Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 August, 2021 – Cargo Dragon Ready for Launch

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 27, 2021
Filed under , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 August, 2021 – Cargo Dragon Ready for Launch
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. (Aug. 21, 2021))

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is standing at the launch pad counting down to its weekend mission to the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew focused on robotics and biology while gearing up for a pair of Russian spacewalks.

The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX with the Cargo Dragon spacecraft atop is standing vertical at its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. It is scheduled to launch on Saturday at 3:37 a.m. EDT and arrive at the station on Sunday for an autonomous docking at 11 a.m. Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet will be on duty Sunday morning monitoring Dragon’s rendezvous and docking to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter. NASA TV will broadcast both launch and docking events live.

The two astronauts spent Thursday morning on science, however, working on the Myotones study observing the biochemical properties of muscles in space. The duo took turns marking and measuring their leg and arm muscles to better understand how weightlessness affects muscle tone, stiffness, and elasticity.

A pair of cube-shaped, toaster-sized Astrobee free-flying robotic helpers were turned on today for a mobility test inside the Kibo laboratory module. Commander Akihiko Hoshide activated the devices Thursday afternoon to test their ability to dynamically pass objects, such as cargo, to each other or a science rack robotic arm.

Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough spent the day working inside the U.S. Quest airlock. He was assembling and installing a new stowage platform inside the module where spacewalks in U.S. spacesuits are staged.

The next two spacewalks taking place on the station will occur on Sept. 3 and 9. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are preparing for both spacewalks readying their Orlan spacesuits and tools inside the Poisk module. The duo will be exiting Poisk to configure the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module for upcoming science operations.

On-Orbit Status Report


Astroporter: The crew set up the work area and worked with the Astrobee ground team in conducting science for the Astroporter Mass Property Learner. Astroporter is a suite of software that enables collaborative behavior between multiple robots in space, including algorithms for handling changes in mass properties of free-flying systems as they collaborate in the transport of cargo. The primary objective is to enable Astrobee to serve as a cargo tug for large objects as part of a roadmap for in-space servicing, and to allow use of the Astrobee facility to validate control strategies for future efforts.

Blob: The crew set up the experiment hardware and injected water to hydrate the slime mold and begin the experiment. The goal of the Blob investigation is to observe the influence of microgravity on the Blob’s (a unicellular organism whose scientific name is Physarum polycephalum) behavior when it explores its environment or when it eats. A ground experiment takes place in schools and the results are compared against the results of the International Space Station conclusions. The final goal is to motivate students from France and other European Space Agency (ESA) Member States to study the Biological sciences.

Using Water Bears to Identify Biological Countermeasures to Stress during Multigenerational (Cell Science-04): The crew injected algae into the CS-04 experiment bioreactors. The tardigrades in the experiment use algae as a food source. 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 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.

Immersive Exercise: The crew performed troubleshooting (t/s) for the wireless Virtual Reality (VR) headset used in the experiment. In this t/s session, the crew powered the VR headset, and checked for drift and flickering with and without the forward cameras covered. Following the t/s, the crew reported the flicker and drift occurred with and without the cameras covered. The ground team will assess further t/s steps. The Immersive Exercise project focuses on the development of a VR environment for biking sessions aboard the ISS. The VR equipment is interfaced with the current bicycle exerciser aboard the ISS, Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization (CEVIS), located in the United States “Destiny” Laboratory Module.

Manufacturing Device (ManD): The crew removed and stowed the ManD feedstock, extruder and print tray, and then installed the extruder and tray insert needed for the Redwire Regolith Print (RRP) experiment. RRP demonstrates 3D printing with regolith feedstock material in microgravity using the Made In Space Manufacturing Device currently aboard the International Space Station. This demonstration could help determine the feasibility of using resources available on planetary bodies as the raw materials for on-demand construction of housing and other structures. This capability reduces the amount of materials needed on future exploration missions, thus reducing launch mass.

Muscle Tone in Space (Myotones): The crew set up the appropriate hardware, located and marked measurement points on the body, and performed an experiment session with the Myotones device. Myotones 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.

Nanoracks Cubesat Deployer (NRCSD): Using the Maintenance Work Area (MWA), the crew disassembled and stowed the empty NRCSD Triple Deployer components. NRCSD is a stackable, modular, ground loaded launch case. Each NRCSD accommodates up to six launch cases. NRCSD is passed through the JEM Airlock, and manipulated robotically for to the satellite deployment position.

Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems BioScience-12 (STaARS BS-12): The crew placed the STaARS experiment container shells and cryotube Kit into the STaARS-1 Experiment Facility. Novel Protein Aggregation/degradation Studies in the Unique ISS Environment Provide Mechanistic Insights Relevant to Biopharmaceutical Development and Degenerative Diseases (STaARS BioScience-12) examines protein folding and aggregation under the unique stresses of space, including microgravity- and cosmic radiation-dependent folding and degradation and the combination of these factors. Biopharmaceuticals play a significant role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human diseases, but a challenge in making them is the instability and degradation of their proteins. This investigation may help develop new strategies to prevent protein degradation and support design of therapeutic biopharmaceuticals.


Deck Airlock Stowage Platform (ASP) Install: Earlier today, the crew installed the new ASP in the Airlock Deck 1 location. The crew adjusted the platform to align with adjacent closeout panels, installed deck hampers, and deck access doors. The new ASP was designed to replace the existing stowage bin and increase stowage capability.

Joint Station LAN (JSL) Cable Test: The crew performed a connection test of JSL Ethernet cables between LAB, SM, and MLM. This test was required prior to the installation of this cable, planned during an upcoming Russian EVA.

Robotic Operations: Yesterday (GMT 237), the Robotics Ground Controllers powered up the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) and maneuvered the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) to stow the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) to the Mobile Base System (MBS) Power & Data Grapple Fixture 2 (PDGF 2). The SSRMS was then walked off to the MBS PDGF 1. Following that, the SSRMS unstowed the SPDM and maneuvered to park for tomorrow`s Mobile Transporter (MT) translation. Later tonight Robotics Ground Controllers will be installing the Z-Cam on the JEMAL slide table.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

MT Translation [Planned]
JEMAL Slide Table extend [Planned]
Z-Cam install on JEMAL slide table [Planned]
JEMAL Slide table retract [Planned]
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, August 27 (GMT 239) – currently being replanned due to the EVA deferral


ESA powerbank
KUBIK 5/6 setup
PLDR deactivation
RSD sample exchange
SCEM closeout
Standard Measures
Time Perception

Deck ASP Airlock Closeout
SpX-23 Cargo Review and Conference
EVA Tool Stow
Hatch Seal Inspection
Saturday, August 28 (GMT 240) – SpX-23 Launch 7:37 GMT


Astrobee off

Sunday, August 29 (GMT 241) – SpX-23 Dock 15:00 GMT


Nanoracks mod 9
POLAR procedure reviews

Dragon Ingress
SpX-23 priority cargo transfer
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Airlock Preparation for Deck Stowage Platform Removal
LSG Primary Crew Restraint Unfold
Astrobee Prep
Checking ESA Power Bank charge level and charging
STaARS MELFI Cryotube Kit and Experiment Container Shell Retrieve
Astrobee Stowage Clear
Cell Science-04 MERLIN Sample Removal
NanoRacks Cubesat Deployer Maintenance Work Area Preparation
Cell Sceience-04 Algae Injection Ops
NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Hardware Gather
Airlock Deck Stowage Platform Removal
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Social Media Event
NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Removal from the MPEP
Airlock Deck Stowage Platform Installation
Transfer Cygnus Cargo Operations
Cabin cargo cleanup in preparation of the Myotones experiment
Myotones Kit Gathering
Myotones Device Setup with EPM Laptop
Myotones Measurements
Myotones Device Data Transfer
STaARS BioScience-12 Cryotube Kit and Experiment Container Shell Placement
LSG Work Volume Stow
LSG Primary Crew Restraint Fold
Biolab Glovebox Health Check
Installing Airlock Integrated Filter Assemblies and Cabin Smoke Detector
Astroporter Setup and Checkout
Eklosion Message Retrieval
Food Acceptability Survey
Food Physiology Crew Diet Briefing
Wireless VR Headset charging for Immersive Exercise
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain
EPO Pesquet Blob Hardware Installation
US Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tool Transfer
Joint Station LAN Ethernet Cable to Service Module Test
Manufacturing Device Feedstock, Extruder and Print Tray Removal
Joint Station LAN Set Up for MLM Ethernet Cable Install
Redwire Regolith Extruder and Tray Insert
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Fill Part 3
Inventory Management System (IMS) Conference
Ring-Sheared Drop MELFI Sample Retrieve
Standard Measures Pre-sleep Questionnaire
SpaceX-23 Dragon review CBT
Standard Measures Post-Sleep Questionnaire

SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.