Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 April 2020 – Dragon Set to Leave Tuesday

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
April 7, 2020
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 April 2020 – Dragon Set to Leave Tuesday
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the Earth-facing port on the International Space Station's Harmony module. In the right foreground is the European Space Agency's (ESA) Columbus laboratory module which is attached to the Harmony module's starboard port. Credit: NASA.

A Russian rocket rolled out to its launch pad today as a new crew gets ready for liftoff to the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 62 crew will send off a U.S. cargo craft on Tuesday packed with science and hardware.

Russia’s Soyuz MS-16 crew ship stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan today after rolling out from its processing facility at daybreak. The rocket will launch on Thursday at 4:05 a.m. carrying NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The new Expedition 63 trio will dock to the rear port of the Zvezda service module at 10:15 a.m. to begin a 195-day mission. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and docking activities live starting at 3 a.m.

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir are loading the final critical research samples aboard the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship today. Dragon will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean carrying live mice, plant cells and other biological samples for analysis on Earth. Dragon is also packed with station hardware including spacesuit components for servicing and inspection.

Morgan will be monitoring departure activities when ground controllers command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Dragon on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. EDT. This will end a 29-day stay at the Harmony module. Live NASA TV coverage begins at 8:45 a.m.

Station Commander Oleg Skripochka is getting ready for his departure when he Morgan and Meir return to Earth on April 17. The veteran cosmonaut will be packing the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship with personal items and station cargo over the next week-and-a-half.

On-Orbit Status Report

The crew will work late into the nominal crew work day today to prepare Dragon for unberth and release tomorrow morning. The next daily report will resume on Wednesday, April 8th.

Over the weekend:

CASIS PCG 10: The crew transferred five sample cards into MELFI to freeze in preparation for a return on SpX-20. Microgravity Crystallization of Glycogen Synthase-Glycogenin (CASIS PCG 10) uses the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to grow larger, higher resolution versions of two proteins, glycogen synthase 1 and glycogen synthase 2. Understanding the structure of the human glycogen synthase protein will expedite the discovery of treatments for obesity, rare glycogen storage disorders, and potentially cancer.

Multi-use Variable-g Platform (MVP2 Cell-03): The crew removed 5 Emory Modules and associated hardware from the MVP2 and prepped the contents for SpX-20 return. This project studied the generation of cardiomyocytes, specialized heart muscle cells, for use in research and clinical applications. Specifically, the team is studying the differentiation of these heart cells from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), adult cells that have been altered to reinstate characteristics of natural stem cells. Simulated microgravity studies have allowed the team to increase the yield, purity, and survival of cardiomyocytes derived from iPSCs, and true spaceflight conditions are expected to further enhance these effects. Understanding how microgravity improves cardiomyocyte differentiation will enable the team to create clinically relevant heart tissue for use in regenerative medicine, disease modeling, and drug discovery.

NanoRacks Module-9: The crew opened the blue clamps and shook tubes 4 and 5 to deactivate them. Tubes 4 and 5 contain experiments which study the effect of microgravity on the growth of Trametes versicolor mycelium, and the effect of microgravity on the growth of Pyropia respectively. Module-09, which contains several mixture tube experiments, was then restowed for return on SpX-20. The experiments use NanoRacks MixStix, miniature laboratories activated by space station crew and eventually returned to the student teams on Earth for analysis.

NanoRacks Science Box (aka NanoRacks Black Box): The crew un-cabled and removed the NanoRacks Science Box from EXPRESS Rack and prepped it for SpX-20 return. NanoRacks-Black Box is a key part of NanoRacks’ next generation International Space Station platforms. This new platform is specially designed to provide near-launch payload turnover of autonomous payloads while providing advanced science capabilities for customers, including use of robotics, new automated MixStix and NanoLab-style research. Black Box is a locker-sized platform that accommodates up to 18U of payloads.

Space Tango MultiLab Locker (TangoLab-2): The crew removed card 012 and Cube BOST_FLW01 from the TangoLab-2 facility and prepared them for SpX-20 return. TangoLab-2 is a reconfigurable general research facilities designed for microgravity research and development and pilot manufacturing in the ISS.

Veggie PONDS: The crew took photos of plant growth areas and front of the PONDS units with covers off. Although moisture was observed in the wick and felt area, no plant growth was seen. The ground team is assessing their delayed ground control version of the experiment to determine possible causes or the lack of seed germination. Organisms grow differently in space, from single-celled bacteria to plants and humans. Future long-duration space missions will require crew members to grow their own food. Therefore, understanding how plants respond to microgravity and demonstrating the reliable vegetable production on orbit are important steps toward that goal. Veggie PONDS uses a newly developed passive nutrient delivery system and the Veggie plant growth facility aboard the ISS to cultivate lettuce and mizuna greens which are to be harvested on-orbit, and consumed, with samples returned to Earth for analysis.

Today’s activities:

Mouse Mission-5 (MM-5): The crew performed the activities necessary to transfer the JAXA MM-5 mice to SpX-20 for return to the ground. The purpose of this mission is to analyze any alterations of the gene expression patterns and the effects on the germ-cell development of mice exposed to a long-term space environment.

OsteoOmics-2: The crew removed the samples for their locations in the GLACIER and MELFI freezers/refrigerators and prepared them for return on SpX-20. Millions of Americans experience bone loss, which results from disease or the reduced effects of gravity that can occur in bed-ridden patients. OsteoOmics tests whether magnetic levitation accurately simulates the free-fall conditions of microgravity by comparing genetic expression osteoblastic cells, a type of bone cell, levitated in a high-field superconducting magnet with cells flown in low-Earth orbit. This information helps scientists determine the molecular and metabolic changes that take place in magnetic levitation and real microgravity.

Space Cells-01: The crew retrieved Space Cells-01 samples (4) from the CGBA (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus) and stowed them for SpX-20 return. Space Cells-01 examines gene expression changes and genetic mutations in hemp and coffee plant cells in microgravity. Cell cultures spend approximately one month on the space station then return to Earth for analysis of their physical structure and gene expression and are compared to preflight parameters. Results could help identify new varieties or chemical expressions in the plants and improve understanding of how plants manage the stress of space travel.


SpX-20 Cargo Operations: Today the crew will complete the final SpaceX-20 mission cargo transfers; including the packing of Double Cold Bags (DCB) that are used to preserve time critical science. Following the final cargo loading, the crew will egress the Dragon vehicle, close the hatch, rotate the Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) Controller Panel Assemblies (CPAs), and will close out the Node 2 nadir vestibule. Dragon is scheduled to depart the ISS on Tuesday, April 7th at 8:05am CT.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Look Ahead Plan
Tuesday, 4/7 (GMT 098)
No utilization activities

Dragon Release

Wednesday, 4/8 (GMT 099)
AMOS overview
MHU-5 cleanup

Crew Arrival Prep
Potable Water Dispenser (PWD) Sample Collect
SSC1 Relocate
Acoustic Monitor Setup for Crew Worn Measurements

Thursday, 4/9 (GMT 100)
Food Acceptability
Veggie PONDS

62S Soyuz arrival activities
Environmental Health System (EHS) Acoustic Monitor Setup
ISS Safety Briefing
Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Full Fill

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

Space Cells-01 CGBA Retrieval
Crew Departure Preparations for Return to Earth
Cold Stowage Double Coldbag Pack
Cupola Window Shutter Close
Dragon Vestibule Configuration for Demate
Dragon Cable Photograph
Crew Command Panel (CCP) Cable Deroute
Crew Command Panel (CCP) Cable Route and Checkout
Dragon Egress in Preparation for Departure
Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) Controller Panel Assembly (CPA) Rotation, Installation, and Closeout
Dragon Vestibule Outfitting Kit (VOK) Gather
ISS Crew departure preparation
JAXA Mouse Mission Item Gathering
JAXA Mouse Mission 5 Post Feed Transfer
JAXA Mouse Mission 5 Water Refill 2
JAXA Mouse Mission 5 Post Feed Transfer Preparation
MERLIN EXPRESS Rack Uninstall, Transfer, and Handover
Node2 HD Camera Activation
OsteoOmics-2 Glacier Sample Removal
OsteoOmics-2 MELFI Sample Retrieve
Robotic Workstation (RWS) High Definition (HD) Monitor Downlink
Robotic Workstation (RWS) High Definition (HD) Monitor Deactivation
Polar Handover, Transfer and EXPRESS Rack Install
Pressure Management Device (PMD) Equipment Setup Part 1
Pressure Management Device (PMD) Equipment Setup Part 2
Robotic Work Station (RWS) Dragon Release Procedure Review and Briefing
Robotic Workstation (RWS) Teardown
Space Biofilms MELFI Sample Retrieval Operation 1
Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Dragon release and departure monitoring
Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Dragon Release from Node 2 Nadir (N2N) Preparation
N2 Deck MPEV close
N2 Deck MPEV open
Transfer Center Stack
Cargo Transfer to Dragon
?? ??? disassembly
Control of the closed state of a window SM ?6,8,9,12,13,14 cover
LBNP (????) training (preliminary)
Exercise Data Downlink
Regeneration of Micropurification unit (???) ?1 cartridge
Recharging Samsung tablet in 61S
Preparation of Items for 61S Return and Disposal

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