Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 29 June 2017 – Dragon Set for Return to Earth and Extremophiles Research

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
June 30, 2017
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 29 June 2017 – Dragon Set for Return to Earth and Extremophiles Research
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson works on a science experiment in the Unity module. Credit: NASA.

A pair of NASA astronauts are almost finished packing the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship and are training for its Sunday morning departure. The three-member Expedition 52 crew also explored life science researching microgravity’s effect on microbes and plants.
Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer will be inside the Cupola Sunday to robotically release Dragon at 11:38 a.m. EDT. They duo trained today to prepare for Sunday’s departure activities. The astronauts are also nearly done loading Dragon with time-sensitive research samples and used station hardware for analysis on Earth by scientists and engineers.

The commercial space freighter will parachute to a splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 5-1/2 hours after release. A SpaceX team will retrieve Dragon from the ocean and ship it to port in southern California. NASA engineers will then unload Dragon on shore and return the cargo back to Houston for analysis.

Today’s life science activities included photographing mold and bacteria samples for a suite of student-designed experiments. Finally, microbes that have been swabbed from station surfaces are set to be examined for extremophiles, or microorganisms that live in extreme conditions that are normally hostile to life.

On-Orbit Status Report

Extremophiles: In preparation for Session C of the Extremophiles investigation the crew wiped designated surfaces in Node 1, Node 3 and the Cupola with sterile wet wipes and placed them into a Biolab Thermal Control Unit. Archaea and extremophilic bacteria have not been considered as significant contributors to the microbiome on the ISS. The Extremophiles experiment will add critical knowledge about the microbial diversity on the ISS. The experiment will Isolate and characterize archaea and extremophilic bacteria by sampling selected locations inside the Station. Changes in archaea and extremophilic bacteria over a period of at least 3 months will be assessed. The population of archaea and extremophilic bacteria on the ISS will be compared with that of spacecraft clean rooms and visiting vehicles.

Rodent Research-5 (RR-5) Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for Osteoporosis: The crew reviewed material on live animal return operations and discussed those operations with the Payload Developer. They then set up the Animal Transporter for return of 10 RR-5 mice on SpX-11, powered up the Transporter, installed food bars and activated water lixits. Because spaceflight has significant and rapid effects on the musculoskeletal system, it is important to investigate targeted therapies that could ameliorate some of the detrimental effects of spaceflight. The NELL-1 drug being studied in the RR-5 investigation has the potential to slow or reverse bone loss during spaceflight.

NanoRacks Module-52: The crew performed a status check of subexperiments inside NanoRacks Module-52. Photographs and video were taken of the petri dishes. NanoRacks Module-52 is a collection of 6 student-led biological experiments photo-documenting the life-cycle of various molds and bacteria on petri plates in microgravity.

NanoRacks Module-48: The crew took photos for the NanoRacks Module-48 investigation for downlink to the ground. NanoRacks Module-48 connects students on Earth to the space program by sending their photographs and messages to the ISS along with plant seeds that are germinated after being returned to Earth. The investigation increases awareness of humans’ ability to access space, spurring interest in the space program and encouraging students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

On Board Training (OBT) Dragon Robotics On Board Trainer (RoBOT): In preparation for SpX-11 unberth and release currently planned for Sunday, July 2, the crew completed this 70-minute training session during which they practiced 2 Dragon release runs. They also reviewed departure monitoring and procedures to prevent loss of/recovery of attitude control in the event of a loss of comm with ground teams during free-flyer release.

SpaceX (SpX)-11 Cargo Operations: The crew completed approximately 57 hours of cargo operations with approximately 5 hours of packing remaining. SpX-11 is scheduled to unberth on July 2nd, 2017.

Today’s Planned Activities
All activities were completed unless otherwise noted.

Health Maintenance System (HMS) Periodic Health Status (PHS) Evaluation Setup
JEM Airlock Depressurization
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Periodic Health Status (PHS) Evaluation
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Periodic Health Status (PHS) Stow Hardware
NanoRacks Module-52 Status
R&R of Onboard Heating Unit (???) (1 ea.) in Vozdukh
NanoRacks Module-48 Imagery
R&R of Condensate Water Processor [???-?2?] Hoses
Extremophiles Session C
JEM Camera Robot Cable Swap
Extremophiles Photo Shooting
Formaldehyde Monitoring Kit (FMK) Stow Operation
Rodent Research 5 ARS Review
Rodent Research 5 Live Animal Return Review
Rodent Research Crew Conference
Rodent Research 5 Transporter Setup
JEM Airlock Vent
Crew Medical Officer (CMO) Proficiency Training
CO Partial Pressure Measurement at the Central Post using USOS CSA-CP Gas Analyzer
ROBoT Software Startup
JEM Airlock Vent Confirmation
MSPR Combustion Chamber (CC) Valve 2 Operation [Aborted]
On-board Training (OBT) Dragon Departure Review
Cargo Transfer from 67P (SM Aft). IMS Update
On-board Training (OBT) Dragon Robotics Onboard Trainer (ROBoT) Release
Combustion Integrated Rack Alignment Guide Install

Completed Task List Items
Genes in Space Biomolecule Sequencer Stop

Ground Activities
All activities were completed unless otherwise noted.
Rodent Research Transporter setup
JEMAL depress/vent monitoring
OBT – Dragon RoBOT Release

Three-Day Look Ahead:
Friday, 06/30: NanoRacks Module 9 ops, POLAR transfer to Dragon, StemCell media change
Saturday, 07/01: Crew off duty, housekeeping
Sunday, 07/02: SpX-11 unberth

QUICK ISS Status – Environmental Control Group:
Component – Status
Elektron – On
Vozdukh – Manual
[???] 1 – SM Air Conditioner System (“SKV1”) – Off
[???] 2 – SM Air Conditioner System (“SKV2”) – On
Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) Lab – Standby
Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) Node 3 – Operate
Major Constituent Analyzer (MCA) Lab – Idle
Major Constituent Analyzer (MCA) Node 3 – Operate
Oxygen Generation Assembly (OGA) – Process
Urine Processing Assembly (UPA) – Process
Trace Contaminant Control System (TCCS) Lab – Full up
Trace Contaminant Control System (TCCS) Node 3 – Off

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