Status Report

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 3 March 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
March 3, 2009
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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 3 March 2009

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below.

Following equipment setup by FE-2 Magnus, she, CDR Fincke & FE-1 Lonchakov 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 (Medical Equipment Computer) laptop application. It was Mike’s, Sandra’s & Yuri’s fourth O-OHA test. [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, new Bose ANC headsets (delivered on 30P) 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.]

After activating the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) from its A31p laptop, Magnus conducted another session with the new SPICE (Smoke Point In Co-flow Experiment) payload, performed in the MSG and controlled by its A31p with SPICE microdrives. [Sandra exchanged burner tubes, set up the still camera, exchanged the gas bottle with new fuel, performed ignition to start the flame test, adjusted to the smoke point and took photos. Planned were a total of 18 test points (#91-96; #97-102; #103-108), after which Sandra was to close out the session. SPICE determines the point at which gas-jet flames (similar to a butane-lighter flame) begin to emit soot (dark carbonaceous particulate formed inside the flame) in microgravity. Studying a soot emitting flame is important in understanding the ability of fires to spread and in control of soot in practical combustion systems in space.]

Following a 2 hr in-depth review of the preliminary Orlan EVA-21A timeline and procedures (see Overview, below), the CDR & FE-1 continued preparations for the spacewalk, including –

  • Configuring & testing the EVA POV support panels in the SM PkhO (Service Module Transfer Compartment) and “Pirs” DC1 (Docking Compartment/Airlock) [to be used for leak checks and valve tests on the Orlan suits, BSS interface units & hatch KVDs (pressure equalization valves)], and
  • Installing BNP portable repress O2 tank #3 in the SM RO (Working Compartment).

Lonchakov & Fincke also installed the Docking Mechanism (StM, Stykovochnovo mekhanizma) between Progress M-66/32P and the DC1 airlock at the nadir port. [StM is the "classic" probe-and-cone type, consisting of an active docking assembly (ASA) with a probe (SSh), which fits into the cone (SK) on the passive docking assembly (PSA) for initial soft dock and subsequent retraction to hard dock. The ASA is mounted on the Progress’ cargo module (GrO), while the PSA sits on the docking ports of the SM, FGB and DC1.]

The FE-1 worked on the European EXPOSE-R payload to repair and recover the “monobloc” unit which had failed to activate & transmit telemetry to the ground after its installation on the SM shell (large diameter segment) during the Russian EVA-21 on 12/22/08, after which it had to be returned on board. [EXPOSE-R contains plant seeds and spores of bacteria & fungi. The exposure of the samples outside the RS (Russian Segment) is planned to last 18 months.]

Lonchakov also had 30 min reserved for preparing tools and parts for tomorrow’s planned R&R (removal & replacement) of the hard-failed subset #1 of the Russian TVM Terminal Computer system. [TVM1 (one of three lines) was found to be non-recoverable during a restart attempt on 2/11.]

Magnus initiated a software image upgrade (“ghosting” or “cloning”) of the SAMS II (Space Acceleration Measurement System II) hard drives from ELT4 (EXPRESS Rack 4 Laptop), terminating the procedure several hours later. [Background: SAMS is a distributed acceleration measurement system consisting of an ICU (Interim Control Unit) in ER4 (EXPRESS-4 Rack), and sensors in several payload racks including ER1, ER2, ER3, MSG Rack and CIR (Combustion Integrated Rack). The SAMS laptop shell, a IBM 760XD, is functioning properly, but the flight HDDs (hard disk drives) that are loaded with SAMS software and operating system are only marginally functional. On Mission 1J, a ghost load CD and floppy disk were sent up for ghosting new hard drives to replace the marginal ones. In August 2008, the ghosting process was started and is currently partially complete. The reformatted HDDs are installed in the SAMS ICU but the ghost load which is resident on the ELT4 had not yet been copied to the HDDs. A communications issue between the SAMS ICU and the ELT4 has prevented the completion of this task.]

Fincke & Magnus completed the regular monthly session (their third) of the CHeCS (Crew Health Care Systems) emergency medical operations OBT (On-Board Training) drill, a 30-min. exercise to refresh their CMO (Crew Medical Officer)’s acuity in a number of critical health areas. The proficiency drills today focused on ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), featuring key points of IV (intravenous) Fluid Infusion procedure and treatment for Tension Pneumothorax. [The HMS (Health Maintenance Systems) hardware, including ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) equipment, may be used in contingency situations where crew life is at risk. To maintain proficiency, crewmembers spend one hour per month reviewing HMS and ACLS equipment and procedures via the HMS and ACLS CBT (computer-based training). The training drill, each crewmember for him/herself, refreshes their memory of the on-orbit stowage and deployment locations, equipment etc. and procedures.]

The FE-1 completed the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM, today also continuing transferring the contents of five EDV-U urine containers to Progress M-66/32P Rodnik tank BV1. [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.]

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

Yuri collected the periodic readings of potentially harmful atmospheric contaminants in the SM, using the CMS (Countermeasure System), a component of the SKDS GANK-4M Real-Time Harmful Contaminant Gas Analyzer suite, and conducted an audit/inventory of available CMS kits in the RS. [CMS uses preprogrammed microchips to measure for numerous contaminants such as O-Xylol (1,2-Dimethylbenzol, C8H10), Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), Formaldehyde, Isopropanol, Methanol, Toluene, Mercaptan, Sulphur dioxide, Hydrogen cyanide, Phosgene, etc.]

The station residents 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 (CDR), TVIS treadmill (FE-1/2.5h, FE-2), and ARED advanced resistive exerciser (CDR, FE-2).

The crewmembers had their periodic PMCs (Private Medical Conferences) via S- & Ku-band audio/video, Yuri at ~11:55am, Mike at ~12:55pm, Sandy at ~1:10pm EST.

At ~3:29am, the CDR powered up the SM’s amateur radio equipment (Kenwood VHF transceiver with manual frequency selection, headset, & power supply) and at 3:34am held a ham radio session with students of Padthaway Primary School, Padthaway, SA, Australia. [Padthaway is a small town in the South East of South Australia 287 km from Adelaide with a population of 300. It is famous for its wines and agriculture. “Our small school is a great school with 38 students in 3 classes. On behalf of the students, staff, parents and our community, thank you for this wonderful opportunity to talk to you.” Questions to Mike were uplinked beforehand. “What do you do if you get travel sickness?”; “What do you use the space station for?”; “What experiments are you doing in space?”; “What is your mission at the moment?”; “What has been the most drastic and important thing that has broken?”; “Is it possible to grow anything in space?”; “What kind of training did you do to go into space and how do you keep at your physical best in space?”; “How long have you been in space altogether?”; “What is your favorite food in space and do you ever get to eat ice cream, lollies or junk food?”; “Has there ever been a wind up in space and if so did it do any damage?”]

EVA-21A Timeline Preview (preliminary): The Orlan EVA-21A by Lonchakov (EV1) & Fincke (EV2) on 3/10 is scheduled to begin at ~12:20pm EDT (DC1 EV hatch open), to last an estimated 5 hrs 45 min, i.e., concluding at approximately 5:05pm. Russian attitude thrusters will be inhibited by TsUP ground commanding at specific times when the spacewalkers work on the SM RO (Working Compartment, l.d./large diameter) and SM AO (Assembly Compartment). Objectives of the EVA are –

  • Re-install & connect the EXPOSE-R hardware to PF-3 connector patch panel on the SM RO l.d. (large diameter);
  • Remove fasteners (Aramide straps) in docking target and AR-VKA & 2AR-VKA antennas installation areas on DC1;
  • Close MLI (Multi-Layer Insulation) flap on the SM PF-10 connector patch panel;
  • Re-install SKK #9 removable cassette container in nominal position; and
  • Inspect & photograph conditions ISS RS exterior and structural elements (“Panorama-2009” DTO).

CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Kerguelen (this glaciated and volcanic archipelago is located in the far south Indian Ocean nearly 2,000 miles southeast of the island of Madagascar. Of primary interest is photography for monitoring of the rarely photographed ice field and glaciers located on the western end of the main island. ISS approach was from the west in mid-afternoon lighting with at least partial clearing expected. Looking just right of track for a mapping pass with the long lens), Heard Island (Heard Island is a bleak, uninhabited, and mountainous island located in the Southern Ocean; about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica. Its mountains are covered in glaciers and dominated by Mawson Peak, a 9,006 ft high complex volcano which forms part of the Big Ben massif. A long thin spit named "Elephant Spit" extends from the east of the island. ISS pass was in late afternoon with partly cloudy conditions and still-adequate lighting. Looking well right of track and try for detailed oblique views of this challenging target), Villarrica Volcano (snow-covered Villarrica [9,340 feet], one of Chile’s most active volcanoes, rises above the lake and town of the same name. It is the westernmost of three large stratovolcanoes that trend perpendicular to the Andean chain. Villarrica is one of only four volcanoes worldwide known to have an active lava lake within its crater. Last week the crew acquired an excellent context view of this target. Today Mike & Sandy had a midday pass with partly cloudy skies expected and the target just right of track. As ISS approached the central Chilean coast from the NW, they were to try for a detailed mapping strip from the lake through the three volcanic peaks in a line), and Palmerston Island reef, central S Pacific (this oddly shaped atoll is located in the tropical south Pacific over 2,500 miles south of the Hawaiian Islands. The lagoon is about seven miles across. As part of an international inventory and monitoring effort of the Earth coral reef resources, CEO researchers are seeking detailed, near-nadir views of the coral reef structures of this atoll system. ISS had a nadir pass in late morning with fair skies expected.)

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, 8:36am EST [= epoch])
Mean altitude — 355.3 km
Apogee height — 361.8 km
Perigee height — 348.7 km
Period — 91.65 min.
Inclination (to Equator) — 51.64 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0009778
Solar Beta Angle — 21.5 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.71
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours — 48 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 58933

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
03/06/09 — Flight Readiness Review for STS-119/Discovery/15A launch
03/08/09 — US Daylight Time begins at 2:00am
03/10/09 — Russian EVA 21A (tentative; hatch open ~12:20pm EDT, 11:20am CDT)
03/12/09 — STS-119/Discovery/15A launch – S6 truss segment (tentative target date)
03/14/09 — STS-119/Discovery/15A docking (tentative)
03/25/09 — STS-119/Discovery/15A undocking (tentative)
03/28/09 — STS-119/Discovery/15A landing (tentative)
03/26/09 — Soyuz TMA-14/18S launch
03/28/09 — Soyuz TMA-14/18S docking (DC1)
04/07/09 — Soyuz TMA-13/17S undocking
04/07/09 — Progress 32P undocking & deorbit
05/12/09 — STS-125/Atlantis Hubble Space Telescope Service Mission 4 (SM4)
05/15/09 — STS-127/Endeavour/2J/A launch – JEM EF, ELM-ES, ICC-VLD
05/27/09 — Soyuz TMA-15/19S launch
Six-person crew on ISS
08/06/09 — STS-128/Discovery/17A – MPLM (P), LMC, last crew rotation
08/XX/09 — Soyuz 5R/MRM2 (Russian Mini Research Module, MIM2) on Soyuz
09/XX/09 — H-IIB (JAXA HTV-1)
11/12/09 — STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3 – ELC1, ELC2
12/10/09 — STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 + Cupola
02/11/10 — STS-131/Atlantis/19A – MPLM(P), LMC
04/08/10 — STS-132/Discovery/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM1
05/31/10 — STS-133/Endeavour/ULF5 – ELC3, ELC4
12/XX/11– Proton 3R/MLM w/ERA.

SpaceRef staff editor.