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ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 66
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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

23 April 2010

This is ISS status report #66 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 Department in cooperation with ESA’s Columbus and Payload Operations Management and Mission Science teams from the ISS Utilisation Department.

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 and outside the Russian Segment of the ISS and in the US Destiny laboratory. 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 near-term experiments
Biolab is a facility designed to support biological experiments on micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates. On 20 April the gloves of the Biolab Glovebox were replaced. This is necessary for sterilization in connection with the second part of the Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots (WAICO) experiment, the science samples of which were transferred to Biolab on 8 April.

WAICO, which was the very first experiment to take place in Biolab, deals with the effect that gravity has on the spiralling motion (circumnutation) that occurs in Arabidopsis plant roots. It is suspected that this spiralling mechanism is an internal mechanism in the plant, independent of the influence of gravity.

The TripleLux-B experiment will be the next experiment after WAICO-2 to take place in the Biolab facility during Increment 23/24. The objective of this experiment is to further understand the cellular mechanisms underlying the aggravation of radiation responses, and the impairment of the immune function under spaceflight conditions. (The subsequent experiment, Triplelux-A, is scheduled to follow during Expedition 25/26)

The ArtEMISS-A experiment will also tentatively be one of the following experiments to take place in the Biolab facility. This will be tentatively performed within a short-duration flight scenario for the up- and download part whjch is under detailed elaboration. The purpose of this experiment is to determine the effect of spaceflight conditions, including weightlessness and radiation on the algae Arthrospira sp. The form, structure and physiology of the algae will be examined along with a genetic study of the organism. This data is important for determining the reliability of using Arthrospira sp. in spacecraft biological life support systems in such projects as MELISSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative).

European Drawer Rack and Kubik 6 Incubator
The Kubik 6 Incubator was fitted into the Kubik Interface Drawer on 13 April by ISS Flight Engineer Timothy Creamer and thereafter the drawer was installed into the European Drawer Rack. The interface drawer allows Kubik to interface with the European Drawer Rack in order to utilise the facility’s resources. Commissioning activities started on 21 April. Creamer carried out a functional check of Kubik-6 in the European Drawer Rack and set its temperature to 6 degrees C. The following day Timothy Creamer completed the functional checkout. After carrying out a temperature check he reset Kubik’s temperature to 37 degrees C and switched on the incubator centrifuge before carrying out additional temperature checks. Date files were transferred to the ground hereafter.

The European Drawer Rack is a multi-user experiment facility which had been continuously active and providing power, data and temperature control to the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostic Facility before the conclusion of 3½ months of successful experiment runs in July 2009.

Fluid Science Laboratory and FASES/Geoflow-2 experiments
No activities were carried out using the Fluid Science laboratory in the two weeks until 23 April. The Flight Acceptance Review for the Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability (FASES) experiment has started and after the Experiment Sequence Test in the associated User Support and Operations Centre MARS in Naples, the Experiment Container is foreseen to arrive at the ISS on Progress flight 39P in early September 2010. This experiment will be studying emulsion properties with advanced optical diagnostics. Results of the FASES experiment hold significance for oil extraction processes, chemical industry and in the food industry.

The hardware modifications for the implementation of the GeoFlow-2 experiment are in progress in order to launch it tentatively on ATV-2 at the end of 2010.

European Physiology Modules
No activities were carried out using the European Physiology Modules in the two weeks until 23 April. The European Physiology Modules facility is equipped with different science modules to investigate the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body, with experiment results contributing to an increased understanding of terrestrial problems such as the ageing process, osteoporosis, balance disorders, and muscle wastage.

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 23 April. The Pulmonary Function System is accommodated in NASA Human Research Facility 2, which was relocated from the US Destiny laboratory to the Columbus laboratory on 1 October 2008. The Pulmonary Function System is an ESA/NASA collaboration in the field of respiratory physiology instrumentation, which analyses exhaled gas from astronauts' lungs to provide near-instant data on the state of crew health.

Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES)
Configuration of MARES hardware for stowage was completed by ISS Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and Timothy Creamer on 14 April. ESA’s Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System was transferred to Columbus on 9 April after its arrival on board STS-131/19A Shuttle Flight on 7 April.

The facility will be used for undertaking neuromuscular and exercise research on the International Space Station. MARES is capable of assessing the strength of isolated muscle groups around joints to provide a better understanding of the effects of weightlessness on the muscular system.

MARES consists of an adjustable chair with a system of pads and levers that fit to each astronaut and cover different movements, a 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.

The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment is progressing well, with the instrument constantly acquiring data. The DOSIS experiment will determine the nature and distribution of the radiation field inside European Columbus laboratory using different active and passive detectors spread around the laboratory. This is the first time that 'area dosimetry' is being undertaken on Columbus to measure the spatial radiation gradients inside the module. DOSIS will continue to record the radiation environment in the Columbus laboratory.

Portable Pulmonary Function System
On 21 April ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson performed her first session of ESA’s Thermolab experiment in conjunction with the NASA’s Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) experiment. The Thermolab experiment uses the ESA-developed Portable Pulmonary Function System to investigate thermoregulatory and cardiovascular adaptations during rest and exercise in the course of long-term exposure to weightlessness. The Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) is aimed at measuring oxygen uptake and cardiac output in particular, during various degrees of exercise.

The Portable Pulmonary Function System is an autonomous multi-user facility supporting a broad range of human physiological research experiments under weightless condition in the areas of respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic physiology.

European Modular Cultivation System
No activities were carried out with the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) in the two weeks up until 23 April. The European Modular Cultivation System, which was flown 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 has been operated for two years under a bilateral barter agreement with NASA which is expected to be continued.

Genara-A is the next ESA experiment to be launched on STS-132 / ULF-4 and take place in the European Modular Cultivation System. This experiment will study plant (Arabidopsis) growth at molecular level in weightlessness. This will help to better understand gravitropism and to find plant systems that compensate for the negative impact on plant growth in space. Before or after a further NASA experiment, SeedGrowth, ESA’s Gravi-2 experiment is planned to follow towards the end of 2010.

Microgravity Science Glovebox and SODI experiments
No activities were carried out with the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the two weeks up until 23 April. Hardware for the triple SODI (Selectable Optical Diagnostics Instrument) experiments was returned to earth on STS-131 Shuttle Discovery which undocked on 17 April. This will undergo analysis on ground before being returned to the ISS, tentatively on Progress flight 39P in early September 2010, for continuation of the experiment series.

The first SODI experiment to take place in the Microgravity Science Glovebox was IVIDIL (Influence of Vibrations on Diffusion in Liquids). This was successfully completed on 20 January. This will now be followed by the Colloid experiment, which covers the study on growth and properties of advanced photonic materials within colloidal solutions. This will take place following completion of ground analysis activities and return of SODI hardware on orbit. The Colloid experiment cells will be also uploaded on Progress flight in a few months.

The DSC experiment (‘Diffusion and Soret Coefficient Measurements for Improvement of Oil Recovery’), will now be the third and final SODI experiment processed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The DSC cells, which originally arrived at the ISS on Progress 36P on 5 February, were returned on STS-131 Shuttle Discovery for re-filling due to the problems with the SODI avionics hardware and deferral of SODI experiments until around September 2010.

The Microgravity Science Glovebox was developed by ESA within a barter agreement with NASA. The Glovebox provides the ability to perform a wide range of experiments in the fields of material science, biotechnology, fluid science, combustion science and crystal growth research, in a fully sealed and controlled environment.

European science and research facilities outside the Columbus laboratory in open space

SOLAR continued to acquire scientific data up until 16 April when the current Sun visibility window closed due to orbital configuration of the ISS. There were a couple of minor breaks in data acquisition, including “safing” the platform due to Shuttle STS-131/19A mission activities though this has no notable affect of scientific significance. The Solar platform was in survival mode at the end of the two-week period awaiting a new Sun visibility window.

The SOLAR payload facility has been studying the Sun’s irradiation with unprecedented accuracy across most of its spectral range currently for more than two years on-orbit. The SOLAR facility 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 the maximum level in 2013.

European science inside the US Destiny Laboratory

Material Science Laboratory in the Material Science Research Rack
No activities were carried out using Material Science Laboratory in the two weeks up until 23 April. ESA’s Material Science Laboratory is the primary research facility located in NASA’s Materials Science Research Rack-1, which was launched together with a total of six sample cartridges for NASA and for ESA’s MICAST and CETSOL projects on STS-128/17A under a cooperation agreement with NASA and is now installed in the US Laboratory on the ISS.

CETSOL and MICAST are two complementary material science projects, which carry out research into the formation of microstructures during the solidification of metallic alloys. 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. Results of these experiments will help to optimise industrial casting processes.

European science inside the Russian ISS Segment

In its experimental set up the Matroshka experiments consist of a simulated human body (head and torso) called the Phantom equipped with several active and passive radiation dosimeters. The Phantom will be relocated to the Japanese Kibo laboratory and equipped with a set of new passive dosimeters (including PADLES type from JAXA) which will be tentatively uploaded on the next Progress flight (37P scheduled for launch on 28 April). JAXA has prepared the technical accommodation of Matroshka in the KIBO laboratory and now the final implementation steps and bi-/trilateral agreements with JAXA and Russia are in progress for a joint experiment run until HTV-2 arrives in 2011. In the long-term Matroshka may again be accommodated on an external ISS platform to measure cosmic radiation levels in Low Earth Orbit which are of relevance for EVA activities.

GTS-2 (Global Transmission Service)
The Global Transmission Service was deactivated on 31 May 2009 though negotiations with Russian representatives are ongoing for reactivation of the instrument and continuation of the so-called test mode. GTS will be tentatively a cooperative European-Russian experiment on 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 the 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; measurement of disturbing effects such as Doppler shifts, multi-path reflections, shadowing and elevation impacts.

Additional European science outside the ISS in open space

The Expose-R facility, which was installed outside the Zvezda Service Module during the Russian-based spacewalk on 10 March 2009, is operating nominally and science acquisition is on-going. A tentative return of the sample trays is foreseen for autumn 2010 which allow a scientifically beneficial extension of the open space exposure period of 50%.

Expose-R hosts a suite of nine new astrobiology experiments (eight from ESA, one from IBMP, Moscow), some of which could help understand how life originated on Earth. This suite of experiments was transported to the International Space Station on Progress flight 31P, which docked with the ISS on 30 November 2008. The experiments are accommodated in three special sample trays, which are loaded with a variety of biological samples including plant seeds and spores of bacteria, fungi and ferns, which are exposed to the harsh space environment (Solar UV, cosmic radiation, vacuum), for about one and a half years.

The individual Expose-R experiments are as follows:


  • AMINO: Photochemical processing of amino acids and other organic compounds in Earth orbit
  • ENDO: Response of endolithic organisms to space conditions
  • OSMO: Exposure of osmophilic microbes to the space environment
  • SPORES: Spores in artificial meteorites
  • PHOTO: Measurements of vacuum and solar radiation-induced DNA damages within spores
  • SUBTIL: Mutational spectra of Bacillus subtilis spores and plasmid DNA exposed to high vacuum and solar UV radiation in the space environment.
  • PUR: Responses of Phage T7, Phage DNA and polycrystalline uracil to the space environment.
  • ORGANIC: Evolution of organic matter in space.
  • IMBP: Exposure of resting stages of terrestrial organisms to space conditions.

Expose-R complements the exobiology science package that was performed in Expose-E, a twin facility which had been in operation on ESA’s EuTEF facility outside of Columbus since February 2008 until EuTEF’s return to Earth with the STS-128/17A Shuttle Flight in September 2009.

Non-European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory

Human Research Facility 1
ISS Flight Engineers Timothy Creamer and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson both carried out a week-long session of the NASA Sleep experiment starting on 12 April. Data from the experiment was downloaded to the Human Research Facility laptop.

Human Research Facility 2
JAXA astronaut Naoko Yamazaki reconfigured Human Research Facility 2 on 11 April removing three drawers for return and installing two new stowage drawers. On 20 April Caldwell-Dyson used the Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research Facility 2 to spin the blood samples before placing them in the MELFI freezer.

ISS general system information and activities *

Columbus laboratory
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.

Activities in the European-built Node 3


  • Exercise Equipment
    In addition to regular use, inspection and servicing of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), the ISS crew took part in review on 23 April for future relocation of the T2/COLBERT treadmill from the European-built Node 2 into the European-built Node 3 (and setting up a new crew quarters in the old Node 2 location).


  • Regenerative ECLSS
    During the past two weeks activities have been carried out with the two Water Recovery System racks and the Oxygen Generation System rack, which 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. Key points of interest are as follows:

    • Water Recovery System rack 1 - Water Processor Assembly
      ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Timothy Creamer replaced the catalytic reactor unit of the Water Processor Assembly in Water Recovery System 1 on 11 April. The old unit will be returned on Shuttle flight 19A.


    • Water Recovery System 2 - Urine Processor Assembly
      ISS Flight engineer and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi replaced the Recycle Filter Tank Assembly in the Urine Processor Assembly on 14 April. The following day ISS Flight Engineers and NASA astronauts Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Timothy Creamer replaced a retaining ring of a malfunctioning Urine Processor Assembly T-valve. The job was completed on 23 April when Creamer and Noguchi demated and remated a pretreated urine supply line at Water Recovery System rack 2.


    • Oxygen Generation System
      Creamer removed the Water Delivery System from the Oxygen Generation System Rack in Node 3 on 23 April and stowed it in the Japanese laboratory’s logistics module.

STS-131/19A Shuttle Discovery Mission


  • MPLM cargo transfers
    During the different day’s cargo transfers from the MPLM a video camera from the European Columbus laboratory was relocated to Node 2 to monitor activities. This was placed back in Columbus on the conclusion of each day’s activities. On 10 April the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) and EXPRESS Rack 7 were transferred from the MPLM to the US laboratory. WORF installation involved temporary removal of the CEVIS cycle ergometer in the US laboratory. It was reinstalled hereafter. Three International Standard Payload Racks were also transferred from Node 3 to the MPLM for return.

    On 11 April a General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator (GLACIER) freezer was transferred from the MPLM to the US laboratory and the large pieces of the Temporary Sleep Station were transferred from the US laboratory back to the MPLM.


  • Spacewalk 2 (Mastracchio, Anderson)
    The second mission spacewalk was preceded by standard procedures including the overnight camp out of the EVA astronauts in the Airlock at a reduced pressure and pre-breathing pure oxygen to remove nitrogen from their bloodstreams. The Station’s robotic arm was also moved from Node 2 to the Mobile Base System by ground controllers on 10 April in preparation for the EVA. Spacewalk 2 was carried out by Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson starting at 07:30 CEST on 11 April. During the 7 hr 26 minutes EVA the astronauts: relocated a depleted Ammonia Tank Assembly temporarily to a Crew and Equipment Transport Aid (CETA) cart on the Station’s truss; installing a new Ammonia Tank Assembly on the Station’s S1 truss section and mating electrical connectors to supply power to the ammonia tank heaters; installing P1 Radiator Grapple Fixture Stowage Beams; relocating an EVA foot restraint to a Worksite Interface on a CETA cart in connection with EVA activities on the STS-132 mission; and stowed the old Ammonia Tank Assembly. Difficulty in tightening a bolt during Ammonia Tank Assembly installation led to deferral of some of the planned EVA tasks to a later EVA. STS-131 Pilot James Dutton and Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson were robotic arm operators during the EVA transferring the new and old Ammonia Tank Assemblies to the relevant locations.


  • Spacewalk 3 (Mastracchio, Anderson)
    The spacewalk was preceded by standard procedures including the overnight camp out of the EVA astronauts in the Airlock at a reduced pressure and pre-breathing pure oxygen to remove nitrogen from their bloodstreams. Spacewalk 3 was carried out by Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson starting at 08:14 CEST on 13 April. During the 6 hr 24 minutes EVA the astronauts: connected fluid lines to the new Ammonia Tank Assembly; removed orbital debris shields from External Stowage Platform 2 for return; stowed the old Ammonia Tank Assembly in the Shuttle cargo bay; installed a grapple bar on the new Ammonia Tank Assembly; relocated a second EVA foot restraint; prepared the Z1 truss for installation of a new antenna during the STS-132 mission; and relocated some EVA tools. Some tasks were deferred to a later EVA due to the knock on effect of spacewalk 2. STS-131 Pilot James Dutton and Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson were again robotic arm operators during the EVA transferring the old Ammonia tank Assembly to the Shuttle cargo bay.


  • Shuttle Ku-Band failure
    With the Ku-Band communications failure that occurred on Shuttle after lift-off, Shuttle late inspection video files were downlinked from the ISS on 16 April for Shuttle heatshield inspection on ground prior to Shuttle undocking. The necessity to downlink the data via the ISS and not from the Shuttle led to an extension in the mission of one day.


  • MPLM Unberthing
    The European-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) was unberthed from the Earth-facing port of the European-built Node 2 and placed back in Shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay on 16 April. Unberthing was deferred from 15 April due to a Common Berthing Mechanism issue that delayed inter-hatch depressurisation. In the two-days prior to unberthing lighting fixtures had been removed from the MPLM for reuse on the ISS, the MPLM had been deactivated, all lines and ducting had been removed and thermal covers reinstalled.


  • Undocking and Landing
    On 17 April following the usual crew farewells, the Shuttle crew entered STS-131 Discovery. The Shuttle crew consisted of Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot James Dutton, and Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Naoko Yamazak and Clayton Anderson, all representing NASA except Yamazaki who represents JAXA. Hereafter ventilation ducting was removed and the hatches were closed. After hatch closure the standard one-hour leak check was carried out. At 14:52 CEST Discovery undocked from the ISS, thereafter performing a Station fly-around for carrying out documentary image taking (photo and video). A final separation burn was then performed.

    After undocking temporary ventilation was removed from Node 2 and Pressurized Mating Adaptor 2, where the Shuttle had been docked, was depressurised to prevent condensation. Communications systems were restored to their post-undocking configuration and emergency breathing apparatus was relocated to the Columbus laboratory and Node 3 from the US Airlock as it was no longer needed to support the Shuttle mission EVAs. STS-131 Shuttle Discovery landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 21 April at 03:08 CEST (21:08 local time on 20 April).

Progress Logistics Spacecraft Activities


  • Progress M-04M/36P Fluid transfers
    On 14 April ISS Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kotov set up pumping equipment and carried out the transfer of water from a storage tank of the Russian Progress 36P logistics spacecraft to the Russian Service Module. On 22 April Kotov carried out transfer of urine from three containers back to the same Progress storage tank before flushing the lines with disinfectant.


  • Progress M-03M/35P Undocking
    Following standard pre-undocking procedures, Progress M-03M/35P undocked from the Earth-facing port of the Pirs Docking Module on 22 April at 18:32 CEST. After several days of free flight the Progress spacecraft carried out a planned destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for the ISS (MELFI) Currently there are three European-built MELFI freezers on the ISS: MELFI 1 and MELFI 3 in the Japanese laboratory and MELFI 2 in the US laboratory. Samples from the MELFI 1 and 2 freezers were transferred to the Shuttle’s General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator (GLACIER) and the Microgravity Experiment Research Locker Incubator (MERLIN) for return to Earth with STS-131 Shuttle Discovery in the two weeks until 23 April.

In preparation for accepting science samples during the current ISS Expedition, 11 (-32degC) ice bricks were placed in MELFI 2 on 19 April and 24 ice bricks in MELFI 1 between 20-22 April. In the past two weeks samples from NASA’s Nutrition/Repository/Pro K protocol (blood and urine), CSA’s Advanced Plant Experiments on Orbit-Cambium experiment (plant samples), and JAXA’s NeuroRad experiment (mammalian cells) have been placed in the MELFI freezers.

In addition a laptop was transferred to the US laboratory from the Japanese laboratory to act as MELFI-2’s payload computer.

Station Laptops Timothy Creamer worked on several Station laptops on 15 April, replacing a hard disk on one support computer, and assembling a new Station Support laptop. Both these laptops were configured remotely from the ground. Creamer also built a hard drive for a support computer to help with downlinking video of the Shuttle’s thermal protection due to the Ku-Band issue (See above).

Bodies in the Space Environment On 15 April Tracy Caldwell-Dyson utilized ESA’s Neurospat experiment hardware in undertaking her first session of the Canadian Space Agency’s Bodies in the Space Environment (BISE) experiment.

Treadmill with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization Extensive maintenance was carried out on the Treadmill with Vibration Isolation and Stabilisation (TVIS) between 20-23 April by the three Russian crew members, due to an unexpected noise emanating from the exercise device. After opening up TVIS, the tread belt was re-tensioned after inspection of belt slats, side wall, nuts and rollers and chassis interior. The forward right stabiliser was replaced, and springs were replaced in the other three stabilisers (forward left and and back left and right). These stabilisers reduce the influence of the treadmill on the ISS. Other tasks included installing a new flywheel case, lubricating the transfer case; inspecting gyro wire ropes and the pivot spacer movement as well as performing the regular tests and checks on the device.

Cupola The Robotic Work Station was relocated from the US laboratory to the European-built Cupola observation module by Noguchi and Caldwell-Dyson on 23 April. Once installed the Robotic Work Station laptop was configured and a checkout of the system performed.

ISS Reboost: A reboost of the ISS to a higher altitude was performed by the Progress 36P spacecraft on 23 April. The 20 min 45 sec burn of the Progress thrusters increased the velocity of the ISS by 3.07 m/s and the mean altitude of the ISS by 5.42 km.

S1 Nitrogen Tank Assembly Ground teams cannot currently open the Gas Pressure Regulating Valve of the Nitrogen Tank Assembly, which is integrated with the newly installed Ammonia Tank Assembly on the S1 truss. The Nitrogen Tank Assembly supplies pressure to the Ammonia Tank Assembly in order to feed Loop A of the External Thermal Control System. Loop A is currently functioning as normal, with it being currently isolated from the new ammonia tank though the situation is currently being assessed.

Other Activities Other activities that have taken place in the two-week period include: a VIP call to the ISS from Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and Head of Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov; replacing area dosimeters in the Japanese laboratory; installing a new protective cover inside the ‘Poisk’ Mini-Research Module 2; upgrading ammonia respirators in the ISS; deploying two Video Streaming Workstations in Node-2; and regenerating Metal Oxide CO2 absorption canisters used in the STS-131/19A EVAs.

(*)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.

Martin Zell
ESA Head of ISS Utilisation Department

Rosita Suenson
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer

Weekly reports compiled by ESA's ISS Utilisation Department.

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