Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Progress M1-4 Arrival

Progress M1-4 was launched from Site 1/5 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome on November 16, 2000.  The vehicle carried a re-supply of food, water, oxygen, and various scientific experiment supplies to Expedition 1 crewmembers.

The vehicle was supposed to make an automated dock to Zarya's nadir port on November 18. However, a failure of the Kurs automated docking system forced manual docking using the backup TORU system.

M1-4 was docked to the ISS for two weeks before undocking on 12/1/2000 and remaining a short distance from the ISS in free flight for 25 days.  The vehicle re-docked again to the Zarya nadir port on December 25 using the TORU system, as the automated Kurs system could not be used due to permanent retraction of an antenna required for docking during the prior failed automated dock attempt.

M1-4 undocked from the ISS the final time on February 8, 2001 and re-entered the atmosphere and burned up during re-entry the same day.


Friday, October 14, 2016

ISS Pioneers

The first long-term inhabitants of the ISS, Expedition 1, departed Earth from the Gagarin's Start launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on October 31, 2000. A Soyuz-U rocket launched the 3 member crew into orbit aboard the Soyuz TM-31 vehicle, which docked with the aft port of Zvezda two days later on November 2, 2000. The crew's arrival marked the start of long-term uninterrupted habitation of the ISS which continues to this day.

The Expedition 1 crew consisted of two Russians (Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev) and one American ( Bill Shepherd) and stayed 136 days.  Expedition 1 crew members departed from the ISS aboard Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-102) on March 18, 2001, which had also delivered the replacement Expedition 2 crew upon its arrival and docking to PMA-2 a few days earlier on March 10.

Soyuz TM-31 remained docked to the ISS during all of Expedition 1 and part of Expedition 2, serving as as the lifeboat option for emergency evacuation. During this period, TM-31 was moved twice. Move #1 occurred on February 24, 2001 with the spacecraft being transferred from Zvezda's aft port to Zarya's nadir port to accomodate docking of Progress M-44 at Zvezda's aft port on on February 26. Move #2 occurred on April 18, 2001 from Zarya's nadir port back to Zvezda's aft port to provide clearance for the Rafaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) berthing to Unity's nadir port, which arrived aboard STS-100 on April 19.  Soyuz TM-31 departed the ISS for de-orbit on May 6, 2001, carrying Soyuz TM-32 crewmembers back to Earth.

As with my previous Progress M1-3 build, this build also consists of two pages of parts and the same set of instructions were also used for this assembly effort. AXM chose to combine the instructions for both due to very similar steps being followed in assembling each spacecraft.

I first cut out and joined the main ring of the orbital module and main ring cover that contains the mission insignia. I extracted the circular TV transmission antennas from the cover.

Next, I recessed the TV antennas into the underlying main ring in order to achieve some depth

Next, I cut out the 2 upper and lower rings for the orbital module and joined them into circles. Then, as prescribed by AXM, I affixed each ring using glue one at a time, providing ample time for each join to dry before adding the next ring.  The result is a nice well-formed bulb structure synonymous with Soyuz.

I then moved to assembly of the descent module. First, I cut out the lower portion the includes the crew compartment windows and joiner tab used to make the upper to the lower portion of the descent module.  I extracted the window openings and recessed them into the joiner tab in order to achieve depth.  

I then covered the backside of each porthole area cutout with a small plastic cellophane to achieve the effect of glass reflection.

I then cut out the upper section of the descent stage, the service module, and service module flange, joined each part into a cylinder, and then joined all components of the descent and service modules together.

Next, I cut out the parachute covers and affixed them to the descent module at prescribed locations.

I then affixed the orbital module, paying special care to join the parts in an evenly aligned configuration.  I then affixed the control engine plate and applied layering to achieve depth and realism.  I also scored slits for insertion of the solar panels.

I chose to add some detail to the descent and service modules by cutting out select panels, conduit channels, hatches, and RCS thruster nozzles from another copy of the parts and layering them to achieve depth and realism.  I also cut out and affixed the umbilical connector between the orbital and service modules.

Next, I assembled the docking periscope, camera housing, zenith-mount Kurs antenna and horizon sensors. I affixed the parts to their respective locations on the spacecraft.

I then cutout and assembled the various Kurs antenna masts, receiver dishes, and associated shields, installing them at appropriate vehicle locations. I glued the solar panel sides together, darkened the edges with an orange colored pencil and inserted the completed solar panel assembly through the slits. 

I then built the docking hatch and  modified it to accommodate magnetic docking of the spacecraft to zenith and nadir docking port locations in the future.

Finally, I added small glass beads to the top of each horizon sensor to catch a glimmer of light and add realism. The spacecraft build was now complete!

 I transported the spacecraft to my office and mated it to Zvezda's aft port, signifying the arrival of Expedition 1, pioneers of the ISS!

Next up -  completion of the P6 Truss build..stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bringing "Balance" to the ISS

The Z1 truss was the first latticework structure added to the ISS.  This component provides a number of station functions, including attitude control via a redundant set of control moment gyroscopes (CMGs), two plasma contactors to neutralize static electric buildup on the station's surfaces,  a Ku-Band space-to-ground antenna (SGANT), an S-Band antenna support assembly (SASA), Manual Berthing Mechanism (MBM) ring used to temporarily "park" PMAs during the station assembly sequenceand various electrical and cooling system assemblies to support  integration of solar power and ammonia-based heat dissipation systems added by future ISS assembly missions. The truss also provided a temporary mount for the P6 truss , delivered during STS-97, which provided early solar power capability to the station.

The Z1 truss and a third pressurized mating adapter (PMA-3)  were launched aboard STS-92 on October 11, 2000.  The components arrived at the station aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on October 13 and were added to the station configuration during a series of four EVAs that occurred between October 15 and 18.

The parts for this step in the build consists of three parts pages and a 14 page instruction manual.  Two of the parts pages are part of the for-purchase AXM combo kit #1 (Z1 truss, PMA-3). The third parts page (S-Band antenna with cover) is part of the STS-92 shuttle kit graciously provided by AXM upon my request.

I started the build by cutting out the main Z1 assembly box and removing the MBM ring and CMG interior areas.

Next, I cut off all joiner tabs and lapped them to achieve a flush fit on all seams.

I then cut out and layered the inner section of the MBM ring to achieve depth and assembled the Z1 main body "cube".

I then moved to the top area of the truss, again applying layering to achieve depth and inserting magnets at the four Rocketdyne Truss Attachment System (RTAS) attachment points to accomodate future magnetic attachment of the P6 truss.  I added a fifth magnet at the center forward point on the top to provide a display hang point for the mated Z1 and Unity components.

Next, I assembled the plasma contactors and DC-to-DC Converter Unit-Heat Pipes (DDCU-HP).

I then affixed the top and bottom sections to the Z1 "cube" and then placed the plasma contactors and DDCU-HPs at prescibed points.

I then built the lower section of the P6 truss, building out the feet with magnets to ensure proper alignment of the P6 base to the Z1 RTAS locations.

Next, I turned my attention to building the 4 CMGs and thermal blanket.  Cutting these parts out was a bit tedious due to the numerous curves.

 I then cut out and affixed the trunnion pins and scuff plates.  I used sections of a paper clip for the actual pins.

I then assembled the CMGs, adding a nub to the top of each (using a small section of bamboo skewer) to add realism.  The assembled CMGs were then glued into the proper locations on the aft side of the Z1 "cube".  I consulted various photos of the truss to ensure that the CMGs were inserted at the proper orientation into the cutout areas.

Next, I asssembled the Ku-Band SGANT dish and boom.  I fabricated a nub at the prescribed mount point on the zenith plane to accomodate simple attachment of the antenna boom.

Next, I turned my attention to the fluid line cable tray.  I glued together the front and back sections and then layered key sections cutout from another printout of the parts to obtain depth.  I applied 28-gauge coated wire to add realism.

I assembled covered and uncovered versions of the S-Band Antenna Support Assembly (SASA).  The covered assembly is used initially, replaced by the uncovered version that was placed at the top of the P6 truss during STS-97.

During my studies of various Z1 photos, I learned that a second Ku-Band antenna was added to the Z1 truss during STS-132.  I decided to add a magnet at the prescribed point, which required me to remove the upper right CMG so that the magnet could be glued at the inside zenith area.  I affixed the magnet and re-glued the CMG.

I then assembled PMA-3, following the same process that was used during my prior builds of PMA-1 and PMA-2.

My test fit of the magnetic attachment of the Z1 truss to Unity's zenith docking port identified a need for additional connection force.  I decided to add a magnet at the center of each docking port.  I cut out the porthole cover or each port, inserted a magnet the the center of each cutout, and affixed a cutout of each porthole cover over each magnet to hide it.  I also added a circular cover to the bottom of the Z1 truss with a magnet glued to the backside.  

The additional magnet pair provided the necessary additional force to ensure a snug bond between the Z1 and Unity components.

I then transported the component to my office, where I mated the Z1 and Unity to the other station components.

Now, onto the next component, Soyuz TM-31, which brought the first IIS expedition crew to the station in early November, 2000.  Stay tuned!