Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 31 Dec 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
December 31, 2003
Filed under , , ,
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 31 Dec 2003

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

Tonight, another successful year of ISS operations comes to an end.  Ahead: a new year of fresh challenges and great opportunities.  As the station circles Earth 16 times in a 24-hour day, it crosses the date line between 2003 and 2004 as often.  Thus, our happy crew will step into the New Year 16 times until it’s finally 2004 for them (time base on board is GMT [Greenwich Mean Time = Universal Time, UT, five hours ahead of EST, six of CST])

Right after wake-up, morning toilet, and breakfast, the last day of the year started for the crew with a New Year PAO event with RSC-Energia in Korolev (2:45am EST), using a new downlink/uplink configuration of two-way video via U.S. OCA assets between MCC-Moscow and the crew.

In a second event “s Novym Godom”, at 3:25am, the crew exchanged greetings with the Cosmonaut Corps at Star City’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC).  [Voice-only, via S-band.]

In the Service Module (SM) Assembly Compartment, FE Alexander Kaleri performed the periodic inspection and tightening of the quick-disconnect clamps of the SSVP docking mechanism in the hatchway between the Progress 12P and the SM aft end.  [The SSVP is the “classic” probe-and-cone type, consisting of an active docking assembly (ASA) with a probe (SSh), which fits into the cone (SK) on the passive docking assembly (PSA).  The ASA is mounted on the Progress’ cargo module (GrO), while the PSA sits on the docking ports of the SM, FGB and DC-1.]

Kaleri continued the regular monthly maintenance cycle on the RS (Russian segment) ventilation system, today cleaning the removable screens of its three GZhT gas-liquid heat exchangers in the FGB.

CDR/SO Michael Foale conducted a teleconference with the PFMI (Pore Formation & Mobility Investigation) developers before completing another session of PFMI troubleshooting, consisting of removing, checking and lubricating the gear train of the PFMI’s thermal chamber.

In preparation for the upcoming runs of the CGBA (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus), Foale reconfigured the EXPRESS Rack #4 (ER4) for the protection of the autonomously operating PCG-STES (Protein Crystal Growth-Single Locker Thermal Enclosure System).  [In the past two months since CGBA was moved adjacent to PCG-STES, its hot air exhaust, aimed at the STES intake manifold, has pushed STES’ temperature close to its upper limit.  Mike’s 1.5-hr. task today moved the three CGBA lockers to the location of the GSM (gas supply module), whose locker took the place of the stowage locker, which itself was put in the vacated CGBA space.  The task also involved disconnecting and reconnecting of power and data cables.]
The FE terminated the bake-out cycle on the BMP micropurification system’s channel #2, moding the channel back to Purify.  After yesterday’s termination of regeneration on channel #1, this restores both filter beds to Purification/Absorption mode.

Mike Foale conducted measurements of intermodular ventilation (IMV) air flow and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, a periodic task to help determine the quality of IMV between the RS and USOS (U.S. segment).  [The CO2 measurements were taken in the SM near the Vozdukh and also in the Lab mid-cabin area, using the U.S. CDMK (carbon dioxide monitoring kit).  Air flow measurements were determined at specific locations at the Lab aft port diffuser.  There is no direct IMV airflow measurement except as reflected by differences in atmosphere partial pressures measured between the RS and USOS.  ppCO2 is also a good yardstick since an increasing ppCO2 in the Lab not reflected in the SM indicates that Vozdukh is not receiving the air from the Lab at an efficient rate.  The air flow degradation measurements will help establish a fan-cleaning schedule.  CO2 measurements today were 3.86 mmHg in the SM, 3.78 mmHg in the Lab.  Average air velocity in the Lab aft end was 595.6 ft/min (last reading, on 6/26/03, was 864.7 ft/min.).]

Alex Kaleri installed the Molniya-SM/LSO hardware on SM window #3 and initiated another experiment session.  Once he started the measurement recording, the payload is working automatically until its rebooting on 1/4/04.  [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 was 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.]

The crew conducted the mandatory CHeCS (crew health care systems) emergency medical operations on-board training (OBT), a one-hour U.S. drill designed to refresh crewmembers’ acuity in applying ACLS (advanced cardio life support) in an emergency. [Deploying (without actually operating/manipulating) onboard equipment such as the RSP (respiratory support pack), CMRS (crew medical restraint system), ALSP (advanced life support pack) and defibrillator stowed in the Lab CHeCS rack, Mike and Sasha went step-by-step through the ACLS manual.  They were to time how long it took to deploy the HMS (health maintenance system) kits and to pay special attention to the proper functioning of the suspected CMRS shoulder harness buckle.]
Foale conducted an inspection of the currently used condensate CWC (collapsible water container) to check its contents for air bubbles (which might become troublesome for the Elektron electrolysis machine).  [The inspection consisted in unzipping the outer CWC and shining a flashlight inside to look for bubbles, which are expected to be scattered and clinging to the inner CWC bladder.]

Mike also conducted the regular routine maintenance of SOZh life support systems and performed the routine payload status checkup in the Lab, while Sasha prepared the daily IMS (inventory management system) “delta” file for updating the IMS database.

The CDR completed his seventh weekly filling out of the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), which keeps a log of his nutritional intake over time on the MEC (medical equipment computer). [Last time done: 12/24.]

Both crewmembers worked out with their daily 2.5-h program of physical exercise, on TVIS treadmill, RED expander, and VELO cycle with load trainer.

Foale collected and stowed the two passive FMK (formaldehyde monitoring kit) sampling badges, which he deployed on 12/29 in the Lab and SM for catching any atmospheric formaldehyde.

During the day, the crew activated (and subsequent replaced) two SFOG “candles” (solid-fuel oxygen generator, Russian: TGK), with the purpose of using up SFOGs that are at their certified expiration date.   [The SFOGs, on standby as oxygen source backup to the Elektron, generate O2 by decomposing cartridges of solid potassium perchlorate (KClO4) into potassium chloride (KCl) and O2 when heated at 450-500 degC.  Each candle releases ~600 liters (1.74 lbs.) of O2, enough for one person per day.  There are 142 SFOGs on board, and the certified lifetime of all of them expires today (12/31/03).  Russian formalities required for extending their lifetimes are being expedited as much as possible.]

Oxygen Management:  Moscow’s current plans for maintaining oxygen partial pressure (ppO2) are: (1) run Elektron at its high (32 amps) level as long as ppO2 remains at or below 180 mmHg, with reactivation of Elektron from the ground at 32A if the main and backup micropumps (MNO, MNR) again cause an automatic shutdown; (2) replacement of Elektron’s suspected BZh liquid unit #5 with the onboard spare (#6) is not currently in the plan, unless it becomes necessary; (3) second priority for O2 source after Elektron are the SFOG candles (if re-certified at the time when needed); (4) third priority (and in case of no SFOGs) is O2 represses from Progress 12P storage (12P has enough stores to increase ppO2 in the overall ISS volume by 10-12 mmHg).  

For today’s CEO (crew earth observations) sessions, the ground uplinked a list of target cities as potential photographic opportunities at the crew’s discretion.

CEO images can be viewed at the websites.

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at

U.S. and Russian Segment Status (as of 11:42am 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 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) was On for SFOG ops, then turned off again (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.
  • SM Working Compartment:  Pressure (mmHg) — 742; temperature (deg C) — 27.0; ppO2 (mmHg) — 159.4; ppCO2 (mmHg) — 3.7;
  • SM Transfer Compartment:  Pressure (mmHg) — 751; temperature (deg C) — 19.8.
  • FGB Cabin:  Pressure (mmHg) — 752; temperature (deg C) — 22.7.
  • Node:  Pressure (mmHg) — 743.25; temperature (deg C) — 24.1 (shell); ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • U.S. Lab:  Pressure (mmHg) — 744.92; temperature (deg C) — 24.8; ppO2 (mmHg) — 163.1; ppCO2 (mmHg) — 4.0.
  • Joint Airlock (Equip. Lock):   Pressure (mmHg) — 745.12; temperature (deg C) — 25.3; shell heater temp (deg C) — 24.5, ppO2 (mmHg) — n/a; ppCO2 (mmHg) — n/a.
  • PMA-1:  Shell heater temp (deg C) — 25.3
  • PMA-2:  Shell heater temp (deg C) — 11.7.

(n/a = data not available)

Electrical Power Systems (EPS):

  • Both P6 channels fully operational.  BGA (beta gimbal assembly) 2B and 4B both in Autotrack (suntracking). 
  • SM batteries:  Battery #8, formerly known as #7, is still disconnected in slot #8 for troubleshooting; all other batteries (7) are in “Partial Charge” mode.  
  • FGB batteries:  Battery #4 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-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:

  • XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane = “sun-fixed” [yaw: 0.5 deg, pitch: -9.0 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-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 #1/LEE B, 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, 7:42am EST [= epoch]):

  • Mean altitude — 369.7 km
  • Apogee — 373.9 km
  • Perigee — 365.6 km
  • Period — 91.9 min.
  • Inclination (to Equator) —  51.63 deg
  • Eccentricity — 0.0006134
  • Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.66
  • Mean altitude loss in last 24 hours — 120
  • Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98)  — 29186

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

A HAPPY, HEALTHY and SUCCESSFUL NEW YEAR to all of us in and below the ISS!

SpaceRef staff editor.