Astronauts Relax Friday Before Weekend Filled with Cargo and Science

Expedition 64 Flight Engineers (clockwise from top left) Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi pose together for a playful portrait inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Expedition 64 Flight Engineers (clockwise from top left) Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi pose together for a playful portrait inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Five Expedition 64 astronauts are relaxing aboard the International Space Station today as they get ready for the arrival of the next-generation SpaceX Dragon resupply ship. The two cosmonauts stayed focused on their contingent of Russian space science and lab maintenance.

The Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the Cargo Dragon spacecraft into Earth orbit stands at its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Currently, there is a 50% chance of favorable weather conditions for a launch on Saturday at 11:39 a.m. EST to the orbiting lab.

Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will be on duty early Sunday to monitor the Cargo Dragon’s approach and rendezvous. Its automated docking is planned for 11 a.m. to the Harmony module’s space-facing port adjacent to the Crew Dragon vehicle. The duo will also be readying the Tranquility module for Dragon’s primary payload, the NanoRacks Bishop science airlock.

The other three astronauts, Shannon Walker, Soichi Noguchi and Michael Hopkins, will be working on Sunday servicing a variety of research gear. They will be checking out advanced hardware like the Kubik incubator, the Hermes planetary science facility, the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace and a specialized science freezer nicknamed FRIDGE.

The station’s two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, spent Friday day on research and maintenance tasks.  The Russian duo explored ways to improve the effectiveness of space exercise and also worked on lab computers and life support gear.

Crew Immersed in Space Science as Cargo Dragon Nears Launch

The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft is seen before it rolls out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft is seen before it rolls out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Expedition 64 is getting ready for over 6,400 pounds of cargo due to arrive this weekend aboard the next-generation SpaceX Dragon space freighter. All seven International Space Station residents also were immersed in microgravity research throughout Thursday.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo spacecraft has rolled out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is counting down to a Saturday lift off at 11:39 a.m. EST. Weather permitting, Dragon would automatically dock just under 24 hours later to the Harmony module’s space-facing port adjacent to the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle.

The Cargo Dragon’s main payload is the NanoRacks Bishop airlock that will be robotically attached to the Tranquility module. Bishop will increase the capacity for external space research at the space station benefitting public and private organizations.

The orbiting lab was humming today with a host of advanced space science looking at a variety of microgravity phenomena to enhance life for humans on and off the Earth.

Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov swapped fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that enables safe investigations of flames and fuels on the station. Eye exams were on the slate this afternoon for astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi who also serviced botany and cell biology research gear.

NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker serviced samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory before setting up the Fiber Optic Production study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Her crewmate, Flight Engineer Victor Glover collected and stowed biological samples for the Food Physiology study exploring how diet affects the immune system in space.

Finally, station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos wrapped up a 24-hour session that monitored his heart activity. The two-time station resident also explored ways to improve the workspace inside the station.

Busy December Sees Crew Ramping Up for Space Cargo

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi is pictured relaxing at the end of the work day inside the seven-windowed cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi is pictured relaxing at the end of the work day inside the seven-windowed cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

December is shaping up to be a busy month as the Expedition 64 crew gears up for space freighter traffic. All seven crew members also practiced responding to a simulated emergency aboard the International Space Station.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins set up the tools that she and fellow Flight Engineer Victor Glover will use when the new SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrives this weekend. The duo will monitor Dragon’s arrival on Sunday almost 24 hours after it launches from Florida on Saturday at 11:39 a.m. EST.

Rubins’ science work today consisted of setting up a microscope then servicing botany gear supporting the Plant Habitat-02 experiment. Rubins harvested the first crop of radish plants on Monday. Glover researched how diet affects the immune system in space for the Food Physiology study.

Flight Engineer Shannon Walker organized hardware inside the Human Research Facility today making room for future space deliveries. JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi worked in the Kibo laboratory module servicing external experiment hardware.

The behavior of water droplets is being observed in the orbiting lab’s Microgravity Science Glovebox today. Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins closely watched how the droplets react to different surfaces which may help improve the design of fuel and life support systems.

The entire crew, including cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, gathered together Wednesday afternoon and trained for the unlikely event of an emergency at the orbiting lab. They coordinated with mission controllers around the world practicing their communication, locating safety gear and maneuvering through escape routes.

Cargo Operations and Space Research Keeping Crew Busy

Astronaut Kate Rubins checks out radish plants growing for the Plant Habitat-02 experiment that seeks to optimize plant growth in space.
Astronaut Kate Rubins checks out radish plants growing for the Plant Habitat-02 experiment that seeks to optimize plant growth in space.

Cargo operations are underway at the International Space Station as a U.S. resupply ship prepares for launch and another prepares for departure. Meanwhile, a host of microgravity research is keeping the Expedition 64 crew busy.

SpaceX is preparing its upgraded SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for a launch from Florida on Dec. 5 and a rendezvous with the orbiting lab about 24 hours later. This will be the first automated docking of the Cargo Dragon. Astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will be monitoring Dragon’s arrival to the Harmony module’s space-facing port with more than 6,400 pounds of space freight, including the NanoRacks Bishop airlock.

However today, Rubins worked on science gear stowing external experiments brought in from outside the Kibo laboratory module then cleaned up the Advanced Plant Habitat after Monday’s radish harvest. Glover joined JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi for a physical fitness test on the station’s exercise bike to evaluate microgravity’s impact on their cardiopulmonary function.

The Earth-facing port of the Unity module hosts the outgoing Cygnus resupply ship from Northrop Grumman. Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins worked today packing the cargo craft with trash and old gear. Cygnus will depart the space station later this month, conduct an automated space combustion experiment then reenter the atmosphere for a fiery, but safe demise above the Pacific Ocean.

Hopkins later joined fellow NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker for health checks Wednesday morning consisting of temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory measurements. Walker then spent the afternoon reorganizing food items making space for additional cargo aboard the station.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos worked on electronics and life support maintenance tasks throughout Wednesday. Cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov primarily worked on life support gear before servicing the power supply system in the Zarya module.

Crew Preps for New Dragon, Harvests Radishes and Studies Time Perception

Earth's limb, or horizon, is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile.
Earth’s limb, or horizon, is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile.

The International Space Station is gearing up for the next-generation SpaceX Dragon cargo craft due to lift off this weekend. Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 64 crew kicked off the work week on space botany and human research.

The newest Dragon resupply ship from SpaceX is due to launch to the station on Saturday at 11:39 a.m. EST with over 6,500 pounds of crew supplies and station hardware, including the NanoRacks Bishop airlock. The upgraded vehicle will dock on its own for the first time to the space-facing port of the Harmony module adjacent to the recently arrived Crew Dragon spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover reviewed approach, rendezvous and hatch opening procedures today. They will be monitoring its arrival and docking set for Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Cargo Dragon vehicles were previously captured and installed using the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Rubins later spent the rest of the afternoon harvesting radish plants that have been growing for four weeks inside the Columbus laboratory module. Glover also joined Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi for a study that is exploring how astronauts perceive time in microgravity which can impact physical and cognitive performance.

Exercise in space is critical so that astronauts remain fit and healthy and able to withstand the rigors of physically demanding tasks such as spacewalks and returning to Earth’s gravity. Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker attached sensors to themselves today and took turns on an exercise bike to measure their cardiopulmonary function. Observations from today’s exercise study may help improve physical stamina to sustain crews on longer term missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos worked throughout the day on life support maintenance and communication tests. His fellow cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov also checked out communications gear and worked on a pair of Russian experiments exploring the Earth’s upper atmosphere and advanced space photography techniques.

Muscle Study and Emergency Training Wrap Up Work Week

The sun’s glint beams off the Atlantic Ocean creating a bright golden sheen as the International Space Station orbited off the coast of the United States.

The main science focus today aboard the International Space Station was a human research study observing an astronaut’s muscular system. All seven Expedition 64 crew members also gathered together Friday afternoon and familiarized themselves with emergency hardware.

Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins kicked off the Myotones study Friday morning gathering hardware to collect measurements of his muscles and tendons. Crewmates Victor Glover and Shannon Walker also joined Hopkins for the muscle scans and measurements. Methods such as an ultrasound scan and blood draws are used to look at the biomechanical properties of muscles. Observations may improve performance and fitness in space as well as treatments for rehabilitation on Earth.

A pair of studies looking at botany and fluid technology was also on Friday’s research schedule. Rubins collected and stowed leaf samples from radish plants growing in the Columbus laboratory module. She also explored the behavior of water droplets with an eye towards developing advanced fuel and life support systems.

JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi relaxed Friday morning before moving onto lab maintenance activities. The three-time space visitor first serviced U.S. spacesuit batteries before closing out the Avatar-X robotic camera experiment. He also worked on light plumbing duties servicing components in the station’s restroom located in the Tranquility module.

Crews aboard the station regularly practice emergency drills such as evacuations or medical procedures in conjunction with mission controllers on the ground. Today, all the station residents, including Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, familiarized themselves with emergency gear to be prepared for an unlikely emergency scenario in space.

Crew Off-Duty for Thanksgiving and Preps for Dragon Cargo Mission

A bright blue, South Atlantic Ocean is pictured as the International Space Station soared nearly 270 miles above, just off the coast of Argentina.
A bright blue, South Atlantic Ocean is pictured as the International Space Station soared nearly 270 miles above, just off the coast of Argentina.

The seven-member Expedition 64 crew from the United States, Russia and Japan will take the day off on Thanksgiving before ending the week with a day full of microgravity research. In the meantime, the crew spent Wednesday on a wide array of space science while getting the International Space Station ready for an upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

NASA Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Shannon Walker worked throughout Wednesday readying the station’s Tranquility module for a new commercial airlock from NanoRacks. Dubbed Bishop, the airlock will be delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission targeted to launch on Dec. 5. The Bishop airlock will enable private industries to increase research opportunities in the vacuum of space.

Planned for Dec. 6, this will be the first automated docking of the Cargo Dragon to the space-facing port on the Harmony module. Previous Cargo Dragon vehicles were captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm maneuvered by astronauts. Robotics controllers then took over and remotely installed Dragon to Harmony’s Earth-facing port.

The GRASP human research experiment, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), was back on the science schedule Wednesday. Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover wore virtual reality goggles and responded to virtual stimuli to help doctors understand how the central nervous system, specifically hand-eye coordination, adapts to weightlessness.

JAXA astronaut and Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi started his day servicing the Kibo laboratory module’s Cell Biology Experiment Facility, a specialized incubator that can generate artificial gravity. Later, he joined Kate Rubins and examined her eyes using optical coherence tomography.

The orbiting lab’s two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, continued studying ways to make space workouts more effective. The duo later joined Rubins and practiced chest compressions, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, in the event of a medical emergency aboard the space station.

Crew Explores How Space Impacts Nervous System and Exercise

A pair of docked Russian spaceships, (from left) the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and the Progress 76 cargo craft, are pictured as the International Space Station orbited above the Atlantic Ocean during an orbital sunset.
A pair of docked Russian spaceships, (from left) the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and the Progress 76 cargo craft, are pictured as the International Space Station orbited above the Atlantic Ocean during an orbital sunset.

Human research was the prime area of study today aboard the International Space Station. Results are helping NASA and its international partners keep astronauts safe and healthy on long term space missions.

Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover took turns today exploring how weightlessness impacts their hand-eye coordination. The GRASP study, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), explores how microgravity affects a crew member’s central nervous system. That experiment has been under way at the orbiting lab since 2016, providing researchers critical data and insights on how astronauts adapt to living and working in space.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, the two Expedition 64 cosmonauts, participated in a Russian exercise study today. The duo worked out on a treadmill in the Zvezda service module while attached to a variety of sensors. Observations could lead to improved crew training techniques and more effective workouts on the way to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins readied an external exposure experiment this morning that will be placed outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Afterward, she resumed her work exploring the behavior of water droplets that may lead to more advanced fuel and life support systems.

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, on his third space mission, set up hardware for a fiber optics study then organized stowage space in the Kibo lab. Flight Engineer Shannon Walker of NASA spent most of Tuesday on maintenance servicing spacesuit batteries and working on stowage tasks in the Tranquility module.

Advanced Science in Full Gear Today as Cosmonauts Relax

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Shannon Walker of NASA installs an airborne particulate monitor in the Tranquility module.
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Shannon Walker of NASA installs an airborne particulate monitor in the Tranquility module.

Five Expedition 64 astronauts had their day packed with microgravity research while the two cosmonauts had a light duty day aboard the International Space Station following last week’s spacewalk.

All seven crew members started the day measuring their body mass with an instrument that follows Newton’s second law of motion to account for the lack of gravity. Known as SLAMMD, or Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device, it applies a known force to an astronaut with the resulting acceleration used to calculate the person’s mass.

New station Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover continued studying how microgravity impacts dexterous manipulation today. Their inputs for the Grip study could help scientists and engineers develop safer, more advanced spacecraft systems and interfaces.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) removed a CubeSat deployer from the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock during Monday morning. During the afternoon, he configured life support hardware in the Harmony module.

NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker relaxed Monday morning before spending the rest of the afternoon exploring how to manufacture high quality, next generation fiber optic cables in space. Kate Rubins, on her second station mission, studied how water droplets behave in space to help engineers design improved spacecraft fuel and life support systems.

The two station cosmonauts worked on a pair of docked Russian Progress cargo ships, but otherwise relaxed Monday. Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov are winding down several days of cleaning their spacesuits and stowing their tools following Wednesday’s six-hour and 48-minute spacewalk.

Expanded Crew Syncs Schedule and Steps Up Space Research

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of JAXA is pictured inside the cupola with the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle visible behind his left shoulder. Credits: NASA
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of JAXA is pictured inside the cupola with the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle visible behind his left shoulder. Credits: NASA

The seven-member Expedition 64 crew has synched up its schedule following a busy week that saw the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission and a Russian spacewalk.

The International Space Station’s four newest crew members are fitting in a variety of space research today. The quartet also continues to get up to speed with station systems and procedures.

Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover, the SpaceX Crew Dragon commander and pilot, respectively, researched how their dexterous manipulation is affected by microgravity. The Grip study may influence the development of future space systems and interfaces as NASA plans missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, now on his third space mission, set up the Avatar-X robotic camera experiment then worked on a specialized incubator that can generate artificial gravity. NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, who last served aboard the station in 2010, installed an air-particle monitor in the Tranquility module and later continued her ceramic manufacturing research.

The two Expedition 64 cosmonauts, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, cleaned their Russian Orlan spacesuits today following Wednesday’s spacewalk. The duo spent six hours and 48 minutes readying the station’s Russian segment for the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins collected radish leaf samples being grown inside the Advanced Plant Habitat. Rubins then switched over to lab maintenance, checking water tanks and filters in the Destiny laboratory module’s life support rack.