Russia’s New Docking Module Arrives at Station

Russia's new Prichal docking module arrives at the station providing additional docking ports and fuel transfer capabilities.
Russia’s new Prichal docking module arrives at the station providing additional docking ports and fuel transfer capabilities.

The five-ton Prichal docking module arrived at the International Space Station at 10:19 a.m. EST, propelled by a modified Russian Progress propulsion compartment. They docked to the Nauka module on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 8:06 a.m. EST (6:06 p.m. Baikonur time). The spacecraft were flying about 260 miles over Ukraine at the time of docking.

To make room for Prichal, the uncrewed Progress 78 cargo craft undocked from Nauka at 6:23 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25, and burned up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere later that morning.

Prichal, named for the Russian word for pier, has five available docking ports to accommodate multiple Russian spacecraft and provide fuel transfer capability to the Nauka module. Named for the Russian word for “science,” Nauka launched to the space station in July.

The modified Progress transport spacecraft that guided Prichal to the station will remain in place until late December.

New Module Heads to Station During Spacewalk Preps and Science Today

A Russian Progress spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan at 8:06 a.m. EST (6:06 p.m. Baikonur time) today carrying the Prichal docking module into Earth orbit.
A Russian Progress spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan at 8:06 a.m. EST (6:06 p.m. Baikonur time) today carrying the Prichal docking module into Earth orbit.

Russia’s newest docking port, the Prichal module, launched today and will arrive on Friday at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 66 crew is continuing spacewalk preparations while keeping up with ongoing advanced space research.

A Russian Progress spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan at 8:06 a.m. EST (6:06 p.m. Baikonur time) today carrying the five-ton Prichal docking module into Earth orbit. The new module, controlled by the Progress vehicle, will automatically dock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module on Friday at 10:26 a.m. Once attached Prichal will provide five additional docking ports and fuel transfer capability to the orbiting lab.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will be on duty Friday monitoring Prichal’s arrival. Friday’s approach and docking will be covered live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Two NASA astronauts have begun focusing on an upcoming spacewalk planned for Nov. 30. Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron checked out spacewalking tools and emergency jetpacks today they would use in the unlikely event they became untethered from the station. The duo is timelined to spend about six-and-a-half hours replacing a faulty antenna system on the Port-1 truss segment.

Flight Engineers Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) focused on human research strapping sensors to themselves for a pair of exercise studies. Chari performed a fitness test on an exercise cycle to measure his aerobic capacity in space. Maurer then took his turn on the exercise bike wearing a mask and a heart monitor to demonstrate cardio-pulmonary diagnosis aboard the orbiting lab. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei serviced the COLBERT treadmill inspecting and cleaning its components.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 5:06 a.m. EST for launch of the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon will bring food, supplies, and scientific investigations to the orbiting crew, including a protein crystal growth study that could improve the delivery of cancer treatment drugs and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds to faster healing.


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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Russian Port Module is Safely in Orbit Headed for Station

The Russian Prichal Node Module launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 24th, 2021.
The Russian Prichal Node Module launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 24th, 2021. Credit: NASA TV.

The five-ton Prichal docking module and its modified, uncrewed Russian Progress delivery spacecraft are safely in orbit headed for the International Space Station following launch at 8:06 a.m. (6:06 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Prichal, named for the Russian word for port or berth, has five available docking ports to accommodate multiple Russian spacecraft and provide fuel transfer capability to the Nauka module.

Progress will transport Prichal for an automated docking with the space station’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module Friday, Nov. 26., at 10:26 a.m. Live coverage on NASA TV of rendezvous and docking will begin at 9:30 a.m.

To make room for Prichal, the recently relocated, uncrewed Progress 78 cargo craft will undock from Nauka at 6:21 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25, and follow a path to burn up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA TV will not cover the Progress 78 undocking or reentry.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Spacewalk Preps During Human Research, Robotics, and Physics Today

NASA astronaut Raja Chari is pictured aboard the station just a few hours after docking inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance on Nov. 12.
NASA astronaut Raja Chari is pictured aboard the station just a few hours after docking inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance on Nov. 12.

Two astronauts are checking out their gear today ahead of a spacewalk planned for the end of the month. The duo along with the rest of the Expedition 66 crew also had time set aside for human research, robotics, and physics aboard the International Space Station.

NASA Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron are getting ready for a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk scheduled for Nov. 30. The duo will exit the U.S. Quest airlock, translate over to the Port-1 truss segment, and replace a faulty antenna system. Today, the astronauts checked out spacewalking gear and inspected the tethers that will keep them attached to the station.

Afterward, Barron partnered again with NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari for the GRASP experiment studying how microgravity affects hand-eye coordination and the vestibular system. The pair took turns wearing a virtual reality headset reaching for virtual objects to understand how the central nervous system adapts to weightlessness.

Marshburn worked throughout Tuesday collecting and stowing his blood samples in a science freezer for later analysis. The three-time station visitor also contributed to the Food Physiology study that explores the effects of diet on astronauts living long-term in space.

Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) studied advanced robotic maneuvers today using the Astrobee robotic free-flyers. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei set up the Microgravity Science Glovebox to learn how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials for the InSPACE-4 physics study.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov had a physical fitness test today on the station’s exercise bicycle. The Roscosmos duo strapped sensors to themselves and measured their cardiovascular function during this morning’s test. The pair split up in the afternoon and worked on life support maintenance and cargo inventory tasks.

Crew Awaits New Docking Module During Human Research and Space Physics

The Russian rocket with the Prichal docking module atop stands vertical at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos
The Russian rocket with the Prichal docking module atop stands vertical at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The International Space Station is gearing up for a new Russian docking module due to arrive on Friday. In the meantime, the Expedition 66 residents focused on a variety of human research and space physics aboard the orbital lab today.

Russia’s newest docking port, the Prichal module, sits atop a rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan counting down to a launch on Wednesday at 8:06 a.m. EST. It will arrive at the station on Friday where it will automatically dock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module at 10:26 a.m.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov started Monday morning training for Prichal’s arrival. The duo from Roscosmos simulated the Russian docking port’s approach, rendezvous and docking on the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU. The TORU, located inside the Zvezda service module, can also be used to manually control and dock an approaching Russian spacecraft if necessary.

Human research continued on Monday as NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron studied how the central nervous system adapts to microgravity. The astronauts took turns wearing a virtual reality headset while seated inside the Columbus laboratory module for the GRASP experiment. The study observes a crew member reaching for virtual objects to compare hand-eye coordination and vestibular changes before, during, and after a spaceflight mission.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei worked on a pair of space physics experiments throughout Monday. Vande Hei first serviced samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace which enables the safe research of thermophysical properties of high temperature materials in weightlessness. Next, he opened up the Microgravity Science Glovebox and uninstalled hardware supporting research that observes processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth.

Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn and Matthias Maurer worked throughout the day on a variety of robotics and maintenance activities. Marshburn worked on orbital plumbing tasks, collected station water samples for analysis, and took a robotics test for the Behavioral Core Measures study. Maurer partnered up with Chari practicing Canadarm2 robotic arm maneuvers planned for a spacewalk scheduled on Sept. 30th.

Cygnus Departs Station Ending Cargo Mission

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter is in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm moments before its release above the South Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA TV
The Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter is in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm moments before its release above the South Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA TV

At 11:01 a.m. EST, flight controllers on the ground sent commands to release the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft from the Canadarm2 robotic arm after earlier detaching Cygnus from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module. At the time of release, the station was flying about 260 miles over the South Pacific Ocean.

The Cygnus spacecraft successfully departed the International Space Station more than three months after arriving at the space station to deliver about 8,000 pounds of  scientific investigations and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.

After departure, the Kentucky Re-Entry Probe Experiment (KREPE) stowed inside Cygnus will take measurements to demonstrate a thermal protection system for spacecraft and their contents during re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere, which can be difficult to replicate in ground simulations.

Cygnus will deorbit on Wednesday, Dec. 15, following a deorbit engine firing to set up a destructive re-entry in which the spacecraft, filled with waste the space station crew packed in the spacecraft, will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Cygnus arrived at the space station Aug. 12, following a launch two days prior on Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. It was the company’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the space station for NASA. Northrop Grumman named the spacecraft after NASA astronaut Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian American astronaut.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media at: @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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

Cygnus Ready to be Released Live Now on NASA TV

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter is pictured after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Aug. 12, 2021.
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is pictured after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Aug. 12, 2021.

Live coverage of the departure of Northrop Grumman’s uncrewed Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station is underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website, and the NASA app, with its release from the robotic arm scheduled for 11 a.m.

Flight controllers on the ground sent commands earlier this morning for the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Cygnus from the Unity module’s Earth-facing port and maneuver the arm into position in preparation for releasing the spacecraft. Astronaut Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor Cygnus’ systems upon its departure from the space station.

After departure, the Kentucky Re-Entry Probe Experiment (KREPE) stowed inside Cygnus will take measurements to demonstrate a thermal protection system for spacecraft and their contents during re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere, which can be difficult to replicate in ground simulations.

Cygnus will deorbit on Wednesday, Dec. 15, following a deorbit engine firing to set up a destructive re-entry in which the spacecraft, filled with waste the space station crew packed in the spacecraft, will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media at: @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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

Crew Prioritizes Science, Training, and Exercise Before Cygnus Departure

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter pictured arriving at the International Space Station on Aug. 12, 2021. Cygnus will depart from the space station on Nov. 20, 2021.
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter pictured arriving at the International Space Station on Aug. 12, 2021. Cygnus will depart from the space station on Nov. 20, 2021.

The Expedition 66 crew focused on science, training, and exercise aboard the International Space Station on Friday and prepared for the Cygnus departure tomorrow.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron continued the GRIP experiment that they began earlier this week. The experiment studies how long-duration spaceflight affects crews’ ability to regulate grip force and upper limbs trajectories when manipulating objects during different movements. The pair set up hardware and completed GRIP science tasks in the supine position while donning noise-canceling headphones. Chari performed the GRIP science tasks in the seated position as well.

Additionally, NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Barron completed a robotics research session for the Behavioral Core Measures experiment. The study aims to accurately assess the risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions during extended spaceflight. Marshburn and Barron set up the appropriate robotics hardware and performed the BCM testing. Crews are expected to complete the session at least once per month, starting two weeks after they arrive aboard the space station.

For medical training, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos reviewed rescuer roles for a situation requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Emergency medical equipment was deployed during the session. The trio practiced CPR positioning to ensure they could perform the procedure in space if necessary.

Focusing on fitness, crews also squeezed in a workout today. The astronauts completed cardio exercises on a stationary bicycle and treadmill fastened to the space station and resistive exercises using equipment that enables them to lift weights in weightlessness. Crews workout on average two hours per day in space. Routine exercise helps astronauts counter the bone and muscle loss that accompanies living and working in microgravity.

Meanwhile, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer transferred data from a fiber-optic monitor called Lumina. The device tracks radiation levels aboard the space station in real-time. Maurer completed the data transfer with an iPad-based application that gathers medical data from astronauts.

Looking ahead, Barron, Chari, Marshburn, and Vande Hei made final preparations to the Cygnus cargo ship, which is slated to depart from the space station on Saturday at 11 a.m. EST. Cygnus arrived at the space station in August carrying more than  8,200 pounds of cargo. Flight controllers will remotely decouple Cygnus from the space station by forwarding commands to the Canadarm2 robotic arm from Earth. Live coverage of the spacecraft’s departure will begin at 10:45 a.m. on NASA TV.

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Crew Packs Cargo Ship for Departure and Preps for Spacewalk

A pair of U.S. spacesuits that will be worn by NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron are pictured in the station's Quest airlock.
A pair of U.S. spacesuits that will be worn by NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron are pictured in the station’s Quest airlock.

The Expedition 66 crew is turning its attention to the U.S. Cygnus space freighter as it nears departure this weekend after 100 days berthed to the station’s Unity module. The astronauts are also preparing for a spacewalk to replace a faulty antenna system on the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Mark Vande Hei spent Wednesday afternoon packing Cygnus with trash and obsolete gear. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer continued the cargo loading on Thursday. He will be at the robotics workstation monitoring its departure on Saturday at 11 a.m. EST. Robotics controllers remotely operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm from Earth will command Cygnus’ release live on NASA TV starting at 10:45 a.m.

Cygnus will have one more mission as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery, but safe destruction above the Pacific Ocean. The Kentucky Re-entry Probe Experiment will deploy three capsules from Cygnus to collect and transmit thermal data from sensors embedded in heat shields. The data may help validate thermal protection systems in space and heat shield materials on Earth.

Meanwhile, Marshburn and NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron are due to exit the U.S. Quest airlock soon to swap the S-Band Antenna System with a spare already attached outside the station. Maurer will be at the controls of the Canadarm2 assisting the duo during the planned six-and-a-half hour spacewalk.

Marshburn and Barron were joined by NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Mark Vande Hei inside Quest on Thursday as they tried on their U.S. spacesuits for a fit check. Chari and Vande Hei will be on duty monitoring the two astronauts during the spacewalk and helping them in and out of their spacesuits. A news conference to discuss the spacewalk activities has been scheduled for Monday, Nov. 29.

Science was back on track Thursday with the crew exploring human research, botany, and space physics. Chari and Barron tested how astronauts perceive up and down movements and grip and manipulate objects In microgravity. Vande Hei cleaned up debris around chile peppers growing inside the Advanced Plant Habitat. Finally, station Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos swapped samples inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a physics study seeking to improve the production of higher quality semiconductor crystals.

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Crew Operations Aboard Space Station Return to Normal

From left are, Expedition 66 crew members Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos; Thomas Marshburn of NASA; Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos; Raja Chari, Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron, all from NASA; and Matthias Maurer from ESA (European Space Agency).
From left are, Expedition 66 crew members Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos; Thomas Marshburn of NASA; Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos; Raja Chari, Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron, all from NASA; and Matthias Maurer from ESA (European Space Agency).

NASA and U.S. Space Command continue to monitor the debris cloud created by a recent Russian anti-satellite test. The International Space Station and crew members are safe and have resumed normal operations. The largest risk from the debris was in the first 24 hours and telemetry from the space station indicates no issues during that time. About 1:20 a.m. EST today, radial hatches extending from the space station’s center, including Kibo, Columbus, the Permanent Multipurpose Module, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, and Quest Joint Airlock, were reopened.

Following the incident, crew members were awoken, notified of the debris and asked to close specific hatches based on the space station’s safe haven procedures. Hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments also were closed initially, but were later opened when the higher risk period passed. Crew members’ daily tasks were adjusted during this time to accommodate the hatch closure. After closing the hatches, the crew then entered their Soyuz and Crew Dragon spacecraft for approximately two hours, from 2 a.m. – 4 a.m. EST. No debris avoidance maneuver was performed.

Space debris is tracked by Space Command and conjunction analysis is performed by NASA, with mitigations available for debris clouds and individual conjunction threats (such as debris avoidance maneuvers). If orbital debris were to strike the station and cause an air leak, the crew would close hatches to the affected module. If crew members do not have time to close the affected module, they would enter their respective spacecraft and, if necessary, undock from the space station to return to Earth.

This debris cloud that was just created has increased the risk to the station. The cataloging of the total number of identifiable pieces of debris is ongoing. Once the debris cloud is dispersed and items are tracked and catalogued, NASA will receive notifications of potential conjunction threats to the station and perform maneuvers as necessary. In addition, NASA will continue to perform visual inspections and review telemetry data to ensure vehicle health.

Teams are assessing the risk levels to conduct various mission activities. Any changes to launches, spacewalks, and other events will be updated as needed.