Status Report

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 27 March 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
March 27, 2009
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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 27 March 2009

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Flight Day 13 (FD13) of STS-119/DiscoverySolo — ISS crew day: Wake 5:30am EDT; sleep 9:00pm (until 5:30am tomorrow morning).

Soyuz TMA-14/18S, with Exp-19 crewmembers CDR Gennady Padalka, FE-1 Dr. Michael Barratt, and SFP (Spaceflight Participant) Charles Simony, 16th guest cosmonaut for the RS (Russian Segment), continues to catch up with the ISS for the docking tomorrow morning at ~9:14am EDT at the SM (Service Module) aft port. [FD2 activities, started early this morning with Soyuz crew wakeup at ~1:00am EDT on Orbit 12, include systems & crew health status reports to TsUP, preparation of the Soyuz Habitation Module (BO) workspace, building attitude for and executing the DV3 burn (~8:43am), placing Soyuz back in its sun-spinning "barbecue" mode (ISK), and swapping CO2 absorption cartridges (LiOH) in the BO. Afterwards, the crewmembers put on their Sokol suits and PKO biomed harnesses, transferred to the BO, activated its air purification system (SOA) and closed the hatch to the Descent Module (SA). After activation of the active Kurs-A system on Soyuz and of the passive Kurs-P on the Service Module (SM), with a short Kurs-A/P test and several additional adjustment burns during automated rendezvous, station fly-around to align with the SM aft port axis will begin tomorrow morning at ~8:44am at ~400m range, followed by station keeping at ~160m (~8:53am) and docking at the SM at ~9:14am. Padalka & Dr. Barrat will replace Exp-18 CDR Fincke & FE-1 Lonchakov. FE-2 Koichi Wakata remains on the station, joining Exp-19 until Summer (June) when he is replaced by U.S. Astronaut Timothy Kopra, arriving on STS-127/2JA, a member of the first six-person ISS crew. Charles Simonyi, who is spending his second tenure on the ISS as an SFP, will return with Mike & Yuri on 4/7 in Soyuz TMA-13/17S.]

FE-2 Wakata started out with the second day of his first week-long session of the SLEEP (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight) experiment, using payload software for data downloading and filling in questionnaire entries in the experiment’s session file on the HRF-1 laptop. [To monitor the crewmember’s sleep/wake patterns and light exposure, Greg wears a special Actiwatch device which measures the light levels encountered by him as well as his patterns of sleep and activity throughout the Expedition. The log entries are done within 15 minutes of final awakening for seven consecutive days, as part of the crew’s discretionary “job jar” task list.]

In preparation for his return to gravity on 4/7, FE-1 Lonchakov completed his third preliminary training session with the Russian "Chibis" LBNP suit (lower body negative pressure; Russian: ODNT), ramping up to get himself ready for returning to gravity on 4/7. Assisted by CDR Fincke as CMO (Crew Medical Officer), Yuri was supported in the one-hour session by ground specialist tagup via VHF at 8:39am (DO2). [Each of the total of four sessions features increasingly negative pressures “pulling” on the subject. The assessment uses the Gamma-1 ECG equipment with biomed harness, skin electrodes and a blood pressure and rheoplethysmograph cuff wired to the cycle ergometer’s instrumentation panels. The Chibis ODNT provides gravity-simulating stress to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system for evaluation of Volkov’s and Kononenko’s orthostatic tolerance (e.g., the Gauer-Henry reflex) after several months in zero-G. The preparatory training generally consists of first imbibing 150-200 milliliters of water or juice, followed by two cycles of a sequence of progressive regimes of reduced (“negative”) pressure, set today at -25, -35, -40 and -45 mmHg (Torr) for five min. each while shifting from foot to foot at 10-12 steps per minute wearing a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure. The body’s circulatory system interprets the pressure differential between upper and lower body as a gravity-like force pulling the blood (and other liquids) down. Chibis data and biomed cardiovascular readings are recorded. The Chibis suit (not to be confused with the Russian “Pinguin” suit for spring-loaded body compression, or the "Kentavr" anti-g suit worn during reentry) is similar to the U.S. LBNP facility (not a suit) used for the first time on Skylab in 1973/74, although it appears to accomplish its purpose more quickly.]

For their departure on Soyuz TMA-13/17S, Yuri Lonchakov & Michael Fincke spent two hours conducting the Soyuz descent training exercise, standard procedure for each returning cosmonaut crew. The exercise, which does not involve any command activation, uses a simulator application (Trenasher Spusk) on the RSE-Med laptop with a descent hand controller (RUS) to set up reentry conditions and switch between modes. It was supported by a tagup and discussions with a ground instructor at TsUP/Moscow via S-band. [The onboard training (OBT) session included a review of the pertinent RODF (Russian Operations Data Files), specifically the books on Soyuz Insertion & Descent Procedures, Emergency Descents, and Off-Nominal Situation Procedures such as manual undocking. Nominal return of Soyuz 17S with Lonchakov, Fincke and the US SFP Simonyi is scheduled for 4/7.]

In preparation of the Russian “Pille-MKS” radiation hardware for the VC-16 program, Yuri manually recorded the exposure readings of 10 Pille dosimeters currently located in the Soyuz Orbital Module (BO) & SM and afterwards collected nine dosimeters on the PULT next to the Pille Reader for Simonyi. [One dosimeter, the “duty” unit”, was inserted in the Reader.]

The FE-1 also set up and activated the DAKON-M hardware for the seventh run of the Russian experiment TEKh-15/IZGIB (“Bend”) which will continue through the Soyuz docking tomorrow. The activity requires only visual control of hardware operations by the FE-1 three times a day and reporting to the ground. The sixth IZGIB session was conducted by Yuri on 3/24 during the Shuttle undocking. [IZGIB has the objective to help update mathematical models of the ISS gravitation environment, using accelerometers of the Russian SBI Onboard Measurement System, the GIVUS high-accuracy angular rate vector gyrometer of the SUDN Motion Control & Navigation System and other accelerometers for unattended measurement of micro-accelerations at science hardware accommodation locations – (1) in operation of onboard equipment having rotating parts (gyrodynes, fans), (2) when establishing and keeping various ISS attitude modes, and (3) when performing crew egresses into space and physical exercises.]

FE-2 Wakata completed the regular bi-monthly reboots of the OCA Router and File Server SSC (Station Support Computer) laptops.

Still in the Lab, the FE-2 performed the regular controlled shut-down of the EHS VOA (Environmental Health System-Volatile Organic Analyzer), with the ground power-cycling its RPC-3 (Remote Power Controller 3), part of RPCM (RPC Module) LAD42B_A.

In the SM, Koichi completed the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS). [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.]

Wakata also conducted the periodic visual inspection of the ARED (Advanced Resistive Exercise Device) and its VIS (Vibration Isolation System) rails & rollers, then evacuated its cylinder flywheels to maintain proper vacuum condition and sensor calibration.

On the TVIS (Treadmill with Vibration Isolation & Stabilization), Koichi performed the weekly inspection, in particular looking for the condition of the roller bearings under the belt.

The crew completed 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), TVIS treadmill (CDR, FE-1/ODNT), and ARED resistive exercise device (CDR, FE-2).

The FE-2 filled out the regular weekly FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire), his second, on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer).

Later tonight, Wakata is scheduled to perform routine maintenance on the CSA-CP (Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products) prime unit (#1045), replacing its battery with a fresh spare. [The CSA-CP is a passive cabin atmosphere monitor that provides quick response capability during a combustion event (fire). Its collected data are stored on a logger.]

For tomorrow’s arrival of the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft, Koichi closed the protective shutters of the Lab & JPM (JEM Pressurized Module) science windows.

The FE-2 also powered down the ham/amateur radio equipment in the SM & FGB to prevent inadvertent RF interference with the Soyuz approach & docking activities. [The ham equipment in the FGB is an Ericsson VHF radio, in the SM a Kenwood D700 system. Program Modes on the Kenwood are Educational & Public (PM1), Voice Repeater (PM2), Packet/APRS (PM3), Emergency (PM5). The Ericsson handles Educational contacts (C11/North America, C2/everywhere else, C6/backup), Public (B1/Russia, Europe, Africa), A1/everywhere else, and Packet ops (B13/used by ground stations when crew is not active on radio).]

At ~7:30am EDT, the crew held the regular (nominally weekly) tagup with the Russian Flight Control Team (GOGU), including Shift Flight Director (SRP), at TsUP via S-band/audio, phone-patched from Houston and Moscow.

At ~9:35am, the CDR powered up the SM’s amateur radio equipment (Kenwood VHF transceiver with manual frequency selection, headset, & power supply) and at 9:40am conducted a ham radio session with students at St. Joseph High School, Nepean, ON, Canada. [Questions to Mike were uplinked beforehand. “In consideration of the international nature of the ISS, how do you deal with religious and political differences on board?”; “What are your views on entering space via the Soyuz versus the shuttle?”; “What are the overall objectives of the ISS?”; “What is the most difficult or inconvenient thing while you stay on the ISS?”; “What do you do in your free time in the ISS?”; “What are your fears when you are in space?”; “You recently had to take refuge in the Soyuz module because of space debris; do you have to do this often?”; “With all your training and preparation, was there something that surprised you, that you were not prepared for?”; “Do you see signs of climate change from the ISS?”; “Does the ISS have any military significance?”]

A second ham radio session with Mike took place at ~10:05am, with students of the Istituto Comprensivo Statale “Alessandro Volta”, Mandello Del Lario, Lecco, Italy. [“Alessandro Volta” is a co-ed primary and secondary school in Mandello del Lario, a little town in Northern Italy, situated on the shore of the Lake Como. Mandello del Lario is known for the motorcycle factory “Moto Guzzi”. The students are aged 6 to 14. Nine classes are involved in the ARISS project with students aged 12 to 14. The students and the teachers of the school share their interest with experts of the voluntary group “Deep Space” in the city of Lecco in discovering the Space on its different aspects. Questions to Mike were uplinked beforehand. “Why did you become an astronaut?”; “How do you spend your free time?”; “How long are you already on board the ISS?”; “How many people are there on the ISS?”; “What is your role on board the ISS?”; “What does your daily routine look like?”; “What are you seeing outside at the moment?”; “Is it difficult to get used to zero gravity?”; “Is it hard to eat in microgravity and what do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?”; “When did you become an astronaut?”]

At ~6:40pm, the ISS crew is scheduled for their regular weekly tagup with the Lead Flight Director at JSC/MCC-H via S-band/audio. [S/G-2 (Space-to-Ground 2) phone patch via SSC (Station Support Computer).]

18S Flight Plan Overview:

  • Flight Day 2:

Post-sleep activities; BO workstation prepared; data for DV3 burn uplinked; crew tests RUO-2 & RUD-2 rotational and translational hand controllers; DV3 attitude established by crew; DV3 burn executed; Soyuz back in ISK attitude; crew swaps LiOH CO2 filters in BO; crew sleep.

  • Flight Day 3:

Post-sleep activities; KURS-A heaters activated; data for automated rendezvous uplinked; crew dons Sokols; SOA deactivated in BO and activated in SA; crew ingresses SA, closes BO-SA hatch and dons harnesses for docking; DV5 burn; automated rendezvous & docking via KURS-P in ISS & KURS-A in Soyuz; docking; pressure equalized between Soyuz and ISS ; crew transfers.

CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today were Urumqui, China (ISS had a mid-afternoon pass in fair weather with this far-western Chinese city just right of track. This desert agricultural region is rapidly transitioning to the focus of China’s petroleum and natural gas exploration. The city itself is located at the southern edge of the Junggar Basin near a pass between the Erenhaberg and Bogda Ranges. Spring is slow to come to interior Asia and snow and ice are likely to be more prominent than vegetation. Illumination was still sub-optimal for detailed views of the urban area, so the crew was to try for more contextual views of this target area using the 180mm lens settings), Bosumtwi Impact Crater (this well-marked impact crater is located about 150 km west of the south end of Lake Volta in south central Ghana. It is a very young impact [just over a million years old], about 10.5 km in diameter, and almost completely filled by a lake. There are only a few images of this crater in the CEO database because the area is usually cloudy and/or hazy. As ISS approached the coast of Ghana near midday, the crew was to look just inland, near nadir for this target. Partly cloudy conditions with haze were expected, so they were to try for more of contextual views using the 180mm lens), Tenoumer Impact Crater (this impact site is located in north-central Mauritania. ISS’ near-nadir pass was in mid-afternoon with the possibility of partly cloudy skies. As the crew tracked northeastward near the huge, circular landmark known as the Richat structure, they 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 and isolated feature just north of the dune field and using the 800mm settings), and White Island Volcano (White Island [also called Whakaari] is the top of an active stratovolcano situated 48km from the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, in the Bay of Plenty. The island is the largest of the four islands in the Olive island chain. It is roughly circular, about two km in diameter, and rises to a height of 321 m above sea level. However this is only the peak of a much larger submarine mountain, which rises up to 1600 m above the nearby seafloor. ISS had a mid-morning pass with clear weather expected. Looking left of track for the target and using the long lens for detail of this tiny feature).

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, 8:18am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude — 353.9 km
Apogee height – 360.7 km
Perigee height — 347.1 km
Period — 91.62 min.
Inclination (to Equator) — 51.64 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0010135
Solar Beta Angle — 2.9 deg (magnitude decreasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.72
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours — 206 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 59309

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
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
05/27/09 — Soyuz TMA-15/19S launch
05/29/09 — Soyuz TMA-15/19S docking (FGB nadir)
06/13/09 — STS-127/Endeavour/2J/A launch – JEM EF, ELM-ES, ICC-VLD
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.