Astronauts Ready for Thursday Morning Spacewalk

Japanese Astronaut Takuya Onishi
Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi gets the U.S. spacesuits ready that NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will wear Thursday during a spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins are ready for Thursday morning’s spacewalk scheduled to begin at 8:05 a.m. EDT and last 6.5 hours. The duo will retract and cover an out-of-service thermal control radiator, tighten struts on a solar array rotary joint and install a high-definition camera.

The spacewalkers finished collecting their tools and reviewing their timeline this morning. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi will assist the pair today getting the Quest airlock ready and tomorrow helping them in and out of their spacesuits.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin were back at work today exploring how bones and the immune system are impacted by living in space. Oleg Skripochka researched how the digestive system adapts and how humans experience pain during a long-term space mission.

After the completion of Thursday’s spacewalk, the crew will turn its attention to the Sept. 6 departure of Expedition 48 crew members Williams, Skripochka and Ovchinin. The trio continue loading the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft and getting their launch and entry suits ready. They will undock from the Poisk module and land in Kazakhstan after 5-1/2 months on orbit.

Spacewalk Preps as Station Orbits over Three Hurricanes

Hurricanes Lester, Madeline and Gaston
(From left) Hurricanes Lester, Madeline and Gaston are seen from the International Space Station on Aug. 30. Credit: NASA Johnson YouTube

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are two days away from their second spacewalk in as many weeks. The duo are reviewing the tasks they will perform outside the International Space Station for 6.5 hours of maintenance work beginning Thursday at 8 a.m. EDT. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi will assist Williams and Rubins from inside the space station.

They will retract and cover an out-of-service thermal control radiator and install lights and a high-definition camera for better views of the station structure and the Earth below. If time allows, the spacewalkers will perform get-ahead tasks including photographing the condition of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

In the Russian segment of the station, the three cosmonauts concentrated on a variety of human research experiments and crew departure activities. Flight Engineers Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka collected blood and saliva samples to explore how bones and the immune system are impacted by living in space. The pair also practiced an entry simulation drill today inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft they will return home in with Williams on Sept. 6.

The space station cameras spotted three hurricanes today, two in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes Lester and Madeline were seen in the Pacific potentially threatening the big island of Hawaii. Hurricane Gaston was seen in the open Atlantic.

Crew Preparing for Second Spacewalk and Soyuz Departure

Astronaut Jeff Williams
0 Astronaut Jeff Williams is pictured Aug. 19 during a spacewalk to install an international docking adapter.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are going back outside the International Space Station Thursday morning for their second spacewalk in less than two weeks. The duo will retract and cover a thermal control radiator no longer being used and install lights and a new high definition camera for better views of Earth and the station structure.

Less than a week after they complete that spacewalk, Williams will return to Earth with his Expedition 48 crewmates Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin. The two cosmonauts are checking their Sokol launch and entry suits today and packing the Soyuz before next week’s ride home. They will undock from the Poisk module Sept. 6 inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft and land in Kazakhstan ending their 5 ½-month mission.

As always, advanced space science is continuing aboard the orbital laboratory. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi gathered research samples for return to Earth aboard the home-bound Soyuz spacecraft. Over the weekend, Rubins completed a DNA sequencing process for the Biomolecule Sequencer study that could possibly benefit crew health and identify life in space. Body samples were also collected today for the Multi-Omics study observing the changes to an astronaut’s metabolism and immune system.

 

Dragon Packed for Friday Morning Departure and Splashdown

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon is pictured as the International Space Station orbited over the English Channel.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft has been packed with science experiments and gear for return to Earth and analysis by NASA engineers. Robotics controllers on the ground will maneuver the Canadarm2 to detach Dragon from the Harmony module Thursday afternoon.

Astronauts Takuya Onishi and Kate Rubins will command Canadarm2 to release Dragon at 6:10 a.m. EDT Friday. It will splashdown off the Pacific coast of Baja California a few hours later, then be retrieved and shipped back to Los Angeles by SpaceX personnel.

Less than two weeks later, a trio of Expedition 48 crew members will return to Earth inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft. Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin are due to end their stay at the International Space Station on Sept. 6 and land in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, the space station crew is still participating in a wide variety of ongoing space research to benefit people living on Earth and in space. The crew conducted human research activities today exploring how long-term space missions affect an astronaut’s metabolism, digestion and blood pressure.

Williams Breaks Kelly’s Cumulative Time in Space Record

Cumulative Days In Space
Astronaut Jeff Williams surpassed former astronaut Scott Kelly’s record today for the most cumulative days in space by a NASA astronaut.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams established a new record for most time spent in space by a NASA astronaut today, surpassing 520 days in space over his four missions. Williams will have a total of 534 cumulative days by the time he lands Sept. 6 in Kazakhstan. Former astronaut Scott Kelly had set the record on his year-long mission, and still holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut at 340 days.

The International Space Station raised its orbit today ahead of Williams’ departure Sept. 6 with cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin. After the trio undocks in their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft, ending Expedition 48, they will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan about 3-1/2 hours later.

SpaceX’s Dragon will depart the station first early Friday morning for a splashdown in Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins continue loading Dragon with gear and science samples for analysis on Earth. Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi will be at the controls of the robotics workstation when they command the Canadarm2 to release Dragon at 6:10 a.m. EDT Friday.

In parallel with the upcoming spacecraft departure activities, the crew continues to dedicate time to research a multitude of space experiments taking place on the orbital laboratory. The crew conducted research looking at heart function, plant growth in microgravity and executed a variety of student designed experiments. Researchers use the data collected from the advanced space experiments to improve health treatments on Earth, benefit a wide variety of industry sectors and help NASA plan journeys farther into space

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Dragon Being Loaded With Science for Return to Earth

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the Harmony module a few days after its arrival in July.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is getting ready to return to Earth Friday morning loaded with gear and a variety of science for analysis. Another spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA-20M, will leave Sept. 6 and land in Kazakhstan with three International Space Station crew members.

Dragon delivered numerous science experiments July 20 that the Expedition 48 crew immediately unloaded and began working on. Two of those experiments set to return on Friday include the Heart Cells study and Mouse Epigenetics. That research explored how microgravity affects human heart cells and alters gene expression and DNA in mice.

The station will get an orbital reboost early Wednesday when the docked Progress 63 cargo craft fires its engines for over 12 minutes. The reboost will put the station at the correct altitude for the departure of the Expedition 48 trio next month.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will return to Earth in two weeks after 5-1/2 months in space. Williams will be completing his fourth space mission and hold the NASA record for cumulative days in space. Skripochka will be completing his second mission and Ovchinin will be completing his first.

Astronauts Relaxing Before Pair of Spaceships Leave

Spacewalker
An astronaut works to install an international docking adapter during a spacewalk on Friday.

Three astronauts are relaxing today after a spacewalk on Friday and weekend cleanup work. Meanwhile, a pair of spacecraft will be departing the International Space Station over the next two weeks.

NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins successfully installed a new international docking adapter Friday morning during a five hour and 58-minute spacewalk. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi assisted the duo from inside the station, while all three cleaned up the Quest airlock afterward where they stowed their spacesuits and tools.

Williams is scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 6 with cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin ending Expedition 48. The two cosmonauts began their departure preparations today to get the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft ready for undocking and landing in Kazakhstan.

Before Expedition 48 returns home in two weeks the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will leave the station this Friday at 6:10 a.m. EDT. The crew is loading the space freighter with gear and science for analysis by NASA engineers on the ground. Dragon will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours after its release Friday and be retrieved by SpaceX personnel.

Spacewalkers Begin Work to Install Commercial Crew Port

Spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins
Astronaut Jeff Williams is conducting the fourth spacewalk of his career. Astronaut Kate Rubins is conducting her first spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 8:04 a.m. EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last some six and a half hours. Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins will install the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs) that will enable future arrivals of Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew spacecraft.

The docking adapter arrived to the space station July 20 on a SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft. On Wednesday, ground controllers used the Canadarm2 robotic arm, and its attached “Dextre” Special Dexterous Manipulator, to extract the IDA from the trunk of Dragon and position it just 2 feet away from Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 located on the forward end of the Harmony module.

Once the IDA is moved to a surface to surface contact with the PMA, Williams and Rubins will begin work to hook up tethers in advance of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takuya Onishi sending commands to close the hooks between the two docking ports. Once the hooks are closed, Williams and Rubins will press ahead to mate power and data connectors for future use of the IDA.

Williams is wearing the spacesuit with a red stripe. Rubins is wearing the spacesuit with the white stripe. This is the fourth spacewalk in Williams’ career and the first for Rubins. It is the 194th spacewalk for the space station

NASA TV’s Public Channel (NTV-1) is broadcasting enhanced coverage of the spacewalk including operational commentary, in-studio experts and features. The Media Channel (NTV-3) is carrying a clean feed of video from the space station with operational commentary. Full schedule details are available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

New Docking Adapter in Position for Spacewalk Friday Morning

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams check the U.S. spacesuits they will wear Friday morning during a 6.5 hour spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV

A new port for commercial crew vehicles was robotically removed from the back of the SpaceX Dragon Wednesday night. The International Docking Adapter was placed in position for its installation Friday morning to a pressurized mating adapter attached to the Harmony module.

VIDEO: International Docking Adapter is Extracted from SpaceX Dragon

Two spacewalkers, Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins, will complete the installation work during a spacewalk scheduled to begin Friday at 8:05 a.m. EDT. The NASA astronauts will install cables and outfit the docking port that will enable future Boeing and SpaceX crew vehicles to dock at the International Space Station.

While the spacewalk preparations were under way, a Japanese astronaut and three cosmonauts conducted a variety of space research. Takuya Onishi tended to the mice being observed for the Mouse Epigenetics study. That experiment is researching altered gene expression and DNA changes in mice and their offspring living in space.

Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin explored ways of detecting micrometeoroid impacts on the outside of the station. He also joined Oleg Skripochka and studied how galactic and solar radiation genetically affects viruses that infect bacteria. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin investigated how coulomb crystals and liquids are formed by charged macroparticles and researched how the heart beats in space.

New International Docking Adapter Being Prepped for Installation

Astronaut Kate Rubins
Astronaut Kate Rubins checks a U.S. spacesuit she will wear during a spacewalk planned for Aug. 19, 2016.

Flight controllers and the Expedition 48 crew are preparing for tonight’s International Docking Adapter extraction work and Friday morning’s installation spacewalk. The orbital residents are also continuing to load the SpaceX Dragon with gear and science for return to Earth.

Controllers on the ground checked the Canadian robotics systems they will use to remove the International Docking Adapter from the rear of the SpaceX Dragon tonight. The new adapter will be extracted with the Canadarm2 then maneuvered to a point about three feet away from its installation point. It will then be installed on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module.

The final and intricate installation work will be done during a 6.5 hour spacewalk scheduled to begin Friday at 8:05 a.m. EDT with astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins . The new adapter, the first of two, will enable new Commercial Crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX to dock at the International Space Station in the future.

In the meantime, the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is still being loaded with gear ahead of its return to Earth on Aug. 26. Rubins spent the morning packing Dragon with research samples and used hardware for analysis back on Earth.