Starliner Stands Down, Station Crew Works Physics and Nauka Transfers

The aurora australis seemingly crowns the Earth's horizon as the station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Asia and Antarctica.
The aurora australis seemingly crowns the Earth’s horizon as the station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Asia and Antarctica.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew ship will roll back to its Vehicle Integration Facility so mission teams can examine the cause of unexpected valve position indications on the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Starliner’s launch targeted for today was halted as a result.

NASA and Boeing are analyzing indications that not all of Starliner’s valves were in the proper configuration needed for launch. The commercial crew partners will take the time necessary to ensure Starliner is ready to launch on Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew explored space physics and transferred cargo from a new Russian science module on Wednesday.

Station Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet took turns today researching ways to harness nanoparticles for the InSpace-4 space-manufacturing study. The space physics investigation takes place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and  seeks to develop advanced materials in microgravity to improve and strengthen spacecraft and Earthbound systems.

NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough worked in the U.S. Quest airlock on Wednesday removing particles from a smoke detector. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency replaced lights in the Kibo laboratory module then moved on to orbital plumbing tasks inside the Tranquility module’s waste and hygiene compartment.

Over in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov partnered up to unpack cargo delivered inside the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The duo then took turns exploring spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques for future planetary missions.

Continued analysis following last week’s event with unplanned thruster firings on Nauka has shown the space station remains in good shape with systems performing normally. Post-event reconstructions showed that the station experienced a total attitude change of approximately 540 degrees. Most importantly, the maximum rate and acceleration of the attitude change did not approach safety limits for station systems and normal operations resumed once attitude control was regained.

Station Gears up for U.S. Crew and Cargo Spaceships

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rolls out to the launch pad on Monday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rolls out to the launch pad on Monday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is targeted for launch on Tuesday at 1:20 p.m. EDT atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Meteorologists predict a 60% chance of favorable weather at the launch pad on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

For an on-time launch, Starliner would reach the International Space Station one day later and dock to the Harmony module’s forward-port at 1:37 p.m. All events will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

All is well aboard the orbiting lab today as all seven Expedition 65 crew members focus on physics research, spacesuit maintenance and station upkeep. The orbital residents are also gearing up for the next U.S. cargo mission to resupply the station.

Flight Engineers Megan McArthur joined Thomas Pesquet for several runs of the InSpace-4 nanoparticle study throughout Monday. The duo from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) took turns working inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the space-manufacturing investigation. InSpace-4 seeks to develop advanced materials in microgravity to improve and strengthen spacecraft and Earthbound systems.

Both astronauts also trained on a computer for the rendezvous and capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter planned for Aug. 12 at 6:10 a.m. NASA TV will cover Cygnus’ station arrival including its launch scheduled on Aug. 10 at 5:56 p.m.

Pesquet moved on and assisted Commander Akihiko Hoshide inside the Quest airlock and serviced a pair U.S. spacesuits ahead of an upcoming spacewalk for more roll-out solar array work. NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei worked on a variety of science, communications hardware and life support throughout Monday.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov have been unpacking and configuring new hardware delivered aboard Nauka after it docked to the Zvezda service module’s Earth-facing port last week. Novitskiy also activated a long-running Russian Earth observation experiment while Dubrov photographed the condition of Zvezda’s treadmill and downlinked the files.

Targeting Aug. 3 for Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard is seen near the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Photo by NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance now are targeting 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3, for launch of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) with the International Space Station ready for the arrival of the Starliner spacecraft. NASA’s live launch coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Docking is targeted for 1:37 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4.

OFT-2, Boeing’s second uncrewed flight, is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Learn more about NASA’s commercial crew program by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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

 

Update to NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 Mission

NASA and Boeing have decided to stand down from Friday’s launch attempt of the agency’s Orbital Flight Test-2 mission. Currently, launch teams are assessing the next available opportunity. The move allows the International Space Station team time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos’ Nauka module and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival.

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.

More details about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Space Station Stable After Earlier Unplanned MLM Thruster Firing

July 29, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. The new Nauka Multipurpose Logistics Module (MLM) is now attached to the Zvezda service module's Earth-facing port.
July 29, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. The new Nauka Multipurpose Logistics Module (MLM) is now attached to the Zvezda service module’s Earth-facing port.

Following the docking of the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), named Nauka, to the International Space Station at 9:29 am EDT, Russian cosmonauts aboard the space station conducted leak checks between Nauka and the service module. At 12:45 pm, the flight control team noticed the unplanned firing of MLM thrusters that caused the station to move out of orientation. Ground teams have regained attitude control and the motion of the space station is stable.

The crew was never and is not in any danger, and flight controllers in Mission Control Houston are monitoring the status of the space station. Teams are also monitoring the impact to tomorrow’s launch of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft. Updates on the space station will be provided on NASA.gov and the agency’s social media pages.

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.

New Module Successfully Docks to Space Station

new module with solar panels flies near space station with Earth in background
Nauka approaches the space station, preparing to dock.

The uncrewed Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), named Nauka, the Russian word for “science,” arrived at the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment at 9:29 a.m. EDT, eight days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  

Nauka will serve as a new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for future operations.

How to Watch “Nauka” Module dock to the Space Station on July 29

Nauka module before launch
Nauka module before launch in Baikonur.

NASA will provide live coverage of the automated docking of the uncrewed Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) to the International Space Station Thursday, July 29, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  

Named Nauka, the Russian word for science, the 43-foot long, 23-ton module launched on July 21 and will serve as a new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for future operations. 

To follow along live, tune into NASA Television, as well as the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Time Perception, Immersive Exercise, and Nanoparticles Rule the Day

Expedition 65 Commander Akihiko Hoshide, pictured inside the Columbus laboratory module, wears virtual reality goggles for a time perception study.
Expedition 65 Commander Akihiko Hoshide, pictured inside the Columbus laboratory module, wears virtual reality goggles for a time perception study.

Wednesday’s activities aboard the International Space Station remained focused on science and maintenance. In preparation of Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module docking to the outpost the following day, July 29, Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy located and gathered equipment to set up temporary ventilation for the 43-foot long, 23-ton module. Live coverage of tomorrow’s event begins at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet took turns participating in a study that explores how astronauts perceive time in microgravity, which can impact physical and cognitive performance. Pesquet, along with NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Shane Kimbrough, continued operations for the Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids, or InSPACE-4. This physics study investigates ways to produce high-quality protein crystals in microgravity to benefit pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries on Earth.

Astronauts exercise two hours a day to help compensate for the loss of bone and muscle mass from living and working in weightlessness. However, their daily workout can quickly become repetitive in the closed and unchanging environment, leading to lack of motivation. The Immersive Exercise project aims to break the monotony with virtual reality (VR). In support of the first experiment session, Pesquet retrieved all the equipment and successfully completed the session by exercising on the bike with a VR headset.

Space gardening is key to sustaining human spaceflight as NASA and its international partners plan future missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur and Kimbrough continued to work on the Plant Water Management study, an investigation that demonstrates how to operate hydroponics in microgravity. The duo conducted operations, set up, and configured hardware for the botany study that, eventually, may also improve watering systems on Earth.

Meanwhile, two astronauts worked on maintenance activities. Hoshide replaced holder and installed cartridges on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) developed by JAXA. The ELF is a facility for materials science that melts levitating materials with a very high melting point, measures their properties, and solidifies them from a super-cooled state by taking advantage of the microgravity environment. In addition, Pesquet added ice bricks into the ESA-built Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer, or MELFI, for the space station. The ice bricks provide cooling, or incubation, to the samples stored inside double-cold bags, which are insulated stowage bags used to transport samples to and from the orbiting laboratory.

Crew Members Carry Out Hardware Installations and Complete Science Experiments

Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is pictured inside the International Space Station’s Harmony module working on maintenance activities.
Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is pictured inside the International Space Station’s Harmony module working on maintenance activities.

Following the successful undocking of the Russian Progress 77 cargo spacecraft with the Pirs docking compartment yesterday, the Expedition 65 crew aboard the International Space Station continued to work on science and maintenance on the station.

Today, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei focused on hardware installation of Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) helmet assembly. He installed and inspected the helmet lights and the Rechargeable ExtraVehicular Activity Battery Assembly, or REBA. He also spent time installing a high-definition camera for the EMU helmet. Commander Akihiko Hoshide assisted Vande Hei with the hardware installation.

In preparation for science operations later this week, NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur prepared the Maintenance Work Area and set up the Plant Water Management (PWM) test stand for the PWM 3 & 4 investigations, which demonstrate passive measures for controlling fluid delivery and uptake in plant growth systems.

Other science experiments included ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet manually injecting algae on Cell Science-04 cassettes as part of the Cell Science-04 algae injection operations. In addition, Hoshide and Pesquet took turns on experiment runs for the Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids, or InSPACE-4. This investigation looks into the assembly of tiny structures from colloids using magnetic fields and could shed light on how to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials.

The crew, including Hoshide, Vande Hei, Kimbrough, McArthur, and Pesquet, filled out questionnaires as part of the Human Research Facility Veg study, which focuses on the overall behavioral health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space — like the various plants grown aboard the orbiting outpost thanks to other microgravity investigations.

Ahead of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission, Hoshide and Kimbrough completed additional training to familiarize themselves with Starliner rendezvous and monitoring procedures.

On Thursday, July 29, the space station is set to receive a new module in the form of Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), which is scheduled to dock to the station at 9:24 a.m. EDT. Named Nauka, after the Russian word for “science,” MLM launched on July 21 and will serve as a new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for future operations.

Progress 77 and Pirs Undocked from Station

Russia's ISS Progress 77 (77P) cargo craft is pictured docked to the Pirs docking compartment on the station's Russian segment.
Russia’s ISS Progress 77 (77P) cargo craft is pictured docked to the Pirs docking compartment on the station’s Russian segment.

The unpiloted Russian Progress 77 cargo spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station while attached to the Pirs docking compartment at 6:55 a.m. EDT.

The spacecraft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and harmlessly burn up over the south Pacific. The mission launched and docked to the space station in February delivering more than a ton of cargo to the Expedition 65 crew. Deorbit and re-entry will not be covered on NASA TV.

With the port on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment station vacated by the departure of Pirs and Progress, Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) is scheduled to dock at the station Thursday, July 29. Named Nauka, after the Russian word for “science,” MLM launched on July 21 and will serve as a new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for future operations.