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ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 67
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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

7 May 2010

This is ISS status report #67 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
The second part of the Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots (WAICO) experiment has been taking place in the Biolab facility in ESA’s Columbus laboratory. From 26-28 April ISS Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi undertook the necessary sample and equipment preparation prior to start of the WAICO-2 experiment. This included removing reference containers from the Biolab’s two rotors and preparing the eight WAICO-2 experiment containers for facility insertion. The WAICO hardware was sterilized by ozone in the Biolab Glovebox followed by placing a strip of Arabidopsis seeds onto the agar in each cultivation bowl prior to sealing each experiment container. Once both sets of Experiment containers had been prepared they were loaded onto the two centrifuges in the Biolab incubator which was set to 22 degrees C.

The centrifuges, which were set to 1g level with illumination stimulus, were started on 28 April. On 2 May following a few days of germination centrifuge B was stopped in order to provide its four experiment containers with weightless conditions for the remainder of the experiment. Daily video observations are being performed and downlinked to monitor the growth of the plants.

The Biolab facility was switched off on 5 May due to an issue with the Columbus Data Management System though was reactivated the following day. Illumination was returned, the temperature and humidity levels were set, and the 1g control on centrifuge A was reestablished. Small kinks were seen on the centrifuge A samples due to the temporary loss of centrifuge function though the science impact of this is currently being assessed.

Biolab is a facility designed to support biological experiments on micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates. 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 which 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
No activities were carried out using the European Drawer Rack or the Kubik-6 Incubator in the two weeks until 7 May. The Kubik-6 Incubator was installed in a Kubik Interface Drawer and thereafter into the European Drawer Rack on 13 April.

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. In the future it will also host the FASTER (2011) and EML payloads (2012 onwards). The Kubik incubators are transportable incubators which were designed in the frame of the ISS Soyuz missions for biology experiments processing.

Fluid Science Laboratory and FASES/Geoflow-2 experiments
No activities were carried out using the Fluid Science Laboratory in the two weeks until 7 May. 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
The European Physiology Modules facility was activated on 30 April for the monthly data downlink for the DOSIS experiment (details below). The facility laptop was also used in connection with the PASSAGES experiment (details see below). 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.


  • 3D Space
    ISS Flight Engineer Timothy Creamer performed his fourth and final session of the 3D-Space experiment on 4 May. Creamer used an ESA laptop with digital tablet pen while free-floating during the session. This human physiology study investigates the effects of weightlessness on the mental representation of visual information during and after spaceflight. Accurate perception is a prerequisite for spatial orientation and reliable performance of tasks in space. The experiment has different elements including investigations of perception of depth and distance carried out using a virtual reality headset and standard psychophysics tests.


    The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment is progressing well, with the instrument constantly acquiring data (See European Physiology Modules above). 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.


    On 5 May ISS Flight Engineer Noguchi performed his last session of the ESA PASSAGES experiment using the laptop of the European Physiology Modules facility. PASSAGES is designed to test how astronauts interpret visual information in weightlessness: it aims at studying the effects of microgravity on the use of the ‘Eye-Height’ strategy for estimating allowed actions in an environment, and whether this could possibly decrease after a long exposure to weightlessness. Noguchi first configured the ESA multipurpose laptop attached to the European Physiology Modules facility and installed the Light shield on the laptop screen. The PASSAGES software was run from the removable NEUROSPAT hard disk.

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 7 May. 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)
No activities were carried out using the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) in the two weeks until 7 May. 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.

Portable Pulmonary Function System
No activities were carried out using the Portable Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 7 May. 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 7 May. 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 is being operated jointly with NASA under a bilateral barter agreement which has been renewed after the initial 2 years time frame.

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
Activities for NASA’s IntraVenous Fluid GENeration for Exploration Missions (IVGEN) experiment were undertaken in the European-built Microgravity Science Glovebox from 4-6 May. The IVGEN hardware was removed from the Glovebox on 7 May. The experiment will demonstrate the capability to purify water to the standards required for intravenous administration, then mix the water with salt crystals to produce normal saline solution. This hardware is a prototype that will allow flight surgeons more options to treat ill or injured crewmembers during future long-duration exploration missions.

The avionics hardware for ESA’s triple SODI (Selectable Optical Diagnostics Instrument) experiments is being analysed 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 SODI avionics failure 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.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)
The ERNO (Entwicklungsring Nord) box was installed at Columbus’ aft cone on 4 May by ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson. This piece of hardware is used as a data relay for the Automatic Identification System (AIS), whose antenna was installed on the outside of Columbus during an EVA on 21 November 2009.

The Automatic Identification System will test 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.

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

The next Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility to gather scientific data is expected to open on 10 May. In the two weeks up until 7 May SOLAR didn’t acquire any scientific data though it was placed in safe mode for docking of Progress 37P on 1 May.

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
Activities for the CETSOL and MICAST experiments were carried out in the Material Science Laboratory from 27-30 April. The MICAST#5 samples were processed from 27-28 April, undergoing heating and melting phases. After solidification and cooling down, these were exchanged for CETSOL#6 samples on 28 April. CETSOL#6 samples started processing on 29 April. After solidification and cooling down, these samples were exchanged for MICAST#7 samples on 30 April. On 6 May the expended Gas Supply Drawer of the Material Science Laboratory was replaced with a new one.

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

ESA’s Matroshka payload was transferred from the Russian segment to the Japanese Kibo laboratory on 4 May. New passive radiation dosimeters (including PADLES type from JAXA) were inserted by Russian cosmonauts into the Matroshka Phantom, which simulates a human body (head and torso).The dosimeters had been delivered on Progress 37P (see below). Relevant implementation agreements with JAXA have been finalised and agreements with Roscosmos are almost complete. Matroshka has been relocated to the Kibo laboratory where the joint long-duration experiment run is performed 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. ISS Commander Oleg Kotov copied Expose-R science data from a payload computer to a memory card in a Russian laptop. The data (around 400 Mb) was hereafter downlinked. 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
Human Research Facility 1 was used for carrying out body mass measurements on Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Timothy Creamer on 27 April using the facility’s Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD). The two astronauts also started a new week-long session of the NASA Sleep experiment on 3 May. Data from the experiment was downloaded to the Human Research Facility laptop.

Human Research Facility 2
The Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research Facility 2 was used on 3 May for centrifuging blood samples from ISS Flight Engineer Timothy Creamer in connection with the Nutrition/Repository/Pro K protocol. The samples were then placed in one of the European-built MELFI freezers (See below).

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. Main points of interest are as follows:


  • ISS Fire Drill
    The Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany took part in a joint fire drill on 27 April together with the ISS control centres in Moscow, Houston, Kazakhstan and Tsukuba (Japan) and the members of the ISS crew in order to assess/maintain the ISS crew’s response to fire on the station.


  • Columbus Data Management System
    The Data Management System of Columbus experienced functionality problems in the two-week period though this was successfully recovered on 7 May. This resolved problems in sending commands to the Columbus Mission Management Computer, Data Management Computer and Payload Control Unit. Vital functionality was still active during the period with respect to monitoring a majority of caution and warning parameters.

Activities in the European-built Node 3

ISS Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi installed a new network Wireless Access Point in Node 3 on 4 May. In addition, other main activities in Node 3 in the two weeks until 7 May include:


  • Exercise Equipment
    In addition to regular use, inspection and servicing of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), the T2/COLBERT treadmill crew was relocated from the European-built Node-2 to Node-3 on 24 April. Data and power cables were configured on 24 April with the device’s Vibration Isolation System being installed the following day. Accelerometers were also relocated onto the treadmill to take structural dynamics readings during its checkout in the new location. After additional activities over the course of a few days to resolve clearance issues at the bottom and top of the rack, the T2 treadmill rack was aligned and centred on 4 May. Two days later a test was carried out, with Noguchi and Caldwell-Dyson moving the treadmill manually in all directions to determine possible contact with other objects. The following day the rack was fastened in place.


  • Regenerative ECLSS
    ISS Flight engineer and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi replaced the Recycle Filter Tank Assembly in the Urine Processor Assembly of Water Recovery System 2 on 30 April. The Urine Processor Assembly is again running as planned, producing water from urine. 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.

Progress Logistics M-05M/37P Spacecraft Activities


  • TORU Manual Docking System Training
    On 27 and 30 April ISS Commander Oleg Kotov and ISS Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov carried out a training sessions on the Russian TORU system in preparation for Progress 37P docking on 1 May. The TORU system acts as a manual backup to the Kurs automated rendezvous and docking system. The session included, rendezvous, fly-around, final approach, docking and off-nominal situations such as video or communications loss.


  • Progress M-05M/37P Launch
    The Progress M-05M spacecraft on ISS logistics flight 37P was successfully launched into orbit by a Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 19:15 CEST (23:15 local time) on 28 April. The Progress spacecraft was transporting about 2.4 tonnes of vital supplies to the ISS including water, food, gases, propellants, consumables and scientific equipment, which included new passive dosimeters for ESA’s Matroshka experiment.


  • Rendezvous and Docking
    Progress M-05M on ISS logistics flight 37P was successfully docked to the Russian Pirs module of the ISS at 20:32 (CEST) on 1 May. This was carried out under manual control from the Russian Zvezda Service Module. After docking the ISS was returned to active attitude control from free drift. Kotov and Skvortsov took over manual control of the Progress spacecraft about 1 km from the ISS as the automatic rrendezvous and docking sequence was stopped due to indication of a possible Progress thruster failure.


  • Post Docking Activities
    After Progress docking Kotov, Skvortsov and Kornienko shut off the manual docking system, and conducted the standard one-hour leak check of the interhatch area and transfer lines from Progress to Pirs. The hatches were opened at 17:35 (CEST) and clamps were installed to strengthen the coupling between Progress and Pirs. Standard post-docking procedures followed including installing ventilation ducting and dismantling the docking mechanism.

    In the days following docking, Progress 37P was integrated into the ISS systems including those for ISS Motion Control. Cargo transfers also started.

Progress Logistics M-04M/36P Spacecraft Activities


  • Final Cargo Transfers
    In preparation for undocking, potable water was transferred from the Progress M-04M/36P spacecraft to the newly arrived Progress M-05M/37P, on 4 May as Service Module tanks were full. Remaining propellants were also transferred from Progress 36P prior to 4 May. On 5 May remaining gaseous nitrogen was transferred to the ISS from the Progress M-04M/36P spacecraft. ISS Commander Kotov also initiated the transfer of urine from three separate containers into an empty tank of the Progress M-04M/36P spacecraft before flushing the lines with disinfectant.


  • Undocking Preparations
    On 6 May Kotov and Skvortsov prepared the Progress 36P spacecraft for departure. The Progress docking mechanism was again installed; temperature sensor equipment and light fixtures were removed from Progress for reuse; Progress electronics were activated; ventilation ducting was removed as were the quick disconnect clamps to stabilize the connection between Progress 36P and the aft docking port of the Russian Service Module. The Progress/Service Module hatches were closed at 19:25 CEST followed by the standard one-hour leak check of the interhatch area and the interface between the fuel/oxidizer transfer line.

Progress Logistics M-03M/35P Spacecraft Deorbit
Following several days in orbit after undocking from the International Space Station on 22 April, the Progress M-03M/35P logistics spacecraft carried out a planned destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean on 28 April.

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.

In preparation for accepting science samples during the current ISS Expedition, four (-32degC) ice bricks were placed in MELFI 1 on 26 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.

On 24 and 25 April Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Timothy Creamer used laptops to check on the proper functionality of the European-built MELFI freezers 1 and 2 due to the non-availability of the Payload Operations Integration Center in Huntsville, Alabama. On 26 April a laptop was transferred to the Columbus laboratory from the US laboratory and connected up to a Standard Utility Panel.

Crew Quarters
The ISS Crew installed and commissioned the new Crew Quarters in the European-built Node 2 from 24 to 26 April. The Crew Quarters were installed in the old location of the T2 treadmill, which was relocated to Node 3. After removing launch restraint bolts, command and data handling cables were connected up.

Orthostatic hemodynamic endurance tests
On 26 April Oleg Kotov carried out his first training session of the medical operation procedures using the VELO ergometer whilst wearing the Russian ‘Chibis’ lower body negative pressure suit. He was assisted by Kornienko during the activity. The Chibis suit, which provides stress that simulates gravity to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system, helps to evaluate how the Russian crewmember would cope with exposure to gravity on return to Earth.

Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Module
On 27 April Caldwell-Dyson set up and activated the new Vehicle Cabin Atmosphere Module. This instrument is able to identify gases only present in trace amounts in the ISS cabin atmosphere and could be helpful during future long-duration missions if tests prove successful

Soyuz TMA-17 Relocation Preparations
Kotov, Noguchi and Creamer put on their Sokol spacesuits and conducted a leak check of the suits on 3 May in preparation of relocation of the Soyuz TMA-17/21S spacecraft on 12 May from the Earth-facing docking port of the Zarya Module to the Service Module’s aft docking port.

ISS Robotic Activities
Noguchi and Caldwell-Dyson acted as robotic arm operators on 3 May as they used the Station’s principal robotic arm to grapple the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator. Four days later the Mobile Transporter on which the robotic arm was located was translated along the Station’s truss from Worksite 5 to Worksite 4.

As final steps of installation of the Robotic Work Station in the European-built Cupola observation module, Soichi Noguchi removed a handrail on 4 May to allow power cable connection and then powered up the Cupola Display and Control Panel. Hereafter he configured the LAN network to enable robotics operations from Cupola during the next Shuttle flight (STS-132). The following day Noguchi assembled the restraint system for the Cupola Robotic Work Station.

Shuttle R-bar Pitch Manoeuvre Preparations
Kotov and Creamer completed another R-bar Pitch Manoeuvre skill training on 7 May. This involved photographing a Shuttle cutout inside the ISS with a D2X digital still camera using 400 and 800 mm lenses. This exercise is in preparation for photographing the Shuttle Orbiter during its pitch manoeuvre during rendezvous and docking on 16 May. During the manoeuvre at a distance of about 180 m from the station, the photographers will only have around 90 seconds to take high-resolution digital photographs of all thermal protection tile areas and door seals on Shuttle Endeavour, to be downlinked for launch debris assessment.

Treadmill with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization
The Treadmill with Vibration Isolation and Stabilisation (TVIS) is again ok for use by the crew following extensive maintenance carried out between 20-23 April by the three Russian crew members.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place in the two-week period include: an upgrade of Russian computer system software; repairing a sheared water reservoir quick disconnect on the Advanced Biological Research System; US airlock preparations ahead of the next Shuttle mission (resizing EVA suits, recharging EVA batteries etc); and replacing the Constrained Vapour Bubble Module in the Fluid Combustion Facility Fluids Integrated Rack.

(*)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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