Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year 16 Times on Space Station

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Virts-Robonaut-'Action-Figure'

Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweets: Unwrapping an early Christmas gift last week. @AstroRobonaut is my favorite action figure. #SpaceVine

The Expedition 42 crew orbiting Earth on the International Space Station gets the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve a whopping 16 times as it circles the globe at 17,500 miles an hour.

Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, say they plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts. The year 2015 starts officially for the station crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in London. The crew is scheduled to be in its sleep shift, but may elect to stay up late since it has a day off planned for New Year’s Day.

Watch the Happy New Year message

The crew spent New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments, ranging from those directed at better understanding changes that occur in the human eye during long-duration spaceflights, and with Earth observations aimed at helping with disaster aid on the Earth’s surface.

Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Read more about the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV)

The crew also continued preparations for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship, the commercial resupply mission of SpaceX-5 and the Dragon spacecraft. Launch of Dragon on a Space-X Falcon 9 booster is planned for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 5 a.m.

Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Thursday, Jan. 8, and Wilmore will use the 58-foot robotic arm to grab the Dragon by its tail and berth if to the station. Grapple is expected about 6 a.m. NASA Television coverage of the grapple starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and installation coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. Dragon is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.

A series of briefings outlining Dragon’s mission and the scientific research it will be carrying is planned Monday, Jan. 5.

Read full schedule of SpaceX-5 and ISS Research briefings

Watch Terry Virts’ #SpaceVine of Robonaut:

Crew Shares New Year’s Wishes, Research Continues

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Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti answer questions posed by CBS and BBC reporters on Dec. 30, 2014.

Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti answer questions posed by CBS and BBC reporters on Dec. 30, 2014.

As the crew of the International Space Station prepares to ring in the new year with a fruit juice toast, NASA today released a pre-recorded  New Year’s greeting from space for everyone on Earth.

> Watch the Happy New Year message

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore  of NASA and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency shared their plans for a New Year’s Eve celebration and some resolutions during an interview with CBS News and the BBC.

> Watch the Dec. 30 interview

The crew spent most of its day conducting a variety of experiments, ranging from human life sciences to physics and Earth observations, and threw in a good measure of routine maintenance on station systems.

Cristoforetti set up hardware for eye exams using ocular coherence tomography, which records a detailed 3-D image of the retina and the interior of the eyes, so doctors may look to better understand why some astronauts return to Earth with long-term vision problems. Wilmore then conducted the tests on both Cristoforetti and NASA Flight Engineer Terry Virts.

> Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Wilmore also continued work setting up and conducting experiment runs with the European Space Agency Haptics-1 experiment, using a body-mounted force-feedback joystick and a tablet computer to help scientists learn how people in weightlessness might use such game-like hardware to someday control robots on another planet, moon or asteroid from an orbiting human spacecraft.

> Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov spent their day performing station life support system maintenance, testing a procedure for detecting air leaks on the station and conducting a Russian physics experiment on the dynamics of charged particles in space.

Station Commander Celebrates Birthday in Orbit

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Happy Birthday Barry Wilmore

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrates his birthday on the International Space Station.

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrated his 52nd birthday aboard the International Space Station today, and Mission Control gathered around a microphone to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.

Wilmore, who has been on the station since Sept. 25, was born Dec. 29, 1962, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

> Listen to Mission Control singing “Happy Birthday”

Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are resuming work on microgravity experiments and operational maintenance aboard the station after enjoying some time off for the holidays.

Wilmore donned a body-mounted high-tech force feedback computer joystick as part of the Haptics-1 experiment he’s scheduled to perform Tuesday. The test will look at how people in weightlessness experience touch-based feedback. Someday, astronauts may use such interfaces to guide planet or asteroid-exploring robots from orbiting human spacecraft.

> Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

His crew mates took readings on each other for eye health research, looking into why some astronauts are coming home from long-duration missions with diminished vision.

On Tuesday, Wilmore and Cristoforetti will be interviewed by the CBS Radio Network and BBC Radio at 9:55 a.m. EST on NASA Television.

Station Decorated for Holidays as Crew Studies Life in Space

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Italian Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is in the holiday spirit as the station is decorated with stockings for each crew member and a tree.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas on the International Space Station. The stockings are out, the tree is up and the station residents continue advanced space research to benefit life on Earth and in space.

A wide array of research work took place Tuesday with scientists on the ground, working in conjunction with the astronaut lab assistants, exploring different fields.

Behavioral testing was scheduled Tuesday for the Neuromapping study to assess changes in a crew member’s perception, motor control, memory and attention during a six-month space mission. Results will help physicians understand brain structure and function changes in space, how a crew member adapts to returning to Earth and develop effective countermeasures.

› Read more about NeuroMapping

Another study is observing why human skin ages at a quicker rate in space than on Earth. The Skin B experiment will provide scientists a model to study the aging of other human organs and help future crew members prepare for long-term missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

› Read more about Skin-B

Crew Focuses on Science and Waits for Dragon’s January Launch

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Samantha Cristoforetti

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti works in the Materials Science Laboratory. Credit: NASA TV

The six Expedition 42 crew members started Christmas week with a replanned schedule after SpaceX postponed its Dragon launch until Jan. 6. The crew would have been unloading new science and cargo from Dragon had it arrived Sunday but instead turned its attention to ongoing science and maintenance.

Commander Barry Wilmore worked on the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test experiment that will help scientists design higher quality consumer products that will last longer. Wilmore also joined NASA astronaut Terry Virts for an interview with CBS Morning News and WBAL Radio in Baltimore, Md.

Virts meanwhile continued preparing for the arrival of Dragon as he collected gear to be stowed on the commercial cargo craft for return to Earth. He also packed trash in Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, which will undock in February for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti spent a few minutes Monday talking to Giorgio Napolitano, the president of Italy, who was addressing the nation’s military forces. Later, Samantha collected biological samples for stowage in a science freezer and worked inside the Materials Science Laboratory.

Wilmore and Virts

Commander Barry Wilmore gives Flight Engineer Terry Virts a haircut using a razor that also vacuums the hair that is cut. Credit: NASA TV

Dragon Launch Slips, Crew Adjusts Schedule

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Astronaut Terry Virts

Astronaut Terry Virts works on the Sabatier system. Credit: NASA TV

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NASA and SpaceX announced Thursday the launch of the Dragon commercial cargo craft is now scheduled for no earlier than Jan. 6. The six-member Expedition 42 crew postponed its Dragon mission preparations and focused on eye exams and station maintenance.

› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

Veteran astronaut Terry Virts, who previously piloted space shuttle Endeavour in 2010, worked on the Sabatier system which produces water on the International Space Station. He also joined Commander Barry Wilmore and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti for a series of eye exams during the morning and afternoon.

› Read more about the Sabatier system
› Read more about the Ocular Health study

Wilmore and Cristoforetti also partnered up for work on the Columbus lab module’s BioLab facility, which allows experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants, and small invertebrates.

› Read more about the BioLab

The three cosmonauts – Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and Elena Serova – were back at work on more maintenance inside the Zarya cargo module and ongoing Russian science in their segment of the orbital laboratory.

Dragon Launch Occuring No Earlier Than Jan. 6

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The SpaceX Dragon

The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft approaches the International Space Station on Sept. 23, 2014 for grapple and berthing.

NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6. This will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further some of the issues that arose from the static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year.

Beta angles are the angles between the space station orbital plane and the sun, resulting in the station being in almost constant sunlight for a 10 day period. During this time, there are thermal and operational constraints that prohibit Dragon from berthing to the station. This high beta period runs from Dec. 28 through Jan. 7.

The new launch date also will allow the teams to enjoy the holidays.

Space station managers will meet on Monday, Jan. 5, for a thorough readiness review in advance of the Jan. 6 launch attempt. The launch postponement has no impact on the station’s crew, its complement of food, fuel and supplies and will not impact the science being delivered to the crew once Dragon arrives at the station.

A launch on Tuesday, Jan. 6, is scheduled at approximately 6:18 a.m. EST. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5 a.m.

A backup launch attempt is available on Wednesday, Jan. 7.

A launch on Jan. 6 will result in a rendezvous and grapple of Dragon on Thursday, Jan. 8, at approximately 6 a.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. Installation coverage will begin at 9 a.m.

Prelaunch briefings at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will be rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 5 with the times to be determined.

For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/1FrjDEO

Crew Works Multitude of Advanced Robotics

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Robonaut

Robonaut 2, with its new legs attached, rests in the Destiny laboratory. Credit: NASA TV

The International Space Station crew has been working on a variety of robotics activities this week. On Wednesday, they tested a humanoid robot and explored how bowling ball-sized satellites, known as SPHERES, can navigate around objects. Crew members trained earlier in the week for the planned Sunday capture of the Dragon spacecraft using the 57.7 foot Canadarm2.

› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

NASA astronaut Terry Virts unpacked Robonaut 2 so that payload controllers from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama could power up its new legs for the first time. Robonaut’s legs, which arrived on a previous SpaceX mission, were installed in August. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti downloaded SPHERES data demonstrating how the small free-floating satellites build 3D maps of objects and interact and navigate using those 3D models.

› Read more about the SPHERES-VERTIGO study

Cristoforetti also joined Commander Barry Wilmore removing a small satellite deployer, nicknamed CYCLOPS, from Japan’s Kibo lab module for troubleshooting. Afterward, Wilmore conducted a vision test and set up a multipurpose experiment platform in Kibo.

› Read more about the CYCLOPS

Veteran cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov installed more overlay sheets inside the Zarya cargo module. New cosmonaut Elena Serova conducted a photographic inspection of the interior panels of the Zvezda service module. The trio also worked a wide variety of science including studies of bioelectric cardiac activity and the effects that earthquakes and human activities have on Earth’s ionosphere.

More Science and 3D Printing Work amid Dragon Training

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Commander Barry Wilmore

Commander Barry Wilmore shows off a 3D printed ratchet.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and cosmonaut Elena Serova started Wednesday conducting a test run of basketball-sized satellites, known as SPHERES, which float inside the International Space Station. After checking the nitrogen pressure of science freezers in the afternoon, Cristoforetti joined Commander Barry Wilmore for a robotics training session ahead of the fifth SpaceX Dragon mission scheduled for launch Friday at 1:22 p.m. EST.

Read more about SPHERES
Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

Wilmore began his morning with some 3D printing work before moving on to the Advanced Colloids Experiment Microscopy-3 fluids study. NASA astronaut Terry Virts set up the Destiny lab’s Microgravity Science Glovebox installing hardware for an experiment that will study the risk of infectious disease on long-term space missions.

Read more about the ACE-M-3 study
Read more about the Micro-5 infectious disease study

Cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov were back at work inside the Zarya cargo module installing overlay sheets on interior panels. The duo split up in the afternoon for a variety of science and routine maintenance tasks in the station’s Russian segment.

Crew Preps For Dragon Capture and Next Year’s U.S. Spacewalks

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Three U.S. spacewalks are planned for early next year and station crew members Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts are preparing spacesuits and spacewalk tools. Wilmore swapped secondary oxygen packs on a pair of spacesuits, while Virts checked the torque on a pistol grip tool.

After the spacesuit work, Wilmore joined Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti inside the cupola for robotics training. Wilmore will operate the Canadarm2 to capture the SpaceX Dragon when it arrives Sunday morning. Samantha will assist the commander during the commercial craft’s approach and rendezvous.

Virts also installed a centerline berthing camera to support the mating of Dragon to the Harmony node. Dragon is due for launch on its fifth Commercial Resupply Services mission Friday at 1:20 p.m. EST and with its capture scheduled at 6 a.m. Sunday.

› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

The three astronauts also worked on a variety of science studying combustion and botany and even learning how to operate basketball-sized satellites that float inside the International Space Station. The three cosmonauts in the station’s Russian segment also worked on their task list of science and maintenance.

› Read more about the Seedling Growth-2 experiment
› Read more about SPHERES

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