Status Report

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 20 March 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
March 20, 2009
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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 20 March 2009

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Flight Day 6 (FD6) of STS-119/15A. ISS crew work cycle today: Wake 7:45am EDT; sleep 11:15pm (until 7:45am tomorrow morning).

Mission 15A’s EVA-1 was completed successfully last night by Steve Swanson & Rick Arnold in 6h 07min, accomplishing all its objectives plus one get-ahead.

Today, S6 Solar Array Wings 1B & 3B were deployed nominally (1B at ~11:55am, 3B at ~1:20pm). Each SAW consists of two photovoltaic blankets, each made up of 31.5 individual segments (“bays”). The two wings together add 21-30 kilowatts of usable power to the station, one quarter of the station’s full power supply.

During yesterday’s the spacewalk, Swanson (EV1) & Arnold (EV2) –

  • Attached the S6 truss element to the S5 element at the end of the starboard-side truss (with SSRMS);
  • Engaged capture latch, tightened four bolts & installed four S6 grounding straps to S5;
  • Connected four S5-to-S6 umbilicals for power and data flow;
  • Released restraints of the SABB (Solar Array Blanket Box) containing the solar arrays blankets;
  • Unstowed the SABB;
  • Released S6 PVR (Photovoltaic Radiator) cinch/winch & removing keel pin;
  • Released S6 BGA (Beta Gimbal Assembly) [on the BGA 3B 4-bar mechanism, one of four latches did not engage; this is a structurally acceptable configuration which has occurred before on P6];
  • Removed & jettisoned ECU/SSU MLI (Electronic Control Unit/Sequential Shunt Unit Multi-Layered Insulation) covers; and
  • Completed the get-ahead task of releasing the S6 IEA MMOD (Integrated Equipment Assembly Micrometeoroid/Orbital Debris) shield bolts.

Official start time of the spacewalk was 1:16pm EDT, and it ended at 7:23pm. Total EVA duration (PET = Phase Elapsed Time) was 6h 07min. It was the 121st spacewalk for ISS assembly & maintenance and the 93rd from the station (67 from Quest, 26 from Pirs, plus 28 from Shuttle) totaling 573h 40min. After yesterday’s EVA, a total of 163 spacewalkers (125 NASA astronauts, 27 Russians, and 11 astronauts representing Japan-1, Canada-4, France-1, Germany-2 and Sweden-3) have logged 762h 02min outside the station on building, outfitting & servicing. It was the 141st spacewalk involving U.S. astronauts.

Last night, after S6 installation ground controllers partially deployed the SAWs (Solar Array Wings) to Mast Bay 1 to allow for thermal conditioning prior to today’s full deployment.

Before breakfast, CDR Fincke continued his session with the biomed experiment INTEGRATED IMMUNE (Validating Procedures for Monitoring Crew member Immune Function), collecting a liquid saliva sample. [IMMUNE protocol requires the collection to occur first thing post-sleep, before eating, drinking and brushing teeth, and all samples are stored at ambient temperature. Along with NUTRITION (Nutritional Status Assessment), INTEGRATED IMMUNE samples & analyzes participant’s blood, urine, and saliva before, during and after flight for changes related to functions like bone metabolism, oxidative damage and immune function to develop and validate an immune monitoring strategy consistent with operational flight requirements and constraints. The strategy uses both long and short duration crewmembers as study subjects. The saliva is collected in two forms, dry and liquid. The dry samples are collected at intervals during the collection day using a specialized book that contains filter paper. The liquid saliva collections require that the crewmember soak a piece of cotton inside their mouth and place it in a salivette bag; there are four of the liquid collections during docked operations.]

Also before breakfast & first exercise, Mike Fincke and Yuri Lonchakov completed another 10-min session with the Russian crew health monitoring program’s medical assessment MO-9/Biochemical Urinalysis. Afterwards, the FE-1 closed out and stowed the Urolux hardware. [MO-9 is conducted every 30 days (and also before and after EVAs) and is one of five nominal Russian medical tests adopted by NASA for U.S. crewmembers for IMG PHS (Integrated Medical Group/Periodic Health Status) evaluation as part of the "PHS/Without Blood Labs" exam. The analysis uses the sophisticated in-vitro diagnostic apparatus Urolux developed originally for the Mir program. Afterwards, the data are entered in the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer)’s special IFEP software (In-Flight Examination Program).]

Additionally, Mike & Yuri took the 15-min test with the periodic Russian MedOps assessment "Hematokrit" (MO-10), which measures the red cell count of the blood, both assisting reach other as CMO (Crew Medical Officer, Russian: “Examiner”). It was the second session for Fincke & Lonchakov. [The blood samples were drawn from a finger with a perforator lancet, then centrifuged in two microcapillary tubes in the M-1100 kit’s minicentrifuge, and its hematocrit value was read off the tubes with a magnifying glass. It is a well-known phenomenon of space flight that red blood cell count (normal range: 30-45%) tends to go down over time. After the exam, the data were saved in the IFEP software (In-Flight Examination Program) on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer), and Lonchakov stowed the equipment.]

The FE-1 reconfigured the air ventilation duct in the Progress M-66/32P and took documentary photography of its installation and the BlA Assembly Block.

FE-2-18 Wakata closed the shutters of the JPM (JEM Pressurized Module) science window to protect against thruster firing effluents during the ISS maneuvers for today’s SAW 1B & 3B deployments.

During the SAW deployments, Yuri Lonchakov monitored the electric potential outside the RS (Russian Segment) of the station by conducting the “Sond” experiment, using the external Langmuir Probe for taking electric field measurements. [The Langmuir Probe had been installed during EVA-21 on 12/22/08 on the outside of the DC1 Docking Compartment as part of the GFI-11/OBSTANOVKA (Environment) equipment in the DC1. Field voltage measurements (mV) have since been taken manually by Yuri at selected times by scanning cell by cell with the Fluke 105B ScopeMeter oscilloscope, and the oscillograms on the screen recorded by photographing, plus the scanning values were logged in a table. The performance of the ScopeMeter was checked with the Elektronika MMTs-01 MultiMeter.]

The FE-1 also performed the periodic (currently daily) checkout & performance verification of IP-1 airflow sensors in the various RS (Russian Segment) hatchways, including the passageways PrK (SM Transfer Compartment)–PrK–RO (SM Working Compartment), PkhO (SM Transfer Tunnel)–RO, PkhO–DC1, PkhO–FGB PGO, FGB PGO–FGB GA, FGB GA–Node-1. [This checkup is especially important when the ventilation/circulation system has to cope with a larger crew on board, currently ten persons, and one of the two Russian SKV air conditioners off (SKV-1) because it is beyond its service life.]

Afterwards, Lonchakov conducted the regular maintenance of the Russian POTOK-150MK (150 micron) air purification subsystems in the SM and FGB by cleaning the pre-filters with a vacuum cleaner with narrow nozzle attachment and later restarting the POTOK in automatic mode.

In the Soyuz TMA-13/17S crew return vehicle, Mike, Yuri & Koichi conducted the standard 30-min. fit check of the Kazbek couches, the contoured shock absorbing seats in the Descent Module (SA) of the spacecraft docked at the DC1 Docking Compartment. (Last time done by Fincke & Lonchakov: 9/30/08). [For the fit check, crew members remove their cabin suits and don Sokol KV-2 suit and comm caps, get into in their seats and assess the degree of comfort & uniform body support provided by the seat liner. Using a ruler, they then measure the gap between the top of the head and the top edge of the structure facing the head crown. The results are reported to TsUP-Moscow. Kazbek-UM couches are designed to withstand g-loads during launch and orbital insertion as well as during reentry and brake-rocket-assisted landing. Each seat has two positions: cocked (armed) and noncocked. In cocked position, they are raised to allow the shock absorbers to function during touchdown. The fit check assures that the crewmembers, whose bodies gain in length during longer-term stay in zero-G, will still be adequately protected by the seat liners for their touchdown in Kazakhstan, either emergency or regular return.]

Magnus & Wakata will work jointly on swapping the GLACIER freezer hardware, Koichi transferring the Lab GLACIER to the Shuttle and Sandra taking the newly delivered freezer from the Shuttle Middeck to the US Lab. [The latter has the smaller thermal mass and thus is more susceptible to power loss. Each of the units will be configured for its destination before transfer, including rear panel launch locks. GLACIER (General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator) units are ultra-cold freezers that will store samples as low as -185 degrees C. The GLACIER, designed and originally manufactured by the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), provides a double middeck locker-sized ER (EXPRESS Rack)-compatible freezer/refrigerator for a variety of experiments that require temperatures ranging from +4 degC (39 degF) to -185 degC (-301 degF). GLACIER is part of the Cold Stowage Fleet of hardware which includes the MELFI and the MERLIN (Microgravity Experiment Research Locker/Incubator).]

The FE-1 completed the periodic (about twice a month) replenishing of the Elektron oxygen generator’s water supply for electrolysis, filling the KOV EDV container with water collected in CWC (Contingency Water Container) #1035 from the Lab CCAA (Common Cabin Air Assembly) dehumidifier. [The 40-minute procedure is specially designed to prevent air bubbles larger than ~10 mm from getting into the BZh Liquid Unit where they could cause Elektron shutdown.]

CDR Fincke will be conducting the weekly “T+2d” inflight microbiology analyses for the samples collected on 3/18 from the PWD (Potable Water Dispenser) Ambient plus SVO-ZV and SRV-K Warm taps after the overnight 17-hr iodine soak of its microbial filter.

Tonight, FE-2 Magnus has several hours reserved for the highly-anticipated major UPA IFM (Urine Processing Assembly In-Flight Maintenance), removing the old WRS DA (Water Recovery System/Distillation Assembly) in the WRS2 Rack and replacing it with the new assembly, which Koichi Wakata unstowed earlier today in the Shuttle and transferred to the ISS. [For the R&R, the FE-2 has to access the WRS2 rack and first remove the failed unit after injecting air into its MTL (Moderate Temperature Loop) lines with a syringe. As next steps, the hardmount kit will be installed in WRS2 plus an IWIS (Internal Wireless Instrumentation System) accelerometer, followed by installation of the new DA and swap-out of the Recycle Filter Tank Assembly with a new one. The WRS2 will then be closed out and the CRABs (CEVIS Rack Attachment Brackets) & CEVIS cycle ergometer re-attached for Mike’s physical exercise tomorrow. TOCA and the EDV-U will be installed tomorrow after observation of the new DA. The failed DA was to be packed in foam and transferred to the Shuttle for return.]

Before sleeptime tonight, Yuri replaced one of the P-16 filter cartridges of the SOGS air revitalization subsystem behind panel 129 in the SM, discarding the old unit and updating the IMS (Inventory Management System).

As a new daily activity for the ISS crew during the docked mission, begun yesterday, Mike Fincke is scheduled for the twice-daily survey of onboard CO2 levels, using the hand-held CDMK (CO2 Monitoring Kit) for measuring ppCO2 (Carbon Dioxide partial pressure) in the ISS/Orbiter “stack”, at ~1:00pm and ~7:00pm EDT. [The data are recorded on an onboard spreadsheet which will be downlinked once the mission is complete to support a long-term analysis of Station/Shuttle ventilation.]

Mike is scheduled to conduct the weekly inspection of the TVIS (Treadmill with Vibration Isolation & Stabilization), in particular looking for the condition of the roller bearings under the belt.

The crew performed their regular daily 2.5-hr. physical workout program (about half of which is used for setup & post-exercise personal hygiene) on the TVIS treadmill (CDR, FE-1/2.5h, FE-2), and ARED resistive exercise device (CDR, FE-2). [The IFM on the failed Ergometer bike in the Shuttle has been successful. The exercise cycle is working again. Root cause still uncertain.]

Yuri is to perform the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM. [Regular daily SOZh maintenance consists, among else, of checking the ASU toilet facilities, replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers, replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers and performing US condensate processing (transfer from CWC to EDV containers) if condensate is available.]

The FE-1 will also handle the regular daily job of IMS (Inventory Management System) “delta file” updating/editing for the weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur).

Yuri has another 35 min for his regular crew departure preparations, working on the standard end-of-increment cleanup preparatory to his return to Earth early next month. [It is usual for crewmembers to be granted reduced workdays for making their departure preparations, as their return date approaches.]

FE-2-18 Wakata will transfer newly delivered CDs/DVDs from the 15A CD Library to ISS stowage. [The task also includes removal of old CDs/DVDs and their transfer to the ULF2 CD Library returning with the Shuttle, plus retention of CDs/DVDs from ULF2 CD Library that will stay onboard.]

In addition, the Japanese Flight Engineer is scheduled for his second PMC (Private Medical Conference) at ~7:35pm, and Koichi also has another ~70 min to himself for general orientation (station familiarization & acclimatization) as is customary for fresh crewmembers for the first two weeks after starting station residence, if she/he chooses to take it.

At ~2:03pm EDT, Fincke, Lonchakov, Wakata and Magnus participated in three PAO TV interview events of ~6.5 min each, with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Bill Toland), Reuters (Irene Klotz) and Voice of America (Ndimyake Mwakalyelye),

For tomorrow’s EVA-2, Fincke set up the batteries of the D2Xs cameras for recharge (which takes at least three hours) and later configured the D2Xs for the spacewalk.

At ~7:45pm tonight, the joint crew is scheduled for an in-depth one-hour review of procedures for the EVA-2 spacewalk, with egress scheduled tomorrow at ~12:45pm EDT.

Afterwards, at ~10:10pm, Steven Swanson (EV1) & Joseph Acaba (EV3) will begin their “campout” (nachalo desaturatsiy = desaturation start) in the A/L (Airlock) with hatch closure and depressurization of the CL (Crewlock) from 14.7 to 10.2 psi, followed by mask prebreathe at ~10:10pm-11:15pm. [Sleep for the ISS crew begins at 11:15pm.]

EVA-2 Objectives:

  • Prepare six P6 Batteries, install gap spanner, break torque/retorque two bolts (H1 & H2) on each battery with ratchet wrench;
  • Deploy P3 Nadir UCCAS (Unpressurized Cargo Carriers Attachment System);
  • Install JLP (JEM Pressurized Logistics Segment) GPS Antenna B for JAXA;
  • Perform infrared photo/video imagery on S1/P1 Thermal Radiators;
  • Swap two connectors on CMG Patch Panel on Z1 truss;
  • Deploy S3 Outboard/Zenith PAS (Payload Attach System); and
  • Cleanup & Ingress.

TVM1 Transient: Suspected cause of yesterday’s brief drop-out of Lane 1 of the Russian TVM Terminal Computer System was in the ZOE (Zone of Exclusion) Buffer software. The application has been deactivated at this time. TVM continues nominal on two lanes.

Mission Events Change: The decision has been made to move hatch closure one day later. The issue is a 127-hr thermal limit required for ColdBag sample survival on landing which drives hatch closure from FD10 to FD11.

ISS Crew Sleep Shifting: To synchronize the ISS crew’s timeline with STS-119/15A docked period and departure, the station wake/sleep cycle is undergoing a number of shifts to the left. For the next few days, the schedule is as follows:


Wake: 7:45am – 11:15pm


Wake: 7:45am – 10:45pm


Wake: 7:15am – 10:15pm


Wake: 6:45am – 9:45pm


Wake: 6:15am – 9:45pm


Wake: 6:15am – 9:00pm


Wake: 5:30am – 9:00pm


Wake: 5:30am – 5:30pm


Wake: 5:30am – 10:00pm


Wake: 6:30am – 5:30pm

STS-119/Discovery — 15A Crew & Mission Timeline:

  • CDR: Lee Archambault
  • PLT: Dominic Antonelli
  • MSs: Joseph Acaba; John Phillips; Steven Swanson; Richard Arnold
  • ISS FE-2s: Koichi Wakata (UP); Sandra Magnus (DOWN).
  • FD07 (3/21) — EVA-2 (objectives see above)
  • FD08 (3/22) — Move MT from WS4 to WS1; prepare for EVA-3; Campout (Arnold & Acaba)
  • FD09 (3/23) — EVA-3; relocate CETA; lubricate SPDM LEE B; replace two RPCMs; S1 tasks
  • FD10 (3/24) — Crew off duty (2h); final cargo transfers; reboost;
  • FD11 (3/25) — Close & leak check hatches; undock; flyaround & sep;
  • FD12 (3/26) — Late TPS inspection using OBSS; Crew off duty (5:30h)
  • FD13 (3/27) — Cabin stow, Orbiter FCS checkout, RCS hot fire
  • FD14 (3/28) — Nominal deorbit (12:39pm); landing (1:42pm KSC).

CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Etosha Pan Inundation (DYNAMIC EVENT: The Etosha pan is a large salt pan with no outlet, forming part of the Kalahari Basin in the north of Namibia. The 120-kilometer-long [75-mile-long] dry lakebed and its surroundings are protected as Etosha National Park, one of Namibia’s largest wildlife parks. In particularly rainy years, the Etosha pan becomes a lake approximately 10 cm in depth and becomes a breeding ground for flamingos, which arrive in thousands. Recent reports indicate that the 2008-9 rainy season may have been one of the wettest in the past twenty years, and that the pan now has water. Yesterday’s pass was to the NW of the target while today’s was to the SE and a little earlier in the afternoon. Fair weather was expected today. This time after crossing the Namib coast well to the S of Etosha the crew was to begin looking well left of track and try an oblique mapping pass of the pan and its smaller surrounding lakes), Luquillo Forest, Puerto Rico (ISS had a mid-afternoon pass in fair weather to the west and north of this Long Term Ecological Research [LTER] site located inland in northeastern part of the island of Puerto Rico. Of interest is the human encroachment of the rugged, heavily forest area about twenty miles east-southeast of San Juan. As the station tracked northeastward over the Mona Passage to the west of Puerto Rico, the crew was to look just right of track and attempt to map primarily the margin of the forest with the long lens settings), and Santa Maria Volcano (fair weather was expected for this pass near this large, active stratovolcano in western Guatemala. The city of Quezaltenango is located nearby, and is threatened by the potential for collapse of the active Santiaguito lava dome complex that has been growing in a crater on the southwestern side of the volcano since 1922. Approximately 5000 people were killed when such a collapse occurred in 1929. ISS approach was from the SW and as the crew neared the Central American coast they were to look for this volcano to right of track and try for detailed imagery of the volcanic cone and lava dome complex).

CEO photography can be studied at this “Gateway” website: (as of 9/1/08, this database contained 770,668 views of the Earth from space, with 324,812 from the ISS alone).

ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 11:36am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude — 354.7 km
Apogee height — 361.4 km
Perigee height — 347.9 km
Period — 91.63 min.
Inclination (to Equator) — 51.64 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0009982
Solar Beta Angle — 32.7 deg (magnitude decreasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.71
Mean altitude gain in the last 24 hours — 110 m (Shuttle RCS)
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 59202

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
03/21 — STS-119 EVA-2 (~12:45pm–7:15pm)
03/23 — STS-119 EVA-3 (~11:45am–6:15pm)
03/25/09 — STS-119/Discovery/15A undocking (9:47am)
03/26/09 — Soyuz TMA-14/18S launch (7:49am EDT)
03/28/09 — Soyuz TMA-14/18S docking (SM aft port; 9:14am EDT)
03/28/09 — STS-119/Discovery/15A deorbit (12:39pm) & landing (1:42pm)
04/07/09 — Soyuz TMA-13/17S undocking (1:02am) & landing (4:20am EDT)
05/06/09 — Progress 32P undocking & deorbit
05/07/09 — Progress 33P launch
05/12/09 — STS-125/Atlantis Hubble Space Telescope Service Mission 4 (SM4)
05/12/09 — Progress 33P docking
05/15/09 — STS-127/Endeavour/2J/A launch – JEM EF, ELM-ES, ICC-VLD
05/27/09 — Soyuz TMA-15/19S launch
05/29/09 — Soyuz TMA-15/19S docking (FGB nadir)
Six-person crew on ISS
07/17/09 — Progress 33P undock & deorbit
07/20/09 — Soyuz TMA-14/18S relocation (to DC1)
07/24/09 — Progress 34P launch
07/26/09 — Progress 34P docking (SM aft)
08/06/09 — STS-128/Discovery/17A – MPLM (P), LMC
09/01/09 — H-IIB (JAXA HTV-1) — tentative
11/10/09 — Soyuz 5R/MRM2 (Russian Mini Research Module, MIM2) on Soyuz — tentative
11/12/09 — STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3 – ELC1, ELC2
12/10/09 — STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 + Cupola — tentative
02/11/10 — STS-131/Atlantis/19A – MPLM(P), LMC — tentative
04/08/10 — STS-132/Discovery/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM1 — tentative
05/31/10 — STS-133/Endeavour/ULF5 – ELC3, ELC4 — tentative
12/XX/11 — Proton 3R/MLM w/ERA.

SpaceRef staff editor.