NASA is planning human spaceflight missions further out into space and is learning how astronauts adapt to life off Earth for months and years at a time. The International Space Station provides the laboratory environment for numerous studies into how the human body reacts when exposed to microgravity.
Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet, from the European Space Agency, is wearing the new SkinSuit to study its ability to offset the effects of living in space including back pain and spine-stretching. The unique, tailor-made suit squeezes the body from the shoulder to the feet mimicking the force felt on Earth. Pesquet is evaluating the SkinSuit’s comfort, range of motion and its functionality while exercising.
Lighting is also very important when living in space since the daily sunrise and sunset cycle that guides life on Earth no longer applies. The crew is participating in tests helping researchers understand how new station lights that can be adjusted for intensity and wavelength are affecting crew sleep patterns and cognitive performance.
The cosmonauts, Oleg Novitskiy, Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov, were conducting their own set of human research experiments today. The trio collected blood and saliva samples to explore how the immune system and bone mass is affected in outer space. The samples were stowed in a U.S. science freezer for later analysis on Earth.
NASA, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are now targeting launch of Orbital ATK’s seventh commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station on March 19 during a 30-minute window that opens at approximately 10:56 p.m. EDT. This date takes into account space station operations, payload processing, and range availability. Orbital ATK has contracted with ULA for an Atlas V rocket for the mission, which will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NASA has opened media accreditation for the launch. All media accreditation requests should be submitted online.
BEAM was opened for a short time Thursday so the crew could install sensors inside the expandable module. The Expedition 50 space residents also explored how the body changes shape and how to prevent back pain during long-term missions.
BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, had its hatches opened temporarily so astronaut Peggy Whitson could install temporary sensors and perform a modal test, which has the astronaut use their fist to impart loads on the module. The sensors are measuring the resulting vibrations and how the module holds up to impacts. BEAM is an expandable habitat technology demonstration, which is a lower-mass and lower-volume system than metal habitats and can increase the efficiency of cargo shipments, possibly reducing the number of launches needed and overall mission costs.
Whitson also joined Commander Shane Kimbrough for body measurements to help NASA understand how living in space changes an astronaut’s physical characteristics. The duo collected video and imagery and measured chest, waist, hip arms and legs to help researchers learn how physical changes impact suit sizing.
An experimental suit called the SkinSuit is being studied for its ability to offset the effects of microgravity and prevent lower back pain and the stretching of the spine. Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet wore the SkinSuit today and documented his comfort, range of motion and other aspects of the suit.
A pair of NASA astronauts on the International Space Station called down to Houston today as the city gets ready to host Super Bowl LI on Sunday. Johnson Space Center officials, media and visitors gathered at Space Center Houston to hear Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson and Commander Shane Kimbrough welcome everyone as NASA participates in Super Bowl festivities this week.
As NASA and the city of Houston welcome football fans, the Expedition 50 crew aboard the International Space Station continued advanced space research to benefit humans on Earth and in space.
The astronauts explored how the immune system adapts in outer space by collecting their biological samples for the Multi-Omics study. The experiment, which began in March 2015 when the One-Year mission began, is researching gut microbes and metabolism to determine how living in space affects the human immune function.
Scientists and engineers are using the station as a platform to explore technologies for removing space debris from Earth orbit and returning samples from planetary surfaces. The crew members set up tiny internal multi-use satellites known as SPHERES to demonstrate capturing a space object and tugging it. Researchers are testing software to improve computer models to make space safer from space junk and improve planetary science.