Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 December 2019 – Back to Work

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
December 27, 2019
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 26 December 2019 – Back to Work
Expedition 61 Flight Engineers (clockwise from bottom) Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir of NASA and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos brush up on their emergency response skills. The three crewmates practiced quickly entering their Soyuz crew ship and simulated emergency undocking and descent procedures in the unlikely event they would need to evacuate the station. Credit: NASA. (Dec. 19, 2019)

It is back to work for the six-member Expedition 61 crew from the U.S., Russia and Italy after celebrating Christmas aboard the International Space Station.
The space residents checked out BEAM and a commercial resupply ship and researched a variety of space phenomena.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan opened up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) today for some housecleaning work. He and fellow NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch relocated gear stowed in front of BEAM’s hatch and sampled the module’s air and surfaces for microbes. BEAM has been attached to the station since April 2016.

Koch then moved on to loading cargo inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft due to return to Earth on January 5. Flight Engineer Jessica Meir started the packing work today as the crew readies research results for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean aboard Dragon.

Meir also explored what microgravity does to genetics sequencing DNA samples with student-designed tools. Next, she ran a combustion experiment and observed how different samples burn and how flames spread in weightlessness.

Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) is also gathering hardware for return to Earth inside Dragon. He is packing the obsolete power and electronics gear retrieved during a series of spacewalks earlier this year. Engineers on the ground will analyze how years of exposure to the harsh space environment impacted the devices that powered multiple station systems.

Russia’s docked cargo craft, the Progress 74, will fire its engines twice beginning tonight to lift the station’s orbit to support Russian spacecraft activities in 2020. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka readied the orbital lab today and shuttered windows for the orbital reboost.

On-Orbit Status Report

Advanced Nanostep: The crew inserted the Advanced Nano Step Return Bag into MERLIN. Advanced Nano Step, more formally known as Effects of Impurities on Perfection of Protein Crystals, Partition Functions, and Growth Mechanisms, monitors and records how the incorporation of specific impurity molecules affect the development and quality of protein crystals. The crystals grown on the ISS are returned to Earth, and characterized using synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The investigation seeks to improve on the quality and success rate of crystals grown in microgravity.

Confined Combustion: The crew performed fabric sample ignitions with the black baffles installed in the system. Confined Combustion examines the behavior of flame as it spreads in differently-shaped confined spaces in microgravity. Flame spread observations are translated into mathematical models for use in understanding the results and applying them to areas with different shapes. In the recent NASA Saffire project, a large-scale flame spread investigation shows that flames spread more slowly in a large confined space than in a smaller space even if all other environmental conditions are the same (oxygen, pressure, flow speed, etc). The faster flame spread in smaller chambers is suspected to be due to a combination of thermal expansion during combustion and tunnel flow acceleration. Radiation heat feedback from chamber walls may also be a factor.

Genes In Space-6 (GIS-6): The crew performed the steps to initiate the GIS-6 Freeze and Fly 2 run 1. Today’s session will help confirm the success of a previous sequence insertion session, as well as attempting to identify specific types of fungi present in the sample. 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.

JEM Water Recovery System (JWRS): The crew checked the simulant urine bag, then re-inserted it into the JWRS unit. During this activity, the crew noted the presence of a bubble at a location where it could have been interfering with fluid flow through a Quick Disconnect (QD). They were able to successfully remove the bubble from this location. The JWRS demonstration will generate potable water from urine using some different, and possibly more efficient, technologies than the water reclamation currently in use on the ISS. In the past on manned spacecraft, urine and waste water were collected and stored, or vented overboard. For long-term space missions, however, water supply could become a limiting factor. Demonstrating the function of this water recovery system on orbit contributes to updating the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) to support astronauts on the space station and future exploration missions.


SpX-19 Cargo Operations: In preparation for the SpX-19 unberth and return to the ground, the ISS crew took the opportunity today work on Cargo transfer operations. The ISS crew, working off a Cargo Transfer list, packed and transferred a variety cargo items on the Dragon vehicle.

BEAM Cargo Operations: BEAM is currently being used for long-term stowage to help reduce stowage overflow in PMM and elsewhere in nominal ISS stowage locations. Some of the hardware previously stowed in BEAM is due for return or use, so the ISS crew ingressed and removed items for return (ex: HELIOS payload is being returned on SpX-19) or disposal. In addition to retrieving items from BEAM, the crew also backfilled these locations with additional hardware for long term stowage.

Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU)/Battery Discharging/Charging Unit (BDCU) Packing: With the SpX-19 unberth approaching, the ISS crew prepared both the MBSU and BDCU (previously failed) for return to the ground. The crew reconfigured a removed BCDU and packed into an 8.0 Cargo Transfer Bag (CTB) for return to the ground for a failure investigation. In addition, the crew removed the MBSU from the JEM ORU Xfer I/F and installed the Stanchion Cover on an MBSU for protection during I-Level Maintenance or IVA stowage. The MBSU was placed in a 10.0 CTB and packed with foam for stowage and return.

Completed Task List Activities:
Dragon Cargo Transfer
EVA Procedure Review

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
Payload Operations Support

Thursday, 12/26 (GMT 360)
Advanced Nanostep
Confined Combustion
Food Acceptability
Genes In Space-6
ISS Experience message review
JWRS bag check
Standard Measures

Dragon Transfer and Cargo Ops
ARED Cylinder Flywheel/Valve Foam
CCAA Maintenance Review
MBSU/BCDU Gather, Pack and Stow
Stanchion Tear Down
Regen – EDV Drain Initialize, Swap, Drain Term
OBT Emergency Mask Review
BEAM Ingress, H/W Stow and associated activities

Friday, 12/27 (GMT 361)
Confined Combustion
Food Acceptability
ISS Experience
Rodent Research-19
Standard Measures
SPHERES reswarm prep


Saturday, 12/28 (GMT 362) – Off Duty Day
No utilization activities

No systems activities

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

AMS Procedure/video review
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Review
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Suit Intravehicular (IV) Review
Preparation of reports for Roscosmos website and social media
SCENARIY. Observation and photography of catastrophic events and their aftermath. Monitoring of fires in the south of Australia
ECON-M. Observation and Photography
KORREKTSIYA. Venous blood sample processing using Plazma-03 centrifuge
Insertion of Russian experiments blood samples into MELFI
KORREKTSIYA. Transfer to USOS for MELFI Insertion
Countermeasures System Advanced Resistive Exercise Device Cylinder Flywheel Assembly Valve Foam Installation
Integrated Emergency Procedure Review
ARED Platform Partial Fold
KORREKTSIYA. Data export from Actiemeter device to a data storage device
Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) and Battery Charge/Discharge Unit (BCDU) Gather
Photo/TV N3/BEAM Camcorder Setup
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) Ingress
Battery Charge Discharge Unit (BCDU) Packing
ALGOMETRIYA. Experiment Ops.
Comm Config to Support Tagups from MRM1
SEPARATSIA. Letting air to vacuum pumping unit (??).
SEPARATSIA. Letting air into Distilling Unit (??) Specialist conference
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Surface Sample Kit (SSK) Collection/Incubation
Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) Packaging
Weekly ISS RS Video HW functional check
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Microbial Air Sampler (MAS) Kit Sample Collection
Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) Stanchion Cover Removal Assistance
??? maintenance
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) Hardware Stow
Stanchion Cover Teardown
Genes in Space MWA Preparation
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
Regen EDV Drain Swap
JEM Water Recovery System (JWRS) Simulaunt Urine Bag Check
Advanced Nano Step Return Bag Insertion into MERLIN.
BEAM MAS/SSK Sample Stow
Genes in Space 6 Freeze and Fly 2 Run Part 1
BEAM Cleanup and Egress
ARED Platform Unfold Back to Nominal Position
Photo/TV Node 3 Camcorder Deactivation
Comm Reconfig for Nominal Ops
Food Acceptability Survey
Confined Combustion Payload Overview
PILOT-T. Experiment Ops.
Confined Combustion Test Operations
PROFILAKTIKA-2. Hardware Setup
Genes in Space 6 CRISPR MiniPCR Stop and Stow
GEMATOKRIT. Equipment setup
ISS Experience Message Review
Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Maintenance Big Picture Words Review
CONTENT. Experiment Ops
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
USOS Window Shutter Close
Standard Measures Pre-sleep Questionnaire
Monitoring shutter closure on SM windows 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 ????.10

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