Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 October, 2021 – Life Support, Spacesuits and Botany Work

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
October 22, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 October, 2021 – Life Support, Spacesuits and Botany Work
A NanoRacks module free-floats inside the cupola. (June 11, 2021)

The uncrewed Russian Progress 78 spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Poisk module at 7:42 p.m. EDT today and will arrive at the station’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module for redocking tomorrow.
Progress 78 will back out to a distance of 120 miles from the space station for a period of just over 24 hours to allow for station keeping. The cargo spacecraft will then make an automated docking at 12:23 a.m. Friday, Oct. 22, to the new module.

The maneuver will position Progress 78 to conduct leak checks of the Nauka module’s propellent lines before they are used with the new module’s thrusters for orientation control of the station. Progress 78 arrived at the station in July and will depart in late November.

Life support, spacesuits and botany work filled Wednesday’s schedule for the Expedition 66 crew aboard the International Space Station. The orbital residents are also gearing up for a Russian resupply ship backing away from the station tonight and switching docking ports just over a day later.

Astronauts Megan McArthur of NASA and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) were back in the Tranquility module today replacing components inside the oxygen generation system (OGS). The duo started the work on Tuesday flushing OGS parts of contaminants. They closed out the work today and reactivated the U.S. life support device.

Commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) spent the afternoon in the U.S. Quest airlock working on a U.S. spacesuit. The two-time space station resident verified the resized suit is fully functional ahead of an upcoming spacewalk planned for later this year.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei serviced a pair of science freezers during the morning. Afterward, he cleaned debris around the Advanced Plant Habitat then photographed the condition of the botany research facility. Station Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA, who is also commander of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission, is now packing cargo and turning his attention to early November’s return to Earth of he and his Crew-2 crewmates McArthur, Hoshide and Pesquet aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour.

On-Orbit Status Report


Plant Habitat-04: A crewmember removed plant litter (detritus) from the growth chamber and photographed the plants/peppers. Numerous healthy peppers have been reported and the crew has been watching the plants with interest. Microgravity Growth of New Mexico Hatch Green Chile as a Technical Display of Advanced Plant Habitat’s Capabilities (Plant Habitat-04) demonstrates using the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) by growing peppers in space for the first time. An excellent source of Vitamin C, peppers are more difficult to cultivate than many possible space crops because they take longer to germinate, grow, and develop fruit. The investigation includes microbial analysis to improve understanding of plant-microbe interactions in space and assessment of flavor and texture, which vary based on the growth environment and care such as amount of watering.

Polar-4: The crew inspected and took photos of the front sealing face of POLAR and the door seal to check for any damage or anomalies. Polar is a Cold Stowage managed facility that provides transport and storage of science samples at cryogenic temperatures (-80ºC) to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Polar operates on 75 W supplied power and uses air cooling as its heat rejection method. Polar can accommodate up to 12.75 liters of sample volume and 20 lbm including sample support equipment.

Probiotics: The crew collected saliva samples and filled out an experiment questionnaire. Some species of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella grow stronger and more virulent in the microgravity environment of space. At the same time, the human immune system is weaker in space, leading to increased health risks. The objective of the Probiotics investigation is to study the impact of continuous consumption of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) on immune function and intestinal microbiota in astronauts in a closed microgravity environment. The results of this investigation may be used to support improvements in crew members’ intestinal microbiota and their immune function on long-duration space missions.

Space Automated Bioproduct Lab-4 (SABL-4): The crew performed an activation and checkout of SABL S/N 4 located in EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments for Space Station Racks (EXPRESS) Rack 8. 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.

SpaceDuino: The crew installed the SpaceDuino hardware in the Columbus module starboard endcone area, and then activated the investigation. SpaceDuino studies the technical capabilities and economic benefit of off-the-shelf hardware and open source software in microgravity. Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and other single board computers have increased in computational power, reliability, and availability while decreasing in cost. Paired with features such as low-voltage sensors and wireless communication, these systems can provide low-cost data acquisition and control, increasing opportunities for microgravity-based research and allowing for more efficient use of resources.

Toilet: The crew checked the cover on the Toilet Conductivity Sensor inlet and outlet for any pretreated urine leaks and filled out a questionnaire. The Toilet System is an Exploration Tech Demo that has evolved into a permanent 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 WHC/Toilet operations.

Touching Surfaces: The crew performed a periodic touching of the five Touch Arrays which are deployed in different locations in the US segment of ISS. Previous space research conducted during short-term flight experiments and long-term environmental monitoring on board orbiting space stations (such as MIR or the International Space Station) suggests that the relationship between humans and microbes is altered in the crewed habitat in space. This interdisciplinary project Touching Surfaces aims to investigate novel, laser-structured antimicrobial surfaces onboard the ISS. The realistic testing of the tailor-made nanostructured antimicrobial surface in space allows for the determination of the most suitable design for antimicrobial surfaces for terrestrial applications such as public transportation and clinical settings, as well as future human space mission and habitation design.


Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) Checkout: Today, the crew performed a checkout of EMU 3004. This checkout is nominally completed to verify that the reassembled EMU is fully functional following the Hard Upper Torso (HUT) R&R that was completed last week.

Oxygen Generation Assembly (OGA) Hydrogen (H2) ORU R&R: The crew performed an R&R of the OGA H2 sensor and cleaned the associated Avionics Air Assembly (AAA) inlet. The H2 sensor R&R is a routine maintenance activity and is necessary due to the nominal degradation of the H2 sensor materials over time.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Mobile Servicing System (MSS) PowerUp
Video Distribution Subsystem (VDS) Robotics Ground Configuration
Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Walkoff to Lab PDGF
Crew Dragon System Checkout
Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Powerdown
Look Ahead Plan

Thursday, October 21 (GMT 294)

Actiwatch Plus setup/stow
Advanced Nano Step
CIR FOMA Calibration prep
Food Acceptability
JAXA Water Recovery system Gastrap module install
Pilote science session
Plasma Kristall-4 disk audit and experiment campaign fam
RFID label apply
SABL activation and checkout
Soret Facet Cell removal
Toilet Daily Questionnaire and photo survey
VR headset troubleshooting

EMU Resize
KCU Cable Pin Fix
Friday, October 22 (GMT 295)

Actiwatch Plus setup/stow
ELC1 shell swap
Express Rack Bulb Replacement
Food Physiology
GITAI Node 3 valve open, camcorder setup and Hardware remove
HRF GDS tank photo
JAXA Mission data recorder HD replace
NanoRacks Airlock temp stow replace
RFID label apply
Ring Sheared Drop-2 sample install
Toilet Daily big picture word review, questionnaire, dose check, and leak check

N3 Endcone Stowage Replace
NRAL Stowage Replace
CASA Outfitting
Saturday, October 23 (GMT 296)

HRF urine setup
LIDAL re-install (WOOV8 cleanup)
MELFI icebrick insert
Toilet daily questionnaire

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

Probiotics Saliva Operations
Probiotics Saliva Sample MELFI Insertion
Probiotics Question
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Coliform Water Sample Analysis 44 +/- 4 hours post processing
SSIPC Management Conference
Oxygen Generation Assembly Hydrogen ORU R&R Part 5
MERLIN 3 Desiccant Swap
MERLIN 3 Icebrick Insert
Virtual Reality Headset charge
Crew Departure Preparations for Return to Earth
Photo/TV SAW MAST Setup
SpaceDuino Install and Activate
Acoustic Monitor Data Transfer and Stow
SpaceDuino Hardware Activation
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Battery Operations Terminal File Transfer Terminate
Photo/TV Node 3/Cupola Camcorder Setup
ESA Weekly crew conference
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Config JEM Setup
NOD3A5 Avionics Air Assembly (AAA) Cleaning
PAO Preparation
Countermeasures System (CMS) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Quarterly Maintenance
Photo TV SAW MAST port Survey
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) – JEM
Toilet System Pretreat Dose Check
Solar Array Survey Equipment Stow
Touching Event for the Touching Surfaces experiment
PR Photos for Touching Surfaces
Extravehicular Mobility Unit Orbital Replacement Unit Checkout
Polar Door Inspection
Radio Frequency Identification Label Application
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Formaldehyde Monitoring Kit (FMK) Deployment Operations
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Oxygen Generation System (OGS) Activation
Environmental Health System (EHS) Grab Sample Container (GSC) Sampling Operations
Plant Habitat-04 DEBRIS Hardware Gather
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Plant Habitat-04 Debris Remove
Crew Dragon Tablet Sync
Node 3 Toilet Leak Inspection
Crew Dragon Tablet Stow
Toilet System Daily Questionnaire
Dragon/ISS Undock Crew Conference
ISS HAM Kenwood Radio Power Down in Columbus
USOS Window Shutter Close
Photo T/V (P/TV) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Exercise Video Setup
ISS HAM Radio Power Down in Service Module
Crew time for ISS adaptation and orientation
CDM Check
Crew Alternate Sleep Accommodation (CASA) Keep-Out Zone (KOZ) & Door Stop Check
Photo/TV Camcorder Setup Verification

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