Expedition 45 finishes rerouting cables and deployes cubesats
Expedition 45, the current residents on board the International Space Station, spent last week working to finish the rerouting of cables in support of dual berthing operations while ground controllers deployed CubeSats throughout the week.
On-orbit activities for the week of Oct. 5-9 involved finishing up the cable rerouting from the Harmony and Tranquility modules to the Unity module. Additionally, cosmonauts on the Russian segment continued to unpack the recently arrived Progress cargo ship.
Monday’s main priorities included continued unloading of the Russian Progress M-29M cargo ship, which docked to the orbiting lab on Oct. 1, 2015, while Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui continued work on rerouting power cables from the Harmony module to the Unity module. This work will get Unity’s nadir port ready for berthing spacecraft starting with Orbital ATK’s Cygnus OA-4 mission in early December.
While that was ongoing, Commander Scott Kelly deployed the first two of 16 CubeSats scheduled to be deployed on ISS this week. While inside the Japanese Kibo module, Kelly opened the outer hatch of the Kibo Airlock and extended the slide table outside. Ground teams then used the Kibo robotic arm to grapple the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) and maneuvered it into position for the CubeSats to be deployed.
The two Danish CubeSats were deployed at 9:06 a.m. CDT (14:06 GMT). One CubeSat has an advanced antenna-pointing system to test reception and data downlink for air traffic control uses. The other was a student-designed and constructed Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver that can track ship signals while they are in the open ocean.
More cable routing occurred on Tuesday with Kelly teaming up with Lindgren and Yui to reroute cables from Tranquility and Harmony to Unity. Lindgren finished installing data cables within Unity before closing out the panels he had removed in support of the activity. Kelly moved cables in Tranquility that required a widespread power down of most of the systems in the module including a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). The CDRA in the Destiny lab was activated in the meantime.
Additionally, more CubeSats were deployed from the deployer mechanism on the outside of Kibo. Four Planet Labs “Dove” Sats were deployed in the morning while six were deployed in the evening. The nanosatellites will enable imagery of the entire planet to be taken on a daily basis. The uses for this include monitoring deforestation, ice caps, disaster relief, and improving agricultural yields in developing countries.
The three cosmonauts, Mikhail Kornienko, Oleg Kononenko, and Sergey Volkov, worked on a variety of Russian science experiments the Interaction Study of Crews and studying chemical reactions in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
The scheduled Wednesday CubeSat deployments were put on hold due to interference with a latch on the deployer.
In the meantime, Kelly and Lindgren worked to resize their spacesuits in preparation for their two spacewalks on Oct. 28 and early November. Yui assisted them as well as scrubbed their suit cooling loops before drying out suit fans and vent loops.
On the Russian side, Volkov studied micrometeoroid impacts, Earth observation techniques, and Crystal Magnetism while Kononenko unloaded more supplies from the Progress.
Later, Kelly connected the IMAX codex to a station support computer for the downlink of recorded video files. IMAX filmmakers plan to produce a 3-D movie called A Perfect Planet using ISS-based video images. The film will showcase NASA’s exploration efforts and highlight the station as a platform for scientific research as well as a stepping stone to deep space exploration.
Thursday’s tasks included finalizing cable routing work for the Unity berthing port. Yui and Lindgren changed out bulkhead feed-through connectors in the Destiny to Unity vestibule.
After that, they reviewed procedures for the Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) Vertigo experiment. Kelly also replaced gear inside the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI).
Two remaining CubeSats were still not able to be deployed after three unsuccessful attempts by Ground teams to retract the secondary latch associated with deployer number six on the device.
Cargo transfers continued on Thursday and Friday, carried out by Kononenko and Kornienko. Volkov continued studying the Crystal Magnetism and Calcium Bone Loss studies as well as a Siesmoprognoz Earthquake study.
While activities were ongoing, the Zvezda service module received a regular update. This new update will support the new MS models of Progress and Soyuz and provide 20 new Pre-Determined Avoidance Maneuvers (PDAM) to change the space station’s orbit in the event of a close encounter with space debris. The update also removes software related to the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
Robotics Refueling Mission (RRM) activities occurred last weekend by Ground Controllers. On Oct. 3, they moved the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, known as Dextre, into position to continue science operations. Throughout the week, ground teams conducted a number of tasks, including removing O-rings and plugging in connectors.
The RRM is a demonstrator for satellite-servicing technologies and techniques that was launched in 2011. It is currently in the second phase of its operations, which started in April, focusing on satellite inspection and instrument life extension.
Derek Richardson is a student studying mass media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is currently the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also writes a blog, called Orbital Velocity, about the space station. His passion for space ignited when he watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on Oct. 29, 1998. He saw his first in-person launch on July 8, 2011 when the space shuttle launched for the final time. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized that his true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.