ESA title
Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report # 75, Increment 24

27/08/2010 285 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

This is ISS status report #75 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.

Good news: With Loop A of the ISS External Thermal Control System again reactivated and working normally science activities for all International ISS partners have been returning to normal levels in the two week period until 27 August. (see ‘ISS general system information and activities’ below).

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 and Japanese Kibo 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
The Biolab Handle Mechanism syringe was moved into the Biolab facility’s Automatic Ambient Stowage by ground commanding on 20 August. The Handling Mechanism is the key element to Biolab's automation, serving as the interface between the samples in the Experiment Containers and the analysis Instruments and automatic stowage. On 27 August Biolab was again activated for transfer of application software files from the facility’s Mass Memory Unit to Biolab’s Rack Interface Computer followed by an update of the application software. Biolab is a facility designed to support biological experiments on micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants and small invertebrates. The Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots (WAICO) experiment was the very first experiment to take place in Biolab following the Columbus launch and part 2 of the experiment has been concluded recently. WAICO 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 four WAICO-2 experiment containers returned to earth on 26 May with STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis are undergoing analysis at the science team’s laboratory.

Due to the still ongoing functional recovery activities for the Biolab facility the TripleLux experiment sequence has been updated and TripleLux-B will be deferred from the ULF-5 flight to a later time, tentatively in 2011. Therefore TripleLux-A (requiring samples’ download) will be the next experiment after WAICO- 2 and tentatively be launched on Shuttle Flight ULF-6, being performed in the Biolab facility during Increment 26. 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.

European Drawer Rack, Kubik Incubators and ERB-2
The PADIAC (PAthway DIfferent Activators) experiment will be uploaded on Soyuz flight 24S in September. PADIAC requires both the Kubik-6 incubator inside the European Drawer Rack as well as the Kubik-3 incubator which will be located in the Columbus centre aisle and connected to the European Drawer Rack. The Kubik incubators are transportable incubators with centrifuge accommodations 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. 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 was activated on 24 August in support of operations for the Erasmus Recording Binocular 2 (ERB-2). ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson powered up the ERB-2, and three files were downloaded to the European Drawer Rack’s Video Management Unit: two files from commissioning day 1 activities, one reference video. The files were then downlinked to ground before a ground commanded shut down of ERB-2 was carried out. ERB-2 is a high definition 3D video camera conceived by the Erasmus Centre of ESA’s Human Spaceflight Directorate and takes advantage of high-definition optics and advanced electronics to provide a vastly improved 3D video effect for mapping the Station.

In the future the European Drawer Rack will also host the Facility for Absorption and Surface Tension (FASTER) in 2011 and the Electro-Magnetic Levitator payload from 2012 onwards. FASTER is a Capillarity Pressure Tensiometer developed for the study of the links between emulsion stability and physico-chemical characteristics of droplet interfaces. The Electro-Magnetic Levitator will investigate properties of metal alloys under weightlessness, supporting basic and industrial research.

Fluid Science Laboratory and FASES/Geoflow-2 experiments
The Video Management Unit of ESA’s Fluid Science Laboratory was successfully swapped back to its previous configuration on 23, 24 August. ISS Flight Engineer Doug Wheelock swapped out the two hard disks and Digital Line Tape recorder for the older versions. A ground-controlled check out of the Video Management Unit on 25 August found most of the functionality to be normal.

The Flight Acceptance Review for the Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability (FASES) experiment and the Experiment Sequence Test in the associated User Support and Operations Centre MARS in Naples have been completed. However, due to the upgrade constraints of the Video Management Unit of the Fluid Science Laboratory, the flight of the Experiment Container will now be rescheduled for transportation to the ISS from Progress flight 39P in September to a later Progress flight in 2011. This experiment will be studying emulsion properties with advanced optical diagnostics. Results of the FASES experiment hold significance for oil extraction processes, and in the chemical and food industries.

The hardware modifications for the implementation of the GeoFlow-2 experiment are concluded and the bench review for the launch on ATV-2 at the end of 2010 has been successfully performed.

European Physiology Modules and Experiments
The European Physiology Modules facility was activated for downlinking data from the DOSIS experiment on 25 August. 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.

During the execution of the experiment session by Shannon Walker the activities had to be interrupted and have been deferred as the blood pressure device could not be started during the planned experiment session. The CARD experiment examines increased cardiac output and lowers blood pressure (caused by dilated arteries) in the face of increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system (which normally constricts arteries) in weightlessness.

Food containers for the Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment were transferred from the Russian “Poisk” Mini Research Module 2 to Node 1 on 26 August in preparation for the SOLO experiment with ISS Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker starting on Sunday 29 August. ESA’s SOLO experiment is carrying out research into salt retention in space and related physiological effects.

The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment is progressing well during its time on orbit, with the instrument again acquiring data using the active DOSTEL detector in the European Physiology Modules since 17 August after successful reactivation of Loop A of the External Thermal Control System. The passive detectors for DOSIS that were deinstalled and returned to earth on STS-132 Shuttle Atlantis are currently undergoing scientific analyses. 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.

Vessel Identification System (VIS)
Following reactivation, the Vessel Identification System (commonly known as Automatic Identification System, AIS) on is working extremely well and continuing to acquire data. The data telemetry is received by the Norwegian User Support and Operation Centre (N-USOC) in Trondheim via ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Germany.

The system currently consists of the NORAIS receiver as well as the ERNO-Box, which is used as a data relay for the Vessel Identification System, whose antenna was installed on the outside of Columbus during an EVA on 21 November 2009. The Vessel Identification System is testing the means to track global maritime traffic from space by picking up signals from standard AIS transponders carried by all international ships over 300 tonnes, cargo vessels over 500 tonnes and all types of passenger carriers. More than 90,000 messages were received from ships during the first 14 hours of operation.

Pulmonary Function System (in Human Research Facility 2)
No activities were carried out using the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks until 27 August. 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.

European Modular Cultivation System
Following the successful conclusion of ESA’s Genara-A experiment on 23 July, no activities have taken place in the European Modular Cultivation System in the two weeks until 27 August. The culture chambers for Genara-A are currently located in the European-built MELFI-2 freezer until their return by Shuttle on ULF-5. Genara-A is studying 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 in April 2011 before a further NASA experiment, SeedGrowth.

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.

Microgravity Science Glovebox, SODI and additional experiments
The Columbus Control Centre supported activities inside the ESA-built Microgravity Science Glovebox from 23-27 August. Sessions of NASA’s Smoke and Aerosol Measurement Experiment (SAME) experiment were carried out by ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker including swapping out of samples three times. The experiment is determining smoke properties, or particle size distribution from spacecraft fires to support/improve requirements and capabilities for smoke detection in space.

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 performed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox was IVIDIL (Influence of Vibrations on Diffusion in Liquids), which was successfully completed on 20 January. Now the Colloid experiment will follow, which covers the study on growth and properties of advanced photonic materials within colloidal solutions. The focus is on materials that have a special interest in photonics, with emphasis on nano-structured, periodic dielectric materials, known as photonic crystals, which possess appealing properties and make them promising candidates for new types of optical components. 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 39P in September.

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 which is now tentatively foreseen around mid 2011. 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 rescheduling of the experiment series.

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)
No activities were carried out using the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) in the two weeks until 27 August. 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. In near future MARES will be placed from its launch to its in- orbit configuration to carry out an electrical check out of the system (i.e. with no functional testing). Once complete the system will be placed in its in-orbit stowage configuration. In the future this will be followed up by functional testing of MARES in two parts: the first part (during Expedition 26) without a crew member using the system, the second functional testing (during Expedition 27/28) with a crew member using the system. These two commissioning parts will include testing of hardware and software as well as testing downlink capabilities.

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

In the past two weeks the SOLAR facility has been in survival mode awaiting the opening of the next Sun visibility window for the facility to gather scientific data. (Sun visibility windows for SOLAR are open when the ISS is in the correct orbital profile with relation to the Sun). 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 2013 and possibly beyond.

European science inside the US Destiny Laboratory

Material Science Laboratory in the Material Science Research Rack
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. Seven more sample cartridges were launched on 16 November 2009 with STS-129/ULF-3. Twelve of the CETSOL/MICAST experiment samples have been processed to date with the processed samples currently being analysed by the relevant science teams on ground.

Together with NASA a joint Material Science Laboratory/Materials Science Research Rack operations technical interface meeting has been performed at the Microgravity User Support Centre (MUSC), ESA’s Facility Responsible Centre for the Materials Science Laboratory. This meeting comprised operations, engineering, science, and agency representatives. The smooth and highly successful Material Science Laboratory experimentation has been highlighted and the scientists presented very promising preliminary scientific results stemming from analysis of the first samples. This constitutes an excellent basis for further materials research with international collaboration.

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.

Portable Pulmonary Function System
On 20 and 24 August sessions of ESA’s Thermolab experiment in conjunction with the NASA’s Maximum Volume Oxygen (VO2 Max) were carried out by ISS Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson. 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 science inside the Japanese Kibo Laboratory

ESA’s Matroshka payload, which has been located in the Japanese Kibo laboratory since 4 May, is continuously acquiring data about the radiation environment inside the ISS. The accumulated radiation levels are being measured using the passive radiation dosimeters (including PADLES type from JAXA) which were installed inside the Matroshka Phantom, which simulates a human body (head and torso). Following agreements with JAXA and Roscosmos, 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.

European science inside the Russian ISS Segment

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

Accumulated science data for the Expose-R payload was copied onto a memory card by ISS Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin on 20 August for return to ground. The Expose-R facility, which was installed outside the Zvezda Service Module during the Russian- based spacewalk on 10 March 2009, is functioning well and acquiring scientific data in the two weeks until 27 August. A tentative return of the sample trays is foreseen for November 2010 which allows for a scientifically beneficial extension of the open space exposure period.

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
During the two-week period until 27 August activities were carried out using NASA’s Human Research Facility 1 with the support of ESA’s Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. ISS Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell-Dyson, Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker all carried out another week-long session of NASA’s Sleep experiment from 17-23 August during which data was transferred to the Human Research Facility laptop from the Actiwatches they were wearing to monitor sleep patterns and light exposure levels. On 23 August Tracy Caldwell-Dyson undertook an ultrasound eye scan with the assistance of ISS Flight Engineer Shannon Walker.

On 24 August Walker was assisted by Doug Wheelock in carrying out a resting echo scan as part of NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment, also supported by the Columbus Control Centre. On 27 August Walker completed an Ambulatory Monitoring session as part of the same experiment, which included 24-hr blood pressure measurement using ESA’s Cardiopres device, 48-hr ECG measurement with a holter device and 48-hr activity measurements using two Actiwatches. The aim of the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment is to determine the degree, development and clinical significance of cardiac atrophy and identify its mechanisms.

Human Research Facility 2
On 22, 23, and 24 August ISS Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell-Dyson, Shannon Walker and Doug Wheelock all respectively carried out blood draw activities for NASA’s Nutrition/Repository/Pro K protocols. On 25, 26 August Caldwell-Dyson also carried out blood draws in connection with the Canadian Space Agency’s Vascular experiment which is investigating the impact of space flight on blood vessels. All the samples were spun in the Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research facility 2 before being placed in one of the European-built MELFI freezers. Activities were supported by the Columbus Control Centre.

ISS general system information and activities *

Columbus laboratory and Columbus Control Centre
In addition to the Columbus experiment facilities mentioned above, the Columbus systems have been working well. Some regular maintenance activities have been executed by the crew and the Flight Control Team on top of the regular conferences of the ISS Crew with the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Main points of interest are as follows:


  • Power Configuration
    With the ISS External Thermal Control System Loop A back on line as of the 17 August, the Columbus laboratory has returned to normal power configuration for its systems and facilities. On 19 August, Power Distribution Unit 1 had been powered up by the ground, and on the station ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock activated Portable Workstation 1 in Columbus.


  • Internal Thermal Control System
    On 19 August Roscosmos cosmonaut and ISS Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin installed a sample adapter for the Internal Thermal Control System in the Columbus laboratory for taking a sample of the coolant and antimicrobial agent inside. He had also taken coolant samples from inside the European-built Node 2 to test for ammonia contamination following the reactivation of Loop A of the External Thermal Control System.


  • Ammonia Leak Training
    The crew took part in an on-board training session on 26 August to determine response to an ammonia leak in the Columbus laboratory.

Activities in the European-built Node 3


  • Internal thermal Control System
    On 20 August Fyodor Yurchikhin collected Internal Thermal Control System coolant, antimicrobial agent samples from Node 3 (and the US Laboratory) to test for ammonia contamination following the reactivation of Loop A of the External Thermal Control System.


  • Exercise Equipment
    In addition to regular use, inspection and servicing of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), ISS Flight Engineers and NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker replaced ARED’s exercise rope on 24 August. Two days later ISS Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson replaced the 120 volt DC power supply for the laptop connected to ARED to support troubleshooting of ARED’s display.


  • 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 include:

    • Oxygen Generation System:
      On 18 August, prior to its activation, quick disconnects for the new hydrogen sensor of the Oxygen Generation System rack were hooked up.

Minus-Eighty degree 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. Related to the recent system power downs in the latest two week period, MELFI sample trays were left to dry out before being inserted into the MELF 1 and MELFI 3 freezers. Activities were carried out by ISS Flight Engineer and Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and ISS Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell-Dyson.

Samples were also placed in the MELFI freezers related to NASA’s Nutrition/Repository/Pro K protocols (blood), the Canadian Space Agency’s Vascular experiment (blood) as well as for the generic Human Research Facility urine sampling protocol (urine).

External Thermal Control System Pump Reactivation


  • EVA Preparations
    In addition to relevant EVA procedure reviews involving specialists on ground, the airlock and the EVA suits were prepared on 14/15 August (including installation of regenerated carbon dioxide removal canisters and EVA batteries), along with preparing and configuring EVA tools and tethers. On 15 August the EVA astronauts (Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson) were sealed in the airlock for the evening at a reduced pressure and pre- breathing pure oxygen as a standard procedure to remove nitrogen from their bodies prior to a spacewalk.


  • EVA 3
    The third and final EVA related to the External Thermal Control System Pump Module replacement started at 12:20 CEST on 16 August from the US Airlock and lasted 7 hours 20 min. The spare ammonia pump was successfully installed and associated fluid connections were mated and opened. The EVA astronauts carried out additional tasks during the spacewalk including: re-coupling the starboard and port Crew and Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) carts on the Station’s truss; cleaning up a spare CETA cart and configuring a CETA cart for future operations; cleaning up the Station’s principal robotic arm by removing a foot restraint; installing an extension cable for the arrival (and attachment) of the Permanent Multi-Purpose Module on the ULF-5 Shuttle flight in November; and cleaning up tethers on the S1 truss section. During the EVA Wheelock and Caldwell-Dyson were supported by Shannon Walker and ISS Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov as robotic arm operators (flying Wheelock on the arm).


  • Post EVA procedures
    Standard procedures were undertaken after the EVA including EVA suit inspection, discharging batteries used in the EVA suits, degassing the EVA water supplies, and refilling the EVA suits with water.


  • Reactivation of External Thermal Control System Loop A
    Following the activities of EVA 3, the business of reactivating Loop A of the External Thermal Control System started. On 17 August two DC-to-DC Converter Units were shut down, which power Control Moment Gyroscope 1 (one of the gyroscopes involved with controlling Station orientation), Loop A of the External Thermal Control System (which was to be reactivated) and additional electrical loads. Once this was carried out a contingency power line (installed following the ammonia pump failure) was removed by Shannon Walker. Once this was complete ground controlled reactivation of DC-to-DC Converter Units was carried out which powered up Loop A of the External Thermal Control System, Control Moment Gyroscopes 1 and 4, and core equipment in ESA’s Columbus laboratory and the Japanese laboratory. Walker also returned the oxygen system of the Atmospheric Control System to its pre-failure configuration. With these activities complete, the External Thermal Control System is again back in full operation.

ISS Reboost
The ISS was reboosted to a higher orbiting altitude on 19 August. The reboost, which lasted just over 11 minutes was carried out by Progress 38P rendezvous and docking thrusters and increased ISS altitude by 2.3 km. The reboost was undertaken in connection with phasing for Progress 39P docking on 10 September and Soyuz 22S undocking on 24 September.

Progress Fluid/Gas Transfers
With respect to the Progress 38P spacecraft docked at the aft port of the Russian Service Module, propellant and oxidizer were transferred from the Progress spacecraft to the Russian Zarya module on 19 August. Kornienko also carried out transfer of urine from eight containers into empty storage tanks of Progress 38P before flushing the lines with disinfectant. On 20 and 26 August nitrogen and oxygen supplies of Progress 38P were used to respectively repressurise/refresh ISS cabin atmosphere.

With respect to the Progress 38P spacecraft docked at the nadir port of the Pirs Docking Compartment, ISS Commander Alexander Skvortsov, transferred water from the Progress spacecraft tanks to Service Module containers on 25 August.

Russian TVIS treadmill
On 26 and 27 August ISS Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko and ISS Commander Alexander Skvortsov carried out major maintenance activities to repair the running belt of the TVIS treadmill in the Russian Service Module, which was buckling and emitting unexpected noises. During first day maintenance activities the TVIS Control Panel was replaced and it was discovered that the buckling and unexpected noises were due to a small bolt found under a raised belt slat. This changed proposed maintenance activities and the following day the cosmonauts inspected the drums of the exercise device (for missing bolts), checked the fabric of the running belt, tightened the running belt screws and inspected the roller bearings for damage.

Command and Control Transition/MAXI Payload
A transition of Command and Control computers from primary to standby was conducted on 23 August in order to regain command capability for the Japanese ‘Monitor of All-sky X-Ray Image’ (MAXI) payload mounted outside the Japanese laboratory. This was successful and data from MAXI is now being received at JAXA ground control. MAXI is an external payload on the Kibo exposed facility that monitors the X-ray variability once every 96 minutes for more than 1,000 X-ray sources covering the entire sky on time scales from a day to a few months.

New Air Quality Monitor
Following about 100 runs with the previous Air Quality Monitor, ISS Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson carried additional sessions with the new Air Quality Monitor in the two-week period until 27 August. This device is being used for identifying volatile organic compounds in the ISS cabin atmosphere. This new technology is being evaluated over a period of several months.

Other Activities
Other activities that have taken place in the two-week period until 27 August include: swapping two laptops in the Japanese laboratory; undertaking a test of the TORU manual docking system in preparation for the upcoming docking of Progress 39P; servicing of the Space Acceleration Measurement System in EXPRESS Rack 1 in the US Laboratory; and a test and check out of the external Klest video camera installed during the EVA on 27 July.

(*)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.

Fill in your name and email address below to receive a notification when the latest status report is made available online.

Related Links