Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 August, 2021 – Crew Dragon Docks

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 31, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 August, 2021 – Crew Dragon Docks
There are now five spaceships are parked at the space station.

While the International Space Station was traveling about 260 miles over the Western Australia, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Monday, Aug. 30.
Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitored operations.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

Building bone with byproducts
REducing Arthritis Dependent Inflammation First Phase (READI FP) evaluates the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the growth of bone tissue and tests whether bioactive metabolites, which include substances such as antioxidants formed when food is broken down, might protect bones during spaceflight. The metabolites that will be tested come from plant extracts generated as waste products in wine production. Protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve scientists’ understanding of the physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women.

Keeping an eye on eyes
Retinal Diagnostics tests whether a small, light-based device can capture images of the retinas of astronauts to document progression of vision problems known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). The device uses a commercially available lens approved for routine clinical use and is lightweight, mobile, and noninvasive. The videos and images will be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. The investigation is sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) with the German Aerospace Center Institute of Space Medicine and European Astronaut Centre.

Robotic helpers
The Nanoracks-GITAI Robotic Arm will demonstrate the microgravity versatility and dexterity of a robot designed by GITAI Japan Inc. Results could support development of robotic labor to support crew activities and tasks, as well as inform servicing, assembly, and manufacturing tasks while in orbit. Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards. The technology also has applications in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. The experiment will be conducted inside the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, the space station’s first commercial airlock.

Putting materials to the test
MISSE-15 NASA is one of a series of investigations on Alpha Space’s Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, which is testing how the space environment affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. These tests provide insights that support development of better materials needed for space exploration. Testing materials in space has the potential to significantly speed up their development. Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete.

Helping plants deal with stress
Plants grown under microgravity conditions typically display evidence of stress. Advanced Plant EXperiment-08 (APEX-08) examines the role of compounds known as polyamines in the response of the small, flowering plant thale cress to microgravity stress. Because expression of the genes involved in polyamine metabolism remain the same in space as on the ground, plants do not appear to use polyamines to respond to stress in microgravity. APEX-08 attempts to engineer a way for them to do so. Results could help identify key targets for genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity.

Easier drug delivery
The Faraday Research Facility is a multipurpose unit that uses the space station’s EXPRESS payload rack systems, which enable quick, simple integration of multiple payloads . On this first flight, the facility hosts a Houston Methodist Research Institute experiment and two STEM collaborations, including “Making Space for Girls” with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando, Florida.

The Faraday Nanofluidic Implant Communication Experiment (Faraday-NICE) tests an implantable, remote-controlled drug delivery system using sealed containers of saline solution as surrogate test subjects. The device could provide an alternative to bulky, cumbersome infusion pumps, a possible game changer for long-term management of chronic conditions on Earth. Remote-controlled drug delivery could simplify administration for people with limitations.

A partnership between Faraday and Girls Scouts allows troops to play a role in conducting the control experiments, including providing them with images of the same experiments that are happening in space. The studies involve plant growth, ant colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through Artemis.

On-Orbit Status Report

SpaceX (SpX)-23 Docking: Following yesterday’s successful launch, Dragon was captured today at 09:31 AM CT and docked successfully to Node 2 Forward at 09:44 AM CT. Prior to docking, the crew gathered and set up necessary tools required for monitoring vehicle approach. After the vehicle docked, the crew completed Dragon International Docking Adapter (IDA) Vestibule pressurization and leak checks, opened Node 2 Forward Hatch, Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA)2 Androgynous Peripheral Assembly (APAS) hatch, and ingressed the vehicle.


Bioanalyzer: The crew connected the Bio-Analyzer to EXPRESS Rack 3 and powered on the Bio-Analyzer in preparation for Bio-Analyzer update to flight software v6.1. Following a successful checkout of the updated software, the unit was powered off. Bio-Analyzer is a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) onboard instrument that serves as a platform for scientific experiments on the International Space Station (ISS). The instrument performs on-orbit quantification of biological molecules and cellular composition in samples collected and prepared aboard the ISS.

Cold Atom Lab (CAL): The crew performed the steps necessary to replace a suspect CPU card within the CAL hardware. CAL produces clouds of atoms that are chilled to about one ten billionth of a degree above absolute zero — much colder than the average temperature of deep space. At these low temperatures, atoms have almost no motion, allowing scientists to study fundamental behaviors and quantum characteristics that are difficult or impossible to probe at higher temperatures. In microgravity, researchers may be able to achieve even colder temperatures than what is possible on the ground and observe these cold atom clouds for longer periods of time.

Combustion Integrated Rack/Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments/Cool Flames Investigation with Gasses (CIR/ACME/CFI-G part 2): A crewmember exchanged a used 100% propane bottle with a new bottle of the same composition. Cool diffusion flames were discovered during droplet combustion experiments aboard the ISS in 2012, and this initiated a rapidly growing field of combustion research. A cool flame is one that burns at about 600 degrees Celsius. A typical candle is about two times hotter, burning at around 1,400 degrees Celsius. Most internal combustion engines are designed using computer models that neglect cool flame chemistry, but ignition and flame propagation in engines depend on cool flame chemistry. Cool flame chemistry also has a significant impact on fuel octane and cetane numbers, whose understanding has large economic consequences.

JEM Water Recovery System (JWRS): The crew installed the Gas Trap Module and JEM WRS Bypass Line in the JWRS system. JWRS generates potable water from urine. In the past, on manned spacecraft, urine and wastewater were collected and stored or vented overboard. For long-term space missions, 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.


Cargo Dragon Cargo Operations: The crew began cargo transfer operations by unloading cargo from Cargo Dragon. The crew also collected air samples from Cargo Dragon using the AK-1M sample collector.

Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System (WRS) Sample Analysis & Data Record: Crew performed an analysis of the water processing assembly (WPA) using the TOCA. The TOCA unit oxidizes organic carbon species present in the water to carbon dioxide gas and measures the concentration using nondispersive infrared spectroscopy. Analysis of the potable water using the TOCA occurs on a weekly basis.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Primary Power System (PPS) Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ) Lock
Thermal Control System (TCS) Thermal Radiator Rotary Joint (TRRJ) Locking
SpX-23 approach and dock operations
Attitude Control System (ACS) Global Positioning System (GPS) Antenna and Relative Navigation Management
After Docking Configure for Docked Operations
Look Ahead Plan

Tuesday, August 31 (GMT 243)

ESA Biofilms
Cold Stowage unpack
Faraday facility installation
Food Acceptability
HRF hardware consolidate
ISS Experience EVA camera remove
Lumina data transfer
MSRR/MSL SCA exchange
Nanoracks Module-9 ops 1
Plant Habitat-04
POLAR CS transfer
Rodent Research-Demo 1 crew review
Redwire Regolith print remove
Veggie OBT (supports APEX-8)

In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Airlock (A/L) Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Water Separator (WS) Remove & Replace (R&R)
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) External Mobility Unit (EMU) Resize
EVA procedure review
Wednesday, September 1 (GMT 244)

Food Acceptability
ISS Experience EVA camera data transfer
JAXA video take-8
Nanoracks mainframe Alpha install
Nanoracks Module-9
POLAR transfers
RR-D1 crew conference

EVA loop and Hard Upper Torso (HUT) scrub
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
ARED arm inspection
Thursday, September 2 (GMT 245)

Astrobee stowage replace
EPO Blob conclude
FIR/LMM/ACE oil dispense
ICE cube 8/9 experiment install
POLAR desiccant swap
RSD retrieve
SALI 1 install

Cargo Transfer to Dragon
Stowage Ops
EVA procedure review
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Atmosphere Control and Supply (ACS) Nitrogen Manual Valve Close
Dragon Docking Station Support Computer Relocation
JEM Water Recovery System (JWRS) Gas Trap and Bypass Line Installation
Cold Atom Lab CPU Card Replace
Solid Combustion (SCEM) Power and Comm Unit Closeout [Deferred]
Bio-Analyzer Hardware Connection and Power On
SAMS es18 Sensor Move to EXPRESS Rack 6
JEM Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) Alternative Humidifier Setup
Combustion Integrated Rack Manifold #4 Bottle Replacement
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Social Media Event
Docking Dragon Monitoring Tools Setup in Lab [Aborted]
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System (WRS) Sample Analysis
USOS Window Shutter Close
Dragon Forward Approach Monitoring
Transfer Cygnus Cargo Operations
Node 2 to Dragon Pressurization and Leak Check
Rodent Research Habitat Install
FRIDGE Card Locate
Node 2 to Dragon Final Pressurization and Vestibule prep for Ingress
ISS Experience EVA ZCAM Cover Repair
Dragon Forward – Station Support Computer Relocate
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Sample Data Record
Dragon Cargo Transfer

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