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Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 68, Increment 23

21/05/2010 360 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

This is ISS status report #68 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, WAICO and other near-term experiments
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 second part of the Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots (WAICO) experiment, which started on 28 April, had been continuing in the Biolab facility in ESA’s Columbus laboratory, albeit with a higher than expected CO2 level. On 10 May the crew carried out a photo session of the WAICO samples. The following day due to a sample fixation issue, only two of the four experiment containers on centrifuge A were initially placed in cold storage in Biolab’s Thermal Control Unit 1 (set to +4 deg C). The other two containers were transferred to centrifuge B, on which the other four WAICO-2 experiment containers were previously located, for final fixation procedures.

From these six experiment containers, five underwent chemical fixation of the plants and thereafter washed once, though the second wash could not be performed due to a blocked handling mechanism. The final experiment container did not undergo fixation for the same reason. To protect the samples from degradation due to over-fixation all the experiment containers were transferred to Thermal Control Unit 1 on 12 May for cold storage. The science team has made a choice of four of the experiment containers to return for analysis. These remained in Thermal Control Unit 1, the temperature of which was reduced to 2 deg C on 16 May. The other four experiment containers were removed.

The TripleLux-B experiment will be the next experiment after WAICO-2 and launched on ULF-5 (after the deferral of ULF-6) and be performed in the Biolab facility during Increment 25. 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 be launched on ULF-6 and executed during Expedition 26 in early 2011.

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
On 11 May the European Drawer Rack was activated. A lower than expected water flow measurement was indicated though this has no impact on activities and a procedural update is expected to resolve the issue. The facility was hereafter deactivated.

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. The European Drawer Rack currently houses ESA’s Kubik 6 incubator. The Kubik 3 incubator was moved from the Russian Zarya Module and installed in Columbus on 11 May by ISS Flight Engineer Timothy Creamer. Certain start up problems occurred but this is being sorted out by ground personnel whilst Kubik 3 is deactivated. The upcoming PADIAC experiment will use both the Kubik 6 incubator inside the European Drawer rack as well as the Kubik 3 incubator which will be connected to the rack. The Kubik incubators are transportable incubators which were designed in the frame of the ISS Soyuz missions for biology experiments processing. The goal of PADIAC is to determine the different pathways used for activation of T cells, which play an important role in the immune system.

In the future the European Drawer Rack will also host the FASTER (2011) and EML payloads (2012 onwards).

Fluid Science Laboratory and FASES/Geoflow-2 experiments
Additional measures are currently being worked on by ground control personnel in order to resolve removal of a tape drive from the Video Management Unit of the Fluid Science Laboratory. 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 basically concluded and final testing 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 Fluid Science Laboratory in the two weeks until 21 May 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.

The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment is progressing well during its time on orbit, with the instrument constantly acquiring data. On 18 May ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson deinstalled the different passive detector packs located around the European laboratory for return on STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis, which docked with the ISS on 16 May and is due to undock on 23 May. The active DOSTEL detector continues to take measurements. The DOSIS experiment determines 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' has been undertaken on Columbus to measure the spatial radiation gradients inside the module. DOSIS will continue to record the radiation environment in the Columbus laboratory.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)
The refurbished ERNO-Box was installed at Columbus’ aft cone on 21 May by ISS Flight Engineer Timothy Creamer who switched on the equipment after making power and data connections. Hereafter Creamer installed the remaining AIS hardware and connected it up to the ERNO box (power/data) and the AIS antenna (RF). The ERNO box 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.

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 21 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.

Portable Pulmonary Function System
No activities were carried out using the Portable Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 21 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
The water pump servicing activity for the European Modular Cultivation System was successfully performed on 14 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 take place in the European Modular Cultivation System. This experiment, which is now scheduled to be launched on the next Soyuz flight in June, 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. ESA’s Gravi-2 experiment is planned to follow towards the end of 2010 before a further NASA experiment, SeedGrowth.

Microgravity Science Glovebox and SODI experiments
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 a Progress flight in August.

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 resumption until 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.

Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES)
Some equipment for the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) was relocated from Columbus to the Pressurised Logistics Module of the Japanese laboratory on 14 May to make room for payload operations in connection with the STS-132 mission, which launched the same day. The ESA-developed 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.

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

A new Sun visibility window for the SOLAR facility to gather scientific data opened on 10 May. The facility was taken temporarily out of Sun Pointing Mode and placed in a safe configuration on 12 May for the relocation of Soyuz 21S and on 16 May for docking of STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis. The facility was still in Sun Pointing Mode on 21 May though the Sun visibility window was due to close the following day.

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 the Material Science Laboratory in the two weeks until 21 May. 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, which has been located in the Japanese Kibo laboratory since 4 May, is again continuously acquiring data about the radiation environment inside the ISS. The accumulated radiation levels will be measured using the passive radiation dosimeters (including PADLES type from JAXA) recently installed inside the Matroshka Phantom, which simulates a human body (head and torso). Relevant implementation agreements with JAXA have been finalised and negotiations with Roscosmos are now complete. Matroshka was relocated to the Kibo laboratory where the joint long-duration experiment run will be 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 in the future. 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, has been in operation and acquiring scientific data in the two weeks until 21 May. A tentative return of the sample trays is foreseen for autumn 2010 which allows for 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 Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Timothy Creamer finished off a week-long session of the NASA Sleep experiment on 9 May. Data from the experiment was downloaded to the Human Research Facility laptop.

Human Research Facility 2
No activities were carried out using Human Research Facility 2 in the two weeks until 21 May.

ISS general system information and activities *

European Robotic Arm
Major elements of ESA’s European Robotic Arm (ERA) were delivered on STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis, which arrived at the ISS on 16 May. This includes a spare elbow joint and two attached limb sections of ERA. These were transported to the ISS in the Shuttle’s cargo bay attached to the new Russian Mini Research Module 1, which will also act as a base point for ERA operations.

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. In addition thermal control system coolant samples and air samples were taken in the Columbus laboratory for analysis.

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 T2/COLBERT treadmill was activated and checked out on 10 May by Tracy Caldwell-Dyson. The following day the treadmill became part of the crew’s daily exercise routine.


  • 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 include:

    • Water Recovery System rack 1: Water Processor Assembly
      Samples from the Water Processor Assembly were taken in the two weeks until 21 May and analysed on board using the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer in Node 3 as well as using a Water Microbiology Kit, and a Coliform Detection Bag for detection of bacterial levels. Microbiology analysis of the samples was also undertaken two days later and the samples were ok. A circuit breaker reset also solved the problem of the Potable Water dispenser, which had stopped dispensing hot water.


    • Water Recovery System rack 2: Urine Processor Assembly
      The Recycle Filter Tank Assembly which filters pre-treated urine for processing into water was again replaced on 12 May by Tracy Caldwell-Dyson.


    • Atmosphere Revitalisation System
      ISS Flight Engineers and NASA astronauts Tracy Caldwell-Dyson Timothy Creamer installed a new Desiccant/Sorbent Bed into the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly of the Atmosphere Revitalisation System rack in Node 3.


    • Waste and Hygiene Compartment
      An expired Activated Carbon/Ion Exchange filter cartridge was replaced in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment in Node 3 as was its Pretreat Tank. Caldwell-Dyson also configured the waste and Hygiene Compartment on 12 May to work with the Urine Processor Assembly.


  • Coolant Samples
    ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson took coolant samples from Node 3’s Internal Thermal Control System for return to ground for analysis.

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.

For MELFI 1, ISS Flight Engineer and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi stowed 12 sample fixation tubes into the freezer on 17 May for JAXA’s Hydro Tropi experiment. This experiment will look into root growth in cucumber seedlings. For MELFI 2 Timothy Creamer installed samples from the Canadian Space Agency’s Advanced Plant Experiments on Orbit-Cambium experiment into the freezer on 11 May. On 16 and 20 May Noguchi also placed samples for JAXA’s Fish Scales experiment into MELFI 2. This experiment relates to bone formation processes.

Progress M-04M/36P Spacecraft Undocking
Following standard pre-undocking procedures, Progress M-04M/36P undocked from the aft port of the Russian Service Module on 10 May at 13:16 CEST. The spacecraft will carry out a planned destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean following an additional 8 weeks in orbit on an autonomous mission.

Soyuz TMA-17 Relocation
Following a test thruster firing on 10 May carried out by ISS Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, on 12 May, Soyuz TMA-17/21S was relocated from the Earth-facing docking port of the Russian Zarya Module to the aft port of the Russian Service Module where Progress 36P had been docked. Kotov, Noguchi and Creamer, dressed in their Sokol spacesuits, were the Soyuz crew during relocation which took about 27 minutes. This relocation left the Earth-facing docking port of Zarya free for the installation of the Russian Mini-Research Module 1 during the STS-132 mission. Standard procedures were undertaken before and after the Soyuz relocation including removal/installation of stabilising clamps where the Soyuz is docked, closure/opening of relevant hatches and standard leak checks.

Airlock Activities
Numerous activities took place in the US Airlock in preparation for the STS-132/ULF-4 mission and associated spacewalks. This included configuring and preparing EVA tools and systems; clearing out non-essential hardware; preparing EVA suits (water tank maintenance and scrubbing the cooling loop of particulate matter); and checking out Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue (SAFER) units, propulsive units for use during EVAs in the unlikely event that an astronaut becomes untethered from the ISS.

STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis Mission


  • Launch
    STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis launched successfully on its 32nd and last scheduled mission from the Kennedy Space Center at 20:20 (CEST), 14:20 local time on 14 May on the 13-day ISS 19A mission. Atlantis was transporting the Russian “Rassvet” Mini Research Module 1 plus additional cargo on an Integrated Cargo Carrier inside the Shuttle’s cargo bay. Discovery has a six-person crew, which includes Shuttle Commander Ken Ham, Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen and Piers Sellers, all representing NASA.


  • Shuttle R-bar Pitch Manoeuvre
    On 16 May, during the R-bar Pitch Manoeuvre of Shuttle Atlantis prior to docking, ISS Commander Oleg Kotov and ISS Flight Engineers Timothy Creamer and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson took high resolution digital photos with 400mm and 800mm lenses. During the manoeuvre at a distance of about 180 m from the Station, the photographers had around 90 seconds to take images of all thermal protection tile areas and door seals on the Shuttle, which were downlinked for launch debris assessment.


  • Shuttle Docking
    After successfully completing the R-Bar Pitch Manoeuvre, Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 on 16 May at 16:28 (CEST). Before the docking, final communications configuration checks and configuration of the Russian Motion Control System for Shuttle arrival were performed. The Station now hosts twelve occupants.


  • Post-docking procedures
    After the docking, the Station was reoriented in order to minimize the risk of debris impacts upon the Shuttle. Following relevant leak checks of the docking vestibule, hatches were opened and the traditional crew welcome ceremony took place, followed by the safety briefing for the new arrivals. After hatch opening, ventilation ducting was installed between the ISS and the Shuttle, communications/data configuration occurred to account for the Shuttle docked to the Station, and the lines were set up for transferring oxygen to the ISS in connection with the Shuttle mission spacewalks.


  • Integrated Cargo Carrier Relocation
    Following docking on 16 May Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Piers Sellers used the Station’s principal robotic arm to relocate the Integrated Cargo Carrier in the Shuttle cargo bay to payload accommodation on the Mobile Transporter on the Station’s truss.


  • Spacewalk 1 (Reisman, Bowen)
    The first 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 bodies. The Mobile Transporter and ISS robotic arm were also relocated during the night to be in the correct location for the EVA activities. Spacewalk 1 was carried out by Garrett Reisman and Steve Bowen starting at 13:54 CEST on 17 May. During the 7 hr 25 minutes EVA the astronauts: installed a dish and boom and connected power and data cables for a Ku-band Space-to-Ground Antenna on the Z1 truss; installed an enhanced Orbital Replacement Unit Temporary Platform on the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator; and made preparations on the Integrated Cargo Carrier (relocated from the Shuttle’s cargo bay the previous day) for replacing batteries on the Stations P6 truss section. Caldwell-Dyson and Sellers were the Station robotic arm operators supporting the EVA astronauts during the spacewalk.


  • Mini Research Module 1 Installation
    On 18 May the new Russian “Rassvet” Mini Research Module 1 was attached to the ISS. The module was removed from the Shuttle cargo bay by Ham and Antonelli using the Shuttle’s robotic arm. The module was then handed over to the Station’s robotic arm, which was being operated by Sellers and Reisman. The astronauts then moved Rassvet to the Earth-facing docking port of the Russian Zarya module where it was eventually docked. ISS Commander Oleg Kotov monitored the robotic procedures from the European-built Cupola Observation Module. Rassvet, which means dawn in Russian, is principally a cargo storage module and contains a port for docking of Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. The 5-tonne module is 6 metres long and carried about 3 tonnes of cargo during transport to the ISS, which included a spare elbow and limb elements for ESA’s European Robotic Arm or ERA which is due for launch in just over 1½ years time.


  • Spacewalk 2 (Bowen, Good)
    The second 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 bodies. The Mobile Transporter and ISS robotic arm were also relocated during the night to be in the correct location for the EVA 2 activities. Spacewalk 1 was carried out by Steve Bowen and Michael Good starting at 12:38 CEST on 19 May. During the 7 hr 9 minutes EVA the astronauts: cleared a snagged cable on a sensor for the Shuttles robotic arm extension; prepared the worksite on the P6 truss section before replacing four batteries (the old batteries were relocated to the new Integrated Cargo Carrier); and removed a temporary tether and gimbal locks from the Ku-band antenna dish and boom, installed during the first spacewalk, to allow it to rotate. Reisman and Sellers were the robotic arm operators supporting the EVA astronauts during the spacewalk.


  • Mini Research Module 1 Activation and Ingress
    The new Russian “Rassvet” Mini Research Module 1, attached to the Earth-facing port of the Russian ISS Zarya module was entered for the first time on 20 May by ISS commander Oleg Kotov and ISS Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov. After configuring communications between the new module and Zarya, a one-hour leak check was performed between the two modules before the hatches were opened and air sampling took place followed by several hours of air scrubbing. After the cosmonauts finally entered the new module, the standard Russian docking mechanism was uninstalled.


  • Spacewalk 3 (Reisman, Good)
    The third 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 bodies. Spacewalk 3 was carried out by Garrett Reisman and Michael Good starting at 12:27 CEST on 21 May. During the 6 hr 46 minutes EVA the astronauts: installed an ammonia line between the P4 and P5 truss sections; installeed the two remaining new batteries on the P6 truss section and stored the two old batteries on the new Integrated Cargo Carrier; removed a Power and Data Grapple Fixture (to be a grapple point for the Station’s robotic arm) from the Shuttle cargo bay and placed it inside the airlock for installation outside the ISS Zarya Module during a future spacewalk; removed and reinstalled a Radiator Grapple Fixture Stowage Beam on the P1 truss section; and completed a couple of minor get-ahead tasks. Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Piers Sellers were the robotic arm operators supporting the EVA astronauts during the spacewalk from the European-built Cupola Observation Module.

Orthostatic hemodynamic endurance tests
On 11, 17 and 21 May Oleg Kotov carried out training sessions of medical operation procedures, once using the TVIS treadmill and twice using the VELO ergometer respectively and all three times whilst wearing the Russian ‘Chibis’ lower body negative pressure suit. He was assisted by Kornienko during the activities. The Chibis suit, which provides stress that simulates gravity to the body’s cardiovascular/circulatory system, helps to prepare and evaluate how the Russian crewmember would cope with exposure to gravity on return to Earth.

Orbital debris
Orbital debris was being monitored from the ground from 14 May though by the following day it was determined that no debris avoidance manoeuvres were necessary by the ISS.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place in the two-week period until 21 May include: replacing a nitrogen purge unit in the Russian Elektron O2 generator; replacing a multifiltration unit in a Russian condensate processor; and repairing a number of Russian gas masks.

(*)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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