Flurry of Science Investigations Preface Friday’s Soyuz Departure

NASA astronauts (from left) Christina Koch, Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan gather for a portrait inside the International Space Station's "window to the world," the seven-windowed cupola. Credit: NASA
NASA astronauts (from left) Christina Koch, Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan gather for a portrait inside the International Space Station’s “window to the world,” the seven-windowed cupola. Credit: NASA

As cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori ready for their Sept. 25 launch aboard a Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, tomorrow they will pause in their mission preparations for the ceremonial laying of the flowers at the Kremlin Wall. On Sept. 10, the same day the H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is scheduled to take off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan for the International Space Station, the new crew will depart for the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan. 

Meanwhile, Expedition 60 crew members balanced their workload between preparing for upcoming vehicle activities from and to the space station and investigations that will give scientists deeper insight into the human body in space … and on Earth.  

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan performed eye exams in support of Fluid Shifts, which studies how fluid movement — from the lower body to the upper body, in or out of cells and blood vessels — can impact changes in vision and eye structures for astronauts, as well as uncomfortable cranial pressure during spaceflight. Morgan, along with crewmate Christina Koch of NASA, are also reviewing rendezvous and capture training for HTV-8, which will be robotically maneuvered to attach to the Harmony module in just over a week.  

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) worked with the Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) investigation, completing cell sample transfers. BEST evaluates the feasibility of sequencing to identify unknown microbial organisms living aboard the orbiting laboratory. One added benefit, too, is the experiment furthers research in understanding how humans, plants and microbes adapt to microgravity.  

Housekeeping continued as cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Alexey Ovchinin added more cargo to the Soyuz MS-14 for a return to Earth, sans crew, Friday, Sept. 6. 

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

As Hurricane Dorian Churns Below, Expedition 60 Continues Investigations, Training Above

Astronaut Christina Koch of the International Space Station captured this image of Hurricane Dorian outside the space station’s windows the morning of Sept. 2, 2019. Credit: NASA
Astronaut Christina Koch of the International Space Station captured this image of Hurricane Dorian outside the space station’s windows the morning of Sept. 2, 2019. Credit: NASA

After a quiet, off-duty day for the crew of Expedition 60 on Labor Day, operations supporting science for long-duration human space exploration and upcoming spaceship movements ramped up on the International Space Station. 

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov are busy packing the Soyuz MS-14 with return gear before the vehicle parachutes back to Earth — without crew inside — this Friday, Sept. 6. Then, days later, the H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is scheduled to launch on Sept. 10 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Its four-day journey to the orbiting laboratory will deliver 6.5 tons of new supplies and cargo.  

NASA crewmates Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan continued prepping for the robotic capture of HTV-8, reviewing procedures to ensure a smooth installation of the spaceship to the Harmony module for its month-long visit.  

Koch also performed Main Bus Switching Unit (MSBU) maintenance with fellow astronaut Nick Hague, afterward using a laptop connected to the MSBU with special test cables for a functional checkout of the repaired unit.  

Science investigations continue in earnest, with Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) conducting VEG-04 operations and additional Veggie training, also capturing light measurements for the novel experiment that seeks to learn about the impact of light quality and fertilizer on leafy crops grown in microgravity. 

Morgan and Parmitano spent time setting up and recording for ISS Experience, which documents life and research operations aboard the space station in cinematic virtual reality. Meanwhile, Koch worked with Microgravity Crystals, removing crystal plates from the Space Automated Byproduct Laboratory (SABL) to observe and photograph the sample wells under microscope before returning them to the SABL. 

Extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian continues to churn in the Atlantic Ocean 250 miles below, with crew members getting an unparalleled view of the storm as it begins to move from an almost stationary position over the northwestern Bahamas. Now a high category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 110 mph with occasional higher gusts, it will continue to crawl northwestward at about 2 mph, with a slightly faster motion toward the northwest, or north-northwest, expected later today and tonight. The storm is expected to come perilously close to Florida’s east coast late today through Wednesday evening and skirt by Georgia and South Carolina’s coastlines Wednesday night and Thursday.