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

14 August 2009

This is ISS status report No. 48 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 13 August Frank De Winne took close-up photographs of BIOLAB Rotor B Position 6, and macro pictures of a suspect Quick Disconnect and its o-ring at one rotor interface to the Experiment Container. These pictures will help engineering teams to assess the damage on this Experiment Container slot where a small leak has been observed.

Two experiments will be performed in Biolab prior to the WAICO-2 experiment due to more favourable mission logistics. The Yeast experiment will now be tentatively launched on Soyuz 20S by end September and returned with 18S a couple of days later after processing in Biolab. This experiment will study the influence of weightlessness on so-called Flo proteins which regulate flocculation (clumping together) and adhesion of cells. The overall goal is to obtain a detailed insight into the importance of weightlessness on the formation of organised cell structures, and on flo processes, which are of considerable interest for fundamental science, industry and the medical field.

The ArtEMISS-A experiment will be brought to the ISS on a similar sortie flight scenario, which is envisaged in early 2010. The purpose of this experiment is to determine the effect of spaceflight conditions, including weightlessness and radiation on the algae Arthrospira sp. The form, structure and physiology of the algae will be examined along with a genetic study of the organism. This data is important for determining the reliability of using Arthrospira sp. in spacecraft biological life support systems.

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.

European Drawer Rack including the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility
Samples retrieved from the Processing Unit of the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostic Facility, which was returned to earth on 31 July, were delivered to the Belgian User Support and Operations Centre in Brussels on 6 August. The samples will be kept under thermally controlled conditions until the science team can start the detailed x-ray analysis of the crystals grown in weightlessness.

The Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility is an advanced ISS research payload for the investigation of problems of protein crystallisation in space. The facility concluded the overall Protein experiment series on 11 July after a successful 3 ½ months period of science acquisition. It is hosted in the European Drawer Rack, which is a multi-user experiment facility that had been continuously active and providing power, data and temperature control to the Protein Crystallisation Diagnostic Facility during the experiment runs.

European Physiology Modules

The following experiments have recently used functions of the European Physiology Modules rack in the Columbus laboratory.

  • 3D Space
    As tablet pens were unavailable, Tim Kopra performed by hand the writing part of the experiment protocol on 2 August using paper sheets. This secured most of the science objectives of this part of the protocol, but led to some extra crew time. Moreover, as photos are not good enough for science evaluation, this will cause additional downmass of paper sheets. Integration team on ground are preparing the manifest of new tablet pens on Shuttle flight STS-128/17A. The third session of the experiment was performed by Tim Kopra assisted by Bob Thirsk on 14 August. Writing was performed again with paper instead of the electronic tablet.

    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.


  • CARD experiment
    Experiment samples for the CARD experiment from ISS Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata, which were returned to Earth on 31 July on STS-127 Shuttle Endeavour have been successfully delivered to the science team’s laboratory. 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.


    The Dose Distribution inside the ISS (DOSIS) experiment will determine the nature and distribution of the radiation field inside European Columbus laboratory using different active and passive detectors. Data downlink has been successfully performed, the active detectors are fully functional and DOSIS will continue to continuously record the radiation environment in the Columbus laboratory.


  • Neurospat
    No further experiment procedures were carried out for Neurospat in the last two weeks. 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.


  • SOLO
    Between 8 and 13 August Mike Barratt successfully performed his first six-day session of the Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment. This first six-day session is based on a normal ISS salt level diet. This entailed logging dietary intake, body mass measurements and taking blood and urine samplings in two blocks. Body Mass Measurements were taken on 11 and 13 August with the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) in Human Research Facility 1. Blood samples were taken on 12 August and 24 hour urine collection was performed from 12 to 13 August. Samples were stowed in the European-built MELFI freezer. Barratt started the second session of the SOLO experiment on 14 August, which is based on a low-salt diet. Experiment samples for the SOLO experiment from ISS Expedition 18 Commander, which were returned to Earth on 31 July on STS-127 Shuttle Endeavour have been successfully delivered to the science team’s laboratory.


  • Integrated Cardiovascular
    Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk carried out a session of NASA’s Integrated Cardiovascular experiment on 5 and 12 August assisted by ESA astronaut Frank De Winne. On 13 August De Winne set up the laptop of the European Physiology Modules Facility and copied data from Cardiolab blood pressure device across to the Human Research Facility laptop. The Integrated Cardiovascular experiment includes ultrasound and ECG measurements for determining cardiac condition in astronauts.

Fluid Science Laboratory and Geoflow experiment
No activities were carried out with the Fluid science Laboratory in the last two weeks. 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 14 August. 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 (EMCS) in the two weeks up until 14 August. 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 still 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
The Microgravity Science Glovebox was activated on 1 and 8 August in support of sessions of the InSPACE-2 experiment performed by Frank De Winne, and again on 14 August in support of another run of the experiment performed by Mike Barratt. The purpose of the InSPACE-2 experiment is to obtain a better understanding of the interplay of magnetic, surface and repulsion forces between structures in fluids that change properties in response to magnetic fields.

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 firmly 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.

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

European Technology Exposure Facility (EuTEF)
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 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. No images were received in the last two weeks.
  • 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. A new science script was started on 12 August, though stopped unexpectedly on 14 August. FIPEX was hereafter recovered.
  • 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.
  • 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. Three successful Experiment 2 runs were completed on 5 August. A successful 5 day Long Duration Test was performed from 5-11 August, with a new 5 day Long Duration Test starting on 11 August.
  • 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. An unsuccessful attempt to carry out the Ball Bearing experiment took place on 6 August TRIBOLAB is currently in stand-by mode.

The last Sun observation window ended on 31 July, after nominal operations with the upgraded software which improves the capability of the platform during Sun tracking at the beginning and at the end of the Sun observation window. On 1 August the installation of the upgraded software was finalised following a new zero procedure test. On the same day the facility was ‘safed’ for the reboost of the Station which was executed using the Progress 34P thrusters. SOLAR was put in survival mode on 2 August awaiting the start of the next Sun observation window. Calibration of the SOLACES instrument was performed on 7 August, and calibration of SOLSPEC was performed on 12 August. A new Sun observation window started on 14 August.

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 US Destiny Laboratory

ESA’s Materials Science Laboratory is the principal experiment payload in NASA’s Materials Science Research Rack-1 (MSRR-1). The MSRR containing the Materials Science Laboratory will be launched together with six cartridges for NASA and for ESA’s MICAST and CETSOL projects on STS-128/17A under a cooperation agreement with NASA.

CETSOL and MICAST are two complementary projects, which will carry out research into the formation of microstructures during the solidification of metallic alloys. The goal of MICAST is to study the formation of microstructures during casting of technical alloys. In space, buoyancy convection is eliminated and the dendritic solidification of the alloys can be quantitatively studied under purely diffusive conditions. The objective of CETSOL is then to study the transition from columnar growth to equiaxed growth that occurs when crystals start to nucleate in the melt and grow independently. Results of these experiments will help to optimise industrial casting processes.

European science inside the Russian ISS Segment

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 2009, 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 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 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

Human Research Facility 1
Human Research Facility 1 was activated on 5 August in support of the Integrated Cardio Vascular Exercise Echo Session and for taking body mass measurements. The rack was again activated on 11 and 13 August for further body mass measurements with the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) in support of the SOLO experiment.

Human Research Facility 2
Human Research Facility 2 was activated on 2 and 8 August 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. ISS Flight Engineers Timothy Kopra and Mike Barratt assisted each other in performing blood draws. They also provided 24-hour urine samples during the period. Samples were stored in the MELFI freezer.

The facility was activated again on 12 August in support of the Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment. Flight Engineer Mike Barratt conducted measurements and sampling of body mass, blood and urine. Blood samples were centrifuged in the Refrigerated Centrifuge of Human Research Facility 2 and stowed in the MELFI Freezer.

ISS general system information and activities *

Columbus laboratory
In addition to the Columbus experiment facilities mentioned above, the Columbus systems have been working well. Some regular maintenance activities have been executed by the crew and the Flight Control Team. Main points of interest are as follows:

  • Columbus Control Centre teleconference
    During the two weeks up until 14 August ESA astronaut Frank De Winne was joined by ISS Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk, and NASA astronaut Mike Barratt in the weekly teleconference with the ESA staff at the Columbus Control Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany.


  • Laptop reboot
    Frank De Winne rebooted all the Columbus laptops in the Columbus laboratory on 8 August.

Activities of ESA astronaut Frank De Winne

  • System and payload activities
    During the two weeks up until 14 August in addition to what is stated in the rest of the report, Frank De Winne: disassembled a lithium hydroxide canister in Node 2, which absorbs carbon dioxide and stowed it away; performed a regular shut down of the Environmental Health System-Volatile Organic Analyzer; undertook periodic maintenance of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device and its Vibration Isolation System, greasing rollers and evacuating its cylinder flywheels; carried out a data rate test on a JAXA laptop; and carried out weekly maintenance on the Treadmill with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization.


  • Experiment activities
    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 10 August De Winne, 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. Frank also carried out a Russian cardiological experiment called Bioelectric Activity of the Heart at Rest for which he also assisted Gennady Padalka.

    De Winne assisted Bob Thirsk on 3 and 6 August with the Japanese BIORHYTHM biomedical experiment; assisted Mike Barratt with the Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Control on Return from the ISS experiment on 1 August and assisted Bob Thirsk with the same experiment and also with the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment on 11 August.


  • Health status activities
    The crew undertake health status checks on a regular basis. During the two weeks up until 14 August De Winne has; filled in the weekly Food Frequency Questionnaires to estimate nutritional intake for the astronauts and give recommendations to ground specialists that help maintain optimal crew health; undertaken Russian biomedical urinalysis; carried out an On-Orbit Acoustic Assessment; undertaken a session of the WinSCAT (Spaceflight Cognitive Assessment Tool for Windows) experiment, which is used for testing cognitive abilities; carried out a periodic Russian Medical operations test, which measures the red cell count of the blood; and used the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) hardware for undertaking body mass measurements along with Thirsk, Kopra and Barratt. Frank also assisted Bob Thirsk with the Periodic Fitness Evaluation using the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation.

    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.


  • Other activities
    During the last two weeks Frank and the crew had their regular Planning Conferences with Mission Control in Houston and Moscow, and conducted one of the regular fire drill training sessions. In addition Frank De Winne has also been involved with: pre-packing cargo for return on the STS-128 flight; been involved in reviews of cargo transfers for the STS-128 flight; installed a camera in Node 2 and unlatched the Earth-facing hatch in Node 2 in preparation for berthing the European-built Multipurpose Logistics Module, which arrives on the STS-128 flight towards the end of August; supported a software checkout of the Space Station’s principal robotic arm and Mobile Base System; carried out a Soyuz seat fit check in the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft with Thirsk and Roscosmos cosmonaut Roman Romanenko; and carried out microbiology analysis on Russian water samples.

Progress M-67/34P spacecraft

  • ISS reboost
    Progress 34p thrusters were used to boost the ISS to a higher orbital altitude on 1 August in connection with the upcoming launch of STS-128. The 7m 38s thruster burn increased the altitude of the ISS by an average of 2.2 km.


  • Cargo transfers
    Cargo transfers were ongoing and completed during the two weeks up until 14 August and items are now being stowed in Progress 34P for later disposal. Transfers during the week include water from the Progress tanks to the ISS between 5 and 6 August and a urine transfer back to the Progress spacecraft the following day.

Air Quality Monitor
Frank De Winne, Robert Thirsk and Tim Kopra undertook sampling sessions with the new Air Quality Monitor in the two weeks up until 14 August. 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.

Regenerative ECLSS
During the two week period until 14 August Bob Thirsk serviced the Water Processor Assembly of the Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), offloading water and then flushing the system. Samples were also collected during this period from the Potable Water Dispenser in order to carry out microbiology analysis. Tim Kopra and Bob Thirsk both carried out Water Processor Assembly sample analysis on 4 and 11 August respectively using the Total Organic Carbon Analyzer. Additional microbiology analysis was undertaken using a Water Microbiology Kit, and a Coliform Detection Bag for detection of bacterial levels. On 14 August Bob Thirsk replaced a Recycle Filter Tank Assembly in the Water Recovery System.

On 10 August Bob Thirsk serviced and configured the Oxygen Generation System rack, for activation by the ground. A reoccurring water pump pressure problem caused ground controllers to shut down the unit. Resolution of this issue is ongoing.

On 1 August Gennady Padalka made preparations for another run of the Russian/German TEKh-20 Plasma Crystal-3 Plus (PK-3+) experiment, 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.

Russian Motion Control and Navigation System
On 3 August Gennady Padalka replaced an electronic box of GIVUS, which is a high-accuracy angular rate vector gyrometer of the Russian SUDN Motion Control and Navigation System.

US Airlock activities
On 3 August Mike Barratt and Tim Kopra performed maintenance on the Battery Charger Module in the US Airlock, removing Battery Charger Module 4 from the appropriate rack and disconnecting a failed circuit. Hereafter they installed new hardware brought up on Progress 34P. Telemetry from the GIVUS system verified that this was a success. GIVUS was then powered on and placed into the control loop.

Other Airlock activities include regenerating Metal Oxide CO2 absorption canisters used during the last EVAs, resizing the EVA suits for upcoming STS-128 EVAs, and other EVA suit checkout tasks including scrubbing the cooling loops of the EVA suits and checking out the SAFER units, (EVA propulsion units astronauts can use should they become untethered from the ISS during an EVA).

US software update
From 3 August the Command and Control System, Mobile Servicing System, and Portable Computer System onboard software modules were transitioned to upgraded software, which included swapping out laptop hard drives. The process lasted four days in order to confirm the stability of the upgrade.

Russian Segment software upgrade
The Russian segment systems of the ISS have been upgraded to new software in the two weeks up until 14 August. The Central and Terminal computers were restarted nominally on 13 August and Padalka continued hereafter with upgrading remaining laptops.

Russian Air Conditioner
Maintenance activities for the non-functional Russian SKV1 air conditioner proved unsuccessful between 4-7 August. Padalka and Romanenko installed a new condensate evacuation line, drained Freon coolant and installed a new heat exchanger. However a leak in the Freon pipeline connectors has been noticed and lengthy troubleshooting did not sort out the issue. Resolution of the issue is ongoing. The SKV2 air conditioner is still functioning normally.

Waste and Hygiene Compartment
On 4 August Frank De Winne replaced a urine receptacle and filter in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. On 7 August the “Bad Pretreat” LED came on after an automatic flush water tank refill. Mike Barratt took steps to clear the error which was believed to be caused by air bubbles in the line. A “Check Separator” light came on the following day. In resolution of this problem Tim Kopra removed the enclosure to the Waste and Hygiene Compartment on 10 August and reconfigured the Rack Flow Control Assembly to provide additional flow through the unit and cleared the error indicator. The situation is being monitored.

From 5-14 August ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk and NASA astronaut Mike Barrat took turns in inserting ICEPAC belts into the drawers of the European-developed MELFI freezer, two belts per time, with 24 hours between each activity to keep the MELFI temperature from increasing. These ICEPACs allow for samples to be returned to Earth on the Space Shuttle with the samples inside still frozen.

ISS robotic arm activities

  • PMA-3 relocation
    On 6 August Mike Barratt made preparations in Node 1 for relocation of Pressurised Mating Adapter 3 (PMA-3) from the Node 1 Earth-facing hatch to the Node 1 port side hatch. This included testing the Earth-facing hatch mechanism, unlatching the port-side hatch, and carrying out the depressurisation and leak checks on the PMA-3. After reviewing robotics procedures Frank de Winne and Bob Thirsk manoeuvred the Station’s principal robotic arm into position for PMA-3 relocation.

    The following day De Winne, Thirsk and Kopra successfully used the robotic arm to grapple the PMA-3 and relocate it to the Node 1 port-side hatch. This relocation is necessary in order to configure the Node 1 bulkhead in advance of arrival of the European-built Node 3 at the beginning of next year.


  • STS-128 MPLM preparations
    De Winne and Barratt used simulation software with ground support to undertake proficiency training for berthing/unberthing the European-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the Earth-facing port of Node 2 during the upcoming STS-128/17A mission due for launch towards the end of August.

Fluids and Combustion Facility
On 8 August Barratt readied the Fluids and Combustion Facility for ground commanding in order to calibrate the Combustion Integrated Rack Fuel/Oxidizer Management Assembly. The Combustion Integrated Rack is one half of the Fluids and Combustion Facility along with the Fluids Integrated Rack, which will be launched with the STS-128 flight. On 12 August Frank De Winne prepared the Combustion Integrated Rack for troubleshooting a communications problem with the avionics package of its Multi-user Drop Combustion Apparatus. De Winne installed a Boot Selector for the apparatus inside the combustion chamber of the Combustion Integrated Rack. The following day he connected a laptop to the Combustion Integrated Rack and used it to restore the boot parameters on the avionics package.

HTV training
From 10-14 August Frank De Winne and Mike Barratt started on board training for the arrival of the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), which is due for launch in September. This covered the HTV mission profile, crew procedures and the Hardware Control Panel for controlling the HTV. This included a computer simulation of the HTV from 30 m until robotic arm capture and from 300m through capture. On 12 August de Winne tagged up with future ISS Flight engineer Nicole Stott before she arrives on the STS-128 flight to discuss HTV arrival details.

Russian Thermal Control System
Roman Romanenko replaced condensate lines on the Russian SOTR Thermal Control System in the Service Module between 11 – 14 August as part of major in flight maintenance.

Crew Health Care System (CheCS) relocation
The Gas Chromatograph/Differential Mobility Spectrometer was relocated outside the Crew Health Care System (CHeCS) rack in the Destiny laboratory by Mike Barratt on 11 August. On 13 August the CheCS Rack was relocated to the Japanese laboratory by Frank DeWinne and Bob Thirsk. The old rack location was configured the next day for arrival of the Fluids Integrated rack on the STS-128 flight.

Additional tasks
On 5 August the ground completed tests where external thermal control systems were isolated from the ammonia tanks for 4 days in support of ammonia tank replacement during EVAs in upcoming flights. All parameters remained in expected ranges. On 6 August several false fire alarms occurred in a 30 min period causing multiple systems shutdowns. This was resolved the next day. It is though that this was due to the Russian and US ISS segments being out of sync for a period due to software upgrades. On 7 August the Interim Resistive Exercise Device was removed from Node 2 and stowed in the Logistics Pressurised Segment of the Japanese laboratory.

(*)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.

Martin Zell
ESA Head of ISS Utilisation Department

Markus Bauer
ESA Human Spaceflight Programme Communication Officer

Weekly reports compiled by ESA's Human Spaceflight Coordination Office.

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