Day of Remembrance as Spacewalk Preps and Cygnus Work Move On

Astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra
Astronauts Tim Kopra (left) and Scott Kelly talk to the Military Times this morning from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Today, NASA remembers the sacrifice of the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Columbia and Challenger. Mission Control Center in Houston and the crew aboard the International Space Station observed a moment of silence and Commander Scott Kelly sent down a few words memorializing the lost astronauts.

The six residents aboard the space station kept up their pace with spacewalk preparations, Cygnus cargo transfers and advanced space science. The orbital laboratory also completed two of a series of reboosts on Wednesday ahead of a crew swap and a cargo delivery planned for March.

Cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov checked out their Russian Orlan spacesuits and tools before next week’s spacewalk. The duo will install hardware and science experiments on the station’s Russian segment. NASA TV will broadcast the spacewalk live beginning Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. EST.

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake worked throughout the day transferring cargo from the Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter. The Cygnus is due to leave the station’s Unity module Feb. 19 and burn up over the Pacific Ocean the next day.

Student Satellites Prepped for Deployment from Japanese Lab

Astronaut Scott Kelly and Tim Peake
Astronaut Scott Kelly (foreground) and Tim Peake load a pair of nanosatellites inside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s airlock. Credit: NASA TV

The six Expedition 46 crew members today prepared for the deployment of a pair of nanosatellites, loaded trash in the Cygnus cargo craft and reviewed timelines and procedures for a Feb. 3 spacewalk. The International Space Station will also raise its orbit ahead of March’s crew swap and cargo delivery activities.

Commander Scott Kelly and British astronaut Tim Peake were inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory loading a satellite carrier and its deployer mechanism in the lab module’s airlock. After the Japanese robotic arm extracts the deployer from the airlock the Aggiesat4 and BEVO-2 nanosatellites will be deployed on Friday. The student-built nanosatellites will help further develop and refine autonomous navigation, rendezvous and docking software and procedures.

Peake then joined NASA astronaut Tim Kopra loading trash inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus supply ship. The private space freighter is due to leave the station Feb. 19 ending its stay at the Unity module. Next, Kopra moved on to a combustion experiment testing how well different samples resist burning in microgravity.

Cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov are a week away from the second spacewalk of 2016. The veteran spacewalkers reviewed the timeline and procedures they will use to install hardware and science experiments outside the station’s Russian segment on Feb. 3 at 8:10 a.m. EST.

Station to Boost Orbit Ahead of March Crew Swap

The Green and Red Hues of an Aurora
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly took this majestic image of the Earth at night highlighting the green and red hues of an Aurora. He tweeted this message along with the image: “The dance of #aurora. #YearInSpace”

The International Space Station will raise its orbit Wednesday afternoon before a pair of crews swap places and a cargo ship arrives in March. One-year crew members Scott Kelly of NASA and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos are set to return home March 1 along with Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov. Then, Expedition 47 will begin and three new crew members will arrive March 19. New supplies are scheduled to be delivered to the crew March 31 aboard a Progress 63 cargo craft.

The orbiting Expedition 46 crew was back at work Tuesday on a series of life science and physics experiments to benefit life on Earth and crews living in space. Commander Scott Kelly explored maximizing the effects of exercise in space while British astronaut Tim Peake studied how living in space affects using touch-based technologies, repairing sensitive equipment and a variety of other tasks. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra researched how materials burn in space.

Two cosmonauts resized their Russian Orlan spacesuits today, checked them for leaks and set up hardware before next week’s maintenance spacewalk. Flight Engineers Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko will work outside Feb. 3 in their Orlan suits to install hardware and science experiments on the orbital lab’s Russian segment.


Crew Sets Up Tiny Satellites While Checking for Spacesuit Leaks

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly works with three SPHERES satellites in 2010 when he was a Flight Engineer for Expedition 25.

The Expedition 46 crew brought out a pair of tiny satellites today so students can compete for the best algorithm in an ongoing competition. The crew also checked spacesuits, transferred cargo and worked on lab maintenance.

One-Year Crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko set up a pair of bowling ball-sized satellites in Japan’s Kibo lab module for a student competition. Students compete to test their algorithms which operate the tiny satellites onboard the International Space Station for the SPHERES-Zero Robotics study.

Veteran cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko checked their Russian Orlan spacesuits for leaks. The duo will exit the space station Feb. 3 for a five hour and 30 minute spacewalk to install hardware and science experiments on the orbital lab’s Russian segment. NASA TV will begin coverage at 7:30 a.m. EST with the spacewalk set to start 40 minutes later.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra worked on space plumbing during the morning before moving on to Cygnus cargo transfers. British astronaut Tim Peake worked on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a device that will levitate, melt and solidify materials to study the thermophysical properties of different metals.

Scott Kelly Hosts First Ever NASA Reddit AMA from Space

@StationCDRKelly Reddit AMA
You’re invited! 300 days of a #YearInSpace today! Ready to @Reddit? Join me Sat., Jan 23, 4pm ET to #AskMeAnything! Credit: @StationCDRKelly

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will conduct the first ever NASA Reddit Ask Me Anything from space to help everyone understand what it means to spend a year in space.

A year is a long time to live without fresh air, gravity and human contact from loved ones. While science is at the core of Kelly’s groundbreaking spaceflight, it has also been a test of human endurance.

Kelly has just completed an unprecedented 300 consecutive days in space, and he has two more months before the end of his Year In Space mission which began last March. By the end of this mission, Kelly will be the first American to spend one continuous year in space and the record holder for total days in space and single longest mission. To say the least, he is currently NASA’s most experience astronaut.

The Reddit AMA will be held on Saturday, Jan. 23 at 4 p.m. ET. To follow the event, visit the Reddit AMA page. Kelly’s session will be added to the page once it begins.

Don’t be afraid to ask your questions. Connections back on Earth are very important when isolated from the entire world. So Kelly is looking forward to connecting with you during this event!

You can continue to follow Kelly’s Year in Space on his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Crew Studies How Life in Space Affects Vision Amid Spacewalk Preps

Astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra
Astronauts Tim Peake (left) and Tim Kopra work on Robotic Refueling Mission gear inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Three Expedition 46 astronauts continued more eye checks today to study how living in space affects vision. Their cosmonaut counterparts prepared for a spacewalk, met for an inventory conference and worked on Russian science experiments.

Commander Scott Kelly joined British astronaut Tim Peake today for ultrasound scans on their eyes. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra also partnered with Kelly for a cardiac exam as part of the Ocular Health study. Doctors are exploring why some crew members have reported vision changes after completing their months-long missions aboard the International Space Station.

Kelly later worked to install a device called the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. The ELF uses an electric field and a laser to heat metals and study their properties that cannot be observed on Earth. However, that work was put on hold after some installation issues.

Two veteran cosmonauts, Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko, reviewed their procedures for a spacewalk to install hardware and science experiments planned for Feb. 3 and scheduled to be broadcast live on NASA TV. They also joined fellow cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko to discuss the station’s inventory plan and worked on maintenance and research in their segment of the orbital lab.

Crew Studies Health in Space and Counts Down to Next Spacewalk

Houston and the Gulf Coast
The night lights of Houston and the Gulf Coast are pictured from the International Space Station.

The Expedition 46 crew of two U.S. astronauts, one British astronaut and three Russian cosmonauts practiced their emergency response skills today in conjunction with the Mission Control Centers in Houston and Moscow. The station residents also continued more human research to improve crew health while moving along with preparations for a Feb. 3 spacewalk.

The crew members spent an hour today conducting an emergency drill to practice communication, familiarize themselves with safety gear and procedures and memorize evacuation routes. After the drill the crew called down to ground teams to review their actions and results.

Meanwhile, international space science is ongoing as scientists and doctors explore the long term effects of living in space on a crew member’s body which could also benefit life on Earth. Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Tim Kopra and Tim Peake were conducting more eye checks for the Ocular Health vision study. Kelly also took a blood sample for stowage in a science freezer. Kopra and Peake were back at work exploring how an astronaut’s lungs adapt to microgravity for the Airway Monitoring experiment.

Two cosmonauts, Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko, are getting tools ready for the next spacewalk scheduled at the beginning of February. The spacewalkers will work outside in space to install hardware and science experiments on Russian modules.

Crew Exploring Human Research and Prepping for Russian Spacewalk

Astronaut Tim Peake
Astronaut Tim Peake uses a bar magnet to stir samples for a fluid physics experiment inside the Unity module.

The six-member Expedition 46 crew participated in a range of long term space science Wednesday to benefit life on Earth and future astronauts. The crew is also gearing up for the second spacewalk of 2016 planned for early February.

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake participated in eye and blood pressure checks for the Ocular Health vision study. Kopra then scrubbed spacesuit cooling loops before reconfiguring their hardware. Peake set up gear for the Airway Monitoring experiment to determine how gravity and microgravity influence the lungs. Commander Scott Kelly collected blood and urine samples and took ultrasound and blood pressure measurements for the Cardio Ox and Twins Study experiments.

Cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko are getting ready for a Russian spacewalk planned for Feb. 3 that will be broadcast live on NASA TV. The duo prepared their Orlan spacesuits and the airlock inside the Pirs docking compartment. The spacewalkers will spend about five hours and 30 minutes installing hardware and science experiments on the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

Crew Checks Spacesuit, Continues Advanced Research and Preps for Next Spacewalk

Astronaut Tim Peake
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake seen during his first spacewalk.

The crew checked a spacesuit for leaks over the weekend after a successful spacewalk that was terminated early on Friday. The International Space Station residents also got back to work today on advanced space research, spacewalk gear cleanup activities and preparations for another spacewalk next month.

Astronaut Tim Kopra reported a small water bubble in his spacesuit Friday during a short spacewalk. Shortly afterward, he and fellow spacewalker Tim Peake were ordered back inside the station. Once inside, the water was collected and stored for analysis on the ground. The suit was later pressurized and tested though no further leaks were detected.

Kopra also worked on the Fine Motor Skills experiment, cleaned up the Quest airlock and checked a spacesuit battery. Peake set up the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace in Japan’s laboratory module to begin research on the thermophysical properties of various materials.

The next spacewalk is scheduled for Feb. 3. Cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov will exit the Pirs docking compartment in their Orlan spacesuits for several hours of Russian tasks.

Spacewalk Ends Successfully But Early After Water Detected in Helmet

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake completed the primary task for their spacewalk on January 15, 2016 before it was ended early by Mission Control Houston. The astronauts replaced a failed voltage regulator that caused a loss of power to one of the station’s eight power channels last November, accomplishing the major objective for this spacewalk.

See photos from the spacewalk

The pair ended its spacewalk at 12:31 p.m. EST with the repressurization of the U.S. Quest airlock following an early termination after Kopra reported a small water bubble had formed inside his helmet.

“These procedures did their job, the team did their job and we flowed right into a nice, safe return into the airlock for these guys,” remarked NASA’s Chief Astronaut Chris Cassidy, who took part in the July 2013 spacewalk when ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano experienced a similar, but more serious, incident.

Listen to the full audio from the interview with NASA Chief Astronaut Chris Cassidy

Commander Scott Kelly assisted the crew members with an expedited removal of their spacesuits and helmets. Once they removed the spacesuits and helmets, the astronauts used a syringe to take a water sample and retrieve the helmet absorption pad to determine how much water was introduced. Engineers are already looking at data to find what may have prompted the water to form inside Kopra’s helmet.

The crew was never in any danger and returned to the airlock in an orderly fashion.

The 4 hour and 43 minutes spacewalk was the third for Kopra and the first for Peake, who both arrived to the station Dec. 15. It was the 192 in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

Teams will continue to look over data collected during the spacewalk and discuss forward plans in the days to come.