Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 February, 2021 – Botany and Biology Research

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
February 11, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 February, 2021 – Botany and Biology Research
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 February, 2021 - Botany and Biology Research

A Russian resupply ship departed the International Space Station overnight as two more cargo missions get ready for their launch.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 64 crew has been focusing on space research exploring botany and biology.

Russia’s uncrewed ISS Progress 76 space freighter undocked from the station’s Pirs docking compartment early Tuesday packed with trash and discarded gear. The Progress 76 then fired its engines one last time for a safe, but fiery reentry above the Pacific Ocean ending its six-and-a-half-month cargo mission.

A new Russian space freighter, the ISS Progress 77, is gearing up for its launch to the station on Sunday at 11:45 p.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It will dock to Pirs’ vacant port two days later delivering 1.1 tons of nitrogen, water and propellant.

The U.S. Cygnus cargo craft from Northrop Grumman will follow the Progress 77 blasting off from Virginia on Feb. 20. It will rendezvous with the station for a robotic capture and installation on Feb. 22 carrying about 8,000 pounds of crew supplies and science experiments.

Space scientists are learning how to grow food in space so future crews can support themselves on long-term missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker set up hydroponics components for a study exploring ways to sustain plants in microgravity from germination through harvest.

Flight Engineer Kate Rubins swabbed station surfaces on Tuesday collecting microbe samples for DNA sequencing to understand their adaptation to weightlessness. Flight Engineer Victor Glover strapped himself into a restraint then wore a virtual reality headset to understand how an astronaut visually interprets motion, orientation, and distance in space.

The two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, trained to remotely dock a spacecraft in the unlikely event its automated rendezvous system fails. The duo practiced using the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit (TORU) to safely maneuver a spacecraft to its docking port.

On-Orbit Status Report

76 Progress Undock: The Russian 76P cargo vehicle successfully departed ISS from the Russian Segment DC-1 port. ISS successfully maneuvered to the +ZVV undocking attitude on USOS US Thrusters Only (USTO) control. Upon vehicle departure, ISS was maneuvered back to the +XVV Torque Equilibrium Attitude (TEA) and the ISS Motion Control System (MCS) transitioned to Momentum Management (MM).


3DMM: The crew collected swab samples from the US lab and Node 1. This investigation will conduct a series of over 1000 swab sample collections throughout several modules of the International Space Station. Surfaces in the space station contain microbes and associated biomolecules excreted by these microorganisms. Three-dimensional Microbial Mapping of ISS Environment (3DMM) uses DNA sequencing and other analyses to construct a 3D map of bacteria and bacterial products throughout the station. The team also plans to characterize how these microbes respond at a molecular level to specific stress conditions, including altered gravity and atmospheric composition.

Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF): The crew performed the necessary steps to exchange the sample holder and remove/replace the debris bag. 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.

Freezer/Refrigerator/Incubator Device for Galley and Experimentation (FRIDGE): In order to continue the checkout of the Fridge units at lower temperatures, the crew transferred the contents from FRIDGE2 to FRIDGE 1. FRIDGE is a locker-sized unit that provides active temperature control with a range from -20.0°C to +48.0°C. It can accommodate storage of both crew galley items and scientific research samples and can be fully operated and maintained from the ground.

ISS HAM pass: The crew participated in an ISS HAM pass with Sterling Middle School in Loudoun County, Virginia. Some of the questions asked by the students included which personal items the crew is allowed to bring to space, how astronauts respond when they are sick in space, and how astronauts stay healthy in space. ISS Ham Radio provides opportunities to engage and educate students, teachers, parents and other members of the community in science, technology, engineering and math by providing a means to communicate between astronauts and the ground HAM radio units.

Plant Water Management (PWM): The crew refilled the PWM soil experiment hardware with water to start a second 24 hour experiment session. The Plant Water Management investigation demonstrates passive measures for controlling fluid delivery and uptake in plant growth systems. Reduced gravity creates challenges in providing adequate fluid and nutrition for plant growth. This investigation examines using other physical properties such as surface tension, wetting and system geometry to replace the role of gravity.

Story Time from Space (STFS): The crew set up the appropriate equipment to record a reading of the book Give me Some Space. Story Time From Space combines science literacy outreach with simple demonstrations recorded aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Crew members read five science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related children’s books in orbit, and complete simple science concept experiments. Crew members videotape themselves reading the books and completing demonstrations. Video and data collected during the demonstrations are downlinked to the ground and posted in a video library with accompanying educational materials.

Vection: The crew set up the appropriate hardware and performed a Vection experiment session. Vection is made up of 3 tasks that test how orientation perception, motion processing, and depth perception are affected by long duration 0g and return to 1g. The objective of the study is to determine to what extent an astronaut’s ability to visually interpret motion, orientation, and distance may be disrupted in a microgravity environment, and how it may adapt, and how it may be changed upon return to Earth. Multiple experimental time points inflight and upon return to Earth allows for the adaptation and recovery process to be investigated.


Nanoracks Airlock (NRAL) Intermodule Ventilation (IMV) Valve Installation – the crew performed the installation of the Node 3 Port Forward and Port Aft IMV Valves. During the installation the crew encountered two issues. The first was that the planned orientation of the forward valve did not allow the Remote Manual Override (RMO) flex shaft to be connected due to insufficient length. The flex shaft was able to be adjusted with enough margin to fit which also led to further adjustments for the electrical cables. Potential cable chaff points have been taped with glass cloth tape. The Aft valve did not have any issues with the flex shaft engagement. The second issue was the J2 data connector could not be mated to either IMV valve, as the backshell of this connector interferes with the adjacent J1 data connector. Ground teams were able to develop a procedure to loosen the backshells of the connectors and reorient them for successful mating. Crew completed a manual checkout of the IMV valve positions and closed the Node 3 Port hatch to begin a 9 hour leak check.

Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Urine Receptacle Remove and Replace (R&R): Today, the crew removed and replaced the WHC Urine Receptacle and Insert Filter. After replacement, a functionality test of the WHC was performed and the WHC was declared operational.

Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System (WRS) Sample Analysis & Data Record: Crew performed an analysis of the water processing assembly (WPA) using the TOCA. The TOCA unit oxidizes organic carbon species present in the water to carbon dioxide gas and measures the concentration using nondispersive infrared spectroscopy. Analysis of the potable water using the TOCA occurs on a weekly basis.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Structural Dynamics Measurement System (SDMS) Data Dump
Attitude Control Subsystem (ACS) Configuration Controller Database (CCDB) Attitude Update
Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Walkoff to Lab PDGF
Look Ahead Plan

Wednesday, February 10 (GMT 041)

3DMM Node 2 Sample Collection, Antimicrobial Coatings Touch, AstroRad Vest Familiarization, GRIP science performance in seated position, ISS HAM Pass, JEM Cell Biology Experiment Facility Alternative Checkout, MELFI2-DEWAR-AUDIT, PWM stow, Solidification Using Baffles in Sealed Ampoules Sample Exchange

FSS Setup and Refill of Node 2 and Lab LTL PPA
EBOT Install and Closeout
PMD Teardown
Thursday, February 11 (GMT 042)

3DMM Node 3 Sample Collection, Astrobee, ASTRORAD Vest Survey 1, Food Acceptability Survey, Food Physiology Crew Diet Briefing, GRIP, HRF Veg Questionnaire, Plant Water Management Hydroponics Operations, Solidification Using Baffles in Sealed Ampoules OBT

FSS Teardown and Stow
EVA A/L Restow
PiP AC Inverter Secure
NRAL Vestibule Outfitting Part 2
Friday, February 12 (GMT 043)

3DMM Node 3 Sample Collection, Antimicrobial Coatings Touch, ACE-T12 Module Configuration, GRIP science performance in supine position, LIDAL Light Ions Detector Relocate, Plant Water Management Hydroponics Operations, SCEM/FLARE, Solidification Using Baffles in Sealed Ampoules Sample Exchange

Node 3 Endcone Stowage Replace
IFM WHC urine hydraulic components R&R
THC OGS AAA flow measurement
JCAP and NanoRacks STEP installation for ISS Experience
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Three Dimensional Microbial Monitoring (3DMM) US LAB Sample Collection
Solidification Using Baffles in Sealed Ampoules OBT
Electrostatic Levitation Furnace(ELF) sample Holder Change including Debris Bag R&R
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Node 3 Port Aft Intermodule Ventilation (IMV) Install
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Node 3 Port Forward Intermodule Ventilation (IMV) Install
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Airlock Unstow
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Forward Intermodule Ventilation (IMV) Checkout
IWIS (Internal Wireless Instrumentation System) RSU (Remote Sensor Unit) swap
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Water Recovery System (WRS) Sample Analysis
Airlock PHA Dust Cap Tether Repair
EVA Pistol Grip Tool Swap
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows (WinSCAT) Test
Fluid System Servicer (FSS) Procedure Review
Galley Refrigerator/Freezer 2 Content Transfer
Story Time Book ‘Give Me Some Space’ Read
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Aft Intermodule Ventilation (IMV) Checkout
Countermeasures (CMS) Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation Stabilization (CEVIS) Ergometer Stow
EXPRESS Rack 11B Locker Removal
Fluid System Servicer (FSS) Gather
ISS HAM Service Module Pass Kenwood
Three Dimensional Microbial Monitoring (3DMM) Node 1 Sample Collection
Plant Water Management Battery Exchange
Plant Water Management – Soil Refill Ops
Plug-In Plan (PiP) AC Inverter Secure [Deferred]
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Waste and Hygeine Compartment (WHC) Urine Receptacle (UR) and Insert Filter (IF) Remove and Replace
Node 3 Port Intermodule Ventilation (IMV) Cap Removal
Pressure Management Device (PMD) Equipment Setup for NRAL Air Save
3DMM MELFI Sample Insertion
IFM EVA Battery Operations Terminal (EBOT) Task Review [Deferred]
Pressure Management Device (PMD) N3 Port MPEV open
EVA Battery Operations Terminal Procedure Review [Deferred]
EVA Battery Operations Terminal (EBOT) Hardware Preparation

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