Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 12 December 2019 – Preparing for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test of the CST-100 Starliner

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
December 14, 2019
Filed under , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 12 December 2019 – Preparing for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test of the CST-100 Starliner
For the first time in history, a Boeing Starliner spacecraft sits atop the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex-41 to undergo a full day-of-launch dress rehearsal today in preparation for the Orbital Test Flight for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Credit: United Launch Alliance.

NASA and Boeing are proceeding with plans for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test following a full day of briefings and a Flight Readiness Review that took place at the Kennedy Space Center.

Launch of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled for 6:36 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 20, from Florida. The uncrewed flight test will be Starliner’s maiden mission to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Expedition 61 crew today is exploring how the brain, muscles and bones adapt to long-term exposure in weightlessness. The orbiting lab’s communications systems are also being continuously maintained.

Astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano were back in the Columbus lab module today investigating how the central nervous system manages hand-eye coordination in space. The duo wore virtual reality gear using real-time visual and audible displays while coordinating a variety of body motions. The GRASP study explores how the brain adapts to the lack of a traditional up and down reference in space to ensure mission success farther away from Earth.

The musculoskeletal system also adjusts rapidly to the microgravity environment and studying mice aboard the orbiting lab helps reveal the impacts. Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch continued scanning rodents today in a bone densitometer before placing them back in their habitats. The new Rodent Research-19 study is investigating two proteins that may prevent muscle and bone loss while living off the Earth.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka ensured the upkeep of a variety of Russian space station systems. The duo connected a Progress cargo craft’s thrusters to the Zarya module’s fuel tanks. The veteran cosmonauts also checked out antenna gear, laptop computers and video recording equipment.

Japan’s new high-resolution spectral Earth imager has been installed and activated on the Kibo lab module. HISUI, or Hyperspectral Imagery Suite, is a technology demonstration that will send data to agricultural and environmental industries for improved resource management.

On-Orbit Status Report

Bio-Monitor: The crew doffed and stowed the headband and Garment hardware. The crew then connected the data unit to the controller for data downlink. Although the ISS is equipped with health and life sciences research tools, the existing instrumentation for continuous and simultaneous recording of several physiological parameters is lacking. To tackle this issue, the Bio-Monitor Commissioning activity tests the Bio-Monitor facility; a wearable garment capable of monitoring relevant physiological parameters for up to 48 hours in a non-invasive and non-interfering way. The physiological parameters which can be monitored consist of heart rate, respiration rate, ECG (Electrocardiogram), skin temperature, peripheral blood oxygen saturation, etc.

GRASP: Crewmembers performed Seated GRASP measurements. The purpose of the Gravitational References for Sensimotor Performance: Reaching and Grasping (GRASP) investigation is to better understand how the central nervous system (CNS) integrates information from different sensations (e.g. sight or hearing), encoded in different reference frames, in order to coordinate the hand with the visual environment. More specifically, the science team seeks to better understand if, and how, gravity acts as a reference frame for the control of reach-to-grasp.

Inertial Spreading: The crew stowed the Inertial Spreading hardware. Inertial Spreading and Imbibition of a Liquid Drop through a Porous Surface (Inertial Spreading) observes a drop of water spreading over and through a sponge-like metal object. When water touches a sponge-like material such as dry soil, it penetrates microscopic holes too small to see; widening these holes makes the water disappear too quickly. Microgravity slows down this process, allowing use of larger holes for more detailed observations to create a benchmark for computer simulations.

Cell Biology Experiment Facility-L (CBEF-L): The crew completed part 2 of the CBEF setup activities including swapping the IPU hard drive. CBEF-L is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) new subrack facility, which is an upgraded facility of the original CBEF currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS). CBEF-L provides new capabilities with additional new resources such as Full High Definition video interface, Ethernet, 24 VDC power supply, and a larger diameter centrifugal test environment. By using the original CBEF and CBEF-L as one facility for the same experiment, the payload user is provided with an upgraded experimental environment that can handle the processing of more experimental samples for a wider array of experiments.

NanoRacks Module-85: The crew transferred the Module-85 tubes (3) and inserted them into cold stowage. Microgravity Effect on Entomopathogenic Nematodes’ Ability to Find and Kill Insects (Module-85 Pheronym) tests the effects of microgravity on the movement and infection behavior of beneficial nematodes, which are used to control agricultural insect pests. The research looks at whether these nematodes can navigate through soil, infect insects and reproduce in space. It also looks at whether their symbiotic bacteria function normally in microgravity and has any effects on insect host physiology.

NanoRacks Zero-G Oven: The crew installed samples into the oven for processing and cooling. Zero-G Oven examines heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity. It uses an oven designed specifically for use aboard the space station with a top temperature of 363.3° C. On future long-duration missions, fresh-baked food could have psychological and physiological benefits for crew members.

Rodent Research-19 (RR-19): The crew continued to perform Bone Densitometer scans using the Experiment box in the Life Science Glovebox. This experiment uses rodent models on the ISS to investigate the potential benefits of targeting the myostatin (MSTN) and activin signaling pathways to prevent skeletal muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and on the recovery of muscle and bone following return to Earth. This research could provide valuable preclinical data to support clinical trials for MSTN therapies for a wide range of conditions that affect muscle and bone health. Such research is particularly important for conditions that involve disuse muscle atrophy (muscle wasting due to immobility or lessened activity)–for example, patients recovering from hip fracture surgery, intensive care patients, and the elderly.

Space Tango MultiLab Locker (TangoLab-2): The crew swapped out the Payload Cards from slot 6 and 7. Also the Cubes were removed from Card 02 and 03. TangoLab-2 is a reconfigurable general research facilities designed for microgravity research and development and pilot manufacturing in the ISS.


SpX-19 Dragon Trunk Operations: Overnight, JAXA’s Hyper-Spectral Imager Suite (HISUI) payload was removed from the SpX-19 trunk with Space Station Remote Manipulator System- Special Dexterous Manipulator (SSRMS-SPDM) and handed to the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS). The JEMRMS will berth HISUI to the JEM Exposed Facility EFU #8. Next, the newly arrived Li-Ion batteries will be extracted from the Dragon trunk.

Completed Task List Activities:
LAB IMV Bypass Duct Installation

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
Payload Operations Support
Dragon LiOH Battery Removal

Friday, 12/13 (GMT 347)

Bio-Monitor hardware stow (CSA)
GRASP Free Session (ESA)
RR-19 Water check (NASA)
LSR H2 sensor 2&3 removal and closing cap install (ESA)
NR Zero-G oven sample insert and retrieve (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Standard Measures Saliva collect (NASA)
CIR/ACME Controller change outs (NASA)

Dragon Cargo Transfer
CST Conference

Saturday, 12/14 (GMT 348) – Crew Off-Duty

No experiment activities

No systems activities

Sunday, 12/15 (GMT 349) – Crew Off-Duty

No Experiment activities

No systems activities

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

Uragan. Observations and photo
SCENARIY. Observation and photography of catastrophic events and their aftermath
ECON-M. Observations and photo
GRASP experiment constraints reminder
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven Preheat
GRASP Big picture reading
XF305 Camcorder Setup
Cell Biology Experiment Facility Left (CBEF-L) initial setup part2
GRASP additional set-up in seated configuration
CONTROL. Switching Indicator-ISS P/L measuring modes
БСК-1В1 #10Ю=А497 R&R.
Checking RSK1 laptop charge for video recording ops and recharging, if needed
Filling ЕДВ from Progress 443 (DC1) Rodnik H2O Tank 2
SODF EMER-1a updates
JEM Airlock Press
GRASP science performance in seated position
On MCC Go Replacement of БСК-1В1 #10Ю=А497 (mating Telemetry connector).
REPLACEMENT OF БСК-1В1 UNIT, #10Ю=А497 (Current Converter Control Unit)
JEM Airlock Leak Check
Rodent Research Bone Scan and Anesthesia Recovery Session
Fluid Physics Experiment Facility (FPEF) Cable Connection
Image Processing Unit (IPU) Video Recording Unit (VRU) #3 Hard Disk Exchange
Rodent Research Bone Densitometer Scan
Inertial Spreading Hardware Stow
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven POLAR Sample Retrieve
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven Sample Installation
Glacier Desiccant Swap
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven Sample Swap 1
Replacement of High Gain Antenna [ОНА] #10Ю=А715 Power Switching Unit (БСК).
NanoRacks Module-85 Tube Retrieval
Monthly monitoring of video recording equipment performance on the ISS RS (use RSK1 Laptop)
NanoRacks Module-85 MELFI Sample Insertion
Locker Removal from Dragon
Food Acceptability Survey
Station Support Computer, Hypervisor 4 Reseat
RFID Ember 1 Plugin [Aborted]
HRF Generic Saliva Collection Setup
On MCC Go Replacement of High Gain Antenna [ОНА] #10Ю=А715 Power Switching Unit (БСК) (mating Telemetry connector).
ISS HAM Service Module Pass
Replacement of High Gain Antenna [ОНА] #10Ю=А715 Power Switching Unit (БСК) (Closeout Ops)
Delta file prep
Emergency RS ISS VHF-1 Comm Checkout from USOS
NanoRacks Zero-G Oven Sample Swap 2
NanoRacks Zero-G POLAR Sample Insertion
TangoLab-2 Card Cube Replace
Bio-Monitor Wearables Data Transfer And Removal
High Definition (HD) Config JEM Camera Setup for Crew Choice Event
CCE Preparation
Crew Choice Event
Bio-Monitor Wearables Stow

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