Expedition 63 Explores Free-Flying Robots and Heart Research

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy works on the Fluids Integrated Rack
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy works on the Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) replacing components in the research device that studies the behavior of fluids in microgravity.

Free-flying robots and heart research filled the science schedule aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 63 crew also managed cargo activities in a pair of resupply ships and cleaned biology research gear.

Astrobee is a robotics investigation that explores the ability of a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robots to assist crews aboard the station. Commander Chris Cassidy set up one of the autonomous robotic assistants in the afternoon for a test of its mobility and vision system. Astrobee could perform routine lab chores giving astronauts more time to conduct critical space research.

Cassidy also finalized the cleaning of a mouse habitat that housed rodents monitored for changes to their genetic expression due to microgravity. The mice have since returned to Earth aboard the last SpaceX Dragon cargo mission on April 7.

Living and working in space impacts the human body and scientists are exploring measures to ensure astronauts adapt successfully to weightlessness. How heart performance changes in space is fundamental to keeping crews healthy during long-term missions.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner continued a long-running Russian heart study today that utilizes the Lower Body Negative Pressure Suit. The investigation examines how the heart behaves as the specialized spacesuit prevents blood from pooling in a crewmember’s head reducing head and eye pressure.

The Russian duo then spent the afternoon transferring cargo to and from the Progress 74 and 75 space freighters. Ivanishin packed trash and old gear in the 74P which is due to complete its mission in July. Vagner unloaded new gear and supplies from the 75P which just arrived on April 25.

Spacesuit Work and Heart Research Fill Crew Day

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy works in the Combustion Integrated Rack
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy works in the Combustion Integrated Rack, a research device that enables safe fuel, flame and soot studies in microgravity.

The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station focused its attention on spacesuits and cardiac research today. The orbital residents also serviced science hardware and life support gear.

Commander Chris Cassidy worked on a pair of U.S. spacesuits in the Quest airlock today cleaning cooling loops, replacing components and checking for leaks. NASA is planning a series of spacewalks later this year to upgrade power and science systems on the orbiting lab.

Cassidy, who last served in 2013 as an Expedition 36 flight engineer, also cleaned the Veggie PONDS botany research hardware after growing lettuce and mizuna greens in the Columbus lab module. Next, he swapped batteries in the Astrobee robotic assistant then set up audio software for a hearing assessment.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner worked in the morning on a long-running study to understand how the human heart adapts to microgravity. The duo then split up for Earth observation studies and life support maintenance.

Cygnus Prepped for Departure During Station Science and Upkeep

The U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship
The U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship is pictured as the International Space Station orbited above the Pacific Ocean.

The International Space Station is looking ahead to its next cargo mission when a U.S. space freighter departs next month. The Expedition 63 crew is also working on variety of space research and Russian spacecraft activities.

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is being readied for its robotic release from the orbiting lab’s Unity module. Commander Chris Cassidy reviewed procedures and set up hardware that will deploy small experimental satellites from the outside of Cygnus after its departure on May 11. Cygnus will removed from Unity and released by the Canadarm2 robotic arm completing its 83-day stay at 12:10 p.m. EDT.

Cassidy also opened up the Combustion Integrated Rack for maintenance replacing components in the research device that enables safe fuel, flame and soot studies in microgravity. Afterward, the three-time station visitor logged his meals for a nutrition study then swapped batteries in an acoustic monitor that measures the sound levels aboard the station.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner continued unpacking and inventorying the near three tons of food, fuel and supplies delivered late last week aboard the Progress 75 resupply ship. Ivanishin also serviced a variety of Russian life support gear. Vagner checked on lighting systems and photographed the external condition of the Poisk module which hosts docked Russian spacecraft.

Study Improving Fiber Optics; Cosmonauts Relaxing After Cargo Mission

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy services botany research hardware in Europe’s Columbus laboratory module.

The International Space Station provides an orbiting research platform that benefits not only human health, but also industry and technology. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy kicked off a physics study today that explores space manufacturing.

Cassidy began his workday in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module configuring the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) for the Space Fibers physics investigation. The study is using the MSG to test techniques for manufacturing fiber optic cables superior to those produced on Earth.

Gravity degrades the performance of fiber optic cables produced on Earth. Space Fibers may enable the manufacturing and commercialization of cables with greater transparency and higher transmission rates than on Earth.

The NASA commander then spent Monday afternoon on regularly scheduled maintenance for the COLBERT treadmill in the station’s Tranquility module. Cassidy greased the treadmill’s axles, tightened belts and replaced components.

In the Russian segment of the station, cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner took the day off after a weekend of cargo activities. The duo welcomed the new Progress 75 cargo craft after its docking early Saturday and started unloading the nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies.

Space Health Studies Today as Cargo, Commercial Crew Missions Near

April 16, 2020: International Space Station Configuration
As of April 16, 2020, there are three spaceships are attached at the space station including the U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft and Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.

The three-member Expedition 63 crew focused on biomedical research today helping scientists understand how living in space affects the human body. Meanwhile, a resupply ship is nearing its launch to the International Space Station ahead of global cargo and Commercial Crew missions planned for May.

NASA Commander Chris Cassidy began Thursday with a health exam that included temperature and blood pressure checks as well as pulse and respiratory rate measurements. In the afternoon, the three-time space visitor moved to physics research and explored techniques future astronauts may use to develop advanced building materials in space.

Human research is also an important part of the Russian science agenda aboard the orbiting lab. The two cosmonauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, collected and stowed their blood, saliva and hair samples today for a pair of biology studies. The two experiments are looking at how spaceflight impacts a crewmember’s immune system and metabolism.

Russia is also readying its Progress 75 (75P) resupply ship for liftoff on Friday from Kazakhstan at 9:51 p.m. EDT. The 75P is at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome packed with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies. The 75th Progress cargo craft to visit the station will take a three-and-a-half hour delivery trip to the aft docking port of the Zvezda service module.

May’s mission schedule will see a U.S. cargo craft depart the station on the 11th and a Japanese resupply ship launch on the 20th for a robotic capture and installation on the 25th. The first mission on a U.S. crew vehicle since 2011 is set for launch on May 27. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley will lift off from Florida aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle and join the Expedition 63 crew one day later.

 

Station Ramps Up for SpaceX Crew and Global Cargo Missions

The Progress 75 cargo craft stands at its launch pad
The Progress 75 cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

A Russian space freighter has rolled out to its launch pad ready to resupply the International Space Station this weekend. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew is ramping up its preparations for the first Commercial Crew mission and more cargo activities planned for May.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA is looking forward to welcoming a pair of fellow NASA astronauts aboard the station at the end of May. Commercial Crew astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley are preparing for their launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship scheduled for May 27 at 4:23 p.m. The first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will dock one day later to the station and join Expedition 63 for a months-long mission.

The crew aboard the orbiting lab is also due to receive its first space delivery on Saturday at 1:12 a.m. EDT. Russia’s Progress 75 (75P) cargo craft will carry several tons of crew supplies and station hardware and automatically dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module. The 75P will lift off on Friday at 9:51 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the short three-and-a-half hour flight to the station.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are training for Saturday morning’s automated arrival of the 75P. The duo practiced remotely-controlled emergency rendezvous and docking techniques in the unlikely event the 75P wouldn’t be able to approach and dock to the station on its own.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft is being readied to end its stay attached to the station’s Unity module on May 11. Cassidy and Ivanishin packed trash and discarded gear inside Cygnus today for a fiery disposal in the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean.

Finally, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is targeting May 20 for the launch of its ninth cargo mission to the station. JAXA’s HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle) cargo craft, nicknamed Kounotori, would take a five-day trip before being captured and installed to the station with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Advanced Space Research Ahead of Weekend Cargo Mission

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy holds a Parmigiana di Melanzane meal packet
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy holds a Parmigiana di Melanzane meal packet given to him by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA continued working on a variety of science hardware throughout the International Space Station today. His two crewmates worked in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment on their complement of science and maintenance.

Cassidy started Tuesday in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module setting up a small satellite deployer. CubeSats are installed into the device, which is then loaded into Kibo’s airlock. Then the deployer is positioned in the vacuum of space to eject the tiny shoebox-sized satellites into Earth orbit.

In the afternoon, Cassidy moved over to the U.S. Destiny laboratory module and swapped computer parts inside the Fluids and Combustion Facility (FCF). The FCF consists of two refrigerator-sized research racks enabling safe observations of the behavior of fluids and flames in microgravity. Scientists use the data to design advanced fuel transfer systems and increase fire safety.

Russian Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner logged their meals today to understand how spaceflight affects a crewmember’s nutrition and metabolism. The duo then worked throughout the day on life support maintenance while continuing to get used to life onboard the station.

Russia’s next cargo craft to resupply the station is completing final processing and assembly at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress 75 (75P) space freighter packed with several tons of food, fuel and supplies is due to launch on Friday at 9:51 p.m. EDT. The 75P will make a two-orbit, three-and-a-half hour trip and automatically dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module.

Expedition 63 Starts Science, Readies for Cargo and Commercial Crew

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Andrew Morgan
NASA astronauts (from left) Chris Cassidy and Andrew Morgan pose for a portrait inside the Quest airlock. Cassidy is a U.S. Navy SEAL and Captain. Morgan is an emergency physician and Colonel in the U.S. Army. Morgan returned to Earth on April 17.

The three-member Expedition 63 crew is beginning its first full workweek and kicking off science aboard the International Space Station. More space traffic continues this week, as Russia gets ready to launch its next Progress resupply ship late Friday.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is on his third spaceflight and is in command of the orbiting lab. His two crewmates, Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, will be with Cassidy until October.

Cassidy worked Monday on physics research checking out the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. The experiment facility heats samples to ultra-high temperatures to observe thermophysical properties difficult to measure in Earth’s gravity.

Ivanishin and Vagner are getting ready for the arrival of a new space shipment due to arrive on Saturday at 1:23 a.m. EDT aboard the Progress 75 (75P) resupply ship. The 75P will launch Friday at 9:51 p.m. and take two orbits around the Earth before automatically docking to the rear port of the Zvezda service module. The duo tested a device on Monday that can remotely maneuver the 75P to a docking if necessary.

The two cosmonauts also collaborated on a variety of Russian space research throughout Monday. The pair looked at microgravity’s effect on pain sensitivity and bone tissue. During the afternoon, they explored how future space travelers may pilot spacecraft on planetary missions.

NASA and SpaceX announced May 27 for the first launch of humans from the United States since 2011. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley will lift off at 4:23 p.m. from Florida aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and test its systems. They will join the Expedition 63 crew a day later after docking to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module.

Crew Nears Departure Ahead of Busy Space Traffic

Astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (left) will assume station command from Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka (right) today.

Three Expedition 62 crewmembers are getting ready to head home before U.S., Russian and Japanese spaceship traffic ramps up. Meanwhile, human research activities continue full speed ahead aboard the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy will assume command and control of the orbiting lab today at 4:55 p.m. EDT during the Change of Command ceremony live on NASA TV. Commander Oleg Skripochka will turn the keys over to Cassidy before leaving the station on Thursday at 9:53 p.m. EDT when Expedition 63 officially begins.

Cassidy will stay onboard the station until October with Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. This is third station mission for Cassidy and Ivanishin while Vagner is beginning his first.

Skripochka is returning to Earth with NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan inside the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship. The trio will parachute to landing in Kazakhstan on Friday at 1:16 a.m. (11:16 a.m. Kazakh time). Morgan will have lived in space for 272 days while Meir and Skripochka will have orbited Earth for 205 days.

The crew collected blood, saliva and urine samples today before stowing them in a science freezer. Scientists on the ground will analyze the samples for markers indicating the effects of microgravity on humans. The orbital residents also contributed to nutrition studies today to understand the crew’s appetite for the station’s food menu and the health impacts of their space diet.

The next spaceship to visit the station is planned for April 24 when Russia’s Progress 75 space freighter launches for a docking to the station’s Zvezda service module. The U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft will finish its station cargo mission on May 11 when the Canadarm2 robotic arm removes it from the Unity module and releases it back into space. Japan is targeting May 20 for the launch of its HTV-9 Kounotori resupply ship when it will begin a five-day trip to the orbital lab.

Human Research, Crew Departure Preps aboard Busy Station

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir
NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir participate in Earth photography activities inside the Destiny laboratory module.

The six crewmembers aboard the International Space Station continued advanced space research today promoting health for humans on and off Earth. The crew will split up at the end of the week when the Expedition 62 trio undocks and returns to Earth.

Scientists are looking at how human muscles adapt to microgravity for the Myotones space biology study. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy began the first of his four sessions for the human research experiment today. He marked muscle points on his skin then used a specialized device to measure his muscles’ biochemical properties. The research could prepare astronauts for longer space missions and help people on Earth with muscle conditions.

His two crewmates, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, are getting used to life on the orbiting lab while maintaining Russian station hardware. The cosmonauts are deactivating communication systems in the new Soyuz MS-16 crew ship and getting up to speed on their complement of space research.

NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan contributed to different experiments today as they complete their final week in space. Meir collected her saliva samples for microbial analysis then documented her thoughts about the station’s food menu. Morgan cleaned and closed out life science hardware that housed live mice that returned to Earth on the last SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.

The two astronauts are also getting ready to end their mission with Commander Oleg Skripochka and return to Earth on Friday. The trio is packing the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship with cargo and personal items. They will undock Thursday at 9:53 p.m. EDT and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan less than three-and-half hours later.