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Science & Exploration

ESA ISS Science & System - Operations Status Report
Increment 18

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Columbus

21 November 2008

This is ISS status report No. 16 from the European Space Agency outlining ESA’s science related activities that have taken place on the ISS during the past week for different European experiments and experiment facilities, and additional information about European ISS systems and key ISS events for the time period. The report is compiled by ESA’s Human Spaceflight Coordination Office in cooperation with ESA’s Columbus and Payload Operations Management and Mission Science teams.

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 in the US Destiny laboratory and the Russian Segment of the ISS. 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 WAICO experiment
Following the successful testing of Biolab’s centrifuge B on 5 September, engineering experts are still assessing in further detail the results of the rotor A on-orbit in conjunction with forward checkout functional activities.

Further testing of Biolab’s two centrifuges, the automatic chemical fixation system and the atmosphere control system will be carried out in Increment 18 well before the actual execution of the second run of the Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots (WAICO) experiment. These final end-to-end performance verification tests will be carried out using the still empty WAICO-2 experiment containers, which will replace the remaining 4 WAICO-1 experiment containers removed by US astronaut Greg Chamitoff from centrifuge B on 29 October, and the Reference Containers on centrifuge A.

The second science run of the experiment WAICO is scheduled to start in Biolab during Increment 19 in spring 2009. The Experiment Containers have already been delivered for a launch on Progress flight 31P which is scheduled for 26 November 2008 and the science part with plant seeds will follow in conditioned state tentatively on Shuttle flight 2J/A in spring 2009.

Fluid Science Laboratory and Geoflow experiment
The Fluid Science Laboratory is ready to resume the Geoflow science runs in December after Shuttle STS-126 Endeavour undocking and Progress 31P docking. The Fluid Science Laboratory’s internal accelerometers took measurements of the microgravity levels in the facility during STS-126 docking on 16 November. Data has already been downloaded. The Fluid Science laboratory will take similar acceleration measurements during the upcoming Shuttle undocking and Progress 31P docking events in order to optimize the future operational scenario for FSL with integrated Experiment Containers..

The exhaustive Geoflow science programme of more than 100 runs of the experiment will continue throughout Increments 18, 19 into Increment 20, up to the tentative return of the experiment unit on the Shuttle flight 17A in August 2009.

The Geoflow experiment investigates the flow of a viscous incompressible fluid between two concentric spheres rotating around a common axis under the influence of a simulated central force field. This is of importance for astrophysical and geophysical problems, such as global scale flow in the atmosphere, the oceans, and in the liquid nucleus of planets.

European Drawer Rack including the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility
The European Drawer Rack houses the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility, which is an advanced ISS research payload for the investigation of problems of protein crystallisation in space. Its very sophisticated in-situ optical experiment diagnostics equipment will allow for precise in-situ monitoring of the organic protein crystals’ growth conditions.

After successful completion of the exhaustive science preparation programme on ground, the Processing Unit of the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility with a variety of different protein solutions will be flown in active mode (for continuous thermal conditioning of samples) to the ISS in the Shuttle middeck on flight 15A, which is due for launch in February 2009. The Protein experiment series will last 3-4 months comprising 3 crystallisation cycles. The final set of protein molecules will return to Earth for detailed lab analysis.

European Physiology Modules and NeuroSpat experiment
Final calibration of the Multi-Electrode Electroencephalogram Measurement Module (MEEMM) is scheduled to be carried out during Increment 18. This science module is a subsection of the European Physiology Modules facility and will be used for different types of non-invasive brain function investigations. It can also easily be reconfigured to support research in the field of muscle physiology.

NeuroSpat, the first experiment to use the European Physiology Modules facility will take place when the next European astronaut arrives on the Station. This will be Belgian ESA astronaut Frank De Winne. De Winne will be a subject in the NeuroSpat experiment as will Canadian Space Agency astronaut and fellow Expedition crew member Bob Thirsk. The two astronauts will assist each other with experiment procedures. NeuroSpat will investigate the ways in which crew members’ three-dimensional perception is affected by long-duration stays in weightlessness.

SOLO experiment
All samples for the Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment, which has been already complete for Greg Chamitoff as the first test subject with two scientific parts, are in the European-developed MELFI freezer awaiting download on the ULF-2 Shuttle flight in November. The SOLO experiment is carrying out research into salt retention in space and related human physiology effects. The experiment also used capabilities of the European Physiology Modules Facility.

3D-Space experiment
NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff has already successfully performed three experiment sessions of 3D-Space during Increment 17, the latest session being completed on 30 July. He is due to undertake a final 4th session on 23 November before his return on Shuttle flight STS-126 (ULF-2).

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.

Flywheel Exercise Device
The Flywheel Exercise Device will be removed from its on-orbit storage location in the European Transport Carrier of the Columbus Laboratory for deployment and first functional checkout after Shuttle flight 15A in early 2009. It was launched to the ISS in order to become an advanced exercise device for ISS astronauts and serving human physiology investigations in the area of countermeasures.

Pulmonary Function System in Human Research Facility 2
The Pulmonary Function System is accommodated in NASA Human Research Facility number 2, which was relocated from the US Destiny laboratory to the Columbus laboratory on 1 October. 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
This space biology facility, which was flown to the ISS in July 2006, is dedicated to biological experiments such as the effects of gravity on plant cells, roots and physiology. It was developed by ESA and has been operated for two years under a bilateral barter agreement with NASA. The on-orbit maintenance of the European Modular Cultivation System will be performed during Increment 18 in anticipation of the Genara experiment during Expedition 19/20. Genara is the next ESA experiment that will study plant (Arabidopsis) growth activity at a molecular level in weightlessness. This will help to find plant systems that compensate for the negative impact on plant growth in space.

Microgravity Science Glovebox
The Microgravity Science Glovebox was developed by ESA within a barter agreement with NASA. The facility 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. The Microgravity Science Glovebox will play an important role for ESA science during 2009 for the execution of the triple SODI experiment series.

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

European Technology Exposure Facility (EuTEF)
The EuTEF platform has been operated continuously with one experiment powered down having completed the first part of its science objectives. Following a period of intermittent science acquisition, and the safety-imposed disabling of PLEGPAY experiment 1 on 30 October, the facility was again permanently activated since 5 November and resumed full science operations. The facility had experience an occasional data link error during the week but was thereafter performing as normal.

EuTEF is a fully automated, multi-user payload facility mounted on the outside of the Columbus laboratory carrying a suite of experiments that require exposure to the open space environment. The experiments cover a variety of disciplines including material science, physics, astrobiology, astronomy and space technology.

The status of each individual experiment is as follows:

  • DEBIE-2: The ‘DEBris In orbit Evaluator’ is designed to be a standard in-situ space debris and micrometeoroid monitoring instrument. It has successfully performed 24-hour experiment runs during the week. This included experiment runs to record any debris impact that may have taken place related to clean-up activities of the starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joint on spacewalks 1 and 2. A software update is being prepared to increase the duration of the experiments.
  • DOSTEL: The DOSimetric radiation TELescope is a small radiation telescope. After reactivation on 5 November it has been continuously gathering scientific data on the radiation environment outside the ISS.
  • EuTEMP: This multi-input thermometer measured EuTEF temperatures during transfer to the outside of Columbus from the Shuttle cargo bay. It is currently inactive due to completion of the first part of its science objectives.
  • EVC: The Earth Viewing Camera is a fixed-pointed Earth-observation camera. It had been switched off as the temperature was too low for activation, though started picture taking on 20 November.
  • EXPOSE: This series of exobiology experiments is again continuing without interruption to acquire scientific data following reactivation on 5 November.
  • FIPEX: This sensor is helping to build up a picture of the atmospheric environment in low-Earth orbit by measuring atomic oxygen. Science acquisition will resume on completion of the STS-126/ULF-2 spacewalks.
  • MEDET: The Materials Exposure and Degradation ExperimenT (MEDET) is continuing to acquire continuous scientific data following reactivation on 5 November. Data from this experiment will help to evaluate the effects of open space on materials being considered for future use on spacecraft in low earth orbit.
  • PLEGPAY: The PLasma Electron Gun PAYload is the study of the interactions between spacecraft and the space environment in low earth orbit, with reference to electrostatic charging and discharging. PLEGPAY was activated and Experiment 1 was deleted on 30 October in resolution of the latest ISS safety concerns. Ground teams are now analysing the outcome of the full memory dump of the PLEGPAY instrument that was performed. PLEGPAY is currently shut down.
  • TRIBOLAB: This series of experiments covers research in tribology, i.e. the research of friction in mechanisms and lubrication thereof under long-term open space conditions. The Ball Bearing experiment number 4 had been ongoing following reactivation on 6 November, though it was switched off during the week in order to resolve an issue with the experiment motor.

A software enhancement has been finalised and successfully uploaded. This will allow for the acquisition of science data during shorter sun visibility cycles. The latest Sun observation window opened on 21 November and the facility is in Sun pointing mode. Of its individual instruments (SOVIM, SOLSPEC, SOLACES) SOLSPEC is acquiring data, SOLACES was ‘safed’ during 20 November spacewalk cleaning activities of the starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joint but was switched back on afterwards, and the SOVIM instrument is awaiting resolution a power/telemetry issue.

The SOLAR payload facility studies the Sun’s irradiation with unprecedented accuracy across most of its spectral range during a 2-year timeframe on-orbit.

MISSE-6A and -6B
The US materials exposure experiment is receiving power from Columbus and the experiments are continuing as planned. The Materials on the ISS Experiment (MISSE) is a US multi-investigator experiment provided by NASA but located on the outside of the Columbus laboratory. The two large MISSE-6 trays will be returned to Earth in the frame of the 17A Shuttle flight in August 2009. The experiment will evaluate the effect of the space environment on a large variety of exposed materials.

European science inside the US Destiny Laboratory

The Analyzing Interferometer for Ambient Air (ANITA) is deactivated and already packed for return to Earth on Shuttle flight ULF-2 in November 2008. Back on Earth ANITA will undergo a thorough inspection and post-flight calibration.

This instrument monitors low levels of potential contaminants in the ISS cabin atmosphere with a capability of simultaneously monitoring 32 different trace gases. The experiment tests the accuracy and reliability of this technology as a trace-gas monitoring system for the ISS and future spacecraft. ANITA is a cooperative investigation with NASA and has continuously served as an ISS operational device after its initial science commissioning/test phase in autumn 2007.

Three of the STS-126 crew are taking part in the Motion Perception (MOP) experiment, filling out daily questionnaires. The execution of this experiment by different human test subjects enhances the statistics of the ongoing series. After the flight, a reference test in a centrifuge will be performed at a later stage on ground. The objective of this experiment is to obtain an insight into this process and could help in developing countermeasures to space motion sickness.

Daily Muscle questionnaires are being filled in by six of the STS-126 Crew for the Muscle experiment. The execution of this experiment by different human test subjects enhances the statistics of the ongoing series. The objective of this experiment is to assess the occurrence and characteristics of back pain in weightlessness. The results will be correlated to data related to back pain and atrophy obtained in ground-based studies. It is thought that the deep muscle corset atrophies during spaceflight leading to strain and hence pain in certain ligaments, in particular in the iliolumbar region in the back. The deep muscle corset plays an important role in posture when in the upright position.

European science inside the Russian ISS Segment

The final runs of the Nitric Oxide Analyser (NOA) experiments were performed by the Russian crew during Increment 17 and herewith the whole experiment series has been successfully concluded. The NOA-1 experiment tests the levels of expired nitric oxide in ISS crew members. Increased levels of expired nitric oxide are an early and accurate sign of airway inflammation especially in asthma, but also in occupational dust inhalation. This is important in weightlessness since dust does not settle. NOA-2 is a similar experiment but the procedures are undertaken by astronauts pre- and post-EVA, where the levels of nitric oxide are used to determine the presence, or not, of symptoms of decompression sickness as seen, for example, in scuba divers, i.e. heightened nitric oxide levels.

This long-term experiment is continuing to monitor radiation measurements in different locations on the ISS.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov removed 32 passive dosimeters from the Matroshka Phantom in Zvezda on 19 November for subsequent return on Shuttle flight STS-126 (ULF-2) for detailed evaluation on Earth. The Matroshka experiments consist of a simulated human body (head and torso) called the Phantom equipped with several active and passive radiation dosimeters. The following day Lonchakov deactivated Matroshka’s AST Spectrometer. The Matroshka-2B experiment had been measuring for about one year the cumulative radiation dose experienced by crew members inside the ISS. The phantom will be tentatively re-located during Increment 18 to the Japanese Kibo laboratory (pending some technical feasibility assessments conclusion and agreements with JAXA) and equipped with a set of new passive dosimeters. In the long-term Matroshka may be accommodated again on an external ISS platform to measure cosmic radiation levels which are of relevance for EVA activities.

GTS-2 (Global Transmission Service)
The Global Transmission Service (GTS) is continuously on since early 2008 and will tentatively continue until spring 2009.

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.

BIO-4 Experiment Package
This was the fourth in a series of small short-duration space biology experiments that started in 2005. Four new biology experiments were launched on Soyuz 17S from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on 12 October took place in three KUBIK incubators from ESA in the Russian Segment of the ISS. The experiments were processed between 3 and 8 days in space. Telemetry data from KUBIK Flight Models 1 and 3, which was received on ground on 29 October and is now under analysis from the payload development team.

The progress of each individual experiment was as follows:

  • BASE B and C
    The in-orbit activities for the Bacteria Adaptation to Space Environment (BASE) experiments are now complete. These experiments determine how several different bacterial species adapt to spaceflight conditions: weightlessness, cosmic radiation, electromagnetism etc., building on research from previous spaceflight experiments. Data from this study will be useful to determine if adaptation to spaceflight conditions may modify the ability of bacteria to deteriorate the spacecraft environment, act as pathogens or function in recycling systems.


    Chemically fixed samples for the ROALD experiment are currently in the MELFI freezer awaiting return to earth. ROALD stands for the ROle of Apoptosis in Lymphocyte Depression and aims to determine the roll that programmed cell death (apoptosis) plays in reduced immune response in weightlessness. Apoptosis is a normal function in human and animal cells and T-lymphocytes are a class of white blood cell important in immune response. Various aspects of the apoptotic process will be assessed using human T-lymphocytes.


    The in-orbit activities for the XENOPUS experiments are now complete. This experiment studies cellular modifications within the vestibulo-ocular system of a developing amphibian (Xenopus laevis) during adaptation to weightlessness. The vestibulo-ocular system is the system of the body responsible for maintaining balance. The main purpose of this project is to characterise the effect of weightlessness on development of this system in Xenopus laevis tadpoles at early and late development stages.

The processed samples for Xenopus and the BASE experiments were returned to Earth on flight 16S with the Expedition 17 Crew on 24 October and immediately transported back to the scientists. The ROALD samples will be returned on Shuttle flight STS-126 in November. The BIO missions on Soyuz sortie flights provide special short-duration mission opportunities in addition to the utilisation of ESA’s large biology facilities Biolab and EMCS in Columbus namely for complex long-duration biology experiments.

Columbus systems information

In addition to the Columbus experiment facilities mentioned above the Columbus systems continue to work extremely well. Columbus Video Camera Assembly 1 was relocated to Node 2 on 16 November to monitor transfer activities in the Node 2/MPLM area. This was placed back in Columbus following the first spacewalk of the STS-126/ULF-2 mission. The only other minor systems issues for Columbus include the need to upload and exchange a Condensate Water Separator Assembly Desiccant Module.

ISS general system information and activities *

Space Shuttle STS-126/ULF-2 launch, rendezvous and docking
Space Shuttle STS-126 Endeavour on ISS flight ULF-2 lifted off on 14 November from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 19:55 local time (01:55 CEST). Endeavour was transporting about 14½ tonnes of cargo, including equipment necessary to increase the crew size from three to six members next year. This includes new life support systems, additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and a resistance exercise device. Endeavour’s seven-member NASA crew consists of astronauts Chris Ferguson (Shuttle Commander), Eric Boe (Pilot), and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Robert Kimbrough, and Sandra Magnus. Magnus will remain on the Station replacing NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff as ISS Flight Engineer 2. Chamitoff will return on with STS-126.

On 15 November, in preparation for docking ISS Commander Mike Fincke supported the ground in pressurising and leak-checking Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 where the Shuttle will dock for ingress, hatch opening and cargo transfer. Chamitoff and Fincke photographed the Shuttle from a distance of ~180 m from the Station during its R-Bar Pitch Manoeuvre prior to docking. This resulted in ~300 pictures. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov handled a camcorder during the manoeuvre. No damage was detected to the Shuttle’s thermal protection tiles. Video coverage of the approach and docking was carried out with the Station’s robotic arm. Endeavour docked with the ISS at 23:01 (CEST) on 16 November.

Space Shuttle STS-126/ULF-2 initial post-docking activities
After docking, the station was reoriented to minimise the risk of debris impacts on the Shuttle. Standard one-hour leak checks were performed on the interhatch area, the Shuttle/ISS hatches were opened and the two crews greeted each other. Ventilation ducting was installed between the Station and the Shuttle. After the traditional welcome ceremony the new arrivals received the mandatory 25-min safety briefing.

Robotic arm activities – Orbiter Boom handover
On 16 November Fincke, Pettit, Boe and Kimbrough carried out robotic arm activities handing over the Orbiter Boom Sensor System from the Space Station robotic arm to the Shuttle robotic arm and then placing the Station robotic arm in the ‘parked’ position for MPLM viewing.

Multi-purpose Logistics Module docking to Node 2
The European-built Multi-purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) ‘Leonardo’ was transferred from the Shuttle cargo bay and attached to the nadir port of the European-built Node 2 on 17 November. This was carried out by NASA astronauts Don Pettit and Robert Kimbrough using the Station’s robotic arm. After the MPLM was securely mated to Node 2 the robotic arm was ungrappled from the MPLM. Following post-docking procedures including interhatch pressurisation and leak check, the hatches between the ISS and the MPLM were opened and the MPLM was configured for pressure, ventilation, lighting etc. and portable breathing and fire extinguisher apparatus was relocated there from the Japanese laboratory’s pressurised logistics module. The Centreline Berthing Camera System was set up in Node 2 before (and disassembled after) MPLM docking to assist with docking procedures.

STS-126 mission spacewalks

  • Spacewalk 1 preparations
    Following EVA preparations carried out by Fincke and Chamitoff in the Quest Airlock during the week, the two EVA astronauts for the first spacewalk (NASA astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Stephen Bowen) began their overnight “campout” in the airlock on 17 November to help remove nitrogen from the astronauts’ blood streams. The pressure is lowered in the airlock down to 10.2 psi during this time and the astronauts pre-breathe pure oxygen through masks. Following a hygiene break (in masks) the following morning the astronauts returned and were again sealed into the airlock at the lower pressure, donned their EVA suits with the assistance of Chamitoff and Ferguson and pre-breathed pure oxygen inside their suits. Stefanyshyn-Piper and Bowen were then sealed into the Crew Lock section of the airlock.


  • Spacewalk 1
    After depressurisation of the Crew Lock the external hatch was opened and the first STS-126 spacewalk started. Official start time of the spacewalk was 19:09 (CEST) 18 November. During the spacewalk the astronauts transferred an empty Nitrogen Tank Assembly from External Stowage Platform 3 to the Shuttle payload bay, transferred a spare Flex Hose Rotary Coupler from the payload bay to the same External Stowage Platform and removed five covers of the Japanese Exposed Facility Berthing Mechanism, which will have a check out on Flight Day 8. At the starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joint they replaced Trundle Bearing Assemblies, performed partial cleaning and lubrication tasks and removed a launch restraint. The final tasks performed were the closure of the Common Berthing Mechanism hatch cover on Node 2, where the Japanese laboratory’s Logistics Pressurised Module had been located, and retrieval of a large trash bag from the Port Tool Box. The spacewalk officially ended at 02:01 (CEST) on 19 November after the astronauts re-entered the airlock. During the EVA, a Crewlock Bag was inadvertently released from a larger Orbit Replaceable Unit bag and floated away as the crew was cleaning up grease from a leaking lubrication gun. The two spacewalkers shared the other set of cleaning/lubrication equipment for the remainder of the spacewalk. The impact of the lost tools is being assessed, though sufficient tools/spares are thought to be available. After repressurisation Stefanyshyn-Piper and Bowen were assisted by Chamitoff, Fincke and Ferguson in post-EVA procedures and setting up the airlock for spacewalk 2.


  • Spacewalk 2
    The spacewalking astronauts (Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Robert Kimbrough) followed similar overnight campout procedures as in spacewalk 1 prior to starting spacewalk 2 on 20 November. During the EVA the spacewalking astronauts relocated two Crew Equipment Translation Aid Carts from the starboard side of the Mobile Transporter on the Station’s truss to the port side with the support of the Station’s robotic arm in preparation for installation of the S6 truss section with solar arrays on Flight 15A; lubricated the snares of the robotic arm’s Latching End Effector A in preparation for grappling the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle on its maiden mission in 2009; and undertook cleaning activities and replaced Trundle Bearing Assemblies at the starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. The 6h 45min spacewalk started at 16:58 (CEST) and finished early the following morning. After repressurisation Stefanyshyn-Piper and Kimbrough were assisted by Chamitoff, Fincke and Ferguson in post-EVA procedures and setting up the airlock for spacewalk 3.

Japanese Robotic Arm/Exposed Facility Berthing Mechanism activities
Sandra Magnus set up the Japanese Robotic Arm in the Kibo laboratory in support of the first spacewalk on 18 November, working with the Tsukuba Mission Control Centre in Japan. For this exercise she had to activate the arm’s laptop and software, which displays telemetry data from the Shuttle, Station and Japanese robotic arms; activate the Japanese robotic arm, cameras and monitors; and manoeuvre the robotic arm to its start position for Japanese Exposed Facility Berthing Mechanism monitoring during the first spacewalk.

Following preparatory activities in the Japanese laboratory on 20 November, Magnus supported Fincke in the checkout of the Japanese Exposed Facility Berthing Mechanism using the Japanese robotic arm.

Cargo transfers MPLM and Shuttle
After Shuttle docking, the first cargo transfers were from the Shuttle middeck to the ISS. On 18 November transfers from the MPLM started. The transfers included Water Recovery System Racks 1 and 2, the Combustion Integration Rack, EXPRESS (EXpedite PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station) Rack 6, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment/Toilet, three Stowage Racks and the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device. These were transferred to the US laboratory. Two crew quarters were transferred from the MPLM to Node 2, and a Resupply Stowage Rack was transferred from Node 2 to the MPLM for return to Earth.

Regenerable Environment Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS)
The Water Recovery System Racks delivered on STS-126 were installed by Fincke and Pettit in the Destiny Laboratory. These racks are joining the Oxygen Generation System Rack as part of the Regenerable ECLSS. This system is needed in advance of an increase to a six-person ISS Crew in 2009. On 19 November the Reactor Health Sensor and the Catalytic Reactor of the Water Recovery System were installed.

On 20 November Magnus started installation of the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer on the front side of the Oxygen Generation System Rack. This was completed the following day. On 20 November Magnus, Fincke and Chamitoff, also prepared for the initiation of the Urine Pretreat Assembly by filling a filter tank with pre-treated urine and starting the processing activity. This activity is part of Water Recovery System activation. Activities continued the following day.

Soyuz Seat Liner transfers
NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus transferred her Soyuz TMA seat liner from the Shuttle to the Soyuz TMA-13 on 16 November. Yuri Lonchakov removed Greg Chamitoff’s seat liner from the Soyuz and replaced it with Magnus’. Chamitoff’s seat liner is now temporarily stowed for return to Earth. Following these activities Magnus technically became an Expedition 18 crew member.

SOKOL spacesuit
Yuri Lonchakov and Sandra Magnus conducted check out activities on 16, 17 November on a new SOKOL pressure suit, which Magnus would wear as a Soyuz passenger in the case of a contingency return.

Orlan spacesuit
On 17, 18 November Lonchakov unstowed and carried out maintenance/check out procedures on a new Russian Orlan spacesuit and its replaceable components delivered on Progress 30P. The Orlan spacesuits are used for the Russian-based spacewalks.

Kurs automated rendezvous and docking system
The KURS automated rendezvous and docking system in the Pirs Docking Module is unavailable for the Progress 31P docking on 30 November after a failed test on 19 November. Lonchakov started work on 21 November to replace the failed block with an identical system in Zarya

Shuttle waste water dump
A Shuttle waste water dump was conducted on 19 November.

Russian Elektron electrolysis machine
Lonchakov continued extended leak checking of a spare Liquid Unit for the Elektron O2 generator on 20 November, charging the unit with pressurised N2. This was to check for leakage and good water passage through the Liquid Unit’s feed line and to check full/empty signalling from the electronics unit. The N2 has the purpose to prevent dangerous O2/H2 mixing.

10 years ISS anniversary
On 20 November it was the 10th anniversary of the launch of Zarya, the first ISS module in orbit.

ISS reboost
The ISS was reboosted to a higher orbital altitude by Shuttle Endeavour on 21 November at 18:10 (CEST).

Space debris
Space debris from a Cosmos satellite was being monitored in connection with the Shuttle reboost of the Station on 21 November, though this was taken into account with reboost calculations.

ISS Flight Engineer 2 handover activities
Chamitoff and Magnus undertook handover activities during the week in connection with Magnus replacing Chamitoff as ISS Flight Engineer 2.

(*)These activities do not include the 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

Markus Bauer
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer

Weekly reports compiled by Jon Weems, ESA Human Spaceflight Coordination Office.

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