Encyclopedia Astronautica
2007.12.20 - ISS On-Orbit Status 12/20/07


In preparation for the arrival of Progress M-62/27P on 12/26 (~3:25am EST), FE-1 Malenchenko and CDR Whitson successfully conducted the standard 3-hr. training course on the TORU teleoperated control system.

After wakeup and before breakfast, FE-2 Dan Tani again accessed the SLEEP experiment (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight) software for data logging and completing questionnaire entries in the experiment's laptop session file on the HRF-1 laptop for later downlink. (To monitor the crewmember's sleep/wake patterns and light exposure, Dan wears a special Actiwatch device which measures the light levels encountered by him as well as his patterns of sleep and activity throughout the Expedition. The log entries are done within 15 minutes of final awakening for seven consecutive days, as part of the crew's discretionary 'job jar' task list.)

In preparation for the arrival of Progress M-62/27P on 12/26 (~3:25am EST), FE-1 Malenchenko and CDR Whitson successfully conducted the standard 3-hr. training course on the TORU teleoperated control system. (The drill involved a review of procedures and docking/math model data, UHF/S-band tagup with a ground instructor, and onboard training on a special TORU simulation program with video on laptop computer TP2. Flown on the simulator were all phases of rendezvous, flyaround, final approach and docking, plus off-nominal situations like no comm in the SM-to-27P or 27P-to-SM channels, loss of TV feed, display format hang-up on the SM's Simvol-TS screen, and docking failure of TORU before capture. During Kurs-controlled rendezvous, the TORU is in 'hot standby' mode, and it would allow Malenchenko to perform necessary guidance functions manually from the SM via two hand controllers in the event of a failure of the "Kurs" automated rendezvous and docking (AR&D) of the Progress. Should the docking attempt fail, the cargo ship's motions would be controlled by the crewmember from a console by viewing the approach to the ISS on the Simvol-TS screen as seen by the Klest-M television camera mounted on the Progress, followed by stationkeeping at 30m. Final approach should then be initiated not earlier than 3:16am (local 'night') to ensure RGS coverage, important for situational awareness, although remote TORU control from the ground is not available at this point. Nominal docking will be inside RGS (Russian ground site) coverage.)

To complete preparations for Progress M-61/26P undocking tomorrow night on its own free-flyer mission (~10:59pm), FE-1 Malenchenko installed the StM Docking Mechanism between Progress and the DC1. (StM 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) for initial soft dock and subsequent retraction to hard dock. The ASA is mounted on the Progress' cargo module (GrO), while the PSA sits on the docking ports of the SM, FGB and DC1.)

Afterwards, Malenchenko performed the usual dismantling & removal of electronic US-21 matching unit equipment from the cargo ship, to be recycled on another flight. (After deactivating the US-21 matching unit and SKV-1 dehumidifier and disconnecting the cables of the BITS 2-12 onboard telemetry measurement system, with its VD-SU monitoring mode turned off, the crew unbolted and removed the Progress' US-21 in its container box. US-21, with its associated commutator gear, provides the electronic interface between the Service Module (SM) and the Progress for SM computer control of Progress propulsion. When a Progress is undocked and jettisoned, the valuable electronics are retained, to be recycled on a future vehicle. Tomorrow's final steps for the undocking will include completion of trash loading, activation of the cargo ship and tearing down the ventilation air duct, removing the threaded quick-disconnect (QD) screw clamps of the SSVP the docking & internal transfer system, closing hatches between 26P and the transfer tunnel (PrK) to the DC1 after taking video of the mating surfaces/seals, conducting the vestibule leak check, and downlinking video imagery of the SM/Progress hatch interface.)

FE-2 Dan Tani and CDR Peggy Whitson conducted their first session of the LOCAD-PTS (Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System)/Phase 2 experiment, starting off with a teleconference with the Project Scientist at POIC (Payload Operations & Integration Center/Huntsville). After setting up the payload equipment, the CDR completed today's LOCAD exploratory survey activities, taking single swab samples from five different sites in the station. Five more swab samplings will be conducted tomorrow. In Phase 2, no media sides will have to be prepared. (LOCAD uses small, thumb-sized 'microfluidic' cartridges that are read by the experiment reader. The cartridges contain dried extract of horseshoe crab blood cells and colorless dye. In the presence of the bacteria, the dried extract reacts strongly to turn the dye a green color. Therefore, the more green dye, the more microorganisms there are in the original sample. The handheld device tests this new analysis technology by sampling for the presence of gram negative bacteria in the sample in about 15 minutes, showing the results on a display screen. Lab-on-a-Chip technology has an ever-expanding range of applications in the biotech industry. Chips are available (or in development) which can also detect yeast, mold, and gram positive bacteria, identify environmental contaminants, and perform quick health diagnostics in medical clinics. The technology has been used to swab the MERs (Mars Exploration Rovers) for planetary protection. With expanded testing on ISS, began by Sunita Williams in March/April this year, this compact technology has broad potential applications in space exploration--from monitoring environmental conditions to monitoring crew health. The current study should prepare for long-duration exploration by demonstrating a system that enables the crew to perform biochemical analysis in space without having to return samples to Earth.)

In the Lab, Tani also continued his servicing of the CSLM-2 (Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures 2) experiment on its third ground-controlled session. (In Step 1, the FE-2 configured the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) facility, closed the vacuum vent, checked for acceptable humidity levels, and opened the SPU-11 (Sample Processing Unit #13) water valve to initiate unattended vacuum preparation. Later, in Step 2, he reset MSG, closed the water valve, again checked for acceptable humidity levels in the sample chamber, then opened the vent & vacuum valves to initiate the required vacuum draw on the sample chamber. CSLM-2 examines the kinetics of competitive particle growth within a liquid matrix. During this process, small particles shrink by losing atoms to larger particles, causing the larger particles to grow (coarsen) within a liquid lead/tin matrix. This study defined the mechanisms and rates of coarsening that govern the manufacture with metals from turbine blades to dental amalgam fillings.)

During the afternoon, the crew performed a repeat of the previous end-to-end test of analog & digital video transmission & downlinking from the Russian Segment (RS) from the MPEG-2 (Moving Pictures Expert Group 2) encoder via U.S. OpsLAN and Ku-band in 'streaming video' packets, after previous attempts had yielded results unacceptable for ATV1 'Jules Verne' docking. For the testing, Tani set up the necessary cabling and three SSC (Station Support Computer) laptops (#4, #6, #9) for viewing and recording MPEG2 stream on the LAN (Local Area Network). (Afterwards the FE-2 shut down SSC-4 and SSC-6, leaving the SSC-9 A31p powered for downloading its files via OCA.)

In Node-2, where the BCAT-3 (Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-3) science payload is running by itself since 12/13 (with a brief picture taking interruption for EVA-13 support), the FE-2 performed his daily status check on the A31p laptop controlling the EarthKAM digital still camera, verifying on the last image taken that image focus and alignment remain in check. (The SSC (Station Support Computer) is taking photography of the phase separation occurring in the BCAT Sample 3, with the photo flash going off every half hour for the next few days.)

The FE-1 was scheduled to perform another one-hour O2 (oxygen) refresh of the cabin atmosphere from Progress M-61/26P storage tank, to utilize its gas stores prior to its jettisoning on 12/22.

Whitson ran the periodic check of active U.S. payloads, i.e., cleaning the ANITA (Analyzing Interferometer for Ambient Air) inlet plus inspecting and filter cleaning of the CGBA-5 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus 5) incubator payload. (The CGBA incubator is controlled from the ground, with automatic video downlinked to Earth. ANITA continues to collect data every six seconds and downlinks the data daily to the ground team. ANITA monitors low levels of potential gaseous contaminants in the ISS cabin atmosphere with a capability of simultaneously monitoring 32 gaseous contaminants. The experiment is testing the accuracy and reliability of this technology as a potential next-generation atmosphere trace-gas monitoring system for ISS and future spacecraft. This is a cooperative investigation with the European Space Agency.)

Peggy also took air samples for the periodic (weekly) atmospheric status check for ppO2 (Partial Pressure Oxygen) and ppCO2 (pp Carbon Dioxide), using the hand-held CSA-CP (Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products), CSA-O2 (CSA -Oxygen sensor) and CDMK (CO2 Monitoring Kit). 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. CSA-CP sensors (and readings) employed in the SM were #1051 (21.7%) & #1044 (21.8%); in Node-1 #1058 (20.9%); and in Node-2 #1058 (20.9%). O2 sensor checks used #1042 (21%), #1063 (21.8%), #1052 (21.8%), #1041 (21.7%). CDMK CO2 level in Lab and SM was ~0.20%.)

Peggy and Dan completed their second 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. (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.)

In the Joint Airlock, the CDR and FE-2 performed more post-EVA cleanup, recharging the EMU/spacesuits with water from PWR (Payload Water Reservoir) #1024 and CWC (Contingency Water Container) #1059, then reconnecting the LTAs (Lower Torso Assemblies) to the EMUs and capping the UIA (Umbilical Interface Assembly).

Tani also terminated the overnight regeneration of METOX (Metal Oxide) canisters #0017 & #0019 in the A/L bakeout oven and initiated the process on canisters #0020 & #0021. (METOX CO2 absorption cans, rather than LiOH (Lithium Hydroxide) filters, were used yesterday both in the Airlock for the Campout and in the two EMUs for the spacewalk.)

Afterwards, Dan started discharging two EMU batteries, #2063 & #2077, used during EVA-13. (The full maintenance discharge is handled automatically by an SSC laptop equipped with a special DOS application.)

Peggy Whitson conducted the weekly 10-min. CWC 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 (16-0018K), to be updated with today's data, lists 26 CWCs; ~983 liters total) for the four types of water identified on board: technical water (735.4 l, for Elektron, flushing, hygiene), potable water (221.3 l), condensate water (0 l), waste/EMU dump and other (26.6 l). Two CWCs (#1004 & #1081, ~89 l) with potable water are off limits due to the Wautersia bacteria found in sample analysis, the source of which is still not understood. Impact of losing this potable CWC is negligible since there are sufficient drinking water supplies onboard. Also currently not to be used are nine CWCs with technical water (~389 l).)

Peggy unstowed and set up the NUTRITION with Repository hardware for the blood draw and urine collection part of her third session with this experiment, beginning tomorrow with a combination blood draw (Serum & Heparin), requiring Dr. Whitson to forego exercising & food intake for eight hours, i.e., starting tonight. Urine sample collection begins tomorrow morning and continues for 24h, i.e., through Tuesday morning. (The Clinical Nutritional Assessment profile currently required on all U.S. Astronauts collects blood and urine samples preflight and postflight. NUTRITION expands this protocol by also capturing in-flight samples (plus an additional postflight sample), made possible by the MELFI (Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS). Furthermore, additional measurements are included for samples from all sessions, including additional markers of bone metabolism, vitamin status, and hormone and oxidative stressor tests. The results will be used to better understand the impact of countermeasures (exercise and pharmaceuticals) on nutritional status & nutrient requirements.)

At ~3:15am EST, Yuri Malenchenko had a PMC (Private Medical Conference) via S-band/audio to discuss his exercise regimen.

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 (CDR, FE-2), TVIS treadmill (FE-1), RED (CDR, FE-2) and VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1).

Afterwards, the CDR copied the exercise data file to the MEC laptop for downlink, including 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).

FE-2 Tani conducted the routine servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM. (Regular daily SOZh maintenance consists among else of replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers and replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers.)

Working from his discretionary 'time permitting' task list, Yuri Malenchenko completed 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 relocation of the MT (Mobile Transporter) from WS7 (Worksite 7) to WS4, postponed on 12/14 due to a possible obstruction by MLI (Multi-Layered Insulation) on the NTA (Nitrogen Tank Assembly), was performed at 10:55am-12:55pm, with the Russian MCS (Motion Control System)/thrusters temporarily inhibited due to loads constraints. (Analysis of the NTA insulation had shown that there was sufficient clearance for the roll-over which has the purpose to provide added protection of the TUS (Trailing Umbilical System) from MMOD (Micrometeoroid/Orbital Debris) between now and Flight STSA-122/1E. MT will be translated back to WS7 about three days before 1E arrival.))

MBSU Health Flag: MBSU (Main Bus Switching Unit) 2 is showing a new health flag in a data dump conducted yesterday, indicating an anomaly in one of its firmware blocks. Two other health flags were discovered earlier in different blocks. Exact impacts are unknown until further analysis. All MBSU telemetry appears nominal.

Progress Launch Preps: At Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the Progress M-62/27P orbital module was integrated today with the Soyuz-U launch vehicle in the Processing Facility.

Sad Note: Early this morning it was announced at the MMT (Mission Management Team) meeting that Flight Engineer Dan Tani's mother Rose died late yesterday during a car crash. Dan was informed in a private phone call. This is the first time an orbiting NASA Astronaut loses a close kin. We all feel truly sorry for your loss, Dan!

CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Greater Khartoum, Sudan (Khartoum and Omdurman, cities at the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, were at nadir and a touch left. The margins of these cities are of greatest interest. Omdurman on the west bank is more earth-colored than Khartoum and thus less easily visible), Sahara dust (Dynamic event. Conditions have set in for an extended dust event in the central Sahara, north of Lake Chad, in one of the planet's prime dust-generating basins. Dust particles from this basin are now known to reach the Americas several times per year. Looking right for oblique views of the dust plumes and trying to shoot the edges of the dust mass), Tunis, Tunisia (looking right for this historic port city which lies at the head of a major bay, the crew's main visual cue), and Mount Vesuvius, Italy (Vesuvius is one of the so-called 'Decade Volcanoes'. The Decade Volcanoes project focuses on a small number of active volcanoes world-wide in order to encourage a range of research and public-awareness activities, all aimed at improving understanding of volcanoes and the hazards associated with them).

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