Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 October 2019 – All-Female Spacewalk on Friday

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
October 18, 2019
Filed under , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 17 October 2019 – All-Female Spacewalk on Friday
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch are inside the Quest airlock preparing the U.S. spacesuits and tools they will use on their first spacewalk together. Credit: NASA.

Science experiments continue aboard the International Space Station as two NASA astronauts prepare for their first spacewalk together, which is set to take place Friday.
The Expedition 61 crew researched a variety of space phenomena today and reviewed procedures for tomorrow’s excursion.

Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will venture out into the vacuum of space on Friday to replace a failed power controller, also known as a battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU). The BCDU regulates the charge to the batteries that collect and distribute solar power to the orbiting lab’s systems. They will set their spacesuits to battery power around 7:50 a.m. EDT and exit the Quest airlock for the 5.5-hour repair job on the Port 6 truss structure. NASA TV begins its live coverage at 6:30 a.m.

Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will assist the spacewalkers. Parmitano will control the Canadarm2 robotics arm and Morgan will provide airlock and spacesuit support. All four astronauts gathered together today for a final procedures review.

In the midst of the spacewalk preparations, the crew continued ongoing microgravity science. The astronauts had time set aside today for researching cancer therapies, DNA sequencing, planetary robotics and space agriculture.

Morgan set up protein crystals critical to tumor growth and survival in a microscope for observation and photography. Koch continued exploring the viability of sequencing microbial DNA in microgravity.

Parmitano is readying hardware that will enable an astronaut on the station to control a robot on the Earth’s surface. Future astronauts could use the robotic technology to explore a planetary surface such as the Moon or Mars while orbiting in a spacecraft.

The crew is also in the second week of growing a crop of Mizuna mustard greens. Meir watered the Mizuna plants today for the ongoing space agriculture study to learn how to provide fresh food to space crews.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka had their own slate of human research to conduct today. The duo studied cardiac output changes and blood flow regulation including the effects of space on enzymes.

On-Orbit Status Report

Analog-1: As part of the preparation for the Analong-1 investigation, which arrives later, the crew performed a software load on the appropriate computer. Space is such a harsh place for humans and machines that future exploration of the Solar System may involve sending robotic explorers to “test the waters” on uncharted planets before sending humans. The parent METERON project is a European initiative to help prepare for future human-robotic exploration missions to the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies. The project is organized around a series of experiments as preparatory steps towards gaining the experience needed, through adaptation of the traditional ways of working, to effectively and efficiently support operations of human and robotic combined elements on a planetary surface.

BEST (Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology) sample transfer/FE3: The crew performed the routine cell maintenance activities for the on-going BEST experiment 2. These activities involve cell transfer, cell culture media exchange, etc. The BEST investigation studies the use of sequencing for identification of unknown microbial organisms living on the ISS, and how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living on the ISS.

ISS HAM pass: The crew participated in an ISS HAM contact with Science & Technologie, Teningen, Germany. Some of the questions from the students included: if astronauts ever lose items on the ISS, what the crew thinks about space tourism, and how the crew handles salary and taxes while in space. 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.

MGC (Microgravity Crystals): The crew performed the final microscope observations for the set C group of crystals. MCG sessions are 28 days in length and the crew uses a microscope to periodically observe the crystal evolution in various conditions during this time. The Microgravity Crystals investigation crystallizes a membrane protein that is integral to tumor growth and cancer survival. Although crystallization of this protein has yielded unsatisfactory results on Earth, this investigation leverages extensive protein crystallization work on the space station, significantly increasing the likelihood of successful crystal growth. Results may support development of cancer treatments that target the protein more effectively and with fewer side effects.

Veg-04B: The crew performed a root mat water fill and routine plant check. With earlier versions of the Veggie experiments, the root mat is typically filled when the experiment is initiated. Based on observations of water management in these earlier experiments, Veg-04B is using the delayed root mat fill to allow the seedlings to first develop root structure before the plant pillows are exposed to the wetted root mat. The research of Veg-04B focuses on the impact of light quality and fertilizer on leafy crop growth for a 56-day grow-out, microbial food safety, nutritional value, taste acceptability by the crew, and the overall behavioral health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space. A healthy, nutritious diet is essential for long-duration exploration missions, which means that the typical pre-packaged astronaut diet needs to be supplemented by fresh foods during flight; the Veggie Vegetable Production System (Veggie) has begun testing aboard the space station to help meet this need, and validation tests have demonstrated that leafy greens can be grown in spaceflight.


US Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Battery Charging Discharging Unit (BCDU) 2B2 Replacement (USOS EVA#58) Preparations: Over the past weekend when activating the new Li-Ion 2B2 battery BCDU, the converter close command failed; ground teams have determined that performing an EVA to replace the failed BCDU with a new spare will restore full functionality to the Channel 2B. Today’s EVA preparations included a tool audit and procedure reviews. USOS EVA#58, planned for tomorrow October 18, has the goal to remove the failed Channel 2B BDCU and replace it with a new spare that is currently stored on the Express Logistics Carrier (ELC) #1.

Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Inflight Maintenance: Today’s WHC IFM included the remove and replace of the Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Urine Receptacle and Insert Filter as well as a visual inspection of pre-treat and water lines. The Urine Receptacle and Insert Filter replacement is part of regular preventative maintenance that occurs every 36 days.

Water Storage System (WSS) Maintenance: Today, the ISS crew performed a change out of the Water Resupply Tank installed in slot 2 and installed a new tank in slot 4 of the Water Storage System (WSS). These new water tanks recently arrived on HTV8.

Mobile Support System Operations: Last night, Robotic Ground Controllers commanded the Mobile Transporter (MT) to translate from Worksite 2 to Worksite 7. Following several maneuvers, the SSRMS was place in the start position for the Battery Charge Discharge Unit (BCDU) 2B2 Remove and Replace EVA scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, October 17.

Completed Task List Activities:
No Task List Activities completed

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
Payload Support Operations
Mobile Support System EVA support

Look Ahead:
Friday, 10/18 (GMT 291)

Veg-04B check


Saturday, 10/19 (GMT 292)

Food Acceptability
ISS HAM pass
Standard Measures
Veg-04B check

EVA Debriefs
EVA EMU Water Recharging

Sunday, 10/20 (GMT 293)


No planned activities

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

Health Maintenance System (HMS) Periodic Health Status (PHS) Pre EVA Examination
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Pre-EVA Periodic Health Status Examination – Stow
Saibo Rack Panel Installation
PILLE ISS sensors gathering and setup prior to USOS EVA
COSMOCARD. Preparing for and Starting 24-hr ECG Recording Water Storage System Resupply Storage Tank Swap
Microscope Reposition Preparation
Microgravity Crystals Microscopy Plate Set C, Final Session (Day 28)
BIOCARD. Operator Assistance During the Experiment and Photography
BIOCARD. Experiment Session
JEM Airlock Press
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Equipment Lock Preparation Part 1
JEM Airlock Leak Check
Inspection and Cleaning of Laptops RS2, RS1 No.1141
Maintenance of a Separation Device (??).
Analog-1 Laptop Setup
Microscope Hardware Setup via SABL Power
Fast Neutron Spectrometer Relocate
CONSTANTA-2. Cassette removal from ???-? and setup on panel for a 1-hour warmup
EXPRESS Rack Z-Book Setup
On MCC Go RS3 Laptop Inspection and Cleaning.
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Equipment Lock Preparation Part 1
MSL FNS Return
Analog-1 Laptop Software Load
VEG-04B Root Mat Fill
??? maintenance
Actiwatch Plus HRF Rack 1 Setup
ISS HAM Service Module Pass
VEG-04B MELFI Insertion #1
CONSTANTA-2. Preparation and Execution 6.
VEG-04B Plant Check/Watering for each Plant Pillow
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Portable Onboard Computers (POC) Dynamic Onboard Ubiquitous Graphics (DOUG) Setup
Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue GN2 Check
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Urine Receptacle (UR) and Insert Filter (IF) Remove and Replace
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MWA Preparation
[????] Configuration for MRM1
VIZIR. Conducting Smart Drawer Coordinate Referencing System (???-??) PL Session. Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MELFI Sample Retrieve
Preventive Maintenance of FS1 Laptop
Private Medical Conference (PMC)
Routine monthly maintenance of BRI.
Actiwatch Plus HRF Rack 1 Stow
Food Physiology Crew Diet Briefing
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows (WinSCAT) Test
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) Experiment 2 Part 2
EXPRESS Rack Z-Book Setup Start
Private Medical Conference (PMC)
Inventory Management System (IMS) Conference
Comm reconfig for nominal ops
Replacement of Condensate Pumping Unit (???) and ??? Control Panel.
EXPRESS Rack Z-Book Setup Finish
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MELFI Sample Insertion into a Box Module
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Review
CONSTANTA-2. Removal of ???-? No.07 Thermostat
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Conference
IMS Delta File Prep
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) iPad Contingency Procedures preparation
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows (WinSCAT) Test
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Private Special Conference (PSC)
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tool Audit.
UPA Brine Filter Gather

SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.