Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 June, 2021 – New Science Research

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
June 11, 2021
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 June, 2021 – New Science Research
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 9 June, 2021 - New Science Research.

Kidney cells, oral health and pharmaceuticals were the science highlights aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday.
The Expedition 65 crew is also continuing to ramp up for a pair of spacewalks set to begin next week.

New experiments delivered Saturday aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon resupply ship are already under way on the orbiting lab. This includes the Kidney Cells-02 study that NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei took turns working on today.

The duo removed the kidney study’s hardware from the Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory for placement and operations inside the Life Science Glovebox. The biotechnology experiment may provide a new understanding of how kidney diseases develop leading to new treatments impacting humans on and off the Earth.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet collaborated on the new Oral Biofilms study during Wednesday morning. Hoshide started the experiment retrieving sample packs from a science freezer and reconfiguring fluid flows to the samples. Pesquet followed that up by turning off the fluid flows and stowing the samples back in a science freezer. The experiment observes how bacteria is affected by microgravity and investigates ways to counteract any potential harmful changes. Results could also have a positive influence for maintaining oral health in space and on Earth.

Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough spent the morning setting up gear in the Microgravity Science Glovebox to explore freeze-drying as a way to preserve medicines for long periods of time. The experiment, known as Lyophilization-2, could benefit pharmaceutical and other industries on Earth.

Kimbrough and Pesquet later joined each other during the afternoon for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground. The duo is scheduled for two spacewalks taking place on June 16 and 20 to install a new pair of solar arrays on the station’s Port-6 truss segment.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed focused on their contingent of Russian maintenance and research today. Novitskiy worked on orbital plumbing tasks before setting up hardware to observe Earth’s nighttime airglow in the near ultra-violet wavelength. Dubrov checked on smoke detectors and ventilation systems then moved on to more space exercise research.

On-Orbit Status Report


AC Touch: Per standard procedure, the crew touched both the coated and uncoated coupons for this long-term investigation. Boeing Environment Responding Antimicrobial Coatings tests an antimicrobial coating on several different materials that represent high-touch surfaces. Some microbes change characteristics in microgravity, which could create new risks to crew health and spacecraft systems as well as creating the possibility of contaminating other planetary bodies. The samples remain in space approximately six months then return to Earth for analysis.

BRIC-24: The crew performed actuations on a total of eight BRIC-24 Canisters and took photos of the activated canisters. Biological Research In Canisters-24 (BRIC-24) tests how space affects organelle contacts and vacuole fusion in plants, systems that may be important for plant gravity sensing and response. Vacuoles are organelles in plant cells that have important functions. This investigation grows two genotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana (aka Thale Cress) with fluorescent markers for direct imaging of the organelles back on Earth.

Kidney Cells-02: The crew set up the appropriate items in the Life Science Glovebox (LSG) and performed the Kidney Cells-02 media exchanges. Effects of Microgravity on the Structure and Function of Proximal and Distal Tubule MPS (Kidney Cells-02) uses a 3D kidney cell model or chip to study the effects of microgravity on formation of microcrystals in kidney tubules. In microgravity, these microcrystals are expected to remain evenly suspended, allowing better observation of their effects. Astronauts living in microgravity can experience dehydration, stasis, and bone demineralization, all frequent contributors to kidney stones. Results could support design of better treatments for conditions such as kidney stones and osteoporosis for astronauts and people on Earth.

Lyophillization-2: The crew was planned to review the procedure, set up the experiment hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG), and then install 2 sample trays into the sample chamber. Unfortunately, when the Vacuum Exhaust System was opened, a potential leak in the system was identified. The sample trays were placed back in cold stowage and the ground is discussing a forward plan. Lyophilization-2 in Microgravity (Lyophilization-2) examines gravity’s effects on freeze-dried materials. Lyophilization, or freeze-drying, is a common method for formulating pharmaceuticals with improved chemical and physical stability. On Earth, the process leads to formation of layers with structural differences, but if such stratification is due to gravity, it may not occur in microgravity. This investigation, which follows up on previous work, could result in improved freeze-drying processes for the pharmaceutical and other industries.

Oral Biofilms: The crew continued the Oral Biofilms investigation session which began on Monday of this week, introducing either oral care bioactives or fixatives by reconfiguring flow through the Fluid Chambers in the Oral Biofilms Session Packs. Due to bag connection issues, only 2 of the original 4 Session Packs remain for this experiment session. Effect of Environmental Stressors on Oral Biofilm Growth and Treatment (Oral Biofilms in Space) studies the effect of gravity on the behavior of oral bacteria, including the structure of the bacterial community, and changes in bacterial response to common oral care agents. The findings could support development of novel treatments to fight oral diseases such as caries, gingivitis, and periodontitis. The investigation also could provide insights into how microgravity affects the microbiome of other mucosal surfaces in the body.

Phospho-aging: The crew collected urine samples in support of JAXA’s Phospho-Aging investigation. Phospho-aging Mechanism of Accelerated Aging Under Microgravity (Phospho-aging) examines the molecular mechanism behind aging-like symptoms, such as bone loss and muscle atrophy, that occur more rapidly in microgravity. Using analysis of human premature-aging syndromes (progeria) in mouse models, scientists identified calciprotein particles (CPPs) as a pro-aging factor in mammals. CPPs behave like a pathogen, inducing chronic inflammation and systemic tissue damage that could be the mechanism behind accelerated aging in space.

Repository: The crew performed urine sample collections in support of the Repository investigation. Repository supports scientific discovery that contributes to our fundamental knowledge in the area of human physiological changes and adaptation to a microgravity environment and provides unique opportunities to study longitudinal changes in human physiology spanning many missions.

TICTOC: As a continuation of the experiment which started this past weekend, the crew set up the appropriate hardware and took photos of the 12 plant growth chambers. The ground teams will use the images to evaluate the status of the growing plants. Target, the retail store, is funding the investigation Targeting Improved Cotton Through On-orbit Cultivation (TICTOC) that studies how root system architecture affects plant resilience to stress, water-use efficiency, and carbon sequestration during the critical phase of seedling establishment. Roots play a central role in plant stress resistance and survival, but their growth patterns depend upon gravity. This investigation examines how environmental factors and genes control development of roots in the absence of gravity.


Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparations: The crew performed EVA activities for the upcoming P6 IROSA 2B EVA on Wednesday, June 16. They performed an EVA procedure review as well as an EVA Conference with teams on the ground.

Dragon Cargo Transfer: Today, the crew performed SpX-22 cargo transfer operations and will continue to work cargo operations throughout the week. There are 4 hours of available cargo ops remaining.

Exercise Equipment Status: At this time T2 is No-Go for exercise due to snubber misalignments that were observed during today’s monthly maintenance activity. On May 25th, engineering teams noticed a recent imbalance in the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) cable pulleys. ARED exercise has been limited to under 60lbs for cable exercises while bar exercises remain nominal. The crew performed preliminary inspections today and corrective steps will be provided prior to removing the load limits.

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.

Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain/Fill: Today the crew set up the recycle tank to drain to a ???-?. Following the setup the ground performed the tank drain using the Urine Transfer System (UTS). Once the ground specialists completed the transfer, the crew verified the recycle tank was empty, terminated the drain, and repositioned the fill/drain valve to fill.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Reconfigure Airlock post METOX Regeneration heating cycle
Metal Oxide (METOX) Regeneration Termination
Dragon Weekly Quiescent mode vehicle checkout
Look Ahead Plan:

Thursday, June 10 (GMT 161)

AC Touch, Bioculture system install, NRCSD-20, Food Acceptability, HRF blood/urine collection (repository), HRF supply inventory, Lyophillization-2, Phospho-aging, RTPCG-2, TICTOC, TIME Perception

OBT EVA Robotics Onboard Trainer (ROBoT) Session
Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Node 3 Gas Trap Plug Replace
Deck Crew Quarters Exhaust Airflow Sensor Remove and Replace
SSRMS Maneuver to extract IPA from Dragon Trunk
Friday, June 11 (GMT 162)

Food Acceptability, FSL/Board exchange, FSL/Soft Matter Dynamics, GLACIER logistics, Iceberg-2 desiccant swap, Kidney Cells-02, Lyophillization-2, ManD print remove, Molecular Muscle Experiment-2, NanoRacks Module 93 photo, TICTOC harvest

Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Recycle Tank Drain
Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Node 3 Return to Ground Sampling
Dragon Cargo Transfer
SSRMS Walkoff to MBS4
Saturday, June 12 (GMT 163)

BPA housekeeping, TICTOC closeout

Crew off-duty day
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Antimicrobial Coatings Touch
Actiwatch Plus HRF Rack 1 Setup & Stow
Biological Research In Canisters First & Second Actuations
Biological Research In Canisters Second Actuation
Biological Research In Canisters Transfer to BRIC-LED Facility
Biological Research in Canisters MELFI Sample Insertion.
Countermeasures System (CMS) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Pulley Inspection
Countermeasures System (CMS) Treadmill 2 System (T2) Monthly Inspection
Environmental Health System (EHS) Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) Sample Analysis & Data Record
Metal Oxide (METOX) Regeneration Termination
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Procedure Review & Conference
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
JLP Payload Gather
Kidney Cells Post-Media Change Ops
Kidney Cells Media Change
Kidney Cells-02 MELFI Sample Insertion/Retrieve
LSG Primary Crew Restraint Fold/Unfold
LSG Work Volume Stow
Lyophilization Hardware Setup
Lyophilization MELFI Sample Retrieve
Lyophilization Procedure Review
Lyophilization Sample Tray Installation
Microgravity Science Glovebox Activation
ISS Portable Glove Bag (IPGB) Setup
Oral Biofilms In Space (OBiS) Fluid Chamber Removal
Oral Biofilms In Space (OBiS) Flow Reconfiguration
Oral Biofilms In Space (OBiS) MELFI OBiS Biofilms Session Pack Insertion
Oral Biofilms In Space (OBiS) MERLIN OBiS Assemblies Insertion
Oral Biofilms In Space (OBiS) MERLIN OBiS Assemblies Removal
Oral Biofilms In Space (OBiS) Maintenance Work Area Preparation
Phospho-Aging Generic MELFI Sample Insertion Operations
Phospho-Aging Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Public Affairs Office (PAO) Event in High Definition (HD) in Columbus
Manual Fluid Transfer from EDV to Resupply Tank Using the Brine Transfer Hose (6 ft)
Manual Fluid Transfer from EDV to Resupply Tank (EDV Swap)
Manual Fluid Transfer from EDV to Resupply Tank Terminate and Teardown
TICTOC MWA Preparation
TICTOC Science Photography
Dragon Cargo Transfer

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