Monthly Archives: May 2017

Station Managers Work Plan as Controllers Troubleshoot Data Relay Box

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Docked Soyuz and Progress Vehicles

The Soyuz MS-03 crew ship (foreground) and the Progress 66 cargo craft are pictured as the International Space Station orbits about 250 miles above Earth.

International Space Station managers will meet Sunday morning to discuss a forward plan for dealing with the apparent failure of one of two fully redundant multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay boxes on the S0 truss of the complex.

External MDM-1 apparently failed at 1:13 p.m. Central time Saturday. Multiple attempts by flight controllers to restore power to the relay box have not been successful. Troubleshooting efforts are continuing. The Expedition 51 crew was informed of the apparent failure and is not in any danger. The MDMs on the truss control the functionality of the station’s solar arrays and radiators among other equipment, and provide power to a variety of other station components.

Because the two MDMs have full redundancy, the apparent loss of MDM-1 has had no impact on station operations.


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Brain, Vision Research Ahead of June Crew and Cargo Missions

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Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer

This week, Commander Peggy Whitson evaluated Flight Engineer Jack Fischer’s calf and thigh for the Sprint study to assess spaceflight-induced changes in muscle volume. Doctors are evaluating the effectiveness of high intensity, low volume exercise to keep astronauts healthy in space.

Expedition 51 is wrapping up a week of ongoing research into how living in space affects an astronaut’s brain and vision. The International Space Station also boosted its orbit ahead of crew and cargo missions coming and going in June.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer strapped himself in a device for the NeuroMapping experiment today that tests how the human brain structure and function changes in space. The study also compares brain changes, motor control and multi-tasking when an astronaut is in a free-floating state.

Doctors have noted how microgravity causes a headward fluid shift of blood and other body fluids. As a result, astronaut’s experience face-swelling and elevated head pressure.

The Fluid Shifts study is exploring a way to offset the upward flow using unique suit known as the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit. Commander Peggy Whitson wore the suit today and underwent ultrasound scans and eye checks to help scientists determine its effectiveness against lasting changes in vision and eye damage.

The space station is orbiting a little higher above Earth this week to prepare for the departure of two crew members on June 2. The SpaceX Dragon is due to launch June 1 and arrive at the station three days later. Mission managers are working a plan dependent on an on-time Dragon launch that could see the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft depart in early June or mid-July.


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Week’s Last CubeSats Deployed as Crew Studies Space Health

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CubeSat Deployment

A pair of CubeSats, with the Earth’s limb in the background, is seen moments after being ejected from a small satellite deployer outside of the space station’s Kibo lab module.

The week’s final set of CubeSats were deployed today from outside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s airlock. Inside the International Space Station, the Expedition 51 crew continued exploring microgravity’s effects on muscles, bone cells and vision.

Over a dozen CubeSats were ejected into Earth orbit this week outside the Kibo module to study Earth and space phenomena for the next one to two years. Today’s constellation of tiny satellites will explore a variety of subjects including hybrid, low temperature energy stowage systems and the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere known as the thermosphere.

Commander Peggy Whitson started her morning with eye checks for the Fluids Shifts study to determine how weightlessness affects eyes. That same study is also analyzing the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit for its ability to offset the upward flow of blood and other body fluids possibly affecting crew vision. Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin assisted European astronaut Thomas Pesquet into the unique suit today that draws fluids into the lower body preventing face-swelling and elevated head pressure.

More bone cell samples were inserted into a science freezer during the crew’s afternoon. The samples are part of the OsteoOmics experiment researching the mechanisms that drive bone loss in space. Results may impact therapies benefitting astronaut health and those suffering bone diseases on Earth.

New station crew member Jack Fischer is studying how high intensity, low volume exercise may improve muscle, bone and cardiovascular health in space. He scanned his thigh and calf muscles with an ultrasound device to help doctors understand the impacts of the new exercise techniques.


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Station Hosts CubeSat Launch and Human Research

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Cygnus with Florida and Cuba Below

The Cygnus cargo craft is pictured as the station orbits above the state of Florida and the country of Cuba.

The International Space Station is an orbiting platform to continuously explore a wide variety of space science both inside and outside the orbital lab to benefit humans and industry.

For example, the five Expedition 51 crew members continued helping scientists understand what happens to the body when living in outer space. Also, more CubeSats were ejected into orbit today to study a wide variety of phenomena.

Wednesday marked the third day the crew has worked on the Genes in Space studies, with both the second and third iteration taking place this week. Genes in Space-2 is looking at telomere changes in space which contributes to understanding how spaceflight affects telomere length and, in turn, astronaut health on future space missions. Genes in Space-3 seeks to establish a robust, user-friendly deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sample preparation process to enable biological monitoring aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Today was Commander Peggy Whitson’s turn to try on a unique suit that reverses the upward flow of fluids in astronaut’s body. The Lower Body Negative Pressure suit is being examined for its ability to counteract the effects of weightlessness and keep astronaut’s healthy.

Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Jack Fischer, in conjunction with doctors on Earth, participated in today’s Fluid Shifts study and scanned Whitson’s arteries with an ultrasound device. Results from this experiment may help doctors develop therapies to prevent lasting changes in vision and eye damage.

Japan’s Kibo lab module contains a small satellite deployer that was extended outside its airlock this week to eject numerous types of Cubesats safely into space. Today’s collection of CubeSats now orbiting Earth will study the Earth’s thermosphere properties and test experimental radar systems for up to two years.


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CubeSats Deployed While Astronauts Study Effects of Space

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Earth's Atmospheric Glow

Earth’s atmospheric glow, the stars of the Milky Way and an external pallet at the tip of Japan’s Kibo lab module are seen in this night time photograph from Oct. 10, 2016.

New CubeSats were deployed into outer space from the International Space Station today to study Earth and space phenomena. Meanwhile, back inside the station the Expedition 51 crew continued exploring how the human body adapts to living in space.

Ground controllers commanded a small satellite deployer to eject six Cubesats from outside the Japanese Kibo lab module. The tiny shoebox-sized satellites will orbit Earth observing the Earth’s upper atmosphere and interstellar radiation left over from the Big Bang.

Just after the Cubesats began their mission, three Expedition 51 crew members continued exploring how to reverse the upward flow of fluids in astronaut’s body. Flight Engineers Thomas Pesquet and Oleg Novitskiy tested a special suit that may offset the effects of microgravity possibly alleviating eye and head pressure. The duo also conducted eye checks with assistance from veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and support from doctors on the ground.

Commander Peggy Whitson was back in the U.S. Destiny lab studying how bones adjust to weightlessness. She was inserting bone cell samples into a science freezer for analysis on Earth. Scientists are studying the mechanisms that drive bone loss in space with potential benefits for the treatment of bone diseases on Earth.


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Crew Observes Space Effects on Bone Cells and Fluid Shifts

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Astronaut Jack Fischer

Astronaut Jack Fischer works outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module during a spacewalk on May 12, 2017.

The Expedition 51 crew members are back at work today on human research after a historic 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station on Friday. More Cubesats also are being prepared for deployment outside the Japanese Kibo lab module this week.

Commander Peggy Whitson continued studying bone cells using the Microgravity Science Glovebox research facility. She swapped out bone cell samples inside the glovebox and stowed them inside a science freezer to be analyzed later back on Earth. The experiment may help doctors treat bone diseases on Earth and keep astronauts strong and healthy in space.

Flight Engineers Jack Fischer, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Novitskiy tested a unique suit that reverses the upward flow of fluids in an astronaut’s body. Fluid Shifts is a joint NASA-Russian experiment that investigates the causes of lasting physical changes to astronauts’ eyes. Results from this study may help to develop preventative measures against lasting changes in vision and eye damage. Fischer and Novitskiy wore the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit undergoing fluid pressure checks and ultrasound scans. Yurchikhin and ground support personnel assisted the duo.

Fischer started his day loading a CubeSat deployer in the Kibo lab module’s airlock. The deployer will be extended outside the airlock into the vacuum of space and eject more CubeSats studying a variety of Earth and space phenomena.


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200th Station Spacewalk Comes to an End

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Astronaut Jack Fischer

Astronaut Jack Fischer is tethered to the outside of the International Space Station during the 200th spacewalk to install and repair gear with astronaut Peggy Whitson.

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 1:21 p.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, which lasted just over four hours, the two astronauts successfully replaced a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections to the science experiments.

The astronauts also completed additional tasks to install a connector that will route data to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, repair insulation at the connecting point of the Japanese robotic arm, and install a protective shield on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3. This adapter will host a new international docking port for the arrival of commercial crew spacecraft.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,247 hours and 55 minutes working outside the station during 200 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. The first spacewalk in support of International Space Station assembly and maintenance was conducted on Dec. 7, 1998, by NASA astronauts Jerry Ross and Jim Newman during space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-88 mission. Astronauts completed attaching and outfitting of the first two components of the station, the Russian Zarya module and the U.S. Unity module.

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


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200th Spacewalk at Station Begins

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured during her eighth spacewalk which took place March 30, 2017.

The 200th spacewalk aboard the International Space Station began this morning at 9:08 a.m. EDT for a spacewalk planned to last about four hours.

Managers in mission control decided to shorten the spacewalk from the original six and a half hour plan, due to available battery power for the spacesuits. During earlier spacewalk preparations, Whitson and Fischer shared a service and cooling umbilical (SCU) after a small water leak was detected in a second SCU that was connected the Fischer’s suit. This was not a leak in Fischer’s suit. The SCU is an airlock component used to provide electricity, cooling and communications to the crew while performing their pre-breathe activities in the Equipment Lock. The sharing of the SCU resulted in additional draw in battery power from the suits during preparations while in the Equipment Lock, reducing the battery power available for use during the spacewalk.

During the abbreviated spacewalk, Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA will tackle the principle objective to replace a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections to the science experiments, and replacement hardware stored outside the station. The ExPRESS Carrier Avionics, or ExPCA is located on the starboard 3 truss of the station on one of the depots housing critical spare parts.

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

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.


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Two Astronauts Set For 200th Station Spacewalk Today

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Space Selfie

This space selfie was taken during the last spacewalk on March 30 with astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough.

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA will venture outside the International Space Station for a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk Friday, May 12. The spacewalk will begin at about 8 a.m. EDT, with complete coverage on NASA Television and the agency’s website starting at 6:30 a.m.

Whitson and Fischer will replace a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections to the science experiments, and replacement hardware stored outside the station. The ExPRESS Carrier Avionics, or ExPCA is located on the starboard 3 truss of the station on one of the depots housing critical spare parts. It will be replaced with a unit delivered to the station last month aboard the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft.

This will be the 200th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Whitson, who already holds the U.S. record for most spacewalks by a female astronaut, will make this ninth excursion as extravehicular crew member 1, wearing the suit with red stripes. Fischer, extravehicular crew member 2, will wear the suit with no stripes on his first-ever spacewalk.


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Astronauts Wrap Up Preps for 200th Station Spacewalk

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Astronaut Jack Fischer

Astronaut Jack Fischer is pictured wearing a U.S. spacesuit during a fit check in preparation for his first spacewalk.

Commander Peggy Whitson will work outside the space station for the ninth time in her career on Friday. She will be joined by Flight Engineer Jack Fischer who will embark on his first spacewalk. The duo will exit the Quest airlock around 8 a.m. EDT for about 6.5 hours of external tasks.

They will replace an avionics box that provides power to science experiments, install a shield on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 and rig a new high-definition camera and pair of wireless antennas. NASA TV will broadcast live the 200th spacewalk at the station for assembly and maintenance starting at 6:30 a.m.

Whitson is also in the second week of a study that explores the differences in bone structure on Earth and in space. She swapped bone cell media inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox which is then stowed inside a science freezer. The experiment samples will be returned to Earth on a future SpaceX Dragon mission for analysis by scientists.


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