Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 July, 2021 – Pirs Docking Module to be Replaced

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
July 21, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 July, 2021 – Pirs Docking Module to be Replaced
The seven-member Expedition 65 crew gets together for a portrait aboard the International Space Station. In the front row from left are, flight engineers Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. In the back are, flight engineers Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough with Commander Akihiko Hoshide. Credit: NASA.

Today, the Expedition 65 crewmates aboard the International Space Station continued down their checklists in preparation for the next day’s planned mission activities — to include a port-relocation maneuver and the launch of a new module that will replace the Pirs Docking Compartment.
Pirs has only a few days left in its 20-year length of service to the orbiting outpost, as it will soon be jettisoned, along with the Progress 77 cargo craft, on Friday for a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere.

Investigations in materials science continued in between maintenance and mission prep, with NASA astronaut Megan McArthur conducting runs of the Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids, or InSPACE-4, study. Using magnetic fields, the experiment studies the assembly of tiny structures from colloids and their mechanical responses to interaction with light and heat.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas?Pesquet, meanwhile, worked with ULTRA Tweezers, an experiment that aims to gain understanding of an acoustic phenomenon theorized more than 30 years ago. The microgravity environment inherent to station will be particularly helpful in validating use of ultrasonic tweezers, or non-audible sound waves, to exert force on the objects they encounter.

Ongoing medical studies in eye health involved many of the crew members, with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut?Akihiko?Hoshide and McArthur setting up the fundoscope for ocular examinations. These exams are remotely guided from medical experts on the ground and obtain images of the retinol surface, seeking any detectable changes to the astronauts’ eyes and vision.

Maintenance and housekeeping was a priority for another contingent of astronauts and cosmonauts. Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough continued an install with the newly deployed toilet system in Node 3 while his fellow crew member, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, obtained a potable bus sample from the Water Recovery System. The Russian cosmonaut duo of Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy continued with cargo transfer activities.

Many tasks were a prelude to the port relocation happening Wednesday, with Hoshide going over the final configuration, McArthur calibrating the Crew Dragon handheld gas detectors, and Pesquet reorganizing supplies in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Endeavour.

Tomorrow, Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet will board Endeavour about 4:30 a.m. EDT and undock from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. The spacecraft will dock again at the station’s space-facing port a short time later, at 7:32 a.m. This fly-around will free up Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as part of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission.

On July 21, catch the port relocation first on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT. Four hours later, at 10:30 a.m., launch coverage begins for the Multipurpose Laboratory Module. Named Nauka, after the Russian word for “science,” the newest addition to station will hitch a ride to space on a three-stage Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

On-Orbit Status Report


Cold Atom Lab (CAL): The crew completed the closeout procedures for the CAL Slice-7 Removal & Replacement (R&R). The CAL produces clouds of atoms that are chilled to about one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero, much colder than the average temperature of deep space. At these low temperatures, atoms have almost no motion, allowing scientists to study fundamental behaviors and quantum characteristics that are difficult or impossible to probe at higher temperatures. In microgravity, researchers may be able to achieve even colder temperatures than what is possible on the ground and observe these cold atom clouds for longer periods of time.

Cell Science-04: The crew removed the Bioreactors from the Cell Science-04 cassettes located in the BioCulture system facility. The tardigrade (water bear) is the model organism for studying biological survival under the most extreme environmental stress conditions on Earth and in space. The objective of the Using Water Bears to Identify Biological Countermeasures to Stress during Multigenerational (Cell Science-04) investigation is to characterize the molecular biology of short term and multigenerational survival in the space environment by identifying genes that are required for adaptation and survival in high stress environments. The findings from this study can be applied to understanding the stress factors of humans in the space environment, and identification of countermeasures.

Exploration Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) – Toilet: The crew installed the pretreat tank and pretreat hose onto the newly deployed Toilet system in Node 3 and then performed system activation. Ground teams did not see the expected telemetry during the activation and are discussing the forward plan on the ground. The Toilet System is an Exploration Technology Demonstration that has evolved into a permanent United States On-orbit Segment (USOS) system. The Toilet has the same basic design as the Orion Universal Waste Management System (UWMS). The Toilet System will be the primary WMS for USOS for up to 90 crew days and interfaces with the Urine Transfer System (UTS) to allow concurrent Waste & Hygiene Compartment (WHC)/Toilet operations.

GRIP: The crew performed the first of three planned GRIP science tasks. The GRIP experiment studies the long-duration spaceflight effects on the abilities of human subjects to regulate grip force and upper limbs trajectories when manipulating objects during different kind of movements: oscillatory movements, rapid discrete movements and tapping gestures.

HRF-2 (Human Research Facility-2): The crew removed performed procedures to remove the HRF Centrifuge faulty rear latch. Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) provides an on-orbit laboratory that enables human life science researchers to study and evaluate the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes induced by spaceflight. Research performed using HRF-2 provides data to help scientists understand how the human body adapts to long-duration spaceflight.

Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids (InSPACE-4): The crew distributed particles within the sample vial and initiated experiment runs. InSPACE-4 studies the assembly of tiny structures from colloids using magnetic fields. These structures change the properties of the assembled material, such as its mechanical response to or interaction with light and heat. Microgravity allows observation of these assembly processes free of confining sample walls and sedimentation and during timescales not possible using simulated microgravity. Results could provide insight into how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials.

Space Acceleration Measurement System-II (SAMS-II): The crew cleaned the SAMS RTS/D1 screens in the US Lab with either grey tape or the vacuum cleaner. SAMS-II is an ongoing study of the small forces (vibrations and accelerations) on the ISS resulting from the operation of hardware, crew activities, dockings, and maneuvering. Results generalize the types of vibrations affecting vibration-sensitive experiments and structural life of ISS. Investigators and Structural Analysts seek to better understand the vibration environment on the ISS using SAMS-II data and assessing station loads and dynamics.

Ultrasonic Tweezers: The crew performed Ultrasonic Tweezers experiment scenarios. The objective of the Ultrasonic Tweezers project is to develop acoustic tweezers that use sound to allow for remote and contactless manipulation of materials in a microgravity environment. An ultrasound beam is shaped so that it produces a trap from which an object cannot easily exit. By moving the beam, the object can be moved to a new position with a very good precision.


Crew Dragon Port Relocation Preparations: The crew performed several activities in preparation for the upcoming Endeavour Dragon port relocation. Today’s activities included a checkout of the Crew Dragon seat actuator, relocation of the Crew Dragon Space Station Computer (SSC) to Cupola to set up as an ISS crew monitoring tool, and reorganization of supplies in Crew Dragon. Endeavour is scheduled to relocate from the Node 2 Forward International Docking Adapter (IDA) to the Node 2 Zenith IDA tomorrow and undock is scheduled for 5:40 AM CT. This relocation will clear the Node 2 Forward IDA for Starliner Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) docking planned for Saturday, July 31st.

Resupply Air Tank Re-pressurization: Today, two of the four Resupply Air Tanks that were delivered on Cargo Dragon SpaceX-22 were vented in the PMM in order to re-pressurize the ISS internal volume. The remaining two tanks will be vented later this week.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Crew Dragon System Checkouts (C2V2, GNC, Propellant, TDRS) – (In Work)
MT Translate from WS 4 to 7 & SSRMS Walkoff to MBS1 for Crew-2 Relocate Preparation
Look Ahead Plan

Wednesday, July 21 (GMT 202)


MLM Launch
Endeavour Port Relocation
Crew Dragon Emergency Air Supply Installation
Thursday, July 22 (GMT 203)

GRIP Seated (ESA)
AstroPi Reboot (ESA)
KERMIT Hardware Checks (NASA)
SAMS Sensor Relocate (NASA)
Toilet Stall Deploy (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
InSPACE-4 Runs 34-36 (NASA)
BCM Robot Test (NASA)
ManD Print Removal (NASA)
HRF2 Centrifuge Spin Checkout (NASA)

RGN Recycle Tank Drain
ARFTA Brine Filter R&R
Resupply Air Tank Teardown
Node 1 Ring Terminal Gather
Friday, July 23 (GMT 204)

GRIP Supine (ESA)
LIDAL return (ESA)
CBEF LTL box set (JAXA)
Toilet Question (NASA)
InSPACE-4 runs 37-40 (NASA)
ManD print removal (NASA)
BCM Robot test (NASA)

77P/DC-1 Undock
AAA Fan Checkout
JEM SLT 7 & 8 R&R
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Space Acceleration Measurement System RTS/D1 Screen Cleaning
Toilet Pre-Treat Tank Installation
Space Acceleration Measurement System RTS/D2 Screen Cleaning
INSPACE-4 (Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions 4) Experiment Run Ops
Light Ions Detector Move 2
Cargo Dragon Station Support Computer Relocate
Toilet System Activation and Checkout
Cell Science-04 Bioreactor Removal Ops
Swap CEVIS seat cushion
Cold Atom Lab Slice-7 Remove and Replace Closeout
GRIP science performance in seated position
P/L MELFI Sample Insertion
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Vision Test
USOS Window Shutter Close
iWatch Charge for SpX CREW DRAGON
Crew Dragon Hand Held Gas Detector Battery Install
Water Recovery System Potable Bus Sample
N2 Hatch Open
HMS – ESA Nutritional Assessment
Dragon Final Configuration for Undock
Water Recovery System CWC-Iodine Fill Initialization
Resupply Air Tank Setup and Initiation
SpX-CREW DRAGON Supply Gather
MSG W103 Video Power Cable Search
N2 Hatch Close
Water Recovery System CWC-Iodine Swap Part 1
Crew Dragon Seat Actuator Checkout
Water Recovery System CWC-Iodine Swap Part 2
Ultrasonic Tweezers experiment 1
Ultrasonic Tweezers experiment 2
Ultrasonic Tweezers experiment 3
Water Recovery System CWC-Iodine Fill Terminate
HRF Centrifuge Rear Latch Remove
Ultrasonic Tweezers de-installation
Remove SpX-CREW DRAGON iWatch from charger
Crew Dragon Hand Held Gas Detector Battery Swap
Crew Dragon Tablet Sync
HMS Tonometry Test
Crew Dragon Tablet Stow
Joint Station LAN (JSL) 20 Port Switch Cable Modification
Functional Cargo Block US Operating Segment Audit
Microgravity Science Glovebox Power Down
Unseal MegaHEPA Filter in Crew Dragon

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