Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 19 August, 2021 – Astrobee Free-flyers Take Flight

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 20, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 19 August, 2021 – Astrobee Free-flyers Take Flight
Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide conducts a spacesuit fit check.

The Astrobee robotic free-flyers were powered up aboard the International Space Station and cell samples were set up for human muscle research today.
The Expedition 65 crew is also headlong into U.S. and Russian spacewalk preparations while working on a variety of other science experiments.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur started Thursday morning turning on the cube-shaped Astrobee robotic helpers located inside the Kibo laboratory module. The toaster-sized free-flyers were demonstrating autonomous and coordinated operations during the afternoon. The ReSWARM robotics study may inform future space assembly and satellite repair techniques.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was also working in Kibo servicing cell samples for the Anti-Atrophy muscle investigation. The samples are being incubated and observed in the Cell Biology Experiment Facility to learn how to prevent and treat space-caused muscle atrophy and Earth-bound muscle conditions.

Hoshide then joined NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and checked their U.S. spacesuit components and emergency jet packs during the afternoon. They will exit the U.S. Quest airlock on Aug. 24 to install a modification kit on the Port-4 (P4) truss structure to get ready for upcoming Roll-Out Solar Array installation work.

Two Russian spacewalks are also on the docket for cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov in early September. The duo will exit the Poisk module’s airlock for both excursions to get the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module ready for science operations. Today, they studied the paths toward their external worksites on a computer then checked their Orlan spacesuits and spacewalk tools in Poisk.

Several other space investigations were also underway today to support space biology research. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet worked in the Columbus laboratory module measuring sound levels and setting up hardware for the Eklosion botany study. NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough took a robotics test for the Behavioral Core Measurements human research experiment then checked samples for the Ring Sheared Drop fluid physics study.

On-Orbit Status Report


Anti-Atrophy: A crewmember performed a medium exchange for Anti-Atrophy samples. Muscle atrophy that occurs in microgravity affects the quality of life of astronauts. Research on Inhibitory Effects of Novel Concept Biomaterials, an HSP Inducer and Ubiquitin Ligase Inhibitor, on Microgravity-induced Muscle Atrophy (Anti-Atrophy) tests the ability of these biomaterials to inhibit muscle atrophy in microgravity. The investigation examines cells cultured with and without biomaterials, including C14Cblin, a muscle atrophy inhibitor, and Celastrol, a muscle synthesis accelerator.

Eklosion: A crewmember retrieved the Eklosion hardware and installed it in the Columbus module, charged it, performed the first watering of the plant sample, smelled the flower, and took photos. The Eklosion investigation utilizes a vase, inspired by the VEGGIE plant growth facility, specially designed for use in the microgravity environment aboard the ISS. Eklosion contains within its hull small messages and smells from Earth for the psychological benefit of the crew member who conducts the investigation.

Fiber-optic Active Dosimeter (Lumina): A crewmember executed the Lumina data transfer and set the parameters via EveryWear application. Lumina is an active fiber dosimeter that monitors, in real-time, the received radiation dose by exploiting the capacity of optical fibers to darken when exposed to radiation. The dosimeter provides reliable dose measurements in complex environments such as the ones associated with electrons, protons, gamma-ray or X-ray photons or neutrons.

Materials Science Lab Batch 3a (MSL SCA-Batch3a-ESA) Columnar-to-Equiaxed Transition in Solidification Processing (CETSOL): A crewmember removed the used MSL LGF Sample Cartridge, installed the next Sample Cartridge, and prepared the facility for the next sample run. The Materials Science Lab Batch 3a (MSL SCA-Batch 3a-ESA) serves two projects investigating how different phases organize in a structure when metallic alloys are solidified. The Microstructure Formation in Casting of Technical Alloys under Diffusive and Magnetically Controlled Convective Conditions (MICAST) experiment aims to deepen the understanding of the physical principles that govern solidification processes in metal alloys. CETSOL aims to deepen the understanding of the physical principles that govern solidification processes in metal alloys.

RElative Satellite sWArming and Robotic Maneuvering (ReSWARM): A crewmember set up the Astrobee Free Flyers to test autonomous microgravity motion planning and control for on-orbit assembly and coordinated motion as part of the ReSWARM study, and to assist the ground team in monitoring Astrobee performance for multiple test runs. ReSWARM uses the ISS’s free-flying Astrobees to demonstrate autonomous on-orbit robotic servicing such as assembly of structures and moving cargo. The investigation tests coordination among multiple robots, robots and cargo, and robots and the environment in which they operate. Future space missions could involve a variety of robotic operations including autonomous docking and repairs.

Ring Sheared Drop: The crew removed existing syringe and test cells and installed a new syringe and new test cell into the Ring Sheared Drop hardware in MSG Work Volume. The Ring Sheared Drop investigation examines the formation and flow of amyloids without the complications associated with the solid walls of a container, because in microgravity, surface tension provides containment of the liquid. Fibrous, extracellular protein deposits found in organs and tissues, amyloids are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Results could contribute to better understanding of these diseases as well as to development of advanced materials.


Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparation: In preparation of the IROSA 4A preparation EVA currently scheduled for August 24th, the crew completed the configuration of the IPA Mod Kit Strut Bag, the Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) Checkout, EVA Tool Configuration, and the Floating Potential Measurement Unit (FPMU) Configuration and checkout.

Crew Alternate Sleep Accommodations (CASA) Keep-Out Zone (KOZ) Labels: The crew completed the installation of KOZ labels in CASA in preparation for future occupation and crew use. As part of CASA certification for Crew Occupancy, the Safety Review Panel have requested the incorporation of labels on the CASA inlet and outlet air ducts and on the CASA ATU port to denote the KOZs for each. No stowage or hardware should be placed within these KOZs. The KOZs are in place to preserve airflow and alarm audibility.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Udon Service Pack Deploy
Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Node 3 Mode Transition to Dual
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, August 20 (GMT 232)

Cardinal Muscle Microscopy (NASA)
Cool Flames ACME bottle change (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Lumina Data Transfer (ESA)
Plant Habitat-04 Debris removal Procedure (NASA)
Repository Urine Collect (NASA)CAL Harddrive Imaging (NASA)

WHC Pump Separator R&R
EVA Prep
SpX-23 Rendezvous OBT
Saturday, August 21 (GMT 233)

Cardinal Muscle BioCell Fixation (NASA)
Repository Urine setup (NASA)
Astrobee off (NASA)

EVA Prep
Sunday, August 22 (GMT 234)

Anti-Atrophy Medium change, fixation and closeout (JAXA)
Repository Urine and collect and blood setup (NASA)
Phospho-Aging inserts (JAXA)

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

Anti-Atrophy sample Retrieval from Iceberg-2 part 1
Anti-Atrophy Medium Exchange for Cell Biology Experiment Facility Incubator Unit (CBEF IU) Micro-G Part 1
Anti-Atrophy sample Retrieval from MELFI -95 degrees C.
Behavioral Core Measures ROBoT-r Test
CASA Keep Out Zone Labeling
CASA Stowage Remove and Replace
CTB Russian Segment Transfer
Crew Dragon Hand Held Gas Detector Troubleshooting
Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Portable Emergency Provisions (PEPS) Inspection
Environmental Health System (EHS) Acoustic Monitor Survey
Eklosion Experiment Setup
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Floating Potential Measurement Unit (FPMU) Prep
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Mod Kit Bag Prep
Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) Checkout
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tool Configuring
Food Consolidation
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
U.S. Lab Utility Interface Panel Photo Documentation
LUMINA data transfer and parameters setting with EveryWear
Manufacturing Device Print Removal, Clean and Stow
Material Science Laboratory SQF Exchange
Charging EVA Camera D4 Battery
ReSWARM Setup and Checkout
RSD MELFI Sample Insertion
Ring-Sheared Drop Syringe and Test Cell Removal and Install
Toilet Pretreat (PT) Sample Collect

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