Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 August, 2020 – Looking for a Leak

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 23, 2020
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 August, 2020 – Looking for a Leak
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 August, 2020 - Looking for a Leak.

The three Expedition 63 crew members living aboard the International Space Station will spend the weekend inside the orbiting lab’s Russian segment.
Commander Chris Cassidy and his crewmates Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin will stay in the Zvezda service module from Friday night into Monday morning.

The station’s atmosphere is maintained at pressure comfortable for the crew members, and a tiny bit of that air leaks over time, requiring routine repressurization from nitrogen tanks delivered on cargo resupply missions. In September 2019, NASA and its international partners first saw indications of a slight increase above the standard cabin air leak rate. Because of routine station operations like spacewalks and spacecraft arrivals and departures, it took time to gather enough data to characterize those measurements. That rate has slightly increased, so the teams are working a plan to isolate, identify, and potentially repair the source. The leak is still within segment specifications and presents no immediate danger to the crew or the space station.

All the space station hatches will be closed this weekend so mission controllers can carefully monitor the air pressure in each module. The test presents no safety concern for the crew. The test should determine which module is experiencing a higher-than-normal leak rate. The U.S. and Russian specialists expect preliminary results should be available for review by the end of next week.

The three station residents will have plenty of room in Zvezda this weekend. The module provides the living quarters that enabled permanent human habitation to begin nearly 20 years ago when the Expedition 1 crew arrived at the station Nov. 2, 2000. Cassidy, Vagner, and Ivanishin also will have access to the Poisk mini-research module and their Soyuz MS-16 crew ship for the duration of their stay.

On-Orbit Status Report


Astrobee: The crew powered off the Astrobee free flyers and placed temp stowed items back in their original positions in the JEM module. Astrobee is made up of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots which are designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in microgravity to assist astronauts with routine chores, and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and accommodate up to three investigations.

Myotones (Muscle Tone in Space): The crew performed a session of Myotones Measurements using the Myotones device on ten specific muscle locations. Ultrasound measurements were also performed. Myotones investigation observes the biochemical properties of muscles during long-term exposure to the spaceflight environment. Results from this investigation are expected to provide insight into principles of human resting muscle tone, which could lead to the development of new strategies for alternative treatments for rehabilitation both on Earth and for future space missions.

Genes in Space-6: The crew moved samples from MELFI 2 to MELFI 3 in order to allow Genes in Space operations during the JEM module isolation timeframe. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage caused by increased exposure to radiation can affect the long-term health of astronauts. Genes in Space-6 determines the optimal DNA repair mechanisms that cells use in the spaceflight environment. The investigation evaluates the entire process in space for the first time by inducing DNA damage in cells and assessing mutation and repair at the molecular level using the miniPCR and the Biomolecule Sequencer tools aboard the space station.


Emergency Simulation On Board Training (OBT): Today, the crew participated in a training exercise for ISS fire and rapid depressurization emergency scenarios. The emergency training consisted of crew and ground controllers utilizing simulator data to identify each of the emergency scenarios and executing the appropriate response procedure(s). During the exercise, the crew physically translated through ISS to the appropriate response locations to visualize the use of equipment and interfaces. The teams also practiced communication and coordination with the mission control centers in Houston and Moscow for each scenario. A post-simulation crew conference was conducted to discuss and evaluate the crew/ground control responses during the training exercise.

USOS Isolation Gather: Today, the crew gathered items to be transferred to the Russian segment for the upcoming USOS isolation period. The ECLS Community has been tracking an increase in nominal atmosphere leakage since September 2019. The crew will close several module hatches tomorrow in order for the ground team to monitor pressures throughout the weekend. The crew will remain isolated in the Russian Segment (SM/MRM2/Soyuz/Progress) until Monday afternoon.

Completed Task List Activities:

USOS Isolation Gather (on-going)
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

IAS Comm Config for OBT
MSS File Uplinks for MSS 10.1 transition
Ground Ops in preparation for module isolation
Thermal Amine Swingbed weekly vent
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, 8/21 (GMT 234)

Radi-N2 Retrieve (CSA)

WHC Ops Break
USOS Isolation Gather/Transfer
USOS Egress
Saturday, 8/22 (GMT 235)


Crew Off Duty
Sunday, 8/23 (GMT 236)


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

USOS Isolation Gather
??? (Universal Bioengineering Thermostat). Checking ???-? No.07 thermostat temperature and unobstructed area near ???-? inlet/outlet vents
Vacuum pressure gauge readings check
URAGAN. SOVA PL and photo equipment closeout ops and stowage
Equipment gathering for isolation period
COLUMBUS Bay 1, 2, 3 clean-up
Gas Analyzer activation in Soyuz 745
Pressurization of Elektron-VM Liquid Unit before Activation
Myotones Measurements
Myotones Ultrasound scan using Echo Unit
Myotones Device Data Transfer
Performing MRM1 Isolation
Performing DC1+Progress 444 (76P) Isolation
Comm Configuration from MRM2
Space suit and ??? leak check. Telemetry checkout of Orlan systems, Orlan I/F unit (???), comm, and biomed parameters from MRM2
MELFI Sample Transfer
Training for Emergency Response On-board ISS
UF-ATMOSFERA. Hardware and electrical connections setup, PL activation and hardware check
INTERACTION-2. Experiment Ops
On-board Training (OBT) ISS Emergency Drill Conference
Astrobee Off

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