Status Report

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 15 April 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
April 15, 2008
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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 15 April 2008

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Day 6 of joint E16/E17 operations by CDR-16 Peggy Whitson, FE-1-16 Yuri Malenchenko, FE-2-17 Garrett Reisman, CDR-17 Sergei Volkov, FE-1-17 Oleg Kononenko and SFP/VC14 So-Yeon Yi. Day 188 in space for Peggy & Yuri.

The crew’s work/sleep cycle again was adjusted slightly, from yesterday’s wakeup at 2:15am to 2:20am EDT (sleeptime tonight at 5:50pm). Tomorrow, work period will again be adjusted by 5 min (to 2:15am-5:45pm).

Aboard ISS, crew rotation/handover activities continued for all six residents involved. Whitson, Volkov, Malenchenko and Kononenko had several hours scheduled between them for dedicated (“functional”) CDR/CDR & FE/FE handover activities; in addition, there are “generic” handovers where crewmembers are scheduled together to complete various designated standard tasks.

From the US voluntary “job jar” task list, after wakeup and before breakfast, FE-2 Garrett Reisman & SFP (Space Flight Participant) So-Yeon Yi again downloaded the SLEEP (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight) experiment data from their Actiwatches to the HRF-1 (Human Research Facility 1) laptop.  Yi is participating for NASA under a Space Act agreement with South Korea.   [To monitor the crewmember’s sleep/wake patterns and light exposure, crewmembers wear a special Actiwatch device which measures the light levels encountered by them as well as their patterns of sleep and activity throughout the Expedition.  The log entries are done within 15 minutes of final awakening for seven consecutive days.]

Yuri Malenchenko finished Part 2 of his second stress test plus saliva and blood sampling of the ESA/Russian biomed experiment “IMMUNO”, today completing remaining urine sample collections and conducting close-out ops.  Specimens were stowed in a special urine containment bag in the KRIOGEM-3M refrigerator (blood samples were secured yesterday in the MELFI {Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS} in cold packs).   [IMMUNO is a 24-hr. test of human immune system changes, with the objective to investigate immune neuro-endocrine reactions in the space environment by studying samples of saliva, blood and urine using collection kits and the biomedical (MBI) protection kit.  Also included are entries in a fluid/medications intact log, and a stress-test questionnaire to be filled out by the subject at begin and end of the first day, based on the accompanying MO-3 stress test, performed during the subject’s physical exercise regimen.]

Following his concluding “IMMUNO” session, Malenchenko took air samples with the IPD-NH3 Draeger tubes sampler, testing for ammonia (NH3) in the SM (Service Module), i.e., checking for spilled urine.

After FE-2 Reisman prepared the auditory test equipment, he, CDR-17 Volkov & FE-17 Kononenko took the periodic O-OHA (on-orbit hearing assessment) test, a 30-min. NASA environmental health systems examination to assess the efficacy of acoustic countermeasures, using a special MEC laptop application.  It was the first session for the three crewmembers.    [The O-OHA audiography test involves minimum audibility measurements for each ear over a wide range of frequencies (0.25-10 kHz) and sound pressure levels, with the crewmembers using individual-specific Prophonics earphones, Bose ANC headsets and the SLM (sound level meter).  To conduct the testing, the experimenter is supported by special EarQ software on the MEC, featuring an up/down-arrow-operated slider for each test frequency that the crewmember moves to the lowest sound pressure level at which the tone can still be heard.  The baseline test is required not later than about Flight Day 14 for each new Expedition and is then generally performed once per month.  Note: There have been temporary hearing deficits documented on some U.S. and Russian crewmembers, all of which recovered to pre-mission levels.]

Malenchenko, Whitson & Yi spent three hours in the TMA-11 Descent Module (SA) to conduct the Soyuz descent drill, a standard training exercise for every crew returning on a Soyuz.  The exercise, which strictly forbids any command activation (except for switching the InPU display), was supported by a tagup and discussions with ground instructor at TsUP/Moscow via S-band.    [The session includes a review of the pertinent ODFs (operational data files), specifically the books on Soyuz Ascent & Descent Procedures, Emergency Descents, and Off-Nominal Situations, crew responsibilities when executing the flight program, visual crew recognition of SUS (Entry Control System) failures, spacesuit procedures, etc., with special emphasis on operations with the Neptune-ME cockpit console.  The training uses a Descent Simulator application on the RSK1 laptop.  During the actual descent, Malenchenko, as Soyuz CDR, will occupy the middle couch, with Yi in the right seat and Whitson in the Descent Module’s left Kazbek couch.  Pending the final State Commission decision at about 3.5h before undocking, 15S return is expected for 4/19 (next Saturday), with undocking at 1:03:30am EDT and landing about 82 km from Arkalyk/Kazakhstan at ~4:30am (2:30pm Kazakhstan time).  See below for details.]

In preparation for an upcoming software reload, the CDR plugged a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) into an A31p SSC (Station Support Computer) laptop for recharging its battery.

CDR-17 Volkov set up for his first biweekly NOA/Nitric Oxide Analyzer (MBI-21) session and undertook the procedure, later filling in the electronic log book on the RSE1 laptop, downlinking images to TsUP via OCA, copying photos to the RSK1 laptop hard drive for return, and restowed the hardware.   [Purpose of the ESA experiment ESANO1, last performed by Oleg Kotov, consisting of the “Platon” analyzer and its power supply, is to monitor expired nitric oxide (NO) in the subject’s exhaled air to detect signs of airway inflammation and indications of venous gas emboli (bubbles) that may be caused by inhalation of pollutants in the closed environment of the ISS cabin and increased risk of decompression sickness.]

Volkov also continued his work with the Russian KPT-2 science payload BAR-RM, Kelvin, Ira and TTM-2, begun yesterday, today terminating Kelvin charging and initiating TTM-2 charging, later terminating it.    [BAR-RM is designed to develop a procedure for detection of air leakage from ISS modules based on environmental data anomalies (temperature, humidity, ultrasound emissions).  The payload uses a remote infrared thermometer (Kelvin-Video), a thermohygrometer (Iva-6A), a heat-loss anemometer/thermometer (TTM-2), an ultrasound analyzer (AU-01), and a leak detector (UT2-03) to determine physical background signs of loss of ISS pressure integrity which could be indicative of leaks in the working compartments of the station.  Measurements are taken in specific zones (13 in SM PkhO and 4 in DC1), both with lights & fans turned on and off. The BAR instruments’ batteries need to be recharged every two months to keep them at their peak performance.]

Garrett Reisman completed a 30-min. Robotics OBT (Onboard Training) session to “brush up” on a number of basic maneuvers for the SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System) required during his tenure on Increment 17. [The review included such tasks as unloading the arm, grappling & ungrappling an MPLM (Multi-Purpose Logistics Module), single-joint maneuvering to EVA pickup, maneuvering to an S0 truss location, and performing an emergency EVA dropoff at the Airlock.]

Malenchenko, with Volkov observing, spent some time on the GANK-4M real-time Harmful Contaminant Gas Analyzer of the Service Module (SM) pressure control & atmospheric monitoring system (SOGS), adjusting a measurement coefficient (“Coefficient B”) and taking atmospheric readings.

Yuri & Sergei also performed a health check on a the FPP ST-64 electronic interference filter, designed to protect the ATV from electromagnetic interference (EMI), by connecting it to the MMTs-01 Multimeter and testing for resistance, i.e., electric continuity.

In the Lab, Garrett Reisman continued his support of the CSLM-2 (Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures 2) experiment in the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) facility in preparation for experiment operations scheduled tomorrow. [Evacuation activities consisted in closing vacuum vent valves, checking for acceptable humidity levels, and opening the SPU (Sample Processing Unit) water valve to initiate unattended vacuum prep, followed later by closing the SPU water valve, checking again for humidity levels in the sample chamber, and opening the vent valve and vacuum valve to initiate a vacuum draw on the sample chamber. The steps were later repeated for another SPU. CSLM-2 examines the kinetics of competitive particle growth within a liquid matrix.  During this process, small particles shrink by losing atoms to larger particles, causing the larger particles to grow (coarsen) within a liquid lead/tin matrix.  This study defined the mechanisms and rates of coarsening that govern the manufacture with metals from turbine blades to dental amalgam fillings.]

Peggy Whitson completed the T+2 in-flight microbiology analysis of water samples collected in the ATV “Jules Verne” in MCDs (Microbial Capture Devices) on 4/13, while Garrett Reisman (as functional handover) performed the T+2 analysis on the samples collected by him in the SM. The analysis, which also uses coliform detection bags, involves visual inspection for colony growth and data recording.    [The water samples were taken from the ATV water tank and the SM SRV-K (Condensate Water Processor) Hot and Warm water taps.  Some of the samples taken on 4/13 will return on Flight 1J for ground analysis.]

Reisman also conducted the periodic (every two weeks) inspection of the RED (Resistive Exercise Device) canister bolts for re-tightening if required, followed by the monthly inspection of canister cords and RED accessories.

The two new Inc17 crewmembers, Sergei & Oleg, continued their familiarization overview of the onboard exercise equipment, today focusing on the anaerobic RED device.

Besides their extensive handover activities with Peggy and Yuri, the two “newcomers” Sergei & Oleg assisted SFP Yi in conducting her KAP (Korean Astronaut Program) science experiments, particularly in taking photo/video imagery of the VC14 activities where required.

So-Yeon Yi’s busy schedule today included work on –

  • KAP01/Growth &mutation of plant seeds (monitoring, photography, filling out questionnaire),
  • KAP02/Identification of fruit fly genes responsive to gravity and responsible for aging (monitoring, video recording, later stowing),
  • KAP04/SFP medical monitoring (Holter cardiac recording equipment, experiment termination & closeout);
  • KAP06/Study of the possibility of using traditional Korean food in onboard food rations (testing during crew Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, with video coverage),
  • KAP07/Growth of Zeolite crystals, super crystals, and crystal layers in microgravity (equipment transfer, assembly, setup in SM, removing samples G.H.I, from oven & conducting closeout ops),
  • KAP08/Synthesis of metal-organic porous materials in microgravity (oven temperature check),
  • KAP09/High-resolution telescope (ELT) and study of micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) for next generation telescopes (equipment deactivation, video recording, filling out questionnaire, remounting and activating equipment at window, questionnaire),
  • KAP14/Educational experiment; demo of Surface Tension in zero-G),
  • KAP15/Recording scenes of daily life & activities of the SFP, using Samsung Gx-10 and Samsung NV11 cameras. (Footage to be downlinked on 4/17).

So-Yeon also had one regular daily tagup with her consultant team at TsUP-Moscow via VHF-1 (~10:35am EDT) and her third telephone interview with a Korean radio station (~4:20am).

Working off the voluntary Russian task list, So-Yeon was to transfer imagery and other data before sleeptime tonight from flash card to her RSK2 laptop HDD (Hard Disk Drive) for return to the ground.

With the temporary increase in crew size from three to six placing more emphasis on ventilation, CDR-17 Volkov conducted the currently daily check of the function of the important IP-1 airflow sensors in the various Russian segment (RS) hatchways. [The inspection includes the passageways PrK (SM Transfer Compartment)-ATV, PrK-RO (SM Working Compartment), PkhO (SM Transfer Tunnel)-RO, PkhO-DC1, PkhO-FGB PGO, FGB PGO-FGB GA, FGB GA-Node-1.]

Kononenko conducted the routine maintenance of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM, including ASU toilet facilities systems/replaceables.

Volkov completed the daily IMS (Inventory Management System) maintenance, updating/editing its standard “delta file” including stowage locations, for the regular weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur).

At ~5:30pm, shortly before sleep time, Oleg is scheduled to set up the Russian MBI-12 SONOKARD (Sonocard) payload and started his first experiment session, using a sports shirt from the SONOKARD kit with a special device in the pocket for testing a new method for acquiring physiological data without using direct contact on the skin.  Measurements are recorded on a data card for return to Earth.   [SONOKARD objectives are stated to (1) study the feasibility of obtaining the maximum of data through computer processing of records obtained overnight, (2) systematically record the crewmember’s physiological functions during sleep, (3) study the feasibility of obtaining real-time crew health data.  Investigators believe that contactless acquisition of cardiorespiratory data over the night period could serve as a basis for developing efficient criteria for evaluating and predicting adaptive capability of human body in long-duration space flight.]

Working off the Russian discretionary “time permitting” task list, Malenchenko performed the regular daily checkup on the Japanese experiment GCF-JAXA (Granada Crystallization Facility) in the Russian TBU incubator, maintained at +20 degC, including a temperature check on its ART (automatic temperature recorder).

At 11:00am EDT, all crewmembers, including SFP So-Yeon Yi, gathered in the US segment for the “traditional” live televised SFP/Joint Crew News conference, with US media at NASA Centers (~15 min.) and Russian/Korean media at TsUP-Moscow (~15 min.).

At ~1:25pm, Peggy Whitson & Garrett Reisman engaged in two PAO TV interviews with US clients,- SPACE.COM (Tariq Malik) and Houston Chronicle (Mark Carreau).

Whitson & Malenchenko underwent another standard pre-descent PMC (Private Medical Conference) via S- & Ku-band audio/video.

At ~2:15pm, Reisman set up and activated the VDS MPC (Video Distribution System/Multi-Purpose Converter) with its four downlinks to allow the ground to “pull down” accumulated HDTV (high-definition TV) footage of onboard activities.  Later (~3:20pm), the MPC will be powered off again.

The periodic US segment hatch seal inspection was added to the discretionary “job jar” task list for the FE-2.

The crewmembers completed their regular 2.5-hr. physical workout program (about half of which is used for setup & post-exercise personal hygiene) on the CEVIS cycle ergometer (CDR, FE-2), TVIS treadmill (CDR, FE-1/fulltime), and RED resistive exercise device (FE-2). Volkov & Kononenko also performed their first physical exercise session on ISS, Sergei on the Russian VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer, Oleg on the RED.

Afterwards, Peggy & Sergei downloaded the crew’s exercise data file to the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) for downlink, as well as the daily wristband HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) data of the workouts on RED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).

Handover Background: Handover activities between E16 & E17 crewmembers are designed to cover a large variety of onboard systems & operations, including Safety, Communications, Video & Audio, Life Support (SOZh), US Segment, TORU/Teleoperator Control, EVA Tools, ATV Status, Science Hardware, Medical Equipment, Iridium-9505A phone, CISN (Crew Informational Support System), BVS/Onboard Computer System, etc. FE-1 Malenchenko has 13:15 hrs scheduled for equipment preparation for return & disposal stowage on Soyuz 15S, with 3 hrs of assistance by Sergei Volkov.

What will the Soyuz TMA-11 crew experience during their reentry/descent?
For the reentry, Malenchenko, Whitson and Yi will be wearing the Russian Kentavr anti-G suit.   [The Kentavr garment is a protective anti-g suit ensemble to facilitate the return of a long-duration crewmember into the Earth gravity.  Consisting of shorts, gaiters, underpants, jersey and socks, it acts as countermeasure for circulatory disturbance, prevents crewmember from overloading during descent and increases orthostatic tolerance during post-flight adaptation.  Russian crewmembers are also advised to ingest fluid-electrolyte additives, viz., three sodium chloride tablets during breakfast and after the midday meal, each time with 300 ml of fluid, and two pills during the meal aboard Soyuz before deorbit.]

Before descent:
Special attention will be paid to the need for careful donning of the medical belt with sensors and securing tight contact between sensors and body.

During preparation for descent, before atmosphere reentry, crewmembers settle down comfortably in the Kazbek couches, fasten the belts, securing tight contact between body and the seat liner in the couch.

During de-orbit:
Dust particles starting to sink in the Descent Module (SA) cabin is the first indication of atmosphere reentry and beginning of G-load effect.  From that time on, special attention is required as the loads increase rapidly.

Under G-load effect during atmosphere reentry the crew expects the following experience:
Sensation of G-load pressure on the body, burden in the body, labored breathing and speech. These are normal sensations, and the advice is to "take them coolly".  In case of the feeling of a lump in the throat, this is no cause to "be nervous".  This is frequent and should not be fought.  Best is to "try not to swallow and talk at this moment".  Crew should check vision and, if any disturbances occur, create additional tension of abdominal pressure and leg muscles (strain abdomen by pulling in), in addition to the Kentavr anti-G suit.

During deployment of pilot parachute (0.62 & 4.5 square meters), drogue chute (16 sq.m.) and main (518 sq.m.) chutes the impact accelerations will be perceived as a "strong snatch".  No reason to become concerned about this but one should be prepared that during the parachutes deployment and change ("rehook") of prime parachute to symmetrical suspension, swinging and spinning motion of the SA occurs, which involves vestibular (middle ear) irritations.

It is important to tighten restrain system to fasten pelvis and pectoral arch.
Vestibular irritation can occur in the form of different referred sensations such as vertigo, hyperhidrosis, postural illusions, general discomfort and nausea.  To prevent vestibular irritation the crew should "limit head movement and eyes movement", as well as fix their sight on motionless objects.

Just before the landing (softened by six small rocket engines behind the heat shield):
Crew will be prepared for the vehicle impact with the ground, with their bodies fixed along the surface of the seat liner in advance.  "Special attention should be paid to arm fixation to avoid the elbow and hand squat" (instruction). Landing speed: ~9.9 m/sec.

After landing:
Crew should not get up quickly from their seats to leave the SA.  They were advised to stay in the couch for several minutes and only then stand up.  In doing that, they should limit head and eyes movement and avoid excessive motions, proceeding slowly.  They and their body should not take up earth gravity in the upright position too quickly.

CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Lake Nasser, Toshka Lakes, Egypt (images of shoreline change along Lake Nasser as well as around the Toshka Lakes were requested. Dark lake water stands out well against the light desert background. Lake levels have been dropping for two years after rising for several years. The Toshka lakes in southern Egypt were developed in order to draw farming populations from the overpopulated Nile Delta in the north. Falling water levels are thus a worrying sign for the project), Charlevoix Impact Crater, Quebec (this ancient crater [345 million years old] has been heavily affected by the evolution of the St. Lawrence Gulf, and then by repeated glaciations in the last 3 million years, so that only half the crater appears. With a diameter of 54 km, it is a comparatively large feature and easy to locate on the north bank of the Gulf. [The crater is heavily built up and farmed so that the ring itself is less easy to detect although the topographic image shows the morphology well.]), and Slate Islands Impact Crater, Lake Superior (this 30-km-diameter crater is 450 million years old. It is one of the easiest to detect from low earth orbit, because it makes up a circular set of islands near the north shore of Lake Superior).

CEO photography can be studied at this “Gateway” website:  (as of 3/1/08, this database contained 757,605 views of the Earth from space, with 314,000 from the ISS alone).

ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 1:29am EDT [= epoch]):
Mean altitude — 337.5 km
Apogee height — 338.4 km
Perigee height — 336.7 km
Period — 91.28 min.
Inclination (to Equator) — 51.64 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0001259
Solar Beta Angle — -24.8 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.77
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours — 180 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 53859

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible.):
04/19/08 — Soyuz TMA-11/15S undocking (FGB nadir port, 1:03:30am EDT)
04/19/08 — Soyuz TMA-11/15S landing (4:30am EDT, 11:30am Moscow/DMT, 2:30pm Kazakhstan)
05/07/08 — Soyuz TMA-12/16S relocation (from DC1 to FGB nadir port)
05/14/08 — Progress M-64/29P launch
05/16/08 — Progress M-64/29P docking (DC1)
05/31/08 — STS-124/Discovery/1J launch – JEM PM “Kibo”, racks, RMS (5:01pm EDT)
06/02/08 — STS-124/Discovery/1J docking
07/10/08 — Russian EVA-20 (7/10-11)
08/07/08 — ATV1 undocking
08/12/08 — Progress M-65/30P launch
08/14/08 — Progress M-65/30P docking (SM aft port)
08/28/08 — STS-125/Atlantis Hubble Space Telescope Service Mission 4 (SM4)
09/09/08 — Progress M-64/29P undocking (from DC1)
09/10/08 — Progress M-66/31P launch
09/12/08 — Progress M-66/31P docking (DC1)
10/01/08 — NASA 50 Years
10/11/08 — Progress M-65/30P undocking (from SM aft port)
10/12/08 — Soyuz TMA-13/17S launch
10/14/08 — Soyuz TMA-13/17S docking (SM aft port)
10/16/08 — STS-126/Discovery/ULF2 launch – MPLM Leonardo, LMC
10/18/08 — STS-126/Discovery/ULF2 docking
10/23/08 — Soyuz TMA-12/16S undocking (FGB nadir)
11/03/08 — Soyuz TMA-13/17S relocation (from SM aft to FGB nadir)
11/20/08 — ISS 10 Years
11/26/08 — Progress M-67/32P launch
11/28/08 — Progress M-67/32P docking (SM aft port)
12/04/08 — STS-119/Discovery/15A launch – S6 truss segment
12/06/08 — STS-119/Discovery/15A docking
12/15/08 — STS-119/Discovery/15A undocking
04/23/09 — STS-127/2J/A launch – JEM EF, ELM-ES, ICC-VLD
07/16/09 — STS-128/17A/Atlantis – MPLM(P), last crew rotation
05/??/09 — Six-person crew on ISS (following Soyuz 18S-2 docking)
09/03/09 — STS-129/ULF3/Discovery – ELC1, ELC2
10/22/09 — STS-130/20A/Endeavour – Node-3 + Cupola
01/21/10 — STS-131/19A/Atlantis – MPLM(P)
03/18/10 — STS-132/ULF4/Discovery – ICC-VLD, MRM1 (contingency)
04/29/10 — STS-133/ULF5/Endeavour – ELC3, ELC4 (contingency).

SpaceRef staff editor.