Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 31 August, 2021 – Unpacking the Newly Arrived Cargo Dragon

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
September 1, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 31 August, 2021 – Unpacking the Newly Arrived Cargo Dragon
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the station. (Aug. 30, 2021)

The Expedition 65 crew is unpacking brand new science experiments that arrived Monday when the SpaceX Cargo Dragon docked to the International Space Station.
Two cosmonauts are also getting ready for the first of two spacewalks to power up Russia’s new science module.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur opened the Cargo Dragon’s hatch and entered the U.S. space freighter about two hours after it docked to the Harmony module’s forward 8port on Monday morning. Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) followed her shortly after and began unloading over 4,800 pounds of cargo including some of the 2,300 pounds of new science experiments.

NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei started transferring research gear and preserved samples Tuesday morning from Dragon into science freezers, incubators, and other locations. The new experiments will look at how microgravity affects plant genetics, robotic assistants, bone tissue and astronaut vision among other phenomena.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) also joined his crewmates and helped to unpack the new space shipment. The three-time station visitor is also preparing for another spacewalk set for Sept. 12 with Pesquet. He worked on a 360-degree virtual reality camera that will film and Pesquet during the spacewalk and began filling U.S. spacesuit water tanks. The duo will begin preparing the Port-4 (P4) truss structure for a new Roll-Out Solar Array.

Two cosmonauts are gearing up for the first pair of up to 11 spacewalks to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory for science operations. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will exit the Poisk airlock on Friday at 10:35 a.m. EDT to route and mate power and ethernet cables on Nauka. The duo will go out again on Sept. 9 to install handrails and finish the cable work on the new module that docked to the Zvezda service module on July 29.

On-Orbit Status Report


ESA Biofilms: The crew reviewed the big picture words and then installed the Biofilm Experiment Containers (ECs) into the appropriate locations in Kubik 5 and Kubik 6. The goal of the Biofilm Inhibition On Flight Equipment and On Board the ISS Using Microbiologically Lethal Metal Surfaces (ESA-Biofilms) investigation is to compare how biofilms are formed in low gravity and in a liquid environment on inhibiting and non-inhibiting metal surfaces for the purposes of spacecraft sanitation and crew health. Various species of bacteria are tested not only on different metallic surfaces (copper, stainless steel, and brass), but also on an array of different laser-etched surface treatments to ascertain whether topological differences influence biofilm formation in space. Through this investigation, teams will learn what surface types hold the highest antimicrobial properties and how that can contribute to future designing of spacecraft surfaces to safeguard crew health.

Faraday facility: The crew performed the necessary steps to install the Faraday facility into EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack 3 Locker 1. Faraday Research Facility is a multipurpose, standalone research facility that loads into the EXPRESS Racks. EXPRESS Racks provide structural interfaces, power, data, cooling, water, and other needed items and consumables to operate science experiments in space. Faraday accommodates up to twelve 1.5 Unit or up to six 3 Unit microlabs (µLabs).

Lumina: The crew used a Bluetooth connection to transfer data from the Lumina radiation monitoring device via the EveryWear Application. ESA’s Lumina experiment is an active fiber dosimeter that monitors, in real-time, the received radiation dose by exploiting the capacity of optical fibers to darken when exposed to radiation. The dosimeter provides reliable dose measurements in complex environments that are subject to radiation exposure from electrons, protons, gamma-ray, X-ray, photons, or neutrons.

Materials Science Research Rack/Materials Science Laboratory/Low Gradient Furnace (MSRR/MSL/LGF): The crew performed the steps necessary to remove the processed Sample Cartridge Assembly (SCA) and install the next SCA that will be processed. The MSL SCA-Batch 3a-ESA investigation serves two projects, investigating how different phases organize in a structure when metallic alloys are solidified. The Microstructure Formation in Casting of Technical Alloys under Diffusive and Magnetically Controlled Convective Conditions (MICAST) experiment aims to deepen the understanding of the physical principles that govern solidification processes in metal alloys. The Columnar-to-Equiaxed Transition in Solidification Processing (CETSOL) experiment also aims to deepen the understanding of the physical principles that govern solidification processes in metal alloys.

Nanoracks Module-9 ops 1: The crew gathered tubes 1, 5, and 6 from Nanoracks Module-9, opened the green clamps on the tubes to activate them, shook them to mix their contents, and then restowed them. NanoRacks Module-9 consists of multiple student experiments housed within a NanoRacks Module container in individual Mixture Tubes. Some experiments require crew interaction in which they remove clamps to mix materials and activate and/or deactivate the experiments. The experiments will be returned to the ground for analysis.

Plant Habitat-04: The crew accessed the plant growth chamber, removed any plant debris, and installed plant support rods. Microgravity Growth of New Mexico Hatch Green Chile as a Technical Display of Advanced Plant Habitat’s Capabilities (Plant Habitat-04) demonstrates using the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) by growing peppers in space for the first time. An excellent source of Vitamin C, peppers are more difficult to cultivate than many possible space crops due to their longer time to germinate, grow, and develop fruit. The investigation includes microbial analysis to improve understanding of plant-microbe interactions in space and assessment of flavor and texture, which vary based on the growth environment and care such as amount of watering.

Tangolab-4: The crew removed payload card 02 from Slot A and installed it in Slot B. The crew also attached a new cube to payload card 018 and installed it into slot A of the TangoLab-4 Facility. Space Tango’s TangoLab lockers are reconfigurable general research facilities designed for microgravity research and development (R&D) and pilot manufacturing aboard the International Space Station (ISS).


In-Flight Maintenance Airlock (A/L) Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Water Separator R&R: Today, the crew removed and replaced the Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Water Separator for the Airlock Cabin Air Rack (A/L1A1). The CCAA is the primary component responsible for the control of temperature and humidity in the USOS segment and consists of a fan, a condensing heat exchanger, an air/water separator, temperature and liquid sensors, and other electrical controlling hardware.

SpX-23 Cargo Dragon Cargo Operations: The crew continued cargo transfer operations by unloading cargo from Cargo Dragon. The crew also transferred and installed two Polar units to the ISS. Polar is a Cold Stowage managed facility that provides transport and storage of science samples at cryogenic temperatures (-80ºC) to and from the ISS. Polar operates on 75 W supplied power and uses air cooling as its heat rejection method. Polar can accommodate up to 12.75 liters of sample volume and 20 lbm including sample support equipment.

Resupply Air Tank Re-pressurization: Today, two of the Resupply Air Tanks that were delivered on NG-16 were vented in the spacecraft to re-pressurize the ISS internal volume. The remaining six tanks will be vented next week.

External Mobility Unit (EMU) Resize: The crew completed resizing of the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) EMU 3009 in support of the upcoming IROSA Prep 4A EVA on September 12th. Thomas Pesquet and Aki Hoshide will continue to work ongoing EVA preparation tasks.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Temperature and Humidity Control (THC) Airlock Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Activation
Command and Control Software (CCS) S-band Telemetry (TLM) Housekeeping 1 (HK1)
PRO Basic EXPRESS Rack 11B Activation Commanding in the LAB
Atmospheric Control System (ACS) Oxygen Leak Check [ACTIVE]
Look Ahead Plan

Wednesday, September 1 (GMT 244)

Food Acceptability
ISS Experience EVA camera data transfer
JAXA video take-8
Nanoracks mainframe Alpha install
Nanoracks Module-92
POLAR transfers
Redwire Regolith Print remove
RR-D1 crew conference and transfers

Extravehicular Activity (EVA) loop scrub
Environmental Health System (EHS) Potable Water Dispenser (PWD) Sample Collect
Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Manual Fill
Dragon Cargo Operations
Thursday, September 2 (GMT 245)

Astrobee stowage replace
ELF cartridge replace
EPO Blob conclude
FIR/ALL/ACE oil dispense
ICE cube 8/9 experiment install
Nanoracks module-9 ops 2
POLAR desiccant swap
RSD retrieve
SALI 1 install

On Board Training (OBT) ROBoT T&C Self Study
EVA Procedure Review
Dragon Cargo Operations
Friday, September 3 (GMT 246)

Astrobee perching arm removal
Cold Stowage unpack
Food Acceptability survey
ISS Experience SSD change-out
MUSES server vent clean
POLAR desiccant swap/media retrieve
RSD sample exchange
Space Embryo
Technology Box

Russian Segment (RS) EVA #49
Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Setup and Functional Checkout
Environmental Health System (EHS) – Coliform Water Sample Analysis
EVA procedure review
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Cold Stowage Double Coldbag Unpack
Rodent Research Rodent Habitat Recable
In Flight Maintenance Airlock Stowage Removal
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Extension to JPM Side
ISS Experience EVA Z-Cam Removal
VEGGIE Hardware On-Board Training
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Airlock (A/L) Common Cabin Air Assembly (CCAA) Water Separator (WS) Remove & Replace (R&R)
Nanoracks Module-9 OBT
HRF Hardware Consolidation
JEM Airlock Slide Table (ST) Retraction from JPM Side
MERLIN hardware retrieval
Biofilms Experiment Container installation
In Flight Maintenance Airlock Stowage Replace
JEM Common Gas Support Equipment (CGSE) Upper Ar Gas Supply Start
Nanoracks Module-9 Ops Session 1
MSRR Rack Inspection
EVA Battery Operations Terminal Autocycle Terminate [ABORTED]
JAXA Stowage Consolidation
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Resize
TangoLab-4 Card Cube Replace
Polar Dragon Uninstall, Handover, Transfer and EXPRESS Rack Install
Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Water Recharge
Plant Habitat-04 DEBRIS Hardware Gather
Resupply Air Tank Setup and Initiation
APEX-08 Procedure Review #1
Extravehicular Activity Hard Upper Torso Gather
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) in Columbus
Faraday-2 Facility Installation and Checkout
Rodent Research Activity Review

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