NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 September 2019 - Three Crew to Return Thursday

The nine International Space Station residents pose for a portrait inside the Zvezda service module. At the bottom row from left are, station cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, astronauts Luca Parmitano and Nick Hague, visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, astronaut Jessica Meir and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka. At the top are, astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan with cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. Credit: NASA.

The nine-member crew aboard the International Space Station will split up Thursday and see three humans return to Earth. Meanwhile, there is still a multitude of space research to conduct as well as a new Japanese space freighter to unload.

Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague are in their final week aboard the orbiting lab. The homebound residents are packing up their Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and handing over their duties to the crewmates staying in space.

They will undock Thursday from the Rassvet module at 3:36 a.m. EDT along with spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Kazakhstan time). All three returning crewmates reviewed their undocking and landing procedures today.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan took turns today exploring how astronauts grip and manipulate objects in microgravity. Observations may inform the design of intelligent, haptic interfaces for future crews on deep space missions.

Morgan then explored increasing the purity of protein crystals in space to improve pharmaceutical and biochemistry research. Veteran cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov conducted his own biochemistry research in the Russian segment of the space lab studying how the microgravity environment impacts enzymes in the human body.

New Expedition 61 crewmates Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos continue settling in for their 189-day mission inside the orbiting lab. Meir reviewed Canadarm2 robotics procedures today to support upcoming spacewalks. She wrapped up the day observing protein crystals to support cancer research. Skripochka tested a specialized suit that counteracts the headward flow of fluids in astronauts due to microgravity. He finally checked out the Magnetic 3D Printer that explores the benefits of printing organic tissue in space.

Japan's eighth station resupply ship, also known as the Kounotori, is open for business and Parmitano and NASA astronaut Christina Koch are unloading its cargo and new science hardware today. Kounotori is due for a month-long stay attached to the Harmony module for internal and external cargo operations. Ground controllers will be commanding the Canadarm2 to remove new lithium-ion batteries delivered on Kounotori's external pallets. The robotics work will be setting up a series of power upgrade spacewalks planned for October.

On-Orbit Status Report

H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-8 Capture and Berthing: HTV-8 launched on September 24 and was successfully captured on Saturday at 6:11 AM CT. Berthing occurred approximately 2 hours later and the crew ingressed the vehicle at 2:30 PM CT. The vehicle delivered approximately four tons of supplies, parts, and experiment hardware.

H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-8 Berth Operations: Today, the crew completed the HTV8 cargo ops overview training. In addition, the crew completed the HTV emergency procedure review in support of HTV8 berth operations.

Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparations: The crew performed the following in preparation for the first P6 Battery EVA currently scheduled for October 6.

Configured the Dynamic Onboard Ubiquitous Graphics (DOUG) software to display real time Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) joint angle telemetry. DOUG was then configured without real time SSRMS joint angle telemetry.
Rechargeable EVA Battery Assembly (REBA) powered hardware checkout for glove heaters and EMU TV.
Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Ops: Robotics Ground Controllers powered up the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) and released the External Pallet 7 (EP7) from the Payload & ORU Accommodation (POA). The Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) maneuvered the EP7 and handed it off to the Japan Experiment Module - Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS). Then, the SSRMS maneuvered to the EP8, grappled it and extracted it from the HTV-8 Unpressurized Logistics Carrier (ULC). The SSRMS maneuvered the EP8 and handed it off to the POA. The SSRMS maneuvered away from the EP8 to a park position and the MSS was powered down.

Saturday (28-September) Payload summary:

ESA EPO: The crew completed recording massages from the UAE crewmember. The activities related to this project are intended to encourage and strengthen the teaching of science curriculum, and through this, stimulate the curiosity of students and motivate them towards further study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

Fluidics: The crew continued the series of Fluidics experiments by performing run 2 and run 3. The measurement of liquid displacement within a sphere in microgravity relates to a given kinematic representation of a spacecraft's fuel tank. The FLUIDICS investigation evaluates the Center of Mass (CoM) position regarding a temperature gradient on a representation of a fuel tank. The observation of capillary wave turbulence on the surface of a fluid layer in a low-gravity environment can provide insights into measuring the existing volume in a sphere.

Microgravity Crystals: The crew performed the final observation for the Microgravity Crystals group B samples. The activities involve the removal of the Microgravity Crystals samples from Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL), observation and photography of the sample wells using the microscope, and then returning the samples to SABL. The Saturday observations marked day 28, the final day, for these group B samples. The Microgravity Crystals investigation crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival. Although crystallization of this protein has yielded unsatisfactory results on Earth, this investigation leverages extensive protein crystallization work on the space station, significantly increasing the likelihood of successful crystal growth. Results may support development of cancer treatments that target the protein more effectively and with fewer side effects.

PCG-19: The crew performed the appropriate sample retrievals and insertions to and from MELFI and various incubators in support of the PCG-19 experiment. The Monoclonal Antibody Stability in Microgravity-Formulation Study (CASIS PCG 19) examines the stability of monoclonal antibody formulations in microgravity. These formulations degrade over time and sometimes must be discarded, increasing cost and limiting the parts of the world where patients can benefit from them. Storing formulations in microgravity may reveal processes that lead to degradation and, ultimately, to methods for slowing it down.

The ISS Experience: The crew performed a log recording event in the NODE 2 area. Topics discussed in the recording included the launch experience, impressions when looking back at the Earth from ISS, adaptation for mind and body to the microgravity environment, etc. The ISS Experience creates a virtual reality film documenting daily life aboard the ISS. The 8 to 10 minute videos created from footage taken during the six-month investigation cover different aspects of crew life, execution of science aboard the station, and the international partnerships involved. The ISS Experience uses a Z-CAM V1 Pro Cinematic Virtual Reality (VR) 360-degree camera with nine 190° fisheye lenses.

Time Perception/SFP VC: Using a head-mounted Oculus Rift display/headphones, a finger trackball, and support computer, the crew performed the Time Perception experiment sessions. In this experiment, a program on the laptop induces visual and audio stimuli to measure a subject's response to spatial and time perception in a microgravity environment. The accurate perception of objects in the environment is a prerequisite for spatial orientation and reliable performance of motor tasks. Time is fundamental to motion perception, sound localization, speech, and fine motor coordination.

Monday (30-September) payload summary:

Advanced Nano Step: The crew removed the FACET cell, and then inserted the Nano Step Cartridge with Nano Step Specimen Cell and Nano Step Circuit Box into the SCOF (Solution Crystallization Observation Facility). This begins the 35-day crystal growth experiment run, which is expected to return on SpX-19. Advanced Nano Step, more formally known as Effects of Impurities on Perfection of Protein Crystals, Partition Functions, and Growth Mechanisms, monitors and records how the incorporation of specific impurity molecules affect the development and quality of protein crystals. The crystals grown on the ISS are returned to Earth, and characterized using synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The investigation seeks to improve on the quality and success rate of crystals grown in microgravity.

BEST (Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology) sample transfer: The crew performed the routine cell maintenance activities for the on-going BEST experiment 2. These activities involve cell transfer, cell culture media exchange, etc. The BEST investigation studies the use of sequencing for identification of unknown microbial organisms living on the ISS, and how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living on the ISS.

GRIP: The crew performed the seated science 1 sessions. In these sessions, also known as the dynamic seated sessions, the crew performs friction, oscillations, targeted and sensors verification tasks within a set of trials as guided by the GRIP software. The GRIP experiment consists of 3 protocols: Dynamics Seated, References Seated and References Supine. They are performed in 3 separate sub-sessions. ESA's Gripinvestigation tests how the nervous system takes into account the forces due to gravity and inertia when manipulating objects. Results from this investigation may provide insight into potential hazards for astronauts as they manipulate objects in different gravitational environments. They also support design and control of haptic interfaces to be used in challenging environments such as space, and provide information about motor control that will be useful for the evaluation and rehabilitation of impaired upper limb control in patients with neurological diseases.

JAXA EPO (Education Payload Observation): The crew participated in an EPO event using the JEM camera robot. Demonstrations performed for the activity included control of the JEM camera robot, stabilization using a gyroscope, and attitude control. JAXA EPO activities demonstrate artistic activities on board the ISS/JEM to enlighten the general public about microgravity research and human space flight. The JEM Internal Ball Camera is a free-floating, remote-controlled panoramic camera that helps crews monitor operations in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM).

Microgravity Crystals: The crew removed the Microgravity Crystals samples from Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL), observed and photographed the sample wells using the microscope, then returned the samples to SABL. This set of Microgravity Crystals samples were initiated on Friday (20-September) and is expected to run for 28 days. The Monday observations mark day 9 for these group C samples. The Microgravity Crystals investigation crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival. Although crystallization of this protein has yielded unsatisfactory results on Earth, this investigation leverages extensive protein crystallization work on the space station, significantly increasing the likelihood of successful crystal growth. Results may support development of cancer treatments that target the protein more effectively and with fewer side effects.

Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle Schools (EarthKAM) mission 67: The crew closed out this session and stowed the hardware. As of the final report, 225 schools representing 20,802 students and 28 countries signed up to request images (including 108 students from 4 Russian schools). Also as of the final report, 7,384 images had been downlinked, and 6,677 images had been posted to the web ( Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera mounted on-board the ISS. This enables them to photograph the Earth's coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. The EarthKAM team then posts these photographs on the Internet for viewing by the public and participating classrooms around the world.

Completed Task List Activities:
IPOD-T/S (GMT 271)
CBCS/VOK Restow (GMT 272)
ESA PAO Feltrinelli (GMT 272)
ESA PAO INAS Games (GMT 272)
ESA PAO Nathan Never (GMT 272)
ESA PAO New Sci mag (GMT 272)
WHC KTO Replace (GMT 272)

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
Payloads ground support
Mobile Servicing System (MSS) EP7/EP8 relocate

Look Ahead:
Tuesday, 10/1 (GMT 274)

Functional Immune
GPS/Wheel Demo Unit Removal
Nanoracks mod 9/82/86
Standard Measures
Story Time from Space

Luca, Christina EMU OFV
EVA Equipment Lock prep, procedure review and conference

Wednesday, 10/2 (GMT 275)

Acoustic Diagnostics
Actiwatch ops
ELF cartridge cleaning
Food Acceptability
Food Physiology
Functional Immune
Food Physiology
HRP blood ops
ISS Experience
SOLISS install

Change of Command, reduced crew duty day

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

KORREKTSIYA. Accelerometry Initiation
Delta file prep
Rack Transfer Big Picture Words Review
Roskosmos and social media features preparation
ECON-M. Observations and photo (Task list)
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Functional Immune Saliva Collection Dry Book
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Reminder for On-Orbit Fitcheck Verification (OFV)
JAXA Educational Payload Observation Preparation Part 2
JEM Temp Stowage
KORREKTSIYA. Logging Liquid and Food Intake (medicine)
БМП Ф1 absorption cartridge regeneration (init)
Psychological support file deletion from Samsung tablets and RS iPads prior to Soyuz 742 undock
GRIP Big Picture Words reading
JAXA Education Payload Observation Briefing
PAO event during Visiting mission (conference via UHF).
Acoustic Monitor Setup for Crew Worn Measurements
JAXA Education Payload Observation Event
GRIP setup in the SEATED configuration
Auxiliary Laptop Computer System Virus Definition File Update
JEM Camera Robot Closeout
GRIP Big Picture Words reading
СОЖ Maintenance. SEPARATION Mixing in urine circulation loop
ISS Crew Orientation
JEM Stowage Return
Crew Departure Preparations for Return to Earth
VEGGIE Display On-Board Training
PAO event during Visiting mission (conference via UHF). Hardware setup and assistance
Public Affairs Office (PAO) High Definition (HD) Config LAB Setup
VEG Series Experiment On-Board Training
Soyuz 742 IRIDIUM Phone Recharging, Setup, Start Recharging (Setup charger unit (ЗУ) ФГБ1ПГО_2_224_1, 0.5 CTB # 1017 (002857J), collapsible container (00044322R))
Countermeasures System (CMS) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Exercise Session
PAO Preparation
PAO event during Visiting mission. Closeout operations
On-Orbit Hearing Assessment (O-OHA) with EarQ Software Setup and Test
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) - Lab
KARDIOVECTOR. Assistance and photo
GRIP science performance in seated position
Soyuz 742 IRIDIUM Phone Charging - Battery Status Check
Soyuz 742 IRIDIUM Phone Charging, Terminate Charge
Photo and Video recording of SFP performing experiment
Charging GoPro HERO3 camcorder battery in Soyuz 742 (6 pieces) - initiate
Soyuz 746 IRIDIUM Phone Recharging, Start Recharge
HTV Transfer Operations
Soyuz 746 IRIDIUM Phone Charging - Battery Status Check
Soyuz 746 IRIDIUM Phone Charge, Terminate Charge, Teardown of the Setup Stow charger unit (ЗУ) in ФГБ1ПГО_2_224_1, 0.5 CTB # 1017 (002857J), collapsible container (00044322R))
Earth observation (UAE)
ISS Crew Orientation
Photography of SM Panel 140
Crew Departure Prep
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (RGN) Wastewater Storage Tank Assembly (WSTA) Fill
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Review
HTV Transfer Operations
CONSTANTA-2. Cassette retrieval from ТБУ-В and stowage on panel for 1-hour warmup
Charge external batteries SM-AGAT-U55 (2 items) from Soyuz 742 , Initiate
GRIP science performance in seated position
CONSTANTA-2. Preparation and Execution of Session 1. Tagup with specialists
KORREKTSIYA. Logging Liquid and Food Intake (medicine)
Preventive maintenance of MRM1 АСП Hatch Sealing Mechanism and Soyuz 742 hatch
Symbolic activities
Countermeasures System (CMS) Treadmill 2 (T2) Quarterly Maintenance
On-board Training (OBT) EVA Robotics Onboard Trainer (ROBoT) Session
Recharging Soyuz 742 GoPro HERO3 Batteries (6), - end
Soyuz nominal descent training 2. Tagup with specialists
CONSTANTA-2. Photography during the science operation
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MWA Preparation
XF305 Camcorder Setup
Facet Cell Removal
Microscope Reposition Preparation
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MELFI Sample Retrieve
Microgravity Crystals Microscopy Plate Set C, Session 3 (Day 9)
Advanced Nano Step Cartridge and Cell2 Installation
On-Orbit Hearing Assessment (O-OHA) with EarQ Software Setup and Test
Photography of Plume Impingement and Deposit Monitoring Unit [БКДО] position on MRM2 through SM window No.13 - setup
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) Experiment 2 Part 2
Photography of Plume Impingement and Deposit Monitoring Unit [БКДО] position on MRM2 through SM window No.13
Photography of Plume Impingement and Deposit Monitoring Unit [БКДО] position on MRM2 through SM window No.13 - concluding ops
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MELFI Sample Insertion into a Box Module
CONTENT. Experiment Ops
OSTEOLOGY. Setup Ops (selection of sets from stowage locations)
MRM1 comm config for tag-up
3D Magnetic Bioprinter. Closeout ops after completion of Experiment Session 2 using scientific hardware 3D-МБП and ГБ. Tagup with specialists
Probiotics Item Gathering
On-Orbit Hearing Assessment (O-OHA) with EarQ Software Setup and Test
Descent Private Medical Conference (PMC)
Advanced Nano Step Temp Logger data Save
Acoustic Monitor Battery Swap
EarthKAM Node 1 Shutdown, Disconnect and Stow - Russian
Microscope Reposition Post Ops
On-Board Training (OBT) HTV Emergency Review
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven Glacier Sample Removal
On-Board Training (OBT) HTV OBT post capture Conference
Stowage Items Return
Exercise Data Downlink via OCA
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven Sample Photo
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven Sample Glacier Insertion
Daily Planning Conference

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.