Status Report

NASA Space Sation On-Orbit Status 21 Apr 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
April 21, 2004
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NASA Space Sation On-Orbit Status 21 Apr 2004

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below.   Once again, we have five humans aboard the station, even if only for eight days: Gennady Padalka, Mike Fincke, Alexander Kaleri, Michael Foale and André Kuipers.

Soyuz TMA-4/8S (call sign “Altair”) docked smoothly at the FGB/Zarya nadir port at 1:01am EDT, achieving successful contact and capture.  Hatches were open at 2:00am, followed by crew transfer.  [The station came into the Altair crew’s sight at ~5000 m, and at 400 m (~00:43am) the spacecraft began its fly-around.  By 00:57am, when distance had decreased to 160 m, station keeping commenced, until Soyuz entered the RGS AOS (Russian ground sites/acquisition of comm signal) zone at 00:50am during ISS orbit 30921.  Final approach started at 00:54am, concluding with successful “kasaniye” (contact) at 1:01am.  “Sborka” (closing of Soyuz & FGB hooks and latches) followed automatically shortly thereafter.  For the docking, the Russian Service Module (SM) thrusters were disabled for Soyuz volume pressurization & clamp installation and returned to active attitude control after sborka.  Before hatch opening, the crew performed leak checks of the Soyuz modules and the Soyuz/ISS interface vestibule, doffed the Sokol suits and started their dryout, then replaced the Soyuz ECLSS LiOH cartridges and put the spacecraft into conservation mode.]

After the arrival and crew greetings, CDR Michael Foale reestablished nominal comm configuration, and the visiting crew (VC6) immediately began with payload transfers.   [Kuipers, the seventh European astronaut to visit the ISS and the first from Netherlands (Wubbo Ockels flew on Shuttle/D1 in 1985), relocated his experiment equipment and samples from Soyuz TMA-4 to the ISS.  Other experiment equipment for the mission had been brought up on the Progress 13P supply ship last January.]

VC FE André Kuipers “hit the ground running”, with an extremely busy first day, which covered a majority of the various experimental fields of the ESA “Delta” science program.   [He transferred biological samples between the European-built Kubik incubators, for the biological experiments ACTIN, ICE-first, FLOW, KAPPA and TUBUL (see 4/20 status report for “Delta” details), carried out procedures for the human physiology experiments CIRCA, Motion Perception (MOP) and MUSCLE (back pain questionnaire), and took onboard samples for the microbiology experiment SAMPLE, which looks for bacteria on the ISS.  He activated the technology demonstration experiment HEAT in the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) to begin testing a heatpipe in space, for the development of more effective heatpipes for cooling systems.  On the education side, Kuipers installed two University student experiments, BugNRG (to investigate bacterial fuel cells in weightlessness) and the plant growth experiment GraPhoBox, which were the winners of a competition organized by the Dutch Government.  Kuipers also undertook the first part of an educational experiment called Seeds in Space, which directly involves tens of thousands of schoolchildren.  These kids, aged from 10 to 15, will be gaining hands-on experimentation experience by carrying out the same seed germination experiment at the same time as André in space.]

Kuipers’ retrieval of the ESA payload BIO-10 “Intercellular Interaction” from the Russian Kriogem-03 refrigerator, set earlier to -22 deg by Sasha, and its activation in its glove box kit were documented photographically by Padalka with the Nikon D1 digital still camera (10 shots).   [The same task, recording BIO-10 deactivation, is scheduled for Gennady tomorrow.]

André retrieved the European BMI hardware for blood pressure monitoring in zero-G from its stowage in the DC-1 docking compartment and replaced its battery.  [The BMI cuff is worn on the arm not used for blood draws.  When donned, André’s blood pressure measurements are taken every 15 min. throughout the day and every 30 min. during the night.  The task also involves filling out logbook questionnaires for each data take period.  Pedro Duque used the BMI during the VC5 mission last October (2003) but struggled with it for several days until he got it working.]

The crews were provided with a detailed overview/listing of 8S payload/experiment hazards.   [Payload safety reviewers distinguish between standard hazards and unique hazards, in the two categories of Biosafety and Toxicity.  There are four defined Biosafety levels, 1 thru 4 (of which levels 3 & 4 are not permitted on board), and five Toxicity levels, zero to 4.  Before experiments are approved for operation, they must be carefully reviewed and certified by teams of payloads safety experts.]

U.S. items delivered on 8S include fresh medical/health accessories, 16 radiation area monitor (RAM) assemblies, a crew passive dosimeter, shoes, clothing for Fincke, and other small items.

After the cargo transfers and more pressing payload activations, the five crewmembers went through the usual contingency evacuation drill, to acquaint the visitors with the general layout and sharpen their readiness for possible station evacuation in the two Soyuz vehicles (one docked at the DC-1, the other at the FGB) in case of an emergency.

By mid-day, crew rotation was completed (the official traditional change-of-command ceremony is scheduled for Monday, 4/26, 10:41am EDT, to be carried live on NASA-TV).  [FE Sasha Kaleri and CDR-9 Padalka swapped out the rotating crewmembers’ IELKs (individual equipment and liner kits, Russian: USIL) in the seats in the two Soyuz vehicles, 213 & 214, including the tailored Sokol spacesuits after they were dried out, along with their gloves.  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 Exp. 9 IELKs, the Exp. 8 crew and André Kuipers are now considered 7S crew, and Expedition 9 has technically begun its residence aboard ISS.]

Gennady Padalka recharged the battery of the DVCAM digital video camera.

Padalka also transferred the VC emergency procedures book (3 copies) from Soyuz-213/7S to the new crew return vehicle, Soyuz-214/8S, and updated flight procedures books with new ODF (operations data files) pages brought up on 8S.

Foale and Fincke collected the previously (4/19) deployed passive U.S. FMK (formaldehyde monitoring kit) sampling badges from the Lab and SM for packing and return to Earth on 7S.

At ~11:02am EDT, André Kuipers had an interactive VIP call from dignitaries assembled at Philips Co. Headquarters in Eindhoven, NL.   [The well-wishing party included the Prime Minister (Minister-President) of Holland Jan Pieter Balkenende, two of his Ministers (Economy and Education/Culture/Science) and the President/CEO of Philips Co.  The exchange, recorded for TV as “Innovation Platform”, reported on the mission and called out specific Dutch and Belgian equipment used in space, such as Philips’ new type of light bulbs being investigated in the ARGES payload.]

A list with viewing opportunities of the territory of the Netherlands was uplinked to André for most of his flight days for visual and/or photo/film observations.

In the U.S. Lab, the CDRA (CO2 removal assembly) was activated by ground command and is now running.

Mike Foale also completed the regular daily routine tasks of SOZh life support system maintenance in the SM.

At ~7:17pm EDT tonight, recharging of the Soyuz 8S batteries will be initiated by ground command from RGS.  Later, at ~11:45pm, the Elektron oxygen generator will be switched to the higher-output 32 amps mode.

The station is now again in LVLH (local vertical/local horizontal) flight attitude in which the longitudinal body axis (X) points in flight direction (i.e., is in the velocity vector) and the vertical body axis (Z) always points to the Earth’s center (nadir).   [This attitude, in which the station turns one “somersault” per orbit, minimizes aerodynamic drag and maximized the micro-G environment on board.  Its torquing is accomplished by the U.S. CMGs (control moment gyros) that work best in TEA (torque equilibrium attitude), which balances the major environmental torques on the ISS gravity gradient and aerodynamic drag.  With currently only a single gimbal for each of the two solar array wings (BGA2 & 4), LVLH at certain times, determined by the solar Beta angle, generates less electrical power than desired.  Attitude is then switched to the second basic mode, XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane), in which the ISS remains sun-oriented during its orbit around Earth, albeit incurring increased undistributed heating.]

Upcoming Soyuz Events:

  • 7S hatch closure: 4/29 (Thursday), 1:34pm Eastern.
  • 7S undocking: 4/29, 4:49pm Eastern, 12:49am (4/30) Moscow;
  • 7S landing:  4/29, 8:09pm Eastern, 4:09am (4/30) Moscow, 7:09am (4/30) Astana.

U.S. and Russian Segment Status (as of today, 12:38pm EDT).

Environmental Control and Life Support (ECLSS) and Thermal Control (TCS):
Elektron O2 generator is On.  Vozdukh CO2 scrubber is On.  U.S. CDRA CO2 scrubber is On.  TCCS (trace contaminant control subsystem) is operating.  SM Gas Analyzer has been calibrated and is used for ppO2 and ppCO2 monitoring.  MCA (major constituents analyzer) is in Life Extending Mode (LEM).  BMP Harmful Impurities unit: absorbent bed #1 in Purify mode, bed #2 in Purify mode.  RS air conditioner SKV-1 is On, SKV-2 is Off (SM panel mods completed 4/8; SKV-2 activation failed 4/20).  SFOG slot#2 fan suspect (not usable).

Electrical Power Systems (EPS):

  • oth P6 channels fully operational.  BGA (beta gimbal assembly) 2B and 4B both in Autotrack (solar-tracking, “sun slicer”, i.e., drag reduction-biased by 47 deg).
  • SM batteries:  All batteries (8) are in “Partial Charge” mode.  
  • FGB batteries:  Battery #1 is off-line (capacity restoration mode, ROM); all other batteries (5) are in “Partial Charge” mode.
  • Plasma Contactor Unit PCU-1 is in Standby mode; PCU-2 is in Manual mode.

Command & Data Handling Systems:

  • C&C-1 MDM is prime, C&C-2 is back-up, and C&C-3 is in standby.
  • GNC-2 MDM is prime; GNC-1 is Backup.
  • INT-2 is operating; INT-1 is Off.
  • EXT-1 is On (primary), EXT-2 is Off.
  • LA-1, LA-2 and LA-3 MDMs are all operating.
  • PL-1 MDM is Off; PL-2 MDM is Operational.
  • APS-1 (automated payload switch #1) and APS-2 are both On.
  • SM Terminal Computer (TVM): 2 redundant lanes (of 3) operational (string 1 dropped out 11/22/03).
  • SM Central Computer (TsVM): 2 redundant lanes (of 3) operational (string #3 dropped out 10/22/03).
  • FGB MDM-1 is Off (failed, 11/21/03); MDM-2 is Operational.

Propulsion System:

  • Total propellant load available: 3875 (8543 lb) as of 4/15/04;  [SM(755) + FGB(2461) + Progress M-1(659)].  (Capability: SM — 860 kg; FGB — 6120 kg).

Attitude Control Systems:

  • 3 CMGs on-line (CMG-1 failed, since 6/6/02).
  • State vector source — U.S. SIGI-1 (GPS)
  • Attitude source — U.S. SIGI-1 (GPS)
  • Angular rate source — RGA-1

Flight Attitude:

  • LVLH YVV (local vertical/local horizontal = “earth-fixed”: z-axis in local vertical, y-axis in velocity vector [yaw: -90 deg, pitch: -9 deg, roll: 1.7 deg]), with CMG/TA (thruster assist) Momentum Management.

Communications & Tracking Systems:

  • FGB MDM-1 is powered Off; FGB MDM-2 is operational.
  • All other Russian communications & tracking systems are nominal.
  • S-band is operating nominally (on string 2).
  • Ku-band is operating nominally (may require a mask).
  • Audio subsystem is operating nominally (IAC-1 is prime, IAC-2 is off).
  • Video subsystem operating nominally.
  • HCOR (high-rate communications outage recorder) is operating nominally.


  • SSRMS/Canadarm2 based at Lab PDGF/LEE A, operational on redundant string, off on prime.
  • MBS: KA (keep alive) power on both strings. 
  • MT: latched and mated at WS4. 
  • POA: KA power on both strings.
  • RWS (robotics workstations): Lab RWS is On (DCP connected); Cupola RWS is Off.

ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 8:47am EDT [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 363.0 km
  • Apogee — 370.4 km
  • Perigee — 355.6 km
  • Period — 91.80 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) —  51.63 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0010986
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.68
  • Mean altitude loss last 24 hours — 130 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98)  — 30942

For more on ISS orbit and worldwide ISS naked-eye visibility dates/times, see

SpaceRef staff editor.