Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 April, 2021 – Crew Launches and Docks With Station

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
April 12, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 April, 2021 – Crew Launches and Docks With Station
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 April, 2021 - Crew Launches and Docks With Station.

The hatches between the International Space Station and the newly arrived Soyuz spacecraft officially opened at 9:20 a.m. EDT as they flew 270 miles above the South Pacific.
The arrival of three new crew members to the existing seven people already aboard for Expedition 64 temporarily increases the station’s population to 10.

They have arrived on three different spacecraft. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos arrived on the Soyuz MS-18 after a two-orbit, three-hour flight following their launch from Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins arrived on the station with Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft October 14, 2020. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have been aboard since arriving November 16, 2020, on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience.

Expedition 65 begins Friday, April 16, with the departure of Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov. Ryzhikov will hand command of the station to Walker during a ceremony with all crew members that is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. April 15, and will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The Expedition 65 crew will continue more than 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the station, conducting research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research and more. Research conducted in microgravity helps NASA prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars, and contributes to improvements for life on Earth. Follow Vande Hei on Twitter during his mission.

This is the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy, and the first for Dubrov, who becomes the 243rd person to visit the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

During Expedition 65, the arrival of Crew-2 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon will bring four more members to the International Space Station. Crew-2 is currently scheduled for launch on Earth Day, April 22. Crew-1, the first long-duration commercial crew mission, will return to Earth on April 28.

On-Orbit Status Report

64 Soyuz Launch/Dock: 64S successfully launched at 2:43 AM CT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Oleg Novitskiy, Petr Dubrov, and Mark Vande Hei on board. The vehicle docked at MRM1 at 6:21 AM CT. The ISS crew complement has increased to 10 crewmembers and will remain so until 63S undock on April 17.


Astrobee/Gecko: The crew cleared the stowed items in the area and performed an Astrobee/Gecko functional checkout session. Assistive Free-Flyers with Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Appendages for Automated Logistics in Space (Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Grasping, or simply Gecko) uses the Astrobee robot aboard the space station to test an adhesive for robotic grasping and manipulating. Geckos grasp the surface of an object rather than features on it, providing many more grasping points. Adhesive grippers inspired by these reptiles, already proven to work in space, could allow robots to rapidly and controllably attach to and detach from surfaces, even on objects that are moving or spinning.

AstroPi: In support of the European AstroPi challenge, the crew set up the AstroPi IR (infrared) in the Node 2 nadir window. Two augmented Raspberry Pi computers (called AstroPis) flown to the International Space Station as part of British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission. The computers are both equipped with the mighty Sense HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) that measures the environment inside the space station, detect how the station moves through space, and pick up the Earth’s magnetic field. Each AstroPi is also equipped with different kinds of cameras: one has an infrared camera, and the other has a standard visible spectrum camera.

CIR/ACME/CFI-G (Combustion Integrated Rack/Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments/Cool Flames Investigation with Gases): As a continuation of the on-going CFI-G experiment, the crew removed the 100% ethane fuel bottle and installed a 50% butane, 50% nitrogen fuel bottle. Cool diffusion flames were discovered during droplet combustion experiments aboard the ISS in 2012, and this initiated a rapidly growing field of combustion research. A cool flame is one that burns at about 600 degrees Celsius. A typical candle is about three-and-a-half times hotter, burning at around 1,400 degrees Celsius. Most internal combustion engines are designed using computer models that neglect cool flame chemistry, but ignition and flame propagation in engines depend on cool flame chemistry. Cool flame chemistry also has a significant impact on fuel octane and cetane numbers, whose understanding has large economic consequences.

Electro-static Levitation Furnace (ELF): The crew removed the current sample holder and stowed it for return. The experiment which this sample holder supported has been completed. The crew then installed a new sample holder which will allow the next experiment to begin. JAXA’s ELF is an experimental facility designed to levitate, melt and solidify materials by containerless processing techniques using the electrostatic levitation method. With this facility thermophysical properties of high temperature melts can be measured and solidification from deeply undercooled melts can be achieved. ELF typically processes oxide samples, but is also capable of processing semiconductors, alloys, and metals.

Fluidics: Following the connector interference issues encountered yesterday, today the crew was able to re-clock a connector and successfully begin the first experiment run. 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.

HRF2 troubleshooting: The crew and ground worked together on a software upgrade in an attempt to recover ground commanding capabilities for the rack. However, the expected response was not seen from the ground and the remaining crew activities were aborted. The ground believes the crew hooked up all the cables correctly and is working on a forward plan. Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) provides an on-orbit laboratory that enables human life science researchers to study and evaluate the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes induced by spaceflight. Research performed using HRF-2 provides data to help scientists understand how the human body adapts to long-duration spaceflight.

RTPCG-2: The crew printed the “recipe” card, and then pipetted the appropriate amounts of solution into the sample wells on the experiment plates. The wells were then sealed and the plates placed in a controlled environment in the SABL (Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory) where conditions are favorable for crystal development. RTPCG-2 demonstrates new methods for producing high-quality protein crystals in microgravity. Previous work has shown that microgravity produces high-quality protein crystals that can be analyzed to identify possible targets for drugs to treat disease. RTPCG-2 produces high-quality protein crystals for up to eight proteins for detailed analysis back on Earth.

Vascular Aging: The crew continued the on-going Vascular Aging experiment ops with blood sampling and a glucose tolerance test. Emerging data point towards linkages among cardiovascular health risk, carotid artery aging, bone metabolism and blood biomarkers, insulin resistance, and radiation. Data indicate that aging-like changes are accelerated in many ISS crew members, particularly with respect to their arteries. As part of the Space Environment Causes Acceleration of Vascular Aging: Roles of Hypogravity, Nutrition, and Radiation (Vascular Aging) investigation, ultrasounds of the arteries, blood samples, oral glucose tolerance, and wearable sensors from ISS crew members are analyzed.


ISS Crew Safety Briefing: With the arrival of the 64S crew, all crew members participated in this briefing to familiarize the newly arrived crew with potential hazards and available safety measures on board the ISS as well as equipment required for initial emergency response. Some items covered were response to depressurization, fire and toxic release. The crew also practiced using the emergency egress route.

Completed Task List Activities:

Fluidics install/run
Dragon OBT
RPCG microscopy
Vacuum cleaner bag R&R
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

64S docking ops
Payload ops support
MT translation checkout/survey
Look Ahead Plan

Saturday, April 10 (GMT 100)

No utilization activities

Crew adaptation
Crew handover
Sunday, April 11 (GMT 101)

Astrobee off

Crew off duty
Monday, April 12 (GMT 102)

AC touch, APM remove and stow, CBEF-L, Food Physiology, ISS Experience h/w consolidate, POIC overview, SERFE, Vascular Echo

CASA install part 2
Emergency roles & responsibilities review
WHC urine receptacle R&R
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

HRF Generic Saliva Collection 10 Minutes
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Vascular Aging MERLIN Item Removal
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Setup And Frozen Blood Collection Subject
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Operator
Vascular Aging Glucometer Reading And Drink Consumption
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Configuration
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Spin Conclude
Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) Item Gathering
Vascular Aging Glucometer Reading
CSA Generic MELFI Sample Insertion
Soyuz 748 ODF Ops. Start drying two space suits
ISS HAM Kenwood Radio Power Down in Columbus
Activation of Soyuz 747 gas analyzer
ISS HAM Radio Power Down in Service Module
Vascular Aging Glucometer Reading
Astrobee Stowage Clear
HRF Generic Saliva Collection Stow
USOS Window Shutter Close
XF305 Camcorder Setup
Electrostatic Levitation Furnace(ELF) Sample Holder retrieving and cartridge cleaning.
Vascular Aging Glucometer Reading
Vacuum cleaning area behind panels 405 and 406 of MRM1 interior
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Operator
Vascular Aging HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Subject
MICROVIR. Glovebox-S hardware prep
Vascular Aging Glucometer Reading And Data Transfer
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Recipe Card Print
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Configuration
Preparation of Soyuz 748 docking
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Maintenance Work Area Preparation
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Spin Conclude
CSA Generic MELFI Sample Insertion
Monitoring Soyuz 748 rendezvous with ISS (MRM1)
Wanted Poster Extraction Tools
CSA Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Conclude And Stow
Food Acceptability Survey
Fluidics hardware installation
Real-time Protein Crystal Growth Production Plate Load S/N 2B2
Antimicrobial Coatings Touch
AstroPi Vis camera coverage
AstroPi IR setup in Node 2
On MCC Go Moding MRM1-Soyuz PEV to ELECTR CONTR position
Combustion Integrated Rack Bottle Gather
On MCC Go Soyuz 748-MRM1 interface leak check
Combustion Integrated Rack Upper Rack Doors Open
Combustion Integrated Rack Manifold #4 Bottle Replacement
ISS Crew departure preparation
Work Light Deploy in Airlock
Combustion Integrated Rack Upper Rack Doors Close
Polar Desiccant Swap
HRF Rack 2 Troubleshooting Setup
Soyuz 748-MRM1 hatch opening
???-64S hatches open and PAO-TV-rep. Hatches open
Handover of the third spacesuit and gloves for drying in Soyuz 747
Start drying the third spacesuit (Soyuz 747)
Actiwatch Plus Watch Don
Fluidics Run 2 execution
Food Acceptability Survey
NanoRacks Rotational Dynamics Regulation Ball Deflation [Deferred]
OGS AAA Inlet Label
HRF Rack 2 Reset Switch Press [Aborted]
MELFI Overview OBT
Photo/TV RED Camera Disassembly
Food Acceptability Survey
Sidekick Power ON
MERLIN 5 Desiccant Swap
Safety briefing after Soyuz 748 docking
ISS safety briefing
Food Physiology Crew Diet Briefing
Galley Refrigerator/Freezer 2 Unit Reconfiguration
iPad 64S Prepare
Fluidics Closeout Activities
Terminate the third suit drying, start drying the third pair of gloves (Soyuz 747)
Galley Refridgerator/Freezer 2 Hardware Stow
Stow the first and the second spacesuits and gloves in Soyuz 748 after drying
Fluidics completion of data copy and T61p Laptop stowage
Payload Data Router Memory Card Exchange and Activation
Terminate drying the third pair of gloves (Soyuz 747)
Handover of Increment 65 Crew
Handover of the third spacesuit and gloves to Soyuz 748 for stowage after drying
Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Manual Fill Initiation [Deferred]
Atmosphere Control and Supply (ACS) Oxygen Supply Swap
Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Manual Fill Termination [Deferred]
MICROVIR. Hardware transfer from Soyuz 748 and insertion into thermostat at +4 deg C
BIOPOLIMER. Hardware transfer and setup
BIOPOLIMER. Photography
HRF Rack 2 Troubleshooting Disconnect
Astrobee Stowage Clear
Polar Desiccant Swap

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