Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 October 2019 – Crop Harvest

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
November 1, 2019
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 October 2019 – Crop Harvest
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir cuts Mizuna mustard green leaves grown aboard the International Space Station for the VEG-04B space agriculture study. The botany research is helping scientists to learn how to provide fresh food to space crews on long-duration missions. The Expedition 61 crewmembers also tasted the leaves for edibility and stowed the leftovers in a science freezer for scientific analysis. Credit: NASA.

The Expedition 61 crew harvested a space-grown crop today aboard the International Space Station. The orbital lab residents also tested robotics systems before exploring blood pressure and time perception in microgravity.
Space agriculture aboard the orbiting laboratory has been ongoing for several years to learn how to provide fresh food to space crews. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan continued that research by cutting Mizuna leaves today for a taste test and stowing the leftovers in a science freezer for scientific analysis.

Morgan also took turns with Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) wearing virtual reality goggles and clicking a trackball for a time perception study. The investigation observes subjective time changes astronauts experience during space missions and back on Earth after missions.

The Astrobee free-flying robotic assistant had a test-run today as Parmitano calibrated the autonomous device’s systems. The ESA astronaut checked Astrobee’s abilities to navigate, dock and visually monitor activities inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

The Cygnus resupply ship will launch Saturday at 9:59 a.m. EDT atop the Antares rocket from Virginia. Meir and NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch are practicing robotic techniques to capture Cygnus when it arrives two days later. Meir, with Koch backing her up in the cupola, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus Monday at 4:10 a.m. EST.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka spent Wednesday morning exploring how blood pressure responds to the lack of gravity. The duo split up in the afternoon as Skvortsov checked Russian communication and spacecraft systems. Skripochka worked on life support systems and explored how orbiting Earth affects the station’s magnetic field.

On-Orbit Status Report

AMS-02 (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer) Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparation: The crew continued preparation for the AMS repair Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) with procedure reviews and other activities. Multiple AMS-02 repair EVAs are being planned, to recover a series of cooling pumps within the AMS-02 experiment. The first of the EVAs are currently planned to start in 2 weeks. AMS-02 is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector that uses the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe’s origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays.

Astrobee: The crew participated in a crew conference, unpacked and inspected the appropriate hardware and performed a series of checkouts and calibration operations. The operations went well and the ground team reported we now have two functional Astrobee satellites on board ISS. Astrobee is a series of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots. The robots are designed to help scientists and engineers develop and test technologies for use in microgravity to assist astronauts with routine chores, and give ground controllers additional eyes and ears on the ISS. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, could eventually perform crew-monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and accommodate up to three investigations.

Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) Sample Transfer: The crew performed the routine cell maintenance activities for the on-going BEST experiment-2. These activities involve cell transfer, cell culture media exchange, etc. The BEST investigation studies the use of sequencing for identification of unknown microbial organisms living on the ISS, and how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living on the ISS.

Space Acceleration Measurement System-II (SAMS-II) Fan Replacement: The crew replaced a fan which was reported to be making a grinding noise while operating. This fan has been in service since 2001 and is well past its designed lifetime. SAMS-II is an ongoing study of the small forces (vibrations and accelerations) on the ISS resulting from the operation of hardware, crew activities, dockings and maneuvering. Results generalize the types of vibrations affecting vibration-sensitive experiments and structural life of ISS. Investigators and Structural Analysts seek to better understand the vibration environment on the ISS using SAMS-II data and assessing station loads and dynamics.

Time Perception: Using an head-mounted Oculus Rift display/headphones, a finger trackball, and support computer, the crew performed the Time Perception experiment sessions. In this experiment, a program on the laptop induces visual and audio stimuli to measure a subject’s response to spatial and time perception in a microgravity environment. The accurate perception of objects in the environment is a prerequisite for spatial orientation and reliable performance of motor tasks. Time is fundamental to motion perception, sound localization, speech, and fine motor coordination.

Veg-04B Harvest and Taste Test: The crew performed the first in a series of harvests for the Mizuna plants growing in the two Veggie facilities. Approximately half of the leaves in each of the 11 total plants will be harvested, with 50% of the harvest kept for science analysis and 50% available for crew consumption. The part of the Mizuna plants not harvested will continue to grow and support two additional future harvests. The research of Veg-04B focuses on the impact of light quality and fertilizer on leafy crop growth for a 56-day grow-out, microbial food safety, nutritional value, taste acceptability by the crew, and the overall behavioral health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space. A healthy, nutritious diet is essential for long-duration exploration missions, which means that the typical pre-packaged astronaut diet needs to be supplemented by fresh foods during flight; the Veggie Vegetable Production System (Veggie) has begun testing aboard the space station to help meet this need, and validation tests have demonstrated that leafy greens can be grown in spaceflight.


HTV8 Cargo Operations: In preparation for the HTV8 Unberth, scheduled for November 1, the ISS crew continued to pack the HTV vehicle with Cargo Transfer Bags (CTBs).

Mobile Servicing System (MSS): Today, the Robotics Ground Controllers powered up the MSS, in the hot backup configuration, in preparation for the crew offset grapples practice. The crew took turns flying the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) into the grapple envelope of the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Flight Releasable Grapple Fixture (FRGF) for training/familiarization in preparation for Northrop Grumman (NG)-12 capture, currently planned for Monday, November 4th. They performed this several times and then performed a final run during which the Robotics Ground Controllers safed the SSRMS to simulate a failure. The crew practiced contingency recovery procedure by switching from the Cupola Robotic Workstation (RWS) to the Lab RWS and backing the SSRMS away. After the Offset Grapples Practice session, the Robotics Ground Controllers de-configured MSS from hot backup and moved SSRMS to HTV8 pre-grapple position, in preparation of HTV8 unberth and release scheduled Friday morning, November 1st.

Completed Task List Activities:
EVA Helmet LT Inspection
EVA Helmet Swap
Cygnus Attached Phase Operations Review

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
Payload Support Operations
Maneuver JEMRMS for SFA Installation to SSE
SSRMS Commanding in Support of Offset Grapples Practice

Thursday, 10/31 (GMT 304)

HRF/Veggie questionnaire
ISS Experience
Standard Measures

PCS Relocate
HTV Smoke Detector Scavenge
HTV Egress
HTV Vest Demate
Node 2 CPA Install
AMS EVA Procedure Review
Emergency Egress Drill

Friday, 11/1 (GMT 305)

Astrobee Ops
Food Acceptability
Food Physiology
ISS Experience Stow
RR Transfer Crew Conference
Standard Measures
Veg-04B Plant Check

PMD Depress
HTV Depart and Prep
HTV Release Monitor
Cygnus Capture Review
Cygnus Robotics OBT
AMS EVA Procedure Review

Saturday, 11/2 (GMT 306) Crew Off Duty

Veg-04B plant check

Overlay Camera Calibration
N2N VOK Stow

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

Polar Desiccant Swap
HTV Transfer Operations
AMS training
Weekly monitoring of video recording equipment performance on the ISS RS
Recharging Soyuz 746 Samsung PC prior to OBT, start recharge
CARDIOMED-LBNP. Experiment Session.
SREDA-ISS. Recharging NIKON Still Camera Battery
Astrobee Procedure Review
CARDIOMED-LBNP. Assistance with experiment operations
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tool Configuring
Astrobee Free Flyer Hardware Checkout and Calibration
Time experiment science
Robotic Workstation (RWS) Setup
Glacier Desiccant Swap
Recharging Soyuz 746 Samsung PC prior to OBT, remove from recharge
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (RGN) Wastewater Storage Tank Assembly (WSTA) Fill
Space Acceleration Measurement System RTS Drawer 1 Fan Replacement
Space Acceleration Measurement System RTS Drawer 1 Fan Assist
Checkout of Broadband Communication System (???) after MDM2 installation (activity via MDM1).
Equipment gathering for 4???2 H1 pump R&R.
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System (WRS) Sample Analysis
On-board Training (OBT) Cygnus Offset Grapple
Checkout of Broadband Communication System (???) after MDM2 installation (activity via MDM2).
??? maintenance
[????] Configuration for MRM2
SREDA-ISS. Preparation steps and photo equipment settings adjustment.
Progress 442 (DC1) Stowage and IMS Ops
Kapton tape build
TIMER. Recharging camcorder batteries (start)
Pille sensors reset and calibration
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MWA Preparation
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (RGN) Wastewater Storage Tank Assembly (WSTA) Fill
VEG-04B Harvest Assist for Consume Harvest
VEG-04B Part 1 Consumption Harvest
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MELFI Sample Retrieve
SREDA-ISS. Hardware focus setup and activation
Comm reconfig for nominal ops
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Sample Data Record
VEG-04B MERLIN Sample Insertion
VEG-04B Part 2 Consumption Harvest
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) Experiment 2 Part 2
VEG-04B Part 3 Consumption Harvest
Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) MELFI Sample Insertion into a Box Module
HTV Transfer Operations
VEG-04B MELFI Insertion #2
VEG-04B MERLIN Sample Removal
SREDA-ISS. Closeout Ops
Remove Fan Power to RTS/D Drawer
VEG-04B Plant Sanitize
AMS Tube Cap review
VEG-04B Plant Check/Watering for each Plant Pillow
TIMER. Camcorder settings adjustment and setup in work area
HRF Veg Veg-04 Taste Test And Survey

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