Well, as you might have heard, Dragon’s arrival has been delayed a few days. Had the launch occurred on Monday, it would already be berthed to Node 2 right now and we would already have opened the hatch and started to get urgent cargo out.
But hey, in the space business flexibility is paramount! The launch slipped by one day, delaying arrival to ISS by two days… that’s orbital mechanics and phasing angles for you.
But if you think that we had two free days while waiting for Dragon to come knock at our door, I’m afraid you’re not acquainted with the folks who run the ISS ops: they always have a slip plan! A launch is delayed? Voila’, old plan is taken out, new plan is put in. Ready? Go! Yes, whenever things heavily depend on an inherently uncertain event like the launch of a rocket, mission managers, flight directors and planners always fully prepare two plans: that requires a lot of extra work on the ground, but it ensures that no precious crew time on ISS is wasted.
In this case they had pretty major plans in store for the case of launch slip. I kind of got that feeling on Tuesday already: when they give you one full hour to study a procedure you’ll do the next day and then they give you another hour to gather hardware you will need for that procedure and then they tell you not to bother taking tools out of the toolbox, just take the entire drawer instead… when all that happens you start to think that you’re going to get your hands dirty on some major work. Which I love!
While Terry and Scott were busy on their own major activity with the EVA suits, I spent the day in Node 3 reconfiguring the intermodule ventilation ducting in preparation of moving the PMM module later this year from Node 1 nadir to Node 3 forward. Basically, we need a way to get ventilation to PMM in its future new location. Never thought if would be possible to fit so many bags full of hardware in Node 3, in the pretty cramped space between ARED and the toilet cabin, but somehow it worked. And at 2 am Houston-time specialists on the ground were ready to support, with a ground model of the equipment to replicate any issues had we run into problems. Fortunately, with the exception of a couple of stuck fasteners , everything went smoothly: kudos to the team for having such a great, user-friendly procedure ready!
Dragon slip also carved some time to work on the European Modular Cultivation System in Columbus. I got to de-install a number of modules called Rotor Based Life Support Systems –self-contained boxes that are attached on the rotors of this facility. They will hitch a ride to Earth on Dragon and they will be refurbished and launched again in the future to support future plant experiments.
Ah, I also worked a little on a Kubik, the stand-alone centrifuge/incubators that we sometimes operate in Columbus for experiments on cell cultures. I wrapped up the experiment Stem Cells Differentiation by moving the experiment containers to cold stowage and downlinking Kubik data to the ground. As the name suggests, this experiment studies human mesenchymal stem cells, which can differentiate into several cell types to build bone, fat, cartilage, musles, tendons. Now, if you’re a stem cell and you have all this choice, how do you know into what you need to differentiate? What are going to be when you “grow up”? That depends on what kind of signals you get from so-called signaling molecules. Vitamin-D is one of those signaling molecules and in particular we know that it is involved in telling stem cells to turn into bone cells. Bone loss is a big issue in microgravity, as you know, so this experiment observes the effectiveness of the Vitamin D signaling by comparing stem cells differentiation in presence or absence of Vitamin D. Pretty cool, ah?
By the way, not sure how much sunlight you get where you live (we don’t get much up here), but if you haven’t done so already and get a chance, at your next blood draw it can’t hurt to check you Vitamin D levels!
Futura mission website (Italian): Avamposto42avamposto42.esa.int #SamLogbook +futura42
(Trad IT) Traduzione in italiano a cura di +AstronautiNEWS
(Trad FR) Traduction en français par +Anne Cpamoa
(Trad ES) Tradducción en español por +Carlos Lallana Borobio
(Trad DE) Deutsch von http://www.logbuch-iss.de