Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 10 March, 2021 – Fixing Small Cracks in the Zvezda Service Module

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
March 11, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 10 March, 2021 – Fixing Small Cracks in the Zvezda Service Module
Astronaut Michael Hopkins works on protein crystal science. (March 2, 2021)

Two astronauts are focusing on preparations for this weekend’s spacewalk as the rest of the Expedition 64 crew keeps up research and maintenance on the International Space Station.
NASA Flight Engineers Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins checked on the U.S. spacesuits today they will wear during a spacewalk scheduled for 7:30 a.m. EST on Saturday. The duo also reviewed the procedures they will use when working on the station’s cooling system and communications gear. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the spacewalk activities at 6 a.m.

Advanced space science is always ongoing aboard the orbital lab even though the crew may be getting ready for mission events such as spaceship arrivals and departures or spacewalks. Scientists and engineers on Earth use the knowledge gained from the microgravity research observations to improve life for humans on and off the planet.

Veteran station resident Kate Rubins of NASA replaced fuel canisters for a suite of combustion studies exploring fuel efficiency, pollution control and spacecraft fire prevention. NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, on her second station mission, viewed high-quality protein crystals grown for a space commercialization study that could benefit the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) serviced components inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock where experiments are staged before exposure to the harsh environment of space.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov continued work to repair small cracks in the transfer compartment of the Russian Zvezda service module this week. This was part of ongoing work to isolate and fix the source of a slight cabin air leak which is an increase above the standard rate that station teams have been investigating over the past year. At the current rate, the crew is in no danger, and the space station has ample consumables aboard to manage and maintain the nominal environment.

The cosmonauts are applying a second layer of specialized paste to further seal the cracks. On March 12, hatches to the transfer chamber will be closed to enable Russian flight controllers to conduct pressure level checks to analyze the results of the sealing procedures.

On-Orbit Status Report


Antimicrobial Coatings Touch: Per standard procedure, the crew touched both the coated and uncoated coupons for this long-term investigation. Boeing Environment Responding Antimicrobial Coatings tests an antimicrobial coating on several different materials that represent high-touch surfaces. Some microbes change characteristics in microgravity, which could create new risks to crew health and spacecraft systems as well as creating the possibility of contaminating other planetary bodies. The samples remain in space approximately six months then return to Earth for analysis.

Astrobee: The Astrobee hardware was powered-on and the area was cleared of stowed items in preparation for a set of crew-minimal operations. In these operations, the Astrobee satellites are guided through various objectives with minimal crew intervention, typically only for recovery of a satellite which has become non-responsive. Astrobee is made up of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots which are designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in microgravity to assist astronauts with routine chores, and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and accommodate up to three investigations.

Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR)/Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME): The crew performed the second part of the work needed to reconfigure the ACME chamber insert from Coflow Laminar Diffusion (CLD) support to Cool Flames Investigation with Gases (CFIG) support, which is the next ACME experiment to be performed. Cool diffusion flames were discovered during droplet combustion experiments aboard the ISS in 2012, and this initiated a rapidly growing field of combustion research. A cool flame is one that burns at about 600 degrees Celsius. A typical candle is about two-and-a-half times hotter, burning at around 1,400 degrees Celsius. Most internal combustion engines are designed using computer models that neglect cool flame chemistry, but ignition and flame propagation in engines depend on cool flame chemistry. Cool flame chemistry also has a significant impact on fuel octane and cetane numbers, whose understanding has large economic consequences.

Collapsible Contingency Urinal (CCU): The crew set up the CCU for a 24 hour test session. During the test session the crew uses the CCU and provides feedback in the form of a questionnaire. The CCU is exploration hardware flown to ISS as a technology demo. The approach includes a fractal wetting design that incorporates smart capillary fluidics. This work could have a broad impact on capillary-based fluid management on spacecraft and on Earth.

Grape Microbiota: The crew retrieved the Grape Microbiota hardware from the Polar and set it up to prepare for inspection and initiation of the experiment. Microbes (bacteria, algae, and fungi) that coexist with plants are a key factor influencing fruit size, shape, color, flavor, and yield of fruit for grapes and a variety of other crops. Grape Juice Fermentation in Microgravity Aboard ISS observes the complete process of fermentation in microgravity and measures physical and genetic differences in the microbes involved. Characterizing the differences seen in microgravity could provide a better understanding of how microbes affect their host crops.

JEM Airlock (JEMAL) Preparations for JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD): The crew reconfigured the adapters and other hardware on the JEMAL slide table. This reconfiguration is needed to support the installation of the J-SSOD-16 experiment hardware later in the week. The J-SSOD provides a novel, safe, and small satellite launching capability to the ISS. The J-SSOD is a unique satellite launcher, handled by the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS), which provides containment and deployment mechanisms for several individual small satellites. Once J-SSOD, including satellite install cases with small satellites, is installed on the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) by crew members, it is passed through the JEM airlock for retrieval, positioning, and deployment by the JEMRMS.

Packed Bed Reactor Experiment – Water Recovery (PBRE-WR): The crew performed a routine inspection for water leakage during the PBRE-WR series of experiments. They did note the washcloth, which is used to catch liberated water, was saturated and replaced it. The ground team reported this was not unexpected since they were performing high flow rate tests at the timePBRE-WR examines flow rates of gas and liquid through a filtering substrate in the space station water processor, replacing oxygen with nitrogen. This investigation could help identify optimum conditions and enhance accuracy of models that predict simultaneous flow of gas and liquid (two-phase flow) in microgravity.

Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Phase II (RTPCG-2): The crew removed the RTPCG-2 samples from Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL), observed and photographed the sample wells using the microscope, then returned the samples to SABL. RTPCG-2 demonstrates new methods for producing high-quality protein crystals in microgravity. Previous work has shown that microgravity can sometimes produce high-quality protein crystals that can be analyzed to identify possible targets for drugs to treat disease. RTPCG-2 tests high-quality proteins crystals for detailed analysis back on Earth.


Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparations: The crew performed several activities in preparation for the ISS Upgrades 3.5 EVA. The crew swapped Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs) 3004 and 3015 with EMUs 3006 and 3009 on the EMU Don/Doff Assemblies (EDDAs), resized EMU 3006 and swapped waist and helmet components with EMU 3015. The crew then installed EMU Long Life Batteries (LLBs) and Metal Oxide (METOX) cartridges to the prime EMUs. A Li-ion Rechargeable EVA Battery Assembly (REBA) was installed on EMU 3009 and HECA was on EMU 3006. Next, the performed a REBA powered hardware checkout for the prime EMUs. Finally, the crew performed EVA tool configurations, reviewed procedures, and participated in a conference with the ground. The ISS Upgrades 3.5 EVA is scheduled for Saturday, March 13th.

In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Water Processing Assembly (WPA) Waste Water Filter Remove & Replace (R&R): The crew performed an R&R of an expended Waste Water filter in the WPA between the Pump/Separator Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) and the Waste Water ORU. The WPA was activated after the completion of the R&R. The WPA uses a series of treatment processes to produce potable water from various waste streams generated on the ISS. These treatment processes include particulate filtration, adsorption, ion exchange, catalytic oxidation, and sterilization.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Attitude Commanding for EP9 Jettison Preparation (IN WORK)
Thermal Amine Scrubber Diagnostic Testing for Two Bed Operations
Lab CDRA Activation
UPA Processing
JEMAL Commanding
SSRMS Commanding for SPDM Stow
Look Ahead Plan

Thursday, March 11 (GMT 070)

Astrobee Cleanup
CCU Questionnaire
EML Lens Switch
Food Acceptability
Food Physiology
JEMAL/SSOD-16 Installation
Micro-16 Microscopy Operations
MUSES Server Vent Cleaning
Transparent Alloys Hardware Locate

EVA Procedure Review
EVA Procedure Conference
EVA Tool Configuration
WRM Water Balance
MPEG-2 TV Test
Friday, March 12 (GMT 071)

Astrobee Off
Food Acceptability
Grape Microbiota
JEMAL/J-SSOD-16 Install

EVA Tool Configuration & Audit
EVA Procedure Review
EVA Procedure Conference
EVA Equipment Lock Preparation
JPM CGSE Gas Line Switch
Saturday, March 13 (GMT 072)

AC Touch
Grape Microbiota

ISS Upgrades 3.5 EVA
PMM Rack Reorganization
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Collapsible Contingency Urinal Ops
Hematocrit Test
[???] fan replacement in ??2106
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Swap
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Microscopy Plate S/N B1, Row A, Day 7
PROFILAKTIKA-2. Experiment Ops (Individual Strategy Test) in lieu of Exercise
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Extension to JPM Side
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Resize
MPEP and Passive Capture Mechanism Installation to JEM Airlock Slide Table
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Microscopy Plate S/N B2, Row A, Day 7
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Retraction from JPM Side
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Lithium Rechargeable (EVA) Battery Assembly (LREBA) Operations (OPS) Terminate (TERM)
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tool Configuring
Microscope Reposition Post Ops
ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) HD EMU Camera (HECA) Cable Installation
Troubleshooting RSS1 Laptop
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Water Processor Assembly (WPA) Waste Water (WW) Filter R&R
PBRE/MSG Water Release Inspection/Cleanup
Rechargeable EVA Battery Assembly (REBA) Installation
Fundoscope Battery Maintenance
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Long Life Battery (LLB)/Metal Oxide (METOX) Installation
Astrobee On
Rechargeable EVA Battery Assembly (REBA) Powered Hardware Checkout
Micro-16 Crew Review
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System Sample Analysis and Sample Data Record
Antimicrobial Coatings Touch
Vacuum cleaning ??28-120 voltage inverter for SM printer (behind panel 231?). Inspection of GFCI cable and extension cord .
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Review
Test spare AA Batteries used by BEAM Sensors to determine if batteries still hold good charge.
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) – N3
Sealing of fracture in the Service Module Transfer Tunnel (???) near the Thermal Control System [???] pipe – prep and application of the second coat of Germetall-1 sealant (two sets)
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Conference
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) – Lab
Filling (degassing) ??? [???] for Elektron or ???-[??]
Countermeasures System (CMS) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Cylinder Flywheel Evacuation
Grape Microbiota Polar Sample Removal
WORF Hardware Locate
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows (WinSCAT) Test
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Inspection
Metal Oxide (METOX) Regeneration Termination & Initiation

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