Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 December, 2020

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
December 31, 2020
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 December, 2020
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 December, 2020.

Following a day off on Christmas, the Expedition 64 crew went into the weekend with a variety of space biology to help researchers gain therapeutic insights not possible on Earth.
Long-term exposure to microgravity affects organisms adapted to living on Earth in many ways. That same weightless phenomena also reveals unique physical properties that doctors can use to develop advanced medicines and therapies.

A pair of studies taking place over the weekend explored new treatments for joint injuries and cancer. Saturday’s investigation observed samples of bone, cartilage, and synovium (connective tissue) housed in an artificial gravity chamber for insights into bone loss and joint damage. Sunday’s space research explored space-grown protein crystals, which are higher quality than those created on Earth, and their ability to target cancer cells.

A separate pair of investigations is examining several dozen mice aboard the International Space Station to learn about space-caused impacts to vision and bone tissue. The eyesight study seeks to understand whether the vascular changes created in space can impair visual function. Space radiation and fluid shifts toward the head are also suspected of affecting vision in 40 percent of space residents.

The second experiment is looking at genetic changes that occur in space and how they impact the degeneration/regeneration of bone tissue. Scientists are investigating how microgravity modifies the molecular mechanism of bone formation and cell growth.

The mice live in specialized research habitats on the station and are compared to a similar group of rodents on the ground. Following the completion of the studies, the mice will be returned to Earth inside the SpaceX Cargo Dragon spaceship in January for analysis by scientists in Florida. The results from both experiments may lead to better treatments for conditions affecting humans on and off the Earth.

On-Orbit Status Report


NanoRacks Module-9: The crew performed the 3rd operations of sample tube mixtures. NanoRacks Module-09 is a combination of 35 experiments provided by school students from 5 different countries. The experiments are housed within a NanoRacks Module container and is a combination of biological static experiments and some experiments that require crew interaction to mix materials to activate. The experiments within the module are returned to the ground for analysis.

REGGAE (REduced Gravity Gecko Adhesion docking Experiments): The crew reviewed Astrobee procedures participated in a conference with Payload Specialist in preparation of upcoming REGGAE checkout and operations which will involve both free flyers performing docking maneuvers using GEGKO material. REGGAE tests capture and active removal of space debris in low-Earth orbit using materials that mimic the microscopic structures in the feet of geckos, flies, spiders and beetles that allow them to adhere to almost any surface. Space debris – human-made objects that remain in orbit but no longer serve a useful purpose, including derelict satellites and spent launch vehicle stages – poses a risk to the use of low-Earth orbit. Removal is essential to continued safe operation of satellites and spacecraft.

Electro-static Levitation Furnace (ELF): The crew exchanged the Round Robin sample from holder #2 to holder #3 in the ELF facility. ELF is an experimental facility designed to levitate, melt and solidify materials by containerless processing techniques using the electrostatic levitation method. With this facility thermophysical properties of high temperature melts can be measured and solidification from deeply undercooled melts can be achieved.

HemoCue: The crew reviewed procedures and then performed the setup and operations for the HemoCue demonstration. Only two of the planned six sample runs were successful duet to unexpected surface tension issues during the cuvette solution filling. Payload investigators are assessing operations. The hardware was then stowed. HemoCue WBC DIFF White Blood Cell Count and Differentiator Technology Demonstration (HemoCue) tests the ability of a commercially available device to provide quick and accurate total and differentiated white blood cell (WBC) counts in microgravity using control solutions. The total number of WBCs and counts of the five different types of WBCs (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils) are commonly used by doctors to aid in the diagnosis of sick patients and to monitor a variety of health conditions on Earth. Verification of an autonomous medical capability for blood analysis in microgravity on the International Space Station is an important step in meeting the health care needs of crew members on long duration missions.

Fiber Optic Production (FOP): In a continuation of the FOP experiment, the crew performed the last set of sample exchanges. This completes the objectives of the FOP experiment. The ground team uses data from previous runs to refine the experiment parameters, allowing them to draw longer fibers with better characteristics. Desiccant were also installed in the facility in order to control humidity levels. The Fiber Optic Production investigation creates optical fibers with high commercial value aboard the ISS using a blend of zirconium, barium, lanthanum, sodium, and aluminum called ZBLAN. It operates in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG). Extensive theoretical studies along with a limited number of experimental studies suggest that ZBLAN optical fibers produced in microgravity should exhibit far superior qualities to those produced on Earth. The resulting optical fiber from Fiber Optic Production is expected to help verify these studies and guide further engineering efforts to manufacture high value optical fiber in large volume aboard the ISS.


Medical Contingency On-Board Training (OBT): The Crew-1 crew participated in this OBT which provides the opportunity to review procedures, hardware and communication methods necessary to manage a medical emergency on the ISS. Emergency medical equipment was deployed and the crew practiced CPR positioning to ensure familiarity with procedure execution. Crew communication and coordination of care during an emergency medical event were also practiced.

Completed Task List Activities:

CEVIS pedal R&R (Saturday GMT 361)
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Dragon cargo transfer ops
Payloads ops support
JEMRMS activation
Look Ahead Plan

Tuesday, 12/29 (GMT 364)

Cardinal Heart Media Change(NASA)
HRF Veggie POMS Questionnaire (NASA)
Fiber Optics H/W stow (NASA)
ISS Experience relocate for data xfer (NASA)
ISS Experience conclusion recording (NASA)
ISS Experience Russian setup and recording (NASA)
Plant Hab-02 Harvest (NASA)
Veggie Monitoring Surface Sample photo (NASA)
ACME Manif bottle change (Joint)
Food Acceptability (NASA)

Microbiology surface/air sampling
Wednesday, 12/30 (GMT 365)

Cryo Chiller Cartridge install (NASA)
MAND print remove and stow (NASA)
MVP-02 Cell-06 removal with video (NASA)
Plant Hab-02 Harvest 2 (NASA)
Rodent Hab restock (NASA)
TangoLab-2 Card cube remove for SpX-21 return (NASA)
KIBO Studio Setup (JAXA)
JAXA EPO video take 3 (JAXA)

Cygnus cargo transfer ops
Thursday, 12/31 (GMT 366)

Kibo Studio Ops part 1-4 (JAXA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Food Physiology Brief (NASA)
Monoclonal Antiboides-PCG-5 Ops 2 (NASA)
Plant Hab-02 Facility Clean (NASA)
Rodent Injections 1 (session 2) (NASA)
ISS Experience Stow
RR Access Unit Clean (NASA)

Cygnus cargo transfer ops
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Hemocue Hardware demo ops
FOP sampling
ELF sample holder exchange
OBT medical contingency
ITCS fluid sampling
NanoRacks Module 9 ops
Cygnus transfer ops
Astrobee Free Flyer OBT
Reggae install/checkout
IROSA mod kit install [Deferred]

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