The Expedition 65 crew is unpacking brand new science experiments that arrived Monday when the SpaceX Cargo Dragon docked to the International Space Station. Two cosmonauts are also getting ready for the first of two spacewalks to power up Russia’s new science module.
Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) also joined his crewmates and helped to unpack the new space shipment. The three-time station visitor is also preparing for another spacewalk set for Sept. 12 with Pesquet. He worked on a 360-degree virtual reality camera that will film him and Pesquet during the spacewalk and began filling U.S. spacesuit water tanks. The duo will begin preparing the Port-4 (P4) truss structure for a new Roll-Out Solar Array.
Two cosmonauts are gearing up for the first pair of up to 11 spacewalks to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory for science operations. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will exit the Poisk airlock on Friday at 10:35 a.m. EDT to route and mate power and ethernet cables on Nauka. The duo will go out again on Sept. 9 to install handrails and finish the cable work on the new module that docked to the Zvezda service module on July 29.
While the International Space Station was traveling about 260 miles over the Western Australia, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Monday, Aug. 30. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitored operations.
Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:
Building bone with byproducts REducing Arthritis Dependent Inflammation First Phase (READI FP) evaluates the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the growth of bone tissue and tests whether bioactive metabolites, which include substances such as antioxidants formed when food is broken down, might protect bones during spaceflight. The metabolites that will be tested come from plant extracts generated as waste products in wine production. Protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve scientists’ understanding of the physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women.
Keeping an eye on eyes Retinal Diagnostics tests whether a small, light-based device can capture images of the retinas of astronauts to document progression of vision problems known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). The device uses a commercially available lens approved for routine clinical use and is lightweight, mobile, and noninvasive. The videos and images will be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. The investigation is sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) with the German Aerospace Center Institute of Space Medicine and European Astronaut Centre.
The Nanoracks-GITAI Robotic Arm will demonstrate the microgravity versatility and dexterity of a robot designed by GITAI Japan Inc. Results could support development of robotic labor to support crew activities and tasks, as well as inform servicing, assembly, and manufacturing tasks while in orbit. Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards. The technology also has applications in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. The experiment will be conducted inside the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, the space station’s first commercial airlock.
Putting materials to the test MISSE-15 NASA is one of a series of investigations on Alpha Space’s Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, which is testing how the space environment affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. These tests provide insights that support development of better materials needed for space exploration. Testing materials in space has the potential to significantly speed up their development. Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete.
Helping plants deal with stress
Plants grown under microgravity conditions typically display evidence of stress. Advanced Plant EXperiment-08 (APEX-08) examines the role of compounds known as polyamines in the response of the small, flowering plant thale cress to microgravity stress. Because expression of the genes involved in polyamine metabolism remain the same in space as on the ground, plants do not appear to use polyamines to respond to stress in microgravity. APEX-08 attempts to engineer a way for them to do so. Results could help identify key targets for genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity.
Easier drug delivery
The Faraday Research Facility is a multipurpose unit that uses the space station’s EXPRESS payload rack systems, which enable quick, simple integration of multiple payloads . On this first flight, the facility hosts a Houston Methodist Research Institute experiment and two STEM collaborations, including “Making Space for Girls” with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando, Florida.
The Faraday Nanofluidic Implant Communication Experiment (Faraday-NICE) tests an implantable, remote-controlled drug delivery system using sealed containers of saline solution as surrogate test subjects. The device could provide an alternative to bulky, cumbersome infusion pumps, a possible game changer for long-term management of chronic conditions on Earth. Remote-controlled drug delivery could simplify administration for people with limitations.
A partnership between Faraday and Girls Scouts allows troops to play a role in conducting the control experiments, including providing them with images of the same experiments that are happening in space. The studies involve plant growth, ant colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle.
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.
SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station Monday, Aug. 30, with an expected docking of the cargo spacecraft around 11:00 a.m. EDT. Live coverage will begin at 9:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.
When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitoring operations. Dragon lifted off early on Sunday, Aug. 29, 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 4,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Dragon successfully launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:14 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying more than 4,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station. At the time of the launch, the station was flying south of Australia.
NASA Television and the agency’s website continue to provide live coverage of the ascent. About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begins a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station.
Due to poor weather conditions in the area for today’s planned launch of SpaceX’s 23rd Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station, SpaceX and NASA are now targeting liftoff for 3:14 a.m. EDT Sunday, Aug. 29. Launch coverage will begin at 2:45 a.m. on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.
A launch Sunday would lead to docking Monday, Aug. 30, for the Dragon to deliver important research, crew supplies and hardware to the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory. Docking coverage will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the spacecraft planned to arrive at the space station around 11 a.m.
A U.S. cargo craft stands at its Florida launch pad less than 24 hours from a mission to resupply the International Space Station. Back in space, the Expedition 65 crew stayed focused on human research and while moving headlong toward upcoming spacewalks.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Cargo Dragon vehicle atop is counting down to a liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Saturday at 3:37 a.m. It will arrive at the station on Sunday for an autonomous docking at 11 a.m. packed with over 4,800 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies and lab hardware. The launch and docking will be broadcast live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
Continuing ongoing space research, Pesquet and Hoshide started Friday morning taking turns on an ESA (European Space Agency) experiment to understand how living in space affects time perception and cognitive performance. They each wore virtual reality goggles and clicked on a track ball to measure their time reaction and how they estimate time duration.
In the orbiting lab’s Russian segment, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are getting ready for two spacewalks to configure the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module for upcoming science operations. First on Friday’s schedule, the duo had a cardiovascular exam to monitor their physical fitness ahead of the excursions scheduled for Sept. 3 and 9. Next, the Roscosmos Flight Engineers were joined by Vande Hei in the afternoon installing lights and cameras on the Orlan spacesuit helmets.
The spacewalk that had been scheduled for Aug. 24 is being moved to Sept. 12. This is the earliest opportunity to accomplish U.S. EVA 77 after arrival of the SpaceX CRS-23 cargo Dragon spacecraft and the first two Russian spacewalks to begin outfitting the newly arrived Nauka laboratory. Mark Vande Hei will provide internal support for spacewalkers Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) while Vande Hei continues to recover from a minor medical issue. All spacewalkers are trained in a variety of tasks they may need to perform, and Pesquet has performed similar tasks in previous spacewalks. This will be the first spacewalk conducted out of the Quest airlock by two international partner astronauts at the space station.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is standing at the launch pad counting down to its weekend mission to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew focused on robotics and biology while gearing up for a pair of Russian spacewalks.
The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX with the Cargo Dragon spacecraft atop is standing vertical at its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. It is scheduled to launch on Saturday at 3:37 a.m. EDT and arrive at the station on Sunday for an autonomous docking at 11 a.m. Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet will be on duty Sunday morning monitoring Dragon’s rendezvous and docking to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter. NASA TV will broadcast both launch and docking events live.
The two astronauts spent Thursday morning on science, however, working on the Myotones study observing the biochemical properties of muscles in space. The duo took turns marking and measuring their leg and arm muscles to better understand how weightlessness affects muscle tone, stiffness, and elasticity.
A pair of cube-shaped, toaster-sized Astrobee free-flying robotic helpers were turned on today for a mobility test inside the Kibo laboratory module. Commander Akihiko Hoshide activated the devices Thursday afternoon to test their ability to dynamically pass objects, such as cargo, to each other or a science rack robotic arm.
Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough spent the day working inside the U.S. Quest airlock. He was assembling and installing a new stowage platform inside the module where spacewalks in U.S. spacesuits are staged.
The Expedition 65 crew set up a plant habitat and demonstrated a new ultrasound device amid a variety of other space research aboard the International Space Station today. Meanwhile, the cosmonauts took a break from spacewalk preparations and focused on maintenance.
NASA and its international partners are studying how a variety of life forms from microbes, to plants, to humans and more, are impacted by living long term in microgravity. Doctors observe how weightlessness affects life suited to gravity and learn how to keep astronauts healthy in space and plan for longer missions beyond low Earth orbit.
Plants have been growing on the station for years and as the orbiting lab has expanded so have the facilities to support space botany. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur installed the Veggie vegetable production system in the Columbus laboratory module. Veggie will host the APEX-08 study, being delivered soon aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon, to explore space-caused stress and genetic changes in plants.
A new portable ultrasound device was being tested aboard the orbiting lab today in conjunction with touchscreen tablets. NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough demonstrated using the Butterfly IQ Ultrasound and scanned his veins, kidney, and bladder. Afterward, he filled out a questionnaire to determine to determine the ultrasound’s usability and capabilities without immediate ground support.
Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked science maintenance and orbital plumbing tasks throughout Wednesday. At the end of the day, Hoshide installed an arm with a gripper on a pair of Astrobee robotic free-flyers to test mobility techniques.
The Expedition 65 crew is turning its attention to this weekend’s arrival of a U.S. cargo craft and a pair of Russian spacewalks starting several days later.
SpaceX is planning to launch its Cargo Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on Saturday at 3:37 a.m. EDT. It will arrive on Sunday and dock autonomously at 11 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter packed with new science experiments and crew supplies. NASA TV will broadcast both launch and docking and NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will be on duty monitoring the Cargo Dragon’s arrival.
Cargo transfers are still ongoing inside the U.S. Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman attached to the Unity module. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) partnered with Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) offloading some of the four tons cargo packed inside Cygnus during the afternoon.
The U.S. spacewalk outside the International Space Station originally planned for Tuesday, Aug. 24 with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide has been postponed due to a minor medical issue involving Vande Hei. This issue is not a medical emergency. The spacewalk is not time-sensitive and crew members are continuing to move forward with other station work and activities. Teams are assessing the next available opportunity to conduct the spacewalk following the SpaceX CRS-23 cargo resupply launch planned for Aug. 28 and upcoming Russian spacewalks. The preview briefing Aug. 23 is also being rescheduled and will be announced at a later date.