Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 28, 2004
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 Mar 2004

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except as noted previously or below.  Sunday — rest day for the crew, and their 160th day aboard ISS (162 days in space).

FE Alex Kaleri performed his regular monitoring/servicing of the BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 (“Plants-2”) zero-G plant growth experiment, checking water level in the Lada-4 greenhouse water container and seed status.  Replenishment of its water supply as required has now become part of the Russian task list.   [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.]

Alex also attended to the daily maintenance of the environmental control & life support systems (SOZh) in the Service Module (SM), including the weekly data collection of the toilet flush counter readings, with inspection of the urine collection & pretreat assembly (SP), and water supply (SVO) status counter readings, both for calldown to TsUP/Moscow.

Mike and Sasha conducted their regular daily physical exercise program of 2.5 hrs on TVIS treadmill, CEVIS bike, RED exerciser and VELO cycle with load trainer.

During crew sleep last night, ISS flight attitude was maneuvered from solar-oriented XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane) back to earth-oriented LVLH XVV (local vertical local horizontal/x-axis in velocity vector).   [Attitude control handover from USOS (U.S. segment) to RS (Russian segment) took place last evening at 9:09pm.  The maneuver itself was executed by RS MCS (motion control system) thrusters at 9:23-9:39pm.  Attitude control returned to USOS momentum management at 9:51pm.  In conjunction with the attitude change, the pointing bias of the U.S. PPS (primary power system) solar arrays was removed, and the BGAs (beta gimbal assemblies) 2B and 4B were switched to Dual Angle mode, with a sweep angle of 60 degrees.  The onboard GPS (global positioning system) was shut down and started up again, to reacquire the GPS satellites from the new attitude.]

Working off the Russian task list, Kaleri started a new session of the Russian Uragan earth-imaging program, using the Kodak 760 DSC (digital still camera) with 800mm-lens from SM windows #6-8, now available again in LVLH attitude.   [Today’s task featured imagery of the Krasnodar water reservoir, with landscape-overlapping shots across the reservoir.]

Favored by the new LVLH attitude, Sasha also continued the current set of observations for the Diatomeya ocean research program, today taking test photo imagery of underlying surface areas.   [The FE focused the Nikon F5 with f/80 mm lens from SM windows #7/#8 on desert landscape in North Africa, bio-productive upwelling area along the coastline of Northwest Africa, the vicinity of Amazon River offing, the Caribbean sea, Antilles and Bahamas archipelagoes, and the Bermuda islands.]

As a long-term recurring item on the Russian task list, Kaleri was charged with taking photographs of the PKZ-1V Kromka experiment tablet deployed on the plume deflector of the SM’s plus-pitch thrusters. (Last time done: 3/1/04)  Today’s photography also included the SKK sample cassette #3 and the MPAC & SEED panel #3 on the SM.   [The pictures are taken with the Kodak 760 digital still camera (DSC) from the EVA hatch 1 and hatch 2 windows in the DC-1 docking compartment.]

Another optional task on the Russian “job jar” list for today was a new startup by Sasha of the Molniya-SM/LSO payload, set up at SM window #3.  The procedure required activating the hardware including its associated EGE-1 laptop, and configuring it for unattended use, starting today and ending 4/2.   [Objective of Molniya-SM, similar to the French LSO experiment, is to record storm phenomena and other related events in the Earth’s equatorial regions.  The experiment is controlled from the French EGE-1 laptop, loaded with orbital sighting predictions using an up-to-date NORAD tracking TLE (two-line element) provided by NASA.  Objective of LSO is to study rare optical phenomena occurring in the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, so-called “sprites” (i.e., puzzling glow phenomena observed above thunderstorm clouds).  LSO was originally part of Claudie Haigneré’s French “Andromeda” payload package of taxi mission 3S that could not be performed as planned during Increment 4 due to an ISS flight attitude conflict.]

MCC-H Flight Control Team handover from Team 1 to Team 2 was at 8:00am EST, as usual.

After the handover (~9:00am) and also later (3:09pm) the regular daily crew/ground email sync/exchanges via OCA (orbital communications adapter) took place, not requiring crew involvement.

At dinnertime (2:30pm), as every day, the crew supported the renal (kidney) stone prevention experiment by taking the test medication (either potassium citrate or placebo tablets) until the next sample collection phase in early April this year.

Sleep time begins, as usual, at 4:30pm.

Today’s optional CEO (Crew Earth Observations) targets, in the current LVLH attitude no longer limited by flight rule constraints on the use of the Lab nadir/science window, except for the shutter closure and condensation-prevention plan (limited to 90 min. in 24 hours), were Cyclone Oscar, Indian Ocean (a Category 4 storm with winds at 160 kts, will be visible left of track [center about 2.5 deg off track].  Though not a threat to land, this is the strongest storm on the planet at the moment), Fires, SE Asia (Dynamic event.  General burning after months with little rainfall is producing smoke palls.  Looking left into Burma and right into Thailand), Floods, Madagascar (400mm-lens.  Dynamic event.  To continue the excellent ISS/CEO documentation of the floods in western Madagascar [in the wake of Cyclone Ganfilo], the ground requested a mapping swath of the coastline left of track.  If possible, the crew was to use the 400mm lens, although shorter lenses could be sufficient.  There is the potential of creating a time-slice history of the evolution of this event that has devastated many northern villages and towns), Ganges River Basin (very stable conditions persist in South Asia: looking left and right for aerosols.  Visibilities are down to 3 miles in the valley), Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya (400mm-lens.  Nadir pass over this ice-capped mountain.  Detailed images are being requested to document the fast decline of the ice), Kabul, Afghanistan (nadir pass), Salamat Basin Fans, Chad (looking left for a general view of the whole Salamat basin [river and sediment patterns]), Muglad Basin Fans, Sudan (looking right for a general view of young surface sediments between the divide [under track] and the Nile River [about 5 deg right of track]), Aral Sea (good pass over the southern coast where the largest river [Amu Darya] flows into the sea.  The Aral is about to suffer dismemberment into two basins by the growth of the central island.  A December 2003 image shows the south channel severed and the north channel narrowed, but still functioning.  The ground requested a status image), Tropical storm, Brazil (this storm is moving closer to the coast.  Newscasts say that such tropical storms [i.e., with a warm core] are “never” seen in the south Atlantic.  Looking right of track for a synoptic view), and Sao Paulo, Brazil (looking right for one of the world’s largest cities [inland from the coast]).

CEO images can be viewed at the websites.

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at

ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 8:05am EST [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 366.2 km
  • Apogee — 373.3m
  • Perigee — 359.0 km
  • Period — 91.87 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) —  51.6302 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0010595
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.67
  • Mean altitude loss last 24 hours — 140 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98) — 30565

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

SpaceRef staff editor.