A pair of docked space freighters is being loaded in preparation for next month’s departure activities. The ISS Progress 57 (57P) resupply ship is being packed with trash and discarded gear for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean. The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is being loaded with experiment samples, spacesuit gear and other hardware to be returned to Earth when the ship splashes down off the Pacific coast of Baja California.
The International Space Station is getting ready for another round of Cubesat deployments from outside Japan’s Kibo lab module. Meanwhile, inside the station the six-member Expedition 42 crew worked a wide array of microgravity science, spacewalk preparations and ongoing maintenance, keeping their orbital home safe and sound.
Astronauts Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti worked in the Quest airlock readying tools for a trio of spacewalks set to begin in February. Those spacewalks will get the station wired and ready for two new spacecraft docking adapters to be installed later this year.
The Expedition 42 crew worked Wednesday with fruit flies, a humanoid robot and a Dragon spacecraft. Also, Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 fired its engines for nearly five minutes, slightly lowering the station’s orbit to prepare for an upcoming ISS Progress 58 resupply mission.
Commander Barry Wilmore and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti packed gear inside the SpaceX Dragon private space freighter for retrieval on Earth. The Dragon will return to Earth on Feb. 10 when it will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean for recovery off the coast of Baja California. Cristoforetti later fed fruit flies for an experiment studying their immune system as a model for a crew member’s susceptibility to disease in space.
Flight Engineer Terry Virts unpacked Robonaut in the Destiny then powered up the humanoid robot for a mobility test during the afternoon. Its legs received power for the first time Wednesday. Virts monitored the leg movements in conjunction with operators on the ground.
NASA astronauts Terry Virts and Barry Wilmore are getting a pair of U.S. spacesuits ready for a set of spacewalks beginning in February. Throughout Tuesday in the Quest airlock, they recharged suit batteries and checked out fans and other suit components.
Virts also joined Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti transferring cargo to and from the SpaceX Dragon commercial space freighter. Dragon completed its delivery when it was captured and berthed to the Harmony module Jan. 12. It will return to Earth Feb. 10 filled with science and other gear for recovery in the Pacific Ocean.
Another spacecraft attached to the International Space Station, Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 (ATV-5), will fire its engines Wednesday slightly lowering the station’s orbit. The lower altitude places the station at the correct altitude to receive the ISS Progress resupply craft when its launches Feb. 17. The ATV-5 will end its mission Feb. 14 when it undocks from the Zvezda service module for a fiery destruction over the Pacific.
After a week of medical science activities, the space station residents began the new week focusing on worms, fruit flies and plants. The tiny organisms provide scientists a model for larger organisms and how microgravity affects such things as immunity, muscles and bones.
Botany science in space helps scientists understand how plant cells and roots develop potentially supporting future crews on long-term missions and interplanetary exploration. There are numerous plant studies taking place on the station that not only may support future space missions but possibly improve crop production techniques on Earth.
The Expedition 42 crew members also worked on cargo transfers to and from the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as well as the ISS Progress 57 space freighter. An array of routine maintenance tasks were on the schedule including high-flying plumbing, spacesuit battery recharges and science hardware set ups.
The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), located inside the Destiny lab module, needs fuel so scientists can ignite materials to study the behavior of flames and smoke in space. Pieces of hardware that store and deliver fuel, including igniter tips, were replaced on the CIR Friday by Commander Barry Wilmore to keep the rack in operating condition.
Astronauts Terry Virts – with the help of Samantha Cristoforetti and doctors on the ground – participated in more eye checks, undergoing ultrasound scans and an echocardiogram to gather more information. The Ocular Health study seeks to understand how microgravity affects a crew member’s eyes and explain why some astronauts report impaired vision during their missions in space.
Virts also checked samples and transferred data collected for the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2) experiment, which offers potential benefits for consumer and industrial products. Cristoforetti checked on the station’s fruit flies, and later worked maintenance on the Magvector study that observes how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor.
Ground controllers overnight remotely guided the Canadarm2, with its Dextre robotic hand attached, to deftly remove the CATS experiment from the SpaceX Dragon trunk. They then handed it off to the Japanese robotic arm for installation on the Kibo laboratory’s external platform. CATS, or Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, will collect data on the pollution, dust, smoke, aerosols and other particulates in Earth’s atmosphere to understand their impacts on global climate and create a better model of the climate feedback process.
Back inside the International Space Station, the Expedition 42 crew worked on an array of new and ongoing science and continued unpacking Dragon. There were eye exams as well as research into the effects of long stays in space on the human T-cells, which are a critical part of our immune system.
The crew also looked at how certain materials behave in space for the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2) experiment, which offers potential benefits for consumer and industrial products. In addition, they checked on the station’s fruit flies, which are also monitored by scientists studying their immune system as a model for a crew member susceptibility to disease in space.
The six-member Expedition 42 crew worked Dragon cargo transfers and science on the International Space Station Wednesday.
Commander Barry Wilmore conducted botany research and harvested plants grown for the Advanced Plant Experiments-03-1 (APEX-03-1). The thale cress plants are photographed and preserved in a science freezer for analysis on the ground.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts processed samples for the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2) experiment, which studies the processes that occur in materials for consumer and industrial products. He later unpacked more gear from inside Dragon.
Ground controllers are preparing the Canadarm2 and Dextre to remove the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) experiment from Dragon’s exposed trunk and install it on a platform on the outside of Japan’s Kibo laboratory. CATS will observe aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere to understand the impacts to global climate and create a better model of the climate feedback process.
Ground controllers have completed troubleshooting work after last week’s false alarm indicating an ammonia leak. Heat exchangers and thermal control systems on the U.S. side of the International Space Station have been recovered and reintegrated and are operating in excellent shape.
Commander Barry Wilmore was scrubbing cooling loops on a U.S. spacesuit when he heard an abnormally loud fan pump separator in the suit. He alerted spacesuit engineers who are currently discussing the problem on the ground.
Crew members over the weekend noticed a bad odor coming from Europe’s docked Automated Transfer Vehicle and closed its hatch. European controllers then performed waste tank leak checks and didn’t find any leak indications. Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev is set to reenter the vehicle wearing a respirator mask to investigate.
The International Space Station residents were back at work Thursday after an ammonia leak indication sent the crew over to the Russian segment. Flight controllers determined there was no leak and NASA managers allowed the crew to resume normal activities and open the U.S. segment back up.
This week, the orbital residents kicked off several new experiments delivered Monday morning aboard the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked in Japan’s Kibo lab module feeding fruit flies for an experiment that will observe how long-term microgravity affects the immune system. NASA astronaut Terry Virts set up bacteria kits inside the Destiny lab’s Microgravity Science Glovebox for an experiment that explores the risk of infectious disease in space.
The crew opened the hatch to the U.S. segment and returned inside at 2:05 p.m. Central time. Wearing protective masks, Virts and Cristoforetti sampled the cabin atmosphere and reported no indications of any ammonia.