Wide Range of Space Research Keeping Crew Busy Today

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir conduct research operations
NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir conduct research operations inside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s Life Sciences Glovebox.

The International Space Station is a hive of science activity today as the Expedition 61 crew and mission controllers initiate a variety of space research.

Inside the orbiting lab, mice are being scanned to study how their bones change in microgravity. Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch placed the rodents in a new bone densitometer and imaged their bones. The new Rodent Research-19 study is investigating two proteins that may prevent muscle and bone loss in space.

NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan and ESA Commander Luca Parmitano were in the Columbus lab module exploring how they grip and manipulate objects in space. Insights may help future astronauts adjust to long-term missions farther into space and possibly planetary exploration.

Mission controllers on the ground today commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach into the back of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship and extract the new HISUI experiment device. HISUI, or Hyperspectral Imagery Suite, is a unique Earth imaging system that can benefit agriculture, forestry and other environmental areas. HISUI will be installed on the outside of the Kibo lab module to scan the Earth’s surface using high spectral resolution.

In the Russian segment of the station, the cosmonauts focused on docking port inspections and life science. Oleg Skripochka photographed internal and external docking gear and continued unpacking cargo from the Progress 74 resupply ship. Alexander Skvortsov finalized a 24-hour monitoring of his heart activity then contributed to a study observing how space crews interact with mission controllers.

Advanced Biology Research Taking Place on Station Today

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station as both spacecraft were orbiting 257 miles above Egypt.

Advanced space research is in full gear aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 61 crew is activating new science gear and continuing long-running experiments to benefit humans on and off the Earth.

Rodents delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship are now being housed inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. They are being studied for ways to prevent muscle and bone loss in microgravity. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan have been setting up the habitats and stocking them with food and water to support the mice.

A specialized 3-D printer aboard the orbiting lab is testing printing cellular structures in space due to the detrimental effects of Earth’s gravity. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch has been operating the Bio-Fabrication Facility this week using “bio-inks” with more success than on the ground. The device is dedicated to manufacturing human organs, producing food and personalizing pharmaceuticals.

Koch and Meir also partnered together today to set up and calibrate a new bone densitometer in Japan’s Kibo lab module. The biology research gear will measure and image bone density in the mice living aboard the station.

Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano are participating this week in a pair of motion coordination experiments sponsored by the European Space Agency. In the first study, the astronauts are exploring how weightlessness affects gripping and manipulating objects with implications for exploring planetary bodies. The second investigation explores how the brain adapts to the lack of traditional up-and-down cues in space.

Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka continues to unload the nearly three tons of cargo just delivered on the Progress 74 cargo craft. Russian Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov attached a sensor to himself to measure his cardiac activity before spending the rest of the day on lab maintenance.

Crew Unpacks New Science from U.S. and Russian Cargo Ships

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station (left) and after it was installed to the Harmony module (right) on Dec. 8, 2019.

Two new cargo spaceships are open for business at the International Space Station as a variety of new space research begins this week. The Expedition 61 crew has begun unpacking several tons new supplies from the U.S. and Russian space freighters.

Russia’s Progress 74 cargo craft automatically docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment at 5:35 a.m. EST today after launching midday Friday. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka opened the hatch shortly afterward and began retrieving critical research hardware for stowage on the orbiting lab.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship arrived at the station on Sunday for a capture and installation with the Canadarm2 robotic arm to the U.S. Harmony module. Commander Luca Parmitano joined NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan and quickly unpacked brand new science gear and rodents for observation aboard the space station.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch worked throughout Monday juggling numerous science and cargo activities. She was offloading new Dragon supplies and housing lab rodents delivered aboard the U.S. cargo craft.

Meir and Morgan started Monday with ultrasound scans of their veins and eye pressure checks for the Fluid Shifts study. Meir with assistance from Koch in the afternoon installed a bone densitometer in Japan’s Kibo lab module that will measure bone loss in microgravity.

Russian Space Freighter Docks Automatically to Station

Dec. 9, 2019: International Space Station
Dec. 9, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Traveling approximately 260 miles over the Yellow Sea east of Shanghai, the automated Russian Progress 74 cargo resupply spacecraft docked at 5:35 a.m. EST to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

It is the second resupply spacecraft to arrive for the six crew members aboard the space station in as many days. The Expedition 61 crew welcomed SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft early Sunday morning.

The International Space Station is a stepping stone for NASA’s Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon. As the only place for conducting long-duration research on how living in microgravity affects living organisms as well as testing technologies to allow humans to work at the Moon, the space station serves as a unique asset in the effort establish a sustainable presence at the Moon and prepare for missions to Mars.

At 9 a.m., NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast a special event with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine as he discusses the status of the agency’s Artemis program, highlights the completion of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will help power the first Artemis mission to the Moon, and takes part in a question-and-answer session from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

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

Russian Cargo Craft Arriving at Station Live on NASA TV

Russia's Progress 73 (73P) cargo craft is pictured departing the International Space Station on Nov. 29, 2019
Russia’s Progress 73 cargo craft is pictured departing the International Space Station on Nov. 29, 2019.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are now live broadcasting the expected arrival of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft set to dock to the Pirs compartment on the International Space Station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m.

The Progress 74 spacecraft is carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 61 crew aboard the station. Progress will arrive after making 49 orbits of Earth in three days since its launch Friday, Dec. 6 at 4:34 a.m.

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

Dragon Attached to Station for Month-Long Stay

Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked to the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:47 a.m. EST.

The 19th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,700 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong
Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks
NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Next up, the station crew will be preparing for the arrival early Monday morning of a second resupply spacecraft. The Russian Progress 74 that launched Friday at 4:34 a.m. is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking at 4:45 a.m.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Capture Dragon Filled With Brand New Science

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station over the Atlantic Ocean.

International Space Station was traveling more than 262 miles over the south Pacific Ocean, Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) grappled Dragon at 5:05 a.m. EST using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2 with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. Coverage may be adjusted as needed. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

Here’s some of the research arriving at station:

A Better Picture of Earth’s Surface
The Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) is a next-generation, hyperspectral Earth imaging system. Every material on Earth’s surface – rocks, soil, vegetation, snow/ice and human-made objects – has a unique reflectance spectrum. HISUI provides space-based observations for tasks such as resource exploration and applications in agriculture, forestry and other environmental areas.

Malting Barley in Microgravity
Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity tests an automated malting procedure and compares malt produced in space and on the ground for genetic and structural changes. Understanding how barley responds to microgravity could identify ways to adapt it for nutritional use on long-duration spaceflights.

Spread of Fire
The Confined Combustion investigation examines the behavior of flames as they spreads in differently shaped confined spaces in microgravity. Studying flames in microgravity gives researchers a better look at the underlying physics and basic principles of combustion by removing gravity from the equation.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Broadcasts Dragon’s Arrival at Station on Sunday

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured on May 18, 2014, attached to the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station tomorrow morning Dec 8, with an expected capture of the cargo spacecraft around 5:30 a.m. EST. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4 a.m. Watch live at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will grapple Dragon with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup. NASA’s Jessica Meir will assist the duo by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. Coverage of robotic installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 7:30 a.m.

Dragon lifted off on Thursday, Dec. 5, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The cargo spacecraft with more than 5,700 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory. Dragon will join three other spacecraft currently at the space station

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew Preps for Two Space Deliveries Racing to Station

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter and Russia's Progress 74 resupply ship blast off to resupply the space station
(At left) The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX with the Dragon space freighter on top lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (At right) Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Two space deliveries are racing to the International Space Station and the Expedition 61 crew is getting ready to receive them. Several tons of science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware are in orbit right now to replenish the orbiting laboratory.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship blasted off this morning from Kazakhstan and is on its way to the station’s Pirs docking compartment for a linkup on Monday morning. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will be on duty monitoring the 74P’s automated docking at 5:38 a.m. EST.

The SpaceX Dragon commercial space freighter will arrive first on Sunday and astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan will be waiting in the cupola to capture it. The duo will carefully guide the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Dragon at 5:30 a.m. Mission controllers will take over then remotely control the Canadarm2 and install the U.S. cargo craft to the Harmony module.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are configuring the space station for the new research gear Dragon is delivering on Sunday. Morgan and Parmitano will also be unloading the multitude of science experiments and critical research samples.

Northrop Grumman deorbited one of its two Cygnus resupply ships in space today four months after it departed the orbiting lab.  It orbited Earth for a series of engineering tests before it was commanded to reenter the atmosphere and burn up safely over the Pacific Ocean.  The most recent Cygnus is still attached to the space station’s Unity module and targeted to leave in mid-January.

Russian Resupply Ship Orbiting Towards Station

Russia's Progress 74 cargo rocket
Russia’s Progress 74 cargo rocket launched from its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 6, 2019

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the automated Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft launched at 4:34 a.m. EST (2:34 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned.

It is now the second resupply spacecraft in space on its way to the orbiting laboratory. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that launched Friday on the company’s 19th commercial resupply services mission to the station is scheduled to arrive Sunday, Dec. 8. NASA TV coverage of Dragon’s rendezvous and capture will begin at 4 a.m.

After a three-day journey making 49 orbits of Earth, the Progress spacecraft is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking will begin at 4:45 a.m.

Progress 74 will remain docked at the station for more than seven months, departing in July 2020 for its deorbit into the Earth’s atmosphere.

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