31 July 2009
This is ISS status report No. 47 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 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 inside and outside the Russian Segment of the ISS and in the US Destiny laboratory. The current status of the European science package on the ISS is as follows:
European science and research facilities inside the Columbus Laboratory
Biolab and WAICO experiment
On 23 July a Biolab Life Support System leak test was performed with the outcome that their might be damage to an o-ring of a quick disconnect seal at the interface to the Experiment Containers on Biolab’s centrifuge B. ESA astronaut Frank De Winne took photographs of the o-ring and ground teams are now analysing these images. A Remote Power Distribution Assembly panel check was performed which was observed from the ground in parallel. Biolab booted up nominally during the check. On 26 July Frank de Winne exchanged a battery of the Biolab laptop and carried out a functional test.
The next run of the Waving and Coiling of Arabidopsis Roots (WAICO) experiment in Biolab will need to be deferred to a later stage when the science samples of the experiment can be launched in conditioned state on a future Shuttle flight (potentially 19A in spring 2010). The Experiment Containers are already stowed on-orbit since November 2008. Meanwhile the YEAST and ArtEMISS-A experiments will be tentatively executed in Biolab prior to the WAICO-2 experiment due to more favourable mission logistics.
European Drawer Rack including the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility
The European Drawer Rack had been continuously active and providing power, data and temperature control to the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostic Facility, which concluded the overall Protein experiment series on 11 July after a successful 3 ½ months period of science acquisition. On 23 July a final interferometer measurement was taken on one experiment position to observe depletion zones around the crystals. With the experiment completed, the Processing Unit of the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostic Facility was de-installed on 27 July and transferred to the middeck of Shuttle Endeavour (STS-127, 2J/A) where it remained in a temperature controlled state until landing on 31 July. Upon landing the protein crystallisation reactors were removed from the Processing Unit and immediately returned to the scientists in Europe under themally controlled conditions. The facility’s reactors exhibited the presence of good and stable crystals which will now undergo detailed analysis in various European science labs following return to earth.
Ground teams have consolidated the imagery archive of the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostic Facility, after carrying out regular replays and downlinks of the Video Management Unit of the European Drawer Rack. The European Drawer Rack is a multi-user experiment facility hosting currently the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility, which is an advanced ISS research payload for the investigation of problems of protein crystallisation in space.
European Physiology Modules
The following experiments have recently used functions of the European Physiology Modules in the Columbus laboratory.
On 21 July NASA astronaut Tim Kopra completed his first session of the 3D Space Experiment. On 29 July Kopra performed part of his second session. (Illusion and distance parts) as tablet pens could not be found to perform the writing part of the experiment protocol. However a workaround has been put in place using a piece of paper instead of the electronic tablets, which Kopra will carry out in the next couple of days. 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.
Experiment samples for the CARD experiment from ISS Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata were transferred from the European-developed MELFI freezer to STS-127 Shuttle Endeavour, prior to undocking, for return to Earth. Endeavour undocked from the ISS on 28 July and landed on 31 July. The CARD experiment examines increased cardiac output and lowered blood pressure (caused by dilated arteries) in the face of increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system (which normally constricts arteries) in weightlessness.
Transfer and installation of new experiment hardware for the Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment was completed by ESA astronaut Frank De Winne on 18 July. This experiment will determine the nature and distribution of the radiation field inside European Columbus laboratory using different active and passive detectors. The European Physiology Modules facility was activated on 31 July for downloading data from the DOSIS experiment.
The European Physiology Modules facility was activated on 22, 26 and 27 July in support of the NeuroSpat experiment. For the experiment sessions this included installing relevant experiment equipment such as the free-floating and low-frequency head box, cables for the Multi-Electrode Electroencephalogram Measurement Module (a subsection of the European Physiology Modules) and an electroencephalograph cap with electrodes. On 22 July Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk performed his second and last session of the NeuroSpat experiment with ESA astronaut Frank De Winne assisting. On 26 July Frank De Winne performed his second and last session with Bob Thirsk assisting him. The experiment was successfully executed and data for both sessions was downlinked by Frank De Winne on 27 July. NeuroSpat investigates the ways in which crew members’ three-dimensional perception is affected by long-duration stays in weightlessness. NeuroSpat also serves as an experiment from the European Commission within the SURE project.
Experiment samples for the Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment from ISS Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke were transferred from the European-developed MELFI freezer to STS-127 Shuttle Endeavour, prior to undocking, for return to Earth. Endeavour undocked from the ISS on 28 July and landed on 31 July. The SOLO experiment is carrying out research into salt retention in space and related human physiology effects. The experiment will be continued with the next subjects in Increment 20.
Fluid Science Laboratory and Geoflow experiment
The Fluid Science Laboratory was activated between 21-23 July for continued commissioning of the Microgravity Vibration Isolation System. This Canadian-built system is integrated into ESA’s Fluid Science Laboratory to help isolate experiments from the harmful effects of vibrations on the ISS. Position Sensing Device calibration was carried out on 21 July though a file transfer problem to the Fluid Science Laboratory’s Video Management Unit, led to a repeat of the activity on 23 July that was this time successful. The file transfer from the Video Management Unit to the ground took place the following day. On 23 July a check out of a Microgravity Vibration Isolation System controller was also successfully carried out. This was followed on 26 July by a thermal test. On 28 July additional testing took place and the Fluid Science Laboratory’s core element was locked for Shuttle Undocking. The following day Microgravity Vibration Isolation System files were transferred from the Video Management Unit to the ground.
Geoflow scientific activities have already produced a significant amount of excellent scientific data for ongoing detailed analysis by the science team. Currently discussions about the new scope and implementation of the GeoFlow-2 experiment are in progress. A detailed technical inspection and checkout of the Geoflow flight unit on ground has already started.
Flywheel Exercise Device
The Flywheel Exercise Device will be removed within the next few weeks from its on-orbit storage location in the European Transport Carrier rack of the Columbus Laboratory for deployment and first functional checkout tentatively still during Increment 20, after the upcoming STS-128 flight, by Frank De Winne. The Flywheel Exercise Device was launched to the ISS with Columbus in order to become an advanced exercise device for ISS astronauts and serving human physiology investigations in the area of advanced crew countermeasures.
Pulmonary Function System in Human Research Facility 2
No activities were carried out in the Pulmonary Function System in the two weeks up until 31 July. 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 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
No experiment activities were carried out in the European Modular Cultivation System in the two weeks up until 31 July. 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 cells, roots and physiology of plants and simple animals. It was developed by ESA and has been operated for two years under a bilateral barter agreement with NASA which is expected to be continued. Currently an option is under detailed elaboration to perform a full functional on-orbit EMCS re-verification using the remaining Experiment Containers from JAXA’s Cell Wall / Resist Wall experiment. This approach would simultaneously serve as a comprehensive checkout of European Modular Cultivation System functionality for the following experiments. Genara is tentatively the next ESA experiment to take place in the European Modular Cultivation System and 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. Tentatively prior to Genara, the execution of the next NASA experiment TROPI-2 is planned with ESA’s Gravi-2 experiment following after the first part of Genara.
Microgravity Science Glovebox
No experiment activities were carried out in the Microgravity Science Glovebox in the two weeks up until 31 July. 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. The Microgravity Science Glovebox has been continuously used for NASA experiments and will again play an important role for future ESA science for the execution of the triple SODI (IVIDIL, DSC, Colloid) experiment series for advanced research in vibration effects on diffusion in liquids, diffusion measurements in petroleum reservoirs and the study on growth and properties of advanced photonic materials within colloidal solutions, respectively. The upload of the SODI-IVIDIL experiment is secured on the STS-128 / 17A Shuttle flight and the DSC / Colloid experiments will follow during subsequent Shuttle flights in the time frame until spring 2010.
On 20 July, ESA astronaut Frank De Winne uninstalled and removed the ERNOBox from the Columbus laboratory for return to the ground on the Shuttle. The ERNO (Entwicklungsring Nord) box contains various radiation devices, including the LEON-2 Central Processing Unit developed by ATMEL/France and ESA, new memory devices, large Static Random Access Memory-based Field-Programmable Gate Arrays, and Micro-electromechanical Systems sensors.
European science and research facilities outside the Columbus laboratory in open space
European Technology Exposure Facility (EuTEF)
uTEF 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 EuTEF platform has been operated continuously with one experiment powered down having completed the first part of its science objectives. EuTEF will be retrieved from the external Columbus platform via an EVA during the STS-128 / 17A mission with ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang (scheduled for launch on 25 August) and returned to Earth for detailed analysis and evaluation of the space samples.
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 continues to successfully perform data acquisition. The instrument is being power cycled when required in order to avoid the occurrence of empty science packets after a certain amount of time.
- DOSTEL: The DOSimetric radiation TELescope is a small radiation telescope. It continues to gather 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. The instrument was successfully activated during this period and high definition images were recieved.
- EXPOSE-E: This series of exobiology experiments is continuing to acquire scientific data.
- FIPEX: This sensor is helping to build up a picture of the atmospheric environment in low-Earth orbit by measuring atomic oxygen. Science acquisition has been ongoing during the last two weeks.
- MEDET: The Materials Exposure and Degradation ExperimenT (MEDET) is continuing to acquire scientific data. 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. The spectrometer accumulation time was changed on 22 July.
- 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. Following on from the ISS Mission Management Team’s go ahead for PLEGPAY reactivation, successful Long Duration Tests were performed at the beginning and end of the two-week period until 31 July. Langmuir Probe measurements were performed on 21 July and again from 25-27 July. PLEGPAY Experiment 2 was also successfully performed on 29 July.
- 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. Tribolab is currently not acquiring scientific data due to a shaft drive motor problem.
A software upgrade was completed for SOLAR on 18 July prior to the next Sun observation period opening on 21 July. The facility was again acquiring data from this date making use of a new software algorithm which improves the Sun tracking capability of the platform. The new software needs to be validated by testing how SOLAR handles the end of the Sun window and a zero-procedure without going into stand-by mode. The facility was ‘safed’ for three hours for a thruster test on 25 July, for nearly six hours on 28 July for Shuttle STS-127 undocking and for an additional 4 hours 40 mins the following day for Progress 34P docking.
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. A detailed feasibility study for on-orbit lifetime extension is ongoing on request of the science team to gather further science data in a period of higher solar activity. The SOLAR facility has so far produced excellent scientific data during a series of Sun observation cycles.
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 due for launch on 25 August 2009. The experiment evaluates the effect of the space environment on a large variety of exposed materials.
European science inside the Russian ISS Segment
In its experimental set up the Matroshka experiments consist of a simulated human body (head and torso) called the Phantom equipped with several active and passive radiation dosimeters in October 2009. The Phantom will be relocated to the Japanese Kibo laboratory and equipped with a set of new passive dosimeters. JAXA have already confirmed the technical accommodation feasibility assessments conclusion and now concrete implementation steps and bi-/trilateral agreements with JAXA and Russia can be envisaged for another experiment run until mid 2010. Roscosmos concurs to the proposed trilateral agreement and also JAXA’s concurrence has been received. Matroshka will be transferred in the September timeframe from the Russian ISS Segment to Kibo. After that in the long-term Matroshka may be accommodated again 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 temporarily deactivated on 31 May though negotiations with Russian representatives are ongoing for reactivation of the instrument and continuation of the so-called test mode. GTS will be tentatively a cooperative European-Russian experiment on ISS. This experiment is intended to test the receiving conditions of a time and data signal for dedicated receivers on the ground. The time signal distributed by the GTS has special coding to allow the receiver to determine the local time anywhere on the Earth without user intervention. The main scientific objectives of the experiment are to verify under real space operation conditions: the performance and accuracy of a time signal transmitted to the Earth’s surface from low Earth orbit; the signal quality and data rates achieved on the ground; measurement of disturbing effects such as Doppler shifts, multi-path reflections, shadowing and elevation impacts.
Additional European science outside the ISS in open space
The Expose-R facility, which was installed outside the Zvezda Service Module during the Russian-based spacewalk on 10 March, is functioning well. Expose-R is 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. 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 is performed in Expose-E, a twin facility which has been in operation on EuTEF outside of Columbus since February 2008. Expose-E (and EuTEF) will be returned to Earth for detailed analysis of alterations to samples on Shuttle flight 17A, due for launch on 25 August 2009.
Non-European science and research facilities inside the Columbus laboratory
EXPRESS Rack 3
This NASA rack, which also houses the European Modular Cultivation System, was activated on 23 July to undertake procedures for the Bodies in the Space Environment experiment, which aims to better understand how humans first adapt to weightlessness and then re-adapt to normal gravity conditions upon return to Earth. The Space Acceleration Measurement System equipment was also activated to provide vibration data during thruster firing on 25 July as well as for STS-127 Shuttle undocking on 28 July and Progress 34P docking on 29 July. The Space Acceleration Measurement System equipment and EXPRESS rack 3 were deactivated after Progress 34P docking on 29 July.
Human Research Facility 1
Human Research Facility 1 was activated on 30 July for download of data from the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment, which helps to determine cardiac condition in astronauts. In addition, body mass measurements with the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) in Human Research Facility 1 were also aborted in order to carry out troubleshooting of the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly.
Human Research Facility 2
Human Research Facility 2 was activated on 22 and 30 July for processing/centrifuging blood samples collected in connection with the NASA Nutrition Experiment. This NASA experiment is a study of human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight. It includes measures of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, nutritional assessments, and hormonal changes. ESA astronaut Frank De Winne and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk assisted astronaut subjects with blood draws and experiment procedures. Blood and urine samples were taken during the period from Frank De Winne, Bob Thirsk, Koichi Wakata, Tim Kopra and Mike Barratt. Samples are stored in the MELFI freezer.
ISS general system information and activities *
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.
Activities of ESA astronaut Frank De Winne
System and payload activities
During the two weeks up until 31 July in addition to what is stated in the rest of the report, Frank De Winne replaced a faulty fan on the General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator (GLACIER) on 20 July, to resolve a noise issue. The following day he removed the dessicant from the non-functional GLACIER freezer, which is due for return to earth on flight 2J/A and also installed new US dosimeters around the ISS and collected in old ones for return to Earth. On 22 July De Winne made an inventory and consolidated the contents of the Coolant Quality Monitoring Kit and manually filled Waste and Hygiene Compartment flush water tank. On 29 July he installed a new canister in JAXA’s Protein Crystallization Research Facility and set up relevant cabling. Two days later he relocated ROBOT hardware within the Japanese Kibo laboratory.
In addition to the European science programme detailed above ESA astronaut Frank De Winne has carried out additional science activities in support of the science programmes of ESA’s ISS partners. From 20 July De Winne, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk and NASA astronauts Mike Barratt and Tim Kopra (all Expedition 20 Flight Engineers) started and concluded a week long NASA SLEEP (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure during Spaceflight) experiment logging data from their Actiwatch devices to the Human Research Facility 1 laptop. This experiment monitors the crewmember’s sleep/wake patterns and light exposure. During the same period the samer four astronauts were involved with experiment procedures for NASA’s Integrated Immune Experiment, the aim of which is to validate procedures for monitoring crew member immune function. This includes collecting saliva samples on 22, 26 and 27 July and blood samples on 28 July (except from Kopra).
Health status activities
The crew undertake health status checks on a regular basis. During the two weeks up until 31 July De Winne has carried out a exercise checkout session on the recently repaired Advanced Resistive Exercise Device; filled in Food Frequency Questionnaires to estimate nutritional intake for the astronauts and give recommendations to ground specialists that help maintain optimal crew health; had his body mass measured within Russian medical protocols; carried out an On-Orbit Hearing Assessment; and completed the regular monthly session with the Crew Health Care Systems emergency medical operations training drill to refresh skills as a crew medical Officer. In connection with health status De Winne (and the rest of the crew) also undertake regular Private Medical Conferences with the ground, and daily exercise routines on the ISS. De Winne was involved in the last two weeks with downloading exercise data for the crew for downlinking to the ground.
During the last two weeks Frank and the crew had their regular Planning Conferences with Mission Control in Houston and Moscow. They have also been involved in EVA procedure reviews for the STS-127 spacewalks. In addition Frank De Winne has also been involved with analyzing air samples taken on 15 July and unpacking cargo delivered on the STS-127 flight
STS-127 2J/A Mission
Five spacewalks were carried out as part of the STS-127 mission. As part of the spacewalks standard pre- and post-EVA procedures are carried out. This includes a review of each EVA by the crew the night before and preparing EVA tools and checking out the EVA suits. The EVA astronauts also spend the night in the Airlock at a reduced pressure and undergo pure oxygen breathing procedures to help remove nitrogen from their bodies to minimise the risk of decompression sickness. On the day of the EVA relevant equipment is prepared for the spacewalk include batteries and carbon dioxide absorption canisters for the EVA suits, assisting the EVA astronauts into their suits and further pre-breathing of pure oxygen. Certain standard procedures are also carried out after the EVA including recharging batteries, regenerating the carbon dioxide absorption canisters, recharging the EVA suits with water and downlinking EVA photos for analysis.
EVA 1 was performed by NASA astronauts Dave Wolf (STS-127 Mission Specialist) and Tim Kopra (STS-127 Mission Specialist and ISS Flight Engineer). It started at 18:19 (CEST) on 18 July and ended at 23:51 (CEST). The main purpose of the EVA was to prepare the Japanese Kibo laboratory installation of its Exposed Facilty (See Japanese Kibo Laboratory Exposed Facility). Insulation was removed from the Exposed Facility berthing mechanism on Kibo and jettisoned, and a grounding tab was removed from Kibo’s robotic arm. Insulation was also removed from the berthing mechanism on Kibo’s Exposed Facility in the Shuttle’s cargo bay where launch-to-activation cables were reconfigured and the power cable to the Exposed Facility was removed.
Other principal EVA tasks carried out include: opening the Centerline Berthing Camera System flap on the upper Node 2 docking mechanism, which will act as a backup docking port for the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle; opening a similar flap on the port side of Node 1 for relocation of Pressurised Mating Adapter 3 currently on the Earth-facing port of Node 1; reconfiguring foot restraints and brake handles on the port side Crew Equipment Translation Aid cart to prevent interference with one of the main joints for rotating the solar arrays, clearing the translation path for the Mobile Transporter on the truss by stowing a rail stop; releasing a bolt on the Ammonia Tank Assembly in connection with EVA 2; and fully deploying a Payload Attachment System on the P3 nadir (Earth-facing) location. One scheduled EVA task of deploying a Payload Attachment System on the upper outboard area of the S3 truss was deferred until a later EVA due to time constraints.
EVA 2 was performed by NASA astronauts STS-127 Mission Specialists Dave Wolf and Tom Marshburn. The 6 hr 53 min spacewalk started at 17:27 (CEST) on 20 July and finished at 00:20 (CEST). Principal tasks that were achieved during the spacewalk include: Transferring a spare Space-to-Ground Antenna, Pump Module and Linear Drive Unit to External Stowage Platform-3 outside the ISS; relocating a grapple bar to the P1 Ammonia Tank Assembly in preparation of its replacement during an STS-128 EVA with ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang. Installation of Kibo Exposed Facility Vision Equipment was deferred to a future EVA due to time constraints.
EVA 3 was performed by NASA astronauts STS-127 Mission Specialists Dave Wolf and Chris Cassidy. It started at 16:32 (CEST) on 22 July and ended at 22:31 (CEST). Main tasks that were carried out during the 5h 59m spacewalk include: replacement of two 170kg P6 truss batteries using the Space Station Remote Manipulator System, the Station’s principal robotic arm; discarding multilayer insulation covers from Kibo’s Exposed Facility; and preparing three external payloads for transfer to the Exposed Facility
EVA 4 was performed by Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn. The 7 hr 12 min EVA started at 15:54 (CEST) on 24 July and ended at 23:07 (CEST). Principal tasks for this EVA related to battery replacement on the P6 truss section. They removed four old batteries and installed four new ones. The old batteries were mounted on the return carrier, which was re-installed in the Shuttle payload bay by robotic arm near the end of the spacewalk.
EVA 5 was performed by Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn. It started at 13:33 (CEST) on 27 July and ended at 18:19 (CEST). Main tasks that were carried out during the 4 hr 46 min spacewalk include: reconfiguring thermal covers on the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator or ‘Dextre’; reconfiguring a patch panel on the Z1 truss section to restore full redundancy to the Control Moment Gyroscopes; and installing video cameras on Kibo’s Exposed Facility. Deployment of a Payload Attach System on the S3 truss was deferred due to EVA suit consumables, though additional get-ahead tasks were carried out.
Following hatch closure, leak checks and associated departure preparations, Space Shuttle Endeavour undocked from the ISS at 19:26 CEST on 28 July. Endeavour landed at the Kennedy Space Center on 31 July at 16:48 CEST (10:48 local time)
Japanese Kibo Laboratory Exposed Facility
Following EVA procedures on 18 July the Exposed Facility of the Japanese Kibo laboratory was installed. The Exposed Facility was removed from the Shuttle cargo bay and handed over to the Station’s principal robotic arm. The Exposed Facility was then manoeuvred to the Kibo laboratory where it was berthed. Robotic procedures were carried out by JAXA astronaut and ISS Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata and NASA astronaut and STS-127 Mission Specialist Doug Hurley. On 21 July Kibo’s Logistics Module – Exposed Section was similarly removed from the payload bay handed over and installed onto Kibo's Exposed Facility. Two days later Wakata and ISS Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Gennady Padalka relocated three JAXA experiments from the Logistics Module – Exposed Section to their designated locations on the Exposed Facility using the Japanese robotic arm. The Logistics Module – Exposed Section was placed back into the shuttle’s cargo bay for return to earth on 27 July again using the Station and Shuttle robotic arms. Hereafter the Station’s robotic arm was relocated from the truss to its base on Node 2.
Integrated Cargo Carrier
On 19 July robotic arm operators removed the Integrated Cargo Carrier from the Shuttle’s cargo bay and installed it on the port side of the station’s Mobile Base System. The Integrated Cargo Carrier is a cargo pallet, which contained three hardware spares to be installed during EVA 2.
Space Station Robotic Arm Procedures
On 30 July ISS Flight Engineers Mike Barratt (NASA) and Frank De Winne moved the station’s robotic arm from Node 2 to the Mobile Service System in preparation for the ground to relocate the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator from the US laboratory to the Mobile Base System on the Station’s truss.
Progress M-67/34P Spacecraft
The Progress M-67 spacecraft was launched on logistics flight 34P to the ISS on 24 July at 12:56 CEST (16:56 local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft was put into its initial orbit by a Soyuz-U launcher.
Progress Docking Preparations
On 21 July, Roscosmos cosmonauts Gennady Padalka (ISS Commander) and Roman Romanenko (ISS Flight Engineer) carried out the standard refresher training with the TORU system in preparation for docking of the Progress M-67 spacecraft on flight 34P to the ISS. The TORU system provides a manual backup to the automated KURS rendezvous and docking system. This included a simulated rendezvous, a Station fly-around, final approach, docking and non-standard situations such as video or communications loss. On 26 July Romanenko and Mike Barratt configured and tested the equipment to downlink video signals from the Russian segment of the ISS to ground, with the purpose of covering the Progress 34P arrival. Preparations for Progress 34P docking continued on 29 July including testing and configuring communications and video equipment.
The Russian Progress M-67 spacecraft on logistics flight 34P to the ISS was docked manually with the aft docking port of the Zvezda Service Module on 29 July at 13:12 (CEST) by Gennady Padalka. Retraction of the docking probe and hook closure was complete just under 10 minutes later. Manual docking was carried out due to a range discrepancy in the automated Kurs docking system and a Progress orientation misalignment.
Progress post-docking activities
Following Progress 34P docking Padalka and Romanenko performed the standard leak checks before opening the hatches and installing clamps to further stabilise the connection between the Progress and the ISS. The Progress spacecraft was deactivated and its docking mechanism was removed. The following day Padalka and Romanenko installed relevant temperature and communications equipment in Progress.
Air Quality Monitor
Robert Thirsk and Mike Barratt undertook sampling sessions with the new Air Quality Monitor in the two weeks up until 31 July. This device is being used for identifying volatile organic compounds in the ISS cabin atmosphere. This new technology is being evaluated over the next few months.
During the two week period until 31 July Frank De Winne, Bob Thirsk, and Gennady Padalka serviced the Water Processor Assembly of the Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), offloading water and then flushing the system. De Winne also collected samples on 24 July from the Potable Water Dispenser to carry out microbiology analysis. Both De Winne and Mike Barratt carried out Water Processor Assembly sample analysis on 24 and 29 July respectively using the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer.
On 19 July Gennady Padalka closed out the Russian/German TEKh-20 Plasma Crystal-3 Plus (PK-3+) experiment, copying and downloading data and stowing the experiment hardware. On 31 July he made preparations for another run, setting up the experiment hardware in the Russian Service Module. The PK-3+ experiment was also undertaken during the Astrolab mission with ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter. The main objective of this experiment is to obtain a homogeneous plasma dust cloud at various pressures and particle quantities with or without superimposition of a low frequency harmonic electrical field.
Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly Shutdown
The Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly in the US Laboratory experienced increased temperatures on 25 July and shut down. The assembly was placed in manual mode together with a software patch which cut power to the primary heater string. On 28 July the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly was successfully restarted and via software control with the secondary bed heaters there is no apparent degradation in CO2 removal rates. Barratt and Thirsk undertook troubleshooting steps on 31 July including taking resistance measurements to determine where an electrical short is occurring. Once downlinked photos were assessed the crew cut wires to a shorted heater string. The Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly was restarted and is currently running nominally.
On 29 July Mike Barrat inserted seven ICEPAC capsules into the drawers of the European-developed MELFI freezer. These ICEPACs allow for samples to be returned to Earth on the Space Shuttle with the samples inside still frozen.
Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre
A Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre was performed at 02:35 (CEST) on 18 July using Shuttle thrusters to avoid a conjunction with unknown object.
Padalka carried out Sokol space suit maintenance on 18 July. On the same day a Service Module thruster failure occurred, though this is not affecting ISS attitude control. The toilet in the ISS Waste and Hygiene Compartment is again operational after the crew changed out a number of parts on 20 July following a pump failure. In the past two weeks Bob Thirsk replaced a broken printer in the Service Module, and installed a Centerline Berthing Camera System in the port side hatch of Node 1 in connection with relocation of Pressurised Mating Adapter 3 to this hatch in the near future.
(*)These activities are highlights of the past week 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.
ESA Head of ISS Utilisation Department
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer
Weekly reports compiled by ESA's Human Spaceflight Coordination Office.
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