Crew Preps for Next Spacewalk, Explores Space Biology and Physics

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station's power generation system.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station’s power generation system.

The Expedition 68 astronauts are cleaning up following three days of advanced bone repair studies while getting ready for an upcoming spacewalk. The International Space Station’s three cosmonauts continued their space physics and Earth imagery work, as well as maintained orbital lab systems.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio are cleaning up biology research hardware and finalizing sample processing after three full days of bone healing research. The duo worked inside the Kibo laboratory module servicing the samples then stowing them into science freezers. Those samples will be packed on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission for return then analyzed and compared to control samples in laboratories on Earth. The two astronauts also cleaned Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox and its components where the intensive bone investigation work took place this week.

Cassada also worked on space agriculture today collecting leaves from thale cress plants housed inside the Advanced Plant Habitat for stowage and analysis on Earth. He later tended to tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility for the Veg-05 experiment. Both studies are taking place inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata explored ways to enable on-demand production of nutrients for astronauts on long-term missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The technology demonstration uses engineered microbes, or yeast, to ensure a safe and simple food production environment in space and offset the degradation of nutrients stowed over long periods.

The next spacewalk to continue upgrading the orbiting lab’s power generation system is planned for Feb. 2. Two spacewalkers will exit the Quest airlock in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to finish installing a modification kit on the starboard truss structure. The hardware installation job will ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array. Ahead of the upcoming spacewalk, spacesuit gloves and tethers were inspected.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued more space physics experiment runs on Thursday as he explored how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in microgravity. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos spent his day on life support maintenance before partnering with fellow cosmonaut Anna Kikina for ultrasound eye scans. Kikina resumed her Earth observations using ultraviolet imaging hardware to obtain a map of the nighttime glow of Earth’s atmosphere.


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.

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Bone Healing Study Continues as SpaceX Crew-6 Mission Approaches

Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.
Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.

Wednesday was the last full day of research operations aboard the International Space Station to learn how to improve bone healing therapies both on Earth and in space. The Expedition 68 crew members also studied the human heart and plasma physics and set up Earth imagery hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata wrapped up three days of continuous research into bone growth. The quartet spent the day inside the Kibo laboratory module studying research samples in the Life Science Glovebox to understand the bone healing process in microgravity. Cassada will work on Thursday and Friday cleaning up the space biology hardware and completing sample processing.

Weightlessness inhibits bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair, and the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive investigation seeks to reverse these effects on stem cells and bone tissue. Insights gained from the biology experiment may help doctors provide advanced treatments for bone injuries that occur in space and improve therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.

Cardiac research in space is also very important as two cosmonauts joined each other on Wednesday morning learning how the circulatory system is impacted by long-term microgravity. Commander Sergey Prokopyev attached sensors to himself, with assistance from Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, for the cardiac study. The experiment seeks insights into how the heart adapts to microgravity and to prepare for the effects of returning to Earth’s gravity months later.

Prokopyev also continued this week’s space physics work studying the behavior of plasma crystals, or clouds of highly charged particles, inside a specialized chamber. Petelin studied kept up his observations of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. Both studies have the potential to advance space and Earth-bound industries as well as improve fundamental knowledge.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina of Roscosmos began her day pointing a camera outside station windows and photographing the external condition of the Nauka, Zvezda, and Rassvet modules. She finished her shift installing and activating gear that will acquire ultraviolet imagery of Earth’s nighttime atmosphere.

The next SpaceX crewed mission to the space station is soon approaching. The Crew-6 crewmates are Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, both from NASA, and Mission Specialists Andrey Fedyaev from Roscosmos and Sultan Alnedayi from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The quartet will lift off aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour at 2:07 a.m. EST on Feb. 26 and dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port just over half-a-day later.


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.

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Crew Studies Bone Growth, Space Physics and Works Eye Exams

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada peers through one of the seven windows in the cupola, the space station's "window to the world."
NASA astronaut Josh Cassada peers through one of the seven windows in the cupola, the space station’s “window to the world.”

Four Expedition 68 astronauts are midway through their bone research activities this week helping doctors improve treatment for bone conditions on and off the Earth. The three cosmonauts living aboard the International Space Station kept up their physics research, tested spacecraft communications gear, and conducted eye exams.

Weightlessness reveals phenomena that are difficult or impossible to study in Earth’s gravity environment. Scientists on the ground use the space station’s research facilities to study and observe this unique phenomena and provide advanced solutions benefiting a host of space and Earth-bound industries.

Four astronauts aboard the orbiting lab are in the middle of an experiment that is studying a bone graft adhesive that may reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. Doctors have learned that microgravity inhibits bone tissue regeneration and are exploring ways to promote bone repair while living in space. Results may improve recovery from bone injuries during space missions and benefit therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio from NASA and Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency were in their second of three days of research operations for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study. The quartet once again spent all day working in the Kibo laboratory module studying biological specimens inside the Life Science Glovebox. The samples are returned to Earth for evaluation and analysis and are compared to control samples on the ground maintained under similar conditions.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued his space physics research on Tuesday studying how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in a specialized chamber. This fundamental experiment may lead to more advanced research methods and improve practical knowledge for Earth and space industries.

Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent Tuesday morning collecting station air samples for analysis from the Zvezda, Zarya, Nauka, and Destiny modules. Petelin later joined Prokopyev and tested the station’s tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, in coordination with the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft docked to Zvezda.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina began her day with working on an oxygen generator and other life support components. Afterward, she joined Petelin for eye checks using medical imaging hardware to understand how living in space affects vision.


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.

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Crew Kicks off Week With Bone Research, Physics Studies

The space station's solar arrays and a small satellite orbital deployer are pictured as the orbiting lab soared above the African nation of Namibia.
The space station’s solar arrays and a small satellite orbital deployer are pictured as the orbiting lab soared above the African nation of Namibia.

Space medicine was the top research priority aboard the International Space Station on Monday as four Expedition 68 astronauts explored healing bone conditions. The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts spent the day studying a variety of physics, packing a resupply ship, and servicing station hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio joined Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for an all-day bone research session in the Kibo laboratory module. The quartet worked in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox servicing research samples for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study.

Living in microgravity may affect skeletal stem cells and bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair. Researchers are studying a bone graft adhesive on the space station with the potential to reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. Results may also benefit therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis. The astronauts will stay focused on the bone research activities through Wednesday.

Two cosmonauts worked on a several different space physics experiments throughout Monday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev explored the behavior of clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, in a specialized chamber. Observations may lead to improved spacecraft designs, as well as a better understanding of plasmas on Earth. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin studied the physics of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity.

The cosmonauts also worked on cargo activities and lab maintenance. Prokopyev stowed items for disposal inside the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft ahead of its departure in February. Petelin removed navigation hardware from the inside the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship then photographed the internal area of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to assess its potential stowage volume. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent her day servicing life support and electronics systems.


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.

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NASA, Space Station Partners Approve Next Axiom Private Mission Crew

The NASA meatball logoNASA and its international partners have approved the crew for Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2).

Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight and former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will command the privately funded mission. Aviator John Shoffner of Knoxville, Tennessee, will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists will be announced later.


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.

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Spacewalkers Wrap Up First Spacewalk of 2023

Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV
Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata concluded their spacewalk at 3:35 p.m. EST after 7 hours and 21 minutes.

Mann and Wakata completed work left over from a previous spacewalk for a platform on which a set of International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) for the station’s 1B power channel will be installed later this year, as well as most of the work to install a similar mounting platform for a set of iROSAs for the 1A power channel. Due to time constraints, plans to bolt a final strut for the second platform were deferred until a future spacewalk. There is no impact to station operations.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new iROSAs. Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

It was the 258th spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, the first spacewalk of 2023, and the first spacewalk for both astronauts.

Mann and Wakata are in the midst of a planned six-month science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.


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.

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Astronauts Begin Spacewalk to Prep for Station Power Upgrades

Expedition 68 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada prepares a roll-out solar array for deployment during a spacewalk on Dec. 22, 2022.
Expedition 68 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada prepares a roll-out solar array for deployment during a spacewalk on Dec. 22, 2022.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata began a spacewalk at 8:14 a.m. EST to complete the installation of two mounting platforms as part of planned solar array augmentation on the starboard side of the space station’s truss. The duo will complete the installation of a mounting platform on the 1B power channel that was started during a previous spacewalk, and begin installing a mounting platform on the 1A power channel.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

Mann, designated as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), is wearing an unmarked suit. Wakata, designated as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), is wearing a suit with red stripes. Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.


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.

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NASA TV is Live as Two Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata pose with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit on Dec. 28, 2022.
Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata pose with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit on Dec. 28, 2022.

NASA Television coverage of today’s spacewalk with NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata is now underway and is also available on the NASA app, the space station blog and the agency’s website.

The two Expedition 68 crew members are preparing to exit the International Space Station‘s Quest airlock for a spacewalk expected to begin at about 8:15 a.m. EST and last approximately the six-and-a-half-hours.

Mann and Wakata will work to complete the installation of two mounting platforms as part of planned solar array augmentation on the starboard side of the space station’s truss. The duo will complete the installation of a mounting platform on the 1B power channel that was started during a previous spacewalk, and begin installing a mounting platform on the 1A power channel.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

Mann will serve as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2) and will wear an unmarked suit. Wakata will serve as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1) and will wear a suit with red stripes. The spacewalk will be the first for both Mann and Wakata.


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.

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Crew Ready for Spacewalk and Conducts Biology, Physics Research

Astronaut Koichi Wakata wears virtual reality goggles aboard the space station while training for a spacewalk.
Astronaut Koichi Wakata wears virtual reality goggles aboard the space station while training for a spacewalk.

The first spacewalk of 2023 will begin on Friday to continue upgrading the International Space Station’s power generation system. The Expedition 68 crew members finalized preparations today for the excursion while continuing advanced space research and orbital lab maintenance.

Astronauts Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Nicole Mann of NASA are due to spend about six-and-a-half hours working outside the station during a spacewalk on Friday. The two flight engineers will turn the batteries on inside their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, at 8:15 a.m. EST signifying the start of a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk. The duo will work on the far end of the station’s starboard truss structure in their EMUs and install a modification kit enabling the future installation of a roll-out solar array. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 7 a.m.

Wakata and Mann were joined on Thursday by NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio for final spacewalk preparations. The two spacewalkers along with Rubio staged tools and hardware inside the Quest airlock during the morning. The trio then spent the afternoon reviewing spacewalk steps and procedures before readying the two spacesuits for operations.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada focused on science activities throughout Thursday conducting biology and physics research. Cassada began his day in the Kibo laboratory module setting up the Life Science Glovebox to observe biological samples and explore new ways to heal bone conditions on and off the Earth. In the afternoon, he moved over to the Destiny laboratory module exchanging samples inside the Materials Science Research Rack for a study exploring semiconductor crystal growth in space.

The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts kept up their schedule of ongoing microgravity research and lab upkeep on Thursday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev packed the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship with trash and discarded gear before more conducting more tests on a 3-D printer monitoring the device for excessive noise. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent all day Thursday servicing life support hardware and electronics gear. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina began her day with a hearing assessment then checked radiation detectors before finally studying future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer.


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.

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NASA Astronauts Complete Seat Liner Move

The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.
The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.

On Jan. 17, NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada, with assistance from NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann, worked inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship collecting tools and readying the spacecraft for a seat liner move. The seat liner move, completed today, Jan. 18, ensures NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio will be able to return to Earth in the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation from the International Space Station. Rubio originally launched to the station with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship on Sept. 21, 2022. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for Prokopyev and Petelin in case of an emergency return to Earth.


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.

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