Station Science Picks Up on Tuesday as Resupply Mission Nears

The ISS Progress 81 resupply ship is pictured 266 miles above the Pacific Ocean after undocking from the space station's Zvezda service module.
The ISS Progress 81 resupply ship is pictured 266 miles above the Pacific Ocean after undocking from the space station’s Zvezda service module.

The seven-member Expedition 68 crew was back on its full complement of microgravity research on Tuesday. The orbital residents also saw a trash-filled cargo craft depart the International Space Station early in the morning.

It was a science-packed day aboard the orbital outpost with the four astronauts and three cosmonauts exploring the behavior of fuels in space, high-temperature physics, and cardiac research. The space scientists also turned their attention to more mundane orbital plumbing work and household maintenance tasks.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio installed new research hardware inside the Columbus laboratory module to observe how fuels behave to optimize satellite performance in space. He also activated a new toilet in the Tranquility module and verified its performance enabling its use for a crew operations test.

Working in the Kibo laboratory module, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) swapped samples from inside a specialized research furnace. The high-temperature physics device uses electrostatic levitation techniques to explore the thermophysical properties of materials exposed to temperatures above 2,000 degrees Celsius. He later collected his blood and urine samples for stowage in a science freezer and future analysis.

NASA Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada began their day with biomedical research collecting body samples for the long-running Standard Measures study that monitors astronaut health. The duo later practiced on a computer the procedures they would use for the return back to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship, currently targeted for early March.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina partnered together during the morning for a study that explores how the human heart adapts to long-term weightlessness. Afterward, Petelin configured hardware that observes Earth’s nighttime atmosphere in the ultraviolet wavelength. Kikina removed sensors from herself after monitoring her heart’s electrical activity and blood pressure for 24 hours.

Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev woke up early and pointed his camera out a window in the Zvezda service module to photograph the departing ISS Progress 81 (81P) cargo craft. The 81P undocked from Zvezda’s rear port at 11:56 p.m. EST on Monday for a safe demise above the Pacific Ocean just over two hours later completing an eight-month resupply mission.

The 81P will be replaced by the ISS Progress 83 (83P) resupply ship after it launches on Thursday at 1:15 a.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The 83P will automatically dock to the same port vacated by the 81P at 3:49 a.m. EST on Saturday for a six-month stay.


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 Relax as Cosmonauts Prep for Cargo Mission

Astronaut Nicole Mann points the camera toward herself and takes a "space-selfie" with her helmet's visor up during a spacewalk on Feb. 2, 2023.
Astronaut Nicole Mann points the camera toward herself and takes a “space-selfie” with her helmet’s visor up during a spacewalk on Feb. 2, 2023.

Four Expedition 68 crew members are off-duty today following last week’s spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power generation system. The rest of the crew is getting ready for a cargo mission due to arrive this week while continuing its ongoing cardiac research.

Four astronauts are relaxing today after a successful spacewalk on Thursday and all the preparations leading up to it. Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spent six hours and 41 minutes in the vacuum of space during the Feb. 2 excursion. The duo completed the installation of a modification kit on the station’s starboard truss structure readying the orbital outpost for its next roll-out solar array.

The spacewalkers were assisted in the days leading up to last week’s spacewalk by NASA Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada. The two spacewalking assistants helped Mann and Wakata in and out of their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, reviewed the mod kit installation procedures with them, and monitored the spacewalking job from inside the station.

The quartet will get back to work on Tuesday resuming their ongoing space research to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies. The four astronauts will work throughout the week exploring human research topics such as how microgravity affects blood pressure in the brain and the cardiorespiratory system. They will also look at space agricultural techniques and study the behavior of fuels in microgravity.

A cargo swap is planned for this week when the trash-filled ISS Progress 81 (81P) resupply ship undocks from the Zvezda service module’s rear port on Monday night. Next, the ISS Progress 83 (83P) cargo craft will launch at 1:15 a.m. EST on Wednesday then dock automatically at 3:49 a.m. on Saturday to the Zvezda port vacated by the 81P.

Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin prepared on Monday for the weekend arrival of the 83P. The cosmonaut duo practiced on a computer for the unlikely event they would need to use the telerobotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, and manually guide the resupply ship to a docking.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina attached sensors to herself on Monday morning for a 24-hour cardiac monitoring session without interfering with her normal work schedule. The electrodes not only recorded her heart’s electrical activity but also her blood pressure. Kikina then spent the rest of Monday on ventilation and communication maintenance tasks.


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 Relax, Science Continues as Station Orbits Higher

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the Quest airlock organizing spacewalk tools and hardware on Jan. 31, 2023.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the Quest airlock organizing spacewalk tools and hardware on Jan. 31, 2023.

Two astronauts took the morning off on Friday following a spacewalk the day before while the rest of the Expedition 68 crew conducted the latest space experiments and lab maintenance tasks. Meanwhile, the International Space Station is orbiting higher today to get ready for a pair of spaceships arriving this month.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) relaxed Friday morning after conducting a six-hour and 41-minute spacewalk on Thursday. The duo completed the installation of hardware on the station’s Starboard-4 truss readying the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. The pair then went into the afternoon with standard post-spacewalk medical checks before cleaning up the Quest airlock where their spacewalking tools and Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, are stowed.

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio had their hands full on Friday as they explored how weightlessness affects a wide range of phenomena including biotechnology, agriculture, and physics. The ongoing microgravity studies provide scientists and engineers new insights that could promote state-of-the-art industries both in space and on Earth.

Cassada began his day configuring the BioFabrication Facility, a research device that will investigate the 3-D printing of organ-like tissues in microgravity, in the Columbus laboratory module. Afterward, he was back inside Columbus watering tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility. The Veg-05 study is studying a continuous fresh-food production system for space missions. Rubio set up the new Particle Vibration experiment inside the Destiny laboratory module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. The physics study will investigate how particles organize themselves in fluids possibly advancing manufacturing techniques and providing new insights on astrophysics.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev assisted Flight Engineer Anna Kikina during her cardiac research early Friday as she attached sensors to herself to monitor her blood circulation in microgravity. Prokopyev then worked inside the Zvezda service module checking its systems. Kikina then spent her day inside Zvezda and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module servicing their ventilation systems. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent all day Friday replacing air purification hardware before transferring filters from the ISS Progress 82 cargo craft to the Unity module.

The space station is orbiting higher, 260 miles above Earth at its highest point and 257.1 miles at its lowest, after the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship fired its engines for nearly fifteen minutes early Friday morning. The new orbiting altitude places the station at the correct altitude for the arrival of the new ISS Progress 83 cargo craft on Feb. 11 and the unpiloted Soyuz MS-23 crew ship on Feb. 21.


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 Complete Construction Job to Upgrade Station Power

Spacewalkers Koichi Wakata (top) and Nicole Mann (bottom) work on the starboard truss structure to upgrade the space station's power generation system.
Spacewalkers Koichi Wakata (top) and Nicole Mann (bottom) work on the starboard truss structure to upgrade the space station’s power generation system.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata concluded their spacewalk at 2:26 p.m. EST after six hours and 41 minutes.

Mann and Wakata completed their major objective for today, which was to complete the construction of a mounting platform on the 1A power channel that was started during a spacewalk on Jan. 20. In addition, they relocated an articulating portable foot restraint from the P6 truss for future spacewalk tasks and deployed cables for the installation of the next pair of International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs).

The installation was part of a series of spacewalks to augment the station’s power channels with new iROSAs. Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two additional arrays will be mounted to the installed platforms during future spacewalks following their arrival later this year on SpaceX’s 28th commercial resupply services mission for NASA.

It was the 259th spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, the second spacewalk of 2023, and the second 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 to the Moon through NASA’s Artemis missions.


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 Continue Power System Upgrades

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

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata began a spacewalk at 7:45 a.m. EST, approximately 30 minutes ahead of schedule, to complete the construction of a mounting platform on the 1A power channel that was started during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, relocate and install an articulating portable foot restraint from the P6 truss for future spacewalk tasks, and if time permits, complete cable routing on the 1B power channel.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two additional arrays will be mounted to the installed platforms during future spacewalks following their arrival later this year on SpaceX’s 28th commercial resupply services mission for NASA.

Mann, designated extravehicular crew member 1, is wearing a suit with red stripes. Wakata, designated extravehicular crew member 2, is wearing an unmarked suit. The spacewalk is the second for both Mann and Wakata.

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 Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk to Continue Power System Upgrades

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio, both from NASA, pose with astronauts (far left and right) Nicole Mann from NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, as they prep for a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2022.
Expedition 68 Flight Engineers (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio, both from NASA, pose with astronauts (far left and right) Nicole Mann from NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, as they prep for a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 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 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 up to seven hours.

Mann and Wakata will work to complete the construction of a mounting platform on the 1A power channel as part of a planned solar array augmentation on the starboard side of the station’s truss.

The duo will complete the installation of the mounting platform that was started during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, relocate and install an articulating portable foot restraint from the P6 truss for future spacewalk tasks, and if time permits, complete cable routing on the 1B power channel.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two additional arrays will be mounted to the installed platforms during future spacewalks following their arrival later this year on SpaceX’s 28th commercial resupply services mission for NASA.

Mann will serve as extravehicular crew member 1 and will wear a suit with red stripes. Wakata will serve as extravehicular crew member 2 and will wear an unmarked suit. The spacewalk will be the second 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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Station is GO for Thursday Spacewalk as Space Research Keeps Up

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured in her spacesuit after completing a spacewalk to modify the station's power generation system on Jan. 20.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured in her spacesuit after completing a spacewalk to modify the station’s power generation system on Jan. 20.

Mission managers have given the “go” for two astronauts to exit the International Space Station on Thursday and conduct a seven-hour spacewalk. While the spacewalk preparations were under way, the rest of the Expedition 68 crew kept up its ongoing schedule of human research, botany, and physics experiments.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will set their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to battery power at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday. After their EMUs are set to battery power, the astronauts’ spacewalk officially begins and they will exit the Quest airlock into the vacuum of space and maneuver to the starboard truss structure. Once they arrive at the Starboard-4 truss, they will complete a modification kit installation job they began on Jan. 20 to prepare the station for its next roll-out solar array.

Mann and Wakata started Wednesday readying their spacesuits and its components inside Quest. Afterward, NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio joined the duo and began organizing spacewalking tools and hardware before a final procedures review and a conference with specialists on the ground. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina also handed the spacewalking astronauts dosimeters, or radiation detectors, to attach to their spacesuits. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Rubio began his day with NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada collecting and processing blood samples for spinning in a centrifuge, stowage in a science freezer, and later analysis. The pair then split up configuring advanced research hardware and an ultra-high resolution video camera. Cassada relocated two TangoLab facilities from a research rack in the Destiny laboratory module to a research rack in the Columbus laboratory module. The TangoLab cube modules enable a variety of space research from microbiology to chemistry. Cassada also watered tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study. Rubio installed the Sphere Camera-1 inside Destiny to evaluate its ultra-high resolution capabilities that may assist future space travelers with vehicle inspections, as well as Earth and space observations.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued testing a 3-D printer checking its performance while being controlled from a computer. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin worked throughout the day packing the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship with trash and discarded gear before replacing air filters inside the Zvezda service module. Kikina, after handing over radiation detectors in the morning, worked inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module testing operations with the European robotic arm.


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 Readies Spacewalk Tools While Continuing Advanced Science

Commander Sergey Prokopyev wears a head cap with sensors and practices potential piloting techniques for futuristic planetary missions.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev wears a head cap with sensors and practices potential piloting techniques for futuristic planetary missions.

Two Expedition 68 astronauts continue gearing up for a spacewalk scheduled for Thursday at the International Space Station. The orbital residents also kept up a host of research activities as they serviced science gear, studied human research, and explored future technologies.

The next spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday to continue upgrading the space station’s power generation system. Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space completing the hardware installation job that they began on Jan. 20 during their first spacewalk. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin live spacewalk coverage at 6:45 a.m.

Mann and Wakata started Tuesday morning organizing their tools, tethers, and other spacewalking components inside the Quest airlock ahead of Thursday’s excursion. Afterward, the duo split up as Mann worked in the Columbus laboratory module and cleaned up the BioLab facility that enables research into microbes, cells, tissue cultures, and small invertebrates. Wakata later took a robotics test on a computer measuring his performance, behavior, and cognition while living in space.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio worked throughout the day maintaining physics and biology hardware. Cassada installed the BioFabrication Facility in the Columbus lab that will be used to investigate manufacturing human organs in microgravity. Rubio worked in the Kibo laboratory module cleaning up the Life Science Glovebox following several days of advanced bone healing studies last week.

Two cosmonauts took turns today studying how future space crews might pilot spacecraft or robots on potential planetary missions. Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Anna Kikina both wore a helmet with electrodes attached and simulated piloting techniques, such as docking a spaceship or commanding a robot on a planetary surface, on a computer.

Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent his morning investigating fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. During the afternoon, he moved on to orbital lab maintenance and worked on an oxygen generator before servicing water and drainage valves.

The remotely-controlled Canadarm2 robotic arm jettisoned flight support equipment during the day that was delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship on Nov. 27, 2022, toward Earth’s atmosphere. The flight hardware secured a pair of roll-out solar arrays inside Dragon’s trunk during its ascent to orbit and rendezvous with the space station. The jettisoned support equipment drifted safely away from the station and will eventually harmlessly burn up in the atmosphere with no chance for recontacting the space station.


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 Gets Ready for Thursday Spacewalk, Keeps Up Space Research

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.

The Expedition 68 crew kicked off Monday preparing for a spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power generation system on Thursday. The orbital residents also researched a variety of space phenomena and packed a cargo craft ahead of its upcoming departure.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) began their day reviewing procedures for a spacewalk set to begin at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday. The duo will spend about seven hours completing the installation of hardware to ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array on the starboard truss structure. This will be their second spacewalk together and they will finish the external installation job they began on Jan. 20.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio joined Mann and Wakata during Monday afternoon for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground at Mission Control in Houston. Cassada and Rubio will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, and monitor the excursion from inside the orbiting lab.

Cassada and Rubio also had time on Monday servicing botany and physics research hardware. Cassada worked inside the Kibo laboratory module planting seeds in the Advanced Plant Habitat for an experiment observing genetic changes in plants growing in microgravity. Rubio replaced experiment samples and research hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack for a study exploring how fires burn in weightlessness to improve fire safety techniques in space.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev is packing the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft with trash ahead of its departure on Feb. 6 after nearly eight-and-a-half months docked to the Zvezda service module. A new cargo craft will replenish the Expedition 68 crew and dock on Feb. 11 to the same port vacated by the Progress 81.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina spent Monday on human research activities and a station photography session. Petelin wore a helmet packed with sensors measuring his reactions as he simulated spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer for future planetary missions. Kikina first photographed the external condition of the Nauka and Zvezda modules before moving on and studying ways to improve communications with international crews and ground controllers.

Muscle Scans, Bone Study Cleanup as Next Spacewalk Nears

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina and Koichi Wakata pose together aboard the space station. Credit: Roscosmos
Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina and Koichi Wakata pose together aboard the space station. Credit: Roscosmos

The Expedition 68 crew members turned their attention toward understanding how muscles adapt to microgravity on Friday after intensive bone studies earlier in the week. The International Space Station residents also continued processing the bone research samples, worked on orbital plumbing, and resumed spacewalk preparations.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio were back in the Kibo laboratory module on Friday cleaning up after completing work for an advanced bone healing study. The duo finalized sample processing in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox, stowed the samples in a science freezer, then cleaned up the research hardware and its components. Those samples will be returned to Earth and compared to a control group to study the effectiveness of a new bone-graft adhesive. Results may improve the healing ability of bone fractures and the treatment of bone defects on and off the Earth.

The duo later joined Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) configuring spacewalk hardware and reviewing procedures for an upcoming spacewalk. Mann and Wakata will spend about six-and-a-half hours in the vacuum of space in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, next week. The spacewalkers will continue upgrading the power generation system on the space station’s starboard truss structure beginning at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Mann and Wakata began their day inside the Columbus laboratory module for the long-running Myotones muscle study. The investigation entails scanning the back, neck, leg, and arm muscles with a specialized device to understand how living in space affects an astronaut’s muscle tone, stiffness, and elasticity. Observations my provide therapeutic insights for muscle conditions in space and on the ground.

Following four days of space physics research, Commander Sergey Prokopyev spent Friday servicing hatch components inside the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship ahead of its departure in early February. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent the first part of his day working on life support hardware before assessing the stowage volume inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina worked throughout the day servicing a variety of life support gear and cleaning ventilation 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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