Monthly Archives: June 2016

Cygnus Spacecraft Gets Ready for Tuesday Release

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Astronauts Jeff Williams, Timothy Kopra and Timothy Peake

Astronauts Jeff Williams, Timothy Kopra and Timothy Peake are pictured in front of the hatch to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module.

Expedition 47 is preparing the Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter for its June 14 departure from the International Space Station. The Canadarm2 robotic arm will maneuver towards Cygnus and grapple the cargo craft before unberthing it from the Unity module and releasing it next Tuesday.

The crew is reviewing gear that will be installed in Cygnus to record its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere on June 22. When Cygnus begins its atmospheric demise the Re-entry Breakup Recorder will collect data during its breakup. Engineers will use the data to better understand the orbital dynamics of a destructive re-entry and design safer spacecraft.

British astronaut Tim Peake joined NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Tim Kopra for ultrasound scans today. The scans, along with biological samples and ground tests, will help doctors determine the risk of clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis, in astronauts on long term space missions.

The three cosmonauts, Yuri Malenchenko, Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin, worked on their set of science experiments and maintenance tasks on the Russian side of the station. They continued exploring the vibrations the station experiences during spacecraft dockings, spacewalks and crew exercise sessions. They also researched new techniques to locate module pressure leaks as well as locate and photograph landmarks on Earth.

 

BEAM Closed as Crew Packs Spaceships for Departure

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Astronaut Jeff Williams

Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the BEAM before closing its hatches. Credit: NASA TV

BEAM’s hatches have been closed completing crew operations for the month. Meanwhile, a pair of spaceships is also being packed for departure this month.

After three days of operations inside BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module has been outfitted with sensors and other hardware. The next crew entry into the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is targeted for August for more checks. BEAM will be attached to the International Space Station for two years of performance and durability tests.

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus space freighter is due to be released from the Unity module June 14 having arrived March 26. The Canadarm2 will grapple and release Cygnus into space where it will remain in orbit for tests until June 22. Three Expedition 47 crew members are counting down to their departure June 18. They are packing the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that will return them to Earth after 186 days in space.

Today’s science activities included collecting air and breath samples for a bone marrow study. The crew also explored how astronauts adapt to detailed tasks requiring high concentration and also measured how lack of sleep in space affects cognitive performance.

BEAM Sensors Installed as Station Prepares for Crew Swap

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Astronaut Jeff Williams

Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. Credit: NASA TV

The hatch to BEAM was opened up again today for the second day of outfitting the expandable module to determine its habitability and durability. BEAM, or the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is set to demonstrate the overall performance and capability of expandable habitats for the next two years. The crew is predicted to enter BEAM between 12 and 14 times during its stay.

Three Expedition 46-47 crew members are winding down a six-month mission at the International Space Station. Commander Tim Kopra, veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and first-time British astronaut Tim Peake are packing their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft before they undock June 18 for the 3.5 hour ride back to Earth.

The station will raise its orbit Wednesday morning to support the undocking as well as the arrival of the next crew on July 9. New Expedition 48-49 crew members Anatoly Ivanishin, Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi will launch July 7 aboard a new Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft for a two-day trip to their new home in space.

Inside the space station, the astronauts explored how future crews will communicate and perform as they travel farther out in space. Saliva samples were collected and stowed so scientists can analyze them to understand how microgravity affects a crew member’s immune system. The crew also photographed Earth’s landmarks and studied the vibrations the station experiences during vehicle dockings, spacewalks and crew exercise.

BEAM Opens Up For Checks

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The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module’s (BEAM) hatch was opened up for the first time today. Astronaut Jeff Williams entered BEAM and checked sensors, installed air ducts and reported back to Earth that it was in pristine condition. After Williams completed the BEAM checks he exited and closed the hatch for the day.

The crew will enter BEAM a couple of more times through Wednesday to check sensors and gear. BEAM will stay attached to the International Space Station for two years of tests of its durability.

The rest of the Expedition 47 crew moved right along with human research studies benefiting astronauts in space and people on Earth. British astronaut Tim Peake explored how astronauts adapt to tasks requiring high concentration and detailed procedures. Williams later collected biological samples for stowage and analysis for the Multi-Omics experiment that is studying the immune system.

Commander Tim Peake and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko are packing their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft and getting ready for a June 18 departure. Peake will join the duo for the ride home after living in space for six months.

Astronaut Jeff Williams

Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. Credit: NASA TV

BEAM Open for the First Time

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BEAM First Ingress

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams floats in front of the entrance to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams opened the hatch to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) at 4:47 a.m. EDT Monday, June 6. Along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, Williams entered BEAM for the first time to collect an air sample and begin downloading data from sensors on the dynamics of BEAM’s expansion. Williams told flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston that BEAM looked “pristine” and said it was cold inside, but that there was no evidence of any condensation on its inner surfaces.

Additional ingress opportunities to deploy other sensors and equipment in BEAM are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. The hatch to BEAM will be closed after each entry.

Williams and the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working at Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston expanded the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) by filling it with air during more than seven hours of operations Saturday, May 28. The BEAM launched April 8 aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and was attached to the International Space Station’s Tranquility module about a week later.

The BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The BEAM, which Bigelow Aerospace developed and built, is co-sponsored by Bigelow and NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division.

BEAM Leak Checks While New Crew Preps for Launch

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Expedition 48-49 Crew Members

Expedition 48-49 crew members were in Star City, Russia, participating in final qualification exams inside a Soyuz simulator last week. From left are Takuya Onishi, Anatoly Ivanishin and Kate Rubins

The week’s final set of CubeSats were deployed Wednesday night as the new BEAM goes through a series of leak checks before next week’s entry. Back inside the orbital lab, the six-member Expedition 47 crew conducted advanced space research sponsored by private and public institutions.

A final pair of CubeSats was deployed outside the Kibo lab module Wednesday wrapping up the week’s deployment activities. Since Monday, a total of 16 Dove satellites were released into orbit from a small satellite deployer attached to Kibo. The CubeSats will observe the Earth’s environment helping disaster relief efforts and improving agricultural yields.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) environment continues to be equalized with that of the rest of the International Space Station. Astronaut Jeff Williams is continuing to install components on the BEAM bulkhead and vestibule area before entering the new expandable module early next week.

The rest of the crew explored human research to improve astronaut health on long space journeys possibly benefitting humans on Earth too. Back on Earth, three new Expedition 48-49 crew members, Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi, are in Russia counting down to a June 24 launch to the space station.

Earth Monitoring CubeSats Released

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CubeSat Deployed

A CubeSat is deployed April 27 from a deployer on the outside of Kibo lab module.

More CubeSats are due to be deployed today contributing to humanitarian and environmental research. The crew is also continuing biomedical science to improve the health of astronauts in space and humans on Earth.

The final set of CubeSats will be released tonight from a small satellite deployer outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. This current fleet of 16 CubeSats, also known as Dove satellites, began deploying Monday and will monitor the Earth to help improve disaster relief and agriculture yields.

The crew is exploring new space exercise techniques today to keep muscles, bones and the heart healthy during long-duration missions. The crew is also tracking its medication intake to determine the effectiveness and any side effects of using medicine in space.

BEAM, or the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is still undergoing temperature and pressure checks while some relief valves and ventilation valves are being swapped out. Astronaut Jeff Williams will enter BEAM for the first time next week to install sensors measuring the expandable module’s environment.

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