Fluid Physics and Human Research Before Second Spacewalk

PMA-3 Relocation
The Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 is in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm during its relocation and attachment to the Harmony module on March 26,2017.

The crew researched the effects of living in space and set up a specialized microscope for a physics experiment today. Two astronauts are also getting ready for a Thursday spacewalk to continue setting up the International Space Station for commercial crew vehicles.

Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet used a tape measure this morning and measured their arms, legs, hips, waist and chest. Researchers are studying how microgravity impacts body size and shape and are comparing crew measurements before, during and after a space mission.

Whitson later began setting up gear for the ACE-T-1 (Advanced Colloids Experiment Temperature Control-1) physics study. She opened up the Fluids Integrated Rack and reconfigured the Light Microscopy Module to research tiny suspended particles designed by scientists and observe how they form organized structures within water.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is getting ready for another spacewalk on Thursday at 8 a.m. EDT. This time he’ll go outside with Whitson to finish cable connections at the Harmony module where the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) was robotically attached on Sunday. The PMA-3 relocation gets the adapter ready for the new International Docking Adapter-3 set to be delivered on a future cargo mission.

Weekend Robotics Work Sets Up Thursday Spacewalk

Spacewalker Shane Kimbrough
Astronaut Shane Kimbrough takes an out-of-this-world selfie during a spacewalk on March 24, 2017.

The Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) was robotically removed Sunday from the Tranquility module and attached to the Harmony module after being prepared during a successful spacewalk Friday. A second spacewalk is scheduled for Thursday at 8 a.m. EDT to finalize the PMA-3 cable connections on Harmony.

Download hi-res video of briefing animations depicting the activities of all three spacewalks.

Commander Shane Kimbrough disconnected cables from PMA-3 while still attached to Tranquility during a spacewalk on Friday. That work allowed ground controllers to use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to remotely grapple and remove PMA-3 from Tranquility and attach it to Harmony.

The relocation readies the PMA-3 for the future installation of the new International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) set to be delivered on a future cargo mission. The IDA-3 will accommodate commercial crew vehicle dockings and provide the pressurized interface between the station and the adapter.

Thursday’s spacewalk will see Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson complete the PMA-3 attachment work on the Harmony’s space-facing port. The duo will also install computer relay boxes containing software upgrades to enable future commercial crew vehicle dockings at the International Space Station.

 

Friday’s Spacewalk Continues Commercial Crew Readiness

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet works on spacewalk gear inside the U.S. Quest airlock.

Two astronauts are getting the Quest airlock and their equipment ready for a Friday morning spacewalk. The cosmonauts continued their human research program today exploring the various affects of living in space.

Spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet will exit the Quest airlock Friday at 8 a.m. EDT to begin setting up the International Space Station for future commercial crew missions. The duo will work outside for about 6.5 hours on the first of three spacewalks scheduled to take place over the next two weeks.

Friday’s major tasks include disconnecting cables from the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 ahead of its relocation from the Tranquility module to the Harmony module on Sunday.  The latching end of the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator will also be lubricated and computer relay boxes with commercial crew software upgrades will be replaced. NASA TV will cover the spacewalk activities live beginning Friday at 6:30 a.m.

Cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy collected their blood, saliva and urine samples today for a metabolism study and an immunity experiment. Researchers will analyze these samples to learn how microgravity affects humans and provide countermeasures to keep crew members healthy.

BEAM Checks and Human Research Fill Crew Day

Soyuz and Progress
This long-exposure photograph shows the docked Soyuz and Progress vehicles as the International Space Station orbits above the Earth.

The astronauts took a break from spacewalk preparations today and checked out an expandable module and worked on science freezers. The crew also continued its human research program exploring space nutrition and the effects of microgravity on metabolism and the immune system.

Thomas Pesquet opened the hatches to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) today for a status check. The European Space Agency astronaut sampled BEAM’s air and surfaces for microbes and installed impact sensors. He also used a digital camera with a fish-eye lens to capture 360-degree imagery of the inside of BEAM.

Veteran NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson serviced three science freezers ensuring biological samples can be preserved for return on an upcoming SpaceX Dragon mission. She also brushed up on robotics skills necessary for Friday’s spacewalk.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy logged his meals again today before collecting saliva samples for an immunity study. Flight Engineer Andrey Borisenko researched how living in space long term affects metabolism and a crew member’s psychophysiological state.


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Astronauts Preparing for First of Three Spacewalks

Spacewalker Thomas Pesquet
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet is photographed during a spacewalk in January 2017.

Three astronauts are preparing for a Friday morning spacewalk to upgrade and maintain the International Space Station’s external systems. The three cosmonauts stayed focused today on their set of Russian space experiments and life support work.

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency are reviewing procedures for the spacewalk set to begin Friday at 8 a.m. EDT with live NASA TV coverage at 6:30 a.m. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson joined the pair for the review and will assist the spacewalkers from inside the station.

Friday’s spacewalk will see Kimbrough and Pesquet begin setting up the station for future commercial crew missions. They will prepare the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 for removal from the Tranquility module to the Harmony module. The astronauts will also replace computer relay boxes with software upgrades for future dockings of commercial crew vehicles.

In the midst of the spacewalk work today, Pesquet received a call from the French President Francois Hollande who toured an observatory with school children outside Lyon, France. Kimbrough and Whitson answered questions submitted by social media fans on Facebook Live Tuesday morning

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Andrey Borisenko documented what they ate for breakfast and lunch today for a pair of nutrition studies. The experiments are researching how diet affects a crew member’s metabolism and bone structure while living in space. Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov spent the day checking Russian life support gear and sampling drinking water.


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Crew Gears Up for Three Spacewalks as Dragon Heads to Port

Spacewalker Shane Kimbrough
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough is photographed during a spacewalk in January 2017.

The Expedition 50 crew is gearing up for three spacewalks over two weeks to continue the external maintenance at the International Space Station. Also, the SpaceX Dragon is returning to port today after completing a month-long stay at the station.

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet will begin the first spacewalk Friday at 8 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will begin live coverage of the 198th spacewalk in support of station assembly and maintenance Friday at 6:30 a.m.

The two spacewalkers will spend 6.5 hours disconnecting cables from the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3), lubricating the tip of the Canadarm2, inspecting a radiator and replacing cameras. Computer relay boxes will also be replaced. The new hardware contains software upgrades for future dockings of commercial crew vehicles.

Friday’s cable work on the PMA-3 will prepare it for its relocation from the Tranquility module to the Harmony module on March 30. The relocation readies the PMA-3 for the future installation of the new International Docking Adapter-3 set to be delivered on a future cargo mission.

The SpaceX Dragon is heading to its port today in southern California after a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean Sunday morning. NASA support personnel will retrieve the numerous research samples stowed in Dragon’s cargo hold and deliver them to scientists for analysis. The results of the advanced space science may improve disease therapies and injury treatments on Earth.

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Departs Space Station

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was released from space station at 5:11 a.m. ET on March 19 after delivering more than 5,500 pounds of cargo.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was released from space station at 5:11 a.m. ET on March 19 after delivering more than 5,500 pounds of cargo.

Expedition 50 astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Shane Kimbrough of NASA released the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station‘s robotic arm at 5:11 a.m. EDT.

With the spacecraft a safe distance from the station, SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, will command its deorbit burn around 10 a.m. The capsule will splash down at about 10:54 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean, where recovery forces will retrieve the capsule and its more than 5,400 pounds of cargo. The cargo includes science samples from human and animal research, external payloads, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.

The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.

Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched Feb. 19 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and arrived at the station Feb. 23 for the company’s 10th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission.

Harvest Day on Station as Kids Space Research Begins

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Thomas Pesquet and Peggy Whitson
Astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Thomas Pesquet and Peggy Whitson seemingly juggle apples and oranges floating in the microgravity environment inside the space station.

The crew is harvesting plants today grown on the International Space Station that will be returned to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon. Also, a variety of student experiments submitted from schools across the United States were activated inside the orbital laboratory.

Dragon is due to return to Earth and splash down in the Pacific Ocean March 19. The resupply ship will carry back gear and science samples for analysis by NASA personnel. Plants that were grown on petri plates for the APEX-04 study will also be returned aboard Dragon. Astronaut Peggy Whitson harvested those plants today helping researchers study the molecular changes that plants experience when grown in space.

Future scientists had their experiments activated today inside the NanoRacks commercial space research facility aboard the station. Students from five U.S. schools will be exploring ways to reduce infections, improve muscle injury treatments, grow plants on Mars, filter bacteria and solve common slippery surface problems.

Ongoing Space Science Seeks to Keep Astronauts Healthy

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet
Astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet were pictured inside the cupola just after the SpaceX Dragon was captured Feb. 23, 2017.

NASA is preparing for longer human journeys deeper into space and is exploring how to keep astronauts healthy and productive. The Expedition 50 crew members today studied space nutrition, measured their bodies and checked their eyes to learn how to adapt to living in space. The space residents also unloaded a cargo ship, worked on the Tranquility module and practiced an emergency simulation.

The ongoing Energy experiment that ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet collected urine samples for today seeks to define the energy requirements necessary to keep an astronaut successful during a space mission. Pesquet also joined NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson for body measurements to learn how microgravity affects body shape and impacts crew suit sizing. Commander Shane Kimbrough checked his eyes today with Whitson’s help and support from experts on the ground.

Kimbrough worked throughout the day before his eye checks and configured the Tranquility module for upcoming electronics and communications work. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy continued unloading gear from the newly-arrived Progress 66 cargo ship. At the end of the day, Novitskiy joined Whitson and Pesquet for an emergency simulation with inputs from control centers in Houston and Moscow.

CubeSats Deployed During Crew Ultrasound Scans

Expedition 50 Crew Members
Five Expedition 50 crew members gather in the Zvezda service module for mealtime. Clockwise from bottom are NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov.

Four CubeSats were deployed this morning as the crew researched fluid shifts toward the head that may affect astronaut vision. Tools were also being collected and organized today ahead of possible maintenance spacewalks.

Four CubeSats were ejected Monday morning from outside Japan’s Kibo lab module using the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. The LEMUR-2 satellites will help monitor global ship tracking and improve weather forecasting.

Sergey Ryzhikov from Roscosmos participated in ultrasound scans of the head and neck for the long-running Fluid Shifts study. Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency joined Ryzhikov for the experiment to learn how to prevent upward fluid shifts that may cause lasting eye damage.

Commander Shane Kimbrough worked inside the Quest airlock today gathering spacewalk tools. Mission planners are looking at potential spacewalks to continue upgrading the International Space Station’s power systems.


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