Encyclopedia Astronautica
2008.03.27 - ISS On-Orbit Status 03/27/08

Welcome back, Endeavour!

STS-123/Endeavour returned to Earth last night after 15d 18h 11m in space, the longest Shuttle mission to ISS so far, touching down at KSC on the second opportunity at 8:39pm EDT, after 250 orbits & 6.6 million miles (first opportunity waived off due to cloud layer). (During the perfectly executed ISS 1J/AE mission, its seven-member crew conducted a record five EVAs, delivered & installed the JAXA JLP (Japanese Experiment Module Experiment Logistics Module Pressurized Section) and the Canadian SPDM Dextre, brought up new Expedition 16 crewmember Garrett Reisman and returned his predecessor Leopold Eyharts who spent 48 days in space (44 aboard the station). It was the 122nd flight of a Space Shuttle, the 25th Shuttle mission to visit the station, the 21st for Endeavour and the second of six Shuttle missions planned for 2008. Next up: STS-124/Discovery/1J on 5/25 with JAXA's JEM Pressurized Module 'Kibo', racks & the JEM RMS.)

Before breakfast, CDR Whitson, FE-1 Malenchenko and FE-2 Reisman began their workday with the periodic session of the Russian biomedical routine assessments PZEh-MO-7/Calf Volume Measurement and PZEh-MO-8/Body Mass Measurement (sixth for CDR & FE-1, first for FE-2), using the IM mass measurement device which Yuri Malenchenko afterwards broke down for stowage. (Calf measurements (left leg only) are taken with the IZOG device, a custom-sewn fabric cuff that fits over the calf, using the knee and lower foot as fixed reference pints, to provide a rough index of deconditioning in zero-G and effectiveness of countermeasures. For determining body mass in zero-G, where things are weightless but not massless, the Russian IM "scales" measure the inertial forces that arise during the oscillatory motion of a mass driven by two helical metering springs with known spring constants. By measuring the time period of each oscillation of the unknown mass (the crewmember) and comparing it to the period of a known mass, the crewmember's mass is calculated by the computer and displayed.)

The FE-1 performed 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 before sleeptime, at ~3:15pm EDT. Regeneration of bed #2 follows tomorrow. (Regeneration of each of the two cartridges takes about 12 hours and is conducted only during crew awake periods.)

Whitson & Reisman each completed a run with the MedOps WinSCAT (Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool) experiment by logging in on the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) and performing the psychological evaluation exercise on the laptop-based WinSCAT experiment. It was Peggy's fifth and Garrett's first session. (WinSCAT is a 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.)

Peggy supported Garret's first session with the ELITE-S2 (Elaboratore Immagini Televisive - Space 2) payload by detaching the CEVIS (Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation) from the ER3 (EXPRESS Rack 3) and moving it out of the field of view of the cameras crucial to of the experiment, which she set up for capturing Garrett's movement protocol. After powering up the IMU (Interface Management Unit) and calibrating the work area for the cameras (half of the work area facing one way, the other half facing the other way), the FE-2 had ~1.5 hrs to perform the test operations, with Whitson taking documentary photographs. Peggy later stowed the test camera and re-installed the CEVIS, while Garrett turned off the IMU. (The Italian (ASI) experiment ELITE-S2 is a human motion analysis facility for technological characterization and potential application for multifactorial movement analysis, to study the connection between brain, visualization and motion in micro-G. By recording and analyzing the three-dimensional motion of astronauts, this study should help engineers apply ergonomics into future spacecraft designs and determine the effects of weightlessness on breathing mechanisms for long-duration missions. For each of three protocols (e.g., MOVE, IMAGINE), a set of body landmarks are identified and reflective markers are applied on the subject who then performs prescheduled movements with the index finger tips then returns to the initial position (for example, the subject has to reach and brush, without exerting forces). The video cameras trace the trajectories of the body parts of the astronaut catching the light reflected by the markers, thus recording the kinetic and trajectory data of the movement.)

Whitson & Malenchenko had two hours between them to prepare for the computerized ATV Approach & Docking OBT (Onboard Training) simulation scheduled tomorrow. The detailed review focused on the R&D (Rendezvous & Docking) timeline and on possible R&D malfunctions. A five-minute joint crew debriefing with the ground concluded the session.

In the Soyuz TMA-11/15S spacecraft, docked at the FGB nadir port, Yuri, Peggy and Garrett conducted the standard 30-min. fit check of the Kazbek couches, the contoured shock absorbing seats in the Descent Module. (For the fit check, crew members removed their cabin suits and donned Sokol KV-2 suit and comm caps, got into in their seats and assessed the degree of comfort & uniform body support provided by the seat liner. Using a ruler, they then measured the gap between the top of the head and the top edge of the structure facing the head crown. The results were reported to TsUP. Kazbek-UM couches are designed to withstand g-loads during launch and orbital insertion as well as during reentry and brake-rocket-assisted landing. Each seat has two positions: cocked (armed) and noncocked. In cocked position, they are raised to allow the shock absorbers to function during touchdown. The fit check assures that the crewmembers, whose bodies gain in length during longer-term stay in zero-G, will still be adequately protected by the seat liners for their touchdown in Kazakhstan, either emergency or regular return. Soyuz 15S will return on 4/19 with Malenchenko, Whitson and SFP Yi So-yeon.)

Malenchenko unstowed a spare BRPK air/liquid condensate separator unit, flushed it out with clean water into an EDV (to remove any sediments that may have accumulated as a result of lengthy storage) and installed it in the BRPK-2 line of the SRV-K2M Condensate Water Recovery System. The old unit was discarded. (The BRPK-1's separator was replaced on 3/16.)

Reisman filled out the regular FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire), his second, on the MEC. (On the FFQs, NASA/ESA 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.)

Whitson performed the post-1J/A seal inspection on the Node-2 topside (zenith) hatch where the JLP module was berthed on 3/14.

Peggy also gathered measurements for another regular atmospheric status check for ppCO2 (pp Carbon Dioxide), using the hand-held CDMK (CO2 Monitoring Kit, #1002). Batteries were to be replaced if necessary. (Purpose of the 15-min activity is to trend with MCA (Major Constituents Analyzer), i.e., to correlate the hand-held readings with MCA measurements. CDMK reading in the SM was 0.36; in Lab 0.36, and in COL 0.35.)

Malenchenko completed the routine maintenance of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM, including ASU toilet facilities systems/replaceables. (Regular daily SOZh maintenance consists of replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers, replacement of an EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine container, replacement of the KOV EDV for the Elektron-intended water, and processing U.S. condensate water as it becomes available in a filled CWC from the Lab humidifier.)

Later, Yuri conducted 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 FE-1 supported the BIO-5 Rasteniya-2 ("Plants-2") experiment, which researches growth and development of plants (peas) under spaceflight conditions in the Lada-12 greenhouse from IBMP (Institute of Bio-Medical Problems {Russian: IMBP}), today by downlinking the accumulated pictures to the ground. Working off his 'available time' task suggestion list, Malenchenko also serviced the experiment by recharging the water tank of the greenhouse.

The CDR conducted the weekly 10-min. CWC (Contingency Water Container) audit as part of on-going WDS (Water Delivery System) assessment of onboard water supplies. (Updated 'cue cards' based on the crew's water calldowns are sent up every other week. The current cue card (16-0018Y) lists 37 CWCs (~1483.4 L total) for the four types of water identified on board: technical water (800.4 L, for Elektron, flushing, hygiene), potable water (647.2 L), condensate water (32.3 L), waste/EMU dump and other (3.7 L). Of the 37 containers, 13 CWCs with technical water (569.4 L) cannot be used until cleared for Wautersia bacteria, and 4 CWCs with potable water (176.3 L) are not cleared for use pending analysis of samples returned on 1J/A.)

FE-2 Reisman relocated an 'elephant trunk' air duct segment from the A/L CCAA (Airlock Common Cabin Air Assembly) air conditioner outlet to the IMV (Intermodular Ventilation) inlet.

Garrett, as Leo before him, also had 60 minutes for himself for general orientation (station familiarization & acclimatization), as is standard daily rule for the first two weeks after starting station residency.

Yuri Malenchenko had an hour set aside for his end-of-increment cleanup and departure preparations. (Instructions on packing of return items and a keep vs. trash list were uplinked for assisting Yuri and Peggy in their preparing for their return in the severely downmass-limited Soyuz Descent Module. Trashed items will be stowed in the Orbital Module, to be separated along with the Instrumentation/Propulsion Module prior to atmospheric entry.)

The crewmembers performed 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 (FE-2), TVIS treadmill (CDR, FE-1), RED resistive exercise device (CDR, FE-2) and VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1).

Afterwards, Peggy 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).

As suggested on his 'available time' discretionary task list, Yuri performed 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).

ATV Update (Flight Day 18): Early this morning, ATV 'Jules Verne' departed its parking orbit 2000 km in front of ISS. A three-burn sequence raised the ATV orbit above and behind the station orbit in preparation for Demo Day 1 on 3/29 (Saturday). The spacecraft is being controlled by ESA's ATV-CC/Toulouse in France, working with TsUP-Moscow and MCC-Houston. On Demo Day 2 (3/31), the ATV begins an approach to the station from two miles away, maneuvering with a series of engine firings to about 10 m (36 ft) from the station before the ISS crew sends an abort command to move the ATV away from the station. These maneuvers will test all ATV systems that are required for a safe automated linkup to the ISS three days later (4/3) by means of the ASN PCE (Proximity Communications Equipment) in the SM, or manually as contingency.

Columbus Update: COL-CC/Oberpfaffenhofen continues troubleshooting the COL (Columbus Orbital Laboratory) condensate water removal problem. Troubleshooting is also underway on the FSL (Fluid Science Laboratory) and BIOLAB payloads. The health check on the FSL fiber optic cable was successful - no damage detected. For BIOLAB, safety paperwork is in work for troubleshooting the locking pin, removing it and bringing it down in Soyuz 15S.

VolSci (Voluntary Science) Update: Corrective assessment by the ground is underway on the SLAMMD (Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device) equipment on the HRF1 (Human Research Facility 1) rack, for which CDR Whitson was unable yesterday to establish communications between the payload laptop and the SLAMMD hardware.

SARJ Photography Update: Preliminary analysis of the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint photographs taken by the EVA crew during 1J/A indicate that the suspected 'divot' may actually not be a divot; it also may not have increased in size since first seen during the US EVA-14, as first thought. The planned SARJ Autotrack test was not performed.

BGA Latching Issue: During the recent Shuttle undocking, BGA (Beta Gimbal Assembly) 2B latching for feathering in the automatic mode took three attempts until latch #2 locked properly. Later, unlatching for unfeathering was successful only on the second attempt. Latching/unlatching can also be performed manually as backup. Teams are assessing for future operations. Both issues are understood and documented.

CEO photo target uplinked for today was Lake Eyre, Australia (Lake Eyre is a large, usually dry lakebed in south-central Australia and the lowest part of a larger basin that drains nearly a seventh of the continent. It has a complex cycle of filling and drying, not completely linked to the ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation Cycle). As we have entered a moderate La Nina this winter and have no recent photographs, researchers would like some baseline imagery of conditions in and around the lake. The ISS pass was to the NE of the lake in afternoon sun. As the station crossed south-central Australia from the SW, the crew was to look right of track for context views in mid-afternoon sun), Tropical Cyclone Pancho (DYNAMIC EVENT: This has been active tropical weather season for the southeastern Indian Ocean. This late-season storm is forecast at the time of the ISS pass to be a Category 2 storm near 19.5S 105.5E and moving southward well off the coast of northwestern Australia. As ISS approached the coast from the SW in late afternoon, the crew was to look for Pancho well to the left of track, using the short lens settings and trying to capture images of the entire storm system), and S. Georgia/S. Sandwich (the South Georgia Island is an arching, mountainous and glaciated island that lies about 860 miles ESE of the Falkland Islands. The South Sandwich Islands form a separate island group and are to the SE. Weather is marginal, but the crew was asked to try for detailed views of the glaciers on the north coast of South Georgia, also to look for views of the reported numerous ice fragments from the recent breakup of the mega-iceberg A53a to the north and east of the island).

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