NASA and Orbital ATK Prepping for Mid-October Cargo Mission

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Cygnus Spacecraft Before Capture

The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured before its capture Dec. 9, 2015 at the International Space Station.

Mission managers are targeting the Oct. 9-13 timeframe for the launch of the sixth Orbital ATK resupply mission to the International Space Station. A pair of astronauts onboard the station are also training for the robotic capture of the Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK when it arrives about two days after launch.

Cygnus’ primary mission is to deliver about 2,400 kilograms of supplies and science experiments to the Expedition 49 crew. When Cygnus departs the station about a month later it will participate in secondary missions including combustion research and deploying CubeSats for weather forecasting before reentering Earth’s atmosphere.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi called down to ground controllers today to review and train for next month’s planned arrival of the Cygnus. The duo will be in the cupola monitoring the Cygnus’ rendezvous and approach before grappling and installing the spacecraft with Canada’s robotic arm Canadarm2.

The duo also collected saliva samples for stowage in a science freezer and participated in body mass measurements. Commander Anatoly Ivanishin explored new ways to detect pressure leaks on the space station and continued more research into charged particle systems in magnetic fields.

Eye Scans, Orbital Plumbing and Story Time for Crew

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Japanese Astronaut Takuya Onishi

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi is at work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are continuing more eye checks today in the middle of day-long orbital plumbing work. Commander Anatoly Ivanishin packed trash in a resupply ship and researched a variety of Earth and space phenomena.

Rubins and Onishi scanned each other’s eyes today using an ultrasound. Doctors on the ground assisted the duo and will use the data to determine how living in space affects vision and the shape of the eye. The pair also participated in the Story Time From Space video series for children demonstrating simple physics experiments.

Onishi spent most of his day replacing parts such as sensors and valves in the bathroom, or the Water and Hygiene Compartment, located in the Tranquility module. Rubins analyzed the quality of the station’s water supply and sampled for microbes, silica and organic material.

Ivanishin, a veteran cosmonaut on his second station mission, is getting the Progress 63 cargo craft ready for departure next month. He transferred cargo and trash to and from the resupply ship then updated the station’s inventory management system. The commander also spent some time exploring new ways to monitor natural disasters, how the digestive system adapts in space and detecting orbital debris and micrometeoroid impacts on the station.

U.S. and Russia Targeting Mid-October Cargo Missions

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NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins holds a reference guide during an emergency descent drill aboard the space station.

The United States and Russia are working to get a pair of cargo ships ready for a mid-October launch schedule to the International Space Station. While the new shipments are being processed, the Expedition 49 crew conducted eye checks, wore carbon dioxide monitors and prepared for a fuel combustion experiment.

The U.S. company Orbital ATK is targeting the Oct. 9-13 time frame for the launch of its sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission to the space station. Its Cygnus spacecraft will be scheduled to launch atop an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Va., after successfully completing operational milestones and technical reviews.

The next resupply mission will be Oct. 20 when the Progress 65 cargo craft launches from Kazakhstan on a two-day trip to the space station. The new Russian space freighter will replace the Progress 63 after it undocks Oct. 14 from the rear port of the Zvezda service module.

Back on orbit, astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi paired up for routine eye exams today with remote support from ground personnel. Rubins, from NASA, also wore personal devices to demonstrate the ability to monitor a crew member’s exposure to carbon dioxide aboard a spacecraft.

Onishi, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, continued setting up gear to begin the Group Combustion experiment next week. That study will explore how flames fed by fuel droplets spread in microgravity.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Astronauts Study Pill Properties and Laser Heating

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Astronaut Kate Rubins

Astronaut Kate Rubins wears a hand-painted spacesuit decorated by patients recovering at the MD Anderson Cancer Center to raise awareness about the benefits of pairing art with medicine.

The Expedition 49 crew is helping the pharmaceutical industry improve drug design while also helping researchers understand the properties of materials burning at high temperatures. The International Space Station‘s microgravity environment helps reveal new characteristics of physical and organic processes cloaked by Earth’s gravity. Scientists, doctors and engineers use these observations to design products and procedures to benefit humans living on Earth and in space.

The new Eli Lilly-Hard to Wet Surfaces experiment is researching how different materials dissolve in water. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins set up a camera to automatically photograph the process today using six samples. Results could benefit how pills are designed improving drug delivery inside the body.

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi swapped samples for the Group Combustion experiment inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. The furnace is a device that observes and measures the thermophysical properties of materials heated to high temperatures using lasers. Onishi is also closing out the Mouse Epigenetics study and cleaning up the Cell Biology Experiment Facility. The life science facility contains an incubator with an artificial gravity generator.

Commander Anatoly Ivanishin continued checking out Russian laptop computers and life support systems today. The veteran cosmonaut also transferred gear from a cargo ship and wrapped up a 24-hour data recording session for the Cosmocard blood circulation study.

Orbiting Trio Studies Circulatory System and Body Shape

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Mid-Atlantic Ocean

Portions of the International Space Station’s solar arrays and Japan’s Kibo lab module are seen as it orbits Sept. 13, 2016, over the mid-Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

The three Expedition 49 crew members orbiting Earth right now are moving ahead today with human research and the upkeep of the International Space Station. In the meantime, Roscosmos officials have decided to postpone the Sept. 23 launch of NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko aboard the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.

Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin worked throughout the station’s Russian segment Monday working on life support systems, checking computers and testing video gear. He also set up an electrocardiogram to begin recording data for 24 hours for the Cosmocard blood circulation study.

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi partnered up for the Body Measures experiment exploring how living in space changes body shape and size. The study involves video-taping, photographing and tape measuring the circumference of a crew member’s arms, legs and chest and comparing it with data recorded before, during and after a space mission.

The pair also performed a series of interactive tasks on a touchscreen tablet for the Fine Motor Skills study. That experiment explores how astronauts interact with new technologies which may help engineers design new spacesuits and spacecraft for future long-term space missions.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Next Station Crew Launch Postponed

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Expedition 49-50 Crew Members

Expedition 49-50 crew members (from left) Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko.

Roscosmos decided to postpone the planned September 23, 2016 launch of the spacecraft “Soyuz MS – 02” for technical reasons after routine tests at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch date of the spacecraft will be announced later.

Please visit the Roscosmos website for the latest information.

Botany Research and Medical Training for Crew Today

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Indian Ocean

A crew member photographed this portion of the Indian Ocean about 650 miles south of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

The Expedition 49 trio is looking at plant growth today after the successful deployment of eight nanosatellites Thursday. The crew also inspected a treadmill and trained to care for a sick or injured crew member.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins swapped seeds in a cultivator for the Plant RNA Regulation experiment. Some seeds were stowed in a science freezer, the other seeds will be grown in the cultivator for a week to research how microgravity changes a plant’s gene expression. Observations may provide new insights on how to grow plants for food and oxygen on long-term spaceflights.

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi thoroughly inspected a treadmill inside the Tranquility module photographing its parts for analysis on the ground. Onishi also took a refresher course to stay up to date on medical procedures and gear in case of a crew illness or injury.

Commander Anatoly Ivanishin collected data from a radiation detection experiment and worked maintenance on a variety of Russian systems throughout Friday.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Three Crew Moving Ahead with Variety of Science

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Takuya Onishi and Anatoly Ivanishin

Expedition 49 crew members Takuya Onishi and Anatoly Ivanishin work inside the Zvezda service module.

The Expedition 49 trio orbiting Earth inside the International Space Station are less than two weeks away from welcoming three new crew members. As the station residents wait for the new arrivals, they continue conducting space science and maintaining station systems.

Commander Anatoly Ivanishin with Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi have been living in space for two months. They are awaiting reinforcements scheduled to join them two days after a Sept. 23 launch from Kazakhstan. Soyuz Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Andrey Borisenko are reviewing their flight plan and familiarizing themselves with the new Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.

Back inside the space station, Commander Ivanishin started his day researching how crew activities affect the station structure and exploring how the circulatory system adapts to microgravity. Afterward, he setup a laptop computer and worked on more science and Russian maintenance tasks.

Onishi setup some simple experiments today to show how space affects the flight of a paper plane, a spinning ball and buoyancy among other phenomena. The results were videotaped for sharing to Asian audiences to promote the understanding of spaceflight.

Rubins installed a Phase Change Heat Exchanger into an experiment rack. The new Phase Change HX payload will test ways to regulate thermal conditions on future spacecraft.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

New Crew Preps for Launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome

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Expedition 49-50 Crew Members

Expedition 49-50 crew members (from left) Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko arrive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: RSC Energia

As one crew gets used to Earth’s gravity after 172 days in space, another crew is preparing to launch to the International Space Station in just over two weeks.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams arrived in the United States just 24 hours after landing Tuesday evening in Kazakhstan and completing his mission. His Expedition 48 crewmates Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, who were seated next to each other in the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft, have returned to their home space agency Roscosmos in Russia. Williams has completed one shuttle mission and his third station mission accumulating 534 days in space – a NASA astronaut record.

They will soon be replaced by another trio of Expedition 49-50 crew members who have arrived at their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will launch Sept. 23 on a two-day trip to the space station. They are in final preparations for a mission scheduled to last until Feb. 25, 2017.

Back in space, the Expedition 48-49 crew consisting of Commander Anatoly Ivanishin and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are continuing science operations and maintenance of the orbital laboratory. Rubins continued more DNA sequencing work today and inspected emergency equipment. Onishi cleaned ventilation fans and measured air flow. Ivanishin worked on the Pilot-T experiment exploring how a crew member adapts to the working conditions of a long-term space mission.

Expedition 48 Lands With Most Experienced NASA Astronaut

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NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams rests just minutes after landing in Kazakhstan with fellow crew members Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos landed their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 9:13 p.m. EDT. Russian recovery teams are helping the crew exit the Soyuz spacecraft and adjust to gravity after their stay in space. The trio will be transported by helicopter to Karaganda where they will split up, with Williams returning to Houston in a NASA jet, while Ovchinin and Skripochka are flown back to their training base at Star City, Russia.

Williams was instrumental in preparing the station for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. The first International Docking Adapter was installed during a spacewalk by Williams and fellow NASA astronaut Kate Rubins Aug. 19. Outfitted with a host of sensors and systems, the adapter’s main purpose is to connect spacecraft bringing astronauts to the station in the future. Its first users are expected to be Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, now in development in partnership with NASA.

During his time on the orbital complex, Williams ventured outside the confines of the space station for a second spacewalk with Rubins to retract a spare thermal control radiator and install two new high-definition cameras.

Together, the Expedition 48 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.

The crew members also welcomed five cargo spacecraft during their stay. Williams was involved in the grapple of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft in March, the company’s fourth commercial resupply mission, and SpaceX’s eighth Dragon spacecraft cargo delivery in April, and welcomed a second Dragon delivery in July. Two Russian ISS Progress cargo craft also docked to the station in April and July delivering tons of supplies.

The Expedition 48 trio launched to the space station in March 2016. With the conclusion of his fourth trip to the International Space Station, Williams has accrued 534 days in space, the most by any U.S. astronaut in history.

Expedition 49 continues operating the station with Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos in command. He, Rubins, and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will operate the station for more than two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch Sept. 23, U.S. time, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at:

www.nasa.gov/station

Get breaking news, images, videos and features from the station on social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/ISS
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