Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 April, 2021 – Microgravity Affects the Human Body

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
April 21, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 April, 2021 – Microgravity Affects the Human Body
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endeavour atop stands at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida.

Science is in full swing aboard the International Space Station today as the Expedition 65 crew studies how microgravity affects the human body.
Back on Earth, four Commercial Crew astronauts are less than two days away from launching to the orbiting lab from Florida.

Blood samples, muscle scans and exercise were the subjects of Tuesday’s space research to learn how the human body adapts to weightlessness. To start the day, Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi collected their blood samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. Hopkins then joined Flight Engineer Victor Glover for muscle scans using an ultrasound device to understand how space impacts muscle tone, stiffness and elasticity.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who is in his second week aboard the station, attached sensors to his chest and worked out on a stationary bike for another human research experiment during the day. The exercise study measures an astronaut’s aerobic capacity and the effort required to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks.

Another muscle study is observing changes in the genetic expression of muscles that take place in microgravity. Station Commander Shannon Walker of NASA peered at tiny worms in a microscope and recorded video as they wriggled through a specialized device that measures muscle strength. Muscle proteins change in space affecting muscle mass and strength and scientists are exploring therapies to offset this loss.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov juggled a variety of science and maintenance tasks in the station’s Russian segment today. Novitskiy powered down an atmospheric study then configured communications and ventilation gear. Dubrov inspected areas in the Russian modules and studied ways to maximize a workout in space.

NASA and SpaceX mission managers are “go” for Thursday’s launch at 6:11 a.m. EDT of four Crew-2 astronauts to the space station. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will occupy the commander and pilot seats respectively inside the Crew Dragon Endeavour during the ride to their new home in space. They will be flanked by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet when they dock on Friday at 5:30 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. NASA TV will broadcast the Crew-2 mission continuously from launch to docking beginning Thursday at 2 a.m.

On-Orbit Status Report


Celestial Immunity: The crew swapped the Short Trays in two SABLs 1 and 3 in preparation to support operations. This project seeks to gain a broad understanding of how gravity affects overall human immune function and potentially uncover novel pathways of immune function that can be exploited to develop better vaccines and immunobiologics for human use. The project will build on earlier studies that evaluated lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) function in microgravity. The project will also evaluate whether gravity-regulated immune pathways are affected by age by examining cells from young adult and elderly donors in parallel.

HISUI (Hyperspectral Imager Suit): The crew removed and replaced the Portable 4TB HDD from the Z-Book connected to JAXA Mission Data Recorder in support of HISUI operations. HISUI is a next-generation spaceborne hyperspectral Earth imaging system. The objective is to obtain the data necessary to begin a full-scale practical application development for hyperspectral remote sensing through manufacturing, and the inflight performance verification of a hyperspectral imager onboard ISS.

Micro-16: The crew performed Micro-16 Final Loading and Microscopy Operations for Session 4 Day 1. Loss of muscle mass and strength present a major challenge for astronauts on future long space voyages. Determining Muscle Strength in Space-flown Caenorhabditis elegans (Micro-16) uses this tiny worm to test whether decreased expression of muscle proteins is associated with decreased strength. The research team developed a new device to measure muscle strength in multiple generations of space-reared C. elegans worms and compare that strength to postflight muscle gene expression analyses.

Myotones: The crew performed Myotones Ultrasound sessions and skin markings measurements. The investigation observes the biochemical properties of muscles (e.g. muscle tone, stiffness, elasticity) during long-term exposure spaceflight environment. Results from this investigation can provide a better understanding of the principles of human resting muscle tone. This could lead to the development of new strategies for alternative treatments for rehabilitation on Earth, as well as for future space missions.

RTPCG-2 (Real-Time Protein Crystal Growth-2): The crew performed Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Production Plate Loading for plate S/N 2B1. Phase II Real-time Protein Crystal Growth on Board the International Space Station (RTPCG-2) demonstrates new methods for producing high-quality protein crystals in microgravity. Previous work has shown that microgravity produces high-quality protein crystals that can be analyzed to identify possible targets for drugs to treat disease. RTPCG-2 produces high-quality protein crystals for up to eight proteins for detailed analysis back on Earth.

SABL (Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory): The crew swapped out the CO2 Incubator Controller for SABL-3. SABL supports a wide variety of investigations in the life, physical and material sciences with a focus on supporting research of biological systems and processes. It has over 23 liters of temperature-controlled volume with LED lighting for scientific hardware and investigations. It can be fitted to provide 5% CO2 (or any required concentration of CO2) for cell cultures or other types of investigations and has two USB 2.0 ports and two Ethernet LAN connections. It also has switchable 28vdc and 5vdc power supplies for investigation use.

ISS HAM: The crew performed a contact with Winmalee Public School, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia. 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.


Adlink Ethernet Cable Swap: Three of the Ethernet cables in Node 3 had broken plastic tabs on the Adlink Mini PCs. Today the crew replaced the cables and provided feedback to the ground on Ethernet cable susceptibility to broken tabs and recommendations to protect them from future damage.

Node 2 (N2) Joint Station Local Area Network (JSL): The crew swapped a failed N2 JSL Firewall #2 with an onboard spare. Ground teams successfully checked out and configured the unit following power up.

Emergency Equipment Preparation for Crew-2: The crew configured 5 emergency masks with ammonia cartridges pre-installed in preparation for Crew-2 arrival.

Crew Quarters (CQ) Deck Cleaning: The crew cleaned the CQ deck intake and exhaust ducts, fans and airflow sensors in preparation for Crew-2 arrival.

Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Operations: Robotics operations began yesterday in support of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) payload. Robotics Ground Controllers translated the Mobile Transporter (MT) from Work Site (WS) 4 to WS7, unstowed the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) and Robot Microconical Tool (RMCT), extracted the MISSE Transfer Tray from the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Airlock, and translated the MT from WS7 to WS2. Operations will continue daily through Sunday.

Completed Task List Activities:

Computer panty consolidate
Cygnus cargo transfer
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Payloads ops support
MISSE transfer ops
Look Ahead Plan

Wednesday, April 21 (GMT 111)

AC touch (NASA)
Myotones (ESA)
FLARE(SCEM) Cable reconfig (JAXA)
Micro-16 final load ops (NASA)
Standard Measures Blood collect (NASA)
Food Physiology Fecal and Urine collect (NASA)
HRF2 T/s de-cable and stow(NASA)

JPM THC water separator R&R
Dragon undock conference
Thursday, April 22 (GMT 112)

Food Physiology Urine saliva collect (NASA)
Standard Measures Blood collect (NASA)

Dragon tablet sync
Weekly housekeeping
Friday, April 23 (GMT 113)

AC touch (NASA)
AWP watch don (NASA)
Standard Measures Blood collect (NASA)
MAND print removal (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Food Physiology Saliva collect(NASA)

CASA install part 3
Crew-2 Dragon arrival
ISS Safety Briefing
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Data Preparation for Return
Handover of Increment 64 Crew
Video recording of greetings
HRF Generic Saliva Collection 10 Minutes
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Setup And Frozen Blood Collection Subject
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Operator
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Configuration
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Spin Conclude
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Insertion
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Conclude And Stow
Columbus cleanup for Myotones
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Recipe Card Print
Weekly c/o of RS video recording equipment
Micro-16 Crew Review
ISS HAM Columbus Pass Kenwood
Micro-16 MELFI Media Kit Retrieve
Micro-16 Checklist Print
Celestial Immunity SABL Tray Swap
Max Cycle Ergometer w/ Vibration Isolation & Stabilization (CEVIS) Portable PFS Partial Set Up
Myotones Kit Gathering
Crew Departure Preparations for Return to Earth
Echo Unit Setup for Myotones experiment
Max Cycle Ergometer w/Vibration Isolation & Stabilization (CEVIS) Portable PFS Power Up
Microscope Reposition Preparation
Mission Data Recorder Laptop Configuration Portable 4TB HDD R&R
Myotones Device Setup with EPM Laptop
Urine Transfer System Offload EDV Swap
HRF Urine Collection Device Review
Micro-16 Maintenance Work Area Preparation
Myotones Measurements
EMER-1c Ammonia Response printout
Max Cycle Ergometer w/Vibration Isolation & Stabilization (CEVIS) Portable PFS Subject
Myotones Ultrasound scan using ECHO Unit
PAO Preparation
Public Affairs Office (PAO) High Definition (HD) Config JEM Setup
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) – JEM
Payload Laptop Terminal 5 (PLT5) CMOS battery replacement
Myotones Measurements
Payload Laptop Terminal 5 (PLT5) BIOS Setting
Myotones Ultrasound scan using ECHO Unit
Micro-16 Experiment Setup
Food Physiology Crew Diet Briefing
Crew time for ISS adaptation and orientation
Echo Unit Stowage
Micro-16 Final Loading Operations
Space Automated Bioproduct Lab, CO2 Incubator Installation
Adlink Mini PC Ethernet Cable Swap
Max Cycle Ergometer w/Vibration Isolation & Stabilization (CEVIS) Portable PFS Partial Stow
SpX-Crew Dragon Emergency Equipment Gather Stage 2
HRF Generic Urine Collection Setup
Micro-16 Final Loading Operations
HRF Generic Frozen Blood Collection Hardware Setup First Time Performance
Food Physiology Fecal Reference Material Review And Sample Collection Hardware Setup
IMS delta file prep
Micro-16 Microscopy Operations
Food Physiology Maintenance Work Area Preparation
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Crew Quarters (CQ) Deck Cleaning
Food Physiology Fecal Sample Processing Hardware Setup New
Food Physiology Fecal Sample Collection
Food Physiology MELFI Sample Insertion 1
Micro-16 Experiment Stow
Food Physiology Fecal Sample Collection Hardware Stow
Max Cycle Ergometer w/Vibration Isolation & Stabilization (CEVIS) Portable PFS Conclude
NODE 2 Joint Station LAN Firewall #2 Remove and Replace
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Maintenance Work Area Preparation
Food Acceptability Survey
In-Flight Maintenance Node 3 Intermodule Ventilation (IMV) Screen Inspection
Astrobee Off
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Production Plate Load S/N 2B1
Micro-16 MELFI Culture Return Bag Insertion
Microscope Reposition Post Ops
Help Houston troubleshoot noises of different CCAA equipment
Atmosphere Control and Supply (ACS) Oxygen Supply Swap
Photo T/V (P/TV) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Exercise Video Stow

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