Belated Thanksgiving Meal Ahead of Spacewalk and New Cargo Ships

NASA astronaut and spacewalker Andrew Morgan
NASA astronaut and spacewalker Andrew Morgan is pictured during the second spacewalk on Nov. 22, 2019, to repair the International Space Station’s cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

The six-member Expedition 61 crew is relaxing today and enjoying a belated Thanksgiving meal after an intense week of biology research and spacewalk preparations. A Russian resupply ship also departed the International Space Station this morning as two more space freighters are poised to replenish the orbiting lab. The ISS Progress 73 cargo ship, loaded with trash, undocked from the Pirs Docking Compartment and was deorbited, burning up over the Pacific Ocean.

The four astronauts and two cosmonauts on the orbiting lab were off-duty today sharing a Thanksgiving meal together after working all day during the U.S. holiday. Most of the fixings that dress a turkey on a dining table on Earth were available aboard the station’s galley including cornbread, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan were busy on Thursday finalizing research operations as they collected blood and cell samples from rodents. Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Christina Koch also assisted the duo in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Scientists on Earth will observe the samples to gain insights into afflictions such as cancer and diabetes potentially designing advanced therapies for humans on Earth and in space.

Morgan and Parmitano now turn their attention to Monday’s spacewalk to continue the complex repair job on a cosmic particle detector on the station’s truss. They will be employing complex and innovative repair techniques never performed in space to replace a faulty cooling pump on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. The spacewalkers will set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power at 6:50 a.m. EST on Monday signifying the start of their venture. NASA TV begins its live broadcast at 5:30 a.m.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka monitored the Progress 73 resupply ship as it undocked at 4:25 a.m. EST Friday completing its four-month mission at the station. It reentered the Earth’s atmosphere a few hours later and burned up safely over the south Pacific.

SpaceX is targeting Dec. 4 for the launch if its 19th commercial cargo mission to the space station. The Dragon space freighter would arrive on Dec. 7 delivering a variety of brand new research gear including Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite, or HISUI.

Russia will follow SpaceX with the launch of its Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft on Dec. 6. The 74P will arrive on Dec. 9 for an automated docking to the Pirs docking compartment.

Astronauts Release Cygnus Space Freighter From Station

The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter
The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 50 robotic arm operators Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 8:22 a.m. EST while the space station was flying 251 miles over the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of Colombia. Earlier, ground controllers detached Cygnus from the station and maneuvered it into place for its departure.

Once Cygnus is a safe distance away from the station, ground controllers at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and at Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, will activate the Saffire-II experiment.

Cygnus also will release four LEMUR CubeSats from an external deployer on Friday, Nov. 25, sending them to join a remote sensing satellite constellation that provides global ship tracking and weather monitoring.

The spacecraft will remain in orbit until Sunday, Nov. 27, when its engines will fire twice, pushing it into Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

The Cygnus resupply craft launched Oct. 17 on an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, for the company’s sixth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission. The company’s seventh contracted resupply mission is targeted for spring 2017 on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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

Expedition 50 Launches on Two-Day Trip to Station

The Soyuz MS-03 Spacecraft Launches
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft launches Expedition 50 crew members Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet from Kazakhstan. Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Soyuz MS-03 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:20 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 17 (2:20 a.m. Baikonur time, Nov. 18). At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 250 miles over the south Atlantic east of Argentina. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) are now safely in orbit.

Over the next two days, the trio will orbit the Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module, at 5:01 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/iss and on Twitter @Space_Station.

Astronauts Unload U.S. Resupply Ship to Continue Advanced Space Research

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter
The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman.

A new U.S. resupply ship is open for business and the Expedition 61 crew has begun unloading over four tons of new science experiments and station hardware. Two astronauts are also studying advanced repair techniques for a cosmic particle detector attached the International Space Station.

The astronauts opened the hatches on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship after its arrival on Monday and immediately started unpacking and activating critical science payloads. Mice delivered aboard Cygnus are now living in station habitats to help scientists understand how microgravity impacts metabolic rates. The rodent study may provide therapeutic insights into Earth-bound ailments such as diabetes and liver disease.

Cygnus science freezers containing valuable research samples for observation are now operating inside station research racks. The crew will utilize the samples to study a variety of microgravity phenomena to benefit Earthlings and astronauts. New experiments will research how microbes affect space hardware and astronauts and explore how weightlessness affects muscle gene expression.

Cygnus also delivered hardware to enable the complex repair job required to upgrade the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) thermal control system. Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are preparing for several spacewalks to cut and reconnect fluid lines to ensure the AMS continues its search for dark matter and antimatter for years to come.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka logged their meals and medicine intake today to help researchers understand how space impacts bone tissue. The duo worked on a variety of Russian maintenance tasks then reviewed Cygnus emergency procedures with the rest of their Expedition 61 crewmates.

Cygnus Resupply Ship Attached to Unity for Cargo Operations

Nov. 4, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Nov. 4, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are attached to the space station including the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

After its capture this morning at 4:10 a.m. EST, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 6:21 a.m. At the time of installation, Cygnus was flying over the south Pacific.

This mission, designated NG CRS-12, will be in orbit at the same time as its predecessor, the NG CRS-11 Cygnus spacecraft, which launched in April on an extended duration flight. The NG CRS-12 Cygnus spacecraft will remain at the space station until January before it disposes of several thousand pounds of trash through its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. The ability to fly two vehicles at once further demonstrates the robustness of Cygnus to support the goals of NASA’s ambitious missions.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 8,200 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Here are some of the scientific investigations:

More Probing of Mysteries of the Universe

This mission carries components needed to prolong the operational life of Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02). In a series of spacewalks planned in the coming weeks, astronauts will cut and reconnect fluid lines on the instrument, a feat not done before in space, which could prove valuable for future missions at NASA’s upcoming lunar Gateway for the Artemis program or missions to Mars.

Testing Personal Protective Equipment for Astronauts

The AstroRad Vest tests a special garment designed to protect astronauts from radiation caused by unpredictable solar particle events. Astronauts will provide input on the garment as they wear it while performing daily tasks. Use of the vest could protect crew members on missions to the Moon and Mars.

Food Fresh from the Oven

The Zero-G Oven examines heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity. It uses an oven designed specifically for use aboard the space station, and may have application on future long-duration missions by offering a way to increase variety in flavor and nutrition of food for crew members.

3D Printing with Recycled Materials

The Made in Space Recycler will test systems needed to reprocess plastic into 3D printing filament that can then be transferred for use to the Made in Space Manufacturing Device, a 3D printer that has operated on the orbiting laboratory since 2016. This has implications for space conservation and deep space missions.

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.

Astronaut Jessica Meir and Christina Koch Capture Cygnus with Station’s Robotic Arm

The Canadarm2 moves toward the Cygnus resupply ship
The Canadarm2 operated by astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch moves toward the Cygnus resupply ship for its capture. Credit: NASA TV

At 4:10 a.m. EST, Expedition 61 NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Alan Bean, on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The station was flying over Madagascar when it was captured.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 6:30 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning. Cygnus will remain at the orbiting laboratory for a two-month stay.

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

U.S. Cygnus Cargo Ship Reaches Orbit for Monday Delivery

The Antares rocket lifts off on time
The Antares rocket lifts off on time from Virginia carrying the Cygnus cargo craft to orbit. Credit: NASA TV

On the anniversary of the arrival of the first crew members to live aboard the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply spacecraft is on its way to the station with nearly 8,200 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 9:59 a.m. EDT Saturday, Nov. 2 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At the time of lift off, the International Space Station was traveling over the south Atlantic southwest of Cape Town, South Africa, at an altitude of 257 statute miles.

The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops. Automated command to initiate solar array deploy will begin about 2 hours and 53 minutes after launch (about 12:53 p.m.). Solar array deployment will take about 30 minutes. Confirmation of solar deployment will be shared on the launch blog and social media at @NASA_Wallops and  @space_station.

Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory around 4:10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 2:45 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Expedition 61 astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus, while NASA’s Andrew Morgan monitors telemetry. The spacecraft is scheduled to stay at the space station until January.

The Cygnus spacecraft for this space station resupply mission is named in honor of NASA astronaut Alan Bean. The late Apollo 12 astronaut flew to the Moon on Apollo 12 and became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface. This is Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo flight to the space station, and the first under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA, will support dozens of new and existing investigations.

Follow the Cygnus spacecraft’s arrival to the orbiting laboratory on the space station blog and by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as theISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.