Monthly Archives: August 2016

Duo Reviews Spacewalk After Crew Vision Tests

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Okavanga Delta

The Okavango Delta in Botswana was photographed Aug. 2 as the space station orbited over the southern part of the African continent. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography

Two astronauts called down to Mission Control today and reviewed next week’s spacewalk. In the Russian segment of the International Space Station, a pair of cosmonauts replaced outdated communications gear. Crew members also collected blood samples and conducted vision tests for a variety of space research.

Commander Jeff Williams joined Flight Engineer Kate Rubins for more spacesuit work and a conference with flight controllers in Houston to review plans for next week’s 6.5 hour spacewalk. On Aug. 19 the duo will work outside the station to complete the installation of an International Docking Adapter to the Harmony module. The first of two adapters will enable Commercial Crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX to dock in the future.

The entire Expedition 48 crew conducted vision tests throughout the morning. Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi then collected blood, urine and saliva samples for the Fluid Shifts experiment. That study observes how microgravity affects intra-cranial pressure and changes the shape of the eye.

In the afternoon, cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin worked in the Zvezda service module replacing older gear that communicates with systems throughout the Russian segment. Ovchinin also joined fellow Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka to explore how living in space changes the human heart.

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Crew Inspects Spacesuits and Preps for Student Contest

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Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka

Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka works with the free-floating, bowling ball-sized satellites (in orange and red) also known as SPHERES.

Two NASA astronauts are readying their spacesuits and gear ahead of an Aug. 19 spacewalk. More life science, including heart and DNA research, continued Friday. Finally, tiny internal satellites were tested before next week’s student competition.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins inspected the spacesuits they will wear in two weeks during a 6.5 hour spacewalk. The duo will complete the installation of an International Docking Adapter to the Harmony module. The first of two new adapters will allow Commercial Crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX to dock in the future.

Rubins continued more work on the Heart Cells experiment today while Takuya Onishi, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, tended to the Mouse Epigenetics hardware. Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin joined Williams during the morning collecting and stowing biological samples for the Fluid Shifts study.

Next week, high school students will compete for the best algorithm to control self-contained, bowling ball-sized satellites inside the station. The algorithms control the tiny satellites and test mission and research functions to advance future space missions. Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka tested the satellites inside the Destiny lab module today for the SPHERES Zero Robotics competition.


Williams Marks 500 Days in Space, Set to Break Kelly’s Record

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Astronaut Jeff Williams

Commander Jeff Williams monitors bowling ball-sized internal satellites known as SPHERES during a maintenance run in the Japanese Kibo Laboratory Module.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams has accumulated 500 days of living in space over four missions as of today. Williams, who is scheduled to return to Earth Sept. 6, will break NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s record of 520 days on Aug. 24.

While Williams marked his milestone, he spent most of the day researching fluid shifts from the lower body to the upper body caused by microgravity. The fluid shifts increase pressure on the head and eyes potentially affecting an astronaut’s vision. Cosmonauts OIeg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin assisted Williams during experiment operations.

Flight Engineer Kate Rubins continued her preparations for an Aug. 19 spacewalk with Williams to install a new International Docking Adapter. She worked in the Quest airlock today gathering tools and equipment the duo will use during their 6.5-hour spacewalk. She also spent some time with Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi transferring cargo from the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

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Spacesuit Checks amid Life Science and Emergency Training

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Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams work on spacesuits in the Quest airlock.

Two astronauts are getting ready for a spacewalk amidst ongoing heart and genetics research this week. The crew also practiced the techniques necessary to care for a crew member during a medical emergency in space.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are due to complete the installation of a new International Docking Adapter during a spacewalk Aug. 19. The duo are setting up their spacesuits today, including a new one delivered on the SpaceX Dragon, and verifying the functionality of the suit systems.

Rubins started her day peering into a microscope exploring cell samples for the Heart Cells experiment. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi kept the Mouse Epigenetics habitat stocked with food and water for the experiment observing genetic alterations in mice and DNA changes in their offspring.

Rubins and Onishi joined cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin in the afternoon for a medical emergency training session. The crew members familiarized themselves with medical gear and locations, chest compression techniques and practiced communication and coordination.

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Astronauts Exploring Head, Eye Pressure and Genetic Alterations

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Astronaut Kate Rubins

Astronaut Kate Rubins conducts research for the Heart Cells experiment inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox located in the U.S. Destiny lab module.

The crew aboard the International Space Station continued exploring the numerous ways living in space affects the human body and other organisms. The station residents also participated in an emergency simulation exercise.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka this week are exploring fluid shifts from an astronaut’s lower body to the upper body during long-term space missions. This phenomena that occurs in microgravity increases pressure on a crew member’s brain and eye structure potentially affecting vision.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins relocated an incubator that houses Heart Cells research samples from one science rack to another. Those samples will be analyzed on Earth when the SpaceX Dragon returns the research at the end of August. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi continued the upkeep of an experiment that is researching genetic alteration in mice and their offspring due to the microgravity environment.

All six Expedition 48 crew members joined each other in the afternoon to practice their response to an unlikely emergency situation. The astronauts and cosmonauts practiced communication and coordination in conjunction with Houston and Moscow control centers in response to emergency simulators.

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Crew Kicks off August on Variety of Advanced Space Research

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South Pacific Ocean

The South Pacific Ocean was pictured as the station orbited at an altitude of 220 nautical miles and over a thousand miles away from the coast of South America. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

The six-member Expedition 48 crew participated in a series of experiments today exploring how living in space affects the human body. Also, a set of bowling ball-sized experimental satellites was set up for a student contest.

Scientists are sampling crew respiration today to understand the health impacts of living in the International Space Station’s closed atmosphere. Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi used a portable device measuring the amount of nitrogen that is exhaled and diffused in the blood.

Onishi also collected biological samples for the Multi-Omics study that is observing how the human immune system functions in space. Commander Jeff Williams set up hardware to research how upper body fluid shifts affect a crew member’s head and eye structure.

Williams then joined cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka configuring tiny internal satellites for a planned high school student competition next week. The contest, known as SPHERES Zero Robotics, uses student written algorithms to control small SPHERES satellites performing functions similar to a space mission.

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