Status Report

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 Dec 2003

By SpaceRef Editor
December 6, 2003
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 6 Dec 2003

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except as noted previously or below.  First crew rest day this weekend.

CDR/SO Michael Foale and FE Alexander Kaleri performed the regular 3-hr. Saturday task of station cleaning.  [The “uborka stantsii” focuses on removal of food waste products, cleaning of compartments with vacuum cleaner, wet cleaning of the Service Module (SM) dining table and other surfaces with disinfectants (“Fungistat”) and cleaning of fan screens to avoid temperature rises.]

Kaleri completed the third experiment run of the current Russian TEKh-20 Plasma Crystal-3 (PK-3) experiment series, activating the turbopump for work chamber evacuation, setting up the hardware and preparing the video coverage, while tagging up with ground specialists.  During the run, Alex periodically monitored pressure readings and reported result during comm passes.  Finally, the PK-3 hardware was dismantled.  [The experiment is performed on plasma, i.e., fine particles charged and excited by RF/radio frequency power inside the evacuated work chamber.  The experiment is conducted in automated mode.]

For the 30-Year Anniversary of MCC-Moscow’s Main Real-Time Mission Control Group, Kaleri and Foale downlinked cordial greetings, to be replayed on 12/19 at the celebration at the M.I.Kalinin Cultural Center of Korolev, near Moscow.   [TsUP has invited RSC-Energia management, employees of other departments of its organization, specialists of IBMP (Institute of Biomedical Problems), GCTC (Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center), Khrunichev Center, and colleagues from NASA and ESA.  The crew’s downlink was prepared, Russian-style, in poetic verses.  For example, Mike Foale (roughly translated): “You’re 30 now — quite an age. You have created a lot. As time goes by, stations are flying, Changing orbit by orbit.”]

Working off the Russian task list, Kaleri conducted another session of the Russian Uragan earth imaging program, using the Kodak 760 DSC (digital still camera) from SM window #9. [Today’s task featured imagery of the city of Lagos, the island of Rhodes, the coastlines of Crete and Turkey, Ankara, cities on the Black Sea, Caucasian spa cities Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk, etc., the Waskaran volcano, the Andes mountains and cities along the Cuban coastline.]

Also on Sasha’s discretionary task list for today was another set of observations for the Diatomeya ocean research program.  [He used the Nikon F5 with f/80 mm lens and the Sony DVCAM-150 digital camcorder, fixed at SM window #7, to shoot nadir images of seawater blooms on the ocean surface, anomalies in cloud fields, and surface manifestations of water dynamics.  Recommended targets were the SE Atlantic, with the bioproductive area over the northern slope of the underwater Kitoviy sea range, the Guinea region of the E Atlantic, the Black Sea, and the SW Atlantic, with the shelf and slope waters of the Brazil and Argentina coastline.]

The crew worked out according to their regular daily physical exercise program of 2.5 hrs on the TVIS treadmill, RED exerciser, CEVIS cycle ergometer and VELO bike (with load trainer).

A task has been added to the discretionary U.S. “job jar” task list for the crew to locate a number of video cables that can be strung together to extend about 90 ft from the U.S. video recorder (VTR) equipment to the TVIS treadmill in the Service Module (SM), in response to CDR Foale’s request for real-time video downlink during next Tuesday’s TVIS IFM (in-flight maintenance).  In preparation for the IFM, MCC-H also uplinked two TVIS gyro videos.

Kaleri conducted the daily routine maintenance of the SM’s SOZh life support system. [Besides general inspection of pipes and joints, this task includes necessary maintenance of the water supply system, toilet facilities and Elektron oxygen generator system.]

The crew had their regular weekly PFCs (private family conferences), via S-band/audio and Ku-band/video.

In a repeat of last week’s special ARISS (Amateur Radio International Space Station) ham radio event, Mike Foale today was provided pass times to downlink words of condolence and sympathy for former NBC News correspondent Roy Neal, who died last week at a North Carolina hospital at age 82 following heart surgery performed last August. [For background on Roy Neal, see 11/29 Status Report.]

At 10:10am EST, the station changed its flight attitude, maneuvering from earth-oriented LVLH (local vertical/local horizontal) to solar-pointing XPOP (x-axis perpendicular to orbit plane).  The next change will be on Monday (11/8), when ISS will maneuver to YVV (y-axis in velocity vector) attitude, flying “broadside into the wind”.  [Today’s maneuver was conducted by the Russian MCS (motion control system) on SM and Progress thrusters, with the U.S. CMGs standing by for subsequent attitude hold if needed.  All maneuver steps were designed to minimize the CMG gimbal rates (i.e., stress).  PPLs (preplanned loads) were put in place to ensure that 5Hz vibratory data of all three gyros were captured and that data stored on the ZOE (zone-of-exclusion) recorder were downlinked for all LOS (loss-of-signal) periods occurring during the three hours following initialization of the CMG’s momentum manager.  Use of RS thrusters for maneuvers will continue through January 15, 2004.]

Soyuz Update:  Evaluation of Soyuz TMA-2/6S performance during the 10/28 undocking led to the decision to plan for a more rigid thruster control switch guard on the next Soyuz, to prevent a repetition of the accidental thruster firing.  For the Soyuz TMA-3/7S CRV, which experienced two small anomalies during its flight to ISS on 10/18-20, it appears that (a) the higher than expected humidity in the cabin atmosphere (18 mmHg) during stand-alone flight resulted from a failed fan in the Descent Module; a replacement may be flown in 13P (fan #2 is operational); (b) the small helium leak between the He pressurization tanks and the prop tanks of manifold #2 of the KDU integrated propulsion system still provides functionality of the affected string 2, although manifold #1 will be used as primary string.  [After the leak was discovered, check valves in the leaking manifold were closed.  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.] 

Weekly Science Update (Expedition Eight — 5th):

GASMAP:   Next scheduled GASMAP health check is next week, 12/12.  There will be no real-time sampling this time; rather, Mike will be performing the nominal 30 day health check he was originally trained on.

Human Research Facility/Workstation (HRF WS):  Continuing.

Advanced Ultrasound:  Planned.

Hand Posture Analyzer (HPA):  Next session is planned for mid-increment, and a third late in the increment.

In-Space Soldering Investigation (ISSE): Planned.

Pore Formation and Mobility Investigation (PFMI):  Ground teams are gearing up for the session next week (11/8).  They are currently looking for a spot to schedule a requested crew conference.

Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS):   SAMS changed the frequency setting of F02, F04 and F08 to 400Hz to support PFMI on Monday (11/8).

Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System (MAMS):  MAMS continues to measure the quasi-steady (below 1 Hz) acceleration environment using the OSS sensor.  HiRAP telemetry downlink was enabled to support TVIS testing..   

Protein Crystal Growth-Single Locker Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-STES):  Behaving nominally.

Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Emulsions (InSPACE):   Planned.

Renal Stone:   Next scheduled in-flight collection is at the turn of the year.  The Renal Stone team continues to work on resolutions and work-arounds for the hardware anomaly experienced during the first in-flight operation.  Additionally to the excellent pictures taken by the crew, the ground will have some more questions in the near future to discern some details.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SHERES):  Completed.

Foot (Foot/Ground Reaction Forces during Space Flight):  Looking forward to the new sessions next year.

Materials ISS Experiment (MISSE):  In progress.  Deployed outside. Nominal and collecting data.

Cellular Biotechnology Support Systems-Fluid Dynamics Investigation (CBOSS-FDI): The Principal Investigator (Dr. Zimmerberg) was “really excited about the outcome of the conference” with Mike Foale this week.  A lot of useful information was gained that is believed to contribute to the success of future operations.

Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM): Students are looking forward to the next session later this Increment.

Earth Science Toward Exploration Research (ESTER):  Looking forward to the sessions next year.

Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2): Planned.

Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (CGBA):   Completed.

Educational Payload Operations (EPO):  The video from the demonstrations this week was excellent.  The ground is looking forward to creating the lessons for the students with this new video.

Crew Earth Observation (CEO):  A recent ISS/CEO image illustrating the formation of sediment plumes in the Rio de la Plata estuary will be published on Earth Observatory this weekend (see link below).  In that session the crew also got some excellent sun glint views of the complex and possibly flooded drainage pattern of the Pampas region southwest of Buenos Aires.  These patterns are linked to the position and evolution of known megafan features to the west.  A sizeable backlog of CEO imagery is still under review, but three other significant sessions have been noted.  First, is one of the crew’s Himalayan encounters which includes the best Mount Everest view captured to date with the 400mm lens.  The second session includes some excellent views of the dynamic Betsiboka River delta in western Madagascar.  A third discovery is your imagery of the large plankton bloom off the Argentine coast.

Today’s CEO (crew earth observation) targets, valid for the station’s LVLH attitude before today’s change to XPOP at 10:10am EST, wereGanges smog, India (Dynamic event: Regional smog event continues, with visibilities in cities on the Ganges reduced to one mile.  Pointing left and right, especially obliquely towards the Himalayas, where smog depth can be estimated),Muglad basin deltas, S Sudan (a series of inland deltas, extending hundreds of miles west from the Nile, are the focus of a research effort.  Pointing left and right.  Patterns of streams that generate these features are of major interest. Modern stream patterns often fail to match local maps.  This basin has buried hydrocarbons, and modern inland deltas may be analogs for buried, oil rich rocks), Khartoum, Sudan (this hard-to-see city is easily located where the White and Blue Niles meet.  Nadir pass),Lagos, Nigeria (no major storms: looking a touch right on the coast), New impact crater field, Libya(newly discovered impact craters lie in ancient rocks between the Tibesti massif and the highly visible Black Haruj volcano.  Although the impacts are hundreds of millions of years old, they were buried and preserved, only to be re-exposed in recent geological time.  Nadir pass.  Looking for circular features),Eastern Mediterranean Dust and Smog(pointing left for possible dust being generated in the Sirte Gulf [Libya] just left of track as a storm approached from the W), Araguaia Swampland, Brazil (Dynamic event:  Sunglint opportunity for highly mobile stream patterns in one of Brazil’s largest wetlands: pointing right near the glint point, where the Araguaia River valley [Amazon southside tributary] widens), and Lower Amazon River Basin (nadir pass over the center of the estuary:  looking left and right for detailed views).

CEO images can be viewed at the websites.

See also the website “Space Station Challenge” at

ISS Orbit  (as of this morning, 7:23am EST [= epoch]):
Mean altitude — 372.3 km
Apogee — 376.4 km
Perigee — 368.1 km
Period — 92.0 min.
Inclination (to Equator) —  51.63 deg
Eccentricity — 0.0006183
Orbits per 24-hr. day — 15.65
Mean altitude loss in last 24 hours — 125 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. ’98)  — 28794
For more on ISS orbit and worldwide naked-eye visibility dates/times, see

SpaceRef staff editor.