Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 December, 2020 – Another Busy Life Science Week

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
December 18, 2020
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 December, 2020 – Another Busy Life Science Week
Christchurch, New Zealand near Lake Ellesmere and Pigeon Bay.

he Expedition 64 crew is busy this week with a full slate of life science to promote healthier humans on and off the Earth.
Cancer and heart research took precedence today alongside muscle and rodent studies for unique therapeutic insights on the International Space Station.

The microgravity environment on the station enables the production of high-quality protein crystals that are imaged using a microscope for the purpose of improving drug development. The Monoclonal Antibodies study taking place today will use the observations to improve medical cancer treatments and the space manufacturing process.

Engineered heart tissue samples are being observed this week for the Cardinal Heart investigation. NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins is leading that experiment to understand why weightlessness seems to induce cell and tissue abnormalities similar to heart conditions on Earth. Results may help doctors understand and predict cardiovascular risks for Earthlings and astronauts.

More muscle work was on the research schedule today as the crew continued with measurements and ultrasound scans today. The Myotones investigation monitors how microgravity changes muscles and tendons in an astronaut’s body to provide countermeasures for crews in space and therapies for patients on Earth.

Rodents are also being studied this month for insights into tissue and bone loss as well as eye changes caused by living in space. One study will study explore how genetic modifications affect bone and tissue regeneration. The second will look at new treatments for space-caused and Earthbound eye problems.

Robotics controllers are preparing to remove a new science airlock delivered to the station last week inside the SpaceX Cargo Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. Using the Canadarm2 robotic arm, the NanoRacks Bishop airlock will be attached to the Tranquility module this weekend ramping up commercial research opportunities in space.

On-Orbit Status Report


ISS Experience: The crew set up the appropriate equipment to record a session of The ISS Experience in the Russian segment with the goal of capturing exercise and experiment performance. The International Space Station Experience (The ISS Experience) is a cinematic virtual reality (VR) series documenting life and research aboard the space station. Filmed over multiple months, the immersive VR series documents different crew activities – from science conducted aboard the station to preparation for a spacewalk. The ISS Experience uses a Z-CAM V1 Pro Cinematic Virtual Reality (VR) 360-degree camera with nine 190° fisheye lenses.

J-HDTV installation: The crew performed the activities needed to install the EFU (Exposed Facility Unit) adapter on the JEM airlock slide table. This is a continuation of the activities supporting the iSIM (integrated Standard Imager for Microsatellites) removal and HDTV/SOLISS installation. HDTV/SOLISS (High Definition TV/Demonstration of Small Optical Communication System) will eventually be translated to a JEM-EF location. SOLISS is demonstrates the use of an optical communication system to provide more than 100Mbps downlink speed from the International Space Station (ISS).

Monoclonal Antibodies: The crew performed microscopy observations on the Monoclonal PCG experiment samples. The experiment was initiated 7 days ago and these ops were an initial survey looking for any protein crystal growth or structures in the solutions. Structural and Crystallization Kinetics Analysis of Monoclonal Antibodies (Monoclonal Antibodies PCG) assesses the differences in crystallization in space of various therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-created immune system proteins designed to interact with specific targets such as cancer cells. Microgravity enables production of higher quality crystals that could support development of drugs with reduced cost, improved stability and greater ease of administration.

MSRR/MSL SCA exchange: The crew performed the steps necessary to remove the processed SCA (sample cartridge assembly) and install a new one in the batch 2b experiment series. The ESA Batch-2b of the Materials Science Laboratory Sample Cartridge Assemblies (MSL SCA-Batch 2b-ESA) serves two projects investigating how different phases organize in a structure when metallic alloys are solidified. The project Metastable Solidification of Composites (METCOMP) studies the phase formed by the reaction of the remaining liquid phase with an already formed solid, to form a second solid phase on cooling. For this purpose, Bronze (Copper-Tin Alloys) of different compositions will be processed. The other project, Solidification along a Eutectic path in Ternary Alloys (SETA), looks at how two phases that form together organize into lamellar, or fiber, structures when cooling Aluminum (Copper-Silver Alloys). Both projects will provide benchmark samples that will enable to test numerical models that aim to predict these structures.

Myotones: The crew completed their ultrasound scans and measurements with the Myotones device. The Myotones investigation observes the biochemical properties of muscles during long-term exposure to the spaceflight environment. Results from this investigation are expected to provide insight into principles of human resting muscle tone, which could lead to the development of new strategies for alternative treatments for rehabilitation both on Earth and for future space missions.


Power Channel 4B Trip Event: Following yesterday’s successful Channel 4B recovery effort, Battery Charge Discharge Units (BCDUs) 4B2 and 4B3 experienced another Amp Delta Fault Detection, Isolation, and Recovery (FDIR) and shut down. The FDIR was inhibited per Flight Investigation Team (FIT) recommendation from the previous channel 4B anomaly earlier this week, however there was also a Persist Amp Delta Event which triggered after 20 seconds and tripped BCDU 4B2 and 4B3 converters. A Seamless Power Channel Handover (SPCH) has once again tied Channel 4B to Channel 4A and heaters were reactivated for BCDU 4B2 and 4B3. Loads remained powered throughout as BCDU 4B1, which had also tripped on the previous anomaly, is currently still active. A FIT is scheduled this afternoon to determine the forward path.

ISS Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Umbilical (IEU) Activation and Checkout: The IEU that was previously installed (s/n 1007) was of an older configuration. The new IEU design that incorporates strain relief has been added to the end of the umbilical where it interfaces with the suit (corrective action to previous water leaks). S/n 1007 was removed yesterday and the new design was installed today.

Completed Task List Activities:

MVP glove bag locate
PMM cleanup
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

EVA SCU activation/checkout
Payloads ops support
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, 12/18 (GMT 353)

Astrorad vest, Fiber Optic Production sample exchange, Food Physiology, ISS Experience stow, Micro-14A, Myotones, SOLISS installation, Standard Measures

EVA Airlock restow
Saturday, 12/19 (GMT 354)

Cardinal Heart, Micro-14A, MVP2-Cell 06, Rotifer-B2

Crew off duty; housekeeping
Sunday, 12/20 (GMT 355)

Bioasteroid, Cardinal Heart, ISS Experience, Micro-14A, Plant Hab-02 leaf sample

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

HRF saliva collection
MELFI sample retrieval
HRF urine collection
Vascular Aging
HRF blood collection
Bio-Monitor data transfer/removal
ISS Experience setup
Standard Measures collection setup
LSG work volume deploy
COL cleanup for Myotones
SF 305 camcorder setup
JEMAL ST extension
JEF HDTV install to EFU adapter
ISS Experience recording
Motones kit gather
Echo unit setup for Myotones
SCU activation/checkout
Myotones device setup with EPM laptop
Bio-Monitor wearables stow
JEM SLT comm verification
Myotones measurement
Myotones ultrasound scan
Myotones measurements
JEMAL ST retraction from JPM side
ISS Experience closeout
ECLSS recycle tank drain
RR access unit clean
Microscope reposition prep
Monoclonal Antibodies PCG MERLIN sample removal/retrieve/photo ops
Food acceptability survey
Echo unit stowage
Material Science Lab SCA Exchange
Urine Transfer System EDV swap
Micro-14A MELFI sample retrieve/culture bag inoculation
Cardinal Heart SABL thumb drive install
LSG primary crew restraint fold

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