ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 120 Increment 31

Columbus logo
1 June 2012

This is ISS status report #120 from the European Space Agency outlining ESA’s science-related activities that have taken place on the ISS during the past two weeks for different European experiments and experiment facilities.

The report is compiled by ESA’s ISS Utilisation and Astronaut Support Department in cooperation with ESA’s Columbus Operations teams.
 
 
ISS Utilisation Programme
The principal focus of the European utilisation of the ISS is the Columbus laboratory, which was launched and permanently attached to the ISS in February 2008. In addition to the science taking place using the internal and external experiment facilities of the Columbus laboratory, ESA also has some further ongoing research taking place inside the Russian Segment of the ISS and in the US Destiny laboratory with international scientific collaboration agreements.
 
The current status of the European science package on the ISS is as follows:
 
 
European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory
 
Biolab and associated experiments
Biolab is a multi-user facility designed to support biological experiments on micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates. Quarterly ground-commanded maintenance test activities were undertaken from 29 – 31 May supported by ISS Flight Engineer and ESA astronaut André Kuipers on orbit. This included successful completion of rotor alignment tests for the two Biolab centrifuges. Additional tests have been deferred to a later date.
 
Due to the still ongoing functional recovery activities for the Biolab facility, the TripleLux experiments’ execution has been deferred until return of the facility microscope to the ISS (tentatively in Autumn 2012) and following a Biolab functional checkout and dedicated commissioning experiment. The objective of the TripleLux A+B experiments is to further understand the cellular mechanisms underlying the aggravation of radiation responses, and the impairment of immune function under spaceflight conditions.  
 
European Drawer Rack and Kubik incubators
No activities were carried out using the European Drawer Rack facility in the two week period until 1 June. The European Drawer Rack is a multi-user experiment facility which will temporarily host the Facility for Adsorption and Surface Tension (FASTER) in 2013 and also continuously the Electro-Magnetic Levitator payload after its upload. FASTER is a Capillary Pressure Tensiometer developed for the study of the links between emulsion stability and physico-chemical characteristics of droplet interfaces. The Electro-Magnetic Levitator (EML) will investigate thermophysical properties of metal alloys under weightlessness, supporting both basic and namely industrial research and development needs.
 
The KUBIK incubator inside the European Drawer Rack will be used to process NASA’s NIH Ageing experiment which is currently planned for the end of 2012.
 
Fluid Science Laboratory and Geoflow-2 / FASES experiments
On 22 May André Kuipers locked the Facility Core Element of the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) and removed the four Anti-Vibration Mount brackets. This allowed him to remove the Geoflow-2 experiment container from inside the Facility Core Element the following day. Hereafter Kuipers installed the Optical Target 2 in the Core Element in preparation to test another optical mode (via ground commanding) for the next experiment (FASES). All on-orbit experiment activities for Geoflow-2 have been completed following extensive experiment activities since March 2011. The main experiment parameters of the GeoFlow-2 experiment are the core rotation speed, electrical field, temperature gradients and liquid viscosity variation of the spherical experiment cell with the experiment fluid. The Geoflow science team has submitted new science objectives for the future.
 
Geoflow-2 (which follows on from the initial Geoflow experiment with new scientific objectives and a different experiment configuration) is investigating the flow of an incompressible viscous fluid held between two concentric spheres rotating about a common axis as a representation of a planet. This is of importance for astrophysical and geophysical problems such as global scale flow in the atmosphere, the oceans, and in the liquid nucleus of planets. For Geoflow-2 the incompressible fluid is nonanol which varies in viscosity with temperature (unlike silicon oil in Geoflow-1) to provide a different aspect of research with more of a simulation to Earth’s geophysical conditions.
 
The subsequently planned Fluid Science Laboratory experiment “Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability” (FASES) has been thoroughly prepared via a full scientific verification programme of the emulsions’ composition and the optical diagnostics’ adjustment. The execution of the FASES experiment will require the full functionality of the upgraded FSL Video Management Unit which still needs to be proven during current activities on orbit. The flight of the FASES Experiment Container has been rescheduled to a launch on SpaceX in 2013. This experiment will be studying emulsion properties with advanced optical diagnostics. Results of the FASES experiment hold significance for oil extraction processes, and in the chemical and food industries.
 
European Physiology Modules (EPM) facility and associated experiments

Active detectors for the DOSIS 3D experiment were installed in the European Physiology Modules facility by André Kuipers on 21 May (see DOSIS 3D experiment below). The European Physiology Modules facility is equipped with different Science Modules to investigate the cardio- and neurophysiological effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body.  Experiment results from the European Physiology Modules will contribute to an increased understanding of terrestrial problems such as the ageing process, osteoporosis, balance disorders, and muscle atrophy.
 
DOSIS-3D experiment
Installation of the passive dosimeters and active detectors for the Dose Distribution inside the ISS 3D (DOSIS-3D) experiment was carried out by André Kuipers on 21 May. The passive dosimeters were placed at different locations around the Columbus laboratory in order to undertake 'area dosimetry' i.e. to measure the spatial radiation gradients inside the Columbus module. This will be supported by measurements from the two active DOSTEL detectors which were placed inside the European Physiology Modules facility to undertake time-dependent radiation measurements.
 
The aim of the DOSIS-3D experiment is to determine the nature and distribution of the radiation field inside the ISS and follows on from the DOSIS experiment previously undertaken in the Columbus laboratory. The DOSIS-3D experiment will build on the data gathered from the DOSIS experiment by combing data gathered in Columbus with ISS International Partner data gathered in other modules of the ISS.
 

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
André Kuipers replaced a tank bottle of the Gas Delivery System which forms part of the Pulmonary Function System on 23 May.  The Pulmonary Function System is accommodated in NASA’s Human Research Facility 2, which was relocated from the US Destiny laboratory to the Columbus laboratory in October 2008. The Pulmonary Function System is an ESA/NASA collaboration in respiratory physiology instrumentation, which analyses exhaled gas from astronauts' lungs to provide near-instant data on the state of crew health.
 
European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS)
The water pump servicing activity for the European Modular Cultivation System was successfully performed on 24 May. The European Modular Cultivation System, which was launched to the ISS in July 2006, is dedicated to biological experiments such as the effects of gravity on cells, roots and physiology of plants and simple animals. It was developed by ESA and is being operated jointly with NASA under a bilateral barter agreement which was renewed after the initial 2 year time frame. The next ESA experiment to take place in the facility is the Gravi-2 experiment which builds on the initial Gravi experiment in determining the gravity threshold response in plant (lentil) roots. The feasibility of the Gravi-2 experiment execution is linked to transportation on the new SpaceX carriers. (tentative upload on SpaceX-3).
 
Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES)
ISS Flight Engineer Don Pettit successfully repaired an Ethernet cable of the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) on 21 May. This has been undertaken to establish proper connection between the Main Box of MARES and the European Physiology Modules laptop in order to continue with MARES commissioning activities. If this proves successful functional testing will be resumed. Once MARES completes functional testing without a crew member using the system, it will then undergo a second functional testing with a crew member in the loop using the system. These two commissioning parts will include testing of hardware and software as well as testing downlink capabilities.
 
MARES is capable of assessing the strength of isolated human muscle groups around joints to provide a better understanding of the effects of weightlessness on the muscular system of ISS astronauts. MARES consists of an adjustable chair with a system of pads and levers that fit to each astronaut and cover different movements; the main box containing the facility motor and control electronics to which the chair is connected by an articulated arm; as well as dedicated experiment software. The system is considerably more advanced than equivalent ground-based devices and a vast improvement on current muscle research facilities on the ISS.
 

Vessel Imaging Experiment
On 26 May ISS Flight Engineer Joe Acaba completed measurements for his first session of the Vessel Imaging experiment (in conjunction with NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular Experiment). The session consisted of an echography scan (see Human Research Facility 1 below) with ECG and heart rate measurements also being taken. On the ESA side support came from DAMEC and CADMOS, two of the User Support and Operations Centres for ESA, via the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany.

 

ESA’s Vessel Imaging experiment evaluates the changes in central and peripheral blood vessel wall properties and cross sectional areas of long-duration ISS crewmembers during and after long-term exposure to weightlessness. A Lower Body Negative Pressure programme runs in parallel to Vessel Imaging. Flow velocity changes in the aorta and the middle cerebral and femoral arteries are used to quantify the cardiovascular response to fluid shifts. Vessel Imaging aims to optimise the countermeasures used routinely during long-duration space missions.
 
Space Headaches Experiment
ESA astronaut André Kuipers continued filling in weekly questionnaires (on 24 and 31 May) as part of the Space Headaches experiment, which is determining the incidence and characteristics of headaches occurring within astronauts in orbit. The weekly questionnaires follow on from one week of filling in daily questionnaires during the first week after launch on Soyuz 29S on 21 December 2011. ISS Flight Engineer Joe Acaba completed filling in daily questionnaires as a subject for the experiment on 21 May following his launch on Soyuz 30S on 15 May. Acaba also started filling in weekly questionnaires for the experiment on 24 May, completing his second on 31 May. Data has been downlinked.   

 

 
European science and research facilities outside the Columbus laboratory in open space
SOLAR
The 53rd Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility to acquire scientific which opened on 14 May, closed on 26 May. Sun visibility windows for SOLAR are open for the facility to acquire scientific data when the ISS is in the correct orbital profile with relation to the Sun. Simultaneous measurements were also taken in coordination with ESA’s Venus Express project. The SolACES instrument from SOLAR was in a warm-up configuration (as a work-around to protect the instrument’s optics from degradation) at different points during the two-week period until 1 June. It was out of heating mode from 21 May in order for SolACES to acquire data, though was placed back in warm-up configuration on 23 May in connection with thruster firings due to an ATV reboost and the arrival and departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. 
 
The SOLAR payload facility has been studying the Sun’s irradiation with unprecedented accuracy across most of its spectral range currently for around four years on orbit. This has so far produced excellent scientific data during a series of Sun observation cycles. Following the conclusion of the detailed technical feasibility study for on-orbit lifetime extension the science team will be able to continue gathering further science data in a period of increasing solar activity up to 2013 and possibly beyond.
 
Vessel Identification System (Vessel ID)
Successful data acquisition is ongoing for the Vessel Identification System (commonly known as the Automatic Identification System, AIS), using its Norwegian receiver, and telemetry is still being successfully received by the Norwegian User Support and Operation Centre (N-USOC) in Trondheim via ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Germany. The Vessel Identification System has acquired an extensive amount of data for two years since its installation in Columbus.
 
The Vessel Identification System consists of two different on-board receivers (NORAIS and LuxAIS), which were originally scheduled to be alternated every three months or so, and the so-called ERNO-Box, which is used as a data relay for the Vessel Identification System, whose antenna was installed on the outside of Columbus during an EVA on 21 November 2009. The Vessel Identification System is testing the means to track global maritime traffic from space by picking up signals from standard AIS transponders carried by all international ships over 300 tonnes, cargo vessels over 500 tonnes and all types of passenger carriers. Meanwhile various service entities have been asking to get access to the Vessel ID data which is continuously acquired on Columbus.
 
 
Additional European science inside the US ISS segment
 
Materials Science Laboratory (MSL) in the First Materials Science Research Rack (MSRR)
Three processed Sample Cartridge Assemblies for the MSL Batch 2a experiments (MICAST-2, CETSOL-2, SETA-2)  have been returned to earth as part of the first SpaceX Dragon flight which landed on 31 May. Three more samples are still on orbit awaiting processing.  The science programme for the MSL Batch 2a experiments (MICAST-2, CETSOL-2, SETA-2) is currently on hold pending launch of a furnace cleaning tool (currently scheduled for launch on Progress 48P in the Summer) along with additional samples for the Batch 2a experiments. Using the cleaning tool to remove any graphite foil inside the Solidification and Quenching furnace insert of the MSL is the first step before restarting the Batch 2a experiments.
 
Very promising preliminary scientific results from the first batch of CETSOL/MICAST samples that were processed in Materials Science Laboratory in 2009/2010 have already been presented by the science teams.  This constitutes an excellent basis for further materials research with international collaboration.
 
CETSOL (Columnar-to-Equiaxed Transition in Solidification Processing) and MICAST (Microstructure Formation in Casting of Technical Alloys under Diffusive and Magnetically Controlled Convective Conditions) are two complementary material science projects. The goal of MICAST is to study the formation of microstructures during casting of technical alloys. In space, buoyancy convection is eliminated and the dendritic solidification of the alloys can be quantitatively studied under purely diffusive conditions. The objective of CETSOL is then to study the transition from columnar growth to equiaxed growth that occurs when crystals start to nucleate in the melt and grow independently. The SETA (Solidification along a Eutectic path in Ternary Alloys) experiment is looking into a specific type of eutectic growth in alloys of aluminium manganese and silicon. Results of all these experiments will help to optimise industrial casting processes.
 
Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) and associated experiments
No activities were carried out using the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the two week period until 1 June. The Microgravity Science Glovebox was developed by ESA within the Early Utilisation barter agreement with NASA. The Glovebox provides the ability to perform a wide range of experiments in the fields of materials science, biotechnology, fluid science, combustion science and crystal growth research, in a fully sealed and controlled environment.
 
Portable Pulmonary Function System (PPFS) Experiments
No activities were carried out using the ESA-developed Portable Pulmonary Function System in the two week period until 1 June. The Portable Pulmonary Function System is an autonomous multi-user facility supporting a broad range of human physiological research experiments under weightless conditions in the areas of respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic physiology.
 
ALTEA-Shield Experiments
The ALTEA-Shield experiment hardware is awaiting relocation to EXPRESS Rack 3 to start the Shield part of the experiment, which will be testing two different types of shielding materials (and different thicknesses of each material) against cosmic rays. This will be undertaken in two sessions scheduled to last 40 days each. Radiation shielding tiles for the experiment were transported to the ISS on ATV-3, which docked with the ISS on 29 March.
 
The ALTEA (Anomalous Long Term Effects in Astronauts) hardware has been active to a great degree since 15 February to undertake data acquisition under NASA responsibility. Data acquisition for the previous ALTEA-Survey part of ESA’s ALTEA-Shield experiment series had finished on 4 December with 112 cumulative days of science acquisition in its most recent location. The Survey part of the experiment has been undertaking a 3-dimensional survey of the radiation environment in the US laboratory.
 
 
European science inside the Russian ISS Segment
 
GTS-2 (Global Transmission Service)
The Global Transmission Service was deactivated on 31 May 2009 though, following negotiations with Russian representatives, the instrument has been successfully reactivated and functionally tested for continuation as a cooperative joint European-Russian experiment on the ISS. This experiment is intended to test the receiving conditions of a time and data signal for dedicated receivers on the ground. The time signal distributed by the GTS has special coding to allow the receiver to determine the local time anywhere on Earth without user intervention. The main scientific objectives of the experiment are to verify under real space operation conditions: the performance and accuracy of a time signal transmitted to the Earth’s surface from low Earth orbit; the signal quality and data rates achieved on the ground; and measurement of disturbing effects such as Doppler shifts, multi-path reflections, shadowing and elevation impacts.
 
 
Non-European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory
 
Human Research Facility 1
During the two-week period until 1 June activities were carried out using NASAs Human Research Facility 1 with the support of ESAs Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Joe Acaba carried out his 1st ambulatory monitoring session of NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment from 21 – 23 May, assisted by André Kuipers with set up. This included 48-hr ECG measurement with a holter device and 48-hr activity measurements using two Actiwatches. Relevant data for the experiment was downloaded to the Human Research Facility laptop on 23 May.
 
Acaba carried out an ultrasound scanning session for the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment in conjunction with ESAs Vessel Imaging experiment (see above) on 26 May assisted by Don Pettit. This consisted of ultrasound scans for both experiments using the facility as well as ECG and heart rate measurements being taken. The aim of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment is to determine the degree, development and clinical significance of cardiac atrophy and identify its mechanisms.
 
Human Research Facility 2
Blood samples were spun in the Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research Facility 2 on 22 May for the Canadian Space Agency’s Vascular Blood Collection protocol for Don Pettit, and on 1 June for NASA’s Nutrition/Repository/Pro K protocol for Joe Acaba. ESA astronaut André Kuipers acted as Crew Medical Officer in taking the blood draws. The spun samples were placed in one of the European-built MELFI freezers (see below) for return to ground for further analysis.
 
Kuipers also replaced a tank bottle of the Pulmonary Function System (see above) in Human Research facility 2 on 23 May.
 
The two NASA Human Research Facilities support different areas of physiology research.
 
ISS general system information and activities *
 
Columbus laboratory and Columbus Control Centre
In addition to the Columbus experiment facilities mentioned above, the Columbus systems have been working well. Some regular maintenance activities have been executed by the crew and the Flight Control Team on top of the regular conferences of the ISS Crew with the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Highlights of the two weeks until 1 June include:
 

  • Laptop Reboots
    ISS Flight Engineer and ESA astronaut André Kuipers performed the monthly reboot of the Portable Workstation laptops in the Columbus laboratory on 28 May and recorded the battery state of each laptop.
  • ·         Surface Sampling
    Kuipers used a Surface Sample Kit to sample surface areas in Columbus (as well as in the Japanese laboratory and SpaceX Dragon spacecraft) on 29 May. Samples will be returned for analysis

 
Activities of ESA astronaut André Kuipers

  • System Activities
    In the two weeks until 1 June, in addition to what is discussed in the rest of the report ESA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer André Kuipers: set up and calibrated an oscilloscope and initiated voltage measurements on the Gradient Heating Furnace in the Japanese laboratory’s Kobairo rack (following previous troubleshooting steps); relocated a radiation monitoring device (Tissue Equivalent Proportional Counter) from the Russian Service Module to the US laboratory; and serviced newly arrived Compound Specific Analyzer-Combustion Products units (which monitor cabin atmosphere to provide quick response during a fire).
  • Experiment Activities
    In addition to the European science programme detailed above ESA astronaut André Kuipers has carried out activities in support of the science programmes of ESA’s ISS partners. This included: being a subject for NASA’s ‘Reaction Self Test’ experiment which looks into how planned sleep shift for ISS crews affects performance; inspection and maintenance of Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus 4 and 5 in the US Laboratory; and servicing NASA's VIABLE (eValuatIon And monitoring of microBiofiLms insidE the ISS) experiment, by touching and blowing on the top of each bag to collect environmental samples for the evaluation of microbial biofilm development on space materials.
  • Health status activities
    The crew undertake health status checks on a regular basis. During the two weeks until 1 June André Kuipers has undertaken: a Russian body mass measurement protocol; a personal acoustic measurement protocol by wearing acoustic dosimeters (and downloading data afterwards); a US visual acuity test; and filling in Food Frequency Questionnaires used to estimate nutritional intake for the astronauts and give recommendations to ground specialists that help maintain optimal crew health; as well as undertaking regular exercise routines to maintain his physical well-being while in orbit. In addition Kuipers also undertook regular Crew Health Care Systems (CHeCS) emergency medical operations training, and assisted (as Crew Medical Officer) ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba with for his first session of the US Periodic Health Status examination (without blood sampling)
  • Other activities
    During the two weeks until 1 June Kuipers and the other ISS crew members have had their regular Planning Conferences with ESA’s Columbus Control Centre as well as Mission Control in Houston and Moscow, and the Japanese Flight Control Team at the Tsukuba Space Centre. In addition Kuipers also: deployed (and later retrieved) four Formaldehyde Monitoring Kits in the US laboratory and Russian Service Module to catch any atmospheric formaldehyde; deployed 23 new (and collected in 21 for return) Radiation Area Monitors throughout the ISS; configured cargo in the Japanese laboratory to provide optimal stowage for cargo to be delivered on H-II Transfer Vehicle 3 (HTV-3); and carried out inventories of the Contingency Water Containers on board. Kuipers also: signed 21 public relations cards along with other members of the crew; took part in a US public affairs television event on 26 May with Don Pettit, Joe Acaba and the Johnson Space Center, focussing mainly on the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft; took part in an ESA public affairs event with Twitter participants at ESA’s ESTEC facility in Noordwijk, the Netherlands; and downlinked a greetings message for the RusPrix Award ceremony which also took place in Noordwijk in the Netherlands on 1 June.  

 
Activities in the European-built Node 3

  •     
  • Exercise Equipment
    ESA astronaut André Kuipers and NASA astronauts Don Pettit and Joe Acaba (all ISS Flight Engineers) carried out sessions of the new Treadmill Kinematics protocol on the T2 COLBERT treadmill in the European-built Node 3 in the two-week period until 1 June. This protocol is making an assessment of current exercise protocols. These activities were carried out in addition to the regular use, inspection and servicing of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) and T2/COLBERT treadmill.
  • Regenerative ECLSS and Additional Environmental Control Racks
    The two Water Recovery System racks, together with the Oxygen Generation System rack, form the Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) which is necessary in support of a six-person ISS Crew to help reduce upload mass. Other environmental control racks in Node 3 include an Atmosphere Revitalisation Rack and a Waste and Hygiene Compartment. Highlights of the two weeks until 1 June include: 
    • Water Recovery System racks: Processing
      Don Pettit replaced the Recycle Filter Tank Assembly in Water Recovery System rack 2 on 22 May. The older style Recycle Filter Tank Assemblies are currently being used (instead of the Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly units) until all onboard spares are depleted. Pettit also initiated the periodic backfill of the Urine Processor Assembly in Water Recovery System rack 2 on 30 May by hooking up the rack’s Recycle Filter Tank Assembly.

 
ATV-3 Activities
Europe’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3) docked with the ISS on 29 March 2012. Highlights of the ATV-3 activities in the two-week period until 1 June include:

  • Cargo Transfers
    Two times in the reporting period pumping equipment was set up and water was transferred from ATV-3 tanks to ISS containers.
  • ISS Reboost
    ATV Orbit Correction System thrusters were used to carry out a reboost of the ISS in the very early morning (CEST) on 26 May in order to set up phasing for Soyuz 29S landing on 1 July. The 6 min 17 sec thruster burn increased the altitude of the ISS by 1.55 km giving the ISS a mean altitude of around 400 km.

 
Soyuz TMA-04M/30S, Expedition 31/32 Post-docking Activities
Following docking of the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft on flight 30S to the ISS on 17 May cargo unloading activities have taken place and the new ISS Flight Engineers: Roscosmos cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, have been undertaking ISS familiarisation activities as well as being taken through an emergency egress drill with ISS Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko on 24 May. On 21 May, Padalka dismantled the two "Klest" TV cameras and their light units in the Descent Module of Soyuz 30S for return to the ground for reuse.

 
SpaceX Dragon Launch, Docking, Undocking and Landing

  • Launch
    The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was launched successfully into orbit by the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 22 May at 09:44 CEST (03:44 local time). Following insertion into orbit the spacecraft’s solar arrays were deployed and orbital manoeuvre/navigation testing was successfully undertaken. Dragon is a commercial unmanned spacecraft under NASA contract which is on its very first flight to the ISS.
  • Docking Preparations
    On 23 May Joe Acaba, André Kuipers and Don Pettit went through training simulations on a station laptop and the ROBoT simulator in preparation for berthing the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the ISS, undertaking various rendezvous and capture scenarios. The following day successful communications tests were carried out between the ISS and Dragon spacecraft as the new logistics vehicle flew under the station at a distance of 2.5 km. ISS equipment was also configured for the docking. Kuipers and Pettit again went through a robotic training session and Pettit additionally installed the Centerline Berthing Camera System at the Node-2 nadir port. This system will provide visual guidance for berthing operations by Pettit and Kuipers.
  • Docking
    On 25 May Kuipers activated the communications equipment and control panel for the SpaceX Dragon and Pettit set up the robotic workstations in the US laboratory and Cupola module. With Pettit as the main robotic arm operator and André assisting the Station’s principal robotic arm was used to capture the SpaceX Dragon at 15:56 (CEST) on 25 May. Kuipers and Pettit used powerful binoculars to undertake an inspection of the Dragon berthing mechanism for foreign debris while the ISS assumed a different attitude for berthing. Dragon was then moved to a hold position before finally being berthed at the Node 2 nadir port at 18:02 (CEST) with Kuipers as the main robotic arm operator. The new ISS logistics spacecraft delivered about 520 kg of cargo considerably below its upload capabilities.
  • Post-Docking Activities
    After docking the Centerline Berthing Camera System was removed and the leak check between Node 2 and Dragon took place. After opening the Node 2 nadir hatch the vestibule between Node 2 and Dragon was fitted with necessary jumpers (power, data etc.). The hatch into Dragon was opened around midday (CEST) on 26 May. After ingress into Dragon air sampling was undertaken inside Dragon by Kononenko. Over the next few days cargo transfer activities were undertaken by Kuipers, Pettit, Acaba transferring cargo to the ISS and transferring return cargo into Dragon. On 29 May Kuipers undertook an acoustic survey and surface sampling inside the Dragon spacecraft.
  • Undocking Preparations
    On 29 May the Station’s principal robotic arm was used to undertake an external survey of the Dragon spacecraft (by ground commanding).  Hereafter the robotic arm was manoeuvred into position and grappled the SpaceX Dragon. On 30 May the jumpers connecting Node 2 to Dragon were removed and the hatches were closed. Vestibule depressurisation then took place.
  • Undocking and Landing
    The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was unberthed from the ISS on 31 May at 10:07 (CEST) with André Kuipers and Joe Acaba as robotic arm operators. Dragon was manoeuvred into release position and released from the robotic arm at 11:49 (CEST). After undertaking a series of departure burns the spacecraft eventually was in the correct profile to undertake its deorbit burn. Following atmospheric re-entry and parachute deployment the Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean around 17:42 CEST (08:42 local time) a few hundred km west of the California coastline. With the mission complete all related equipment on the ISS has either been reconfigured or removed and stowed. Dragon returned 660 kg of samples and cargo from orbit, again considerably below its download capabilities.

 

Minus-Eighty degree Laboratory Freezer for the ISS (MELFI)

There are three European-built MELFI freezers on the ISS: MELFI-1 and MELFI-2 in the Japanese laboratory and MELFI-3 in the US laboratory. In the two-week reporting period samples have been placed in the MELFI units for Don Pettit for the Canadian Space Agency’s Vascular Blood Collection protocol (blood) and for Joe Acaba for NASA’s Nutrition/Repository/Pro K joint protocols (blood, urine). In addition Don Pettit installed an Electronics Unit into MELFI 3.
 
Russian Low Frequency Data Receiver
ISS Commander Oleg Kononenko (assisted by Gennady Padalka) carried out major outfitting tasks on the new Russian Low Frequency Data Receiver from 28-31 May. This included installing/upgrading software for the related laptop, terminal computer, payload server and router; routing cable connectors for the SUBA/Onboard Control System and the SBI/Onboard Measurement System; and installing a new cable tree. The new system will enable the Russian Segment to send telemetry data through US Segment equipment. 
 
Japanese Ryutai Rack
ESA astronaut André Kuipers undertook troubleshooting activities on the Japanese Ryutai Rack in the two week period until 1 June to help confirm the cause of a trip in an Image Processing Unit which occurred in January. This included replacing the Strobolamps of the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility (in the Ryutai Rack); taking resistance measurements on the rack’s Image Processing Unit power supply; and removing cables and objects in preparation for rotating the rack down in the future to replace the failed fuse of the Image Processing Unit valve motor.
 
Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place on the ISS in the two-week period until 1 June include: troubleshooting on the ISS Agriculture Camera laptop; replacing a failed power converter in the Russian Zarya module; replacing fire extinguishers in the Zarya module with new units; transferring urine from three portable containers into the BV1 Rodnik tank of Progress 47P; and outfitting the Russian “Rassvet” Mini Research Module 1 with structural enclosures/containers for crew cargo items.

(*)These activities are highlights of the past two weeks and do not include the majority of standard periodic operational/maintenance activities on the ISS or additional research activities not mentioned previously. Information compiled with the assistance of NASA sources.

Contact:
Martin Zell
ESA Head of ISS Utilisation Department
martin.zell[@]esa.int

Rosita Suenson
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer
rosita.suenson[@]esa.int

Weekly reports compiled by ESA's ISS Utilisation Department.

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