Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 18 February, 2021 – Cargo Launch Saturday

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
February 20, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 18 February, 2021 – Cargo Launch Saturday
Russia's Progress 77 resupply ship approaches the station.

The Expedition 64 crew is getting ready for next week’s arrival of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship following its launch on Saturday.
The orbital residents are also maintaining science operations and unpacking a new Russian spacecraft at the International Space Station.

The Antares rocket with the Cygnus space freighter atop rolled out to its launch pad on Tuesday at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft will blast off on Saturday at 12:36 p.m. EST carrying about 8,000 pounds of science experiments, station hardware and crew supplies for the orbital lab. NASA TV will broadcast the launch activities live beginning at 12 p.m.

Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and Michael Hopkins will be on duty Monday morning when Cygnus arrives for its approach and capture. Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at about 4:40 a.m. Hopkins of NASA will monitor Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous as it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station.

The duo was joined Thursday afternoon by NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover to review the upcoming Cygnus cargo operations. Afterward, the quintet called down to mission controllers to discuss unpacking and activating some of the critical science experiments arriving on the U.S. space freighter.

Combustion research and eye checks were also on the schedule aboard the station on Thursday. Walker and Hopkins partnered up on a study observing how flames spread in microgravity. Rubins took charge of eye exams and checked the eyes of Glover and Noguchi using optical coherence tomography.

Russia’s new cargo craft, the ISS Progress 77, is being unpacked today by Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The pair also serviced a variety of Russian electronics and life support gear throughout Thursday.

On-Orbit Status Report


AstroRad Vest: The crew donned the AstroRad Vest and demonstrated WHC activities while another crewmember took historical photos. A survey was completed after the demonstration. The AstroRad vest is a personal protective equipment (PPE) device which functions as a radiation shield for astronauts. The AstroRad shields astronauts from space-borne ionizing radiation in an efficient way, provides operational simplification, and allows for the use of recycled material on-board the vehicle. The concept behind the AstroRad evolved from a commercially available device, the 360 Gamma shield, made by StemRad Ltd., which is an effective wearable shield for first responders to radiation incidents on the Earth.

Confined Combustion: The crew prepare Confined Combustion samples for flame test operations, and then conducted four test sample burns with ground assistance. Confined Combustion examines the behavior of flame as it spreads in differently-shaped confined spaces in microgravity. Flame spread observations are translated into mathematical models for use in understanding the results and applying them to areas with different shapes.

Mochii: To help us further diagnose Mochii Microscope’s powering issues first experienced some time ago, the crew disconnected the Mochii Umbilical Cable, powered on Mochii systems and performed multimeter measurements on the Umbilical Cable. Of note, one of the resistance checks returned a different value than expected. Other testing was planned, but there was not enough time to complete it. The ground team will discuss a forward plan. Mochii is a miniature scanning electron microscope (SEM) with spectroscopy to conduct real-time, on-site imaging and compositional measurements of particles on the International Space Station (ISS). Such particles can cause vehicle and equipment malfunctions and threaten crew health, but currently, samples must be returned to Earth for analysis, leaving crew and vehicle at risk. Mochii also provides a powerful new analysis platform to support novel microgravity science and engineering.

PBRE-WR: The crew reviewed the procedures for the upcoming setup of the PBRE-WR experiment hardware in the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox). PBRE-WR (Packed Bed Reactor Experiment-Water Recovery) examines flow rates of gas and liquid through a filtering substrate in the space station water processor, replacing oxygen with nitrogen. This investigation could help identify optimum conditions and enhance accuracy of models that predict simultaneous flow of gas and liquid (two-phase flow) in microgravity.

The ISS Experience: The crew performed the setup and checkout of the ISS Experience EVA Z-Camera. 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.


Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparations: The crew performed several activities in preparation for the upcoming IROSA Prep EVA. The crew performed an EMU swap and resize for EMU 3009 and 3015. They initiated operations on the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Long Life Batteries (LLB) and also charged the Lithium Rechargeable (EVA) Battery Assembly (LREBA). They also regenerated the EMU metal oxide (METOX) cartridges.

Eye Exams: The US crew completed routine Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) eye exams. OCT is an imaging technique analogous to ultrasound imaging that uses light instead of sound to capture micrometer-resolution, two- and three-dimensional images of tissue; In this case, the objects of interest are the crewmember’s eyes. Eye exams are performed regularly onboard in order to monitor crewmembers eye health. Eyesight is one of the many aspects of the human body that is affected by long-duration stays in a microgravity environment.

Cygnus Cargo Operations Review: the crew reviewed procedures for Cygnus cargo operations. This is in preparation for NG-15’s Launch and Birth which is currently scheduled for February 20th and February 22nd respectively.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Columbus Smoke Detector (SD) ABIT Synchronization
Primary Power System (PPS) Beta Gimbal Assembly (BGA) Bias Pre-Positioned Load (PPL)
Payload Rack Officer ELC Patch Install
Atmosphere Revitalization System (ARS) Thermal Amine Vent
Atmosphere Revitalization System (ARS) Lab Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) 4 Half Cycles [ACTIVE]
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, February 19 (GMT 050)

3DMM Node 3 Sample Collection, Antimicrobial Coatings Touch, Airborne Particulate Monitor Status Check, DOSIS LED Check, ESA EPO PAXI, Food Acceptability Survey, ISS Experience Recording, Kibo conference, Plant Water Management stow, PBRE-WR setup, SAMS CU HD Swap Load, Standard Measures Post-sleep Questionnaire, Time Perception

Systems Operations Data File (SODF) Update
EVA tool config
EVA battery charge
On-board Training (OBT) Cygnus Robotics Onboard Trainer (ROBoT) Session 2
Saturday, February 20 (GMT 051)

Crew off duty day
Sunday, February 21 (GMT 052)

Crew off duty day
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

US Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tether Inspection
ISS Experience EVA Z-Cam Checkout
Crew Dragon Tablet Sync
On-board Training (OBT) Cygnus Robotics Onboard Trainer (ROBoT) Self study Session
Columbus RF Cable Remove and Replace
AstroRad Vest Historical Documentation Photos
MELFI # Ice Brick Insert X
Cygnus Cargo Operations Review
AstroRad Vest Doff
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Long Life Battery (LLB) Terminate
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Swap
AstroRad Vest Survey 2
Confined Combustion Test Operations
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Resize
Packed Bed Reactor Experiment Operations Overview
Cygnus Capture Review
Health Maintenance System (HMS) OCT2 Exam
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Lithium Rechargeable (EVA) Battery Assembly (LREBA) Operations (OPS) Terminate (TERM)
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Lithium Rechargeable (EVA) Battery Assembly (LREBA) Operations (OPS) Initiation (INIT)
Metal Oxide (METOX) Regeneration
Crew Dragon Cabin Maintenance

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