Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 18 December 2019 – Starliner Set for Launch Friday

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
December 20, 2019
Filed under , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 18 December 2019 – Starliner Set for Launch Friday
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and Boeing's Starliner sit on Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral at sunset. Credit: ULA. (Dec. 18, 2019)

Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner crew ship rolled out to its launch pad in Florida today. The Expedition 61 crew is preparing the International Space Station for Starliner’s arrival while continuing advanced space research.
The Starliner spacecraft sits atop an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance counting down to a liftoff Friday at 6:36 a.m. EST. This will be Boeing’s first Orbital Flight Test of the uncrewed vehicle that will dock to the station Saturday at 8:27 a.m.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are getting ready for duty Saturday morning when they will monitor Starliner’s automated rendezvous and docking with the orbiting lab. The duo will then conduct leak checks, open the hatch and ingress the vehicle to begin a week of docked operations. Starliner is also delivering about 600 pounds of cargo to the crew and will return science samples to Earth after its departure on Dec. 28.

Meanwhile, microgravity science is always ongoing aboard the station to improve life for humans on Earth and in space. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan studied how weightlessness affects an optical material that can control the reflection and absorption of light. Results could improve solar power technology and electronic mobile displays.

Meir had her eyes scanned with an ultrasound device by ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Luca Parmitano for a look at her cornea, lens and optic nerve. She had a second eye exam using optical coherence tomography for a view of her retina.

The flight engineers in the Russian side of the space station checked on a pair of docked spaceships while working science and maintenance. Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka charged electronics gear in the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship. He also worked on plumbing systems in the Progress 74 cargo craft. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov set up hardware for an Earth imaging study that explores the effects of natural and manmade catastrophes.

On-Orbit Status Report

Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF-L): The crew assisted with the check-out of the Cell Biology Experiment Facility – Left (CBEF-L) Incubation Unit (IU) door sensor and CBEF-L IU2 door lock system. CBEF-L is a new JAXA subrack facility, which is an upgraded facility of the CBEF currently aboard the 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.

Materials Science Research Rack/Materials Science Laboratory (MSRR/MSL) SCA exchange: The crew performed the activities needed to exchange the processed GEDS (Gravitational Effects on Distortion in Sintering) science sample cartridge assembly (SCA) with a new SCA. This was accomplished successfully. However, during the subsequently planned vacuum check, issues were experienced with the VRS (vacuum resource system) valve and the vacuum check was not completed. The ground teams will assess a forward plan, but there is no immediate impact to the science sample. The science of liquid phase sintering is about 50 years old, but the practice dates from the 1400s when gold was used to bond platinum in Columbia and Ecuador. Future applications include use of liquid phase sintering as a means to perform in-space fabrication and repair, and for example using lunar regolith to fabricate structures on the moon or using metal powder to fabricate replacement components during extraterrestrial exploration. The MSL GEDS-German experiment focuses on determining the underlying scientific principles to forecast density, size, shape, and properties for liquid phase sintered bodies over a broad range of compositions in Earth-gravity (1g) and microgravity (?g) conditions.

Polymer Convection: The crew set up the Polymer Convection hardware in the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) and performed the sample processing per the plan. All planned science samples were processed, however, only one of the two planned temperature profiles was able to be used. The ground team reports they will still be able to get good science from the profile used and will know more when the processed samples are returned to the ground. Polymer Convection examines the effect of gravity on formation and crystallization of Broadband Angular Selective Material (BASM). An optical material with the ability to control the reflection and absorption of light, BASM has applications in polymer packaging, optical films, solar power, and electronic displays. Improved fabrication methods could produce BASM films that are more durable and have better optical and mechanical properties. Conducting this study in microgravity allows for a better understanding of gravity’s effect on convection and polymer crystallization in this particular multilayer fabrication process, and it may aid in determining the optimum fabrication condition, including temperature, which affects the density and viscosity of polymers, stretching speed, and orientations of the films.

Standard Measures: Using the data collection tool on an available SSC (Station Support Computer), the crew performed their post-sleep questionnaire. The aim of the investigation is to ensure consistent capture of an optimized, minimal set of measures from crewmembers until the end of the ISS Program in order to characterize the adaptive responses to and risks of living in space. Among other things, the ground teams perform analyses for metabolic and chemistry panels, immune function, microbiome, etc. These measures populate a data repository to enable high-level monitoring of countermeasure effectiveness and meaningful interpretation of health and performance outcomes, and support future research on planetary missions.


Boeing OFT Preparations: Today, the ISS prepared for the Boeing OFT mission arrival and performed OFT pre-packing activities in support for future transfers. The crew also performed On-Board Training (OBT) for Starliner rendezvous and departure along with participating in a subsequent OBT conference. Currently, Starliner is scheduled to launch on December 20 and dock with the ISS on December 21.

Portable Emergency Provisions (PEPS) Inspection: Today, the ISS crew performed the periodic Portable Emergency Provisions (PEPS) Inspection that included inspecting and photographing the Portable Breathing Apparatus (PBA), Pre-Breath Masks, and the Quick Don Mask (QDM) and Harness. The PEPS inspection is designed to ensure that the ISS emergency equipment is in good working order.

Completed Task List Activities:
No completed task list activities.
Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
Payload Operations Support

Wednesday, 12/18 (GMT 352)

Actiwatch plus
MSRR/MSL SCA exchange
NREP review
Polymer Convection
Standard Measures

CST Prepack Transfer
ECL PEPS Inspection

Thursday, 12/19 (GMT 353)

Food Acceptability
Food Physiology
Kidney Cells Pump Install (SABL t/s)
Microgravity Crystals
JEMAL/NREP installation
PLNAS vent clean
Standard Measures

61S Emergency Drill
PCS Relocate
CST Prepack
Node 2 Hatch Open
SSC Relocate
CST Monitor S/U
Node 2 Fwd Clean-out

Friday, 12/20 (GMT 354) – Off-Duty Day (OFT Launch)

ISS HAM pass

No Systems Activities

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

Preparation of reports for Roscosmos website and social media
Saving personal data from T61p model of RSS1 laptop before replacing it with an HP ZBook
ECON-M. Observation and Photography
Standard Measures Post-sleep Questionnaire
Acoustic Monitor Setup for Crew Worn Measurements
Extravehicular Activities (EVA) Pistol Grip Tool (PGT) Torque Analyzer Kit (TAK) Calibration
Recharging Soyuz 744 Samsung PC prior to OBT, start recharge
Polycon Hardware Setup
Environmental Health System (EHS) Potable Water Dispenser (PWD) Sample Collect
Preventive Maintenance of FS1 Laptop (Cleaning and rebooting)
SEPARATION. Mixing in the [???-?-??] urine circulation loop.
BRI Monthly Maintenance. Note 12
Pumping water from Progress 443 (DC1) Rodnik H2O tank 2 to ??? and bladder compression
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Rad Detector Relocate
Environmental Health System (EHS) Coliform Water Processing
Restore setting of VCA2
High Definition Video Camera Assembly 2 Activation in High Definition Mode
High Definition Video Camera Assembly 2 Switch to SD Mode
Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Portable Emergency Provisions (PEPS) Inspection
ESA Crew Conference with two way Audio and video
Material Science Laboratory SCA Exchange NB1#2
Ultrasound 2 HRF Rack 2 Power On
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Ultrasound 2 Scan Prep
De-installation and stowage of Kubik 5
CBEF-L Door Lock Confirmation
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Potable Water Dispenser (PWD) Sample Analysis
Health Maintenance System – Food Intake Tracker iPad photos
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Ultrasound 2 Scan performed by a Crew Medical Officer (CMO)
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Ultrasound 2 Scan
Polycon Sample Holder Exchange
Water Resource Management (WRM) Condensate Sample Init
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Ultrasound 2 Post Exam
Centrifuge Insert installation and closeout
URAGAN. Installation of OBC-I.
Replacing E-K pre-treat container and hose in [???]
Actiwatch Plus HRF Rack 2 Setup Evaluation
CST-100 Cargo Prepack
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Sample Data Record
On MCC GO URAGAN. Connect cable 17??.42?.8242?58-9360.
Columbus Bay 3 and 4 cargo relocation
URAGAN. Closeout Ops.
Water Resource Management (WRM) Condensate Sample Terminate
??? maintenance
Preventive Maintenance of SM Ventilation Subsystem. Group ?
On-Board Training (OBT) CST-100 OFT Rendezvous Monitoring CBT 2
PROFILAKTIKA. Equipment setup
Water Supply System Re-Supply Tank Gather
IMS Delta File Prep
Recharging Soyuz 744 Samsung PC prior to OBT, remove from recharge
Health Maintenance System (HMS) OCT2 Setup
On-Board Training (OBT) CST-100 OFT OBT Conference
On MCC GO Progress 443 (DC1) Rodnik H2O Tank 2 bladder compression, Closeout Ops
Actiwatch Plus HRF Rack 2 Stow Evaluation
Polycon Hardware Stow
On-Orbit Hearing Assessment (O-OHA) with EarQ Software Setup and Test
Water Storage System Resupply Storage Tank Swap
Health Maintenance System (HMS) OCT2 Prep
Health Maintenance System (HMS) – OCT2 Exam – Operator
Health Maintenance System (HMS) OCT2 Exam – Subject
Acoustic Monitor Battery Swap
Health Maintenance System (HMS) OCT2 Stow

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