Space Impacts on Heart and Bones May Provide Earth Therapies

The aurora australis, or "southern lights"
The aurora australis, or “southern lights,” highlights a starry nighttime orbital pass above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia from June 2019..

Human research and space biology dominated the research schedule aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 62 crew investigated how microgravity impacts heart and bone cells and head and eye pressure.

All three crewmembers tested a unique suit Tuesday that draws body fluids, such as blood and water, towards the feet. This counteracts space-caused fluid shifts toward the head that create pressure on an astronaut’s eyes and cranium. One visible symptom, called “puffy face,” is a redder and rounder face due to those shifts. However, astronauts have reported vision problems after living in space for months at a time.

Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan put on the suit with help from Commander Oleg Skripochka in the station’s Zvezda service module. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir then scanned Morgan’s eyes, head and chest with an ultrasound device to measure blood flow through his veins and arteries. Doctors on Earth monitored the activities to learn more about the effectiveness of the negative pressure body suit.

Morgan then moved on to cardiac research, learning how to create and culture heart cells on the space station. Results could provide advanced therapies to prevent heart conditions on Earth and in space. Meir continued more bone research servicing bone samples to help scientists better understand Earth ailments such as osteoporosis.

The commander stayed in the station’s Russian segment inventorying cargo from a Russian resupply ship. Skripochka, a veteran of three station missions, made space in the Progress 74 cargo craft temporarily stowing goods and rearranging hardware to reduce clutter aboard the orbiting lab.

Crew Explores Heart Cells, Genetic Expression for Earth and Space Benefits

Expedition 62 Crewmembers
Expedition 62 Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos, in the middle, is flanked by NASA Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir inside U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The Expedition 62 crew focused on a variety of human research and space biology studies aboard the International Space Station today. Back on Earth, three new crewmembers are in training in Russia before their mission begins in April.

Microgravity shifts the flow of body fluids, such as blood and water, which accumulate in an astronaut’s head creating pressure in the cranium and on the eyes. Doctors are continuously studying this phenomenon to counteract the effects and keep long-term space crews healthy.

In preparation for upcoming operations with the ongoing Fluid Shifts study, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan collected medical hardware, such as an ultrasound device, sensors and cables. He transferred the research gear to the Russian segment, where they will be used to test a specialized body suit that draws fluids toward the lower body expanding veins and tissues.

Morgan then moved on to a Japanese study that looks at how weightlessness affects genetic expression in mice.  Results may inform future therapies that keep crews safe in space and prevent muscle atrophy conditions on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir relaxed on Monday aboard the orbiting lab after working Saturday afternoon on cardiac research. She serviced heart cells being manipulated and analyzed with magnet-sensors and stowed them in a science freezer. The space samples are being compared to cell cultures on the ground possibly benefitting human cardiac function on Earth and in space.

Commander Oleg Skripochka began his morning on a long-running Russian study exploring how cosmonauts will pilot spacecraft and even robotic rovers on future planetary missions. During the afternoon, he turned his attention to life support maintenance.

Over in Russia, three Expedition 63 crewmembers are getting ready for their launch to the space station on April 9. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner wrapped up two days of Soyuz qualification exams last week. They will have a news conference this Friday before heading out to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, March 24. Once there, the crew will be in final preparations ahead of their 195-day mission in space.

Cardiac Research, Bone Studies on Station Promote Advanced Therapies on Earth

Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir
Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir swaps media that nourishes bone samples inside the Life Science Glovebox located in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

New cardiac research is beginning today on the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir is installing gear that will support heart cells being produced inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Those cells will be compared to cultures on Earth to promote regenerative cell therapies.

She also continued bone sample operations for the ongoing OsteoOmics-02 study. The investigation takes place in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module and may reveal innovative bone treatments for humans living on Earth and in space.

Meir also joined fellow NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan for maintenance work on a U.S. spacesuit. The duo recharged and swapped out components inside the suit ahead of spacewalks planned for this year.

Morgan also spent Friday working on orbital plumbing and space biology research. He first serviced hardware in the station’s bathroom located in the Tranquility module during the morning. Afterward, Morgan photographed bacteria samples for an experiment seeking improved therapies for antibiotic-resistant infections.

Commander Oleg Skripochka spent the majority of his day focusing on life support and computer activities over in the Russian segment of the space station. In the afternoon, the veteran cosmonaut set up and activated gear that observes the atmosphere at nighttime in near-ultraviolet wavelengths.

Station Works External Science, Maintenance Before Next Crew Launch

NASA astronaut and Andrew Morgan takes photographs of the Earth
NASA astronaut and Andrew Morgan takes photographs of the Earth from the Window Observation Research Facility inside NASA’s Destiny laboratory module.

The Expedition 62 crew took a break today from its weeks-long space biology research aboard the International Space Station. Instead, the orbital residents focused on setting up an external science payload and maintaining life support systems.

Research takes place not only inside the space station, but also outside as scientists study how extreme temperatures and space radiation affect a variety of materials. NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan configured hardware today containing a materials science experiment for installation outside the orbital lab. He placed the gear inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock where it was depressurized. The Canadarm2 robotic arm will retrieve the experiment and externally install it on the station.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir started her day collecting samples of the station’s water for microbial analysis. In the afternoon, she serviced an experiment module that can generate artificial gravity environments before working on orbital plumbing at the end of her shift.

Veteran cosmonaut and station Commander Oleg Skripochka continued more communication tests today checking two-way audio and video satellite links. He also wrapped up a study that observed Earth’s upper atmosphere in visible and near-infrared wavelengths. At the end of the day, Skripochka shared his inputs for the long-running experiment researching the interactions between crews and mission controllers.

The new Expedition 63 crew is in Russia getting ready for its launch on April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy with Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are wrapping up two days of final qualification exams. The trio will soon head to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final preparations before beginning their 195-day mission aboard the orbiting lab.

Crew Begins Cardiac Research and Continues Unloading New Science Experiments

The atmospheric glow above Earth's limb.
The amber hue hovering just above the Earth’s limb is the atmospheric glow with the Milky Way’s stars sparkling in the background as photographed from the space station.

Bone cells and now heart cells are on the space research agenda for the Expedition 62 crew. The International Space Station continues gearing up for more space investigations recently delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir turned her attention today to a new experiment exploring cardiac activity in microgravity. She tended to heart cells swapping media that nourishes the samples being observed and manipulated with magnetic sensors. The results could inform measures to keep astronauts healthy on long-term missions and possibly treat heart conditions on Earth.

Bone health is also important for humans living and working on and off the Earth. Over in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan worked in the Life Science Glovebox servicing bone cell samples for an experiment that began in February. That research is comparing samples nurtured in weightlessness to a set of samples that are magnetically levitated in a lab on Earth. Insights could prove valuable when treating bone ailments such as osteoporosis.

The pair also split their time on several other investigations ranging from radiation detection to protein crystals. Radiation detectors were retrieved from Dragon and installed throughout the station to characterize the orbital lab’s radiation dosage and distribution. The crew also looked at protein crystals that grow better in space than on Earth, for a pair of studies, PCG-10 and JAXA Moderate Temp PCG, supporting the development of more effective medications.

Commander Oleg Skripochka focused on Russian communications gear throughout the day testing two-way audio and video satellite links. He also spent some time exploring advanced photography techniques to locate Earth targets.

Crew Sets Up New Science During Ongoing Bone Research

NASA astronauts and Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir
NASA astronauts and Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir are pictured inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world,” shortly after capturing the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

The Expedition 62 crew started unloading and activating new science experiments, which were delivered Monday aboard the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir opened Dragon’s hatch shortly after its capture and installation on Monday. The duo quickly retrieved critical research samples and installed science hardware, setting up operations aboard the International Space Station.

Mice are living on the station now after their ride to space aboard Dragon. Morgan placed the rodents in specialized habitats for a JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) investigation exploring how microgravity affects genetic expression. Observations will give doctors insights into the how human body will adapt to longer missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Meir collected a science freezer and commercial research hardware from inside Dragon and began setting up the gear throughout the orbital lab. In the afternoon, she got back to work on ongoing bone research tending to bone cells being observed to understand Earth ailments such as osteoporosis.

Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos collected air samples from inside Dragon shortly after its hatch opening Monday. The veteran cosmonaut focused on Russian life support maintenance Tuesday morning before setting up Earth observation hardware during the afternoon.

Robotic Arm Captures Dragon Packed With Science

The 20th SpaceX Dragon resupply mission approaches the space station
The 20th SpaceX Dragon resupply mission approaches the space station.

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 262 miles over the Northeast Pacific near Vancouver, British Columbia, Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir of NASA grappled Dragon at 6:25 a.m. EDT using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2 with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is now scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

Here’s some of the research arriving at station:

New Facility Outside the Space Station

The Bartolomeo facility, created by ESA (European Space Agency) and Airbus, attaches to the exterior of the European Columbus Module. Designed to provide new scientific opportunities on the outside of the space station for commercial and institutional users, the facility offers unobstructed views both toward Earth and into space. Potential applications include Earth observation, robotics, material science and astrophysics.

Studying the Human Intestine On a Chip

Organ-Chips as a Platform for Studying Effects of Space on Human Enteric Physiology (Gut on Chip) examines the effect of microgravity and other space-related stress factors on biotechnology company Emulate’s human innervated Intestine-Chip (hiIC). This Organ-Chip device enables the study of organ physiology and diseases in a laboratory setting. It allows for automated maintenance, including imaging, sampling, and storage on orbit and data downlink for molecular analysis on Earth.

Growing Human Heart Cells

Generation of Cardiomyocytes From Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-derived Cardiac Progenitors Expanded in Microgravity (MVP Cell-03) examines whether microgravity increases the production of heart cells from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). The investigation induces stem cells to generate heart precursor cells and cultures those cells on the space station to analyze and compare with cultures grown on Earth.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Broadcasts Station Astronauts Capturing Dragon Monday

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir
NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir will be on duty in the cupola to capture the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station tomorrow morning March 9, with an expected capture of the cargo spacecraft around 7 a.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage will begin at 5:30 a.m. Watch live at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

When it arrives to the space station, Expedition 62 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir of NASA will grapple Dragon, with Andrew Morgan of NASA acting as a backup. The station crew will monitor Dragon vehicle functions during rendezvous. After Dragon capture, ground commands will be sent from mission control in Houston for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module. Coverage of robotic installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Dragon lifted off on Friday, March 6, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The cargo spacecraft with more than 4,300 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory. Dragon will join three other spacecraft currently at the space station

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon “Go” for Friday Launch; Crew Studies Biology and Physics

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka
(Clockwise from bottom) NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka pose for a portrait inside the Harmony module.

NASA and SpaceX mission managers have given the “go” for Friday’s launch of the Dragon cargo ship at 11:50 p.m. EST. The Expedition 62 crewmembers continue to get ready for Dragon’s arrival at the International Space Station on Monday.

Dragon will lift off atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket loaded with fresh supplies to replenish the crew and new experiments including live mice for more space research. NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir will be on duty Monday morning inside the cupola to capture Dragon at 7 a.m. EDT with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. NASA TV is covering the launch and capture activities live.

The duo will spend portions of Thursday and Friday brushing up on the robotics skills necessary to grapple the resupply ship as it orbits about 10 meters from the space station. Morgan will lead the capture activities on Monday as Meir backs him up and monitors the spacecraft’s approach and rendezvous.

Meanwhile, research aboard the station is ongoing as the three-member crew explored how microgravity affects biology and physics to benefit humans on and off Earth.

Meir continued test operations on a 3D bioprinter to demonstrate the feasibility of manufacturing human tissue and organs in space destined for patients on Earth. She later nourished bone cells being compared to magnetically levitated samples on Earth. Results could provide therapeutic insights for bone ailments such as osteoporosis.

Morgan started Thursday drawing his blood sample and spinning it in a centrifuge before stowing the collection in a science freezer. Later, he set up experiment gear inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox to study transparent alloys and understand the dynamics and formation of microstructures on Earth.

Commander Oleg Skripochka started the day maintaining power and life support systems inside the Russian segment of the orbital lab. The veteran cosmonaut also spent time Thursday on a pair of experiments researching station ergonomics and crew psychology.

3D Bioprinter, Bone Research Continues Ahead of Dragon Launch

Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir
Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir works with research hardware to support the OsteoOmics-02 bone investigation.

The Expedition 62 crew is continuing its human research activities midweek aboard the International Space Station. The SpaceX Dragon resupply mission is also due to launch Friday with over 5,600 pounds of science, supplies and hardware.

A 3D bioprinter that manufactures human tissue in space is being tested this week aboard the orbiting lab. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir ran test prints Wednesday morning without using cells. Afterward, she cleaned and swapped syringes on the organ-manufacturing device. The BioFabrication Facility seeks to overcome gravity’s detrimental effects on manufacturing human organs on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan serviced bone cell samples in support of the OsteoOmics-02 investigation. He changed the media that nourishes the cells that scientists are observing to understand how microgravity affects bones. Results may improve therapies for Earth ailments such as osteoporosis.

Both astronauts continue readying the space station for a space delivery due Monday at 7 a.m. EDT aboard the Dragon space freighter. Dragon will launch Friday at 11:50 p.m. atop the Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center.

Meir and Morgan are familiarizing themselves with the new space cargo and making room aboard the station to stow everything. The Harmony module, where Dragon will be installed, is also being outfitted with a variety of support gear to enable the resupply ship’s month-long stay.

Over in the Russian segment of the station, Commander Oleg Skripochka checked power and life support systems in the Zarya module. In the afternoon, he activated an experiment that is studying the relationship between the Earth’s geologic and atmospheric phenomena. Finally, the veteran cosmonaut participated in a study that assesses the station’s environment to facilitate microgravity research.