Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 December 2005

By SpaceRef Editor
December 22, 2005
Filed under , , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 December 2005

SpaceRef note: This NASA Headquarters internal status report, as presented here, contains additional, original material produced by (copyright © 2005) to enhance access to related status reports and NASA activities.

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. This morning, ISS completed 40,500 orbits of Earth since launch of FGB/Zarya seven years ago, having traveled a distance of 1.71 billion km (1.07 billion miles) or 8.5 times the distance to Mars and back.

After wakeup and before breakfast and first exercise, FE Tokarev and CDR/SO McArthur completed their fifth session with the Russian crew health-monitoring program’s medical assessment MO-9/Biochemical Urinalysis. Afterwards, the FE recorded data and stowed the hardware.  [MO-9 is conducted regularly every 30 days (and also before and after EVAs) and is one of five nominal Russian medical tests adopted by NASA for US crewmembers for IMG PHS (Integrated Medical Group/Periodic Health Status) evaluation as part of the “PHS/Without Blood Labs” exam. The analysis uses the sophisticated in-vitro diagnostic apparatus Urolux developed originally for the Mir program. The data were entered in the Medical Equipment Computer (MEC) s special IFEP software (In-Flight Examination Program).]

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After spending some time familiarizing himself with the US CFE (Capillary Flow Experiment), the Science Officer assembled the necessary hardware in the MWA (Maintenance Work Area), set up video camcorder & lighting, and then conducted experiment ops, stowing the equipment afterwards.  [The experiment essentially consisted of filling two cylindrical chambers (one smooth , one pinning ) with fluid and applying two types of disturbances (axial-mode & push) of increasing amplitude to the vessels, then for 15 seconds video recording the natural decaying fluid response of the liquid. The different responses of the fluid to the disturbances can tell researchers a lot about the right conditions to use to predict fluid dynamics for low-g fluid systems (i.e., spacecraft fuel tanks).]

Valery Tokarev reviewed uplinked material on the new Japan (JAXA)/RSC-Energia 3D Photon Crystals Growth Facility (PCGF) experiment that will arrive with Progress 20 on Friday (12/23).  [Purpose of the experiment is to use UV LEDs (Ultraviolet Light Emitting Diodes) to produce 3D photon crystals in eight growth cells through self-organization and ordering of colloid nanoparticles in an electrolyte solution, with subsequent fixation in an elastic gel matrix.]

Also scheduled on Tokarev s timeline today was the activation of the Elektron O2 generator, supported by ground specialist tagup via S-band. After a brief initial shutdown, most likely due to a cavitating air bubble, crew procedures succeeded in nominal startup of the machine which is now running smoothly at 24 amps.

Later, the FE installed the geophysical GFI-1 Relaksatsiya (“relaxation”) experiment, using six GFI-1 hardware kits, reconfigured the Russian payload Laptop 3 for the experiment and mounted the UV camera with spectrometer (SP) unit at SM window #9. Purpose of the experiment is to conduct a space/time study of radiation patterns from the Earth atmosphere and surface. Afterwards the equipment was stowed again.  [Relaksatsiya normally deals with the study of the chemoluminescent chemical reactions and atmospheric light phenomena (emissions, i.e., molecular relaxation processes) that occur during high-velocity interaction between the exhaust products from space vehicles and the atmosphere at orbital altitude and during the entry of space vehicles into the Earth’s upper atmosphere.]

Bill McArthur worked on the Lab AR (Atmosphere Revitalization) rack, performing two simultaneous IFM (in-flight maintenance) tasks. The first was the replacement of the MCA s VGA (Major Constituent Analyzer s Verification Gas Assembly) with a new unit, followed – before closing out the MCA – by the installation of a sock filter inside one of the Hydraflow couplings on desiccant/sorbent bed 201 of the CDRA (Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly). Afterwards, Bill completed the AR rack close-out from the VGA R&R procedure.  [It is believed that many of the problems experienced with CDRA are due to leakage of the CO2 absorbent material, Zeolyte, from the beds. The sock filter will help keep the Zeolyte from becoming lodged within CDRA s mechanical components.]

After the ground had activated and configured the HRF1 (Human Research Facility 1) rack remotely, McArthur powered up its laptop for subsequent downlinking of the SLAMMD (Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device) files generated on 12/16.  [SLAMMD provides an accurate means of weighing humans on orbit, using two springs inside the SLAMMD drawer for accelerating the subject on the support assembly and determining its position/time trajectory by a precise optical instrument. The final computation, according to Newton s 2nd Law of Motion (Force = Mass times Acceleration), is done via the laptop computer, equipped with SLAMMD unique software. The latter allows the ground to downlink data with less crew time/interaction than in the past.]

Bill also used the Velocicalc instrument to take the periodic air flow measurements on the AAA (Avionics Air Assembly) of the CHeCS (Crew Health Care Systems) rack to check on the recent fan replacement.

Tokarev worked on the French EGE2 laptop, swapping its hard drive with a new one loaded with upgraded software for the BSR-TM Sigma application that malfunctioned last December 30 due to the year change. The activity was supported by ground tagup. [BSR-TM provides a telemetry interface with the Regul comm system; and “Sigma” on the EGE-2 is a ballistic navigation program to compute the station s ground track on the Earth, as required for automated file downlinking for the externally installed ESA/German robotics RokvISS during Russian and German comm windows. RokvISS investigates the feasibility of robotic function and remote control in open space environment. Its REU (Robotic External Unit) arm, installed on the URM-D (Universal Work Platform) with FP-20 baseplate, is controlled by the CUP (Communication Unit for Payloads) via the OBC (Onboard Controller) electronics, part of SM systems. RokvISS communicates directly with the GOSC (German Space Operations Center) ground station at Oberpfaffenhofen/Bavaria via independent Regul/S-band comm link.]

After a preparatory review of procedures and ground specialist tagup via S-band, Valery Tokarev began the annual inspection and photo-documentation of the window panes in the Russian segment (RS), working in the Service Module (SM) and DC-1 docking module. The observations were recorded in image and text files for subsequent downlink via U.S. OCA assets.  [Objective of the inspection, using digital still camera (Nikon D1 or Kodak 760) and voice recorder, is to assess the pane surfaces for any changes (new cavities, scratches, new or expanded old stains or discolorations affecting transparency properties) since the last inspection (performed by Salizhan Sharipov on 10/28/04). The new assessment will be compared to the earlier observations. Defects are measured with the parallax method which uses eyeball-sighting with a ruler and a right isosceles triangle to determine the formations’ size and position with respect to the window’s internal surface (parallax being the apparent change in an object’s position resulting from changing the observer’s position).]

Valery performed the daily routine maintenance of the SM’s environment control & life support system (SOZh), including its toilet system (ASU), as well as the weekly inspection of the BRPK air/liquid condensate separator apparatus. He also updated/edited the standard IMS (Inventory Management System) delta file , including locations, for the regular weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur).

Both crewmembers completed their regular 2.5-hr. physical exercise program on the CEVIS cycle ergometer, TVIS treadmill, RED resistive exerciser and VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer.  [Valery s daily protocol prescribes a strict four-day microcycle exercise with 1.5 hr on the treadmill in unmotorized mode and one hour on VELO plus load trainer (today: Day 4 of the first set).]

Afterwards, McArthur transferred the exercise data files to the MEC for downlink, as well as the daily wristband HRM (heart rate monitor) data of the workouts on RED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).

At ~2:20pm, Bill and Valery conducted their weekly 15-min. teleconference with ISS Program Management at JSC/Houston via S-band/audio.

New software for the PromISS (Protein Crystal Growth Monitoring by Digital Holographic Microscope) experiment was uploaded from the ground to the PLMDM (Payload Multiplexer/Demultiplexer) computer, not requiring crew involvement.

The removal and replacement of one of the Russian RT-50-1M current regulators, which failed on 12/4, scheduled for Tokarev yesterday (and reported here as accomplished) was postponed to a later date when the FE could not locate the RT-50-1M.  [There are 12 RT-50-1Ms, which receive and regulate the current from the solar arrays, one for each solar array module. They stabilize the voltage at 28.5 V on the main bus assembly (BSSh). ]  

The CDR s checkout and leak check yesterday of the OSCA (On-Board Spacesuit Control Assembly) in the Quest Airlock (A/L), to verify proper operation for life extension certification, was successful.  [OSCA is Russian-provided hardware, to support A/L Orlan operations and contingency EMU (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) operations (i.e., venting of EMU umbilicals during an ingress anomaly). Life extension is required for supporting any possible umbilical removal/installation. During Bill s checkout, the UIA (Umbilical Interface Adapter) Orlan O2 pressure gage appeared to regulate to 95 psi instead of 75 psi. This would only be an issue for Orlan suits, as EMUs use a different system. NASA and Russian specialists are reviewing the checkout data. Moscow will process an OSCA life extension certification for EMU operations once this review is complete.]

During failure investigation of the RPCM (Remote Power Controller Module) 3A-E on the S0 truss, whose RPC-18 trip removed power from MT (Mobile Transporter) RPCM MT3A-A and associated loads early on 12/16, it was discovered via external Lab video camera that the TUS 2 (Trailing Umbilical System 2) cable behind the MT is severed, which would explain the RPC trip and the MT Channel B failure.  [With only one TUS cable left connected, MT is down to one string which prohibits – by Flight Rule – MBS (Mobile Base System) base changes for the SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System), as well as MT translations, but this should not have any immediate impact to SSRMS ops since the next use of the arm, in January 2006, will be based on the Lab PDGF (Power/Data Grapple Fixture). Investigations and preparation of a troubleshooting plan continue.]

Preparations for tomorrow s launch of Progress-355/20P are continuing nominally at Baikonur/Kazakhstan. The launch is set for 1:38pm EST. After the standard two-day catch-up flight template, docking of the automated cargo ship will occur on Friday (12/23) at ~2:54pm. Afterwards, ISS attitude, currently in LVLH XVV (local vertical local horizontal/x-axis in velocity vector) and briefly in free drift during the docking, will be moded to XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane).  [20P is manifested to deliver to the ISS ~2.5 tons of cargo, including propellants, oxygen & air, water, dry cargo, and Christmas/New Year surprises. The cargo also includes a suite of 17 new science experiments from Russia, Japan, ESA and US.]

Today’s CEO (Crew Earth Observations) photo targets, in the current LVLH attitude no longer limited by flight rule constraints on the use of the Lab nadir/science window, were Melbourne, Australia (this was an excellent, near-nadir pass in clear weather. Unfortunately the light was less than ideal for use of the long lens. Instead the crew was to try to map the city and its surroundings using the 180mm lens. Looking just right of track on the northeastern shore of Port Phillip Bay), Internal waves, Northern Patagonian Shelf (using this fair weather pass to look for glint features in the coastal waters north of the Valdes Peninsula, left of track), Patagonian Glaciers (weather remains marginal for the Patagonian Ice Fields. However, the high summer illumination is optimum now. Using the long lens settings and trying for near-nadir views of the small glaciers of the Northern Patagonian Ice Field), and Palmerston Island Reef, Central South Pacific (astronaut photography is actively being used to help survey and inventory the Earth’s coral reef systems. Using the long lens settings for a nadir mapping of the structures of this large, isolated atoll).

To date, over 177,000 of CEO images have been taken in the first five years of the ISS.

CEO photography can be viewed and studied at the websites:

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at:

To view the latest photos taken by the expedition 12 crew visit:

Expedition 12 Flight Crew Plans can be found at

Previous NASA ISS On-orbit Status Reports can be found here. Previous NASA Space Station Status Reports can be found here. Previous NASA Space Shuttle Processing Status Reports can be found here. A collection of all of these reports and other materials relating to Return to Flight for the Space Shuttle fleet can be found here.

ISS Location NOW

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ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 6:41am EST [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 349.7 km
  • Apogee height — 356.9 km
  • Perigee height — 342.5 km
  • Period — 91.53 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) — 51.65 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0010663
  • Solar Beta Angle — 22.0 deg (magnitude increasing)
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.73
  • Mean altitude loss in last 24 hours — 65 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) — 40500

Upcoming Events (all dates Eastern):

  • 12/21/05 — Progress M-55/20P launch (1:38pm EST)
  • 12/23/05 — Progress M-55/20P docking (2:54pm EST, at DC1)
  • 01/09/06 — 100 days for Expedition 12
  • 02/02/06 — Russian EVA-15
  • 03/03/06 — Progress M-54/19P undocking & reentry
  • 03/22/06 — Soyuz TMA-8/12S launch (Exp. 13 + Marcus Pontes/Brazil)
  • 03/24/06 — Soyuz TMA-8/12S docking (DC1)
  • 04/01/06 — Soyuz TMA-7/11S undocking & return (Exp. 12 + Marcus Pontes)
  • 04/06/06 — Soyuz TMA-8/12S relocation (DC1 to FGB nadir port)
  • 04/09/06 — Progress M-55/20P undocking & reentry
  • 04/10/06 — Progress M-56/21P launch
  • 04/12/06 — Progress M-56/21P docking.

ISS Altitude History

Apogee height Mean AltitudePerigee height

ISS Altitude History

For more on ISS orbit and worldwide ISS naked-eye visibility dates/times, see In addition, information on International Space Station sighting opportunities can be found at on NASA’s Human Spaceflight website. The current location of the International Space Station can be found at at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Additional satellite tracking resources can be found at

SpaceRef staff editor.