11 -- 3R Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) w/ERA – on Proton