Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 15 July, 2021 – Science and Maintenance Using Virtual and Augmented Reality Tools

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
July 16, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 15 July, 2021 – Science and Maintenance Using Virtual and Augmented Reality Tools
Astronaut Megan McArthur tests using augmented reality.

Science and maintenance using virtual and augmented reality tools were prominent aboard the International Space Station today.
The Expedition 65 crew also made sure life support components remain in tip-top shape aboard the orbiting lab.

The universe’s coldest temperatures can be found inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s Cold Atom Lab (CAL). NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur replaced components inside the CAL today to improve the operation quality of the device that researches fundamental and quantum physics at extremely low temperatures. She wore the Sidekick headset and used augmented reality to assist her with the complex maintenance work.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide switched between a pair of different experiments on Thursday, one looking at space manufacturing and the other exploring astronaut adaptation in space. He conducted runs for the InSPACE-4 physics study that seeks to harness nanoparticles and fabricate new and advanced materials. In between that research, he wore virtual reality goggles and clicked a trackball for the Vection study observing how astronauts visually interpret motion, orientation and distance in microgravity.

Life support maintenance is critical on spacecraft so that crew members always have a safe breathing environment. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough, Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet partnered together replacing components inside the station’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly and inspecting the Avionics Air Assembly.

The four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts on the space station will relocate their Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft Wednesday, July 21. The relocation will free up Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, scheduled for launch Friday, July 30. Live coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

In the station’s Russian segment, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy explored how microgravity affects genetics then studied space photography techniques. First-time space flyer Pyotr Dubrov replaced components inside Russian Orlan spacesuits.

On-Orbit Status Report


Cold Atom Lab (CAL): The crew performed the CAL Slice-7 Removal and Replacement (R&R). The closeout procedures were only partially completed due to the crew running out of time for the activity. The remainder of the closeout will be completed at a later date. The CAL produces clouds of atoms that are chilled to about one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero, much colder than the average temperature of deep space. At these low temperatures, atoms have almost no motion, allowing scientists to study fundamental behaviors and quantum characteristics that are difficult or impossible to probe at higher temperatures. In microgravity, researchers may be able to achieve even colder temperatures than what is possible on the ground, and observe these cold atom clouds for longer periods of time.

EarthKAM (Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle Schools): The crew configured the EarthKAM D2Xs camera with an 85mm Extravehicular Activity (EVA) lens. EarthKAM allows thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew’s perspective. 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.

Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids (InSPACE-4): The crew distributed particles within the sample vial and initiated experiment runs using the new alternate method for particle distribution. InSPACE-4 studies the assembly of tiny structures from colloids using magnetic fields. These structures change the properties of the assembled material, such as its mechanical response to or interaction with light and heat. Microgravity allows observation of these assembly processes free of confining sample walls and sedimentation and during timescales not possible using simulated microgravity. Results could provide insight into how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials.

Vection: The crew executed a Vection experiment session. The objective of the study is to determine to what extent an astronaut’s ability to visually interpret motion, orientation, and distance may be disrupted in a microgravity environment, and how it may adapt, and how it may be changed upon return to Earth. Multiple experimental time points inflight and upon return to Earth allows for the adaptation and recovery process to be investigated.


LAB Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) Maintenance: The crew returned to the CDRA temporarily stowed in the JPM and reinstalled the components which had been removed to access the bed for the R&R back into the CDRA frame. Once fully reassembled, the crew temporarily stowed CDRA in the JPM. CDRA maintains cabin carbon dioxide partial pressure levels within specified limits, while minimizing air and water losses to space. Over time, the adsorbent material inside the CDRA beds breaks down creating dust which eventually reduces the airflow to the point where CDRA is no longer operable and an R&R of the bed is desired. Performing an R&R of a CDRA bed is a multi-crew and multi-day activity due to the complexity of the equipment. The removed bed will be disassembled and cleaned at a later date.

Avionics Air Assemblies (AAAs) Checkouts: The crew attempted to perform checkouts of the two suspect AAAs (removed from the Water Processor Assembly (WPA) rack and Expedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) 1 rack in May) in the LAB Atmosphere Revitalization (AR) rack since the CDRA is currently removed. The crew was unable to connect electrical connectors to perform the checkout of the first AAA and stood down form the activity to allow ground teams to determine a forward plan. There are currently no on-orbit AAA spares other than these suspect units and therefore, checkouts are highly desired. AAAs are high speed fans that provide cooling and smoke detection to racks in the ISS.

Crew Dragon Port Relocation Preparations: The Endeavour crew completed a port relocation On-Board Training (OBT) and performed checkouts of the flight suits in preparation for port relocation next week. Endeavour is scheduled to relocate from the Node 2 Forward International Docking Adapter (IDA) to the Node 2 Zenith IDA on Wednesday, July 21st. This relocation will clear the Node 2 Forward IDA for OFT-2 docking planned for Saturday, July 31st.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Crew Dragon Monthly Wake Up & Checkout
Crew Dragon Transducer & Avionics Reboots
EPS System Configurations for High Solar Beta (On-going)
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, July 16 (GMT 197)

InSPACE-4 Runs 25-28 (NASA)
MAND Print Removal (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Astrobatics Operations (NASA)
Standard Measures Post-sleep Question (NASA)
SAMS Wireless Deploy (NASA)
MSL SCA Exchange 3B #2 (ESA)
Food Physiology Brief (NASA)
EKAM Node 2 Shutdown and Stow (NASA)

CDRA Chassis Replace & Equipment Stow
Saturday, July 17 (GMT 198)

Crew Off-Duty

Crew Off-Duty
Sunday, July 18 (GMT 199)

Crew Off-Duty

Crew Off-Duty
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Acoustic Monitor Setup for Crew Worn Measurements
Express Rack 4 RIC Reboot
In-Flight Maintenance (IFM) LAB CDRA Component Replace
Solid Combustion (SCEM) 64GB USB Flash drive connect to PLT4
INSPACE-4 (Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions 4) Experiment Run Ops
Cold Atom Lab Slice-7 Remove and Replace Operations
Payload Data Router sensors temporary stow
EarthKAM Node 2 85MM Lens Change
HRF Rack 2 PEHG Big Picture Words and Crew Procedure Review
Urine Transfer System Offload EDV Install
IFM AAA Checkout (Deferred)
ISS Safety Video
Cold Atom Lab Slice-7 Remove and Replace Closeout (Aborted)
Vection Experiment Session
Wanted Poster: Free Fluid Disposal Nozzle
EVA Wanted Poster EVA Crew Options Kit (ECOK) (Deferred)
Crew Dragon Forward Monthly PCS Checkout
HRF Rack 2 Crew PEHG Install Operations Conference
Astrobee Preparation
On-Orbit Hearing Assessment (O-OHA) with EarQ Software Setup and Test
SpX-Crew Dragon Port Relocation OBT
Crew Dragon Suit Checkout
Acoustic Monitor Battery Swap

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