Status Report

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 25 March 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
March 25, 2009
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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 25 March 2009

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Flight Day 11 (FD11) of STS-119/15A — ISS crew work cycle today: Wake 6:15am EDT; sleep 9:00pm (until 5:30am tomorrow morning).

ISS and STS-119/Discovery are flying in separate orbits again.

After final departure preparations on both sides of the hatches (closed at ~1:30pm EDT), Discovery undocked this afternoon at 3:53pm from PMA-2 (Pressurized Mating Adapter 2) after a total docked time of 9d 20h 10m Discovery mass at undocking: 211,319 lbs (95,852 kg). [For undocking, the station was turned at ~2:39pm from -XVV through ~180 deg to +XVV ZLV (+x-axis in velocity vector, z-axis in local vertical, i.e., flying Shuttle in front again), put briefly on free drift for the undocking and then moded to 15A Stage attitude of +XVV TEA (Torque Equilibrium Attitude).]

Undocking was ~2 min prior to midnight (~3:56pm) to ensure good lighting during the subsequent flyaround (sunrise: ~9 min before flyaround start). After separation, Discovery completed the 360-deg station flyaround and obtained photo/video imagery of the ISS. The two separation burns were to be conducted at 5:08pm & 5:37pm.

KSC landing is nominally expected on 3/28 (Saturday) at ~1:43pm EDT. [If the landing occurs as planned, 15A mission duration will be 12d 17h 59m. Sandra Magnus’s total time in space will be 133d 16h 48m.]

Early this morning, CDR Fincke, FE-1 Lonchakov & FE-2 Wakata began their workday before breakfast with the periodic session of the Russian biomedical routine assessment PZEh-MO-8/Body Mass Measurement, using the IM mass measurement device which Lonchakov then stowed away again. [For determining body mass in zero-G, where things are weightless but not massless, the Russian IM "scales" measure the inertial forces that arise during the oscillatory motion of a mass driven by two helical metering springs with known spring constants. By measuring the time period of each oscillation of the unknown mass (the crewmember) and comparing it to the period of a known mass, the crewmember’s mass is calculated by the computer and displayed.]

For the biomed experiment INTEGRATED IMMUNE (Validating Procedures for Monitoring Crew member Immune Function), FE-2 Magnus conducted her final Liquid Saliva collections in the morning, and later assisted in drawing a blood sample from CDR Fincke. The Saliva Return Pouches and Blood Sleeves were then stored at ambient temperature on the Shuttle Middeck for return to ground. [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.]

After the UPA DA (Urine Processor Assembly/Distillation Assembly) successfully completed its second operating run overnight, Wakata collected “snapshot” water samples from the WPA RIP (Water Processing Assembly/Rack Interface Panel), PWD (Potable Water Dispenser) Auxiliary Port & PWD Ambient Port, using the WPA common hose and afterwards transferring the sample bags to the Shuttle for return to Earth.

Koichi also conducted the periodic WPA chemical sample analysis in the TOCA after first priming (filling) the TOCA water sample hose. Results were transferred to SSC-7 (Station Support Computer 7) via USB drive for downlink and the data are also logged for calldown. [The current procedure is a work-around for TOCA’s failed catalyst.]

Mike Fincke performed the weekly “T+2d” inflight microbiology analyses for the samples collected on 3/23 from the PWD Hot tap after the recent 17-hr iodine soak of its microbial filter.

FE-1 Lonchakov completed 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 and replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers.]

The FE-1 also perform 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).

In addition, Yuri had 2 hrs reserved for working with TsUP/Moscow on checking out & testing the newly installed “Istochnik-M” (source, spring) telemetry reception & recording system (SPR TMI) system in the SM (Service Module), installing the new which will enable the ISS to receive telemetry from Soyuz spacecraft. [The equipment, including the Istochnik TM station, power amplifiers, power supply, USB software sticks and cables, was brought up on Progress 32P. It will capture Soyuz data through the amateur (ham) radio antenna, and transfer it to a laptop display where the crew will be able to immediately tell if a good separation of modules occurred during Soyuz descent operations.]

The new FE-2 returned the Orbiter SSC-14 (Station Support Computer) laptop from Discovery to the ISS. [The wireless card-equipped SSC-14 was transferred by Mike on 3/17 to the Orbiter to establish a wireless connection between the laptop and the ISS LAN (Local Area Network).]

Also before hatch closing, Fincke & Magnus packed the accumulated time-critical biomedical samples and Icepacs from the MELFI into DCBs (Double Coldbags) for subsequent stowage on the Shuttle for return. [This last-minute activity to protect the samples from warming up was the reason for slipping the hatch closing one day from yesterday to today.]

About an hour later, at ~12:55pm, the traditional Crew Farewell ceremony took place, followed by air duct removal and hatch closure at ~1:30pm, handled on the ISS side by Fincke & Wakata, on the Orbiter side by Archambault & Phillips. [Afterwards (~1:35pm), PLT Antonelli switched attitude control authority of the mated stack from ISS CMG TA (Control Moment Gyroscope Thruster Assist) mode to Orbiter ORB control and Archambault initiated the standard one-hour leak check on the ODS (Orbiter Docking System). Preparatory to the ODS depress venting, Koichi has closed the protective window shutters in the JPM earlier today.]

After hatch closing and before removal of the ventilation airduct between ISS and Discovery by the CDR, the FE-1 performed the standard collection of air samples with the Russian AK-1M sampler in the SM and FGB.

FE-2 Wakata removed the IWIS (Internal Wireless Instrumentation System) accelerometer and RSU (Remote Sensing Unit) and deconfigured the BPSMU (Battery Powered Speaker Microphone Unit) and its long drag-through cable, used during the docked phase, and stowed the equipment.

Afterwards, Koichi filled out the regular weekly FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire), his first, on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer). [On the FFQs, NASA astronauts keep a personalized log of their nutritional intake over time on special MEC software. Recorded are the amounts consumed during the past week of such food items as beverages, cereals, grains, eggs, breads, snacks, sweets, fruit, beans, soup, vegetables, dairy, fish, meat, chicken, sauces & spreads, and vitamins. The FFQ is performed once a week to estimate nutrient intake from the previous week and to give recommendations to ground specialists that help maintain optimal crew health. Weekly estimation has been verified to be reliable enough that nutrients do not need to be tracked daily.]

Before and during the Orbiter undocking, CDR Fincke & FE-1 Lonchakov stood by at the Cupola RWS (Robotics Workstation) A31p laptop with a stopwatch to monitor the proper performance of automatic undocking software for the PMA-2 departure under Russian thruster attitude control. Later, the CDR powered down the laptop. [The procedure provides for the crewmember to take over the automatic operational attitude control sequence manually if the software does not resume control after the period of free drift a few minutes after physical separation. Free drift is employed to prevent a conflict between the control systems of the two vehicles (ISS & Shuttle) and to “limp” (unload) the docking mechanisms.]

FE-2 Koichi Wakata used the Kodak DCS760 digital camera and PD-100 camcorder to document the undocking, backing away & separation of the Endeavour.

After the undocking, Fincke depressurized the PMA-2 to prevent humidity condensation and pressure fluctuations. Leak checking followed for the standard one hour. Afterwards, the necessary testing equipment was torn down.

Then, the CDR conducted the periodic status check on the running payloads CGBA-5 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus 5) and ENose (Electronic Nose), both located in the ER-2 (EXPRESS Rack 2).

Afterwards, Mike powered down the two laptops in the Airlock and at the Cupola RWS (Robotic Workstation).

Lonchakov and Wakata completed the reconfiguration of the Russian telephone/telegraph subsystem (STTS) to its post-undocking settings, from its primary string back to nominal mode on the backup string. This also severs the VHS (UHF) channel to the receding Shuttle Orbiter and restores the RSA-2 S/G (Space-to-Ground) comm configuration on Panel 3. [The "Voskhod-M" STTS enables telephone communications between the SM, FGB, DC1 Docking Compartment and U.S. segment (USOS), and also with users on the ground over VHF channels selected by an operator at an SM comm panel, via STTS antennas on the SM’s outside. There are six comm panels in the SM with pushbuttons for accessing any of three audio channels, plus an intercom channel. Other modes of the STTS include telegraphy (teletype), EVA voice, emergency alarms, Packet/Email, and TORU docking support.]

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 CEVIS cycle ergometer (FE-2-18), TVIS treadmill (CDR, FE-1/2.5h, FE-2), and ARED resistive exercise device (CDR). [This was the fourth regular physical exercise for Koichi Wakata, today on the CEVIS. It was also the last TVIS session for Sandy, after which she stowed her CMS (Countermeasure Systems) equipment.]

At ~5:55pm EDT, the ISS crew will hold their weekly teleconference with ISS Program Management at JSC/Houston via Ku-band/video & S-band/audio.

At ~6:05pm, the new ISS crewmember Koichi Wakata is scheduled for a PAO TV event with high-level Japanese officials. In attendance will be Mr. Wataru Aso, Fukuoka Prefecture Governor, Dr. Yukitaka Murakami, Vice President of Kyushu University and other VIPs. Koichi’s location will be the Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module).

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


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).
  • FD12 (3/26) — Crews off duty
  • FD13 (3/27) — Cabin stow, Orbiter FCS checkout, RCS hot fire
  • FD14 (3/28) — Nominal deorbit (12:39pm); landing (1:42pm KSC).

Soyuz TMA-14/18S Countdown: At Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the countdown is proceeding nominally for tomorrow’s launch of Soyuz TMA-14/18S with the crew of CDR Gennady Ivanovich Padalka, FE Michael Barratt & SFP Charles Simonyi. Launch is set for 7:49am EDT (2:49pm Moscow Time).

CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Tenoumer Impact Crater (this impact site is located in north-central Mauritania. ISS near-nadir pass was in early afternoon with clear skies expected. As ISS tracked northeastward over the huge, circular landmark know as the Richat structure, the crew then crossed an extensive linear dune field. Tenoumer is a well-defined, young impact crater, but less than 2 km wide. Looking for it as an isolated feature just north of the dune field), Barringer Impact Crater (mid-afternoon pass for this target was to the west and north so the crew looked off nadir to the right of track in clear weather. This small crater [1 km diameter], better known as Arizona’s Meteorite Impact crater, is pristine, being only ~50,000 years old. As ISS passed over the Grand Canyon, the crew was to look right of track near the northern edge of the great forested area known as the Mogollon Rim. Nearby lava-capped hills are a local visual cue), and Kingman Reef (Kingman Reef is a largely submerged, uninhabited tropical atoll located in the North Pacific Ocean, roughly half way between Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa. It is the northernmost of the Northern Line Islands and lies 65 km NNW of Palmyra Atoll, the next closest island. The total area within the rim of the reef, which has greater depths in the western part, is 60 km². There is just one small strip of dry land on the eastern rim, with an area of less than 0.01 km². ISS had a nadir pass as midday with partly cloudy conditions expected. Using the long lens settings for details of the coral reef structures).

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, 6:30am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude — 354.3 km
Apogee height – 360.7 km
Perigee height — 347.9 km
Period — 91.63 min.
Inclination (to Equator) — 51.64 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0009516
Solar Beta Angle — 11.8 deg (magnitude decreasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.71
Mean altitude gain in the last 24 hours — 23 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 59277

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
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 (12:40pm) & landing (1:43pm)
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.