This is ISS status report #119 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.
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. On 18 May ISS Flight Engineer and ESA astronaut André Kuipers performed a Biolab Glovebox health check with ground support from the Microgravity User Support Centre (MUSC) in Cologne, Germany. All activities were successful as expected.
Due to the still ongoing functional recovery activities for the Biolab facility, the TripleLux experiments execution has been deferred due to the Biolab microscope failure. The microscope which is needed for the TripleLux experiments was returned to ground with STS-134 and will be returned to the ISS tentatively in Autumn 2012 to resume the utilisation of a fully operational Biolab facility after repair and full functional checkout with a 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 18 May. 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 NASAs NIH Ageing experiment which is currently planned for the end of 2012.
Fluid Science Laboratory and Geoflow-2 / FASES experiments
The remaining three set points of the final Geoflow-2 experiment non-rotation run were successfully completed in the Fluid Science Laboratory (FSL) on 7 May. All related data from Geoflow and the FSL Microgravity Vibration Isolation System was downlinked and positive feedback from the Geoflow-2 science team was received. All on-orbit experiment activities for Geoflow-2 have now 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, but ESA will first proceed with FSL software maintenance and hardware tests to prepare for the next experiment (FASES). It is foreseen to remove the Geoflow-2 Experiment Container in the near future, and to put it back in FSL in the Autumn 2012 timeframe.
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 Earths 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
The European Physiology Modules facility was activated on 8 May in order to set up an actimeter armband for the new Energy experiment (see below) with ESA astronaut André Kuipers as a test subject. The facility was again active on 16 May for transfer of data from the armband to the facility laptop due to a full memory on the armband. The data was hereafter downlinked. At the conclusion of the experiment on 18 May additional data was downlinked via the facility. 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.
Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
On 7 May a software update was carried out on the Pulmonary Function Module/Photoacoustic Analyzer Module of the ESA/NASA Pulmonary Function System in Human Research Facility 2. This update, undertaken by ISS Flight Engineer Don Pettit, brought the Data Management Unit of the Pulmonary Function Module/Photoacoustic Analyzer Module up to date in connection with the Energy experiment (see below). Following set up on 8 May, the following day the Pulmonary Function System was used at different times for undertaking Oxygen Uptake Measurements for the Energy experiment. The Pulmonary Function System is accommodated in NASAs 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.
The Energy experiment, which aims at determining the energy requirements of astronauts during long-term spaceflights, started on 8 May with André Kuipers as the test subject and Don Pettit as the control subject. Kuipers set up and put on an Actimeter armband which he wore for the duration of the 11-day experiment. The Actimeter was used to measure Kuipers activity profiles. Kuipers consumed dedicated food on the first day of the experiment and a baseline drinking water sample was taken from the Potable Water Dispenser (from which Kuipers and Pettit drank for the duration of the experiment).
On the second day a baseline urine sample was provided by Kuipers prior to imbibing a Double Labelled Water isotope. Oxygen Uptake Measurements were also undertaken on Kuipers at rest using the Pulmonary Function System in order to measure Resting Metabolic Rate. After consuming a dedicated breakfast Kuipers carried out additional Oxygen Uptake Measurements and provided additional urine samples (along with Pettit) to determine what level of Double Labelled Water is directly excreted from the body. For the remainder of the 11-day period, Kuipers logged his dietary intake (daily) and provided urine samples every other day (along with Pettit) and water samples were taken. The urine samples from Pettit will be used to correct for recycling of Double Labelled Water through the Water Recovery System (and hence the Potable Water Dispenser). At the end of the experiment period the data gathered will allow for the determination of Kuipers Total Energy Expenditure which will in turn allow for the calculation of the Activity Energy Expenditure. These results can then be compared with the Actimeter data and help with deriving an equation for the requirements of astronauts.
European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS)
No activities were carried out using the European Modular Cultivation System in the two week period until 18 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)
A troubleshooting plan is being scheduled due to high friction values and a communication problem experienced during commissioning activities for the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES). As a first step the pin alignment of an Ethernet cable will be reconfigured and previous commissioning activities will be repeated. 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.
Space Headaches Experiment
ESA astronaut André Kuipers continued filling in weekly questionnaires (on 12 and 17 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 started filling in daily questionnaires as a subject for the experiment following his launch on Soyuz 30S on 15 May. Questionnaires for the previous weeks were also downlinked during the two-week reporting period until 18 May.
Vessel Imaging Experiment
On 7 May ISS Flight Engineer Don Pettit completed measurements for another session of the Vessel Imaging experiment (in conjunction with NASAs Integrated Cardiovascular Experiment) assisted by ISS Flight Engineer André Kuipers. 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.
ESAs 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.
The science team have confirmed that, based on the good in-flight data taken during the recent session of André Kuipers and the arrival of the samples returned on Soyuz 28S, no additional subjects are needed for the Card experiment. This concludes the on-board activities. The CARD experiment examines increased cardiac output and lowered blood pressure (caused by dilated arteries) in the face of increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system (which normally constricts arteries) in weightlessness.
Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment
The science team have confirmed that the samples for the last three subjects (ESA astronaut André Kuipers, and NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Dan Burbank) which were returned on Soyuz 28S, look fine for analysis purposes and therefore no additional subjects are needed for the SOLO experiment. This concludes the on-board activities. SOLO is carrying out research into salt retention in space and related human physiology effects during long-duration space flight.
Passive dosimeters and active detectors for the Dose Distribution inside the ISS 3D (DOSIS-3D) experiment were uploaded with Soyuz 30S which arrived at the ISS on 17 May. Their installation is currently foreseen on 21 May. The passive dosimeters will be 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 will be 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 using different active and passive detectors spread around the laboratory 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.
European science and research facilities outside the Columbus laboratory in open space
The 53rd Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility to acquire scientific data opened on 14 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 ESAs Venus Express project. The SolACES instrument from SOLAR was in a warm-up configuration (as a work-around to protect the instruments optics from degradation) until 13 May when it started cooling down to measurement temperatures for the following day. The instrument was placed in a warm up configuration again on 15 May in connection with thruster firings for ISS attitude manoeuvres and Soyuz 30S docking.
The SOLAR payload facility has been studying the Suns 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 ESAs Columbus Control Centre in Germany. The Vessel Identification System has acquired an extensive amount of data for almost 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)
The science programme for the MSL Batch 2a experiments (MICAST-2, CETSOL-2, SETA-2) is currently on hold pending the assessment of the power down of the Materials Science Research Rack and the Materials Science Laboratory that occurred on 30 September due to the crash of the primary Payload Multiplexer/Demultiplexer (MDM) computer in the US laboratory. Following a ground-commanded furnace characterisation test on 15 November 2011, engineering teams have defined the next steps to be taken to help bring the Material Science Laboratory back to full functionality. During the 30 September power down some graphite foil detached from an element of the Sample Cartridge Assembly of the SETA experiment sample. This sample was being processed inside the Materials Science Laboratory at the time. A tool has been defined to clean the inside of the furnace with an initial plan to transport the tool to the ISS on Progress 48P in the Summer.
The first six Batch 2 samples were delivered to the ISS on STS-135/ULF-7 Shuttle Atlantis in July 2011 (two each for the CETSOL, MICAST and SETA experiments). In addition to the one SETA sample one CETSOL and one MICAST sample have already been processed from the Batch 2a samples. 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
The Microgravity Science Glovebox was activated on 10, 11 May to undertake research activities for NASAs Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) experiment, which make use of NASAs Smoke Point In Coflow Experiment (SPICE) hardware inside the Glovebox. ISS Flight Engineer Don Pettit performed two flame tests on different solid fuel samples as well as performing a wake ignition for the first time. BASS is testing solid fuel samples in order to gain unique data which will help improve numerical modelling, and hence improve design tools and practical combustion on Earth by increasing combustion efficiency and reducing pollutant emission for practical combustion devices.
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 18 May. 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.
ESA astronaut André Kuipers loaded new application software on the EXPRESS Rack 3 laptop on 10 May for the continuation of ESAs ALTEA-Shield experiment. Radiation shielding tiles for the experiment were transported to the ISS on ATV-3, which docked with the ISS on 29 March. The ALTEA-Shield experiment hardware can now be relocated 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.
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 ESAs 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 Earths 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 6 April activities were carried out using NASAs Human Research Facility 1 with the support of ESAs Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Don Pettit carried out an ultrasound scanning session for NASAs Integrated Cardiovascular experiment in conjunction with ESAs Vessel Imaging experiment (see above) on 7 May assisted by André Kuipers. 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.
Pettit carried out his 4th ambulatory monitoring session of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment from 8 10 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 11 May.
On 15 May Don Pettit used facility hardware to perform a leg muscle ultrasound scan on himself for NASAs SPRINT protocol with remote guidance from ground teams. SPRINT evaluates the use of high intensity, low volume exercise training to minimize loss of muscle, bone, and cardiovascular function in ISS crewmembers during long-duration missions.
Human Research Facility 2
Human Research Facility 2 was active between 7 and 9 May in connection with a software upgrade to the Pulmonary Function System (see Pulmonary Function System above) as well as experiment set up and Oxygen Uptake Measurements for ESAs Energy experiment (see Energy Experiment above).
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 18 May include:
· Emergency Depressurisation Training
The Columbus Control Centre supported an ISS Emergency Depressurisation Training session on 8 May together with the ISS control centres in Moscow, Houston and Tsukuba, Japan. The three ISS Crew at the time: ISS Commander Oleg Kononenko (Roscosmos) and ISS Flight Engineers André Kuipers (ESA) and Don Pettit (NASA), were taken through an emergency practice session as a familiarisation with procedures and hardware in the event of a rapid cabin depressurisation. This activity provides proficiency training for crew response during a depressurisation event.
· Storage Audit
André Kuipers performed an audit of zero-g stowage locations in Columbus on 10 May to align it with the ISS inventory management system.
Activities of ESA astronaut André Kuipers
· System Activities
ESA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer André Kuipers carried out inspection and cleaning maintenance on bacterial filters in Nodes 1, 2 and 3 on 10 May and inspection of emergency equipment (fire extinguishers, breathing apparatus etc.) throughout the US orbital segment of the ISS and in the Russian Zarya module on 18 May. On 18 May Kuipers also carried out troubleshooting activities on the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) experiment taking various resistance measurements related to its Chip-Scale Atomic Clock equipment.
· 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 ESAs ISS partners. This included: being a subject for NASAs Reaction Self Test experiment which looks into how planned sleep shift for ISS crews affects performance; and removing modules 16 and 18 from NASAs NanoRacks Platform in EXPRESS Rack 1 and preparing the modules for eventual return to earth on Soyuz 30S.
· Health status activities
The crew undertake health status checks on a regular basis. During the two weeks until 18 May André Kuipers has undertaken: an On-Orbit Hearing Assessment; and a session of the WinSCAT (Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows) experiment, which is used for testing cognitive abilities; as well as undertaking regular exercise routines to maintain his physical well-being while in orbit. Kuipers also carried out a monthly check of the Crew Health Care Systems defibrillator.
· Other activities
During the two weeks until 18 May Kuipers and the other ISS crew members have had their regular Planning Conferences with ESAs 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: conducted a crew handover conference with Don Pettit on orbit and the Expedition 31/32 crew members (Gennady Padalka, Joe Acaba, and Sergei Revin) at the Baikonur cosmodrome before their launch; relocated Portable Breathing Apparatus units from Node 1 to the Russian Zarya module; gathered and prepacked cargo for return on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft demo flight; configured cargo in the Japanese laboratory to provide optimal stowage for cargo to be delivered on H-II Transfer Vehicle 3 (HTV-3); used a velocicalc instrument to take Intermodule Ventilation flow measurements in Node-3, the Cupola module, the US laboratory, and Node-1; and carried out inventories of the Contingency Water Containers on board. Kuipers also supported a European public affairs event on 8 May, downlinking greetings and responding to questions from participants at the World Wildlife Fund Annual Global Conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands as well as downlinking public relations video footage on the previous two days. On 16 May, the European finalists from the Google YouTube SpaceLab competition joined astronauts, scientists, educators and students for a special presentation of their Space Station science experiments and a live call with ESA's André Kuipers and NASA's Don Pettit. The event took place at the European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany.
Activities in the European-built Node 3
· Exercise Equipment
No activities were undertaken using the exercise equipment in Node 3 in addition to the regular use, inspection and servicing of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) and the 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 18 May include:
- Water Recovery System racks: Sampling
Kuipers used the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer (TOCA) to sample water from the Water Recovery System racks on 7 and 15 May and collected samples for return on the SpaceX demo flight and on Soyuz 29S for post-flight analysis.
- Water Recovery System racks: Processing
André Kuipers initiated the periodic backfill of the Urine Processor Assembly in Water Recovery System rack 2 by hooking up the racks Recycle Filter Tank Assembly and set up collapsible urine containers for filling the Urine Processor Assembly for processing. During the reporting period Kuipers also set up pumping equipment and transferred contents from fluid containers into the Water Processor Assembly for processing into potable water.
- Waste & Hygiene Compartment
NASA astronauts and ISS Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Joe Acaba replaced the E-K Pre-Treat Tank of the Waste and Hygiene Compartment in Node 3 on 18 May as one of the first crew handover activities. The Pre-Treat Tank contains pre-treat solution which is mixed with water for toilet flushing.
Soyuz Couch Fit Check
On 7 May, members of the ISS Expedition 30 Crew (Kuipers, Kononenko and Pettit) donned their Sokol spacesuits and carried out a fit-check of the Kazbek shock absorbing seats in the Descent Module of the Soyuz TMA-03M/29S crew return vehicle.
Following docking of Europes third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-3) on 29 March, cargo transfer activities have been on-going for Europes logistics supply craft for the ISS. This has included unloading and unpacking cargo and placing it in stowage, and stowing packing material and waste into ATV-3. Activities were carried out by André Kuipers and Don Pettit.
Soyuz TMA-04M/30S, Expedition 31/32 Crew Launch and Docking
· Soyuz TMA-03M Launch
Three members of the ISS Expedition crew were successfully launched together in the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft on flight 30S to the ISS on 15 May at 05:01 CEST (09:14 local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz crew consisted of Soyuz Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba. Revin and Acaba will be Flight Engineers for ISS Expeditions 31 and 32. Padalka, will become a Flight Engineer for ISS Expedition 31 and Commander of ISS Expedition 32. Following orbital insertion, Soyuz TMA antennas and solar arrays were deployed and various orbital burns were carried out over the following two days to bring the Soyuz in the vicinity of the ISS to begin docking procedures.
· Soyuz TMA-04M Docking
Prior to Soyuz TMA-04M docking the ISS crew configured relevant communications and video equipment. The Soyuz TMA-04M/30S spacecraft docked successfully with the Russian Poisk Mini Research Module 2 on 17 May at 06:36 (CEST) bringing the crew of the ISS up to a total of six until 1 July.
· Soyuz TMA-22 post-docking activities
ISS attitude control was handed back from Russian to US systems after docking. Video of the docking and structural dynamics measurements were downlinked by the crew and the standard leak check between the Soyuz and the ISS was carried out. On completion the hatches were opened and the usual crew greeting took place. The standard crew safety briefing followed. Revin and Padalka set up the three Sokol spacesuits and their gloves for drying out, deactivated the Soyuz spacecraft and started transfer of high priority cargo to the ISS. On 18 May Padalka installed local temperature sensor equipment in the newly arrived Soyuz spacecraft, additional cargo was transferred from the Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS and the six ISS crew members carried out a Crew Emergency Roles and Responsibilities Review.
Global Positioning System 1 (GPS-1) locked up on 10 May and despite two power-on cycles could not be recovered. The failure appears to be related to a communication error on the data bus. Experts are looking at ways to recover it, or if necessary replace it (there are spares on board) as it is needed for Space-X demo berthing operations. On 14 May Kuipers and Pettit performed the first troubleshooting steps, checking connectors on GPS-1.
At the end of the reporting period orbital debris from the Russian Elektron 3 satellite was being monitored for the possibility of it coming in close proximity to the ISS. The time of closest approach was calculated to occur on 18 May. However it was subsequently determined that it posed no threat of a collision with the ISS so no further action was required.
Other activities that have taken place on the ISS in the two-week period until 18 May include: troubleshooting on the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) experiment; upgrading a light fixture in a crew quarters in the Russian Service Module; cleaning out a Node 2 crew quarters; cargo transfers to and from Progress 47P; troubleshooting on the DECLIC (Device for the Study of Critical Liquids and Crystallization) payload; replacing a manifold bottle in the US Combustion Integrated Rack; and troubleshooting the Image Processing Unit in the Japanese laboratory.
(*)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.
ESA Head of ISS Utilisation Department
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer
Weekly reports compiled by ESA's ISS Utilisation Department.
Fill in your name and email address below to receive a notification when the latest status report is made available online.