Midweek Immunology Research and Spacewalk Preps for Lab Residents

The well-lit coasts of Spain, France and Italy
This oblique nighttime view of Western Europe and the well-lit coasts (from left) of Spain, France and Italy was taken from the International Space Station as it orbited 256 miles above the Mediterranean Sea.

Immunology research has been keeping the Expedition 59 astronauts busy since the SpaceX Dragon space freighter delivered new science gear in early May. Two cosmonauts are also one week away from starting the fourth spacewalk this year at the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain was back inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module today observing how the immune systems of mice, which are similar to humans, respond to the lack of gravity. She teamed up with Flight Engineers Christina Koch and David Saint-Jacques for the on-orbit research to help doctors improve astronauts’ immunity in space. The potential for advanced vaccines and therapies may also benefit Earthlings as well as future astronauts exploring the Moon and beyond.

A variety of other space biology and human research took place today as Flight Engineer Nick Hague collected and stowed his blood and urine samples for later scientific analysis. He also worked on the Biolab hardware before stowing the Biomolecule Sequencer that sequences DNA aboard the space station. The advanced science gear is part of the Genes In Space-6 experiment researching how space radiation impacts DNA and the cell repair mechanism.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin were back on spacesuit duty today. The Roscosmos cosmonauts transferred their Orlan spacesuits to the Pirs airlock and installed portable repressurization tanks in the Russian lab module. Next week they will review procedures and timelines for their approximately six-hour spacewalk for external maintenance scheduled for Wednesday, May 29.

A docked Russian Progress cargo craft will fire its engines for 20 minutes raising the station’s orbit on Thursday. The reboost will place the orbiting complex in the correct trajectory for the undocking and landing of three Expedition 59 crewmembers June 24.

Today’s DNA, Immunity, Time Studies Boost Health in Space and on Earth

The full moon above the South Atlantic Ocean
The full moon is pictured from the International Space Station as the orbiting complex orbited 263 miles above the South Atlantic Ocean.

The Expedition 59 crew is spending all day Tuesday exploring how astronauts adjust with Earth’s gravity no longer bearing down on them. Spacewalk preparations and lab maintenance are also ongoing aboard the International Space Station.

Station crewmembers and future astronauts going to the Moon in 2024 have to adjust to the lack of a sunrise/sunset cycle humans experience everyday on Earth. As a result, time perception is impacted and may affect sleep and work patterns. Astronauts Anne McClain, Nick Hague and David Saint-Jacques started the day on a study, going on since July 2017, exploring subjective changes in time that can alter physical and cognitive performance.

Hague later sequenced DNA samples for a study exploring how increased exposure to space radiation impacts crew health. He used the Biomolecule Sequencer for the investigation to demonstrate DNA sequencing in space. The Genes In Space-6 experiment is researching how space radiation damages DNA and how the cell repair mechanism works in microgravity.

Immune system studies continued full speed ahead today to test the hypothesis the immune response decreases in space. Astronaut Christina Koch teamed up with McClain and Saint-Jacques throughout the day observing mice for the study. Observations may help scientists develop advanced vaccines and therapies benefiting both astronauts and Earthlings.

Commander Oleg Kononenko continues to set up a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits and outfit the Pirs airlock as the May 29 spacewalk approaches. Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin worked on space cardiology research before switching to space plumbing and pumping urine into the Progress 71 cargo craft.

Biology and Physics on Station Today Promote Moon Mission Success in 2024

A moonrise from 2016
A moonrise from 2016 is photographed from the space station with the Earth’s limb, the atmospheric glow and the aurora below.

The six residents aboard the International Space Station kicked off the workweek today exploring microgravity’s long-term impacts on biology and physics. The Expedition 59 crew is also ramping up for a fourth spacewalk at the orbital lab this year.

NASA is planning to send men and women to the Moon in 2024 and life science on the station will help flight surgeons keep lunar astronauts healthy. The space physics research will also provide critical insights to engineers designing future spacecraft and habitats for exploration missions.

Several dozen mice and their immune systems, which are similar to humans, are being continuously observed in specialized habitats. Flight Engineer Anne McClain tended to the mice today cleaning cages and restocking food in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Doctors are testing the hypothesis the immune response decreases in space and exploring advanced vaccines and therapies benefiting both astronauts and Earthlings.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague also researched a variety of space biological phenomena. Koch wrapped up a pathogen study today seeking to understand why virulence increases in microgravity. Hague cleaned up Veggie Ponds botany hardware in Europe’s Columbus laboratory module where small crops of edible plants are grown. He then photographed protein crystal samples in the afternoon for a student-designed investigation as Koch assisted him.

David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency recorded a video demonstrating Isaac Newton’s Second and Third Laws. The video will help young students understand how force and acceleration influence air and space missions. He also transferred data captured from tiny internal satellites exploring space debris cleanup technology.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin are getting ready for a spacewalk planned for May 29. The cosmonauts are resizing their spacesuits, inspecting the components and checking for leaks today. The duo will remove experiments, sample station surfaces and jettison obsolete hardware during their six-hour excursion.

Another Station Night Pass for Skywatchers in the Eastern United States

United States East Coast
The well-lit United States east coast from Virginia to Rhode Island is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited above the Atlantic Ocean.

Get ready for another International Space Station pass tonight if you live in the eastern United States. Conditions look good for skywatching on a clear night from Florida to Maine. Also, visit https://spotthestation.nasa.gov and find sighting opportunities for your hometown.

Check out U.S. sighting times below…

Saturday May 18, 2019

9:25 p.m. EDT
Tampa, Fla.
Atlanta, Ga.
Savannah, Ga.
Charleston, S.C.

9:26 p.m. EDT
Washington, D.C.
Raleigh, N.C.
Richmond, Va.

9:27 p.m. EDT
Baltimore, Md.
Philadelphia, Pa.
New York City

9:28 p.m. EDT
Boston, Mass.

9:29 p.m. EDT
Portland, Maine

Watch the Space Station Fly Over Your Home Town

The Gulf and eastern coasts of the United States
The Gulf and eastern coasts of the United States feature prominently in this well-lit nighttime view of North America.

The International Space Station will cross over the United States this weekend from the Gulf Coast to the North Atlantic. Skywatchers along the station’s orbital track from New Orleans, La., to Portland, Maine, can see the orbital lab Friday and Saturday night. More sighting times for these and other American cities are below…

Friday May 17, 2019

9:14 p.m. CDT
Baton Rouge, La.
New Orleans, La.

10:15 p.m. EDT
Huntsville, Ala.
Tampa, Fla.
Atlanta, Ga.
Memphis, Tenn.

10:16 p.m. EDT
Louisville, Ky.
Cincinnati, Ohio

10:17 p.m. EDT
Washington, D.C.
Columbus, Ohio
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Burlington, Vt.
Charleston, W. Va.

10:18 p.m. EDT
Baltimore, Md.
Philadelphia, Pa.
New York City

10:19 p.m. EDT
Boston, Mass.
Portland, Maine

Saturday May 18, 2019

9:25 p.m. EDT
Tampa, Fla.
Atlanta, Ga.
Savannah, Ga.
Charleston, S.C.

9:26 p.m. EDT
Washington, D.C.
Raleigh, N.C.
Richmond, Va.

9:27 p.m. EDT
Baltimore, Md.
Philadelphia, Pa.
New York City

9:28 p.m. EDT
Boston, Mass.

9:29 p.m. EDT
Portland, Maine

Visit https://spotthestation.nasa.gov and find sighting opportunities for your hometown.

Multitude of Space Biology Research as Crew Looks to Next Spacewalk

The Canadarm2 robotic arm with its robotic hand also known as Dextre
The Canadarm2 robotic arm with its robotic hand, also known as Dextre, attached for fine-tuned robotics work extends across the frame as the International Space Station orbited 256 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured at right berthed to the Harmony module.

Four Expedition 59 astronauts spent Friday investigating a multitude of space biology phenomena while two cosmonauts continued preparing for an upcoming spacewalk. International Space Station hardware is also ready for return to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

The crew is exploring how space impacts a variety of microscopic physiological processes today to get humans ready to go to the Moon in 2024. DNA, pathogens and microalgae as well as their benefits and risks to astronauts are just some of the microbiological systems scientists are studying in space.

The Bio-Analyzer is a new device from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) being tested aboard the space station for its ability to process and analyze biological samples quickly. CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques added his blood samples to the biomedical device today so doctors could check his biomarkers from the ground.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch studied a pair of yeast strains today using the miniPCR hardware for the Genes In Space-6 study. The experiment is exploring how space radiation damages DNA and how the cell repair mechanism works in microgravity. Koch later tended to plants grown inside the Veggie PONDS botany facility.

More research into why pathogens become more virulent in space continued today as Flight Engineer Nick Hague processed culture samples for the microbiology study. Hague also checked on microalgae sample packs that may serve as a dietary supplement for future astronauts.

Hague also configured a variety of space biology hardware, both large and small, ensuring critical research operations continue successfully on the orbital lab. He first worked on a pair of refrigerator-sized Human Research Facility racks before checking out the shoebox-sized TangoLab-1 facility that enables a variety of tissue, cell and botany investigations.

Anne McClain of NASA turned her attention Friday to old hardware disconnected during a spacewalk earlier this year. She will retrieve a failed Battery Charge Discharge Unit (BCDU) resting outside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock and bring it inside the station. The Canadarm2’s robotic hand, known as Dextre, removed the BCDU early Thursday from a truss structure logistics carrier and placed it outside Kibo. The BCDU will be packed aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for analysis after it returns to Earth June 3.

Two cosmonauts are getting ready for the fourth station spacewalk this year scheduled to take place May 29. Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin tagged up with Russian spacewalk specialists on the ground today for assistance setting up their Orlan spacesuits. The duo will remove experiments, sample station surfaces and jettison obsolete hardware during their six-hour excursion.

Immunology Research for Crew Health and Computer Spacewalk Training Today

NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducts research operations
NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducts research operations in the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox exploring why pathogens become more virulent in outer space.

Critical life science continues apace aboard the International Space Station today helping NASA support human missions to the Moon and beyond. The Expedition 59 crew is also gearing up for another maintenance spacewalk at the end of May.

Two NASA astronauts and one Canadian Space Agency astronaut kept up their busy science schedule today with more immunology research in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The three flight engineers, Christina Koch, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques, have been observing how the rodent immune system, which are similar to that in humans, respond to microgravity. Doctors plan to use the results to help keep astronauts healthier in space and treat people on the ground with Earth-bound ailments.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague continued his weeklong research to understand why pathogens become more virulent in the weightless environment of outer space. Doctors want to boost an astronaut’s space-exposed immune system to prevent further impacts by opportunistic pathogens. Hague also swapped protein crystal samples in a specialized microscope for a biophysics experiment exploring cancer treatment and radiation protection.

Two cosmonauts are preparing for the next spacewalk at the orbital lab scheduled for May 29. Commander Oleg Kononenko joined Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin for a computer training session today reviewing their spacewalk activities and worksites on the Russian side of the orbital lab. The duo will spend about six hours removing experiments, sampling station surfaces and jettisoning obsolete hardware.

Immune System and Microbiology Studies as Spacewalk Preps Gear Up

Russian spacewalker Oleg Kononenko
Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko inspects the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft during a spacewalk on Dec. 11, 2018.

The Expedition 59 crew spent the day exploring what happens to the immune system when exposed to the microgravity environment. The space residents are also gearing up for another spacewalk at the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were back inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module today studying how a rodent’s immune system changes in space. Canadian Space Agency David Saint-Jacques partnered up with the duo during the research activities throughout Wednesday. The Rodent Research-12 study is helping doctors understand how weightlessness changes an astronaut’s immune system, which is similar to mice.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague worked solo during the morning exploring the benefits and risks of microorganisms living in a spacecraft. Hague first photographed samples of microalgae that may supplement the diet of future astronauts going to the Moon and beyond. Next, the NASA astronaut continued investigating why pathogens become more virulent in space posing a flight risk to astronauts.

Hague also joined Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin during the afternoon helping the cosmonauts with spacewalk preparations. The trio gathered and inspected tethers, tools and a variety of other gear in advance of the Russian spacewalk planned for May 29. The cosmonauts are scheduled to work outside the station’s Russian segment for six hours collecting experiments, cleaning windows and sampling module surfaces.

Microbiology Research and Spacewalk Preps on Orbit Today

NASA astronaut Nick Hague
NASA astronaut Nick Hague works with the miniPCR hardware for the Genes In Space-6 experiment that is exploring how space radiation damages DNA and the how cell repair mechanism works in microgravity.

The Expedition 59 astronauts are moving full speed ahead today with continuous space biology research. Two cosmonauts are also pressing forward with plans to conduct the fourth spacewalk this year at the International Space Station.

NASA Flight Engineers Anne McClain and Christina Koch joined fellow astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency checking on mice throughout the day Tuesday. Scientists are monitoring the rodents’ immune systems, which are similar to humans, for changes that take place due to microgravity.

Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Nick Hague also explored how weightlessness affects different microbiological phenomena. Hague inoculated culture bags inside the Life Sciences Glovebox for research operations to understand why pathogens become more virulent in space. Saint-Jacques checked DNA samples for the Genes In Space-6 experiment that explores how space radiation damages DNA and how the cell repair mechanism works.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin are both collecting spacesuit parts and tools, as they get ready for a spacewalk planned for May 29. The duo will spend about six hours outside the station’s Russian segment collecting experiments, cleaning windows and sampling module surfaces. This will be Kononenko’s fifth spacewalk and Ovchinin’s first.

Robotics and Space Biology Today as Cosmonauts Look to Next Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Anne McClain checks out new Astrobee hardware
NASA astronaut Anne McClain works inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module checking out the new Astrobee hardware. The cube-shaped, free-flying robotic assistant could save the crew time performing routine maintenance duties and providing additional lab monitoring capabilities.

A pair of robotic arms from Canada and Japan continued swapping experiment hardware on the International Space Station over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Expedition 59 crew started the week exploring robotics and biology today while a pair of cosmonauts look to the next spacewalk.

The 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm started removing a pair of external investigations last week from the SpaceX Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. The remotely controlled Canadarm2 first grabbed the new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) then handed it off to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) robotic arm for installation on the Kibo lab module’s external pallet.

The Canadarm2 next removed the Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6) experiment from Dragon and installed it on the station’s truss structure. STP-H6 provides a platform for studying space physics to improve spacecraft navigation and communication techniques. The Canadian robotic arm then removed the completed SCAN radio communications study from the truss and placed it inside Dragon’s trunk.

JAXA’s robotic arm also retrieved the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) experiment from the station and handed it off to the Canadarm2 for installation inside Dragon’s trunk. CATS successfully began demonstrating atmospheric monitoring after its delivery aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo craft in January 2015. CATS and SCAN will now burn up in the atmosphere when Dragon’s trunk separates from the resupply ship before it returns to Earth at the end of May.

Back inside the orbital lab today, NASA astronaut Anne McClain calibrated the Astrobee and mapped the Kibo lab module with the free-flying robotic assistant. Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch continued exploring how space changes the immune system, pathogens and kidney cells.

Two cosmonauts, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin, are planning for the fourth spacewalk at the station this year on May 29. The duo is timelined for about six hours of experiment retrieval work, window cleaning and sample collecting on the station’s Russian segment.