Space Stations

NASA Space Station Update 20 April, 2022 – Station Crew Awaits Ax-1 Departure and Crew-4 Launch

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
April 21, 2022
Filed under , , , ,
NASA Space Station Update 20 April, 2022 – Station Crew Awaits Ax-1 Departure and Crew-4 Launch
Current ISS Configuration

The integrated NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams have agreed on a plan for the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew to undock from the International Space Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, for a splashdown off the coast of Florida about 1:46 p.m. Sunday, April 24.
The decision was made based on the best weather for splashdown of the first private astronaut mission to visit the International Space Station and the return trajectory required to bring the crew and the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft back to Earth safely.

NASA will provide live coverage of departure activities beginning at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, April 23, with hatch closure targeted for 6:30 p.m. Coverage will resume at 8:15 p.m. for the undocking. Teams will continue to monitor weather at the splashdown sites prior to undocking to ensure conditions are acceptable for a safe recovery of the Ax-1 astronauts and Dragon spacecraft.

NASA and Axiom mission planning prepared for the possibility of additional time on station for the private astronauts, and there are sufficient provisions for all 11 crew members aboard the space station. The Ax-1 crew continues to work through previously planned mission activities. The Ax-1 crew and Dragon spacecraft remain healthy.

The departure of Dragon Endeavour from the space station will clear the docking port for the arrival of Dragon Freedom and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts. The earliest potential launch opportunity for the Crew-4 mission is 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, with additional opportunities Wednesday, April 27, and Thursday, April 28. These launch opportunities are undergoing a more detailed program review to ensure they align with integrated operational timelines. The teams want to provide a two-day gap after Ax-1 return for data reviews from splashdown and to prepare for the Crew-4 launch, including the staging of recovery assets.

The Crew-4 astronauts spent last night at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida rehearsing the countdown to their launch inside the SpaceX Dragon Freedom, the company’s newest crew ship. Overnight, Crew-4 Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines with Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, put on their pressure suits and entered their vehicle conducting a successful dry dress rehearsal. The Falcon 9 rocket, with the Freedom perched atop, stands at Launch Complex 39A.

Expedition 67 crewmates Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, who are also the SpaceX Crew-3 commander and pilot respectively, spent a little time on Wednesday with their upcoming departure activities. The pair, along with Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA, will wait for the arrival of their Crew-4 replacements before returning to Earth a few days later inside the Dragon Endurance vehicle. The four astronauts had a light-duty day on Wednesday scheduling in some housecleaning tasks.

Over in the Russian segment of the station, cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev wrapped up their post-spacewalk activities today stowing their tools and discussing the excursion with specialists on the ground. The duo kicked off a series of spacewalks on April 18 to configure the European robotic arm for operations on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov started his day with electronics and communications maintenance before studying future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques in the afternoon.

On-Orbit Status Report

Private Astronaut Mission (PAM) Axiom-1 (Ax-1):

Commercial, Payload, and Imagery Activities: The Ax-1 crew continued payload operations including Earth Observation, AstroRad, and Snowcone. Mike LA captured recorded video of a commercial activity.

Ax-1 Undock Preparations: Due to the delayed undocking, the Ax-1 crew removed the Polars from the Ax-1 Dragon and re-installed the emergency equipment. Teams are still assessing weather and phasing for future undock opportunities.


European Physiology Module (EPM) Utility Interface Panel (UIP) Check: In preparation of installation of new vacuum, venting, and gaseous nitrogen (GN2) lines on EPM, accessibility of the pathways and connection points was verified. The EPM is designed to investigate the effects of short- and long-duration spaceflight on the human body and includes equipment for neuroscientific, cardiovascular, and physiological studies.

Hicari-2: The crew gained access to the Gradient Heating Furnace (GHF), removed the Hicari-2 sample from its sample cartridge, and prepared it for later return to the ground. The materials science investigation Growth of Homogeneous SiGe Crystals in Microgravity by the Travelling Liquidous Zone (TLZ) Method (Hicari-2) aims to verify the crystal-growth by the TLZ method and to produce high-quality crystals of Silicon-Germanium (SiGe) semiconductor using the JEM-GHF. Once this method is established, it is expected to be applied for developing more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.

Photocatalyst Filter Check (Ax-1/ISS): The Ax-1 crew checked that no items are blocking the intake fans of the Photocatalyst experiment hardware, which is set up in Node 3. Photocatalyst demonstrates the use of a photocatalyst device to clean the cabin air and remove odor caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The device converts VOCs into carbon dioxide and water. The device and a non-photocatalyst control device will operate for at least four weeks before returning to Earth for analysis of the photocatalyst device’s effectiveness.

Snowcone Troubleshooting (Ax-1): The experiment hardware was powered up and observed by the ground team while various commands were sent. Snowcone Cloud Edge Compute Demonstration (Snowcone Ax-1) demonstrates technology to screen private astronaut images and identify those that may contain sensitive information not for public release. The technology includes reduction of large-scale data and processing of data near the source, known as edge computing, capabilities integral to future space exploration.


Crew Quarters (CQ) Cleaning: In preparation for Crew-3 departure, the crew cleaned the intake and exhaust ducts, fans, and airflow sensors in the Deck Crew Quarters. Due to the large amounts of dust seen during previous CQ cleanings, the crew removed all relevant panels, temporarily stowed them, and then cleaned all areas at once.

Node 2 Moderate Temperature Loop (MTL) Adapter Cap: The crew inspected the Node 2 MTL Internal Thermal Control System (ITCS) sampling adapter luer-lock interface and surrounding area for any foreign object debris (FOD) or liberated ITCS fluid. After not finding any FOD or liberated ITCS fluid, the crew covered the luer-lock interface with a bag. The Node 2 MTL adapter cap was discovered to be missing in December during a sampling activity. Today’s installed cover will act as replacement cap to protect the luer connector from FOD.

Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) Urine Receptacle (UR) and Insert Filter (IF) Remove and Replace (R&R): Following their installation during yesterday’s R&R, the UR and IF were R&R’d again today due to unresponsiveness of the UR when being commanded. The crew initially conducted troubleshooting steps to attempt recovery of the UR; however, these steps were unsuccessful, and the R&R was performed. After a functionality test by the crew, WHC was declared fit for use again.

ESA Trash Pre-gather for Cygnus (NG-17) Disposal: The crew gathered ESA items designated as trash and stowed them in Columbus. These items will be transferred to NG-17 in a future activity. NG-17 is planned to remain at the space station until the end of May before it departs the ISS for an eventual destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Completed Task List Activities:

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

Camera Port 8 External HD Camera (EHDC) Zoom Troubleshooting
CQ Cleaning Support
Look Ahead Plan

Thursday, April 21 (GMT 111)

APM Status Check
CIMON Battery Stow
Food Physiology Diet Brief
HRF Centrifuge Check Out
MELFI Ice Brick Insert
Photocatalyst Filter Check (Ax-1/ISS)
POLAR Desiccant Swaps and Item Trash
Standard Measures Blood and Urine Collect
Vascular Aging Glucose Setup

Dragon Suit Checkout for Endurance Crew
Endurance Crew Pre-Departure Conference
Friday, April 22 (GMT 112)

AstroRad Vest Don
CAL Jumper Leak Check
MELFI Ice Brick Stow
Myotones Blood Collect and HW Stow
Photocatalyst Filter Check (Ax-1/ISS)
POLAR4 Desiccant Swap
Standard Measures Urine and Blood Collect
Touching Surfaces
Vascular Aging

Crew Dragon Departure CBT and Conference
Crew Dragon Deorbit Paper Sim
Saturday, April 23 (GMT 113)

AstroRad Vest
Photocatalyst Filter Check (Ax-1/ISS)
Standard Measures

Station Cleaning
Emergency Equipment Staging
Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

PAM Facilitator Time
GHF Hicari-2 Cartridges Removal and Separation
ESA Trash Pre-gather for NG-17 Disposal
Crew Departure Preparations for Return to Earth
Portable Computer System (PCS) Trackpoint Cap Replacement
EPM UIP Accessibility Check
EPM Facility Container Photo Audit
Oxygen Generation Assembly (OGA) Cargo Transfer Bag (CTB) Relocation
Node 2 MTL Adapter Cap
Crew Alternate Sleep Accommodation (CASA) Modification Questions
CQ Deck Cleaning
Collapsible Contingency Urinal (CCU) Crew conference

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.