Station Orbiting Higher as Crew Checks Spacesuits

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Paolo Nespoli
Astronauts Mark Vande Hei (left) and Paolo Nespoli work on science gear inside the Destiny laboratory module.

The International Space Station boosted its orbit Wednesday to prepare for the arrival of a pair of Russian spaceships before the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Expedition 53 crew continued getting ready for next week’s spacewalk and explored how living in space affects their bodies.

The docked Progress 67 resupply ship fired its engines Wednesday for three minutes and 40 seconds lifting the space station to a higher orbit. The reboost is the first of three with the next two taking place in November. The reboosts will place the station at the correct altitude to receive a Progress 68 resupply ship in mid-October and the Soyuz MS-07 crew ship in mid-December.

Spacewalkers Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei are getting their U.S. spacesuits ready ahead of an Oct. 5 spacewalk. They inspected their suits today, scrubbed the cooling loops and filled them with water. The duo will work outside for about 6.5 hours next Thursday and replace a latching end effector at the tip of the Canadarm2.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba attached sensors to himself and worked out on the station’s exercise bike today to help scientists understand how microgravity affects physical exertion. The VO2max study is researching how astronauts expend energy in space and how it may impact emergency situations and spacewalks.


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Crew Looks for Neutron Radiation While Prepping for Spacewalks

Expedition 53 crew portrait
The six Expedition 53 crew members gather together in the Destiny laboratory module for a group portrait. From left are astronauts Joe Acaba, Paolo Nespoli and Mark Vande Hei, Commander Randy Bresnik and cosmonauts Sergey Ryazanskiy and Alexander Misurkin.

Sensors are being installed today in the International Space Station to detect neutron radiation. The crew is also setting up a botany study, conducting human research and getting ready for next week’s spacewalk.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy handed over a set of radiation sensors to NASA astronaut Joe Acaba today. Acaba then installed the sensors in the station’s U.S. segment to measure only the neutron radiation levels the orbital lab is exposed to. The data from the Radi-N2 study will help scientists understand the exposure risk to crew members and develop advanced protective measures.

Acaba also continued installing hardware for the Veggie-3 experiment to get the station ready for a new crop of lettuce and cabbage. Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei strapped himself into the station’s exercise bike for the VO2max experiment that observes physical exertion during a space mission.

A pair of spacewalkers took a look at the procedures they will use Oct. 5 to replace a latching end effector at the tip of the Canadarm2. Vande Hei will join Commander Randy Bresnik for that spacewalk and a second planned for Oct. 10. Acaba will join Bresnik for a third spacewalk set for Oct. 18.


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Station Readied for Crops, Crew Runs Biomedical Studies

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei jogs on a treadmill inside the space station.

The International Space Station is once again providing a platform to test the growth of cabbage and lettuce for future human consumption in space. Aside from today’s botany set up, the Expedition 53 crew also explored how living in space affects the human physiology.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba began setting up hardware for the Veggie-3 experiment Tuesday morning to grow a variety of lettuce and cabbage. Scientists are studying how plants grow in space to learn how to sustain future crews as NASA plans longer missions farther out in space.

Acaba also joined European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli collecting blood and urine samples for a pair of biomedical experiments. The long-running Biochemical Profile and Repository studies are documenting the various changes the human body experiences during a long-term space mission.

Commander Randy Bresnik continued gathering spacewalk equipment with Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei ahead of an Oct. 5 spacewalk. The pair also checked out their emergency jet packs and sized their spacesuits. This will be the first of three spacewalks in October to replace a latching end effector on the tip of the Canadarm2 and replace a pair of external cameras.


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Astronauts Research Adapting to Space and Plan for Spacewalks

NASA Astronaut Joe Acaba
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba works inside the cupola as the space station orbits above the Indian Ocean near Australia.

The Expedition 53 crew members continued testing a new exercise device today while also exploring how their bodies are adapting to living in space. The station residents are also gearing up for three spacewalks planned in October.

Commander Randy Bresnik joined Paolo Nespoli for a workout session on the new Miniature Exercise Device-2 (MED-2). The duo tested the MED-2 for its ability to provide motion and resistance during crew workouts. The device is significantly smaller than previous space exercise systems potentially providing more room on future spacecraft.

Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei installed new lights on his crew quarters to test their ability to improve circadian rhythms, sleep, and cognitive performance. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba collected and stowed his blood and urine samples for a pair of experiments observing the physiological changes taking place in space.

Bresnik and Vande Hei are moving ahead with preparations for the first of three spacewalks set to begin Oct. 5. The spacewalkers inspected the tethers that will keep them attached to the station and began setting up their tools. The duo will remove and replace a leading end effector on the tip of the Canadarm2 during the first spacewalk scheduled to last about 6.5 hours.


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Spacewalk VR Training, Muscle and Bone Research Today

Spacewalker Joe Acaba
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba is seen during a spacewalk in March 2009. He was working on the Starboard-1 truss structure while space shuttle Discovery was docked to the station during STS-119.

The Expedition 53 crew is getting ready for a trio of spacewalks next month while helping scientists understand what living in space does to the human body.

NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei trained for a spacewalk emergency today wearing virtual reality gear. The spacewalkers practiced maneuvering specialized jet packs attached to their spacesuits in the unlikely event they become untethered from the station.

The duo will go on a pair of spacewalks on Oct. 5 and 10. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba will join Bresnik Oct. 18 for the third and final spacewalk. The three spacewalkers will replace and lubricate one of two end effectors on the tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. They will also replace a pair of cameras located on the station’s truss structure.

More muscle and bone research continued today as cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy joined Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli for the Sarcolab-3 study. The research observes leg muscle and tendon changes caused by microgravity using an ultrasound scan and other sensors during an exercise session. Bresnik collected his breath sample to help document any bone marrow and blood cell changes his body may be experiencing in space.


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Astronomy Gear Work and Muscle Scans on Tuesday’s Schedule

The Spectacular Aurora Borealis, or the "Northern Lights"
The spectacular aurora borealis, or the “northern lights,” over Canada is sighted from the space station near the highest point of its orbital path. The station’s main solar arrays are seen in the left foreground.

The Expedition 53 crew worked on a variety of astronomy gear today that looks at meteors in Earth orbit and harmful radiation from deep space. The crew also explored how microgravity affects human bones and muscles.

Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei worked on a camera for the Meteor experiment, ongoing since March 2016, which peers out of a specialized window in the Destiny laboratory module. The camera observes meteors and meteor showers and analyzes the imagery to determine their physical and chemical composition.

Flight Engineer Joe Acaba installed the Fast Neutron Spectrometer in the Unity module today to explore a new technique that measures deep space radiation. The new technology may be used to provide a more accurate assessment of the mixed radiation future crews and spacecraft may be exposed to.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy strapped himself into the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) chair today for a look at his calf muscle and tendons. Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli assisted Ryazanskiy into the MARES chair and Commander Randy Bresnik collected ultrasound imagery of his leg. The data is being collected for the Sarcolab-3 experiment that is observing space-induced chemical and structural changes in muscle fibers.


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Three Spacewalks Scheduled, Crew Researches Life Science

Night Time View of Southern Europe
This night time view of southern Europe prominently features the “boot” of Italy, the home of current Expedition 53 crew member Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.

Expedition 53 is gearing up for three maintenance spacewalks set to take place in October over a period of two weeks. Meanwhile, the six-member crew continued researching today how their long-term missions in space affect their bodies.

Commander Randy Bresnik began unpacking spacewalking gear today ahead of the first of three spacewalks set to begin Oct. 5. He will lead all three spacewalks with NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba. Vande Hei will join him on the first two and Acaba will participate in the final spacewalk. The trio will replace one of the two end effectors on the Canadarm2 robotic arm, lubricate the new component and replace cameras at two locations on the station’s truss.

Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli and Sergey Ryazanskiy are exploring how living in space impacts their bone marrow. The study takes a look at blood and breath samples with the blood being processed in a centrifuge. Bresnik is also collecting his blood and urine samples that scientists will later analyze for any physiological changes caused by microgravity.


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Expanded Crew Looks Ahead to Sunday Dragon Release

The SpaceX Dragon will be detached from the Harmony module on Sunday and released for a splashdown into the Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA

Expedition 53 is fully staffed after two NASA astronauts and a Roscosmos cosmonaut completed a near six hour flight to the International Space Station overnight. Now the station residents will begin focusing their attention on the release of the SpaceX Dragon early Sunday.

Astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei and their Soyuz Commander Alexander Misurkin began a five-month mission aboard the station when their spacecraft hatch opened early Wednesday morning. The new trio joins Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.

The SpaceX Dragon is being packed with science experiments and station gear for analysis back on Earth. Dragon will be robotically detached from the Harmony module and released for a splashdown and retrieval in the Pacific Ocean Sunday morning. NASA TV will cover the release activities beginning Sunday at 4:30 a.m. EDT.


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Space Science Work Today as New Crew Waits for Launch

Expedition 53-54 Prime and Backup Crew Members
Expedition 53-54 prime and backup crew members pose in front of the Soyuz MS-06 rocket that will launch Sept. 12 carrying Alexander Misurkin, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba to the space station. Credit: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center/Irina Peshkova

Today’s science tasks included an inspection on an advanced microscope and readying a magnetic field experiment. The crew also worked on a failed electrical device that was robotically transferred to the Kibo laboratory module in early August.

Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli removed a failed Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) from Kibo’s airlock today. The duo swapped out some electronics gear in the MBSU and tested the device while it was connected to a laptop computer.

Nespoli started his day setting up the Magvector magnetic field experiment for operations set to begin next week. The study investigates how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor potentially improving electrical experiments in space.

As Bresnik was wrapping up his MBSU maintenance work, Nespoli began inspecting advanced microscope gear. The variety of new Light Microscopy Module gear had been recently launched and was being checked for shattered materials.

Three new Expedition 53 crew members are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome just five days away from their launch to the International Space Station. Two NASA astronauts and a Roscosmos cosmonaut are in final preparations checking their Sokol launch and entry suits and examining their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.


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New Exercise Tech, DNA Studies on Station as New Crew Preps for Launch

Expedition 53-54 Crew Members
The Expedition 53-54 crew members (from left) Joe Acaba, Alexander Misurkin and Mark Vande Hei. Misurkin is a Roscosmos cosmonaut making his second trip to the station. Acaba and Vande Hei are both NASA astronauts. Acaba is making his third trip to space. Vande Hei is about to embark on his first space mission.

A new set of Expedition 53 crew members arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site today ahead of their Sept. 12 liftoff to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei along with cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will take a near six-hour ride to their new home in space aboard the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.

The orbiting Expedition 53 trio is checking out new exercise gear today that takes up less space and is more reliable than current station equipment. The crew is also getting ready to explore DNA alterations that occur when living in space.

The new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) is an order of magnitude lighter and smaller than existing equipment on the station. Commander Randy Bresnik worked out on the MED-2 today testing its ability provide motion and resistance workouts. Bresnik performed deadlifts and rows on the MED-2 to demonstrate the reliability of its small robotic actuators.

The commander also set up a work area for upcoming work with the student-designed Genes In Space-2 experiment. The experiment will explore ways to observe how microgravity alters DNA and weakens the immune system.

Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency checked out physics and life science equipment today. The veteran astronaut cleaned and installed handrails on the Electromagnetic Levitation device then swapped out gear inside the Space Automated Bioproduct Lab.


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