Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 21 June, 2021 – Third Spacewalk Friday to Finish Solar Array Installation

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
June 23, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 21 June, 2021 – Third Spacewalk Friday to Finish Solar Array Installation
The waxing gibbous Moon above the Indian Ocean.

The International Space Station has a new solar array that was installed during Sunday’s spacewalk by Expedition 65 astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet. The duo will conduct a third spacewalk on Friday to install a second solar array.
The first ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA) was successfully installed and deployed during a spacewalk on Sunday and is performing well. Ground teams will continue to collect data on its performance and compare it to last year’s information, calculating the total power gained.

Kimbrough and Pesquet completed the solar array installation work and began configuring a second iROSA during Sunday’s six-hour and 28-minute spacewalk. The duo now turns its attention to Friday’s excursion to install the second iROSA on the opposite side of the Port-6 truss structure where the first solar array is installed. NASA TV, on the agency’s website, and the NASA app, will start its live coverage at 6:30 a.m. with the spacewalk set to begin at 8 a.m. when the veteran spacewalkers set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power.

The spacewalking duo joined NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei for a conference with ground specialists. Then Kimbrough and Pesquet serviced some spacesuit components and organized tools for Friday’s upcoming spacewalk. McArthur and Vande Hei will once again assist the pair in and out of their spacesuits and provide robotics support on Friday.

Research still continued aboard the orbital lab today as the crew explored pharmaceuticals, protein crystals and the human eye.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide serviced samples inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a study that explores freeze-drying as a way to preserve medicines for long periods of time. Kimbrough peered through a microscope looking at samples for the Real-Time Protein Crystal Growth experiment which could lead to new disease therapies on Earth.

Vande Hei took on the crew medical officer role today and scanned the eyes of McArthur using medical imaging hardware. The eye exams take place regularly on the station since astronauts have reported vision issues after living in space for months.

The two Roscosmos flight engineers, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, split their day between science and maintenance activities. Novitskiy explored plasma crystals first then photographed the condition of the Pirs docking compartment ahead of its departure later this summer. Dubrov checked communications gear and worked Russian life support hardware.

On-Orbit Status Report

United States On-orbit Segment (USOS) Extravehicular Activity (EVA) #75 – ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (IROSA) 2B Install 2: EV1 (Thomas Pesquet) and EV2 (Shane Kimbrough) performed a 6 hour and 28 minute EVA on Sunday, June 20th and completed the following tasks in support of the IROSA 2B Install 2 EVA:

Complete install of IROSA on Port 6 (P6) 2B Mast Canister
Connect IROSA Electrical Connectors
Deploy P6 2B IROSA
Prepare the 4B IROSA for release from the Flight Support Equipment (FSE) [Partially Completed]
Following the EVA, ground teams confirmed the P6 2B IROSA is performing nominally. The IROSA 4B Install EVA is planned for Friday, June 25th.


Asian Herbs in Space: The crew took some photos of Asian Herb Seed packages. Microgravity affects the growth of plants and understanding the nature of these changes is important for future missions that will rely on plants for food. Asian Herbs in Space studies fast-growing plants used for traditional medicine and flavoring food, examining differences in their aroma that may result from microgravity-related cellular changes. This investigation benefits future plant growth efforts in space, and provides new information on the formation of aroma compounds in common herbs.

Confocal Space Microscopy: The crew took photos of the confocal microscope cables, removed the temperature logger and recorded readings. The Confocal Space Microscope (Confocal Microscope) is a JAXA facility that provides fluorescence images of biological samples aboard the ISS. Confocal Microscope uses spatial filtering techniques to eliminate out-of-focus light or glare in specimens whose thickness exceeds the immediate plane of focus. With the Confocal Microscope, data can be obtained on the fundamental nature of cellular and tissue structure and functions in real-time.

Lyophilization-2: The crew removed the processed sample tray S/N 11 from the sample chamber and stowed it for return to the ground and then inserted a new sample tray S/N 13. Lyophilization-2 in Microgravity (Lyophilization-2) examines gravity’s effects on freeze-dried materials. Lyophilization, or freeze-drying, is a common method for formulating pharmaceuticals with improved chemical and physical stability. On Earth, the process leads to formation of layers with structural differences, but if such stratification is due to gravity, it may not occur in microgravity. This investigation, which follows up on previous work, could result in improved freeze-drying processes for the pharmaceutical and other industries.

OBIS (Oral Biofilms in Space): The crew hydrated the OBiS Assembly session Packs 11-15 with Fluid Bag 2 into the Fluid Chamber and then packs 11, 13 and 14 were restowed into the MERLIN for incubation. Packs 12 and 15 were lost due to leakage and were trashed. Fluid Bag 2 is a fluid medium containing chemicals designed to promote bacterial growth along with oral care bioactives within the Fluid Chamber. Effect of Environmental Stressors on Oral Biofilm Growth and Treatment (Oral Biofilms in Space) studies the effect of gravity on the behavior of oral bacteria, including the structure of the bacterial community, and changes in bacterial response to common oral care agents. The findings could support development of novel treatments to fight oral diseases such as caries, gingivitis, and periodontitis. The investigation also could provide insights into how microgravity affects the microbiome of other mucosal surfaces in the body.

Plasma Krystall-4 (PK-4): The crew connected the PK-4 chamber to the Neon Gas Supply by opening valves and reported the pressure to ground. PK-4 is a scientific collaboration between ESA and Roscosmos performing research in the field of “Complex Plasmas”. Complex Plasmas are low temperature gaseous mixtures composed of ionized gas, neutral gas, and micron-sized particles. The micro-particles become highly charged in the plasma and interact strongly with each other, which can lead to a self-organized structure of the micro-particles, so-called plasma crystals. Experiments in the facility aim to study transport properties, thermodynamics, kinetics and statistical physics, non-linear waves, and instabilities in Complex Plasmas.

Phase II Real-Time Protein Crystal Growth-2 (RTPCG-2): The crew set up the appropriate microscope hardware, observed and took photos of the crystal growth screening plate S/N C1C7 and then loaded plate 1C17. RTPCG-2 demonstrates new methods for producing high-quality protein crystals in microgravity. Previous work has shown that microgravity can sometimes produce high-quality protein crystals that can be analyzed to identify possible targets for drugs to treat disease. RTPCG-2 tests high-quality proteins crystals for detailed analysis back on Earth.


EVA Recovery Activities: The crew completed several activities in order to recover from the IROSA 2B Install 2 EVA and prepare for the IROSA 4B Install EVA. The crew performed Contingency Water Containers-Iodine (CWC-I) degas, Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) water recharge, Metal Oxide (METOX) cartridge regeneration, battery charging, and tool configuration activities. Finally, the IROSA 2B EV crew participated in an EVA debrief conference with the ground.

JPM Intermodular Ventilation (IMV) Mesh Cover Remove & Replace (R&R) and Flow Measure: The crew completed an R&R of the JPM Starboard-Aft inlet IMV mesh cover and then used a Velocicalc tool to measure the amount of airflow through the inlet. After completing the measurements, the crew verified the JEM Wireless Instrumentation System (WIS) Remote Sensor Unit (RSU) B4 and connected air flow sensors at the inlet were in a good configuration.

Health Maintenance System (HMS) Eye Exams: The crew completed routine eye exams using an ultrasound device. Eye exams are performed regularly onboard in order to monitor each crewmember’s optical health. Eyesight is one of many aspects of the human body affected by long-duration stays in a microgravity environment.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Recycle Drain Support Commanding
EMU Water Recharge Support Commanding
SDMS Activation
Security Patch Deploy
Lab CDRA Activation for 4 Half-cycles
Look Ahead Plan

Tuesday, June 22 (GMT 173)

NanoRacks Mod-9 Ops 3 (NASA)
OBiS Bag3 Initiation (NASA)
LYO-2 Tray Hardware Stow

Cygnus Cargo Operations
EVA Tool Configurations
EVA DOUG & Procedure Review
EMU Loop Scrubs
Eye Exam
Wednesday, June 23 (GMT 174)

PK4 Run2 (Joint)

EVA Cuff Print
ROBO Procedure Review & Conference
EVA Procedure Conference
Thursday, June 24 (GMT 175)

RTPCG-2 Plate Load 2C1 (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Standard Measures Pre-Sleep (NASA)
AC Touch (NASA)
OBiS Bag1 (17-20) Initiation and Activate (NASA)
PK4 HD Exchange (Joint)
OBiS Bag1 Initiation and Activate (NASA)

Equipment Lock Preparations
EVA Tool Configurations & Audit
EVA Procedure Review & Conference
EMU HECA Install
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Microgravity Science Glovebox Activation
Asian Herbs in Space Photo Taking
Confocal Space Microscopy Temp Logger Removal 2 & Data Read 2
Contingency Water Container – Iodinated Gather & Degas
Lyophilization Sample Tray Swap
JPM IMV Stbd Aft Mesh Cover R&R & IMV Flow Measure
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain
Antimicrobial Coatings Touch
EMU Long Life Battery (LLB)/METOX Installation
OBiS Assemblies Removal, Flow Reconfiguration, Biofilms Session Pack Insertion
Rechargeable EVA Battery Assembly (REBA) Installation
EVA Debrief
EMU Water Recharge
Handhold Exp Platform Adapter Relocation
EVA Battery Operations Terminal Charge Init
RPCG-2 Microscopy Plate S/N C1, Row C, Day 7
EVA Tool Configuring
Urine Transfer System Offload EDV Swap
High Definition EMU Camera Assembly Terminate
RPCG-2 Microscopy Plate S/N 1C1, Day 7
Charging EVA Camera D4 Battery
Gathering CWC-Is in prep for RS water transfers
HMS OCT2 Exams – Subject
METOX Regeneration Initiation

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