Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 13 September, 2021 – Back to Microgravity Research After Trio fo Spacewalks

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
September 14, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 13 September, 2021 – Back to Microgravity Research After Trio fo Spacewalks
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei works inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. (Aug. 16, 2021)

The Expedition 65 crew is back on microgravity research aboard the International Space Station today after kicking off September with three spacewalks in less than two weeks.
International astronauts Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet relaxed Monday morning following their six-hour and 54-minute spacewalk on Sunday to install a modification kit on the station’s Port-4 (P4) truss structure. The Commander from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) then joined the ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer for standard health checks that take place after the strenuous spacewalks.

Afterward, Hoshide swabbed and collected microbe samples from station surfaces for incubation and analysis back on Earth. Pesquet also collected microbe samples from the station’s atmosphere for observation on petri dishes.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur both relaxed on Monday morning having assisted spacewalkers Hoshide and Pesquet throughout the day on Sunday. Vande Hei then moved on and swapped and cleaned components for the ACE-T-11 physics study that is exploring space manufacturing techniques. McArthur replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack and later cleaned up debris in the orbiting lab’s Plant Habitat housing Hatch Green chiles growing for the Plant Habitat-04 space crop experiment.

Working throughout Monday inside the Kibo laboratory module, NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough began setting up hardware and trained for the newest rodent research experiment. Mice, delivered on the recent SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission, will soon be observed inside Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox to understand how microgravity affects the healing process.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov continue cleaning up in the station’s Russian segment following their spacewalks on Sept. 3 and Sept. 9 to configure the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for science operations. The duo from Roscosmos also had time for life support maintenance and cargo transfers from the Progress 78 resupply ship today.

On-Orbit Status Report


4-Bed CO2 scrubber: The crew reviewed the big picture words and procedures for the installation planned later this week. The Four Bed CO2 Scrubber demonstrates a technology for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere on a spacecraft. The technology is based on the current system in use on the International Space Station (ISS) with mechanical upgrades in absorption beds, heater elements, and valves and use of an improved zeolite absorbent to reduce erosion and dust formation. A goal for this next-generation system is continuous operation for 20,000 hours without a failure, and this technology is a step toward that goal.

Cell Science-04: Over the weekend, the crew concluded the 61-day investigation. Experiment samples will be returned to the ground on SpX-23. The Hypsibius exemplaris tardigrade (tardigrades are commonly called ‘water bears’) is the model organism for studying biological survival under the most extreme environmental stress conditions on Earth and in space. The objective of the Cell Science-04 investigation is to characterize the molecular biology of short term and multigenerational survival in the space environment by identifying genes that are required for adaptation and survival in high stress environments. The findings from this study can be applied to understanding the stress factors of humans in the space environment, and identification of countermeasures.

Combustion Integrated Rack/Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments/Cool Flames Investigation with Gasses (CIR/ACME/CFI-G part 2): Following successful repairs last week, this week the crew removed an empty propane fuel bottle and installed a butane fuel bottle, allowing the continuation of the experiment. Spherical Cool Diffusion Flames Burning Gaseous Fuels (Cool Flames Investigation with Gases) observes the chemical reactions of cool diffusion flames. Diffusion flames are created by supplying fuel to a burner and mixing in ambient air for combustion. Cool flames, which burn at extremely low temperatures, are nearly impossible to create in Earth’s gravity, but are easily created in microgravity; studying them may improve the understanding of combustion and fires on Earth.

ESA Blob: The crew installed the experiment hardware and initiated a Blob experiment session by injecting water into the appropriate areas. The goal of the Blob investigation is to observe the influence of microgravity on the Blob’s (a unicellular organism whose scientific name is Physarum polycephalum) behavior when it explores its environment or when it eats. A ground experiment takes place in schools and the results are compared against the results of the International Space Station conclusions. The final goal is to motivate students from France and other European Space Agency (ESA) Member States to study the Biological sciences.

Fluids Integrated Rack/Light Microscopy Module/Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature control (FIR/LMM/ACE-T): The crew removed the processed ACE-T9 module and installed an ACE-T1 module. ACE-T1 studies tiny suspended particles which have been designed by scientists to connect themselves in a specific way to form organized structures within water. Materials having complex structures and unique properties potentially can be made with more knowledge of how these particles are joined and the conditions which control their behaviors. The particular type of particles used in ACE-T1 are referred to as Janus particles, named after the two-faced Roman god Janus, because these particles are said to have “two faces” as they possess two distinct types of properties. The Janus particles being studied have one half of their surface composed of hydrophilic groups (which interact with water) and the other half of hydrophobic groups (which are repelled from water). The microgravity environment on the International Space Station (ISS) provides researchers insight into the fundamental physics of micro particle self-assembly and the kinds of colloidal structures that are possible to fabricate. This in turn helps manufacturers on Earth in choosing which high-value material is worth investigating.

Rodent Research-Demo1 (RR-D1): The crew gathered hardware, reviewed procedures, and set up the Life Science Glovebox (LSG) to support the RR-D1 experiment. RR-D1 validates equipment and procedures related to the wound healing process investigation. Normal skin function and wound healing are important for maintaining good health, but spaceflight may impair healing of wounds in astronauts. Results from this investigation are intended to support design of a subsequent study on the effects of spaceflight on wound healing.

Veggie Monitor material review and photo: The crew took photos while performing Veggie Monitoring Surface Sample Collection operations. Culture-based Environmental Monitoring of Crop-based Space Food Systems (Veggie Monitoring) collects microbial samples from the surface of the station’s Veggie plant production system in conjunction with quarterly Environmental Health System (EHS) sample collection. Longer exploration missions require space-based systems for growth of plants, and this investigation is expected to help establish requirements to protect these systems, plants, and crew from contamination.


USOS EVA 77: 4A IROSA Prep EVA: Yesterday, Sunday September 12th, ISS Commander Akihiko “Aki” Hoshide and crewmember Thomas Pesquet completed the 77th USOS EVA. The main goal of this EVA was to prepare the 4A Solar Array for a new ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (IROSA) by building and attaching the struts and mounting brackets that will hold the IROSA in place to the array frame. During the 6-hour and 54-minute EVA, the EV crew completed the following objectives:

Build the 4A Upper Bracket
Install the 4A Center Pad to Mast Canister
Install the 4A Left Struts
Install 4A Right Struts, MLIs, and Clamps
Airlock Pip Pin R&R (get ahead task)
Perform P1 FPMU R&R
Post-Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Activities: The crew completed multiple post-EVA activities after yesterday’s successful 4A IROSA Prep EVA. Their activities included: a post-EVA debrief conference with the EVA ground teams, a Z93 ORU safing activity, a PBA relocate, and a Crewlock depress/repress cue cards update activity.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) Stow
Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Walkoff
Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) Unstow
ACE-T11 Module Configuration
Look Ahead Plan

Tuesday, September 14 (GMT 257)

APEX-08 HW Deactivation
Astrobee prep
Biofilms Deinstall
BIOMOLE Sample Part 3
ESA BLOB File transfer
Food Acceptability
Four Bed CO2 Scrubber
Genes in Space-8 Run 5
ManD reconfigure
Redwire Regolith Print tray remove
ROBO PRO Briefing
Rodent Research OBT and prep
SPECTRUM MTL hose removal
Standard Measures Saliva collect

EMU water recharge
Node 3 Smoke detector cleaning
EVA tool stow
Dragon cargo ops
Wednesday, September 15 (GMT 258)

BCM Robot Test
Eklosion Water fill, t/s, and message photo
ESA EPO Touching Surfaces
ESA EPO BLOB data transfer
Food Acceptability
JEM Water Recovery Gas Trap Install
KUBIK MPCC deinstall
Kibo Robot Programming Challenge-2 final round
Rodent Research Demo-1 Experiment 1A and Hab restock
Standard Measures Saliva collect and Fecal Setup
Turbine CMM Module swap

EVA tool stow
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Ultrasound 2 Scan
IWIS RSU install in MLM
Thursday, September 16 (GMT 259)

CBEF-L LTL Box setup and VRU2 cable reconnect
Food Acceptability
Four Bed CO2 Integrated Hardware install
Fridge-2 label
ISS Experience EVA Z-Cam removal
LIDAL Relocate 3
NanoRacks Module-9 Ops 3
POLAR desiccant swap
PLT5 and ELT5 reconnect config
Rodent Access unit clean
Standard Measures Saliva, body, fecal collect
Turbine CMM Module removal and Ice berg-2 Insert

Oxygen Generation System (OGS) Water Sample
EVA Airlock Deconfiguration
EVA Airlock restow
HMS Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT2) Exam
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Biofilms Kubik 6 status check
Veggie Monitoring Reference Material Review
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Surface Sample Kit (SSK) Collection/Incubation
Veggie Monitoring Surface Sample Collection Historical Documentation Photography
ISS HAM Kenwood Radio Power Up
Combustion Integrated Rack Manifold #4 Bottle Replacement
Z93 ORU Safing
Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Manual Fill Initiation
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Microbial Air Sampler (MAS) Kit Sample Collection
Relocate PBAs post EVA
Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Manual Fill Termination
JEM Common Gas Support Equipment (CGSE) Upper CO2 Gas Supply Stop.
Four Bed CO2 Scrubber Installation Big Picture Words and Procedure Review
Rodent Research Activity Review
HRF Rack Hardware Inspect
Ring-Sheared Drop MELFI Sample Retrieve
Microgravity Science Glovebox Activation
ACE-T11 Module Configuration
Russian Stowage Transfer
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Med Kit Relocate
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) in Columbus
APEX-08 Clean and Dry
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Debrief

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