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Orbinaut Pete

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From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 15/09/2011.

FE-6 Mike Fossum was also requested to locate a spare FCPA (Fluid Control Pump Assembly), in stowage in the JLP (JEM Pressurized Logistics Segment), in preparation for a possible UPA (Urine Processor Assembly) FCPA R&R (Removal & Replacement). [On 09/13, the UPA shut down due to high current in the FCPA. After an attempt to restart the UPA for reactivating the FCPA, the UPA shut down immediately with the same high FCPA current signature. Yesterday another restart was tried, which was successful, showing much lower FCPA current levels. The single spare FCPA onboard would be used in the event that the presently installed FCPA fails again and is not recoverable.]
 

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Expedition 29 has now begun! :thumbup:

Expedition 28 Farewell and Hatch Closure​
 
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Orbinaut Pete

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RELEASE : 11-306

International Space Station Partners Set Tentative Launch Schedule
http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-306_Soyuz_RTF.html

HOUSTON -- NASA and its international partners have agreed to a tentative launch schedule with crew flights to the International Space Station resuming on Nov. 14.

The Space Station Control Board, with representation from all partner agencies, set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s findings on the Aug. 24 loss of the Progress 44 cargo craft. The dates may be adjusted to reflect minor changes in vehicle processing timelines.

"Our top priority is the safety of our crew members. The plan approved today, coupled with the conditions on orbit, allow the partnership to support this priority while ensuring astronauts will continue to live and work on the station uninterrupted," said International Space Station Program Manager Michael Suffredini. "Our Russian colleagues have completed an amazing amount of work in a very short time to determine root cause and develop a recovery plan that allows for a safe return to flight. We'll have a longer period of three-person operations and a shorter than usual handover between the next two crews, but we are confident that the crews will be able to continue valuable research and execute a smooth crew transition."

The updated space station traffic plan includes Thursday's undocking and landing of three Expedition 28 crew members: NASA's Ron Garan and Russia's Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev. Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum of NASA, Satoshi Furukawa of Japan and Sergei Volkov of Russia will remain aboard the station to continue research and maintenance for 61 days until the remainder of the Expedition 29 crew arrives.

According to the current plan, the Soyuz 28 spacecraft, carrying NASA's Dan Burbank and Russia's Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov, will launch Nov. 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and arrive at the station on Nov.16.

On Nov. 22, Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov will undock their Soyuz 27 spacecraft and land in the northern Kazakhstan landing zone. Expedition 30 Commander Burbank, Ivanishin and Shkaplerov will work as a three-person crew for 36 days. The remainder of the Expedition 30 crew -- NASA's Don Pettit, Russia's Oleg Kononenko and Europe's Andre Kuipers -- will launch to the station aboard the Soyuz 29 spacecraft on or about Dec. 26 and dock to the station two days later. The exact launch date is under review.

The control board also received a report on the status of supplies and spare parts aboard the station. The report shows there is sufficient logistical supplies to support crews through the summer of 2012 without deliveries from the scheduled cargo flights.

For the new tentative Soyuz and Progress launch dates in 2011, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/stationflights

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/station

----------------------------------------​

I've also included some info on this in my latest NASASpaceflight article: Soyuz TMA-21 returns to Earth – NASA confirms new ISS flight manifest

----------------------------------------​

Be sure to follow ISS Commender Mike Fossum's NASA blog now that Expedition 29 is underway!
 

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ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst to fly to Space Station in 2014

18 September 2011
ESA PR 23 2011 - ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has been assigned to fly to the International Space Station on a 6-month mission in 2014, serving as a flight engineer for Expeditions 40 and 41.

Alexander is the second of the new group of European astronauts, which graduated last November, to be assigned to a mission.

He will be launched aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in May 2014, returning to Earth in November 2014.

Today is an ideal day for the announcement: the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne has been buzzing with activity as around 100 000 visitors mingle on German Aerospace Day.

After conquering remote mountains and working in Antarctica, the 35year-old geophysicist and volcanologist will become the third German to visit the Station.

He will be accompanied by Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, as Soyuz commander, and NASA astronaut G. Reid Wiseman.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson will also share part of the mission with Alexander as members of Expeditions 39 and 40.

Alexander’s flight will be the sixth long-duration mission for an ESA astronaut.

“ESA Member States have decided to extend their support to the exploitation of the International Space Station up to 2020,” said Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director for Human Spaceflight and Operations.

“The appointment of the new group of European astronauts to long-duration missions reflects the commitment of Member States.

“Alexander Gerst will pursue the European goals in a long fruitful German tradition.

“He will now get ready for the challenges ahead in 2014 ... and beyond.”

Alexander says, “It is a great honour for me to get the chance to contribute to the long tradition of European and German space flight.

“This mission will be a positive challenge not only for me but for all the dedicated people working at ESA and the national space agencies, who make spaceflight possible through their passion and fascination.

“I am looking forward to flying to space on the shoulders of this gigantic team, to the boundaries of our capabilities and knowledge in order to venture out a little further and to shine some more light into the darkness.

“And just as much I am looking forward to returning to Earth six months later with a wide variety of important scientific knowledge and a new perspective on our planet, which I will then gladly share with you.”

Busy time ahead

Alexander has completed pre-assignment training in Russia, the US and Canada.

Based at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, he will spend much of his time training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and at Star City, Moscow.

The next European to venture into space will be André Kuipers, who will be launched to the Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft not later than 26 December, according to the latest tentative manifest.

Next up will be Luca Parmitano, the first to be assigned from the new group of ESA astronauts. His mission, a flight opportunity provided by the Italian space agency, is planned to begin in May 2013.

All three ESA astronauts will stay aboard the Space Station for almost six months and work as flight engineers. Their responsibilities will include Station maintenance and scientific research, and possibly robotics and spacewalking activities.
 

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Chewing gum and green tea on the ISS (from ISS On-Orbit Status 09/20/11):

FE-4 Volkov meanwhile performed the periodic/long-term inspection of the SM RO (Working Compartment)’s pressure shell and rings, looking for any moisture, deposits, mold, corrosion and pitting behind panels 130, 131, 134, 135, 137, 138, 139, 432, and also underneath the TVIS treadmill (where deposit was discovered in the past) and the cold plates (where SNT and STR lines are installed). Last time done: 12/13/10. [The inspection of the hull surface, which is coated with a primer and dark-green enamel, is done using cleaning napkins to wipe the area in question if required and reporting results to the ground. The hull inspection looks for changed color and cavities; if cavities are found, they are to be measured for depth (with chewing gum) after cleaning. Digital photographs of the shell before and after the removal of deposits were to be made for documentation.]

At ~9:35am EDT, Satoshi Furukawa took ~10 min to discuss tomorrow’s scheduled JAXA Green Tea Ceremony experiment with the PI (Principal Investigator) at SSIPC/Tsukuba. [This will be the first time that the famed Japanese tea ceremony is conducted in space. For the PI (a computer graphics artist) it is important to get data of dynamics of the fluid and bubbles that contain powder of green tea in microgravity for future computer graphics products. The PI wants to propose the succession of Japanese traditional culture and spirits toward the Space Age by designing the new tools and the new style to conduct the Japanese tea ceremony. These products will be used for exhibition in October 2011. PI questions are: How are bubbles formed, and what are their shapes and sizes in the micro-G state; are there unique phenomena in the micro-G state when the green tea is stirred, and what are the differences (advantages & disadvantages) between “on ground” and “in micro-G” for the future tea ceremony in space?]

One marginal note - I seriously hope that spacefarers don't get terminally angry when asked (during a PA event) for the third thousandth time the very same question: "What do you eat in space?"
 
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Orbinaut Pete

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RELEASE : 11-319

Plant Experiments Take Root On Space Station To Inspire Students
http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-319_ISS_Plants.html

HOUSTON -- A unique science project designed to sow the excitement of scientific discovery in students is sprouting this week aboard the International Space Station. The Plants in Space project will allow students and teachers to examine root growth in microgravity and compare the results with those from plants used in their own ground-based experiments.

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) is funding the project. It began Tuesday, Sept. 20, when space station astronauts planted Brassica rapa seeds during the first of four scheduled five-day trials. The project's primary scientific goal is to investigate the influence of light on root orientation.

"More than 31 million students have participated in educational demonstrations on the space station, and more than a million students have done experiments linked to the space station," said NASA's International Space Station Program Scientist Julie Robinson. "It's a powerful force motivating young people to pursue careers that look to the future."

During the trials, astronauts plant seeds in a clear nutrient-filled gelatin. They will take daily photographs of root growth during each trial. Students will design and conduct their own experiments with the help of a teacher's guide developed by the NSBRI. Students will be able to compare observations and results of their investigations to the station experiments and the project's ground-based control.

"An important aspect of the Plants in Space project is that it is not cookbook science" said Nancy P. Moreno, NSBRI education and outreach program principal investigator, professor of allied health sciences at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and senior associate director of its Center for Educational Outreach. "Unfortunately, too often in science class, kids follow a procedure, get a predetermined result and really don't experience the excitement of science and the whole process of discovery. We know that if we enable students to ask their own questions, design their own experiments and discover their own answers, they are more likely to develop a greater interest in science."

The Plants in Space project seeks to determine if white light, heavy in the blue spectrum, can influence the direction of root growth in microgravity. Previous research has shown that plant roots respond weakly to blue light. The project also will study the effects, if any, of seed orientation on the direction of root growth. The experiment design calls for mounting seeds in different orientations on a piece of balsawood, then placing them on top of the growth medium.

Data gained from the primary and secondary scientific investigations may help develop systems and techniques so future astronauts can grow their own food during extended spaceflights to destinations such as Mars.

NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight. The institute's science, technology and education projects take place at more than 60 institutions across the United States. NSBRI is funding Plants in Space, conducted in cooperation with BCM, BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado in Boulder and NASA.

For the teacher's guide, project information, a "how-to" video and project imagery, visit:
http://www.nsbri.org/Plants-in-Space/

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/station

----------------------------------------​

NASA Feature: Growing an Interest in Science: Students Participate in Plant Investigation With Space Station Crew
 

Orbinaut Pete

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Some cool ISS videos:

Aurora Australis​

ISS pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay​
 
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Orbinaut Pete

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From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 21/09/2011.

In the SM (Service Module), FE-4 Sergei Volkov performed a 4 hour IFM (Inflight Maintenance) on the EPS (Electrical Power System), removing & replacing the BUPT-1M current control unit (box A401) of the 800A battery #1. The old part was prepared for disposal on Progress M-10M/42P. [The battery's ZRU charge/discharge unit #1 was deactivated by TsUP/Moscow beforehand and reactivated later. Each of the eight 800A 28 Volt batteries in the SM (the FGB has six) has its own ZRU charge/discharge unit, which tracks 49 battery parameters and is designed to increase the operating life of the battery by setting up charging & discharging modes. Each ZRU is comprised of one battery current converter (PTAB), one PTAB current control unit (BUPT-1M), and three charge/discharge current integrators (MIRT-3). Before connecting the new BUPT, TsUP turned off the BITS2-12 onboard telemetry measurement system and VD-SU control mode.]

JAXA Marangoni Experiment:
The crew was advised of another Marangoni bridge building event tonight (11:00 PM-5:00 AM GMT), the 3rd in 24 planned bridge buildings in Increment 29/30. The experiment is performed in the Kibo JPM during crew sleep (since the liquid bridge to be formed is sensitive to g-jitter), 4 days/week at most and 24 runs in total. After the liquid bridge has been formed, the ground imposes a temperature gradient on it to produce Marangoni convection. The crew, which will be informed regularly, has been asked to avoid any disturbances in this timeframe. Even disturbances in other modules can be transmitted and cause the liquid bridge in JPM to break up, resulting in science loss.

FGB Refueling:
The propellant transfer from the Progress M-10M/42P tanks via the DC-1 (Docking Compartment-1) to the FGB (Functional Cargo Block) long high-pressure fuel and oxidizer tanks (BVDG for the UDMH fuel, & BVDO for the NTO oxidizer) on 09/20 was successfully performed, transferring 170 kg of fuel & 102 kg of oxidizer.
 

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From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 22/09/2011.

MDM Issue:
Yesterday during MSRR (Material Science Research Rack) activation, the primary PL MDM-1 (Payload | Multiplexer/Demultiplexer-1) computer unexpectedly failed, switching to Diagnostic State. The ground configured PL MDM-2 as primary PL MDM [essentially by renaming iAPS (improved Automated Payload Switch) files], and MDM-2 is currently successfully supporting payload ops. Preliminary analysis indicates that the computer failure was caused by a task overrun which occurred when the MSRR was added as a 7th LRT (Low Rate Telemetry) user. PL MDM-1 has meanwhile been checked out OK and is being used as backup for PL MDM-2.
 

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From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 23/09/2011.

After yesterday's emptying of the WSTA (Wastewater Storage Tank Assembly) into an EDV-U container to reduce TOX2 (Toxicity Class 2) risk, CDR Mike Fossum today tackled the major IFM (Inflight Maintenance) of removing & replacing the failed FCPA (Fluids Control & Pump Assembly) in WRS (Water Recovery System) rack 2 in Node 3 (location Deck 4). The work was broken out in rotating the rack down to gain access (~25 min), removing the failed FCPA and replacing it with the spare (~40 min each), and closing out the worksite (~45 min.) [The R&R (Removal & Replacement) required careful demating & remating of 6 electrical connectors and numerous fluid QDs (Quick Disconnects), plus affixing connector caps on the failed unit. Since the FCPA contains TOX2 fluid (pretreated urine, sulfuric acid H2SO4 & chromic acid CrO3), Mike had to wear proper PPE (Personnel Protective Equipment), i.e., safety goggles, dust mask and nitrile gloves.]
 

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This is very interesting - I hope it isn't another Soyuz quality issue... :shifty:

From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 25/09/2011.

FE-4 Sergei Volkov had 4 hours set aside for an extensive job on the Soyuz TMA-02M/27S, first moving the air duct in the SA (Descent Module) out of the way, then performing a meticulous inspection and documentary photography of the screws used on the SA's structural ring near the two SOTR/TCS (Thermal Control System) fluid connectors (two M6 screws), possibly left inadvertently behind on each connector, which were supposed to be removed before the launch. The presence of these screws may cause off-nominal separation of the SA & BO (Orbital Module). [After the recent (09/16) landing of Soyuz TMA-21/26S, temporary screws were discovered on the SA structural ring near the SOTR fluid connectors which did not belong there. This can be explained by the change in vehicle processing procedure after the vehicle was damaged last year while in transit to Baikonur, with some work then performed not at the plant but at Baikonur. To be safe, it was decided to conduct a thorough inspection of temporary fasteners on all spacecraft, including the current 27S vehicle, to ensure safe conditions for a nominal landing.]
 

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From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 26/09/2011.

Soyuz 27S Inspection Update:
FE-4 Sergei Volkov's inspection yesterday of the Soyuz TMA-02M/27S SA (Descent Module) structural ring showed that the structure appeared nominal, without the two temporary screws which had been discovered on Soyuz TMA-21/26S after the landing, instead of having been removed before launch.
 

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ESA: Visit the ISS in 3D with Paolo Nespoli



EDIT:
Below is 3D option enabled player, with red-cyan anaglyph option set as default (change with "3D" button):

3D option enabled player
 

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If you cut out a, 1" x 1" hole in a piece of paper, and hold it in front of you. You can look at the middle image, without seeing the outer images.
 

Orbinaut Pete

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From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 27/09/2011.

SAW Power Testing:
Yesterday, MCC-H initiated a two-day SAW (Solar Array Wing) maximum power output test, to improve the fidelity of maximum power output calculations. [Channels 3B, 4B, 1A, and 2A were tested yesterday, with the performance test intentionally scheduled during the autumnal equinox, with a test data collection of +/- 5 minutes from orbital noon. Robotics ground controllers powered the SSRMS (Space Station Remote Manipulator System), MBS (Mobile Base System), SPDM (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator) and MT (Mobile Transporter) equipment on the 4B power channel in support of the battery testing. Upon completion of the test, the system was returned to its keep-alive power configuration. System performance was nominal. Today, channels 4A, 1B, 3A, and 2B are being tested, with Robotics loads turned on again.]

Conjunction Alert:
Flight controllers are tracking a conjunction with Object 29394, Japanese H-2A Rocket Body, a repeating conjunction with TCA (Time of Closest Approach) on 09/29 (Thursday) at 8:55 AM GMT. The other close approaches, currently outside the notification box, are 1-rev earlier and 1-rev later. This particular conjunction has very favorable miss distance geometry and is not thought at this time to pose a high risk. However, due to the relatively small miss distances and its repeating nature, the conjunction is classified as of Medium concern at this time. The major decision points will occur tonight and tomorrow morning. If required, a DAM (Debris Avoidance Maneuver) would be conducted on 09/29 at about 6:37 AM GMT (est.)
 
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