Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 12 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 12, 2004
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 12 Mar 2004

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except as noted previously or below.  Day 146 in space for Expedition 8 (144 days aboard ISS).

Good news on TVIS!  After the successful three-day IFM (in-flight maintenance), crew reports and data evaluation on the ground indicate that the treadmill is back in operation and running “quiet as a church mouse”.  This morning, the crew was congratulated on their excellent work, which resulted in the TVIS working “in fact better than when you inherited it!”   [After evaluation of the downlinked data, theGo has been given for TVISexercise in motorized mode, with speed restricted to 6 mph in motorized mode and loads limited to 160 lbs in motorized mode.  The crew was notified to monitor for “Underspeed” messages, which just mean that because of the new bearings the gyro requires a little more time until reaching its speed (>2000 rpm).]

CDR/SO Michael Foale began today’s FOOT experiment (Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during Space Flight), his third session, by donning the specially instrumented LEMS (lower extremity monitoring suit) pants garment, opening the Lab nitrogen (N2) valve and then conducting the data collection session during the day.  After the FOOT ops, the N2 valve was closed again.   [Wearing the black Lycra biking tights with 20 electrodes and shoes fitted with insoles that measure impact forces on the bottom of the foot for the 12-hr session, Foale first performed electromyography (EMG) calibration (i.e., electric muscle currents recording) on the right arm and leg, then completed a typical on-orbit day while his reaction forces against the ISS structure were recorded passively on 14 channels to determine how much stress his legs and feet endure.  This provides better understanding of the bone loss and muscle mass loss experienced by astronauts in zero-G (on Mir, for example, cosmonauts lost as much bone mass in a month as post-menopausal women do in a year).  Prior to and following TVIS exercise he needed to perform a standing calibration with three marker button presses, to allow the ground to identify if sensors have shifted during exercise.  During standing calibration he was to stand up as straight as he would in 1G, keeping knees straight and heels on the footplates.  At the end of the day, he was to check whether EMG electrodes have come loose during the preceding activities.  The experiment, which is led by the biomedical engineering department at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, was also conducted by Ken Bowersox during Increment 6.]

FE Alexander Kaleri configured the borrowed spare U.S. IBM 760XD laptop in the place of the Russian laptop 3 (which is currently being used with the Service Module Central Post computer #1 [KTsP1]) to support the Russian medical experiments MBI-8 “Pulse” and MBI-9 “Profilaktika”, starting tomorrow and running through 3/17.

Foale worked on the RED (resistive exercise device), reinstalling the Flexpack canisters #1011 and #1012.

The FE continued the regular monthly maintenance cycle on the RS (Russian segment) ventilation system, today cleaning the removable screens of its three GZhT gas-liquid heat exchangers in the FGB.  He also changed out the FGB’s two dust filters (PF1 & PF2).

In the SM, Alex then replaced the air ventilation system’s four dust collector filters (PF1-4).

Sasha also completed the periodic servicing task of changing out ASU toilet system equipment, then checked out the ASU.   [Replaced were the receptacle (MP) and filter insert (F-V).  The old units were stowed for disposal.]

Mike Foale initiated the charging process on battery #1 of the MedOps cardiac defibrillator.  Later, charging of #1 was terminated and initiated on battery #2.  The equipment was stowed when both batteries were done.

The FE performed maintenance on his BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 (“Plants-2”) payload and “refueled” its water storage tank.   [Rasteniya studies growth and development of plants (peas) under spaceflight conditions in the Lada-4 greenhouse.  Regular maintenance involves monitoring of seedling growth, humidity measurements, watering to moisten the substrate if necessary, and photo/video recording.]

Mike Foale set up and worked a training session on the ADUM (Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity) experiment’s OPE (On-board Proficiency Enhancer) to support upcoming Scan A activities.   [Mike tested running the ADUM OPE compact disk on the HRF PC/laptop and performed steps critical for voice.]

As every week, after exercising Foale transferred data files from the physical exercise equipment to the MEC (medical equipment computer) via memory card and RED log entries, for downlink on OCA comm.  Later, he completed the periodic transfer of accumulated data files from the wristband HRM (heart rate monitor) receiver stations to the MEC for downlink, then deleting them on the HRM.  

Sasha Kaleri performed the regular SOZh life support systems maintenance in the SM, comprising the water supply equipment, food supply subsystem (SOP), and sanitary hygiene equipment (SGO), and Foale completed the weekly status checkup of autonomous Increment 8 payloads in the Lab.

Update on Elektron O2 generator:   Continues to be failed.  To check on the possibility of an erratic pressure sensor, TsUP/Moscow today uplinked a modified algorithm, which changes the pump outlet pressure (or voltage) limit that triggers the Elektron shutdown.  The modification will lower the software auto shutdown pressure limit, thus, it is hoped, eliminating/reducing the premature micropump shutdowns.    [TsUP/Moscow has stated that it is not ready to give up on the current Liquid Unit (BZh-6) and will keep attempting to activate Elektron for the next two weeks.  The last step is to replace the BZh, but there is only one spare left on board, the last manufactured BZh.  A new unit will not be available until “sometime in 2005”.  If today’s recovery attempt fails, the crew will start using SFOG (solid-fuel oxygen generator) “candles” tomorrow (Saturday).  In addition to the SFOGs, Russian and U.S. O2 gas reserves (used to support spacewalks) are available.  Progress-260/13P air and O2 supplies have been consumed.]

With solar Beta angle now exceeding 45 degrees, the ground reset the USOS P6’s solar array wings to a drag-reducing bias angle of 43 deg (“sun slicer” mode).

Today’s CEO (Crew Earth Observations) targets, limited in XPOP attitude by flight rule constraints on the use of the science window, which is available for only ~1/4 of each orbit when not facing forward (in “ram”), were Tasmania (Dynamic event. Unusually clear weather.  ISS tracked across the NW tip of the island.  Suggested was a panorama looking right to capture the entire island), Saharan dust, Central Atlantic (Dynamic event. One of the ISS/CEO images of the dust margin in the central Atlantic has been chosen for coordination with satellite images and possible write-up for the NASA website.  The dust event is declining, but the crew was asked to shoot the margin again if it appears [obliques with the limb are best]), Cyclone Nicky, Indian Ocean (Dynamic event.  Looking right for a panoramic, low-light view of this small but well-formed Category 1 storm in the central Indian Ocean.  The storm eye is projected to be ~7 deg off track, but cloud feeder bands will be much closer), Patagonian glaciers (nadir pass over the north end of the ice fields.  Detailed images of small glaciers were requested, to complete the fine documentation of this remote, generally cloud covered region), Plankton blooms, Patagonia (Dynamic event.  Blooms best developed along the coast at nadir), Cape Town, South Africa (looking right for images of the whole urban region which stretches well east of Table Mountain onto sandy plains known as the Cape Flats), and Tuamotu-Austral Islands (400mm-lens.  Looking left and right for detailed images of these remote South Pacific Islands).

CEO images can be viewed at the websites.

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at

ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 3:55am EST [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 368.3 km
  • Apogee — 375.5km
  • Perigee — 361.0 km
  • Period — 91.91 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) —  51.628 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0010739
  • Solar Beta Angle — 43.9 deg (magnitude increasing)
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.67
  • Mean altitude loss last 24 hours — 80 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98)  — 30312

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

SpaceRef staff editor.