Kidney cells, oral health and pharmaceuticals were the science highlights aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday. The Expedition 65 crew is also continuing to ramp up for a pair of spacewalks set to begin next week.
New experiments delivered Saturday aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon resupply ship are already under way on the orbiting lab. This includes the Kidney Cells-02 study that NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei took turns working on today.
The duo removed the kidney study’s hardware from the Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory for placement and operations inside the Life Science Glovebox. The biotechnology experiment may provide a new understanding of how kidney diseases develop leading to new treatments impacting humans on and off the Earth.
Commander Akihiko Hoshide and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet collaborated on the new Oral Biofilms study during Wednesday morning. Hoshide started the experiment retrieving sample packs from a science freezer and reconfiguring fluid flows to the samples. Pesquet followed that up by turning off the fluid flows and stowing the samples back in a science freezer. The experiment observes how bacteria is affected by microgravity and investigates ways to counteract any potential harmful changes. Results could also have a positive influence for maintaining oral health in space and on Earth.
Kimbrough and Pesquet later joined each other during the afternoon for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground. The duo is scheduled for two spacewalks taking place on June 16 and 20 to install a new pair of solar arrays on the station’s Port-6 truss segment.
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed focused on their contingent of Russian maintenance and research today. Novitskiy worked on orbital plumbing tasks before setting up hardware to observe Earth’s nighttime airglow in the near ultra-violet wavelength. Dubrov checked on smoke detectors and ventilation systems then moved on to more space exercise research.
The Expedition 65 crew members are helping researchers today understand how living in space affects the human body. Two astronauts are also getting ready for a pair of spacewalks while the SpaceX Cargo Dragon continues being unpacked at the International Space Station.
NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei joined Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for vein scans using electrodes and the Ultrasound-2 device on Tuesday. The duo took turns scanning each other’s heart, neck, shoulder and leg veins for the Vascular Echo study that investigates cardiovascular health in space.
Kimbrough and Pesquet continue gearing up for two spacewalks planned for June 16 and 20 to install a new pair of solar arrays recently delivered in the Cargo Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. The duo first checked out spacesuit helmet cameras and lights then reviewed their spacewalk procedures using specialized 3-D software today.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is open for business at the International Space Station following its automated docking early Saturday. Now, the Expedition 65 crew turns its attention to a pair of U.S. spacewalks to upgrade the orbiting lab’s power system.
Flight Engineer Megan McArthur and Commander Akihiko Hoshide worked throughout Monday unpacking and activating science experiments delivered Saturday aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon. The U.S. space freighter launched from Kennedy Space Center on Thursday carrying over 7,300 pounds of new science, supplies and solar arrays to replenish the orbiting lab.
McArthur started the day transferring research hardware from Dragon to begin work for the Kidney Cells-02 study that seeks to improve treatments for kidney stones and osteoporosis. She followed that up configuring MERLIN and POLAR science freezers containing biological samples inside Dragon.
Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet partnered together Monday afternoon readying the U.S. Quest airlock and their U.S. spacesuits for two spacewalks set for June 16 and 20. The experienced spacewalkers, who had two spacewalks together in 2017 during Expedition 50, will work both days to install the first two of six new solar arrays on the space station’s integrated truss structure. Robotics controllers will soon command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to extract the new pair of solar arrays from Dragon’s trunk and stage it in time for the installation spacewalks.
While the International Space Station was traveling more than 250 miles over the South Pacific ocean, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the space-facing side of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 5:09 a.m. EDT, Saturday, June 5. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur were monitoring docking operations for Dragon.
This 22nd contracted resupply mission for SpaceX delivers the new ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays (iROSA) to the space station in the trunk of the Dragon spacecraft. The robotic Canadarm2 will extract the arrays and astronauts will install them during spacewalks planned for June 16 and 20.
The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 22nd contracted commercial resupply mission at 1:29 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 3 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends about one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.
Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:
Symbiotic squid and microbes
The Understanding of Microgravity on Animal-Microbe Interactions (UMAMI) study uses bobtail squid and bacteria to examine the effects of spaceflight on interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts. This type of relationship is known as symbiosis. Beneficial microbes play a significant role in the normal development of animal tissues and in maintaining human health, but gravity’s role in shaping these interactions is not well understood. This experiment could support the development of measures to preserve astronaut health and identify ways to protect and enhance these relationships for applications on Earth.
(TICTOC) study focuses on improving cotton’s resilience, water-use, and carbon storage. On Earth, root growth depends upon gravity. TICTOC could help define which environmental factors and genes control root development in microgravity. Scientists could use what they learn to develop cotton varieties that require less water and pesticide use.
Water bears take on space
Tardigrades, also known as water bears for their appearance when viewed under a microscope, are creatures that can tolerate extreme environments. The Cell Science-04 experiment aims to identify the genes involved in water bear adaptation and survival in these high-stress environments. The results could advance scientists’ understanding of the stress factors that affect humans in space.
The handheld, commercial Butterfly IQ Ultrasound device could provide critical medical capabilities to crews on long-term spaceflights where immediate ground support is not an option. This study will demonstrate the use of an ultrasound unit alongside a mobile computing device in microgravity. Its results have potential applications for medical care in remote and isolated settings on Earth.
Developing better robot drivers
An ESA (European Space Agency) investigation, Pilote, test the effectiveness of remotely operating robotic arms and space vehicles using virtual reality and haptic interfaces. Pilote studies existing and new technologies in microgravity by comparing those recently developed for teleoperation to those used to pilot the Canadarm2 and Soyuz spacecraft. The study also compares astronaut performance in using the interfaces on the ground and during spaceflight. Results could help optimize workstations on the space station and future space vehicles for missions to the Moon and Mars.
New solar panels headed to station are made up of compact sections that roll open like a long rug. The ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays (iROSA) are based on a previous demonstration of roll-out panels performed on station. They are expected to provide an increase in energy available for research and station activities. NASA plans a total of six new arrays to augment the station’s power supply with the first pair launching on this flight. The Expedition 65 crew is scheduled to begin preparations for spacewalks to supplement the station’s existing rigid panels this summer. The same solar array technology is planned to power NASA’s Gateway in lunar orbit.
These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through Artemis.
When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will automatically dock to the space-facing side (zenith) of the station’s Harmony module with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur monitoring operations. Dragon lifted off on Thursday, June 3, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The cargo spacecraft with more than 7,300 pounds of research, hardware, and supplies will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory. Dragon will join four other spacecraft currently at the space station.
Five Expedition 65 astronauts are relaxing today, but will be on duty Saturday unpacking time-sensitive science experiments from the new Cargo Dragon resupply ship. NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will be monitoring Dragon during its rendezvous and approach on Saturday until its automated docking about 5 a.m. EDT. NASA TV begins its live coverage at 3:30 a.m.
Space biology studies help scientists understand how microgravity impacts a variety of life forms. This leads to new insights and developments that improve human health, innovate Earth industries and commercialize space.
The spacewalkers worked early Wednesday to deconfigure the Pirs docking compartment which will undock from the Zvezda service module after 20 years later this summer. This will open up Zvezda’s Earth-facing port for the arrival of Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module planned to arrive shortly after Pirs’ departure.
Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos have completed a spacewalk lasting seven hours and 19 minutes.
The two cosmonauts opened the hatch to the Poisk docking compartment airlock to begin the spacewalk at 1:53 a.m. EDT. They re-entered the airlock and closed the hatch at 9:12 a.m.
During the spacewalk, the duo disconnected the external mechanical links between Pirs and the space station, relocated spacewalk hardware including a telescoping crane, and reconfigured antennas to prepare the Pirs module for undocking and disposal. Additionally, the cosmonauts replaced a fluid flow regulator panel on the nearby Zarya module, jettisoned the old panel as planned, and replaced biological and material science samples on the exterior of the Russian modules.
Pirs will be replaced by the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, named “Nauka,” which is Russian for “science.” The undocking of Pirs is scheduled for this summer, about two days after Nauka launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
This was the first spacewalk for both cosmonauts and the 238th spacewalk overall in support of International Space Station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades. It also marks the sixth spacewalk of 2021.
Novitskiy is designated as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) and is wearing a Russian Orlan spacesuit with red stripes. Dubrov is wearing a spacesuit with blue stripes as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).
Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Views from a camera on Novitskiy’s helmet are designated with the number 20, and Dubrov’s is labeled with the number 18.
The duo will exit the space station’s Poisk docking compartment about 1:20 a.m. EDT tomorrow, signifying the start of their spacewalk, which is expected to last about six and a half hours. NASA will begin its live coverage on NASA Television and the agency’s website at 1 a.m.
The cosmonauts also plan to replace a fluid flow regulator on the nearby Zarya module and replace biological and material science samples on the exterior of the Russian modules.
This will be the 238th spacewalk overall in support of International Space Station assembly, and the first spacewalk for both Novitskiy and Dubrov, who arrived at the space station in April aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship.
Novitskiy, who is designated as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), will wear a Russian Orlan spacesuit with red stripes. Dubrov will wear a spacesuit with blue stripes as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).
Two cosmonauts will exit the International Space Station early Wednesday to begin the first spacewalk of the Expedition 65 mission. Meanwhile, the next SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission to resupply the orbital lab is counting down to its launch on Thursday.
Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are sleeping in Tuesday ahead of six-and-a-half hour spacewalk set to begin Wednesday at 1:20 a.m. EDT. The duo will exit the Poisk module in Orlan spacesuits and ready the Pirs docking compartment for its undocking and disposal later this year. Pirs will be replaced a couple of days after its departure by the new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
The first-time spacewalkers will also replace hardware and install science experiments on the station’s Russian segment. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the spacewalk activities at 1 a.m.
On Thursday, SpaceX will launch its upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle to the space station at 1:29 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center. It will automatically dock Saturday at 5 a.m. to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter (IDA). NASA TV is broadcasting both mission events live.
NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough prepared for the Cargo Dragon’s arrival with 3D computer training today. They will be monitoring Dragon early Saturday ensuring it safely approaches the station during its automated rendezvous and docking.