Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 14 December, 2020 – Orbital Plumbing

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
December 15, 2020
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 14 December, 2020 – Orbital Plumbing
South Padre Island in Texas.

Cardiac research and orbital plumbing were the Monday highlights for the Expedition 64 crew aboard the International Space Station.
Flight Engineer Kate Rubins peered through a microscope at heart tissue samples today for the Cardinal Heart study. The microgravity study may provide new insights and advanced therapies for heart conditions on Earth and in space.

For the Vascular Echo experiment today, Flight Engineer Victor Glover strapped on a Doppler probe to his right leg to scan his femoral artery during a light exercise session. The cardiovascular study, running since March 2015 on the orbiting lab, is looking at how living in space stiffens the arteries.

A brand new, advanced toilet, delivered Oct. 5 on the 14th Cygnus resupply mission, is being installed on the space station today. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker put on their plumber caps today to assemble and install the Universal Waste Management System in the Tranquility module. The station’s second space bathroom was designed to be better integrated with water systems, as well as smaller, lighter, easier to use and more comfortable.

In the Russian segment of the station, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov focused on cargo transfers and inventory updates. The duo is packing the Progress 76 resupply ship with trash and discarded gear for its departure from the Pirs docking compartment in February.

Early Saturday morning, an unexplained power glitch resulted in a loss of power to some International Space Station systems that are operated by one of eight power channels for the complex (4B channel). The crew was never in any danger, and the affected systems were repowered in a short period of time by one of the other station’s power channels (4A).

As of Monday morning, all impacted station systems are operating normally while flight controllers in Mission Control review data to try to assess the cause of the problem and a forward plan of remedial action.

On-Orbit Status Report


AstroRad Vest: The crew completed a range-of-motion and test with and without the vest installed, and then completed a general survey. The AstroRad vest is a personal protective equipment (PPE) device which functions as a radiation shield for astronauts. The AstroRad shields astronauts from space-borne ionizing radiation in an efficient way, provides operational simplification, and allows for the use of recycled material on-board the vehicle. The concept behind the AstroRad evolved from a commercially available device, the 360 Gamma shield, which is an effective wearable shield for first responders to radiation incidents on the Earth.

Cardinal Heart: The original plan for today was to perform microscopy observations of the cells growing in the habitats. However, it took extra time for the crew to achieve a configuration which allowed good focus with the microscope. Due to this, the microscopy observations were deferred. Effect of Microgravity on Drug Responses Using Engineered Heart Tissues (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.

ISS Experience: The crew set up the ISS Experience hardware in preparation for an off-load of the data from the previous session. The International Space Station Experience (The ISS Experience) is a cinematic virtual reality (VR) series documenting life and research aboard the space station. Filmed over multiple months, the immersive VR series documents different crew activities – from science conducted aboard the station to preparation for a spacewalk. The ISS Experience uses a Z-CAM V1 Pro Cinematic Virtual Reality (VR) 360-degree camera with nine 190° fisheye lenses.

Micro-14A: The crew performed the operations needed to collect samples from the 12-well plate, and then inserted the samples into MELFI (Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS) for preservation. The Characterizing the Effects of Spaceflight on the Candida albicans Adaptation Response (Micro-14) investigation aboard the International Space Station (ISS) extends previous flight and ground-based studies on an opportunistic yeast, Candida albicans, to define mechanisms that lead to cellular adaptation responses to the spaceflight environment. As an opportunistic pathogen, C. albicans is capable of causing severe, life-threatening illness in immunocompromised hosts. This investigation seeks to evaluate the responses of the microorganism to microgravity conditions and, in particular, to assess changes at the physiological, cellular, and molecular level and to characterize virulence factors.

Phospho-Aging: The crew collected blood and urine samples in support of the Phospho-aging experiment, and inserted them into MELFI (Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS) for preservation. JAXA’s 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.

Universal Waste Management System (UWMS): The crew gathered the hardware and began assembling the toilet. Due to issues encountered with removing and installing seals on the toilet assembly, the crew was directed to stand down on activities while teams meet to discuss the issue and a forward plan. UWMS demonstrates the technology and long-term use of a compact toilet and the Urine Transfer System (UTS), which provides automated control of flow into the Urine Processor Assembly (UPA) or storage containers, which allow simultaneous use of both toilets. Automated offload of backup storage saves crew member time. The UWMS’s smaller footprint and improved technology support possible expansion of space station crew and future long-term, deep-space exploration.

Vascular Aging: The crew participated in a science session which included the use of the Bio-Monitor device to record several days of physiological data, and the collection of blood samples to assess glucose tolerance. 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 International Space Station (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.

Vascular Echo: The crew set up the appropriate hardware, marked the right leg femoral artery, and performed Doppler scans around an exercise session. Cardiac and Vessel Structure and Function with Long-Duration Space Flight and Recovery (Vascular Echo) examines changes in blood vessels, and the heart, while the crew members are in space, and then follow their recovery on return to Earth. The results could provide insight into potential countermeasures to help maintain crewmember health, and quality of life for everyone.


Critical Bus Loss: On Saturday 4B Channel experienced a critical bus loss. Ground controllers cross-tied Channel 4B to 4A and repowered DDCU S14B and DDCU S04B. Critical system loads were recovered including CMG 4, KU Band A/G 2 and AMS control computer. Teams are meeting to discuss the cause and a forward plan.

Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Water Sampling: The crew performed this routine activity to take fluid samples from the Lab, Node 2 (N2), Node 3 (N3) and Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). The samples will be returned to the ground for analysis.

Extravehicular Activity (EVA) AirLock (AL) Unstow: The crew unstowed items from the Airlock to clear space for this week’s planned Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU)s 3004 and 3015 loop scrub and Secondary Control Unit (SCU) R&R.

Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Pre-Treat Tank Remove & Replace (R&R): The crew R&Rd the WHC pre-treat tank. During closeout the EK hose was inspected for particulates. This activity is nominal, scheduled maintenance.

Completed Task List Activities:

Personal CO2 monitor charging
WHC KTO replace
US handover self study
RoBOT proficiency training
SSC25 hard drive swap
Search for RR habitat
Today’s Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

Payloads ops support
Dragon transfer ops support
Look Ahead Plan

Tuesday, 12/15 (GMT 350)

Bio-Monitor, Cardinal Heart, CIR manifold bottle exchange, Fiber Optic sample exchange, NREP, Repository, Standard Measures, UWMS, Vascular Aging

EVA loop scrub
WHC Urine Receptacle R&R
Wednesday, 12/16 (GMT 351)

Bio-Monitor, Cardinal Heart, Food Acceptability, Fiber Optic Production sample exchange, Myotones, Rodent research, Space Organogenesis, Standard Measures, T2 Augmented Reality, UWMS

EVA SCU pack
Dragon conference
Thursday, 12/17 (GMT 352)

Astrobee, Bio-Monitor remove, Cardinal Heart, Food Acceptability, ISS Experience, Micro-14A, Monoclonal Antibodies, MSRR/MSL SCA exchange, Myotones, Nanoracks Platform 2, Repository, Rodent Research, Standard Measures, UWMS, Vascular Aging

OBT Sidekick
EVA SCU activation/checkout
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

HRF Generic Urine Collection Female
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Phospho-Aging Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Setup And Frozen Blood Collection Subject
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Operator
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Configuration
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Spin Conclude
JPM THC b Water Separator Connector Cycle
Vascular Aging Bio-Monitor Big Picture Words Review
Phospho-Aging Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Bio-Monitor Hardware Setup
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Insertion
SSIPC Management Conference
HRF Generic Urine Collection Male
JPM THC b Water Separator Closeout
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Insertion Operations
EVA Clear Airlock
HRF Generic HRF Centrifuge Frozen Blood Collection Conclude And Stow
RS equipment Inventory
JAXA MT PCG Ice Brick Insertion.
LSG Primary Crew Restraint Unfold
LSG Work Volume Deploy
Cardinal Heart Microscopy Review
Toilet Hardware Gather
Microscope Reposition Preparation
Rodent Research Water Box and Light Check
Cardinal Heart Tissue Chamber Microscopy [Deferred]
Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Return to Ground Sampling Gathering
Columbus ITCS water sample using Columbus Coolant Fluid Servicer for Return to Ground
HRF Generic Frozen Blood Collection Hardware Setup
Internal Thermal Control System Lab Return to Ground Sampling
HRF Generic Urine Collection Male
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
EveryWear App Configuration
EVA Clear Airlock
Vascular Aging Oral Glucose Tolerance Test Review
Internal Thermal Control System Node 3 Return to Ground Sampling
Vascular Aging Glucose Test Setup
In Flight Maintenance (IFM) Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Pre-Treat Tank Remove & Replace
Microscope Reposition Post Ops
Vascular Aging FRIDGE Item Insertion
ASTRORAD Vest Range of Motion
Internal Thermal Control System Node 2 LTL Return to Ground Sampling
AstroRad Vest Doff
AstroRad Vest Survey 2
Internal Thermal Control System Node 2 MTL Return to Ground Sampling
HRF Generic Urine Collection Male
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations
Photo/TV Toilet Install Timelapse
Vascular Echo Leg Doppler PDOP Measurement Alternate
Internal Thermal Control System JEM Return to Ground Sampling
Toilet Assembly [Aborted]
Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) Return to Ground Sampling Stowage
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Respiratory Support Pack (RSP) – Checkout
Medical kit inventory
Bio-Monitor Wearables Setup
Health Maintenance System (HMS) Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Inspection
Waste and Hygiene Compartment Port Flush in preparation for Toilet
Treadmill Two Augmented Reality – Troubleshoot [Deferred]
Making a documentary about life onboard the ISS
Micro-14A BioCell Sample and Preservation
Toilet Connect to ISS with Waste & Hygiene Compartment Water to UMS Flush [Aborted]
Micro-14A MELFI Sample Insertion
Exercise data D/L
Station Support Computer (SSC) 25 Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Swap
Photo/TV Timelapse deactivation
Standard Measures Fecal Collection Setup
HRF Generic Saliva Collection Setup
Cardinal Heart Glacier Sample Removal
Astrobee Stowage Clear
HRF Generic Urine Collection Male
HRF Generic MELFI Sample Retrieval And Insertion Operations

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