Status Report

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 30 September 2009

By SpaceRef Editor
September 30, 2009
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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 30 September 2009

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

Soyuz TMA-16 (20S) launched flawlessly this morning on time at 3:14:45am EDT carrying ISS-21 FE-1 Maxim Suraev, ISS-21 FE-3 Jeff Williams & SFP/VC-17 Guy Laliberte. [Separations from second (core) & third stage were nominal. Orbit was attained at L+ 8:45 min at an altitude of 202 km (perigee ~189.6 km/apogee ~230.1 km, downrange ~530 km, velocity ~7.50 km/s, orbit period 88.8 min). Antennas and solar arrays deployed nominally at orbit insertion. 20S has a two-day rendezvous profile, aiming for docking on Friday, 10/2, at 4:37am EDT (2:37pm Moscow DMT time) at the SM aft port. See Flight Plan, below. At orbit insertion, Soyuz unfolded two solar arrays, four Kurs antennas, one TORU/Rassvet-M antenna and one telemetry antenna. Later, the crew activated antenna heaters, set the maneuver mode, turned on the RKO orbit radio tracking system, started leak checks, etc. Two orbit adjustment burns were executed this morning, DV1 (~17.36 m/s) at 7:02am, DV2 (1.76 m/s) at 7:45am, both with the SKD main engine. After the two-day "chase", supported by several more midcourse burns, 20S will dock at the SM aft port on 10/2 at ~4:37am EDT (2:37pm Moscow DMT time).]

After setting up, powering on & configuring the RC (Refrigerated Centrifuge), FE-1 Mike Barratt again acted as CMO (Crew Medical Officer) for FE-5 Frank De Winne as the latter completed Day 4 of Session 2 of the SOLO (Sodium Loading in Microgravity) experiment, i.e., its high-salt diet block, kept on a daily log. Besides the daily diet monitoring/logging, today’s activities also involved blood sampling and urine collection. Barratt stowed the vial bag containing two blood tubes into the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS), then reconfigured and powered off the RC. [SOLO runs in two blocks of six days each. During the Session 1 block, FE-5 followed a special low-salt diet, during the current Session 2 a high-salt diet. For both diets, specially prepared meals are provided onboard. All three daily meals are logged on sheets stowed in the PCBA Consumable Kit in the MELFI along with control solution and cartridges for the PCBA. SOLO, an ESA/German experiment from the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne/Germany, investigates the mechanisms of fluid and salt retention in the body during long-duration space flight. Background: The hypothesis of an increased urine flow as the main cause for body mass decrease has been questioned in several recently flown missions. Data from the US SLS1/2 missions as well as the European/Russian Euromir `94 & MIR 97 missions show that urine flow and total body fluid remain unchanged when isocaloric energy intake is achieved. However, in two astronauts during these missions the renin-angiotensin system was considerably activated while plasma ANP concentrations were decreased. Calculation of daily sodium balances during a 15-day experiment of the MIR 97 mission (by subtracting sodium excretion from sodium intake) showed an astonishing result: the astronaut retained on average 50 mmol sodium daily in space compared to balanced sodium in the control experiment.]

Afterwards, Barratt took photos of the GDS (Gas Delivery System) tank gauges of the PFE-OUM (Human Research Facility / Periodic Fitness Evaluation – Oxygen Uptake Measurement) equipment at the HRF-2 (Human Research Facility 2) rack, to help the ground to track the available gas on orbit.

Later, Mike underwent his third (& last) session with the JAXA experiment “Biological Rhythms”, for which he donned the electrodes of the DWH (Digital Walk Holter) for ECG (Electrocardiogram) recording, then started the data take.

FE-2 Stott began her day by placing four bags of JAXA “Dewey’s Forest” samples in the MELFI for thermal preservation while on ISS. [Dewey’s Forest, one of the Japanese educational payloads, is intended to show how gravity controls the laws of nature and influences our ways of thinking. The project is a catalyst to rediscover our relationship with plants on the ground and the age-old history of our gardens.]

Also for JAXA, the FE-2 worked on the CBEF (Cell Biology Experiment Facility) in the Kibo JPM (JEM Pressurized Module), replacing the humidifier (desiccant) of the SPACE SEED experiment in the IU Micro-G (Micro-G Incubation Unit).

Later, Nicole completed the periodic status & screen check on the running payload CGBA-5 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus), located in the ER-2 (EXPRESS Rack 2).

Barratt, Stott & Thirsk had several hours reserved for the major complex outfitting job of assembling and installing the T2 (COLBERT) treadmill with vibration isolation in Node-2, at location D5. [The Node-2 location for T2 is only temporary since COLBERT will later be moved to Node-3, location F5).]

The FE-1 started the periodic manual filling of the WHC (Waste & Hygiene Compartment) flush water tank (EDV-SV), today cutting the process short manually after a partial fill (which rendered the WHC unavailable during this time). [The manual stop, instead of the normal automatic stop when the EDV-SV is full, had the purpose to maintain proper water balance in the WPA/UPA (Water & Urine Processing Assemblies). Another fill will be scheduled next week, because of three more occupants on board.]

Afterwards, the FE-1 initiated (later terminated) another automatic sampling run (the 34th) with the EHS GC/DMS (Environmental Health System Gas Chromatograph/Differential Mobility Spectrometer), also known as AQM (Air Quality Monitor), controlled with “Sionex” expert software from the SSC-4 (Station Support Computer 4) laptop. Today’s run was stopped after 3 hrs (instead of 5 hrs) as a test. [The AQM demonstrates COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) technology for identifying volatile organic compounds, similar to the VOA (Volatile Organics Analyzer). Today’s data will again to be compared with VOA and GSC (Grab Sample Container) measurements. This evaluation will continue over the course of several months as it helps to eventually certify the GC/DMS as nominal CHeCS (Crew Health Care Systems) hardware.]

FE-4 Thirsk had over an hour set aside for performing the regular USOS hatch seal inspection, using the vacuum cleaner/brush plus other tools on the hatches at Node-1 Forward, Aft & Starboard, Lab Aft & Forward, and Airlock (intravehicular hatch) in support of periodic ACS (Atmospheric Control System) maintenance. [All hatches were found in good configuration and their seals in good condition.]

CDR Padalka & FE-1 Barratt prepared for their return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-14/18S on 10/10 (with Guy Laliberte) by unstowing their Sokol IV spacesuits, checking them and their gloves for leaks and setting them up for the usual “drying out” (airing) for about 2.5 hrs.

In preparation for his return to gravity with 18S, Padalka had another training session, his third (of five), of the Russian MO-5 MedOps protocol of cardiovascular evaluation in the below-the-waist reduced-pressure “Chibis” device (ODNT, US: LBNP) on the Russian VELO ergometer, assisting by Roman Romanenko as CMO. [The 55-min assessment, supported by ground specialist tagup (VHF) and telemetry monitoring from Russian ground site (DO2, 5:11-5:44am), 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 Padalka’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 a sequence of progressive regimes of reduced (“negative”) pressure, set at -20, -25, -30, and -35 mmHg 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.]

Gennady conducted the periodic health check of the KhSA Cooler/Dehumidifier Assembly’s V1 fan in the Soyuz 18S spacecraft’s DM (Descent Module) by turning the V2 fan on and the V1 fan off, then checking air flow. [On 6/25, a planned replacement of the apparently faulty fan in the Soyuz 18S DM with a new unit proved to be not necessary after Padalka configured a jumper bypass which successfully recovered functionality of the air conditioner fan. Today’s activity was to check up on the fix.]

FE-3 Romanenko completed the periodic monitoring, picture-taking and downloading of the Russian BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 ("Plants-2") experiment in the SM (Service Module). [Rasteniya-2 researches growth and development of plants under spaceflight conditions in the LADA-16 greenhouse from IBMP (Institute of Bio-Medical Problems, Russian: IMBP), currently planted with Mizuna seeds. Mizuna (Brassica rapa nipposinica) is a tasty variety of Japanese mustard greens, also known as California Peppergrass, eaten as a salad.]

Romanenko conducted the periodic service of the RS (Russian Segment) radiation payload suite “Matryoshka-R” (RBO-3-2), verifying proper function of the setup with the LULIN-5 electronics box. [A total of eight Bubble dosimeter detectors (A01-A08) are positioned at their exposure locations, three in the spherical “Phantom” unit on the DC1 panel and five in the SM (two in starboard crew cabin on both sides of the MOSFET (metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor) dosimeter detector unit, two under the work table, and one at panel 410). The deployment locations of the detectors were photo-documented with the NIKON D2X camera and also reported to TsUP via log sheet via OCA. The complex Matryoshka payload suite is designed for sophisticated radiation studies. Note: Matryoshka is the name for the traditional Russian set of nested dolls.]

The FE-3 also –

  • Did the daily IMS (Inventory Management System) maintenance, updating/editing its standard “delta file” including stowage locations, for the regular weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur), and
  • 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.]

In the COL (Columbus Orbital Laboratory), freshly upgraded to C12 software, FE-5 De Winne loaded the new CLSW (Columbus LAN Switch) configuration files on the local drives of both PWS (Portable Workstation) laptops, then used one of the laptops to configure the CLSW for HTML-format report capability.

Also in COL, Frank switched off the power outlet on the EPM ESEM4 (European Physiology Module / Exchangeable Standard Electronic Module 4) to avoid future automatic mode transitioning upon rack activation.

In Node-2, Mike Barratt created more stowage space for cargo coming from HTV by relocating stowage bags with currently not needed crew provisions into the overhead location O5, behind the ZSR (Zero-G Storage Rack, which had to be temporarily rotated down to provide access). [Five 0.5 CTBs (half-Cargo Transfer Bags) and 1 full-size CTB were relocated.]

In support of an upcoming Reaction Self Test, Nicole Stott reloaded the RWS (Robotics Workstation) A31p laptop with software for the test from DVD media.

FE-5 Frank De Winne installed a new VTR (Video Tape Recorder) in the MSS (Mobile Service System)/Avionics Rack 2 in the Lab (loc. P5), after the ground had performed the required safing steps.

Frank also accessed the WRS2 (Water Recovery System 2) for the periodic backfill of the RFTA (Recycle Filter Tank Assembly) with QD (Quick Disconnect) hose, which was then stowed and the RFTA activity closed out.

The FE-3 conducted his eighth data collection for the psychological MBI-16 Vzaimodejstvie (“Interactions”) program, accessing and completing the computerized study questionnaire on the RSE-Med laptop and saving the data in an encrypted file. [The software has a “mood” questionnaire, a “group & work environment” questionnaire, and a “critical incidents” log. Results from the study, which is also mirrored by ground control subjects, could help to improve the ability of future crewmembers to interact safely and effectively with each other and with Mission Control, to have a more positive experience in space during multi-cultural, long-duration missions, and to successfully accomplish mission activities.]

The CDR set up and checked out initial status & ops parameters of the “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 FSH3 spectrum analyzer was used to check out antenna performance. Activities included making connections to the power supplies and antenna switching units and checking nominal and simulator-mode telemetry receiving & recording parameters. 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].

Gennady & Roman worked in the SM setting up and checking out the work area for SFP/VC17 Guy Laliberte, who arrives with Soyuz TMA-16/20S on 10/2. [For the VC-17 science program during the ISS-20/ISS-21 handover period, Romanenko & Padalka installed (without plugging in) the two temperature control units CRYOGEM-03M and CRYOGEM-03. CRYOGEM-03 will be activated at +4 degC on Soyuz docking day. Additional equipment prepared by Roman included hardware for the BIOEMULSIYA experiment, setting up the KONSTANTA video hardware, and cleaning the NIKON D3 camera’s highly sensitive CCD (Charged-Couple Device) matrix.]

Mike again had an hour each set aside for regular crew departure preparations, working on the standard end-of-increment cleanup preparatory to their return to Earth on Soyuz 18S, along with Canadian SPF (Spaceflight Participant) Guy Laliberte. [It is usual for crewmembers to be granted reduced workdays for making their departure preparations, as their return date approaches.]

The crew completed their regular daily 2.5-hr. physical workout program on the CEVIS cycle ergometer (FE-5), TVIS treadmill with vibration isolation (CDR, FE-1, FE-2, FE-3, FE-4), ARED advanced resistive exerciser (FE-1, FE-2, FE-3, FE-4, FE-5), and VELO cycle ergometer with bungee cord load trainer (CDR). [ARED is showing lower loads than expected. The exerciser is still functional, and engineers will determine if there is a good seal on the force cylinder so that the expected loading can be obtained.]

Later, Barratt transferred the exercise data files to the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) for downlink, including the daily wristband HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) data of the workouts on ARED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).

At ~8:55am, De Winne joined in a tagup with the ESA staff at Col-CC (Columbus Control Center) at Oberpfaffenhofen/Germany. [This conference is scheduled once every week, between ISS crewmembers and Col-CC via S/G2 (Space-to-Ground 2) audio.]

Soyuz TMA-16/20S Flight Plan Overview:

  • Flight Day 1:

Launch to Orbit, ~9 min in duration; auto deployment of solar arrays & antennas; pressurization of prop tanks and filling of Soyuz manifolds; docking probe extended; leak check by crew of BO & SA modules; KURS self tests; test of BDUS angular rate sensors; attitude established (OSK/LVLH); crew opens BO-SA hatch, ingresses BO and doffs Sokol suits; test of RUO rotational hand controller; Soyuz put in ISK (sun spinning/”barbecue”) mode; data for DV1 & DV2 burns uplinked; SOA air purification system activated in BO and deactivated in SA; DV1 burn; DV2 burn; Soyuz back in ISK attitude; crew clean & dry Sokols; crew sleep.

  • 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 CO2 filters in BO; crew sleep.

  • Flight Day 3:

Post-sleep activities; DV4; 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 at SM aft port via KURS-P in ISS & KURS-A in Soyuz; docking; pressure equalized between Soyuz and ISS; crew transfers.

The VC-17 program will be performed, from 9/30-10/11, for 10 days (10/2-10/11) in the ISS RS. The SFP has access to USOS resources for email, IP Phone, and HD video downlink. US crewmembers will operate the camera during some daily recordings & privatized conversations (one with Canadian Astronaut Julie Payette). The program entails –

  • Three live TV conferences between RS and TsUP-Moscow,
  • Additional videoconferences via the USOS (US Segment), TBD
  • Taking pictures & shooting video footage inside the RS,
  • Commemorative activities,
  • 1-2 times/day (morning) tagups with the advisory group (via Russian comm),
  • Daily (afternoon) private conferences using VOIP (TBD), and
  • Daily (afternoon) E-mail (TBD).

During the VC-17 period, the SFP will help Russian cosmonauts similar to Charles Simonyi (VC-16). Expedition 21 experiments during VC-17 include:

  • SFP Crystal Growth Experiment
  • SFP Photography of the Earth
  • KASKAD (BTKh-26),
  • LAKTOLEN (BTKh-5) & OChB (BTKh-7),
  • ARIL (BTKh-6),
  • SONOKARD (MBI-12),
  • PILOT-M (MBI-15) pilot acuity,

CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today were Arkenu 1 & 2 Impact Craters, Libya (weather was predicted to be clear over these small circular features on the landscape. While the Arkenu craters have been interpreted as impact structures, recent research now suggests that they may be volcanic in origin. Looking slightly to the right of track for the craters. Overlapping mapping frames, taken along track, were requested), Cairo, Egypt (ISS had a nadir pass over the Cairo metropolitan area. Overlapping frames taken during approach, overflight and departure of the urban area were to capture a rural – urban – rural transect across the city), Serra da Cangalha Impact Crater, Brazil (looking to the left of track for this 12 km-diameter impact structure. The crater’s location is primarily defined by a circular drainage pattern surrounding the remnants of a central peak; low lighting conditions at the time of this overpass may have helped to accentuate these features. Overlapping frames, taken parallel to your orbit track over the target area were recommended to capture imagery of the crater), and Sky Islands, Northern Mexico (ISS passed over the central Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. Looking for green vegetated regions at the summits and along the upper slopes of the mountains. These areas are known as "sky islands" as they preserve ecosystems greatly different from the surrounding desert. Detailed photography of these vegetated areas is useful for assessing their extent).

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, 8:24am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude — 346.0 km
Apogee height – 351.9 km
Perigee height — 340.1 km
Period — 91.46 min.
Inclination (to Equator) — 51.64 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0008774
Solar Beta Angle — -44.4 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.74
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours — 87 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 62254

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
10/02/09 — Soyuz TMA-16/20S docking (SM aft, until MRM-2 w/new port) (~4:37am)
10/10/09 — Soyuz TMA-14/18S undock (9:05pm)
10/11/09 — Soyuz TMA-14/18S land (~00:30am; Kazakhstan: ~10:30am)
10/14/09 — H-IIB (JAXA HTV-1) unberth (under review)
10/15/09 — Progress 35P launch
10/27/09 — Ares I-X Flight Test
11/10/09 — 5R/MRM-2 (Russian Mini Research Module 2) on Soyuz-U
11/12/09 — 5R/MRM-2 docking (SM zenith)
11/12/09 — STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3 launch (ELC1, ELC2)
12/01/09 – Soyuz TMA-15/19S undock
12/21/09 — Soyuz TMA-17/21S launch — O. Kotov/S. Noguchi/T.J. Creamer
12/23/09 — Soyuz TMA-17/21S (FGB nadir)
01/??/10 — Soyuz 20S relocation (from SM aft to MRM-2)
02/03/10 — Progress 36P launch
02/04/10 — STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 + Cupola
02/05/10 — Progress 36P docking
03/18/10 — STS-131/Discovery/19A – MPLM(P), LMC
04/02/10 — Soyuz TMA-18/22S launch
04/28/10 — Progress 37P launch
05/14/10 — STS-132/Atlantis/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM-1
05/30/10 — Soyuz TMA-19/23S launch
06/30/10 — Progress 38P launch
07/27/10 — Progress 39P launch
07/29/10 — STS-133/Endeavour (ULF5 – ELC4, MPLM) or STS-134/Discovery (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS)
08/31/10 — Progress 40P launch
09/16/10 — STS-133/Endeavour (ULF5 – ELC4, MPLM) or STS-134/Discovery (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS)
09/30/10 — Soyuz TMA-20/24S launch
10/27/10 — Progress 41P launch
11/30/10 — Soyuz TMA-21/25S launch
12/21/10 — ATV2 – Ariane 5 (ESA)
02/09/11 — Progress 42P launch
03/30/11 — Soyuz TMA-22/26S launch
xx/xx/11 — Progress 43P launch
05/30/11 — Soyuz TMA-23/27S launch
12/??/11 — 3R Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) w/ERA – on Proton

SpaceRef staff editor.