Astronauts Improving Space Science Productivity

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Astronaut Thomas Pesquet

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet poses with a photo of several of his European astronaut predecessors taken aboard the International Space Station.

The International Space Station residents are wrapping up their work week today installing and checking science communications gear. The Expedition 50 crew is also continuing to explore how long-term space flight affects eyesight.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet worked on increasing the operations and communication capabilities of science gear. The duo worked on separate devices to improve data transfers between different science racks allowing more research to be conducted on orbit.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson joined cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Andrey Borisenko for ongoing research into eye damage and vision changes that may be caused by living in space. A possible solution to the upward fluid pressure that may harm an astronaut’s eyes is the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suit

Whitson donned the suit today which pulls fluids down towards the feet to offset the headward flow. Novitskiy and Borisenko used an ultrasound scan and performed eye checks on Whitson to determine the effectiveness of the suit.

Crew Studies How Space Affects Eyesight

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Crewmates at Mealtime

Expedition 50 crewmates (from left) Andrey Borisenko, Oleg Novitskiy and Peggy Whitson at mealtime in Unity module.

The Expedition 50 crew is continuing its investigation into vision changes and eye damage some astronauts have experienced after long-term missions in space. Living in the microgravity environment causes a headward fluid shift that may be causing pressure behind astronauts’ eyes resulting in visual and physical changes.

Two cosmonauts, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, and European astronaut Thomas Pesquet explored a possible solution to the upward fluid pressure. Borisenko donned the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suit which pulls fluids down towards the feet. Ryzhikov and Pesquet then used an ultrasound scan and performed eye checks on Borisenko to determine the effectiveness of the LBNP suit.

On the station maintenance front, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson installed vacuum access ports in the Harmony module. Commander Shane Kimbrough connected gas and water umbilical hoses in the Columbus lab module. He also updated supplies for the Human Research Facility that enables scientists to learn how astronauts adapt to living in space.

Crew Switches to Human Research after Spacewalks

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European Astronaut Thomas Pesquet

European astronaut Thomas Pesquet inserts a locker into a science freezer. The locker holds scientific samples for stowage and later analysis.

Following a successful pair of spacewalks, the Expedition 50 crew has switched gears and is moving full-speed ahead with advanced space research. The orbital residents checked out science gear and studied the impacts of living in space.

European astronaut Thomas Pesquet repressed the Japanese Kibo lab module airlock after a small satellite deployer shot a set of tiny satellites, or CubeSats, into Earth orbit on Monday. The variety of CubeSats will test new spacecraft deorbiting and propulsion technologies and be used for communication purposes.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson joined veteran cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy for the ongoing Fluid Shifts study and collected blood, urine and saliva samples. The human research experiment seeks to investigate vision and eye damage some astronauts have reported after their space missions.

Commander Shane Kimbrough worked on combustion science gear troubleshooting a pair of devices that explore flames and high temperatures in space. Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov worked inside a docked Soyuz spacecraft recharging computer batteries.


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

Second Spacewalk of 2017 Successfully Complete

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Spacewalk Suit Up

Astronaut Peggy Whitson (center) helps spacewalkers Thomas Pesquet (left) and Shane Kimbrough suit up before beginning their spacewalk Jan. 13, 2017.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough from NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency concluded their spacewalk at 12:20 p.m. EST. During the nearly six hour spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully installed three new adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries on the International Space Station.

The new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently used on the station to store electrical energy generated by the station’s solar arrays. These new batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries. Robotic work to update the batteries began in January. This was the second of two spacewalks to finalize the installation. Additional batteries will be replaced as part of this power upgrade over the next couple of years as new batteries are delivered to station.

Astronauts were also able to accomplish several get-ahead tasks including stowing padded shields from Node 3 outside of the station to make room inside the airlock and taking photos to document hardware for future spacewalks.

This was the second spacewalk in a week for Kimbrough and the fourth of his career, and the first for Pesquet in the refurbishment of two of the station’s eight power channels.

Space station crew members have conducted 197 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 51 days 6 hours and 4 minutes working outside the station.

Keep up with the crew aboard the International Space Station on the agency’s blog, follow @ISS on Instagram, and @space_station on Twitter.

Astronauts Begin Second Spacewalk to Upgrade Power Systems

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Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough (left) and Thomas Pesquet are today’s spacewalkers. credit: NASA

Two astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 6:22 a.m. EST aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about six-and-a-half hours.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for the remaining three of six new lithium-ion batteries installed on the station’s starboard truss. Kimbrough is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit bearing red stripes. Pesquet is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.

The new channel lithium-ion batteries installed Friday, Jan. 6 during the first spacewalk with Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA are functioning properly and all electrical loads are being routed normally to systems through that power channel.

Earlier this week, the robotic ground controllers used the Canadian-built “Dextre” Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator to move the three new lithium-ion batteries for today’s spacewalk into their slots in the Integrated Electronics Assembly. Engineers also moved one of the old nickel-hydrogen battery onto the HTV External Pallet for disposal and two others to one of Dextre’s arms for temporary stowage.

In all, nine old nickel-hydrogen batteries will be stowed on the external pallet for disposal when the HTV is deorbited to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere later this month. The power channel for the last of the new batteries will be activated during the spacewalk after adapter plates are moved into place on the Integrated Electronics Assembly.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.

Live Spacewalk Coverage Now on NASA TV

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured Jan. 6, 2017, during the first of two spacewalks to upgrade power systems on the International Space Station.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will begin a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station at 7 a.m. EST Friday, Jan. 13. Watch the spacewalk live now on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

This will be the 197th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Kimbrough will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit bearing red stripes, the fourth of his career. Pesquet will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.

This is the second of two battery replacement spacewalks this month. Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA conducted the first spacewalk Friday, Jan. 6 to install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries delivered to the complex on the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo ship (HTV-6) in December.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Second Power Upgrade Spacewalk Starts Friday Morning

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Astronaut Assists Spacewalkers

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet (center) assists spacewalkers Peggy Whitson (left) and Shane Kimbrough in the U.S. Quest airlock on Jan. 6, 2017.

Expedition 50 astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet are ready for their mission’s second spacewalk that starts Friday at 7 a.m. EST. The duo will wrap up power maintenance work to connect new lithium-ion batteries and install adapter plates. Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson started that work last Friday during a six-hour, 32-minute spacewalk.

Both spacewalks complement the ongoing robotics work that started at the end of December. Ground controllers have been remotely-operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm and Dextre robotic hand to remove and stow the old nickel-hydrogen batteries and the install the new batteries.

The three cosmonauts have been staying focused on their set of Russian space research and lab maintenance. Station veterans Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy collected blood samples for a pair human research studies looking at bone loss and stress responses caused by living in space. First-time station resident Sergy Ryzhikov explored chemical reactions caused by jet engine exhaust in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

U.S. and French Astronauts Prep for Friday Spacewalk

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Astronaut Shane Kimbrough

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough is pictured during the first power upgrade spacewalk on Jan. 6, 2017.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is getting ready for his second spacewalk in a week to complete the upgrade of power systems on the International Space Station. He will be joined by Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency who will be conducting his first spacewalk.

The spacewalking duo are partnering up today with NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson to review Friday morning’s spacewalk. Whitson, who completed her seventh spacewalk last Friday, and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy will be assisting the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits and the Quest airlock.

Late yesterday and last night robotic ground controllers used the Dextre Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator to move the final lithium-ion battery to the 1A power channel Integrated Electronics Assembly, moved another nickel-hydrogen battery to one of Dextre’s arms for temporary stowage and tightened down bolts on two of the previously moved Li-ion batteries.

So, we now have five nickel-hydrogen batteries either on the HTV External Pallet or temporarily stowed on Dextre and one more Ni-H battery to move from the 1A IEA to another stowage position on Dextre later today to complete the pre-EVA robotics. All six new lithium-ion batteries are now installed on the S4 truss IEA. The 3A power channel is fully operational. The 1A power channel will be activated on Friday during the EVA after adapter plates are moved into place on the 1A IEA.

Post-EVA robotics on Saturday and Sunday will complete the work to move the last four old Ni-H batteries from Dextre to the External Pallet for disposal (there will be nine on the EP in all). They will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere when the HTV is deorbited.

Whitson and Pesquet started their day scanning their arteries with and ultrasound and collecting body fluid samples for the Cardio Ox study. That experiment is researching the increased risk of atherosclerosis, the plaque build-up in the artery wall that results in narrowing of the blood vessel, in astronauts living in space.

In the Russian segment of the space station, cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov set up gear for a Matryoshka radiation detection experiment. Veteran cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko studied how mission events affect the station structure and explored new Earth photography techniques.


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

Next Cygnus Mission to Station Set for March

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Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo craft

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft was captured Oct. 23, 2016, using the Canadarm2 robotic arm on the International Space Station.

Orbital ATK has completed a significant mission milestone for NASA’s next International Space Station cargo mission.

The Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) of the Cygnus spacecraft has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for processing and assembly before launch. The OA-7 mission is targeted to launch on Thursday, March 16 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Orbital ATK will launch Cygnus atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket  for delivery of essential crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The 30 minute launch window opens at 12:29am EDT.

OA-7 will mark Orbital ATK’s seventh cargo delivery mission for NASA under its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) -1 contract.

Second Spacewalk Sets Stage for Upcoming Cargo Missions

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Astronaut Thomas Pesquet

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency is suited up for a dry run of this Friday’s upcoming spacewalk.

The six-member Expedition 50 crew has the day off today after a pair of NASA astronauts completed the first spacewalk of 2017 on Friday of last week. That spacewalk is the first of two planned in January to upgrade the International Space Station’s power systems. Both spacewalks have been backed-up with external robotics work that installed the new lithium-ion batteries and removed the old nickel-hydrogen batteries.

The next spacewalk will take place this Friday to complete the upgrades which include connecting new batteries, installing adapter plates and stowing older batteries. Commander Shane Kimbrough will suit up for the second time in a week joining first-time spacewalker astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency.

Expedition 50 crew members Peggy Whitson from NASA and Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos will assist the spacewalkers. They will help them in and out of their U.S. spacesuits and guide them in and out of the crew airlock.

It will be a busy few weeks after the conclusion of Friday’s upcoming spacewalk. Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV-6 resupply ship will depart at the end of January completing its cargo delivery mission that included the new batteries the spacewalkers have been hooking up. A Russian Progress 64 (64P) cargo craft will undock shortly after the HTV-6 leaves.

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