STS-123/Endeavour (ISS-1J/A) lifted off spectacularly in darkness early this morning right on time (2:28am EDT) with all systems performing nominally, for rendezvous with ISS tomorrow (3/12, Wednesday) and docking at approximately 11:25pm EDT. The Orbiter is carrying the seven-member crew of Commander Dominic L. Gorie, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Richard M. Linnehan, Robert L. Behnken, Michael J. Foreman, Takao Doi and Garrett E. Reisman. Reisman will replace LĂ(c)opold Eyharts as ISS Flight Engineer 2, who returns on 3/26 (nominal) with STS-123. STS-123 is the 122nd space shuttle flight, the 21st flight for Endeavour, the 25th flight to the station and the second of six Shuttle flights planned for 2008 (including the Hubble Service Mission 4). Its primary payloads are the 18,490-lbs Japanese Experiment Logistics Module-Pressurized Section (ELM-PS or JLP) and the 3,400-lbs Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) 'Dextre'. We are off to another great mission!
Before breakfast & first exercise, Whitson, Malenchenko and Eyharts completed a full session with the Russian crew health monitoring program's medical assessment MO-9/Biochemical Urinalysis. Afterwards, the FE-1 closed out and stowed the Urolux hardware. (MO-9 is conducted every 30 days (and also before and after EVAs) and is one of five nominal Russian medical tests adopted by NASA for U.S. crewmembers for IMG PHS (Integrated Medical Group/Periodic Health Status) evaluation as part of the "PHS/Without Blood Labs" exam. The analysis uses the sophisticated in-vitro diagnostic apparatus Urolux developed originally for the Mir program. Afterwards, the data are entered in the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer)'s special IFEP software (In-Flight Examination Program).)
In the Columbus module, FE-2 Eyharts performed close-out activities on the completed BLB/WAICO #1 (BIOLAB/Waving & Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots at Different g-levels) experiment, shutting down all unused subsystems, removing the ECs (Experiment Containers) from the incubator for final stowage in the BLBG TCU (BLBGlovebox Thermal Control Unit 1), set at +4 degC, and removing the video tape from the camcorder. (The WAICO samples, which required a 14-day growing period, will be returned on Flight 1J/A along with the video tape.)
FE-1 Malenchenko continued the long-term leak checking of the spare BZh Liquid Unit (#056) for the Elektron O2 generator by charging the unit once again with pressurized N2 from the BPA-M Nitrogen Purge Unit (#23) to 1 atm (1 kg/cm2), for the subsequent periodic pressure check. The last test pressurization was on 1/9/08. (During Elektron operation, the inert gas locked up in the BZh has the purpose to prevent dangerous O2/H2 mixing. A leaking BZh cannot be used.)
CDR Whitson serviced the prime CSA-CP (Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products), replacing its battery with a fresh one (#1167).
The three crewmembers had their standard periodic PMC (Private Medical Conference) via S- & Ku-band audio/video.
Working from the voluntary 'available time' suggestions list, Yuri Malenchenko conducted the regular daily checkup on the Japanese experiment GCF-JAXA (Granada Crystallization Facility) in the Russian TBU incubator, maintained at +20 degC, including a temperature check on its ART (automatic temperature recorder).
The crewmembers completed their regular 2.5-hr. physical workout program (about half of which is used for setup & post-exercise personal hygiene) on the CEVIS cycle ergometer (CDR, FE-2), TVIS treadmill (FE-1, FE-2), RED resistive exercise device (CDR) and VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1).
Peggy Whitson then transferred the crew's exercise data file to the MEC laptop for downlinking, as well as the daily wristband HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) data of the workouts on RED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).
The crew had an early dinner at ~10:30am (no lunch break today) and then began their sleep time at 12:00noon EDT as first step in the extensive sleep cycle shifting ahead.
After waking up from the 4-hr. 'nap' at ~4:00pm later today, Leo Eyharts will move to the U.S. Airlock to start charging eight camera batteries in preparation for tomorrow night's RPM (R-bar Pitch Maneuver) photo shoot by Whitson and Malenchenko. Charging will be conducted on two sets of four batteries simultaneously, each one requiring at least three hours. (The RPM will begin at ~10:24pm EDT in bright sunlight, followed by TORVA (Twice Orbital Rate V-bar Approach) initiation at ~10:35pm and V-bar arrival (310 ft in front of the station) at 10:46pm. Being below the ISS, the Orbiter will overtake it, passing through its 'R-bar' radius vector at ~600 ft range while doing a slo-mo somersault for brief exposure of its belly to Peggy's & Yuri's cameras, then getting further ahead and rising up to match the station's orbital rate (velocity), followed by for lining up, starting final approach and concluding with docking at PMA-2 (Pressurized Mating Adapter 2).)
Also for the upcoming high-pressure RPM photo activity, much of Whitson's attention later tonight and throughout the night will be on formatting the necessary camera storage devices. (Formatting, in a Kodak DCS 760 camera on station power, will be performed on a total of eight 1GB EVA Flash Cards, each one taking ~20 minutes. Afterwards, the reformatted cards are to be transferred to the SM (Service Module) for the DCS 760 camera configuration to get ready for the RPM documentation.)
Peggy will also perform the periodic offloading of the Lab CCAA (Common Cabin Air Assembly) dehumidifier's condensate tank, filling a CWC (Contingency Water Container, #1054) with the collected water slated for processing. Two samples are required this time for return to Earth. (Estimated offload time before termination (leaving ~6 kg in the tank): ~35 min.)
Yuri Malenchenko's first job tonight after the nap will be the periodic servicing of the Russian BMP (Harmful Impurities Removal System) by starting the "bake-out" cycle to vacuum on absorbent bed #1 of the regenerable dual-channel filtration system. The regen process will be terminated tomorrow before sleeptime, at ~5:20am EDT. Regeneration of bed #2 follows after wake-up. (Regeneration of each of the two cartridges takes about 12 hours and is conducted only during crew awake periods.)
The FE-1 is also scheduled to set up the equipment for his third session with the Russian experiment MBI-18 DYKHANIE ('respiration', 'breathing'), then to tag up with ground specialists and conduct the session, finally closing down and stowing the equipment. (Dykhanie-1 uses two body belts (PG-T/thoracic, PG-A/abdominal), a calibrator, resistor, mouthpiece, etc., to study fundamental physiological mechanisms of the external breathing function of crewmembers under long-duration orbital flight conditions. During the experiment, physiological measurements are taken and recorded with a pneumotachogram, a thoracic pneumogram, an abdominal pneumogram, and pressure data in the oral cavity. All experimentally derived plus salient environmental data along with personal data of the subject are recorded on PCMIA card for return to the ground at end of the Expedition. Objectives include determining the dynamics of the relationship between thoracic (pectoral) and abdominal breathing function reserves and their realization potential during spontaneous breathing, the coordinated spontaneous respiratory movements in terms of thoracic and abdominal components of volumetric, time & rate parameters of spontaneous respiratory cycle, identification of the features of humoral-reflex regulation of breathing by dynamics of ventilation sensitivity of thoracic and abdominal components to chemoreceptor stimuli, etc. Overall, the experiment is intended to provide a better understanding of the basic mechanisms of pulmonary respiration/gas exchange gravitational relations of cosmonauts.)
In preparation for the upcoming docking, Leo will work on the Columbus FSL (Fluid Science Laboratory), temporarily re-attaching the FSL FCE (Facility Core Element) drawer structure to the rack by means of the four launch fixations bolts used during COL launch, as he did on 2/27 for the reboost. (Afterwards, the launch captive bolts will be removed again and the protective gap covers re-installed. The need for the lock-down of the FCE was indicated by an updated structural analysis.)
Eyharts is also scheduled to collect a Return-to-Ground water sample from the ITCS MTL (Internal Thermal Control System/Moderate Temperature Loop) in the Lab (LAB1D5 port) and another one later from the LTL (Low Temperature Loop) in Node-2.
For use by the Shuttle crew during the docked phase with the Orbiter, the CDR will unstow and configure the BPMSU (Battery Powered Speaker Microphone Unit) with its dual drag-through cable string and QDs (quick disconnects), along with video adapter cables (The long dual strings, one going through Node-2 to the Lab, the other further on to Node-1 and its connecting modules, will be plugged in at a drag-through QD assembly at the PMA-2, with one half assigned to the station, the other to the Shuttle.)
Also later tonight, FE-1 Yuri Malenchenko will set up the equipment for the Russian MBI-18 DYKHANIE ('respiration', 'breathing') experiment, then conducted the session, supported by ground specialist tagup, later closing down ops and stowing the equipment. (Dykhanie-1 gear uses two belts (PG-T/thoracic, PG-A/abdominal), a calibrator, resistor, mouthpiece, etc., to study fundamental physiological mechanisms of the external breathing function of crewmembers under long-duration orbital flight conditions. During the experiment, physiological measurements taken and recorded involve a pneumotachogram, thoracic pneumogram, abdominal pneumogram, and pressures in the oral cavity. All experimentally derived and salient environmental data along with personal data of the subject are recorded on PCMIA card for return to the ground at end of the Expedition. Objectives include determining the dynamics of the relationship between thoracic (pectoral) and abdominal breathing function reserves and their realization potential during spontaneous breathing, the coordinated spontaneous respiratory movements in terms of thoracic and abdominal components of volumetric, time & rate parameters of spontaneous respiratory cycle, identification of the features of humoral-reflex regulation of breathing by dynamics of ventilation sensitivity of thoracic and abdominal components to chemoreceptor stimuli, etc. Overall, the experiment is intended to provide a better understanding of the basic mechanisms of pulmonary respiration/gas exchange gravitational relations of cosmonauts.)
(Post-midnight onboard activities are covered in tomorrow's Daily On-Orbit Report.)
ATV Update (Flight Day 2): All ATV systems are performing nominally. Yesterday, the ATV PDE-2 (Propulsion Drive Electronics #2) was successfully re-integrated at ~3:00pm EDT, returning the ATV to the nominal propulsion configuration with the redundant system available. Afterwards, the PDE was successfully used to complete an attitude slew maneuver to return to Yaw Steering, the nominal ATV attitude control mode. Two test maneuvers using Configuration A (PDE-1 & -2) were scheduled for today (11:01am/12:12pm). Tomorrow (3/12), two additional test maneuvers will be performed using Configuration B (PDE-3 & -4), at 9:20am and 10:05am. The CAM (Collision Avoidance Maneuver) Test 1 is scheduled on 3/13 at 6:00am-10:00am and the CAM Demo now on 3/14 at 3:56am. Twelve more burns will be conducted in the ensuing days, with final arrival at the 'loiter' position in Parking Orbit on 3/19 (~8:00am) at about 1200 mi. in front of ISS.
FSL Update: Yesterday's troubleshooting of the FSL (Fluid Science Klaboratoiry) Rack was unsuccessful. After powering on, data readouts were erratic. Further inspection showed that a jumper cable has a broken connector (J3), with two pins missing. FSL cannot be activated in this state.
SSC-13 Failure: As per crew report this morning, the SSC-13 (Station Support Computer 13) has failed (not loading its Operating System). The laptop is currently turned off, and the plan is to try reloading the hard drive.
ERNO Safety Issue: The recent installation of the ERNO (Entwicklungsring Nord) box by FE-2 Eyharts on the FSL starboard panel still needs to be assessed for safety by NASA & ESA before it can be activated (which is not planned for the next several weeks). (The primary purpose of this SDTO (Station Development Test Objective) is to assess the on-orbit performance of various radiation devices inside the ERNO box. This hardware includes: LEON-2 CPU (Central Processing Unit) developed by ATMEL/France and ESA, new memory devices, large SRAM (Static Random Access Memory)-based FPGAs (Field-Programmable Gate Arrays), and MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) sensors. The radiation-hardened LEON-2 microprocessor chip is the first implementation of a LEON CPU-core in silicon, with SPARC compliance. SPARC (Scalable Processor Architecture), invented by Sun Microsystems Inc., is an open set of technical specifications that any person or company can license and use to develop microprocessors and other semiconductor devices based on published industry standards.)
ISS Crew Sleep Shift Planning: To synchronize the ISS crew's timeline with STS-123/1J/A docking and subsequent docked activities, Peggy's, Yuri's and Leo's wake/sleep cycle is undergoing a number of shifts which started today. For the next six days, the wake/sleep shift schedule is as follows (all times EDT):
FD2 Wake: 4:00pm (3/11) - 6:30am (3/12)
Sleep: 6:30am - 3:00pm
Wake: 3:00pm (3/12) - 8:00am (3/13)
Sleep: 8:00am - 4:30pm
Wake: 4:30pm (3/13) - 8:00am (3/14)
Sleep: 8:00am - 4:30pm
Wake: 4:30pm (3/14) - 7:00am (3/15)
Sleep: 7:00am - 3:30pm
Wake: 3:30pm (3/15) - 7:00am (3/16)
Sleep: 7:00am - 3:30pm
Wake: 3:30pm (3/16) - 6:00am (3/17)
Sleep: 6:00am - 2:30pm
ISS Orbit (as of this morning, 9:34am EDT (= epoch)):
Mean altitude -- 341.0 km
Apogee height -- 342.0 km
Perigee height -- 340.0 km
Period -- 91.35 min.
Inclination (to Equator) -- 51.64 deg
Eccentricity -- 0.0001473
Solar Beta Angle -- 6.2 deg (magnitude increasing)
Orbits per 24-hr. day -- 15.76
Mean altitude loss in the last 24 hours -- 231 m
Revolutions since FGB/Zarya launch (Nov. 98) -- 53312