Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 18 Dec 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
December 18, 2003
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 18 Dec 2003

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

Another day of predominantly medical exams for the crew, starting out with blood analyses for both crewmembers, led off, before breakfast, by the periodic Russian MedOps test MO-10 “Hematocrit”, to measure the red blood cell count (hematocrit) of his blood. [Blood samples, drawn from a finger with a perforator lancet, were centrifuged in two microcapillary tubes in the M-1100 kit’s minicentrifuge and their hematocrit value was read off the tubes with a magnifying glass.]

Foale and Kaleri also completed the blood analysis part of the IMS PHS (Integrated Medical Group/Periodic Health Status) assessment, taking turns at assisting as CMO (crew medical officer) and then at being the examined subject. Clinical evaluation of the PHS protocol followed later. Afterwards Foale performed MEC data entry for both crewmembers and stowed the hardware. [The PHS exam with blood labs comprises use of the U.S. PCBA (portable clinical blood analyzer), MO-10 (see above), and clinical evaluation, the latter guided by special software (IFEP, in-flight examination program) on the medical equipment computer (MEC). While PCBA analyzes total blood composition, MO-10 particularly measures the blood’s hematocrit.]

After the blood tests, Alexander Kaleri performed his second session with the Russian MedOps cardio experiment MO-1 (Study of the Bioelectric Activity of the Heart at Rest), with the CDR as CMO. [During the 30-min. test, the crew tagged up with ground specialists on a Russian ground site (RGS) pass and downlinked data from the Gamma-1M ECG (electrocardiogram) for about 5-6 minutes.]

Kaleri also conducted Part 2 of the current MBI-8 Profilaktika (“countermeasures”) fitness test series started yesterday, today using the NS-01 load trainer on the VELO cycle ergometer, supported by tag-up with medical support personnel at TsUP-Moscow. Science Officer Foale assisted. (Last time done: 11/13) [This Russian fitness test consists of four types of exercise, viz., neck tilting (back/forward), simultaneous forearm flexing, trunk extension, and trunk flexes. Each type of exercise consists of a series of 15 motions repeated two times. Load levels are selected by the ground and do not change from test to test. Total duration of the test is 13 min. Gas analysis, subjective evaluation of physical exertion levels, and blood test for lactate and Creatine Kinase levels are also performed as a part of this test, using the TEEM-100M gas analyzer, AccuSport analyzer, and Reflotron-IV blood analyzer.]

After MCC-H performed a normal JOCAS (joint operator commanded auto sequence) data dump of the MSS (Mobile Service System), CDR Foale started up and configured the DOUG (dynamic operations ubiquitous graphics) software. Mike then completed the Robotics proficiency training ops scheduled for today. [Purpose of the ops was a walkoff of the SSRMS to the PDGF-1 (power & data grapple fixture #1) on the MBS and placing Canadarm2 in a good configuration for the walkoff to the LAB PDGF that will be required to support the two-man Orlan-EVA early next year. At the conclusion of arm ops today, Mike parked the SSRMS in a position selected to survey the H-fixture, a Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) grapple point on the S1 truss segment, in order to verify that SPDM access to it will not be impeded by thermal blankets, etc.]

Mike Foale “cloned” a PCS HDD (portable computer system/hard-disk drive) with the current 12A “ghost” image load, to add another functioning PCS to the (currently) three working laptops (Flight Rule limit is a minimum of two). [Today’s ghosting used HDD #6095; four HDDs remain as spares (#6029, #6058, #6063, #6054). They can be prepared in multiple sessions, with each HDD cloning requiring one hour execute time.]

Kaleri conducted the daily routine maintenance of the SOZh life support system.

Sasha also started the long-term process of transferring trash items to Progress 12P, using the pre-pack list uplinked three days ago. [The list of excess equipment & trash shows ~50 items to be stowed in the resupply ship that has already received liquid waste (urine) in its two Rodnik water tanks. As part of these activities, Kaleri must transfer medical support system (CMO) trash from mesh bags (which remain on board) to soft trash bags (KBO-M), of which nine are to be placed in 12P.]

Yesterday’s first cabin repressurization with fresh O2 from 12P went well. ppO2 (oxygen partial pressure) increased by the desired 7 mmHg. Next repress may take place tomorrow, as required. [MCA (Major Constituents Analyzer) worked nominally during the repress and was later switch back to LEM (Life Extending Mode). Plans are to use it for every repress. This requires Moscow to provide Houston with advance notice (14 hours) of a planned repressurization.]

Troubleshooting on the Elektron O2 generator system by MCC-Moscow continues. [The operating time between shutdowns of the primary and backup pumps delivering the condensate water to the electrolysis unit has now decreased to a few minutes. TsUP prepares to uplink two software patches, (a) to delay the transition interval between the two pumps, and (b) to enable the crew to set the transition time manually. To resolve the issue, however, the faulty BZh liquid unit will have to be replaced soon. HSG (Houston Support Group) at TsUP is monitoring the troubleshooting closely and keeps JSC flight controllers apprised.]

On the pending replacement of the failed BTA heat exchanger of the Russian segment’s SKV-2 air conditioner, the crew yesterday completed hard mounting the BTA against the SKV’s condenser unit (BK) and connecting three of four coolant hoses. SKV-2 cannot be used until the line is connected and has passed the leak check. SKV-1 remains operational, but without redundancy of cabin air cooling and humidity control in the Russian segment (RS). [The crew did not have enough play in coolant line #1 to mate it; therefore, both ends of line #1 are now temporarily capped. All other connections passed the crew’s leak checks, and all electrical connectors have been mated OK. The BZh will not be refilled with fresh Khladon coolant (Freon-218, 700 grams) until line #1 is connected successfully. Specialists are currently assessing the situation. For the eventuality that a relocation of the BZh unit does not help, TsUP is assessing the option of manifesting a flex hose on Progress 13P.]

At temperatures above ~23 degC, caused by the current high solar Beta angle regime, the external lower outboard (LOOB) camera on the S1 truss consistently loses its tilt capability. [Panning left & right is OK but tilting up or down is then nonfunctional. An experimental power cycle did not recover tilt capability, but it returned last night when temperature had dropped to ~22 degC.]

TsUP/Moscow continues long-term testing of the Russian ASN satellite navigation system aboard the SM, which — despite much investigation — still shows hardware issues preventing electrical continuity between it and its antenna subsystem. [Depending on the findings, further steps will have to be developed for getting ASN to function properly, since it is going to be critically important for the docking of the European ATV (automated transport vehicle).]

TsUP is developing plans for further tracing and characterization of the small helium leak in the Soyuz 7S between the He pressurization tanks and the prop tanks of the KDU integrated propulsion system’s manifold #2. This will be done in time to support any future decision for Soyuz 7S redocking, should this become necessary in connection with the Orlan EVA-9. [The He leak still allows functionality of the affected string 2, although manifold #1 will be used as primary string. The latter remains ready for undocking & deorbit, and there is also sufficient He and prop for undocking & deorbit in the closed-off manifold #2. For the six-month period until TMA-3 deorbit, only manifold #1 will be used, the first time in April next year.]

According to the investigating Committee’s final report, evaluation of Soyuz TMA-2/6S performance during the 10/28 undocking indicated inadvertent human error in the accidental thruster firing. Starting with Soyuz 8S, sturdier thruster control switch guards will be provided on the control panel, and for Soyuz 7S, the control panel will be powered up only after all stowage activities have been completed.

During the recent valve leak checks on the Node starboard hatch (to the Airlock), the crew discovered that the alignment markers on hatch cover and frame are not lined up properly. But because it passed the leak check, the hatch is clearly in alignment. [Photos going back to the early days of ISS assembly, including STS-88 (which launched the Node), all depict the same seeming misalignment. The hatch was closed for the first time at KSC before the launch, after Node closeout pictures had been taken, and there is no other documentation of the anomaly. All other ISS hatches show proper marker alignments. Thus, it appears that a marker was improperly placed and not caught by inspections.]

Today’s CEO targets, in the current LVLH attitude no longer limited by flight rule constraints on the use of the Lab nadir/science window, except for some viewing angles, were Seoul, South Korea (looking a touch right), Rome, Italy (nadir pass. Looking inland from the small Tiber delta), Aral Sea, Kazakhstan (recent detailed ISS/CEO imagery of the shrinking Aral showed the central island larger than the west basin of the sea for the first time, as water levels drop. To remove this target from the ISS-8 target list, one general view was requested, since gaps in the detailed imagery still exist. This was an ideal pass just N of the sea), Hyderabad, India (ISS passed just N of this megacity [5.2 million] which is difficult to detect quickly: looking right on the largest river in view [Musi River], at the point where six highways converge), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (looking right for this seldom photographed capital city of 2.7 million. Looking in the mountains on the N side of the string of rift valley lakes), Los Angeles, CA (nadir pass. The city center was a touch left), Las Vegas, NV (looking a touch left on the W finger of Lake Mead. The Grand Canyon appeared immediately after at nadir, trending right of track), and S Chad inland deltas (looking left for a panorama of this often cloudy and very remote region: Inland delta identification is a subject of new scientific interest).

CEO images can be viewed at the websites.

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at

U.S. and Russian Segment Status (as of 2:00pm EST).

Environmental Control and Life Support (ECLSS) and Thermal Control (TCS):

  • Elektron O2 generator is powered Off. Vozdukh CO2 scrubber is On (in Manual Mode 5/3). U.S. CDRA CO2 scrubber is on Standby (ready in dual-bed mode). TCCS (trace contaminant control subsystem) is operating. MCA (major constituents analyzer) is off (in Life Extending Mode). 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 (R&R, see above).
  • SM Working Compartment: Pressure (mmHg) — 742; temperature (deg C) — 26.3; ppO2 (mmHg) — 146.3; ppCO2 (mmHg) — 4.1.
  • SM Transfer Compartment: Pressure (mmHg) — 761; temperature (deg C) — 20.2.
  • FGB Cabin: Pressure (mmHg) — 752; temperature (deg C) — 21.7.
  • Node: Pressure (mmHg) — 747.07; temperature (deg C) — 24.1 (shell); ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • U.S. Lab: Pressure (mmHg) — 749.6; temperature (deg C) — 24.9; ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • Joint Airlock (Equip. Lock): Pressure (mmHg) — 751.29; temperature (deg C) — 25.8; shell heater temp (deg C) — 24.9, ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • PMA-1: Shell heater temp (deg C) — 24.6
  • PMA-2: Shell heater temp (deg C) — 11.1

(n/a = data not available)

Electrical Power Systems (EPS):

  • Both P6 channels fully operational. BGA (beta gimbal assembly) 2B and 4B both in Directed Position (non-suntracking, “night glider”/”sun slicer” drag reduction mode).
  • SM batteries: Battery #8, formerly known as #7, is still disconnected in slot #8 for troubleshooting, off-line; all other batteries (7) are in “Partial Charge” mode.
  • FGB batteries: Battery #5 is off (capacity restoration mode, ROM); all other batteries (5) are in “Partial Charge” mode.
  • Plasma Contactor Unit PCU-1 in Standby mode; PCU-2 in Standby 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-1 MDM is prime; GNC-2 is Backup.
  • INT-2 is operating; INT-1 is Off.
  • EXT-2 is On (primary), EXT-1 is Off (both now upgraded to R3).
  • 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).
  • SM Central Computer (TsVM): 2 redundant lanes (of 3) operational (string #3 dropped out 10/22).

Propulsion System:

  • Total propellant load available: 3680 kg (8113 lb) as of 12/11/03 [SM(755) + FGB(2573) + Progress M(352) + Progress M-1(0)]. (Capability: SM — 860 kg; FGB — 6120 kg).

Attitude Control Systems:

  • 3 CMGs on-line (CMG-1 failed).
  • 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: -89.9 deg, pitch: -8.9 deg, roll: 1.8 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.
  • 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 MBS PDGF #2/LEE A, with Keep Alive (KA) power on both strings.
  • MBS: KA 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, 7:08am EST [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 371.3 km
  • Apogee — 375.3 km
  • Perigee — 367.3 km
  • Period — 92.0 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) — 51.63 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0005908
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.66
  • Mean altitude loss in last 24 hours — 65 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98) — 28982
  • For more on ISS orbit and worldwide naked-eye visibility dates/times, see

SpaceRef staff editor.