Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 September 2020 – Work Continues to Find Leak

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
October 3, 2020
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 September 2020 – Work Continues to Find Leak
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 September 2020 - Work Continues to Find Leak.

The Expedition 63 crew continues preparing for Sunday’s scheduled space delivery of nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies and gear aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter.
As usual, advanced space science rounded out the day’s activities inside the International Space Station. The crew also continues work to try and isolate the precise location of an air leak that was recently isolated to the Zvezda Service Module.

An Antares rocket stands at its launch pad in Virginia ready to carry the Cygnus resupply ship to space when it launches on Thursday at 9:38 p.m. EDT. About nine minutes later, Cygnus will reach Earth orbit heading towards the space station for a Sunday arrival and robotic capture at 6:10 a.m.

Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner continued practicing their robotics skills Wednesday afternoon on a computer. The duo will be on deck inside the cupola Sunday morning ready to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Cygnus. Ground controllers will take over the Canadarm2 afterward and remotely install Cygnus to the Unity module about two hours later.

Cassidy started the day working inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module setting up experiment hardware that enables science to take place outside the orbiting lab. The veteran astronaut also spent a few moments on light plumbing duty as he serviced the urine processing assembly located in the Tranquility module.

The two Russian cosmonauts, including three-time station resident Anatoly Ivanishin, focused on their complement of space research and lab maintenance throughout the day. The duo joined each other first for a space communications study utilizing a variety of photography and audio hardware. Next, Ivanishin moved to narrow the source of an air leak utilizing an ultrasonic leak detector. Vagner checked radiation measurements then swapped camera lenses and activated hardware for a pair of Earth observation studies.

UPDATE: Roscosmos has released new information, further isolating the leak location to the transfer chamber in the Zvezda Service Module. Additional leak detection operations will continue using the ultrasonic leak detector.

In terms of design, the Zvezda Service Module consists of four sections: three pressurized (Transfer Compartment, Working Compartment and Transfer Chamber) as well as the unpressurized Assembly Compartment housing the integrated propulsion unit.

The leak, which has been investigated for several weeks, poses no immediate danger to the crew at the current leak rate and only a slight deviation to the crew’s schedule.

On-Orbit Statys Report


Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle Schools (EarthKAM) Lens Change: The crew exchanged the currently-installed 50mm camera lens for an 85mm camera lens. This activity is typically performed about halfway through an EarthKAM mission to give the students different options for their targets. As of the last report, almost 21,000 students from 33 countries were participating. EarthKAM allows thousands of students to photograph and examine Earth from a space crew’s perspective. Using the Internet, the students control a special digital camera mounted on-board the ISS. This enables them to photograph the Earth’s coastlines, mountain ranges and other geographic items of interest from the unique vantage point of space. The EarthKAM team then posts these photographs on the Internet for viewing by the public and participating classrooms around the world.

HXP2 Safing Ops: The crew removed the EVA bolt 2 on ExHAM#2, which was found to be loose during ops on 6-August earlier this year. The EVA bolt is a contingency release mechanism, intended to be used when the primary release method for attachment to the handrail fails. However, in its current state it is better to remove the EVA bolt and associated hardware rather than risk it coming apart and causing other issues. Taking advantage of Kibo’s unique function of having both an airlock and a robotic arm on the ISS, the ExHAM (Exposed Experiment Handrail Attachment Mechanism) facility enables space experiments to be performed in the exposed space environment, by attachment to the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo’s Exposed Facility.


Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Robotics Operations: Robotics Ground Controllers powered up the MSS in support of crew Cygnus Offset Grapple practice. During this On-Board-Training (OBT) session, the crew took turns flying the SSRMS into the grapple envelope of the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Flight Releasable Grapple Fixture (FRGF) for training/familiarization in preparation for NG-14 capture.

Urine Processing Assembly (UPA) Brine Filter: As part of regular maintenance, the ISS crew opened up the UPA Fill Drain Valve Enclosure and removed the installed/old Brine Filter and replaced it with a new Brine Filter. Brine Filters are replaced every 60 days.

Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain/Fill: Today, the crew set up the recycle tank to drain to a ???-?. Following the setup the ground performed the tank drain using the Urine Transfer System (UTS). Once the ground specialists completed the transfer, the crew verified the recycle tank was empty, terminated the drain, and repositioned the fill/drain valve to fill. The crew also swapped the ??? in the offload ??? spot of the UTS.

ISS Leak Detection Operations: Today, the crew continued to search for the location of the source of the leak. MCC-M has determined the leak is located in the PRK [?PK]. The forward plan for the PRK leak is currently to continue leak pinpoint operations utilizing the Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD).

Completed Task List Activities:

Cygnus Big Picture Words for SSRMS Capture
ESA cargo consolidation in Columbus
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Recycle Tank Drain Ground Support
Ground Support for Cygnus Offset Grapple
Equinox Voltage Max Power Testing
Look Ahead Plan

Thursday, 10/1 (GMT 275)

Astrobee On
Avatar-X Setup
GLACIER2 Desiccant Swap
Nanoracks PF2 Troubleshooting
SABL3 Controller Swap

WHC Pump Separator R&R
Friday, 10/2 (GMT 276)

Echo Hard Drive Install
Payload NAS Vent Clean
Robo Pro Checkout

ARED Qtrly Inspection
Cygnus Capture Rvw
Cygnus Cargo Rvw/Conf
PCS Relocates
Cygnus ROBoT OBT – Session 2
Saturday, 10/3 (GMT 277)

No Utilization Activities

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

Radi-N Detector Retrieval/Readout
??? (Universal Bioengineering Thermostat). Checking ???-? No.07 thermostat temperature and unobstructed area near ???-? inlet/outlet vents
Radiation Dosimetry Inside ISS-Neutrons Hardware Handover
MATRYOSHKA-R. Handover of BUBBLE-dosimeters from USOS
UPA Brine Filter Gather
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Urine Processor Assembly (UPA) Brine Filter Changeout
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain/Fill
Video recording of answers for the Good Morning, Pomorye show
JEM Camera Robot Activation
Handhold Exp Platform #2 (HXP2) Item Preparation, Safing Familiarization and Operations
MATRYOSHKA-R. BUBBLE-dosimeter gathering and measurements
Robotic Workstation (RWS) Setup
INTER-MAI-75. Hardware setup and activation in SSTV mode
INTER-MAI-75. Photography of the Experiment Ops
Urine Transfer System Offload EDV Swap
On-board Training (OBT) Cygnus Offset Grapple
Leak search in SM window area with the use of Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD) [ABORTED]
EarthKAM. Camera lens change in Node 2
URAGAN. Installation and activation of Auto Orientation System For Video Spectral Equipment (SOVA) and of photo equipment
INTER-MAI-75. Hardware deactivation and cleanup

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