Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 Oct 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
October 20, 2003
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 Oct 2003

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except as noted previously or below.  It’s great to have five humans aboard the station once more, even if only for a week: Yuri Malenchenko, Ed Lu, Aleksandr (“Sasha”) Kaleri, Michael (“Mike”) Foale, and Pedro Duque.

Soyuz TMA-3/7S docked smoothly at the DC-1 port (nadir) at 3:16am EDT, achieving successful contact and capture.  Hatch opening took place at 6:19am, followed by crew transfer.  [The station came into the TMA-3 crew’s sight at 5000 m, and at 400 m the spacecraft began its fly-around, at ~2:51am.  By 2:54am, distance had decreased to 200 m.  Soyuz entered the RGS (Russian ground sites) communications zone at 3:04am during ISS orbit 28055.  Final approach started at 3:12am, concluding with successful “kasaniye” (contact) at 3:16am.  Hooks and latches were then engaged at 3:20am.  After the docking, the Russian SM thrusters were disabled for the Soyuz volume pressurization and clamp installation.  In the unlikely event of a U.S. attitude control failure or primary GN&C MDM failure during the period when RS thrusters were disabled, the crew would have performed special LOAC (Loss of CMG Attitude Control) procedures — which of course were not required.]

There were/are two problems with the new crew return vehicle Soyuz TMA-3.  Both are currently under further evaluation:  (1) Higher than expected humidity in the cabin atmosphere (18 mmHg) during stand-alone flight; (2) a small helium leak between the pressurization tanks (helium) and the prop tanks of  manifold #2 of the integrated propulsion system (KDU).  [After discovery of the leak, manifold #1 was used for the remainder of the Soyuz 7S flight.  Check valves in the leaking manifold are now closed, i.e., the leak appears to have been stopped.  The location of the leak needs to be determined; it may not be in the actual pressurization line but in one of the attached components.  As of now, manifold #1 remains ready for undocking & deorbit, and there is also sufficient helium 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.  Implications of the small leak are under investigation, and results will be formally reported by Moscow when available.]

Soyuz propellant use for the docking (Flight Day 3) was 145 kg (predicted: 250 kg), and ~100 kg on FDs 1 & 2.  The Russian thrusters on the ISS Service Module (SM) used 51 kg for the docking before the U.S. MCS (motion control system) with its CMGs took over again.

After the docking, TV transmission from onboard to the ground via U.S. assets (Ku-band) was terminated, and Soyuz TMA-3 was deactivated.  After the Expedition 8 FE Aleksandr Kaleri had set up the Sokol space suits, later their gloves, for the standard drying process, the visiting crew (VC5) immediately began with transfers of payloads.

The joint phase with ESA’s “Cervantes” program and the subsequent Expedition 8 increment will be quite research-intensive, with 20 commercial experiments awaiting Pedro Duque between now and next Monday (10/27), and four new experiments plus 18 continuing experiments from Increment 7 for Mike Foale and Alex Kaleri.  [“Cervantes” payloads include MESSAGE-2 (MSS), which looks for the effects of micro-G on bacterial mobility and genetic processes; SYMPATHO-2 (SYM) involves collection of venous blood samples for testing a hypothesis explaining changes in the sympathoadrenal activity during spaceflight; NEUROCOG (COG) researches the integration of visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive cues in the perception of body position in space; CARDIOCOG (CAR) studies changes in the human cardiovascular system in micro-G expressed in the peripheral arteries, and the vegetative regulation of arterial blood pressure and heart rate; PROMISS-2 (PRS) investigates protein crystal growth using reverse diffusion; NANOSLAB (NAN) researches aggregation mechanism and kinetics of ZSM-5 and Silicate-1 nanoslabs; AGEING (AGE) investigates pathological mobility mechanisms in young flies under micro-G (which accelerates their ageing process); GENETIC EXPRESSION (GEN) investigates gene development of Drosophila Melanogaster fly chrysalises during growth in micro-G; ROOT (ROO) studies changes in a cell nucleus during proliferation (new growth); CHONDRO (CHO) studies cartilage structure growth and tests described cartilage tissue growth method using specific equipment, and BMI-2 investigates circadian rhythms of the arterial pressure change in micro-G.]

The veteran crew (Foale: now six missions; Kaleri: now four missions) “hit the ground running”, wasting no time setting up and activating several of the Cervantes experiments.  [AGE, GEN and ROO were installed in the Akvarius-B incubator, with some samples to be transferred later to the Kriogem-03 freezer in the DC-1 module that Yuri had activated on 10/17.  The MSK stem cell experiment was carried from Soyuz 7S and installed in Kriogem-03, with accompanying photography with the Nikon D1 for documentation.  Foale activated the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) in the Lab, and the ProMISS-2 payload was transferred to it, also with photography.  NANOSLAB was assembled, and Kaleri carried the biological experiment FIBROBLAST-1 “Intercellular Interaction” from the Soyuz to the glove box that Yuri had assembled yesterday in the DC-1.  Pedro Duque installed a battery in the BMI-2 experiment, re-configured the French EGE-2 laptop and hooked it up to the BMI, which monitors changes in blood pressure rhythms over 24 hours.  Malenchenko meanwhile set up the SIMPATHO hardware near the Plasma centrifuge, which is required for it.]

After the transfers and more pressing activations, the five crewmembers went through the usual contingency evacuation drill, to sharpen their readiness for possible station evacuation in the two Soyuz vehicles in case of an emergency.

By mid-day today, crew rotation was completed (the official traditional change-of-command ceremony is scheduled for Friday, 10/24, at 2 pm EDT, to be carried live on NASA-TV).  [FE “Sasha” Kaleri and CDR Malenchenko swapped out the rotating crewmembers’ IELKs (individual equipment and liner kits, Russian: USIL) in the seats in the two Soyuz vehicles, 212 & 213, 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. 8 IELKs, the Exp. 7 crew and Pedro Duque are now considered 6S crew, and Expedition 8 has technically begun its residence aboard ISS.]

Sasha Kaleri recharged the battery of the DVCAM digital video camera and updated the contingency procedures in the EMER-1 emergency book.

Early in the day, mindful of the higher carbon dioxide load on the Vozdukh CO2 removal system due to the crew size increase, Malenchenko performed another functional closure test of the Vozdukh’s emergency vacuum valves (AVK, last time done: 10/15).   [The AVKs are critical because they close the Vozdukh’s vacuum access lines in the event of a malfunction in the regular vacuum valves (BVK) or a depressurization in the Vozdukh valve panel (BOA).  Access to vacuum is required to vent carbon dioxide during the regeneration of the absorbent cartridges (PP).  During nominal operation, the AVK valves remain open.]

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

On 10/18, the MCA (major constituents analyzer) ion pump current jumped to 4497 microamps while MCA was in LEM (Life-Extending Mode, i.e., mass spectrometer isolated and ion pump overridden on).  Normally, the MCA should be stopped if ion pump current is maintained above 500 microamps, but since the excursion lasted only for 2-3 data cycles (20-30 seconds), it was not shut down.  Ion pump current then returned to low levels (<150 microamps).   FE/SO Ed Lu demated the UOP-DCP (utility outlet panel-to-display & control panel) power bypass jumper cable for the robotics/MSS (mobile service system), which had supported today's video coverage of the Soyuz approach and docking from the external cameras. 

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

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.  With currently only a single gimbal for each of the two solar array wings, 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.]

Starting today, ESA is accepting donations to bid for three special sets of Euro banknotes and 15 sets of Euro coins of individual European nations, all of which were flown on board the ISS during the Belgian Soyuz mission “Odissea” with Frank De Winne in October 2002.  [The European Central Bank (ECB) supplied the coins and banknotes for the flight for raising money for educational purposes, “since education is the key to our future.”  Previously signed by the ECB President, the banknotes were stamped by De Winne on the ISS with the official ISS stamp and the Odissea mission logo.]

Upcoming Soyuz Events:

  • 6S hatch closure: 10/27 (Monday), 3:10pm Eastern.
  • 6S undocking: 6:20pm Eastern, 2:20am (10/28) Moscow;
  • 6S landing:  10/27 (Monday), 9:36pm Eastern, 5:36am (10/28) Moscow.

U.S. and Russian Segment Status (as of 1:41pm EDT).

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

  • Elektron O2 generator is powered On, 32A.  Vozdukh CO2 scrubber is On (in Manual Mode 5/3).  U.S. CDRA CO2 scrubber is Operating.  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 Off; SKV-2 is Off.
  • SM Working Compartment:  Pressure (mmHg) — 742; temperature (deg C) — 26.9; ppO2 (mmHg) — 160.9; ppCO2 (mmHg) — 2.5.
  • SM Transfer Compartment:  Pressure (mmHg) — 765; temperature (deg C) — 21.4.
  • FGB Cabin:  Pressure (mmHg) — 772; temperature (deg C) — 23.3.
  • Node:  Pressure (mmHg) — 764.24; temperature (deg C) — 22.4 (shell); ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • U.S. Lab:  Pressure (mmHg) — 766.43; temperature (deg C) — 24.9; ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • Joint Airlock (Equip. Lock):   Pressure (mmHg) — 766.63; temperature (deg C) — 24.3; shell heater temp (deg C) — 24.7, ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • PMA-1:  Shell heater temp (deg C) — 22.1
  • PMA-2:  Shell heater temp (deg C) — 14.5.

(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). 
  • SM batteries:  Battery #8, formerly known as #7, is off, still in slot #8; all other batteries (7) are in “Partial Charge” mode (batteries #1 and #3 are degraded). 
  • FGB batteries:  Batteries #1 & #2 are off; 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-2 MDM is prime, C&C-1 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 #2 dropped out 9/26.
  • SM Central Computer (TsVM): 3 redundant lanes (of 3) operational.

Propulsion System (PS):

  • Total propellant load available: 3891 kg (8578 lb) as of 10/16  [SM(755) + FGB(2784) + 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:

  • XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane = “sun-fixed” [yaw: 0.5 deg, pitch: -6.9 deg., roll: 0 deg]), with CMG TA (thruster assist).

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-2 is prime, IAC-1 is suspect).
  • 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, 7:34am EDT [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 380.1 km
  • Apogee — 384.5 km
  • Perigee — 375.7 km
  • Period — 92.1 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) —  51.63 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0006536
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.63
  • Mean altitude loss in last 24 hours — 110 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98)  — 28058
  • For more on ISS orbit and worldwide naked-eye visibility dates/times, see

SpaceRef staff editor.