BEAM Installation Work Begins Tonight

BEAM Installation
This computer rendering depicts the Canadarm2 robotic arm removing BEAM from the back of the Space X Dragon spacecraft.

BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, will be removed from the back of the SpaceX Dragon late tonight before installation on the Tranquility module begins early Saturday. Expansion of the new habitat module won’t occur until late May for two years of habitability tests.

Meanwhile, the six-member Expedition 47 crew kept up its very busy pace of advanced space research this week to benefit life on Earth and crews in space.

More eye checks were on the schedule today as scientists continued exploring vision changes astronauts have experienced while on orbit. The crew also observed skeletal muscle cells with a microscope to help researchers identify gravity sensors that may prevent muscle atrophy in space. Saliva samples were collected for a Japanese experiment analyzing how an astronaut’s immune system adapts to long-term space missions.

The crew set up software for an experiment recording an astronaut’s cognitive performance during stressful conditions in space. They also answered questions about their station habitat providing insights to engineers to help them design spacecraft to meet the needs of future crews.

Station Gets Ready for BEAM as Crew Researches Life Science

Dragon and Cygnus
The SpaceX Dragon approaches the International Space Station. The round solar array of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is in the left foreground.

The International Space Station will get a new module Saturday when the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is removed from the SpaceX Dragon and installed on the Tranquility module. BEAM will be attached to the station for two years of tests before expandable modules become a permanent feature of future spacecraft.

NASA and its international partners are using the station as an orbital laboratory to learn how the human body adapts to living and working in space. The wide variety of human research taking place on orbit today looked at work performance, vision, heart function, bones and muscles.

British astronaut Tim Peake explored how astronauts perform detailed, interactive tasks using a touchscreen tablet for the Fine Motor Skills experiment. He also joined Commander Tim Kopra for eye checks as scientists study how the lack of gravity affects vision. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams scanned his legs with an ultrasound device for the Sprint exercise study and helped search for gravity sensors in cells to prevent muscle atrophy in space.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka researched heart function so doctors can understand how the cardiovascular system adapts during different phases of a spaceflight. Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko performed maintenance throughout the orbital lab’s Russian segment. He swapped out GoPro batteries and photographed the condition Zvezda service module panels.

New Science Begins as Station Boosts Orbit

Astronauts Tim Kopra, Jeff Williams and Tim Peake
Expedition 47 crew members (from left) Tim Kopra, Jeff Williams Tim Peake eat dinner inside the Unity module aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 47 crew has begun working new science delivered aboard the new Dragon and Cygnus commercial cargo ships. The crew is also getting ready for the extraction and installation of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module scheduled for Saturday.

One of the experiments delivered aboard Dragon is already being set up for operation. The Rodent Research-3 experiment is exploring an antibody used on Earth to see if it prevents muscle atrophy and bone loss in space. The crew is also working the Gecko Gripper study, launched aboard Cygnus, which is researching advanced adhesive technology.

Commander Tim Kopra and British astronaut Tim Peake conducted vision tests and blood pressure checks today for the Ocular Health study. Scientists are researching vision changes reported during long-term space missions and how long before vision returns to normal when an astronaut returns to Earth.

The International Space Station began a series of orbital boosts today to get ready for a June crew swap. Kopra and Peake along with fellow Expedition 46-47 crew member Yuri Malenchenko will return home in early June. They will be replaced about two weeks later when Expedition 48-49 crew members Anatoly Ivanishin, Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi launch.


Dragon Capture Makes Six Spacecraft at Station

Dragon Approaches Station
The SpaceX Dragon approaches the International Space Station moments before its robotic capture. Credit: NASA TV

While the International Space Station was traveling over the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii, astronaut Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), with the assistance of NASA’s Jeff Williams, successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft with the station’s robotic Canadarm2 at 7:23 a.m. EDT.

NASA TV coverage will resume at 9:45 a.m. for Dragon installation.

Dragon’s arrival marks the first time two commercial cargo vehicles have been docked simultaneously at the space station. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrived to the station just over two weeks ago.  With the arrival of Dragon, the space station ties the record for most vehicles on station at one time – six.

Join the conversation online by following @space_station and #Dragon.

Weather Favors Dragon Launch as Crew Preps New Science

The SpaceX Dragon and Falcon 9 Rocket
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Credit: SpaceX

Weather forecasters have predicted a 90% percent chance of favorable conditions for the Friday launch of the SpaceX CRS-8 mission to the International Space Station. Launch of the Dragon resupply ship atop the Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for 4:43 p.m. EDT/8:43 p.m. UTC from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television will cover the launch and rendezvous activities live.

British astronaut Tim Peake is training for the robotic capture of Dragon when it arrives Sunday morning carrying 6,900 pounds/3,130 kilograms of science, crew supplies and hardware. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will back up Peake during the rendezvous and capture activities. After Dragon is captured, ground controllers will take over the Canadarm2 robotic activities and remotely install the commercial space freighter to the Harmony module.

The Expedition 47 crew is still working advanced space science setting up new experiments delivered March 26 on the Orbital ATK private cargo craft. The crew is also preparing for even more science being delivered aboard Dragon. The new experiments will explore muscles and bones, fluids at nano-scales and protein crystals. The research has the potential to help scientists design newer, more advanced drugs to improve health.

Crew Explores Space Muscles Before Dragon Arrives Sunday

Astronaut Timothy Peake
Astronaut Timothy Peake explores muscle health in space using the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System.

The Expedition 47 crew conducted an emergency drill today in coordination with flight controllers. The station residents also continued human research and prepared to welcome a sixth spacecraft to the International Space Station

The crew periodically simulates emergencies at the space station to stay familiar with escape routes, safety hardware and communication protocols. Afterward, the astronauts and ground teams review the results to continuously improve space safety procedures.

Muscle research has been taking place this week on the orbital lab with astronauts using a specialized exercise device. The Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) helps scientists understand the effects of living in space on the human body.

Another life science study today looked at how working in space affects a cosmonaut’s breathing rate. The crew also explored the stresses the space station experiences during events such as spacecraft dockings and engine firings.

SpaceX is getting ready for the launch of its Dragon resupply ship Friday at 4:43 p.m. EDT/8:43 p.m. UTC. The crew is packing gear and training for Dragon’s Sunday arrival and robotic capture. NASA Television will cover the launch and rendezvous activities live.

Dragon Will Deliver Rodents for Muscle Study

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon, on its CRS-5 mission, was captured January 12, 2015, during Expedition 42.

The SpaceX Dragon CRS-8 mission will deliver 6,900 pounds/3,130 kilograms of science, crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station. Payloads aboard Dragon will include rodents for a medical study and an expandable module that will be installed after Dragon completes its two-day trip to the station.

Dragon is scheduled for launch Friday at 4:43 p.m. EDT/8:43 p.m. UTC. It is scheduled to be captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm Sunday at 7 a.m. and will be installed to the Harmony module about two-and-a-half hours later.

The Expedition 47 crew is getting the Rodent Research hardware ready in the orbital lab so scientists can learn how to offset bone and muscle diseases on Earth. Researchers will be exploring how living in space affects bones and muscles by observing mice soon after Dragon arrives.

The largest payload in Dragon is the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). The BEAM will be attached to the Tranquility module a week after its arrival for a series of habitability tests over two years.

Astronaut Tim Peake continued more muscle research today using specialized exercise gear and attached electrodes to his right leg and ankle. Commander Tim Kopra is collected hardware for a combustion experiment that is studying more efficient ways to burn fuel on Earth and in space. Flight Engineer Jeff Williams is training for the new Meteor imaging experiment delivered aboard the Orbital ATK resupply ship.

Muscle and Heart Research as Dragon Targets Sunday Arrival

Kibo and the Milky Way
Japan’s Kibo lab module and the Earth’s limb frames the Milky Way. Credit: @Astro_Tim

The six station residents researched advanced space science today inside the orbital laboratory. The crew is also training for the automated arrival and robotic installment of the SpaceX Dragon.

The crew members are exploring how living in space affects the human muscular system and heart function. The crew also preparing a high quality protein crystal experiment that may enable advanced drug treatments for a variety of diseases on Earth.

The SpaceX Dragon is the next cargo craft set deliver more science and crew supplies. It will launch Friday afternoon for a rendezvous and capture Sunday morning at the space station. The new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will also be shipped to the Expedition 47 crew aboard the SpaceX. BEAM will be installed to the Tranquility module about a week after its arrival at the station for two years of habitability tests.

A Russian Progress 63 (63P) cargo craft completed a two-day delivery mission to the International Space Station Saturday afternoon. The crew opened the hatches to the 63P shortly afterward and began unloading nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies.

Crew Ready for Pair of Space Shipments from Russia and U.S.

Cygnus Spacecraft Arrives at Station
The Cygnus cargo spacecraft is seen after it arrived at the space station and was captured by the Canadarm2 robotic arm March 28.

The Expedition 47 crew will receive a space delivery from Russia this weekend. SpaceX is counting down to the launch of another space shipment on its Dragon space freighter scheduled for April 8 from Florida.

Onboard the International Space Station, the crew checked out U.S. spacesuits and advanced science hardware. The station residents also explored life science and human research to benefit life on Earth and crews in space.

Commander Tim Kopra scrubbed cooling loops in U.S. spacesuits and installed new gear inside the Combustion Integrated Rack research facility. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams set up equipment for an experiment that is researching new exercise techniques for living in space. British astronaut Tim Peake swapped hard drives in a laptop computer that is recording data collected for a dark matter detection experiment.

Russia’s newest cargo craft, the Progress 63, is on its way to the station carrying over three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the crew and will dock Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. UTC. The following week, another delivery from the United States will liftoff aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying more science and gear inside the Dragon cargo craft. Both missions will be covered live on NASA TV.