Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 5 January, 2021 – Northrop Grumman Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft Departs Tomorrow

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
January 7, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 5 January, 2021 – Northrop Grumman Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft Departs Tomorrow
Radish bulbs are pictured inside the station's Advanced Plant Habitat.

About three months after delivering several tons of scientific experiments and supplies to the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s uncrewed Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled to depart the orbiting laboratory Wednesday, Jan. 6.
This morning, flight controllers on the ground sent commands to use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to robotically detach Cygnus from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module and maneuver it into place.

Live coverage of the spacecraft’s release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 9:45 a.m. EDT, with its release from the robotic arm scheduled for 10:10 a.m.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will monitor Cygnus’ systems upon its departure from the space station.

The Cygnus resupply spacecraft is named in memory of Kalpana Chawla, the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Chawla, who dedicated her life to understanding flight dynamics, died in the STS-107 space shuttle Columbia accident.

Cygnus arrived at the space station Oct. 5 with nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies, scientific investigations, commercial products, hardware, and other cargo following an Oct. 2 launch on Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

On-Orbit Status Report


FLUIDICS: The crew performed the first of three FLUIDICS runs. The measurement of liquid displacement within a sphere in microgravity relates to a given kinematic representation of a spacecraft’s fuel tank. The FLUIDICS investigation evaluates the Center of Mass (CoM) position regarding a temperature gradient on a representation of a fuel tank. The observation of capillary wave turbulence on the surface of a fluid layer in a low-gravity environment can provide insights into measuring the existing volume in a sphere.

JAXA Moderate Temp PCG: The crew installed icebricks into the Measure Experiment Unit-A which was attached to the CBEF-G facility sample tray. The objective of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Moderate Temperature Protein Crystallization Growth (JAXA Moderate Temp PCG) investigation is to grow high quality protein crystals in microgravity. The crystals are returned to Earth to determine protein structures in detail; the structures are used to develop pharmaceutical drugs, and to explore the mystery of our lives. The protein samples are launched to the International Space Station by a cargo resupply vehicle and crystallized at 20°C using the counter-diffusion method.

Rodent Research-10 (RR-10): The crew performed fixations on Rodent samples. Tissue degeneration and failure of tissue to regenerate normally in microgravity are becoming increasing concerns for sustaining life in space. The CDKN1a/p21 pathway is known to be a key molecular mechanism involved in inhibiting tissue regenerative processes, and scientific evidence suggest it is required for the arrest of regenerative bone formation observed in microgravity. The results from The Role of CDKN1a/p21 Pathway in Microgravity-Induced Bone Tissue Regenerative Arrest – A Spaceflight Study of Transgenic CDKN1a/p21-Null Mice in Microgravity (Rodent Research-10) provide insight into the role of the gene CDKN1a/p21 in tissues affected by microgravity, and could lead to the development of preventive treatments designed to counter tissue degeneration in space.

Rodent Research-23 (RR-23): The crew performed Rodent Habitat restocks. RR-23 studies function of arteries, veins, and lymphatic structures in the eye and changes in the retina before and after spaceflight. The aim is to clarify whether these vascular changes impair visual function. At least 40 percent of astronauts experience vision impairment known as Spaceflight-Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS) on long-duration spaceflights, which could adversely affect mission success.

Saffire-V (Spacecraft Fire Experiment-V): The crew performed the hardware preparations for diagnostic operations. Ensuring the reliability of fire safety measures for future spacecraft requires experiments that provide a realistic examination of the risks, but it is difficult to study fires of practical size in an occupied spacecraft. The Spacecraft Fire Experiment-V (Saffire-V) investigation builds on the previous Saffire experiment using the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo resupply vehicle after it leaves the International Space Station (ISS). Saffire-V examines fire growth in the range of pressures and oxygen concentrations expected in future exploration spacecraft.

Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion (BAC): The crew performed the 3rd and last of the fixation sessions on the BAC cell samples. Polymicrobial Biofilm Growth and Control during Spaceflight (Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion) explores the formation under microgravity conditions of multi-species biofilms, which may behave differently from single-species biofilms. This investigation identifies the bacterial genes used during biofilm growth, examines whether these biofilms can corrode stainless steel, and evaluates the effectiveness of a silver-based disinfectant. The microorganisms in biofilms can become resistant to traditional cleaning chemicals, leading to contamination of water treatment systems, damage to equipment, and potential health risks to astronauts.

Cardinal Heart: The crew performed fixations ops on Cardinal Heart Tissue Chambers. Cardinal Heart studies the effects of change in gravitational force on cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue level using engineered heart tissues (EHTs). Microgravity significantly affects heart tissues that perform work and exert an opposite force to gravity and is known to cause molecular and structural abnormalities in cells and tissues that can lead to disease. The investigation could provide new understanding of similar heart issues on Earth and help identify new treatments.


Cygnus Vehicle Departure Preparations: In preparation for tomorrow’s planned NG-14 departure from the ISS the following tasks were completed:

Yesterday, Robotics Ground Controllers powered up the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) and maneuvered the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) to walk off from Mobile base System (MBS) Power & Data Grapple Fixture 3 (PDGF 3) to Node 2 PDGF. SSRMS was then maneuvered to grapple the Power & Video Grapple Fixture (PVGF) of the Cygnus vehicle berthed at Node 1 Nadir.
The crew rotated the Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) Controller Panel Assemblies (CPAs) and closed out the vestibule in preparation for vehicle egress. They then configured the vehicle for departure and closed the hatch.
Completed Task List Activities:

ARED spreadsheet recording
WHC KTO replace
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Cygnus egress and departure prep
Dragon cargo transfer ops
Look Ahead Plan
Wednesday, January 6 (GMT 006)

FLUIDICS run 2 and 3 and closeout (ESA)
Food Physiology Blood collect,
Repository: urine, saliva collect (NASA)
NanoRack Module 9 mixture ops 4 (NASA)
HRF VEGGIE questionnaire (NASA)
Rodent Habitat Stow (NASA)
ACE Module Reconfiguration (NASA)
SUBSA Sample exchange and photo (NASA)
CommuBios (Icebricks into SABL 3) (NASA)
Antimicrobial Coatings pad touch ops(NASA)
Actiwatch Hardware return (NASA)
Cardinal Heart Microscopy ops (NASA)
Thermal Amine Effluent sampling part 1 and 2 (NASA)

NG-14 departure
EVA DOUG review, Airlock unstow, CWC-I degas
Thursday, January 7 (GMT 007)

VEG-03 wick open (NASA)
Food Physiology Saliva collect (NASA)
BAC Cell fixation (NASA)
Food Acceptability (NASA)
Friday, January 8 (GMT 008)

BioAsteroid Deinstall (ESA)
KUBIK 5, 6 Deinstall (ESA)
MicroMonitor Water sample collect (JAXA)
Food Accept Survey (NASA)
Antimicrobial Coatings pad touch ops(NASA)
Repository: Saliva collect and Urine setup (NASA)
Food Physiology Brief (NASA)
BAC Cell fixation (NASA)

EVA procedure review
EVA suit IV review
EVA procedure conference
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

HRF Generic MELFI Sample Insertion Operations
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Profile of Mood States (POMS) Questionnaire
Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion MELFI Sample Retrieve
JEM Temporary Stowage Return
Microscope Reposition Preparation
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
Cardinal Heart Tissue Chamber Microscopy
Fluidics On Board Training
Fluidics hardware installation
Cygnus Egress
Fluidics Run 1 execution
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
Microscope Hardware Setup via SABL Power
HRF Generic Saliva Collection Setup
Saffire Diagnostics Prep
XF305 Camcorder Setup
JAXA MT PCG Ice Brick Insertion.
Cardinal Heart SABL Thumb Drive Install
Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion MELFI Sample Retrieve
Cygnus Egress
Fluidics Power OFF
CBM Controller Panel Assembly (CPA) Rotation and Closeout
Bacterial Adhesion and Corrosion Inoculation
Robotic Workstation (RWS) Setup
HRF Generic Urine Collection Male
Rodent Research Habitat Restock
Cygnus/Node 1 Vestibule Configuration for Demate
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Water Storage System Resupply Tank Swap
Relocate SSC 21 in Node 1 support Pressure Management Device (PMD)
Pressure Management Device (PMD) Equipment Setup and Power and Data connections
Cleaning panel vent screens
HRF Generic Urine Collection Male
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
Rodent Research MELFI Remove
Cleaning of ВТ7 heat exchanger fan mesh screens on ГЖТ4
Rodent Research Fixative Swap
Rodent Research Access Unit Clean
Making a documentary about life onboard the ISS
Rodent Research MELFI Insert 3
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
HRF Generic Frozen Blood Collection Hardware Setup
Pressure Management Device (PMD) Part 2
HRF Generic Urine Collection Male
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
N1 Deck hatch MPEV open

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