Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 29 Feb 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
February 29, 2004
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 29 Feb 2004

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except as noted previously or below.   Leap Day!  (Once every four years, to correct our calendar for the odd year length of 365.24219 days).

Sunday, a rest day with some post-EVA tasks thrown in.  Sleep cycle is back to normal: Wakeup at 1:00am EST (06:00 GMT), sleep time at 4:30pm (21:30 GMT).

After TsUP/Moscow deactivated the SKV-1 air conditioner, inhibited VD-SU control mode and powered off the BITS2-12 onboard telemetry measurement system (via S-band), the crew reconnected the electronics box containing the US-21 matching unit in the 13P/Progress vehicle.  The BITS and VD-SU were then reactivated and the electrical connection of the US-21 checked out remotely by TsUP in an electrical activation test.   [The US-21 connects the Progress motion control and DPO thrusters systems to the Service Module (SM), so that they can be commanded by the SM computer system (BVS).  SKV-1 was turned on again.]

In further troubleshooting of the Elektron O2 generator system, FE Alex Kaleri opened SM panels and deinstalled the Elektron’s nitrogen purge unit (BPA-M) by removing four screws.  He then installed a new BPA-M from spares, mated it to its connectors, closed the panels and stowed the dismantled unit.

CDR Michael Foale performed the weekly routine inspection/maintenance of SOZh life support systems, including collection of SP toilet flush counter and SVO water supply readings in the SM for calldown to TsUP.

Also in the SM, Kaleri started the regeneration cycle on absorbent bed #2 of the BMP harmful impurities unit and switched channel #1 from Regeneration back to Purify mode.  [The “bakeout” cycle in the filter beds is repeated every 20 days.  Each bakeout to space vacuum takes about 24 hours.]

Sasha used the Nikon D-1 digital still camera (f17-70mm lens) to take photographs of Videometer calibration targets and LSV-M laser retroreflector mounting attachments inside their containers, as well as of the bag which should have received the returned LSV #3 from the EVA-9.   [The containers were then stowed and the images downloaded to the TP1 laptop for subsequent downlink to TsUP via OCA.]

The FE activated the Molniya-SM/LSO payload at SM window #3, rebooting the EGE-1 and EGE-2 laptops and configuring them for unattended use, starting today and ending 3/3.   [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.]

With the TVIS treadmill roll gyrodyne R&R (removal & replacement) coming up on 3/9 & 3/10, as currently planned, a review of the intended procedures was added to Mike Foale’s “job jar” task list and firmly timelined for 3/5.   [Results of a detailed structural fatigue analysis of the treadmill based on the recent load tests (12/4/03) indicate that with each crewmember exercising for 30 min daily for 90 days, highest loads are less than 5% of limit.  The peak loads are less than pre-flight predictions for intravehicular activity (IVA) motion and SM ergometer.  TVIS operations in the current contingency configuration are allowed to continue through the end of the next increment (Increment 9).  In the current mode, the treadmill can be operated in either non-motorized passive configuration (no roll gyro, inactive yaw/pitch stabilizers) or non-motorized active config (no roll gyro, active yaw/pitch stabilizers.]

Crew Earth Observations (CEO):   This is the first day of a NOAA-sponsored Trans-Atlantic three-week cruise by the NOAA ship, Ronald H. Brown.  Images from low Earth orbit will enhance the cruise by providing synoptic views of the regions where atmospheric and ocean sampling will take place.  Shipboard observations will be used to study the effect of Saharan dust on the marine boundary layer, characterize water masses, as well as to investigate upwelling conditions off the northwest coast of Africa. Further detail on the cruise is provided below.

Today’s CEO targets were Karachi, Pakistan (looking slightly right on the coast), Bombay, India (looking slightly left on the coast at the major bay), Saharan dust (Dynamic event. Looking mainly left [towards the African coast for geographic location] for images of what appears to be a dust event.  Views left and right should document the margin of the dust mass.  Starting today, images of dust and cloud distribution in the tropical North Atlantic are of particular interest to the 3-week-long NOAA cruise-ship expedition that will cross the Atlantic to the Canary Islands.  Imagery from ISS will make a very welcome adjunct to the detailed work of the mission [see Barbados target below]), Dakar, Senegal (near nadir pass over this city on the famous cape that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean), St. Louis, Missouri (looking right at the point where three rivers converge), Puerto Rico (nadir pass.  Coastal development and its impact on natural coastal systems is the focus of this study), Barbados (400mm-lens.  NOAA’s Center for Atmospheric Sciences ( ) is sending its ship Ronald H. Brown to conduct a Trans-Atlantic Saharan dust characterization cruise.  The ship leaves the Barbados today, 2/29, and over the next three weeks sails to the northwest coast of Africa, returning to Puerto Rico.  The primary mission is to characterize the impacts and microphysical evolution of Saharan dust aerosol transport across the Atlantic Ocean.  Global transport of dust has been acknowledged as a significant factor in atmospheric radiative balance, atmospheric oxidizing capacity, the deposition of nutrients into the upper ocean, transport of fungi and microorganisms, and cloud modification.  The ISS passes about 2 deg southwest of Barbados:  the crew was to look left for the island which can be distinguished easily from the other islands in the West Indies chain because it is situated well E of the N-S line of the islands), Inland delta, N Argentina (400mm-lens.  A mapping swath for ~2 mins, looking slightly right of nadir, was requested to document detail on the planet’s largest inland delta.  Co-workers in Spain and Argentina are involved in characterizing this feature at various scales.  Images taken over the entire length of the feature [from the Andean mountain front to the toe at the Parana River] with the same focal length lens are particularly helpful.)

CEO images can be viewed at the websites.

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at

ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 7:26am EST [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 365.6 km
  • Apogee — 369.6 km
  • Perigee — 361.6 km
  • Period — 91.86 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) —  51.629 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0005916
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.68
  • Mean altitude loss last 24 hours — 100 m
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98) — 30126

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

SpaceRef staff editor.