Watch NASA TV for Cygnus Arrival and Capture at Station

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in February of 2020 during Expedition 62.
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in February of 2020 during Expedition 62.

A Northrop Grumman cargo spacecraft carrying almost 8,000 pounds of science and research investigations, supplies, and hardware is set to arrive to the International Space Station today at 4:40 a.m. EST. The uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft launched at 12:36 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft for its 15th commercial resupply services mission was named after NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, a Black woman who time and again broke through barriers of gender and race.

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will capture Cygnus, and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins will be acting as a backup. After capture, the spacecraft will be installed on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port.

NASA Television coverage of capture has begun. Watch live on the agency’s website or on the NASA app.

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. Cargo Craft Deploys Solar Arrays, On its Way to Station

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket blasted off with the Cygnus space freighter today at 12:36 p.m. EST from Virginia. Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket blasts off with the Cygnus space freighter  from Virginia. Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil

The solar arrays have successfully deployed on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft that is on its way to deliver approximately 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations, cargo, and supplies to the International Space Station after launching at 12:36 p.m. EST Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia.

Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival to the orbiting laboratory will begin Monday, Feb. 22, at 3:00 a.m. EST on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will capture Cygnus, and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins will be acting as a backup. After capture, the spacecraft will be installed on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port. NASA TV coverage of the spacecraft’s installation will begin Monday, Feb. 22, at 6:00 a.m. EST.

This delivery is Northrop Grumman’s 15th contracted cargo flight to the space station and will support dozens of new and existing investigations.

Included aboard Cygnus for delivery to the space station are:

A life support upgrade

The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) is a crucial element of regenerative life support hardware that provides clean air and water to the space station crew. Current systems enable recovery of about 93% of the water and water vapor on the station. The system will get an upgrade thanks to the Exploration ECLSS: Brine Processor System. This investigation demonstrates technology to recover additional water from the Urine Processor Assembly. The brine processor’s dual membrane bladder allows water vapor to pass through while filtering out the brine and the majority of contaminants. Long-duration crewed exploration missions require about 98% water recovery, and this technology demonstration in brine processing will help achieve this goal. This Brine Processor System plans to close this gap for the urine waste stream of the space station.

A new vision

Millions of people on Earth suffer from retinal degenerative diseases. These conditions have no cure, although treatments can slow their progression. Artificial retinas or retinal implants may provide a way to restore meaningful vision for those affected. In 2018, startup LambdaVision sent their first experiment to the space station to determine whether the process used to create artificial retinal implants by forming a thin film one layer at a time may work better in microgravity.

Protein-Based Artificial Retina Manufacturing builds on the first project, evaluating a manufacturing system that uses a light-activated protein to replace the function of damaged cells in the eye. This information may help LambdaVision uncover whether microgravity optimizes production of these retinas, and could assist people back on Earth.

I dream of space

Strapped inside sleeping bags, astronauts often report getting a better night’s sleep during their stays aboard the space station than when lying on a bed on Earth. The ESA (European Space Agency) Dreams experiment will provide a quantitative look at these astronaut sleep reports. When crew members get ready for bed, they will add another step: donning a sleep monitoring headband. The investigation serves as a technology demonstration of the Dry-EEG Headband in microgravity while also monitoring astronaut sleep quality during a long-duration mission. Raw data will be available to scientists for analysis, and the crew can input direct feedback on their sleep via an application on a tablet. Sleep is central to human health, so a better understanding of sleep in space provides a more comprehensive picture of human health in microgravity.

Preparing for the Moon

The International Space Station serves as a testing ground for technologies we plan to use on future Artemis missions to the Moon. The NASA A-HoSS investigation puts to the test tools planned for use on the crewed Artemis II mission that will orbit the Moon. Built as the primary radiation detection system for the Orion spacecraft, the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor (HERA) was modified for operation on the space station. Verifying that HERA can operate without error for 30 days validates the system for crewed Artemis mission operations. A related investigation, ISS HERA, flew in 2019 aboard the space station. ISS HERA provided data and operational feedback in preparation for the Orion spacecraft’s uncrewed Artemis I mission that will launch in 2021.

Cygnus Spaceship Lifts Off to Resupply Station on Monday

The Cygnus cargo craft launches atop the Antares rocket on time from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Cygnus cargo craft launches atop the Antares rocket on time from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft lifted off at 12:36 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and is on its way to the International Space Station with approximately 8,000 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware.

Commands will be given at about 3:20 p.m. EST to deploy the spacecraft’s solar arrays, which is expected to be complete shortly before 4 p.m.  Capture and installation is expected to take place Monday, Feb. 22, with grapple by the robotic arm expected at approximately 4:40 a.m. EST.

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

Cygnus Resupply Ship Nears Launch as Next Spacewalks Booked

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured launching atop an Antares rocket from Virginia to the space station on April 17, 2019.
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured launching atop an Antares rocket from Virginia to the space station on April 17, 2019. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Expedition 64 crew is making final preparations today for the arrival of a U.S. resupply ship while keeping up the momentum of space research. The next two spacewalks also have been scheduled to continue hardware installations and upgrades at the International Space Station.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is counting down to its launch from Virginia on Saturday at 12:36 p.m. EST to the orbiting lab. It will rendezvous with the station on Monday when Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)  commands the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at about 4:40 a.m. NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins will monitor Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous as it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station.

The duo practiced a variety of robotics maneuvers on a computer today to capture Cygnus. The training simulates different approach scenarios for the U.S. space freighter as the astronauts familiarize themselves with the necessary robotic capture techniques.

Two more spacewalks are planned at the orbiting lab on Feb. 28 and March 5. On the first spacewalk, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will set up the station for upcoming solar array upgrades. For the second spacewalk, Rubins will be joined by Noguchi for maintenance on coolant and communication systems.

Today’s science work on the station encompassed physics, biology and human research. Flight Engineer Shannon Walker set up hardware in the Microgravity Science Glovebox to explore how liquids and gases behave together in space for the Packed Bed Reactor Experiment. Rubins continued swabbing station surfaces to collect microbe samples for DNA sequencing and analysis. Glover joined Noguchi wearing virtual reality helmets for a study researching how time perception and cognition is affected in weightlessness.

In the station’s Russian segment, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov serviced an array of life support systems and electronics gear. Cargo transfers from the ISS Progress 77 cargo craft are also ongoing.

Crew Gearing Up for Cygnus Capture and Cargo Operations

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter sits atop the Antares rocket at the Wallops Flight Facility launch pad in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Patrick Black
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter sits atop the Antares rocket at the Wallops Flight Facility launch pad in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Patrick Black

The Expedition 64 crew is getting ready for next week’s arrival of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship following its launch on Saturday. The orbital residents are also maintaining science operations and unpacking a new Russian spacecraft at the International Space Station.

The Antares rocket with the Cygnus space freighter atop rolled out to its launch pad on Tuesday at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft will blast off on Saturday at 12:36 p.m. EST carrying about 8,000 pounds of science experiments, station hardware and crew supplies for the orbital lab. NASA TV will broadcast the launch activities live beginning at 12 p.m.

Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and Michael Hopkins will be on duty Monday morning when Cygnus arrives for its approach and capture. Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at about 4:40 a.m. Hopkins of NASA will monitor Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous as it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station.

The duo was joined Thursday afternoon by NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover to review the upcoming Cygnus cargo operations. Afterward, the quintet called down to mission controllers to discuss unpacking and activating some of the critical science experiments arriving on the U.S. space freighter.

Combustion research and eye checks were also on the schedule aboard the station on Thursday. Walker and Hopkins partnered up on a study observing how flames spread in microgravity. Rubins took charge of eye exams and checked the eyes of Glover and Noguchi using optical coherence tomography.

Russia’s new cargo craft, the ISS Progress 77, is being unpacked today by Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The pair also serviced a variety of Russian electronics and life support gear throughout Thursday.

Russian Cargo Craft Arrives, U.S. Space Freighter Launches Saturday

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured from space shuttle Endeavour after its undocking in February 2010.

Russia’s ISS Progress 77 resupply ship delivered over a ton of nitrogen, propellant and oxygen early Wednesday morning to the International Space Station. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is up next as it counts down to this weekend’s launch from Virginia to the orbiting lab.

The Progress 77 docked to the Pirs docking compartment on Wednesday at 1:27 a.m. EST following a two-day trip that began with a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Commander Sergey Ryzhikov remotely guided the Progress 77 to its docking port with the TORU (tele-robotic rendezvous system) after the vehicle automatically switched over from the Kurs automated rendezvous system.

Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov then began a series of hours-long leak and pressure checks with the Progress 77. The duo finally opened the hatch to the new Russian cargo craft to begin transferring its cargo. Progress 77 will stay at the station for about 5 months when it will finally detach Pirs from the Zvezda service module’s Earth-facing port opening it up for the new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Northrop Grumman is readying its next Cygnus cargo mission to launch this Saturday at 12:36 p.m. atop the Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus will be packed with about 8,000 pounds of science experiments, station hardware and crew supplies destined for the Expedition 64 crew.

Cygnus will orbit the Earth for nearly two days before its rendezvous with the station on Feb. 22. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will be on robotics duty early Monday and command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at about 4:40 a.m. NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins will back him up monitoring Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous.

Russian Progress Cargo Craft Docks to Station

Feb. 17, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia's Progress 75 and 77 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.
Feb. 17, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia’s Progress 75 and 77 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.

An uncrewed Russian Progress 77 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s Pirs docking compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 1:27 a.m. EST, two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Sunday, Feb. 14 at 11:45 p.m. EST (9:45 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, Baikonur time). The spacecraft were flying over Argentina at the time of docking.

The spacecraft is carrying a little more than one ton of nitrogen, water and propellant to the station and the Expedition 64 crew members who are living and working in space to advance scientific knowledge, demonstrate new technologies, and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.

Progress 77 is scheduled to remain docked to the space station’s Russian segment until later this year. Instead of undocking from Pirs, this time Progress will stay connected and detach Pirs from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Russian segment, where it has spent nearly 20 years in service as both a docking port and spacewalk airlock.

Progress then will fire its engines to initiate a destructive entry into Earth’s atmosphere for both the spacecraft and docking compartment. Pirs’ departure from the space station is scheduled to take place just days after the launch of the “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module on a Proton rocket from Baikonur. The multifunctional docking port and research facility will automatically dock to the port vacated by Pirs.

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.

Russian Cargo Craft In Orbit to Station

Russia’s Progress 77 cargo rocket launched from its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Feb 14., 2021.

An uncrewed Russian Progress 77 carrying just over one ton of nitrogen, water and propellant to the International Space Station launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:45 p.m. EST (9:45 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, Baikonur time).

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned for a two-day rendezvous on its way to meet up with the orbiting laboratory and its Expedition 64 crew members.

After making 33 orbits of Earth on its journey, the spacecraft will automatically dock to the station’s Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17. Live coverage on NASA TV of rendezvous and docking will begin at 12:30 a.m.

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.

Watch NASA TV for Progress Spacecraft Launch

Russia’s Progress 74 cargo rocket launched from its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 6, 2019. Credit: Roscosmos

Beginning at 11:15 p.m. EST, NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 77 is scheduled to lift off on a Soyuz rocket at 11:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin a two-day journey to the orbiting laboratory.

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

Resupply Rocket Rolls Out to Pad, Crew Keeps up Space Studies

Russia's ISS Progress 77 space freighter stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia’s ISS Progress 77 space freighter stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The next rocket to launch a resupply ship to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad on the other side of the world this morning. Back on the orbiting lab, the seven-member Expedition 64 crew kept up its space studies while servicing U.S. spacesuits.

Russia’s ISS Progress 77 cargo craft is standing atop its rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. It is counting down to liftoff on Sunday at 11:45 p.m. EST to deliver just over one ton of nitrogen, water and propellant to the station. It will dock Tuesday at 1:20 a.m. to the Pirs docking compartment.

The Progress 77 will later detach Pirs from the station readying the Zvezda service module’s port for a new module. Pirs will then be replaced with the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to be delivered on a Proton rocket. The Pirs undocking occurs a few days after Nauka’s launch to enable Russian flight controllers to confirm a good vehicle in orbit heading to the station.

In the meantime, science is the main mission aboard the station. Microgravity research has the potential to reveal new insights and potential therapies that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on Earth due to gravity’s interference.

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover partnered up on Friday for a pair of different experiments. The duo demonstrated how hydroponics may support space agriculture then explored how the human nervous system adapts to weightlessness.

Astronauts Kate Rubins of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA joined each other for maintenance work inside the Tranquility module. Rubins also collected microbe samples to understand how they survive and adapt on the station. NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker spent the day working on batteries that keep life support systems powered inside U.S. spacesuits.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov continued studying how the lack of gravity impacts the effectiveness of a workout. Ryzhikov also checked seating inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship as Kud-Sverchkov worked on ventilation and radiation hardware.