Captain’s Log – Alarms

The Waste and Hygiene Compartment
The Waste and Hygiene Compartment, or toilet, on the International Space Station.

  • Crew: Captain Scott ”Maker” Tingle, USN
  • ISS Location: Low Earth Orbit
  • Earth Date: 27 Jan 2018
  • Earth Time (GMT): 14:45

The smoke detectors have been setting off alarms. This happens routinely due to dust circulating in the modules, but every alarm is taken seriously. This is the third time that the alarm has sounded while I was using the Waste & Hygiene Compartment (toilet). I am starting to think that my actions are causing the alarms…. maybe I should change my diet?

 

Captain’s Log – Spacewalking

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle prepares for his first spacewalk
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle prepares for his first spacewalk.

  • Crew: Captain Scott ”Maker” Tingle, USN
  • ISS Location: Low Earth Orbit
  • Earth Date: 23 January 2018
  • Earth Time (GMT): 22:00

We just finished a 20-hour work day. I spent nearly 11 hours in the spacesuit, and 7 hours and 24 minutes doing a spacewalk. The view was amazing. The changes from day to night, and back to day were phenomenal. My fellow astronaut Mark Vande Hei and I completed the primary task of replacing the Latching End Effector, or hand, for the robotic arm, but a software glitch kept us waiting and we were unable to complete any get-ahead tasks. I thought we had plenty of time and estimated that we had only been outside for a few hours. I was very surprised to find that we had worked for over 7 hours. Wow, I guess time really does fly by when you are having fun!

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle is pictured during a spacewalk
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle is pictured during a spacewalk to swap out a degraded robotic hand, or Latching End Effector, on the Canadarm2.

Veteran Astronauts Conclude Spacewalk for Thermal Maintenance

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
The Earth passes 250 miles below spacewalker Ricky Arnold today while he is attached to the tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in the middle of swapping television camera gear.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the fifth spacewalk of this year at 2:10 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 31 minutes. The two astronauts moved the Pump Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS) from a spare parts platform on the station’s truss to the Dextre robotic arm. The PFCS drives and controls the flow of ammonia through the exterior portions of the station’s cooling system. The team then removed and replaced a camera group and a degraded Space to Ground Transmitter Receiver Controller, and was also able to complete several get-ahead tasks.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days, 16 hours and 40 minutes working outside the station in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

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

Veteran Spacewalkers Begin Excursion for Station Maintenance

astronauts Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Norishige Kanai
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold (left) and Drew Feustel (right) are pictured inside their U.S. spacesuits for a fit check verification ahead of a pair of spacewalks. Norishige Kanai (center), from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, assisted the duo in and out of the spacesuits during the sizing process.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:39 a.m. EDT, signifying the official start of today’s planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Watch the spacewalk live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Feustel is wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Arnold’s suit has no stripes. Views from a camera on Feustel’s helmet are designated with the number 17, and Arnold’s is labeled with the number 18. Feustel is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) for this spacewalk, the eighth of his career. Arnold, embarking on his fourth spacewalk, is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).

Live Spacewalk Coverage Begins Now on NASA TV

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold is pictured inside a U.S. spacesuit for a fit check verification ahead of a pair of spacewalks.

NASA Television has begun coverage of today’s spacewalk, as Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA work outside the International Space Station for approximately 6.5 hours. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m. EDT.

The objective of today’s spacewalk will be to move a component called a Pump Flow Control Subassembly (PFCS) from a spare parts platform on the station’s truss “backbone” to the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre) robotic arm. The PFCS drives and controls the flow of ammonia through the exterior portions of the station’s cooling system. Robotics controllers on Earth will use Canadarm2 and Dextre to perform final installation on the port-side truss for checkout.

Follow along on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Keep up with station and crew activities via Twitter @space_station.

What Does It Take To Prepare for a Spacewalk?

Astronaut Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel is pictured inside a U.S. spacesuit for a fit check verification ahead of a pair of spacewalks.

The Expedition 55 crew on board the International Space Station has been working hard to prepare for Wednesday’s spacewalk, and they’ll still have a lot of difficult work ahead of them when Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel head outside the airlock. If you’ve ever wondered what makes spacewalks such a big deal, check out chapter 17 of the new NASA ebook, The International Space Station: Operating an Outpost in the New Frontier. The book, which was written by space station flight directors, is now available to download for free at… https://go.usa.gov/xQbvH.


Chapter 17: Extravehicular Activities – Building a Space Station
Planning and Training Extravehicular Activity Tasks

On paper, the tasks needed for International Space Station assembly—e.g., driving a bolt, carrying something from one place to another, taking off a cover, plugging in an electrical cord—might not seem too complex. However, conducting such tasks while wearing a spacesuit with pressurized gloves (possibly with one’s feet planted on the end of a long robotic arm), working in microgravity, maneuvering around huge structures while moving massive objects, having time constraints based on spacesuit consumables, and using specialized equipment and tools made these tasks and EVAs challenging.

Tasks such as working with cables or fluid hoses are hand-intensive work—fingers and forearms get quite a workout in pressurized gloves that feel like stiff balloons and resemble oversized garden gloves. Added to these complexities, space “walking” is mostly done with the hands. The astronaut grasps handholds and maneuvers the combination of the Extravehicular Mobility Unity, Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue, tools, and himself or herself around the structure.

The team on the ground has to come up with a choreography and order of events for the EVA, in advance. The flight control team creates the EVA timelines based on a high-level prioritized list of tasks determined by ISS management (e.g., move a specific antenna, install a particular avionics box). The flight controllers start with the top ISS priority task and assesses the other tasks that can fit into the EVA based on multiple factors such as how long the tasks will take based on past experiences, whether both crew members need to work together, task location on the ISS, how much equipment will fit into the airlock, the tools required, crew experience level, and the level of crew effort to complete the task. A task that might fit (but only if the team is efficient) is put on the list as a “get-ahead” task.

Real-time discussions in Mission Control of EVA time remaining, crew fatigue, and suit consumables could allow the get-ahead task to be accomplished in addition to the planned tasks. Some tasks are performed on a “clock”; i.e., if power is removed from an item, it might get cold and need heater power in a matter of hours or sometimes within minutes to prevent damage. While a timeline is still in a draft version, the team conducts testing as required to prove out the operations. The team then trains the crew and refines and/or changes the timeline, sometimes up to the day of the EVA.

Keep reading at https://go.usa.gov/xQbvH.

Cygnus Checks and Final Preps Before Wednesday’s Spacewalk

The Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic coasts of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil
The Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic coasts of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil are pictured from the International Space Station.

Two NASA astronauts are finalizing their preparations ahead of Wednesday morning’s spacewalk to swap thermal control gear outside the International Space Station. The Expedition 55 crew also worked on biomedical operations, radiation checks and Cygnus communications gear.

Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel checked their tools and reviewed their procedures one last time today before tomorrow’s spacewalk. The pair will work for about 6.5 hours swapping a pair of thermal control devices, known as Pump Flow Control Subassemblies, which control the circulation of ammonia keeping external station systems cool.

The veteran spacewalkers will set their spacesuit batteries to internal power Wednesday at about 8:10 a.m. EDT signaling the official start of the 210th spacewalk in space station history. NASA TV will begin its live broadcast of the activities beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Science and maintenance are always ongoing aboard the orbital lab even despite the spacewalk and cargo mission readiness activities. Feustel and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai collected their biological samples this morning and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev explored cardiac bioelectric activity at rest. Commander Anton Shkaplerov collected radiation measurements from dosimeters he retrieved from the orbital lab’s U.S. segment.

Orbital ATK is getting its Cygnus space freighter ready for launch Sunday at 5:04 a.m. to deliver science, supplies and hardware to the Expedition 55 crew. Astronaut Scott Tingle checked out command and communications gear that will be used when Cygnus arrives four days later on Thursday for capture at 5:20 a.m.

Captain’s Log – Week 3 on Station

Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Joe Acaba monitor the departure of the SpaceX Dragon
Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Joe Acaba monitor the departure of the SpaceX Dragon Commercial Resupply Services-13 (CRS-13) spacecraft through windows in the Cupola module.

  • Crew:  Captain Scott ”Maker” Tingle, USN
  • ISS Location:  Low Earth Orbit
  • Earth Date: 7 January 2018
  • Earth Time (GMT):  17:29

Week three. The time is flying by. The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is 80% loaded. This has been a big effort for the crew as well as our specialists on the ground. Tracking a large matrix of storage locations, special requirements and loading locations is a nightmare, but our team on the ground made it look easy. Our crew is becoming more versatile and now flexes between operations and science tasking with what is seemingly just a flick of a switch. I had the opportunity to set up our Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Trans-Alloy experiment. Unfortunately, the team had to abort the science run due to high temperatures in the glovebox. Tomorrow morning, we will remove the science hardware, remove the cooling plugs, and set it all back up again. Reworks like this don’t bother me, and I am happy to do what is needed to reach success. We are on, and sometimes beyond, the frontline of science where lines between science, engineering and operations become very blurry and complex. We have to be flexible!  The International Space Station (ISS) has now entered its 20th year of operations. What an engineering marvel. As with any aging program, we have accumulated an expanse of experience operating in space. As an engineering community, we are much smarter about operating in space than we were 30 years ago when we designed ISS. I will be very encouraged to see our community apply lessons learned as we create new systems to require less training, less maintenance and less logistics.

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captures a photo of the Bahamas.
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captures a photo of the Bahamas.

I’ve managed to take a few moments over the last week to take some pictures of Earth. Sunrises are the most beautiful part of the day. Out of total darkness, a thin blue ring begins to form that highlights the Earth’s circumference. At this moment, you can really see how thin our atmosphere is. Within a few minutes, the sun rises on station and highlights the docked vehicles while Earth just below is still in night’s shadow. A few minutes later, ISS is over brightly-lighted ground and water, providing a fresh view of the features below. The promise of a new day is real!

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle works with the Microgravity Science Glovebox
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle works with the Microgravity Science Glovebox aboard the International Space Station.

The crew managed to have a movie night last night, which provided some good fun and camaraderie. This was a welcome break from the busy routine we endure. Unfortunately, today, I woke to hear that astronaut and moonwalker John Young had passed away. And I also learned that a good friend from the Navy had passed away after a challenging battle with cancer. When he learned he had cancer two years ago, he decided to ignite the afterburners and live every day like there was no tomorrow…he was just as successful in his final days as he was in his previous 50 years. To two remarkable American heroes, thank you for all you have sacrificed and thank you for a lifetime of inspiration. Fair winds and following seas.

Busy Astronauts Ramp Up for Spacewalk and Cygnus Cargo Mission

Four Expedition 55 Astronauts
The four astronauts who comprise the six-member Expedition 55 crew pose for a portrait inside the International Space Station. They are (clockwise from bottom right) NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold, Scott Tingle and Drew Feustel and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishige Kanai.

Veteran astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will embark on the 210th spacewalk Wednesday at the International Space Station to swap out thermal control gear. The experienced spacewalkers have a combined 10 spacewalks between them with Feustel having conducted seven and Arnold with a total of three.

Flight Engineer Scott Tingle assisted the duo today getting spacewalk tools ready and recharging the U.S. spacesuits inside the U.S. Quest airlock. Tingle and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai will assist the spacewalkers in and out of the airlock Wednesday and guide the duo during their tasks.

Orbital ATK will launch their Cygnus space freighter on Sunday at 5:04 a.m. EDT to resupply the Expedition 55 crew just four days after Feustel and Arnold complete their fourth spacewalk together. After a four-day trip in space, Cygnus will deliver crew supplies, station hardware and experiments exploring a variety of subjects including life science and space physics.

Arnold and Tingle practiced the robotics maneuvers today on a computer they will use to capture Cygnus after its approach and rendezvous with the station on May 24 at 5:20 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the Cygnus launch and capture activities live at the orbital laboratory.

Captain’s Log – First Days on the Station

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captures the view of a sunrise from the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captures the view of a sunrise from the International Space Station.

  • Crew:  Captain Scott ”Maker” Tingle, USN
  • ISS Location:  Low Earth Orbit
  • Earth Date: 25 December 2017
  • Earth Time (GMT):  21:00

At 22:00, after initial “safing” and unpacking of Soyuz, we finally retired to our quarters. It was very hard to sleep, and I think the busy days leading us to the International Space Station (ISS) were beginning to take their toll. We were scheduled for a full day of work to include familiarization of safety equipment as well as beginning to prepare several science experiments for action. The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrived to ISS a couple days before we did, and its cargo included several experiments that needed to be conducted promptly upon arrival. I was doing a great job of floating from one module to another. Since I was a little behind schedule due to having to learn where everything is, I decided I could speed up my floating to be more expeditious. Well, we know how that usually goes and this time was no exception. I gathered a “bag of knots” (aviator slang for “going really fast”) and began a healthy transition from Node 2 into the Columbus module – where I predictably hit the top of my head. Ouch. The following three days (Tuesday-Saturday) were challenging as we worked to integrate all of our new knowledge and increase our efficiencies. The senior crew was very helpful and understanding. I was very grateful of how they managed our arrival and how they slowly passed down the information we needed to get started. Everything was different from life on Earth. Everything. We quickly figured out that we needed to think differently as we began to adapt to life in space. Drinking water, preparing food, eating food, using the toilet, working, physical training, etc., all different. I had a good handle on the differences and what to expect before I got there. But I didn’t expect that when operations got very busy that my reflexes would respond naturally as they did on Earth. The light bulb came on. I was going to have to move slower and think about everything before I took action. This is why space fliers new to this environment appear to be less efficient than most managers and/or operations planners would like. Adaptation to life in space takes time, and you can’t rush it.

Astronaut Scott Tingle watches the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrive
Astronaut Scott Tingle watches the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrive from inside the seven-windowed Cupola moments before capturing it with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

On day three, I finally had the opportunity to look out the Cupola (window facing Earth). My Lord, what a beautiful sight. I could see the sun rising in front of us, darkness below and behind us, and a bright blue ring highlighting the curvature of the Earth as the sun began to rise. Absolutely amazing!

We wrapped up our busy week and celebrated Saturday night by enjoying some rehydrated meats and instant juices! Christmas Eve, we had a few tasks that kept us busy, and the same on Christmas Day.   Fortunately, we were able to have video conferences with our families over the holiday, and it was really nice to talk with them. We also had a very short celebration for Christmas after work was done. Our wonderful Behavioral Health Professionals at NASA had sent us Christmas stockings in the SpaceX cargo delivery. I added the small gifts that I brought for the crew – superhero socks! Mark got Hulk socks, Nemo (Norishige Kanai) got Spiderman socks, Joe got Deadpool socks, Anton got Superman socks, and Sasha and I got Batman socks. NOW, we are ready to conquer space!