Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 11 March, 2021 – Observing Worms

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
March 12, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 11 March, 2021 – Observing Worms
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 11 March, 2021 - Observing Worms.

The Expedition 64 crew had a busy science day observing worms, readying small satellites for deployment, and conducting vision tests.
Two astronauts are also pressing ahead with preparations for the third spacewalk in two weeks at the International Space Station.

Tiny worms were launched to the orbiting lab in February to study how weightlessness affects genetic expression in muscles. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker loaded cassette samples containing the live worms into a microscope for viewing. Next, NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins recorded microscopic video of the worm activities to understand the effects of spaceflight on muscles. Observations may lead to ways to maintain and improve muscle health for humans on and off the Earth.

Soon, a set of small satellites will be deployed outside of the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi loaded the tiny satellites, also called CubeSats, in a deployer that will be placed inside Kibo’s airlock. The airlock will be closed and depressurized before the Japanese robotic arm grabs the deployer and stages it in position where the CubeSats will be ejected into orbit a few days later.

It has been a busy period for spacewalks at the station as two astronauts gear up for another excursion to maintain cooling system and communications gear. Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins of NASA readied their spacewalk tools and safety tethers in the U.S. Quest airlock where their spacesuits are already located. Afterward, they were joined by Rubins and Noguchi, who will assist the spacewalkers this weekend, for procedure reviews. NASA TV will go on the air Saturday at 6 a.m. EST to broadcast the spacewalk set to begin at 7:30 a.m.

Vision is critical to mission success and researchers are continuously studying how microgravity affects the human eye. Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov partnered together Thursday afternoon reading an eye chart as part of regularly scheduled eye checks. Some crew members have documented eye pressure and vision issues after living in space for months at a time.

Mission controllers in Houston commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release an external pallet loaded with old nickel-hydrogen batteries into Earth orbit on Thursday morning. It is safely moving away from the station and will orbit Earth between two to four years before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov have completed the work to repair small cracks in the transfer compartment of the Russian Zvezda service module. The repairs were 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.

In the coming days, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will close the hatches to the transfer compartment to enable Russian flight controllers to conduct pressure level checks to analyze the results of the sealing procedures.

On-Orbit Status Report

Exposed Pallet 9 (EP9) Jettison: At 7:30 AM CT today, robotics ground controllers commanded an SSRMS disposal jettison of the EP9, carrying old Nickel-Hydrogen batteries. The EP9 has the approximate mass of a large SUV and is predicted to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in two-to-four years. The EP9 was delivered to the ISS inside of the Unpressurized Logistics Carrier (ULC) of HTV-9 (Kountori 9) on May 20th, 2020. The EP9 carried six Lithium-Ion battery Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs) which replaced existing ISS Nickel-Hydrogen batteries during the S6 Battery Extravehicular Activity (EVA) series (United States On-orbit Segment EVAs #65-#68).


Collapsible Contingency Urinal (CCU): Following the 24 hour use of the CCU, crew provided feedback in the form of a questionnaire. The CCU is exploration hardware flown to ISS as a tech 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.

Electromagnetic Levitator (EML): As part of the on-going science campaign, the crew changed the mode selection to RECAL on the EML High Speed Camera. The EML is a 360 kg multi-user facility designed for containerless materials processing in space. It supports research in the areas of meta-stable states and phases along with the measurement of highly accurate thermophysical properties of liquid metallic alloys at high temperatures. EML can accommodate up to 18 samples, each 5 to 8 mm in size. Heating rates of up to 100 Kelvin per second can be achieved with a maximum temperature of 2,100°C.

Human Research Facility-1 (HRF-1): The crew continued the troubleshooting efforts and were able to successfully resolve interference between the coolant hose and the improved Payload Ethernet Hub Gateway (iPEHG) power cable in the internal area of the rack. The crew was able to remove a clamp holding the coolant line, and then get the power cable connected. HRF-1 provides an on-orbit laboratory that enables scientists conducting human life science research to evaluate the physiological, behavioral, and chemical changes induced by space flight. Research performed using HRF-1 provides data to help scientists understand how the human body adapts to long-duration spaceflight.

ISS HAM pass: The crew participated in an ISS HAM pass with the Avoca State School, Bundaberg, QLD, Australia. Some of the questions asked by the 10-11 year old students included how long a typical mission is on the ISS, how the crew gets oxygen too breathe on the ISS, and why meteors don’t hit the ISS. ISS Ham Radio provides opportunities to engage and educate students, teachers, parents and other members of the community in science, technology, engineering and math by providing a means to communicate between astronauts and the ground HAM radio units.

JEM Airlock (JEMAL)/ JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD)-16: The crew performed part 1 and 2 of the J-SSOD-16 installation onto the JEMAL slide table. Following the completion of the installation tomorrow, the slide table will be extended outside the ISS and the satellites will be deployed this weekend. 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.

Micro-16: The crew set up the appropriate hardware and performed microscopy observations on the sample modules. Loss of muscle mass and strength present a major challenge for astronauts on future long space voyages. Determining Muscle Strength in Space-flown Caenorhabditis elegans (Micro-16) uses this tiny worm to test whether decreased expression of muscle proteins is associated with decreased strength. The research team developed a new device to measure muscle strength in multiple generations of space-reared C. elegans worms and compare that strength to postflight muscle gene expression analyses.

Packed Bed Reactor Experiment – Water Recovery (PBRE-WR): The crew performed a routine inspection for water leakage during the PBRE-WR series of experiments. PBRE-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.

Solid Combustion Experiment Module (SCEM): The crew performed the activities necessary to connect a camera power cable. While in the area, they also performed inspections of several other connections. The SCEM facility will be used to support the FLARE investigation. Fundamental Research on International Standard of Fire Safety in Space – Base for Safety of Future Manned Missions (FLARE), a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) investigation, explores the flammability of materials in microgravity. Various solid fuels are burned under different conditions and observed inside a flow tunnel. Microgravity significantly affects combustion phenomena and results are expected to contribute to the improvement of fire safety in space.

Transparent Alloys Hardware Locate: In preparation for an installation into the Microgravity Science Glovebox, the crew located the hardware associated with the Transparent Alloys experiment. A set of five experiments takes place in Transparent Alloys to improve the understanding of melting-solidification processes in plastics, which usually serves to gain experience on physical phenomena involved in metallic alloy processing.


EVA Preparations: The crew performed several activities in preparation for the ISS Upgrades 3.5 EVA. The crew configured EVA tools, printed Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) cuff checklists, reviewed procedures, and participated in a conference with the ground. The ISS Upgrades 3.5 EVA is scheduled for Saturday, March 13th.

Crew-1 Dragon Space Station Computer (SSC) Wi-Fi Test: The crew performed a Wi-Fi characterization inside of the Crew-1 Dragon in order to test the Wi-Fi connection and signal strength on a wireless SSC. During the characterization, the crew moved an SSC to different locations within the vehicle and recorded signal strength at 2.4 GHZ and 5 GHZ.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

EP9 Jettison Commanding
JEMAL and JEMRMS Commanding in Preparation for J-SSOD Deploy
MPEG-2 TV D/L Test
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, March 12 (GMT 071)

Astrobee Off
FIR/LMM Troubleshooting
Grape Microbiota
JEMAL/J-SSOD-16 Install

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

AC Touch
Grape Microbiota

ISS Upgrades 3.5 EVA
Sunday, March 14 (GMT 073)

J-SSOD-16 Deploy

EVA Debrief Conference
EMU H2O Recharge
CWC-I Gather & Degas
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

PBRE/MSG Water Release Inspection/Cleanup
ISS HAM Service Module Pass Kenwood
Condensate Pumping Unit (БПК) Test
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Extension to JPM Side
Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Manual Fill
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Adlink Troubleshooting
PROFILAKTIKA-2. MO-3 Protocol Locomotion Test in Passive Mode
SM air sampling for CO using ИПД sampler
Collecting SM and FGB air samples using АК-1М sampler
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Leak Check
“In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Human Research Facility (HRF) Thermal Control System (TCS) Troubleshooting”
Multiple User System for Earth Sensing Server Vent Cleaning
Combustion Integrated Rack Hardware Return
Charging EVA Camera D4 Battery
JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) (Resupply and Multi) onto Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) Installation
Transparent Alloys Hardware Locate
Solid Combustion Experiment Module (SCEM) Power Cable Reconnection
Collapsible Contingency Urinal Questionnaire
EML High Speed Camera Lens Switch
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Cuff Checklist Print
Audit of disposable covers for Low-Noise Headsets ГНШ-К-24
Food Acceptability Survey
Micro-16 Microscopy Operations
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tool Configuring
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Retraction from JPM Side
JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) (Resupply and Multi) onto Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) Installation Satellite Check
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Air Quality Monitor (AQM) Powercycle
MPEG-2 TV downlink test via Ku-band prior to Soyuz 747 relocation.
Crew-1 Station Support Computer (SSC) WiFi Test
Micro-16 MELFI Culture Return Bag Insertion
Food Physiology Crew Diet Briefing
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Vision Test & Questionnaire
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Review
Preventive maintenance of SM ventilation subsystem. Group B1
Metal Oxide (METOX) Regeneration Termination
Health Management Systems (HMS) Optical Coherence Tomography 2 (OCT2) Spectrometer Fan Filter Cleaning
Water Recovery System Potable Bus Sample
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Conference
Astrobee Stowage Clear
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Reminder for EVA In-Suit Light Exercise (ISLE) Preparation

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