Station Preps for New Docking Port During Science and Soyuz Checks

The SpaceX Dragon above the Nile River Delta
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module as the orbital complex flew 260 miles above the Nile River Delta in Egypt.

Three NASA astronauts remain focused on preparations for next week’s spacewalk at the International Space Station. The rest of the Expedition 60 crew focused on biology research and a pair of docked spaceships.

Flight Engineer Christina Koch has been supporting spacewalkers Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan, as they get ready for the fifth spacewalk of the year on Aug. 21. The pair will install the new International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) to the Harmony module’s space-facing port during the six-and-a-half-hour job.

Koch printed out checklists the spacewalkers will wear on their spacesuit cuffs and verified the spacesuits are the correct size. She also joined Hague and Morgan reviewing next week’s spacewalk procedures. The spacewalking duo also set up the Quest airlock where they will collect their tools and suit up ahead of their excursion.

Robotics controllers will remotely command the Canadarm2 to detach the IDA-3 from the rear portion of the SpaceX Dragon on Monday. They will maneuver the new docking port to a pressurized mating adapter on top of Harmony readying it for Wednesday’s spacewalk. Hague and Morgan in their U.S. spacesuits will then route cables and configure hardware readying the IDA-3 for new SpaceX and Boeing crew ships.

Luca Parmitano, a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut on his second station mission, worked on a biology experiment today with potential benefits for the medicine industry. He tended to stem cell samples growing in a specialized incubator to help researchers understand cell behavior in space.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov checked out two docked Soyuz crew ships today. The duo tested and recharged communications gear in the vehicles and continued packing gear for return to Earth.

Station Orbits Higher as Crew Preps for Spacewalk and New Spaceship

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is processed for launch
The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is processed for its Aug. 21 launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The International Space Station is orbiting higher today as the Expedition 60 crew continued setting up for next week’s spacewalk. The orbiting residents also focused on space biology experiments and packing gear for return to Earth.

A docked Progress 73 (73P) spacecraft fired its thrusters overnight in two 10-minute burns three hours apart raising the station’s altitude. The maneuver puts the complex at the proper phasing for the rendezvous and docking of Russia’s unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 crew ship late next week.

The Soyuz MS-14 will lift off on Aug. 21 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a test of the spacecraft’s 2.1a booster during its ascent into Earth orbit. It will arrive at the station Aug. 24 for an automated docking to the Poisk module. The vehicle will undock on Sept. 6 for a return to Earth.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan continue servicing their spacesuits and reviewing procedures for the fifth spacewalk of the year. The duo will route cables and configure hardware to install the International Docking Adapter-3 on top of the station’s Harmony module. They will exit the station Aug. 21 for the six-and-a-half-hour job that takes place the same day the Soyuz MS-14 lifts off.

Rodent research and stem cell differentiation were Thursday’s primary space science activities. Flight Engineer Christina Koch fed mice and cleaned their cages as scientists observed the creatures that are genetically similar to humans. Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency wore the Bio-Monitor recording his vital signs while exploring how microgravity affects a variety of cell functions.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov will be ready for next week’s arrival of the Soyuz MS-14. They are taking inventory of gear for return in the spacecraft while continuing to unload cargo from the 73P.

Robotics Supporting Exploration; Briefers Talk Friday About Spacewalk

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA
Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA photographs Earth landmarks through the station’s “window to the world,” the seven-windowed cupola.

The Expedition 60 crew is busy conducting space research everyday inside the International Space Station. While they work, scientists and engineers on Earth can remotely control and observe experiments attached to the outside of the orbiting lab.

Researchers today concluded a run of the external Robotic Refueling Mission 3 experiment. Robotics controllers on the ground remotely guided the Dextre robotic hand, attached to the Canadarm2 robotic arm, and tested cryogenic refueling techniques in space. Refueling and repairing satellites and spacecraft supports NASA’s objective of sending humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Back inside the space station, the astronauts continued supporting human research activities. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan joined ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano for eye exams at the end of the day. Morgan also serviced a variety of science freezers holding experiment samples for analysis. Parmitano continued researching stem cell differentiation for the Micro-15 experiment.

Hague and Morgan are also getting ready for a spacewalk on Aug. 21. The duo spent a couple of hours Wednesday configuring spacewalking tools and tethers they will use next week. The spacewalkers’ mission is to install a second commercial crew vehicle docking port, the International Docking Adapter-3, on top of the Harmony module. Briefers will discuss the spacewalk details on NASA TV beginning Friday at 2 p.m. EDT.

All six crewmembers, including NASA astronaut Christina Koch and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov, participated in an emergency simulation during the afternoon. The station crew practiced the activities necessary to contain emergencies such as pressure and chemical leaks or a fire.

Two reboosts will occur overnight tonight to set up the correct phasing for the uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 34-orbit rendezvous next week and landing Sept. 6. The Soyuz and its 2.1a booster are scheduled to roll out to the Site 31 launch pad on Monday.

In Louisville, Colorado, Sierra Nevada Corporation announced the selection of United Launch Alliance as launch provider for the Dream Chaser spacecraft. Dream Chaser is scheduled to begin missions to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station in late 2021.

Crew Gets Ready for Next Spacewalk and New Spaceships

NASA astronaut Nick Hague
NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducts science operations for the Cell Science-02 bone healing and tissue regeneration experiment.

The International Space Station will soon see U.S., Russian and Japanese spaceships arriving and departing over the next several weeks. Meanwhile, the Expedition 60 crew is staying focused on an upcoming spacewalk while continuing ongoing microgravity research.

Next week’s spacewalkers, NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan, are reviewing their procedures and practicing their maneuvers on a computer today. The duo will exit the station Aug. 21 and install the station’s second commercial crew vehicle docking port, the International Docking Adapter-3, to the Harmony module’s space-facing port.

Morgan wrapped up his day setting up experiments designed by middle and high school students researching a variety of space phenomena. Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency continued exploring stem cell differentiation. Christina Koch of NASA serviced and replaced hardware that fuels experiments inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov worked during the morning tearing down a Russian atmosphere purification unit. The duo then moved on to cardiopulmonary research before winding down the day with exercise.

The next spacecraft to launch to the orbiting lab will be an unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 crew ship on Aug. 22. It will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a test of its upgraded 2.1a Soyuz booster. The new Soyuz will automatically dock to the Poisk module two days later where it will stay until Sept. 6.

Russia will launch its next crewed mission Sept. 25 aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft. Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka will lead the six-hour flight to the station with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori.

SpaceX is planning to retrieve its Dragon resupply ship on Aug. 27 when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean after its release from the Harmony module. Dragon will return to Earth with several thousand pounds of completed science experiments for analysis and station hardware for servicing.

Finally, Japan’s resupply ship, the H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8), is scheduled to blast off to the station Sept. 10 (U.S. time) from the Tanegashima Space Center. It will arrive at the station Sept. 14 for a robotic capture and installation to the same Harmony port Dragon will vacate at the end of the month. HTV-8’s scheduled liftoff date comes exactly 10 years after the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched its first HTV cargo freighter to the space station.

Human Research Revealing Space Impacts as Spacewalk Preps Gear Up

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan of NASA
Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan works with the BioFabrication Facility that is researching whether the weightless environment of space may support the fabrication of human organs.

The Expedition 60 crew kicked off the workweek exploring stem cells and testing the printing of human tissue on the International Space Station. The astronauts are also gearing up for a spacewalk planned for next week.

Operations continue inside the orbiting lab’s new BioFabrication Facility today. Astronaut Nick Hague printed more human tissue samples Monday and stowed them in an incubator to observe and promote their cellular growth.

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set up the Life Science Glovebox in the Kibo laboratory module and researched the properties of stem cells. The space-based Micro-15 experiment is helping scientists understand stem cell differentiation better than ground-based studies. Results may provide therapeutic insights into ailments affecting humans on Earth and in space.

Early this morning, Parmitano joined NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan for hearing tests. Scientists are measuring how the microgravity environment and the acoustic levels of the station affect a crewmember’s hearing before, during and after a mission.

Morgan then partnered up with astronaut Christina Koch in the afternoon to configure spacewalking tools and spacesuit components. Morgan will follow lead spacewalker Nick Hague out of the Quest airlock hatch on Aug. 21 for a six hour and 30 minute spacewalk. The duo will install the International Docking Adapter-3 designed to receive new commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov spent their morning learning how the gastrointestinal system adapts to long-term spaceflight. The duo performed ultrasound scans of their gut before and after eating breakfast. Ovchinin then packed gear for return on a future Soyuz landing as Skvortsov checked Russian video and photography gear.

Satellite Software Contest on Station as Crew Tests Organ Printing

The Milky Way
The Milky Way lights up an orbital night pass as the International Space Station orbited 257 miles above the Coral Sea in between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The atmospheric glow highlights Earth’s limb.

The International Space Station is the setting today for a student competition to control tiny, free-floating satellites aboard the orbiting lab. Meanwhile, the Expedition 60 crewmembers conducted a variety of research operations and continued configuring a pair of spacesuits.

Middle school students are competing to design algorithms that autonomously control basketball-sized SPHERES satellites aboard the station. The student-written software tests rendezvous and docking maneuvers that simulate scenarios such as retrieving an inoperable satellite. Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Alexander Skvortsov were on hand monitoring the SPHERES contest inside the Kibo laboratory module.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helping scientists learn how to print and grow human organs in space. She printed tissue samples using the BioFabrication Facility in the Columbus lab module. The samples are housed for several weeks inside a specialized incubator to promote cellular growth. Earth’s gravity inhibits 3-D bioprinters and incubators from recreating and growing complex organic structures.

Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Luca Parmitano continued working on U.S. spacesuits and spacewalking tools during the afternoon. Hague started the day configuring a fluorescence microscope that can observe cellular changes in microgravity. Parmitano serviced Europe’s Fluid Science Laboratory to continue researching the physics of fluids in microgravity.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin worked in the Russian segment of the space lab today readying obsolete gear for return to Earth aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. The veteran cosmonaut spent the rest of the afternoon servicing life support gear and inspecting biology research hardware.

Crew Gears Up for Spacewalk, Scans Eyes and Practices Medical Emergency

NASA astronaut Nick Hague
NASA astronaut Nick Hague, in his white U.S. spacesuit, is contrasted by the blackness of space during a six-hour, 39-minute spacewalk that took place in March 2019.

The Expedition 60 crew is gearing up for an upcoming spacewalk to prepare the International Space Station for more commercial crew missions. Biomedical science also took up a portion of the astronauts’ day as they help researchers understand what happens to the human body in microgravity.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan are reviewing their tasks planned for Aug. 21 when they conduct the fifth spacewalk of the year at the orbiting lab. The duo will take about six-and-a-half hours to install the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) on top of the Harmony module. The IDA-3, delivered inside the Dragon cargo craft’s trunk, will be the second port at the station designed to receive the new Boeing and SpaceX crew ships.

Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Luca Parmitano are helping the spacewalkers get ready for the upcoming excursion. They are configuring spacesuit components today and will continue assisting the pair before, during and after the next spacewalk.

Morgan first joined Koch and Parmitano during the morning for ultrasound eye exams. Koch took charge of the eye scans in the Columbus lab module with real-time inputs from doctors on the ground. She observed her crewmates’ retina, cornea, lens and optic nerve to maintain eye health in space.

Koch and Parmitano later split up feeding the station’s mice and cleaning their habitats in the Destiny laboratory module. Observing the rodents, which are genetically similar to humans, in the weightless environment of microgravity gives scientists critical therapeutic insights that can benefit Earthlings and astronauts.

The most recent trio to arrive at the station gathered at the end of the day to train for a medical emergency. Morgan, Parmitano and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov practiced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), checked out medical gear and reviewed emergency communications.

Spacewalk Targeted for Aug. 21, Crew Researching Organ Printing and Alzheimer’s

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA
Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA works inside the Quest joint airlock cleaning U.S. spacesuit cooling loops and replacing spacesuit components.

International Space Station managers have targeted Aug. 21 for the next spacewalk at the orbiting lab. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan will work outside in the vacuum of space to install a new commercial crew docking port, the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3).

Robotics controllers will remove the IDA-3 from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon two days before the spacewalk and ready it for the six-and-a-half hour installation job. Hague and Morgan will install and configure the new docking adapter to the top of the Harmony module. Once connected, the IDA-3 will be ready to receive new Boeing and SpaceX crew ships.

Meanwhile, the six Expedition 60 crewmembers kept the station humming on Wednesday performing new microgravity research and maintaining life support systems. Biology and physics research in space reveals new phenomena potentially benefiting humans both on Earth and in space.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch serviced the new BioFabrication Facility today to help scientists take advantage of the properties of weightlessness to successfully print and grow human organs. Earth’s gravity can inhibit 3-D bioprinters and incubators from recreating and growing complex organic structures.

Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA) researched possible causes for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The crew is examining protein samples for amyloid formation that differ from samples observed on Earth. Results may inform preventative therapies for Earthlings and astronauts on long-term missions.

Students on Earth are learning how to maneuver tiny satellites inside the station today. Morgan set up a pair of basketball-sized SPHERES satellites controlled by student-written algorithms. The middle school kids are practicing rendezvous and docking techniques in the Kibo laboratory module.

Hague is setting up material samples for robotic installation outside Kibo. The Japanese robotic arm, smaller cousin to the Canadarm2, will remove the scientific samples from the module’s airlock and install them on an external platform. Researchers observe the exposed materials to understand the effects of microgravity and space radiation.

U.S. Cygnus Space Freighter Departs Station

Cygnus Departs the Station
The U.S. Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman was released from the station’s robotic arm today at 12:15 p.m. EDT.

The Cygnus spacecraft successfully departed the International Space Station three months after arriving at the space station to deliver 7,600 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments to the orbiting laboratory.

The Cygnus spacecraft will now remain in orbit until mid-December and coincide with a second Cygnus spacecraft scheduled for launch to the space station in October. This will be the first extended duration flight to demonstrate spacecraft’s capability to fly two Cygnus vehicles simultaneously and support hosted payloads for longer periods of time.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

US Cargo Ship Preps to Depart as Crew Studies Bioprinting and Time Perception

Astronauts Luca Parmitano, Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague
Expedition 60 Flight Engineers (clockwise from top) Luca Parmitano, Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague work on life support maintenance inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

A U.S. resupply ship is packed and ready to depart the International Space Station on Tuesday. The Expedition 60 crew is also testing the viability of printing organ-like tissue and exploring the impact of microgravity on time perception today.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch finished loading and closed the hatches to the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman today. Hague will lead the robotics activities and command its release from the Canadarm2 on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. EDT. NASA TV begins its live broadcast of Cygnus’ departure at noon after 109 days at the station.

The crew outfitted Cygnus with the SlingShot Deployer that will eject a series of nanosatellites once the spacecraft reaches a safe distance and a higher altitude from the station. Cygnus will continue orbiting Earth for a few more months of systems tests before it reenters the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery demise.

3-D bioprinting has proven a challenge for scientists on Earth seeking to replicate complex cellular structures. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan is researching today whether the weightless environment of space may support the fabrication of human organs in space. He set up the station’s new BioFabrication Facility to begin test-printing tissues today. An incubator houses the tissue samples to promote cohesive cellular growth over several weeks.

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency started Monday collecting his blood samples and stowing them in a science freezer for later analysis. Next, he wore virtual reality goggles for an experiment testing his ability to judge the duration of time. Results are collected before, during and after a spaceflight to understand how time perception is affected in space. The impacts could potentially affect space navigation and other mission-oriented tasks.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin tested Russian smoke detectors, conducted a fit check of the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship seats and worked on space biology gear. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov checked out video gear then studied how microgravity affects pain sensation.