Station Ramps Up for Cardiac Research Loaded on Dragon

Liftoff of the SpaceX Dragon
The liftoff of the SpaceX Dragon atop its Falcon 9 rocket is pictured Feb. 19, 2017, from the Kennedy Space Center. More info… https://www.nasa.gov/feature/spacex-dragon-launches-arrivals-and-departures

The Expedition 51 crew members are awaiting a new space shipment and getting ready for new science experiments. The crew is also preparing for the departure of a pair of International Space Station flight engineers.

The Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft to space is resting at its launch pad today at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon will lift off Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EDT on a three-day trip to the station’s Harmony module.

Inside the commercial space freighter is nearly 6,000 pounds of crew supplies, station hardware and science experiments. One of those experiments, Cardiac Stem Cells, will research how stem cells affect cardiac biology and tissue regeneration in space. The station’s Microgravity Science Glovebox is being readied for the study which may provide insight into accelerated aging due to living in microgravity.

On Friday, cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy will command the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to return him and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet back to Earth after 196 days in space. The two crew members are packing their spacecraft with research samples, hardware and personal items for the near 3.5 hour ride home. The duo will undock from the Rassvet module at 6:47 a.m. EDT. They will then parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:10 a.m. (8:10 p.m. Kazakh time).


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Station Duo Ready to Depart Station Before Dragon’s Arrival

NASA Astronaut Jack Fischer
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works inside the cupola with the Soyuz and Cygnus spaceships right outside the windows.

The International Space Station is preparing this week for the departure of two Expedition 51 crew members and the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon.

Expedition 52 will begin Friday morning when two Expedition 51 crew members depart the station inside the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and astronaut Thomas Pesquet will return to Earth and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan after a 196-day mission in space.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer along with cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin will continue their stay aboard the orbital complex. Whitson will hand over station command to Yurchikhin the day before the Expedition 51 crew leaves.

Dragon is due to launch Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EDT atop a Falcon 9 rocket for a three-day trip to the space station. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon when it arrives Sunday morning. Afterward, robotics controllers on the ground will remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module.

Dragon is hauling nearly 6,000 pounds of cargo to the station including new science payloads, crew supplies, vehicle hardware, spacewalk equipment and computer gear. Three new experiments are being delivered for installation on the station’s exterior. The external research gear will study flexible solar arrays, the physics of neutron stars and new ways to assist with navigation, agriculture, emergency response and petroleum exploration.


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CubeSats Deployed Before Upcoming Crew and Cargo Missions

Trio of CubeSats
A trio of CubeSats, with Earth’s limb and thin atmosphere in the background, is seen shortly after being ejected from a small satellite deployer outside Japan’s Kibo lab module.

More CubeSats were ejected from the International Space Station this week to explore the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Meanwhile, the Expedition 51 crew trained for a crew departure and cargo craft arrival.

NanoRacks, a private company with facilities on the space station, deployed a total of 17 CubeSats over two days this week from a satellite deployer outside the Japanese Kibo lab module. The tiny satellites will orbit Earth for up to two years observing Earth’s thermosphere and studying space weather.

Two Expedition 51 crew members are returning to Earth June 2 completing a 196 day mission in space. Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet practiced their descent today in their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. The duo are expected to land in Kazakhstan next Friday at 10:10 a.m. EDT.

The Dragon resupply ship, from SpaceX and loaded with brand new science experiments, will launch June 1 and arrive at the station June 4. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer will be at the robotics controls commanding the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Dragon. He and station Commander Peggy Whitson familiarized themselves today with the Dragon capture procedures and lighting conditions inside the cupola.


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Dragon Training and Body Measurements on Station Today

SpaceX Dragon
SpaceX is celebrating five years of commercial resupply missions to the space station. The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is seen Feb. 23, 2017, moments before being captured with Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The Expedition 51 crew trained today for the next SpaceX Dragon mission due early next month. The five crew members also explored how microgravity affects their bodies to help scientists keep astronauts healthy in space.

The next Dragon mission, SpaceX CRS-11, is scheduled to launch June 1 to deliver new space science gear to the International Space Station. The commercial cargo craft will arrive three days later to begin its stay attached to the Harmony module for cargo operations.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer trained today to familiarize themselves with the robotic procedures during Dragon’s rendezvous and approach. Fischer, with Whitson’s assistance, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Dragon when it reaches a point 10 meters away from the station. Ground controllers will then take over and remotely install Dragon to Harmony with the Canadarm2.

The crew began its day taking body size measurements studying how an astronaut’s shape changes during a spaceflight. Observations may result in new designs for space clothing and spacecraft work areas to improve mission effectiveness.


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Short Spacewalk Complete After Successful Installation Work

Astronaut Jack Fischer
Astronaut Jack Fischer waves while attached to the Destiny laboratory during a spacewalk to replace a failed data relay box and install a pair wireless antennas.

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 10:06 a.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, which lasted two hours and 46 minutes, the two astronauts successfully replaced a computer relay box, and installed a pair of antennas on station to enhance wireless communication for future spacewalks.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,250 hours and 41 minutes working outside the station during 201 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. This was the 10th spacewalk for Whitson, who moves into third place all-time for cumulative spacewalking time, and the second for Fischer.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.


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Two NASA Astronauts Begin Station Spacewalk

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured May 12, 2017, during the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station.

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:20 a.m., EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about 2.5 hours. Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will replace a critical computer relay box.

The relay box, known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM), is equipped with upgraded software installed in the truss March 30 during a spacewalk by Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough. Whitson prepared a spare data relay box on Sunday and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit.

While Whitson is replacing the MDM, Fischer will install a pair of antennas on the U.S. Destiny Laboratory module to enhance wireless communication capability for future spacewalks. That task was deferred from Whitson and Fischer’s May 12 spacewalk.

Whitson is wearing the suit with red stripes as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1). Fischer, extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), is wearing the suit with no stripes.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.


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NASA TV Live Broadcasts Tuesday Spacewalk

Astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson
NASA astronauts Jack Fischer (left) and Peggy Whitson are outfitted in their U.S. spacesuits inside the U.S. Quest airlock before beginning the 200th spacewalk in support of International Space Station maintenance and assembly on May 12, 2017.

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA will venture outside the International Space Station for a 2.5-hour contingency spacewalk Tuesday, May 23. The spacewalk will begin about 8 a.m. EDT, with complete coverage on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Whitson and Fischer will replace a critical computer relay box that failed on Saturday, May 20. The relay box, known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM), is one of two units that regulate the operation of radiators, solar arrays and cooling loops. They also will route commands to other vital station systems and install a pair of antennas to enhance wireless communication.

Because each MDM is capable of performing the critical station functions, the crew on the station was never in danger and station operations have not been affected.

The spacewalk will be the 201st in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the sixth spacewalk conducted from the Quest airlock this year, the 10th for Whitson and the second for Fischer.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.


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Astronauts Review Plans, Ready Gear for Tuesday Spacewalk

The International Space Station
The International Space Station with its prominent solar arrays and radiators attached to the truss structure was pictured May 2010 from space shuttle Atlantis.

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer are getting ready for a contingency spacewalk Tuesday morning. Whitson and Fischer are set to begin the spacewalk at 8 a.m. Tuesday for about two hours of maintenance work. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

The spacewalkers are gathering their tools and checking their spacesuits today with assistance from Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet. The trio are also reviewing the contingency spacewalk procedures.

The spacewalk’s primary task is the removal and replacement of a data relay box, known as a Multiplexer-Demultiplexer (MDM), which failed Saturday morning. The MDM controls the functionality of station components such as the solar arrays, radiators, cooling loops and other systems.

Whitson will replace the failed MDM with a spare unit on the Starboard Zero truss. The truss is attached to the space-facing side of the U.S. Destiny lab module and is the centerpiece of the station’s truss structure which houses the solar arrays, radiators and cooling loops. Fischer will install a pair of wireless communications antennas on the Destiny Lab, a task that was postponed during the May 12 spacewalk.

Tuesday’s spacewalk will be the 201st in support of station assembly and maintenance. This will be Commander Whitson’s 10th spacewalk likely moving her to third place all-time in cumulative spacewalking time. Flight Engineer Fischer will be embarking on his 2nd spacewalk.


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Station Managers Give Go for Tuesday Spacewalk

The International Space Station
This picture of the International Space Station was photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis as the orbiting complex and the shuttle performed their relative separation in the early hours of July 19, 2011.

International Space Station Program managers have given the green light for a contingency spacewalk on Tuesday by two Expedition 51 crewmembers to change out a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay box on the S0 truss that failed on Saturday morning. The cause of the MDM failure is not known. After a review of spacewalk preparations and crew readiness throughout the day Sunday, the decision was made to press ahead with the spacewalk on Tuesday. It will be conducted by Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA.

The data relay box is one of two fully redundant systems housed in the truss that control the functionality of radiators, solar arrays, cooling loops and other station hardware. The other MDM in the truss is functioning perfectly, providing uninterrupted telemetry routing to the station’s systems. The crew has never been in any danger, and the MDM failure, believed to be internal to the box itself, has had no impact on station activities.

On Sunday morning, Whitson prepared a spare data relay box and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported that the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit. Back on March 30, Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA conducted a spacewalk to install the same MDM with upgraded software tat failed Saturday.

A similar MDM replacement spacewalk was conducted in April 2014 by Expedition 39 crewmembers Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio of NASA.

Tuesday’s spacewalk will last about two hours in duration to replace the failed box. An additional task was added for Fischer to install a pair of wireless communications antennas on the Destiny Lab while Whitson replaces the failed data relay box. The antenna installation task was originally planned for the last spacewalk on May 12.

The contingency spacewalk will be the 201st in support of space station assembly and maintenance and the sixth conducted from the Quest airlock this year.

This will be the 10th spacewalk in Whitson’s career and the second for Fischer. Whitson will be designated as extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1) and will wear the suit with the red stripes. Fischer will be extravehicular crewmember 2 (EV 2) and will wear the suit with no stripes.

Tuesday’s spacewalk is expected to begin around 8 a.m. EDT, or earlier, if the crew is running ahead of schedule with its spacewalking preparations. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.


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Spacewalk Planned to Change Out Failed Relay Box

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured with the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship behind her during a spacewalk on May 12, 2017.

International Space Station Program managers met Sunday and gave approval for a contingency spacewalk no earlier than Tuesday by two Expedition 51 crewmembers to change out a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay box on the S0 truss that failed on Saturday morning. The cause of the MDM failure is not known. A final decision on a firm date for the spacewalk and who will conduct the spacewalk will be made later in the day Sunday.

The data relay box is one of two fully redundant systems housed in the truss that control the functionality of radiators, solar arrays, cooling loops and other station hardware. The other MDM in the truss is functioning perfectly, providing uninterrupted telemetry routing to the station’s systems. The crew has never been in any danger and the MDM failure, believed to be internal to the box itself, has had no impact on station activities.

On Sunday, shortly before managers met to discuss the forward plan for dealing with the failed MDM, station commander Peggy Whitson of NASA prepared a spare data relay box and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported that the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit. Back on March 30, Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA conducted a spacewalk to install the MDM with upgraded software that failed Saturday.

A similar MDM replacement spacewalk was conducted in April 2014 by Expedition 39 crewmembers Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio.

The spacewalk will last about two hours in duration to replace the failed box. No other tasks are planned for the excursion. It will be the sixth spacewalk conducted from the Quest airlock this year.


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