NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 22 December, 2021 - Cargo Dragon Docks, Progress Propulsion Leaves

Dec. 22, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon vehicles, and Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and Progress 79 resupply ship. Credit: NASA.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon arrived just in time to deliver holiday treats, crew supplies and new science experiments to the Expedition 66 crew today.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn were on duty Wednesday morning monitoring Dragon's automated approach and docking to the Harmony module's space-facing port that occurred at 3:41 a.m. EST.

Less than two hours later, Dragon's hatch was opened as Chari and NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron entered the vehicle and began unloading critical research hardware and samples. Marshburn offloaded and transferred rodents into new habitats that will soon be observed for the Mouse Habitat Unit-7 musculoskeletal system study.

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) also joined in the cargo activities beginning to unpack crew supplies, spacewalk gear, station hardware, and computer equipment to replenish the orbiting lab. Vande Hei also started setting up a new cancer study, delivered aboard Dragon, that could improve drug delivery methods as well as manufacturing processes. Dragon will stay at the station for one month before returning to Earth loaded with station hardware and completed microgravity research for analysis by engineers and scientists.

Over in the station's Russian segment, the Progress propulsion module that delivered the Prichal docking port and attached it to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module on Nov. 26
successfully undocked from the Prichal module at 6:03 p.m. EST.

The spacecraft arrived and docked to the Nauka module on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment Friday, Nov. 26, two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday, Nov. 24. Prichal, named for the Russian word for "pier," has five available docking ports to accommodate multiple Russian spacecraft and provide fuel transfer capability to the Nauka module. Named for the Russian word for "science," Nauka launched to the space station in July.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

Bioprinting bandages
Bioprinting uses viable cells and biological molecules to print tissue structures. The German Aerospace Center study Bioprint FirstAid demonstrates a portable, handheld bioprinter that uses a patient's own skin cells to create a tissue-forming patch to cover a wound and accelerate the healing process. On future missions to the Moon and Mars, bioprinting such customized patches could help address changes in wound healing that can occur in space and complicate treatment. Personalized healing patches also have potential benefits on Earth, providing safer and more flexible treatment anywhere needed.

Improving delivery of cancer drugs
Monoclonal antibodies, used to treat a wide range of human diseases, do not dissolve easily in liquid and so typically must be given intravenously in a clinical setting. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Protein Crystal Growth 20 (CASIS PCG 20) experiment continues work on crystallizing a monoclonal antibody, pembrolizumab, that Merck Research Labs developed. It is the active ingredient in Keytruda, a drug that targets multiple cancers. Scientists analyze these crystals to learn more about the structure and behavior of the component to create drug formulations that can be administered at a doctor's office or even at home.

Assessing infection risk
Scientists have observed that spaceflight sometimes increases the virulence of potentially harmful microbes and reduces human immune function, increasing the risk for infectious disease. Host-Pathogen assesses space-induced changes in immune status by culturing cells collected from crew members before, during, and after spaceflight with both "normal" bacteria and bacteria grown under simulated spaceflight conditions. Results could help assess the potential risk infectious microbes may pose and may support development of countermeasures. This could improve care for those with compromised immune systems on Earth.

Roots, shoots, and leaves
Multi Variable Platform (MVP) Plant-01 profiles and monitors the development of the shoots and roots of plants in microgravity. Plants could serve as a vital part of human life support systems for long-duration spaceflight and habitation of the Moon and Mars. However, space-grown plants experience stress from various factors and recent studies indicate changes in plant gene expression in response to those stressors. Improved understanding of these changes could enable the design of plants that are better suited for growth in spaceflight environments.

Toward lunar laundromats
Astronauts on the space station wear items of clothing several times, then replace them with new clothes delivered on resupply missions. Limited cargo capacity makes this a challenge, and resupply is not an option for longer missions, such as those to the Moon and Mars. In a collaboration with NASA, Procter & Gamble has developed Tide Infinity, a fully degradable detergent specifically designed for use in space, and the P&G Telescience Investigation of Detergent Experiments (PGTIDE) study the performance of its stain removal ingredients and the formulation's stability in microgravity. Once proven in space, Tide plans to use the new cleaning methods and detergent to advance sustainable, low-resource-use laundry solutions on Earth.

Parts made in space
Turbine Superalloy Casting Module (SCM) tests a commercial manufacturing device that processes heat-resistant alloy parts in microgravity. Alloys are materials made up of at least two different chemical elements, one of which is a metal. Researchers expect more uniform microstructures and improved mechanical properties in superalloy parts processed in microgravity compared to those processed on Earth. These superior materials could improve the performance of turbine engines in industries such as aerospace and power generation on Earth.

Students and citizens as space scientists
Students enrolled in institutions of higher learning can design and build microgravity experiments as part of NASA's Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS). As part of their experiments, selected teams include students in kindergarten through 12th grade as citizen scientists. Citizen science allows individuals who are not professional scientists to contribute to real-world research. The NASA STEM on Station project is funding experiments flying on this SpaceX resupply mission, including a study on antibiotic resistance in microgravity from Columbia University in New York and one on how microgravity affects bacteria-resistant polymers from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during NASA's Artemis missions to the Moon and long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.

On-Orbit Status Report

SpX-24 Docking: Today, the SpaceX-24 Dragon spacecraft successfully autonomously docked to the Node 2 (Harmony Module) zenith docking port of the ISS at 2:41AM CST. The vehicle delivered more than 6,500 pounds of cargo and will remain onboard for approximately a month.


Double Cold Bag (DCB): Following the arrival of SpX-24, the crew brought the DCBs to ISS and transferred the refrigerated or frozen science contents from the DCBs to their permanent ISS locations. The DCB is a passive resource that provides for the specific temperature needs for scientific samples and other temperature-sensitive payload items. These options are available on the ISS during launch and return.

EasyMotion: After donning the EasyMotion Suit, the crew performed a Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization (CEVIS) exercise science session. Following the experiment session, the crew removed the suit, transferred the session data, and charged the experiment batteries. The EasyMotion investigation uses whole body Electro-Myo-Stimulation (EMS) with a wearable body skin suit for an ISS crew member to perform pre- and postflight EMS-assisted exercises. EMS technology initiates spontaneous (involuntary) activation of global musculature (muscle, tendon, fascia) to be monitored (muscle tone/tension and stiffness) inflight using the non-invasive Myoton technology that is currently aboard the space station for the Myotones investigation.

International Commercial Experiment Cubes (Ice Cubes): The crew performed the steps necessary to exchange the experiment cube #6 and experiment cube #15 in the ICE Cube Facility. New batches of experiment cubes are routinely flown up and down and exchanged as appropriate. The ICE Cubes Facility is a capable experiment platform that offers flexibility to host many different experiments for research, technology demonstration or educational objectives. During flight, users are able to have near real-time telemetry and telecommanding capabilities with the Experiment Cube from any location with an internet connection. The ICE Cubes service provides fast and direct access to the ISS for any country, institute, or entity.

Micro Age: The crew reviewed the Big Picture Words (BPW) for the MicroAge experiment. In the Microgravity as a Model for Accelerated Skeletal Muscle Ageing (MicroAge) investigation, synthetic human muscle constructs are housed within specially designed experimental containers and exposed to microgravity on board the ISS. A proportion of the muscle constructs is electrically stimulated to induce contractions under microgravity conditions or exposed to artificial gravity via centrifugation. Samples are frozen and returned to Earth for analyses that provides information on whether muscles exposed to microgravity show an analogous failure of adaptations to contractile activity to that seen in elderly subjects.

Nutrition Monitoring for the International Space Station (NutrISS): The crew logged their food and beverage intake using the EveryWear application. Long-duration spaceflight induces relevant changes in body composition and a loss of body mass. In the NutrISS investigation, a periodic assessment of body composition (body weight, fat mass, and fat-free mass) during spaceflight aboard the ISS is carried out using a dedicated bio-impedance analysis device to allow for the measurement of long-term energy balance modification over time. On the basis of this data, it is hypothesized that an adjusted diet maintaining a near-neutral energy balance, and/or increasing protein intake can limit microgravity-induced bone and muscle loss of crew members.

Protein Crystal Growth-20 (PCG-20): The crew retrieved the appropriate PCG-20 experiment items from a Microgravity Experiment Research Locker/Incubator (MERLIN), and then opened a series of valves to initiate the experiment run for platforms A, B, C, and D. Monoclonal antibodies are important in treating a wide range of human diseases, including cancer. Monoclonal Antibody Crystallization (PCG-20) crystallizes a monoclonal antibody, pembrolizumab, which has proven effective in treating multiple cancers. Scientists analyze protein crystals to learn how biological molecules are arranged and how they work in the body. The ability to grow extremely high-quality crystals in microgravity allows analyses that could improve drug delivery methods as well as manufacturing processes and storage.

Rhodium Synthetic Cryptobiology: The crew transferred Rhodium Synthetic Cryptobiology Science Chambers from launch stowage to on-board stowage. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) components are integral to synthetic biology and bioengineering of organisms for a variety of applications, such as producing pharmaceuticals, improving consumer products, and developing clean plastics. Rugged Platforms for Synthetic Biological Component Transport (Rhodium Synthetic Cryptobiology) tests using specific bacterial strains to protect and preserve DNA through the stresses of launch, on-orbit stowage, and return to Earth. Results could help create more rugged biological components and advance these technologies for use in space and in extreme environments on Earth.


Dragon SpX-24 Docking Activities: Today the crew completed several activities related to this morning's SpX-24 docking. Monitoring tools were set up and utilized inside Cupola, Node 3, and Lab, and the Node 2 to Dragon vestibule was pressurized and underwent a leak check. After teardown of the monitoring tools, the Dragon vestibule was configured for the successfully completed hatch opening. Crew reviewed the Dragon Emergency Response training materials and set up a drag-through camera in Node 2 for Cold Stowage operations. The crew began Dragon Cargo Transfer today and will continue this activity throughout the coming weeks.

Completed Task List Activities:

Today's Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

C2V2 Broadcast
Configure C2V2 for Bidirectional Data
ACS Setup for Dragon Docking to PMA3
Approach 0 Start
Configure C2V2 for Docking Dragon Video
Approach 1 Start
Dragon Hold at 20m
Approach 2 Start
Docking Dragon Contact and Soft Capture
ACS Dragon Arrival to PMA3
ACS Configuration for post Dragon Docking to PMA3
Docking Dragon Hard Capture
After Docking Configure for Docked Operations
ACS GPS Antenna and Relative Navigation Management
Configure for Nominal Ops after Dragon Hatch is Open
Crew Dragon System Checkout
C&DH Validity Check Inhibit for Transition to Proximity Operations Mode
ACS Handover Attitude Control from USOS to RS
Reconfigure ISS power to Dragon
Dragon Propellant Leak Check
ACS Handover Attitude Control from RS to US Momentum Management control
ACS GPS Reconfiguration After Maneuver
Look Ahead Plan

Thursday, December 23 (GMT 357)

DCB unpack
Dragon locker remove
Food Physiology
LSG setup
Low Temp PCG
MERLIN Dragon install
Micro Age
Moderate Temp PCG
Nanoracks module 63, 94, 100 installation
Touching Surfaces

Dragon Cargo Transfer
OBT Dragon Emergency Review
ERA manipulator checkout under ЭВТИ
Dragon Docking Station Support Computer Relocation
SSC 10 and 20 Swap
CMS ARED Cable Arm Rope Flip
Dragon-24 Locker Removal
IMS Conference
Friday, December 24 (GMT 358)

Micro Age

Crew Off-Duty Day
Saturday, December 25 (GMT 359)

Ice Cubes exchange
Micro Age
PAUL content transfers

Crew Off-Duty Day
Today's Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Docking Dragon Monitoring Tools Setup
Dragon Zenith Approach Monitoring
Microgravity Science Glovebox MLC Power Cycle
Node 2 to Dragon Pressurization and Leak Check
Dragon Monitoring Tools Teardown
EasyMotion Photo TV Stow
EasyMotion Power Box charge
Polar Dragon Uninstall, Transfer, And EXPRESS Rack Install Overview
Node 2 to Dragon Final Pressurization and Vestibule prep for Ingress
EasyMotion Data Downlink
NutrISS - ESA Nutritional Assessment
Review of Big Picture Words for Micro Age.
On-Board Training (OBT) Dragon Emergency Review
Food Acceptability Survey
MERLIN Ice Cube Sample Removal
Installation of Experiment Cube 6 (Kirara 3) and Cube 15 (SPIC1)
IMMI, EMMI console basic operator training for Mission1 Part 1 OBT. Tagup with specialists
PCG-20 MWA Preparation
EasyMotion Power Box Retrieval after charge
PCG-20 Sample Retrieve
PCG-20 MERLIN Sample Removal
EasyMotion Suit stow
Node 2 Dragthrough Camera Set-Up
PCG-20 Platform Activation Operations
Polar Dragon Uninstall, Handover, Transfer and EXPRESS Rack Install
Utility Outlet Panel (UOP) Activation
Glove Box Cleanup
Polar Handover, Transfer and EXPRESS Rack Install
Dragon Cargo Transfer
Cold Stowage Double Coldbag Unpack
Powered Ascent Utility Locker Hardware Installation/Transfer
Rhodium Synthetic Cryptobiology Science Chamber Initial Transfer
Node2 Dragthrough Tear down
USOS Window Shutter Close

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