Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 3 December 2020 – Another Cargo Mission on Tap

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
December 10, 2020
Filed under , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 3 December 2020 – Another Cargo Mission on Tap
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 3 December 2020 - Another Cargo Mission on Tap

Expedition 64 is getting ready for over 6,400 pounds of cargo due to arrive this weekend aboard the next-generation SpaceX Dragon space freighter.
All seven International Space Station residents also were immersed in microgravity research throughout Thursday.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo spacecraft has rolled out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is counting down to a Saturday lift off at 11:39 a.m. EST. Weather permitting, Dragon would automatically dock just under 24 hours later to the Harmony module’s space-facing port adjacent to the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle.

The Cargo Dragon’s main payload is the NanoRacks Bishop airlock that will be robotically attached to the Tranquility module. Bishop will increase the capacity for external space research at the space station benefitting public and private organizations.

The orbiting lab was humming today with a host of advanced space science looking at a variety of microgravity phenomena to enhance life for humans on and off the Earth.

Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov swapped fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that enables safe investigations of flames and fuels on the station. Eye exams were on the slate this afternoon for astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi who also serviced botany and cell biology research gear.

NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker serviced samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory before setting up the Fiber Optic Production study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Her crewmate, Flight Engineer Victor Glover collected and stowed biological samples for the Food Physiology study exploring how diet affects the immune system in space.

Finally, station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos wrapped up a 24-hour session that monitored his heart activity. The two-time station resident also explored ways to improve the workspace inside the station.

On-Orbit Status Report


Fiber Optic Production (FOP): The crew reviewed procedures and performed the setup of hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. 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.

Cell Biology Experiment Facility-L (CBEF-L): The crew retrieved the CBEF Humidifier-2 from CBEF Incubator Unit (IU) Micro-G and refilled it with water and then re-installed the unit. CBEF-L is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) new subrack facility, which is an upgraded facility of the original Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS). CBEF-L provides new capabilities with additional new resources such as Full High Definition video interface, Ethernet, 24 VDC power supply, and a larger diameter centrifugal test environment. By using the original CBEF and CBEF-L as one facility for the same experiment, the payload user is provided with an upgraded experimental environment that can handle the processing of more experimental samples for a wider array of experiments.

Materials Science Laboratory (MSL) Sample Cartridge Assemblies (SCA) Batch-2b #13: The crew removed the MSL Furnace Calibration Cartridge and installed the new MSL Solidification and Quenching Furnace (SQF) Sample Cartridge in preparation of the next sample run. The Batch-2b of the MSL SCA Batch 2b-ESA serves two projects investigating how different phases organize in a structure when metallic alloys are solidified. The project Metastable Solidification of Composites (METCOMP) studies the phase formed by the reaction of the remaining liquid phase with an already formed solid, to form a second solid phase on cooling. For this purpose, Bronze (Copper-Tin Alloys) of different compositions will be processed. The other project, Solidification along a Eutectic path in Ternary Alloys (SETA), looks at how two phases that form together organize into lamellar, or fibre, structures when cooling Aluminium (Copper-Silver Alloys). Both projects will provide benchmark samples that will enable to test numerical models that aim to predict these structures.

Plant Habitat-02: The crew installed the Science Carrier #1 into the Plant Habitat Facility and performed a water refill. Assessment of Nutritional Value and Growth Parameters of Space-grown Plants (Plant Habitat-02) cultivates radishes as a model plant that is nutritious and edible, has a short cultivation time, and is genetically similar to Arabidopsis, a plant frequently studied in microgravity. Developing the capability for food production in space requires understanding cultivation conditions such as intensity and spectral composition of light and the effects of the culture medium or soil. This research could help optimize plant growth in the unique environment of space, as well as evaluation of nutrition and taste of the plants.

Burning Rate Emulator (BRE): The crew performed O2/N2 gas bottle changes in preparation for upcoming BRE runs. The BRE investigation is conducted in the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) on the ISS, as part of the Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME) project. In this fire safety study, the flammability of solid and liquid materials is simulated by burning gaseous fuels under key conditions corresponding to the solid and liquid materials. This technique has been demonstrated for a wide variety of materials in normal-gravity and could provide an efficient way to screen and select fire-resistant materials for use in spacecraft, if the technique is similarly effective in microgravity.


Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparations: The crew completed several activities in preparation for potential December EVAs. The crew inspected the Retractable Equipment Tether (RET) set, other hardware with integrated RETs, safety tethers, waist tethers, and D-ring extenders for suitability for use on upcoming US EVAs. Additionally, the crew performed a Contingency Water Container – Iodinated (CWC-I) degassing procedure.

SpaceX-21 Cargo Operations Overview: The crew reviewed the SpaceX-21 cargo operations overview document to familiar themselves with the new Cargo Dragon stowage configuration and unloading choreography. The crew then participated in a conference with ground teams to further review operations and ask questions. SpaceX-21 will be the first Cargo Dragon flight to utilize the Cargo Dragon version 2 design. The first launch attempt for SpaceX-21 is on Saturday, December 5th.

Inflight Maintenance Hatch Seal Inspection: The crew cleaned and inspected a subset of open Node 1 hatch seals, hatch plate sealing surfaces, and crank handle mechanisms for FOD and damage.

Completed Task List Activities:

Node 3 Endcone Stowage Replace
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

JEMRMS Small Fine Arm (SFA) Joint Zeroing
Nitrogen/Oxygen Recharge System N2 Re-pressurization
Thermal Amine Vent
Look Ahead Plan

Friday, 12/4 (GMT 339)

Food Physiology Saliva and urine collect and Diet brief (NASA)

Crew Off-Duty
Saturday, 12/5 (GMT 340)

Food Physiology Saliva (NASA)

Crew Off-Duty
Sunday, 12/6 (GMT 341)

KUBIK OBT and Kubik 5 and 6 set up on COL1D2 for Rotifer B2 (ESA)
ELF Cartridge 4 Install-Round Robin (NASA)
HERMES facility removal (NASA)
MAND Computer troubleshoot (NASA)
NanoRacks Module 9 OBT (NASA)
GIS-7 FF run (NASA)

SpX-21 Docking
Airlock Restow
Regenerative Recycle Tank EDV Swap
Node 2 LTL Gas Trap Plug Inspection
Node 3 Aft & Endcone Stowage Replace
Node 3 Screen Removal for NRAL
Galley Refrigerator/Freezer Installation
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Drop Vibration Stow
Acoustic Monitor Data Transfer and Stow
ERA simulator and monitoring utility operation. Downlink TLM file (recorded to RS1 laptop) via OCA
JEM Common Gas Support Equipment (CGSE) Lower CO2 Gas Supply Start
ABOUT GAGARIN FROM SPACE. HAM radio session with Amur State University students in Blagoveshchensk
Food Physiology Fecal Sample Processing
Combustion Integrated Rack Manifold #2 Bottle Replacement
Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) Humidifier Installation and Fill
US Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Retractable Equipment Tether (RET) Inspection
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System EDV Drain Initiation (ABORTED)
24-hour ECG Holter Monitoring
Recharging tablet in 63S
Food Acceptability Survey
TIMER. Marker setup, placement and measuring together with the operator
US Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Crew Tether Inspections (ABORTED)
Material Science Laboratory SCA Exchange2B #13
Regen EDV Drain Swap (ABORTED)
Plant Habitat-02 Science Carrier Installation and Water Refill
Payloads Network Attached Storage (NAS) Deep Cleaning
Hatch Seal Inspection
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System EDV Drain Termination (DEFERRED)
Rodent Research Activity Review and Crew Conference
Inventory Management System (IMS) Conference
Photography of glass panes on windows No.02 [??] No.13, No.14 SM (???)
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) – JEM
HRF Generic Blood, Saliva, Urine Collection
Dragon Cargo Operations Review and Conference
Securing the right connecting rod lock on Cycle Ergometer ??-3?
Nitrogen/Oxygen Recharge System N2 Repress Termination
Contingency Water Container – Iodinated (CWC-I) Degas
Polar Desiccant Swap
Airborne Particulate Monitor Status Check
Microscope Reposition Post Ops
Tomatosphere Big Picture Words
Fiber Optic Production Procedure Review and Hardware Setup
MATRYOSHKA-R. BUBBLE-dosimeter initialization and deployment

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