Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 4 August, 2020 – Free-flying Robots

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 8, 2020
Filed under , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 4 August, 2020 – Free-flying Robots
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 4 August, 2020 - Free-flying Robots.

Free-flying robots, planetary bodies and water droplets were just part of Tuesday’s research plan aboard the International Space Station.
The Expedition 63 trio also serviced a variety of communications gear and life support systems.

NASA and its international partners are planning human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond and the space station represents a big step in that effort. The orbiting lab provides a unique platform to learn about the long-term effects of microgravity on a variety of systems.

A set of cube-shaped, robot assistants are flying around on their own today inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Engineers are looking at video and imagery downlinked from the Astrobee devices to understand how the autonomous free-flyers visualize and navigate their way around the station.

Commander Chris Cassidy took a look at dynamic granular material samples this morning that simulate planetary surfaces. The experiment is taking place inside ESA’s (European Space Agency) Columbus laboratory module and could inform future planetary exploration missions.

The veteran NASA astronaut also split his time between botany and fluid physics. Cassidy worked on the Plant Habitat-02 checking growth lights and installing an acoustic shield to protect the plants from station noises. Next, he moved onto commercial research to improve water conservation and water pressure techniques on Earth.

In the Russian segment of the station, the two cosmonaut flight engineers worked on their complement of orbital science and lab maintenance. Anatoly Ivanishin serviced video equipment and an air purifier before conducting Earth observations. Ivan Vagner collected air samples for microbial analysis and explored ways to improve interactions between mission controllers, students and space crews.

On-Orbit Staturs Report


Astrobee: The Astrobee system was powered on in support of additional free-flight and checkout operations. Astrobee will be used in the Kibo Robot Programming Challenge in the coming weeks. Astrobee is made up of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots which 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 space station. The autonomous robots, powered by fans and vision-based navigation, perform crew monitoring, sampling, logistics management, and can accommodate up to three investigations.

Droplet Formation Studies (DFS): In preparation for the next series of sample runs, the crew performed a water jet replacement ad water cleanup for the DFS investigation. Droplet Formation Studies in Microgravity (Droplet Formation Study, or more simply DFS) evaluates water droplet formation and water flow of Delta Faucet’s H2Okinetic shower head technology. To conserve water, flow rates in shower devices have been reduced, but this lower flow rate also reduces the effectiveness of these devices and often causes consumers to take longer showers, undermining the goal of using less water. Gravity’s full effects on formation of water droplet size are unknown, and research in microgravity could help improve the technology, creating better performance and improved user experience while conserving water and energy.

Fluid Science Laboratory/Soft Matter Dynamics/Sample Cell Unit (FSL/SMD/SCU): In support of the currently on-going FOAM coarsening experiment, the crew performed the necessary steps to install two new SCUs. There was an initial indication of a previous sample leak in one of the SCUs (flakes were observed), and the ground team will assess the situation. FSL Soft Matter Dynamics – Hydrodynamics of Wet Foams (Foam Coarsening) aims to investigate bubble size and rearrangement dynamics for “wet foams”. Microgravity offers the opportunity to investigate such “wet” foams, which cannot be stabilized on Earth because of drainage. Moreover, microgravity conditions are essential to study rearrangement phenomena, such as coarsening and coalescence, disentangled from drainage.

Plant Habitat-02: The crew performed steps to prepare for the Growth Light Assembly (GLA) checkout, and installed the growth chamber shade and acoustic blanket on the Plant Hab unit. This is a continuation of the activities needed to prepare for science samples arriving on NG-14. 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.


Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) 6-Month Maintenance: The crew completed this regularly scheduled maintenance to inspect heel raise pip pins, racking mechanism and arm base slider track.

Urine Transfer System (UTS) Operations: Prior to crew wake, the Adlink Mini PC, referred to as the DAN (Domain Adapter Node) box failed on the UTS. As a result, ground controllers (ETHOS) did not have command capability or telemetry to the UTS and were unable to perform recycle tank operations. The crew was scheduled to setup the transfer from the Water Stowage Systems (WSS) Resupply Tank to the Contingency Water Container (CWC), swap to a second CWC and perform teardown operations. With the crew’s assistance the ground team initiated and terminated the water transfers from the ground. The DAN box was fully restored.

Completed Task List Activities:

HTV Cargo Ops (on-going)
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

RGA Data Staleness Event Characterization per Chit 18955
Look Ahead Plan

Wednesday, 8/5 (GMT 218)

Astrobee Off
CGBA4 Relocate
Droplet Formation Study
HXP2 Item Prep
SAMS Screen Clean

PWD Water Collect
WHC Manual Fill
Thursday, 8/6 (GMT 219)

HXP2 Sample Remove

OGS Water Sample
Friday, 8/7 (GMT 220)

Droplet Formation Study
MVP Locker Move
Radi-N2 Retrieve and Handover
SABL3 Relocate

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

Auxiliary Computer System [???] laptops anti-virus scan and report
[???] Universal Bioengineering Thermostat. Check ???-? #07 Thermostat Temperature and Keep Out Zones in front of ???-? Inlets and Outlets
Astrobee On
FGB internal lighting system audit
Setup and activation of Crew Onboard Support Kit (????) equipment for Mpeg2 TV coverage Diagnostics of Power Supply System (???)
FSL Soft Matter Dynamics Experiment Container Sample Cell Unit Exchange
Diagnostics of SM Power Supply System (???) Filter Unit (??-1?) and Main Bus Assembly (???-1?)
Vacuum Cleaning of Dust collectors ?C1, ??2 filter cartridges in FGB (panels 203, 403)
Vacuum cleaning ventilation grilles on FGB interior panels (201, 301, 401)
RS EVA equipment search
Turning off camcorder, TV system controls, closing applications
Regeneration of Micropurification Unit (???) ?1 Absorption Cartridge
Regeneration of Micropurification Unit (???) ?2 Cartridge
??-21. Microbial Air Sampling 2 (photography) & data downlink
?? ??? (Broadband Communication System) functionality checkout
URAGAN. Video Spectral System (VSS) PL R&R
Actiwatch Plus HRF Rack 2 Evaluation
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain/Fill
ASEPTIC. Sample photo after incubation, data transfer to HD for return.
Plant Habitat-02 GLA Checkout Preparation & Growth Chamber Shade Replace
Russian Video Recording of Greetings
Water Storage System Resupply Tank Pumping to CWC
Countermeasures System (CMS) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) 6-Month Maintenance
MOCHII Prep Kit Move
MELFI 1 Rack Pictures
Water Storage System Resupply Tank Transfer to CWC bag swap
Droplet Formation Study Jet Replacement & Water Cleanup
INTERACTION-2. Experiment Ops (Hardware Setup and Activation in SSTV Mode)
Water Storage System Resupply Tank Offload to CWC termination

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