Status Report

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 28 March 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
March 29, 2009
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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 28 March 2009

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. — ISS crew day: Wake 5:30am EDT; sleep 10:00pm (until 6:30am tomorrow morning).  Saturday.  Flight Day 14 (FD14) of STS-119/15A.

Yest kasaniye!   Soyuz TMA-14/18S docked successfully at the SM aft port at 9:05am EDT, nine minutes ahead of time.  Soyuz TMA-14 delivered Expedition 19 crewmembers CDR-19 Gennady Padalka, FE-1-19 Dr. Michael Barratt, and SFP (Spaceflight Participant) Charles Simonyi, the 16th Visiting Cosmonaut (VC) and the 7th “space tourist”.  After about 1.5 hrs spent in Soyuz on pre-transfer activities, the crew opened hatches, followed by crew transfer, the traditional joyful welcome event and the installation of the BZV QD (quick disconnect) clamps by Padalka and Lonchakov.  Note: For the next few days, there are two Mikes on board: Col. Mike Fincke & Dr. Mike Barratt, a former NASA Flight Surgeon.      [The final approach was flown by Soyuz CDR Gennady Padalka on Manual Control when the automated KURS Approach & Docking System developed an irregularity inside 200m distance: a thruster firing “backward”, possibly because of a fault in the electronic algorithm.  After successful "kasaniye" (contact), automatic "sborka" (closing of Soyuz & FGB port hooks & latches) took place shortly thereafter while ISS was in free drift.  Attitude control authority had been handed over to the Russian MCS (Motion Control System) at ~5:40am and was returned to US CMG control at ~10:30am.  For the 18S docking, Russian thrusters were disabled during Soyuz volume pressurization and clamp installation; they were afterwards returned to active attitude control.  Before hatch opening, the crew performed leak checks of the Soyuz modules and the Soyuz/FGB interface vestibule.  They then doffed their Sokol suits and set them up for drying, deactivated the Atmosphere Purification Unit (BOA) in the Descent Module (SA), replaced the Soyuz ECLSS LiOH cartridges, equalized Soyuz/ISS pressures, and put the spacecraft into conservation mode on ISS integrated power.  Padalka & Barratt are replacing Expedition 18 CDR Fincke & FE-1 Lonchakov.  FE-2 Koichi Wakata remains on the station, joining Expedition 19 until June when he is replaced by U.S. Astronaut Timothy Kopra, 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.]

Hatch opening was delayed to allow FE-2 Wakata to terminate, fixate and remove DomeGene samples from the Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module) for CDR Mike Fincke to insert the samples with their fixation cylinders in the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS).    [DomGene involves the culturing of two kinds of amphibian cell lines: an A-6 cell line derived from a kidney and A-8 cell line derived from a liver, which show different types of cell differentiation and morphogenesis.  While they are cultured under micro-G, researchers want to observe the shape and state of the cells, plus examine the known and unknown gene expression by DNA array assay using fixed and frozen recovery samples.]

Steps by the ISS crew leading up to the Soyuz docking included:

  • Testing, by Lonchakov, of the RS (Russian Segment) video system, which uses the SONY HDV camera for transmitting over the MPEG-2 (Moving Pictures Expert Group 2) encoder from FGB & SM to downlink via U.S. OpsLAN and Ku-band in “streaming video” packets  [deactivated and disassembled later in the day by Fincke],
  • Configuring & activating the A31p SSC (Station Support Computer) laptop for the TV conversion to NTSC and Ku-band, by Fincke   [later, Col. Mike removed the downlink test equipment and disconnected the hook-up of the UOP DCP (utility outlet panel/display & control panel) power bypass cable at the CUP RWS (Cupola Robotic Work Station)],
  • Activating the video equipment for covering the Soyuz approach & docking (CDR),
  • Lonchakov configuring the station comm (STTS) for the docking  [plus reconfiguring it afterwards for the nominal post-docking hardline mode (MBS)],
  • Yuri also turning on the newly installed “Istochnik-M”  (source, spring) telemetry reception & recording system (SPR TMI) system in the SM, which enables the ISS to receive telemetry from Soyuz spacecraft  [the equipment, including the Istochnik TM station, power amplifiers, power supply, USB software sticks and cables, 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], and
  • Monitoring approach and final docking of Soyuz from the SM (FE-1).

After the successful docking at the SM aft port – 

  • CDR Fincke downlinked the docking video via Ku-band,
  • CDR-19 Padalka & FE-1 Lonchakov conducted the ~1 hr SM PrK (Transfer Compartment) interface leak check,
  • Yuri switched hatch KVDs (Pressure Equalization Valves) between SM PrK and Soyuz to electric control mode,
  • The crew opened the Soyuz-SM transfer tunnel hatches,
  • Both crews then joined for the obligatory standard Safety Briefing of the newcomers by CDR Fincke to familiarize them with procedures and escape routes in case of an emergency   [the Briefing included pointing out the location of the “Emergency Response/Visiting Crew” books, indicated emergency equipment (PBAs, PFEs, C&W panels, cable cutters) in the Soyuz Orbital Module (BO), PMA-1, Node-1, US Airlock, Lab, Node-2, JLP, JPM & COL, showed how to move about the station without getting hurt or accidentally disturbing air flow meters/sensors (PP IP-1) and familiarized the SFP with his switch to a different Soyuz for return],
  • As part of Soyuz deactivation after the docking, Yuri Lonchakov installed the intermodular air exchange ducting between the Soyuz (through both Orbital & Descent Modules) and the SM  [the two optional modes for the ducting configuration are with & without air heating],
  • Barratt meanwhile set up the three Sokol spacesuits and their gloves for drying out,
  • Yuri and Gennady swapped out Simonyi’s and Wakata’s IELKs (Individual Equipment & Liner Kits, Russian: USIL) between the two Soyuz vehicles, TMA-13/17S & TMA-14/18S, including their tailored Sokol spacesuit.  The IELKs of Padalka & Barratt are already in the 18S spacecraft that has now become the Expedition 19 CRV (Crew Return Vehicle), good for a maximum of 200 days in space, while Fincke’s & Lonchakov’s IELKs remain in 17S for the return on 4/7.     [A crewmember is not considered transferred until her/his IELK, AMP (Ambulatory Medical Pack) and ALSP (Advanced Life Support Pack) drug kit are transferred.  After today’s installation of the VC-16 IELK, Charles is now considered a 17S crewmember, and Expedition 19 has technically begun its residence aboard ISS, with Mike Fincke passing his CDR-baton to Gennady Padalka.  TMA-13 has been docked at ISS since 10/14/08.   By the time of its return on 4/7, the spacecraft will have spent 177 days in space, 23 days short of its “warranty” life.  Of course, Fincke & Lonchakov also will have accumulated 177 days in space at their return.]

After activating the thermostat-controlled sample container KRIOGEM-03 (+4 degC) in the RS, Gennady & Yuri transferred, installed and photographed high-priority science equipment, including –

  • BTKh-10/KONYUGATSIYA (“Conjugation” in its Biokont-T container, also in KRIOGEM, which deals with the processes of genetic material transmission using bacterial conjugation, in the Biokont-T container and Rekomb-K hardware in the KRIOGEM-03M),
  • CASCADE (Bioreactor in KRIOGEM-3M),
  • BTKh-14/BIOEMULSIYA  (Bioemulsion, which investigates the design and improvement of a closed-type autonomous thermostat-controlled bioreactor for obtaining biomass of organisms and bioactive substances (BAV) without additional ingredients input or removal of metabolism products, for bacterial, enzymatic, and pharmaceutical preparations),
  • BTKh-12/ BIOEKOLOGIYA  (Bioecology, kits & containers with BIOTREK, LAKTOLEN, ARIL, OChB and ANTIGEN)  [BTKh-5/ARIL studies the effects of space flight on cultures of Lactolen- and Interleukin ARIL producing cells],

Yuri Lonchakov took Charles Simonyi on a 30-min guided tour of the ISS.    [The tour was to re-acquaint the SFP with both station segments, his living quarters in the RS, his work station in the DC1 Docking Compartment, other work locations (e.g., SM windows #7 & #8 for his Earth photo/video activities), the sites for his scheduled once-daily VHF conferences with his consultant group and his ham radio sessions, location of his RSK2 laptop, stowage of his VC-16 experiments, uplink printouts and camera equipment for his use, email ops, and PFC (Private Family Conference) using the IP (Internet Protocol) phone.]

Assisted by Yuri, Charles later –

  • Installed his removable HDD (Hard Disk Drive) in the RSK2 A31p laptop,
  • Acquainted himself with the “Pille” experiment [transferring his memory card, reviewing instructions, resetting the dosimeters to Zero and stowing them for later], and
  • Configured the ham radio in slow-scan TV mode,

FE-2 Wakata started out in the morning with the third 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.]

FE-1-19 Barratt donned the Actiwatch for the U.S. SLEEP experiment (in which he participates along with Koichi Wakata).

Dr. Mike also familiarized himself with the onboard physical exercise equipment and its requirements.

Lonchakov terminated the DAKON-M equipment after its seventh run of the Russian experiment TEKh-15/IZGIB (“Bend”) which took measurements during the Soyuz docking.  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.]

In the SM, Yuri 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.]

Fincke & Wakata 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), and ARED resistive exercise device (CDR, FE-2).

STS-119/Discovery:   After the first landing opportunity at KSC was waived off due to wind conditions, at the second opportunity Discovery returned to Earth at KSC at 3:14pm EDT on Orbit 203 after 12d 19h 30m in space. Sandy Magnus’ total time in space is 133d 18h 23m.    [It was the 125th flight of a Space Shuttle, the 28th Shuttle mission to visit the station, the 36th for Endeavour and the 70th Shuttle landing at KSC.]

CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today were South Tibesti Megafans (today’s midday pass clipped the southeastern corner of this target area with clear weather expected.  These subtle, ancient erosional features in the central Sahara are located roughly between Lake Chad to the south and closer to the southern flank of the rugged Tibesti Mountains to the north.  CEO researchers requested medium lens oblique views of the region for use later to help pinpoint areas for more detailed shots.  After tracking northeastward over Lake Chad, the crew was to begin shooting broad mapping views of the area to the left of track until you reach the mountains), Oasis Impact Crater (less than two minutes after the encounter with the South Tibesti Megafan target, this impact site was in nadir near the Libyan-Egyptian border.  Oasis Impact Crater is less than 120 million years old and about 18km in diameter.  It is one of the larger and more distinct impacts in the Libyan Desert.  800mm lens views were requested), and Madrean Sky Islands (ISS had an early afternoon, fair-weather pass over this target which is located in the northern reaches of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental which boast some of the richest biodiversity anywhere in North America.  The "Sky Islands" are a veritable archipelago of cool, moist, higher-altitude pine-oak forested mountain ranges that dot the hot deserts of southern Arizona, New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico.  These climatological islands, situated in remote and rugged areas, are being heavily modified by logging.  On today’s pass CEO researchers were specifically seeking near-nadir, detailed imagery of any or all the three areas: The San Luis Mountains of northern Mexico, and, the Paloncillo and Animas Mountains of southwestern New Mexico).

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, 7:58am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude — 353.7 km
Apogee height – 360.3 km
Perigee height — 347.2 km
Period — 91.62 min.
Inclination (to Equator) — 51.64 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0009738
Solar Beta Angle — -1.6 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.72
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours — 167 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 59325

Significant Events Ahead  (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
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.