NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 2 October 2009

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2009

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

Yest kasaniye! Soyuz TMA-16/20S docked successfully at 4:35am EDT at the SM (Service Module) aft port (additionally, Soyuz TMA-14/18S is docked at DC-1 Nadir, TMA-15/19S at FGB Nadir, and HTV1 at Node-2 Nadir port). TMA-16 delivered Exp-21 crewmembers FE-1 Maxim Suraev & FE-5 Jeff Williams plus SFP/VC-17 Guy Laliberte. After about 40 min. spent in Soyuz on pre-transfer activities, the crews opened hatches at 7:31am and transferred to the ISS. This was followed by the traditional joyful welcome event and the installation of the BZV QD (quick disconnect) clamps of the docking & internal transfer mechanism (SSVP) by Suraev, to rigidize the joint. This is the first time we have nine crewmembers on-board without a Shuttle present. [After "kasaniye" (contact), automatic "sborka" (closing of Soyuz & SM port hooks & latches) took place shortly thereafter while ISS was in free drift. Attitude control authority had been handed over to the Russian MCS (Motion Control System) at ~2:25am and was returned to US CMG control at ~5:35am. For the docking, Russian thrusters were disabled during Soyuz volume pressurization & clamp installation; they were afterwards returned to active attitude control. Before hatch opening, the crew performed leak checks of the Soyuz modules and the Soyuz/SM interface vestibule. They then doffed their Sokol suits and set them up for drying, deactivated the BOA/Atmosphere Purification Unit in the SA/Descent Module, replaced the Soyuz ECLSS LiOH cartridges, equalized Soyuz/ISS pressures, and put the spacecraft into conservation mode on ISS integrated power. Suraev & Williams joined Exp-20 CDR Padalka, FE-1 Barratt, FE-2 Stott, FE-3 Romanenko, FE-4 Thirsk and FE-5 De Winne, thus beginning Expedition 21. Suraev & Williams are replacing Padalka & Barratt who will return on Soyuz 18S, along with Laliberte. Frank De Winne replaces Gennady Padalka as ISS CDR.]

Well before the docking, the ISS crew completed a number of scheduled tasks. Steps by the ISS crew leading up to the Soyuz docking included:

  • Powering down the amateur/ham radio equipment to prevent RF interference with Soyuz/KURS prox ops,
  • Verifying that the protective window shutters in the Lab & Kibo were closed,
  • Padalka & Barratt checking out the RS (Russian Segment) video system, which uses the SONY HDV camera for transmitting over the MPEG-2 (Moving Pictures Expert Group 2) encoder from FGB & SM to downlink via U.S. OpsLAN and Ku-band in “streaming video” packets [deactivated and taken down by Barratt later in the day],
  • Configuring & activating the SSC (Station Support Computer) A31p laptop for the TV conversion to NTSC and Ku-band, by the FE-1 [later, Mike removed the downlink test equipment and disconnected the hook-up of the UOP DCP (utility outlet panel/display & control panel) power bypass cable at the CUP RWS (Cupola Robotic Work Station)],
  • Romanenko setting up the BRTK TVS video equipment for covering the Soyuz approach & docking, and later deactivating it,
  • Padalka configuring the station comm (STTS) for the docking [plus reconfiguring it afterwards for the nominal post-docking hardline mode (MBS)], and
  • All crewmembers monitoring approach and final docking of Soyuz from the SM.

After the successful docking at the SM aft port –
  • Roman downlinked recorded docking video via Ku-band,
  • Padalka & Romanenko conducted the ~1 hr SM vestibule interface leak check,
  • Gennady switched hatch KVDs (Pressure Equalization Valves) between SM and Soyuz to electric control mode, and
  • The crew opened the Soyuz-SM transfer tunnel hatches (7:31am).
  • Both crews then joined for the obligatory Safety Briefing of the newcomers by CDR Padalka, who led them through all modules. This was followed by the Crew Safety Handover, to familiarize them with procedures and escape routes in case of an emergency [Safety Handover includes safety-related items such as emergency actions (egress path to the Soyuz vehicles, procedures, annunciations, isolation equipment, safety equipment, depressurization and leak repair, fire, toxic release), visiting vehicles docking/undocking, evacuation vehicles, crew life support system status, computers, communications, medical equipment, IVA hazards (e.g., sharp edges, protrusions, touch temperatures), stowage, and current hardware status.],
  • FE-1 Maxim Suraev deactivated the Soyuz “orbitalniy polyot” (spacecraft).
  • Suraev & Padalka transferred the IELKs (Individual Equipment & Liner Kit, Russian: USIL) of Maxim & Jeff from Soyuz TMA-16/20S to TMA-15/19S, which now becomes the prime spacecraft, and Laliberte’s IELK to TMA-14/18S, including his tailored Sokol spacesuit. Padalka & Barratt’s IELKs of are already in 18S, to return on 10/10. De Winne’s IELK is in 19S, and Romanenko’s, Stott’s & Thirsk’s IELKs were moved to 20S. [Once the IELKs were transferred, TsUP-Moscow considers the 19S crew as “prime”, using the EMER-1 crew procedures in a contingency. The 20S & 18S crewmembers are the non-prime ISS/visiting vehicle crew, using the DAS-EP/Emergency Book for Visiting Crew in case of need. 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 VC-17 IELK, Guy is now considered an 18S crewmember, and Expedition 21 has technically begun its residence aboard ISS, with Gennady Padalka about to pass his CDR-baton to Frank De Winne.]

FE-2 Stott updated the English & Russian copies of the E-20/E-21 Crew Handover Book with new uplinked pages, trashing the old pages.

After FE-3 had set up and activated the thermostat-controlled sample containers KRIOGEM-03 (at +4 degC) & KRIOGEM-03M (at +29 degC) earlier in the day in the RS, Romanenko & Suraev transferred, installed & photographed high-priority science equipment from the Soyuz to the SM, including –
  • BTKh-10/KONYUGATSIYA (“Conjugation” in its Biokont-T container, also in KRIOGEM, which deals with the processes of genetic material transmission using bacterial conjugation, in the Biokont-T container and Rekomb-K hardware in the KRIOGEM-03/03M),
  • BTKh-26/CASCADE (Bioreactor 5 in KRIOGEM-3M for investigating different types of cell cultivation),
  • BTKh-14/BIOEMULSIYA (Bioemulsion, which investigates the design and improvement of a closed-type autonomous thermostat-controlled bioreactor for obtaining biomass of organisms and bioactive substances (BAV) without additional ingredients input or removal of metabolism products, for bacterial, enzymatic, and pharmaceutical preparations),
  • BTKh-27/ASTROVAKCINA (Cultivation in zero-G of an E. Coli producer of the Caf1 protein),
  • BIO-1/POLIGENE (Investigation on Drozofila-2 Kit, with flies),
  • BTKh-5/LAKTOLEN (Effects of the spaceflight environment on the Lactolen producing strain.)
  • BTKh-7/OChB (Effects of the spaceflight environment on the strain producing the superoxide Dismutase),
  • BTKh-6/ ARIL (Effects of the spaceflight environment on the behavior of strains producing the Interleukins 1-alpha, 1-beta & aryl),
  • BTKh-40/BIF (Investigation of spaceflight factors on technological & biomedical characteristics of Bifidobacteria), and
  • BTKh-41/BACTERIOPHAGE (Investigation of spaceflight factors on Bacteriophages.) technological & biomedical characteristics).

Other transfers were –
  • Onboard Procedures list for VC-17, handed over to the SFP (Spaceflight Participant),
  • Photo/Video Equipment for Laliberte, and
  • Ying B1 & B2 Yeast Experiment kits (for De Winne).

In the COL (Columbus Orbital Laboratory, the FE-5 installed the B1 & B2 Yeast ECs (Experiment Containers) in the BLB (Biolab) incubator.

De Winne also set up the G1 camcorder & hardware for the ESA experiment “Foam Stability” and supported six runs, replacing camcorder battery, rewinding the tape and exchanging cell arrays between runs. [The project aims at the study of aqueous and non-aqueous foams in micro-G environment. The behavior of foams in micro-G and on earth are very different, because the process of drainage is absent in space. The effective enhancement of the “foamability” of liquid solutions without this drainage effect of gravity is investigated. Other fundamental questions addressed are: how long can those foams be stable? What is the role of solid particles in the liquid in water foam stabilization? Is it possible to create very "wet" foams in microgravity?]

CDR Padalka took Guy Laliberte on a one-hour orientation/briefing tour of the ISS, setting him up for his nine-day stay on board. Preparations included installing the SFP’s HDD (Hard Disk Drive) in the RSK2 laptop for his use. [Guy’s introduction covered SM windows 7 & 8 for Earth photo/video ops, NIKON D3X & SONY Z7 camera stowage locations & use, location for Guy’s daily VHF1 conferences, the SFP-PCG & SFP-ICG experiment container setup, etc.]

FE-1 Barratt configured the hardware for another BISE (Bodies in the Space Environment) experiment run, his last, then worked through the protocol, with Canadian flight engineer Thirsk participating for taking photographs. [The CSA (Canadian Space Agency)-sponsored BISE experiment studies how astronauts perceive Up and Down in microgravity, investigating the relative contributions of internal & external cues to self-orientation during and after micro-G exposure.. The specific objective of the BISE project is to conduct experiments during long-duration micro-G conditions to better understand how humans first adapt to micro-G and then re-adapt to normal gravity conditions upon return to earth. This experiment involves comparisons of preflight, flight, and post-flight perceptions and mental imagery, with special reference to spaceflight-related decreases in the vertical component of percepts. The test involves having subjects view a computer screen through a cylinder that blocks all other visual information. The astronauts are being presented with background images with different orientations relative to their bodies.]

Barratt, Stott, Thirsk & De Winne had time set aside for filling out their regular weekly FFQs (Food Frequency Questionnaires) on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer). [On the FFQs, NASA astronauts keep a personalized log of their nutritional intake over time on special MEC software. Recorded are the amounts consumed during the past week of such food items as beverages, cereals, grains, eggs, breads, snacks, sweets, fruit, beans, soup, vegetables, dairy, fish, meat, chicken, sauces & spreads, and vitamins. The FFQ is performed once a week to estimate nutrient intake from the previous week and to give recommendations to ground specialists that help maintain optimal crew health. Weekly estimation has been verified to be reliable enough that nutrients do not need to be tracked daily.]

Mike & Nicole also conducted another session with the MedOps experiment WinSCAT (Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows), Mike’s 7th, Nicole’s 2nd, by logging in on the MEC laptop and performing the psychological evaluation exercise on the PC-based WinSCAT application. [WinSCAT is a monthly time-constrained questionnaire test of cognitive abilities, routinely performed by astronauts aboard the ISS every 30 days before or after the PHS (periodic health status) test or on special CDR's, crewmembers or flight surgeons request. The test uses cognitive subtests that measure sustained concentration, verbal working memory, attention, short-term memory, spatial processing, and math skills. The five cognitive subtests are Coding Memory - Learning, Continuous Processing Task (CPT), Match to Sample, Mathematics, and Coding Delayed Recall. These WinSCAT subtests are the same as those used during NASA’s long-duration bed rest studies.]

The FE-2 continued her support of the MDS (Mice Drawer System) by refilling the potable water supply, then replacing, with Thirsk assisting, the exhausted FEV food envelopes in cages 1, 2, 4 and 5 with new ones and placing the old FEVs in a containment bag for stowage. Afterwards, Nicole cleaned the MDS camera & LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting windows.

Jeff Williams, the new Exp-21 FE-5, unstowed+ two INTEGRATED IMMUNE saliva collection kits for himself, Mike, Nicole, Bob & Frank who will each use a “salivette” pouch from the kits for conducting their saliva collections during the docked ops phase. [Along with NUTRITION (Nutritional Status Assessment), INTEGRATED IMMUNE (Validating Procedures for Monitoring Crew member Immune Function)samples & analyzes participant’s blood, urine, and saliva before, during and after flight for changes related to functions like bone metabolism, oxidative damage and immune function to develop and validate an immune monitoring strategy consistent with operational flight requirements and constraints. The strategy uses both long and short duration crewmembers as study subjects. The saliva is collected in two forms, dry and liquid. The dry samples are collected at intervals during the collection day using a specialized book that contains filter paper. The liquid saliva collections require that the crewmember soak a piece of cotton inside their mouth and place it in a salivette bag; there are four of the liquid collections during docked operations. The on-orbit blood samples are collected right before undocking and returned on the Shuttle so that analysis can occur with 48 hours of the sampling. This allows assays that quantify the function of different types of white blood cells and other active components of the immune system. Samples are secured in the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS). Also included are entries in a fluid/medications intact log, and a stress-test questionnaire to be filled out by the subject at begin and end. Urine is collected during a 24-hour period, conventionally divided into two twelve-hour phases: morning-evening and evening-morning.]

Jeff also performed his first two runs with the Reaction Self Test on an A31p laptop containing the appropriate software. [The procedure will later be transitioned to a new SSC (Station Support Computer) server.]

In the JAXA JPM (JEM Pressurized Module), Bob worked briefly on the MS FPEF (Marangoni Surface Fluid Physics Experiment Facility), removing its silicon filter hose.

The FE-4 also completed the periodic maintenance & visual inspection of the ARED (Advanced Resistive Exercise Device) and its VIS (Vibration Isolation System) rails & rollers, greasing the Y- and Z-axis rails & rollers and also evacuating its cylinder flywheels to maintain proper vacuum condition and sensor calibration.

Afterwards, Thirsk had several hours set aside for ACO (Activation & Checkout) of the new MELFI-2 (Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS) rack. [After turning on its laptop, Bob had to activate the rack, confirm software startup and verify that all switches, lights, and displays are correct. He then checked whether the rack’s nitrogen pressure is within acceptable range and subsequently conducted a series of function tests on the freezer facility.].

Later in the day, as per agreement, Thirsk spent ~30 min with Laliberte, shooting video footage of the SFP’s activities.

In Node-2, Frank De Winne reconfigured the UOP1 (Utility Outlet Panel 1) by moving the PS-28 junction box, along with the SMPA (Service Module Power Adapter) battery charger, to an ER (EXPRESS Rack) power source in the Lab, as necessitated by the upcoming PPFS (Portable Pulmonary Function System) operation, which requires the HRF (Human Research Facility) power converter in October.

Mike Barratt accessed the WRS2 (Water Recovery System 2) for the periodic changeout of the RFTA (Recycle Filter Tank Assembly) and its backfill with the QD depress hose, which was then stowed and the RFTA activity closed out.

Romanenko completed the routine daily servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM. [Regular daily SOZh maintenance consists, among else, of checking the ASU toilet facilities, replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers and replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers.]

Roman also took care of the daily IMS (Inventory Management System) maintenance, updating/editing its standard “delta file” including stowage locations, for the regular weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur).

The crew completed their regular daily 2.5-hr. physical workout program on the CEVIS cycle ergometer (FE-4, FE-5), TVIS treadmill with vibration isolation (CDR/1h, FE-1, FE-2), ARED advanced resistive exerciser (FE-1, FE-2, FE-4, FE-5), and VELO cycle ergometer with bungee cord load trainer (FE-3/1h).

Later, Barratt transferred the exercise data files to the MEC for downlink, including the daily wristband HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) data of the workouts on ARED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).

At ~8:59am, Frank powered up the SM's amateur radio equipment (Kenwood VHF transceiver with manual frequency selection, headset, & power supply) and at ~9:04am conducted a ham radio session with students at the University of Liege at Liege, Belgium.

At ~10:40am, Nicole also had a ham radio session, with students at Scuola Secondaria 1* Grado “Alighieri – Trevigi”, at Casale Monferrato, Prov. Alessandria, Italy.

CEO (Crew Earth Observation) photo targets uplinked for today were Cairo, Egypt (ISS should have had clear weather over this famous megacity. Looking slightly right of track. Overlapping frames, taken along track, provided a transect across the urban area and are useful for mapping land use and land cover), Port of Santa Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands (this is one of CEO’s Beagle sites. Looking right of track), Sky Islands, Northern Mexico (clearing over the mountains of northern Mexico and southern Arizona was predicted during this overpass. Looking for generally NW-SE oriented mountain ranges; the upper green vegetated slopes are the "sky islands". Overlapping frames of the vegetated upper slopes and peaks of the mountains were requested), and Typhoon Melor, Pacific Ocean (Dynamic Event: Typhoon Melor should have been visible to the right [east] of track. It is moving W-NW at 9 knots and is predicted to pass just north of Saipan. It is a Category 2 storm [winds 96 - 110 mph] but is predicted to become a Category 3 storm [111 - 130 mph]. Trying to capture the entire storm in one frame if possible).

CEO photography can be studied at this “Gateway” website: (as of 9/1/08, this database contained 770,668 views of the Earth from space, with 324,812 from the ISS alone).

ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 7:37am EDT [= epoch])
Mean altitude -- 345.9 km
Apogee height – 351.5 km
Perigee height -- 340.2 km
Period -- 91.45 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- 51.64 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0008426
Solar Beta Angle -- -51.0 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.74
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 70 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) -- 62285

Significant Events Ahead (all dates Eastern Time, some changes possible!):
10/10/09 -- Soyuz TMA-14/18S undock (9:05pm)
10/11/09 -- Soyuz TMA-14/18S land (~00:30am; Kazakhstan: ~10:30am)
10/14/09 -- H-IIB (JAXA HTV-1) unberth (under review)
10/15/09 -- Progress 35P launch
10/27/09 -- Ares I-X Flight Test
11/10/09 -- 5R/MRM-2 (Russian Mini Research Module 2) on Soyuz-U
11/12/09 -- 5R/MRM-2 docking (SM zenith)
11/12/09 -- STS-129/Atlantis/ULF3 launch (ELC1, ELC2)
12/01/09 – Soyuz TMA-15/19S undock
12/21/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S launch -- O. Kotov/S. Noguchi/T.J. Creamer
12/23/09 -- Soyuz TMA-17/21S (FGB nadir)
01/??/10 -- Soyuz 20S relocation (from SM aft to MRM-2)
02/03/10 -- Progress 36P launch
02/04/10 -- STS-130/Endeavour/20A – Node-3 + Cupola
02/05/10 -- Progress 36P docking
03/18/10 -- STS-131/Discovery/19A – MPLM(P), LMC
04/02/10 -- Soyuz TMA-18/22S launch
04/28/10 -- Progress 37P launch
05/14/10 -- STS-132/Atlantis/ULF4 – ICC-VLD, MRM-1
05/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-19/23S launch
06/30/10 -- Progress 38P launch
07/27/10 -- Progress 39P launch
07/29/10 -- STS-133/Endeavour (ULF5 – ELC4, MPLM) or STS-134/Discovery (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS)
08/31/10 -- Progress 40P launch
09/16/10 -- STS-133/Endeavour (ULF5 – ELC4, MPLM) or STS-134/Discovery (ULF6 – ELC3, AMS)
09/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-20/24S launch
10/27/10 -- Progress 41P launch
11/30/10 -- Soyuz TMA-21/25S launch
12/21/10 -- ATV2 – Ariane 5 (ESA)
02/09/11 -- Progress 42P launch
03/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-22/26S launch
xx/xx/11 -- Progress 43P launch
05/30/11 -- Soyuz TMA-23/27S launch
12/??/11 -- 3R Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) w/ERA – on Proton

// end //

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