Crew Readies Spacewalk Tools While Continuing Advanced Science

Commander Sergey Prokopyev wears a head cap with sensors and practices potential piloting techniques for futuristic planetary missions.
Commander Sergey Prokopyev wears a head cap with sensors and practices potential piloting techniques for futuristic planetary missions.

Two Expedition 68 astronauts continue gearing up for a spacewalk scheduled for Thursday at the International Space Station. The orbital residents also kept up a host of research activities as they serviced science gear, studied human research, and explored future technologies.

The next spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday to continue upgrading the space station’s power generation system. Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space completing the hardware installation job that they began on Jan. 20 during their first spacewalk. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin live spacewalk coverage at 6:45 a.m.

Mann and Wakata started Tuesday morning organizing their tools, tethers, and other spacewalking components inside the Quest airlock ahead of Thursday’s excursion. Afterward, the duo split up as Mann worked in the Columbus laboratory module and cleaned up the BioLab facility that enables research into microbes, cells, tissue cultures, and small invertebrates. Wakata later took a robotics test on a computer measuring his performance, behavior, and cognition while living in space.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio worked throughout the day maintaining physics and biology hardware. Cassada installed the BioFabrication Facility in the Columbus lab that will be used to investigate manufacturing human organs in microgravity. Rubio worked in the Kibo laboratory module cleaning up the Life Science Glovebox following several days of advanced bone healing studies last week.

Two cosmonauts took turns today studying how future space crews might pilot spacecraft or robots on potential planetary missions. Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Anna Kikina both wore a helmet with electrodes attached and simulated piloting techniques, such as docking a spaceship or commanding a robot on a planetary surface, on a computer.

Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent his morning investigating fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. During the afternoon, he moved on to orbital lab maintenance and worked on an oxygen generator before servicing water and drainage valves.

The remotely-controlled Canadarm2 robotic arm jettisoned flight support equipment during the day that was delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship on Nov. 27, 2022, toward Earth’s atmosphere. The flight hardware secured a pair of roll-out solar arrays inside Dragon’s trunk during its ascent to orbit and rendezvous with the space station. The jettisoned support equipment drifted safely away from the station and will eventually harmlessly burn up in the atmosphere with no chance for recontacting the space station.


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Crew Gets Ready for Thursday Spacewalk, Keeps Up Space Research

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.

The Expedition 68 crew kicked off Monday preparing for a spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power generation system on Thursday. The orbital residents also researched a variety of space phenomena and packed a cargo craft ahead of its upcoming departure.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) began their day reviewing procedures for a spacewalk set to begin at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday. The duo will spend about seven hours completing the installation of hardware to ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array on the starboard truss structure. This will be their second spacewalk together and they will finish the external installation job they began on Jan. 20.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio joined Mann and Wakata during Monday afternoon for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground at Mission Control in Houston. Cassada and Rubio will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, and monitor the excursion from inside the orbiting lab.

Cassada and Rubio also had time on Monday servicing botany and physics research hardware. Cassada worked inside the Kibo laboratory module planting seeds in the Advanced Plant Habitat for an experiment observing genetic changes in plants growing in microgravity. Rubio replaced experiment samples and research hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack for a study exploring how fires burn in weightlessness to improve fire safety techniques in space.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev is packing the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft with trash ahead of its departure on Feb. 6 after nearly eight-and-a-half months docked to the Zvezda service module. A new cargo craft will replenish the Expedition 68 crew and dock on Feb. 11 to the same port vacated by the Progress 81.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina spent Monday on human research activities and a station photography session. Petelin wore a helmet packed with sensors measuring his reactions as he simulated spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer for future planetary missions. Kikina first photographed the external condition of the Nauka and Zvezda modules before moving on and studying ways to improve communications with international crews and ground controllers.

Muscle Scans, Bone Study Cleanup as Next Spacewalk Nears

Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina and Koichi Wakata pose together aboard the space station. Credit: Roscosmos
Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina and Koichi Wakata pose together aboard the space station. Credit: Roscosmos

The Expedition 68 crew members turned their attention toward understanding how muscles adapt to microgravity on Friday after intensive bone studies earlier in the week. The International Space Station residents also continued processing the bone research samples, worked on orbital plumbing, and resumed spacewalk preparations.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio were back in the Kibo laboratory module on Friday cleaning up after completing work for an advanced bone healing study. The duo finalized sample processing in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox, stowed the samples in a science freezer, then cleaned up the research hardware and its components. Those samples will be returned to Earth and compared to a control group to study the effectiveness of a new bone-graft adhesive. Results may improve the healing ability of bone fractures and the treatment of bone defects on and off the Earth.

The duo later joined Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) configuring spacewalk hardware and reviewing procedures for an upcoming spacewalk. Mann and Wakata will spend about six-and-a-half hours in the vacuum of space in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, next week. The spacewalkers will continue upgrading the power generation system on the space station’s starboard truss structure beginning at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Mann and Wakata began their day inside the Columbus laboratory module for the long-running Myotones muscle study. The investigation entails scanning the back, neck, leg, and arm muscles with a specialized device to understand how living in space affects an astronaut’s muscle tone, stiffness, and elasticity. Observations my provide therapeutic insights for muscle conditions in space and on the ground.

Following four days of space physics research, Commander Sergey Prokopyev spent Friday servicing hatch components inside the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship ahead of its departure in early February. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent the first part of his day working on life support hardware before assessing the stowage volume inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina worked throughout the day servicing a variety of life support gear and cleaning ventilation systems.


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.

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Crew Preps for Next Spacewalk, Explores Space Biology and Physics

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station's power generation system.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station’s power generation system.

The Expedition 68 astronauts are cleaning up following three days of advanced bone repair studies while getting ready for an upcoming spacewalk. The International Space Station’s three cosmonauts continued their space physics and Earth imagery work, as well as maintained orbital lab systems.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio are cleaning up biology research hardware and finalizing sample processing after three full days of bone healing research. The duo worked inside the Kibo laboratory module servicing the samples then stowing them into science freezers. Those samples will be packed on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission for return then analyzed and compared to control samples in laboratories on Earth. The two astronauts also cleaned Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox and its components where the intensive bone investigation work took place this week.

Cassada also worked on space agriculture today collecting leaves from thale cress plants housed inside the Advanced Plant Habitat for stowage and analysis on Earth. He later tended to tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility for the Veg-05 experiment. Both studies are taking place inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata explored ways to enable on-demand production of nutrients for astronauts on long-term missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The technology demonstration uses engineered microbes, or yeast, to ensure a safe and simple food production environment in space and offset the degradation of nutrients stowed over long periods.

The next spacewalk to continue upgrading the orbiting lab’s power generation system is planned for Feb. 2. Two spacewalkers will exit the Quest airlock in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to finish installing a modification kit on the starboard truss structure. The hardware installation job will ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array. Ahead of the upcoming spacewalk, spacesuit gloves and tethers were inspected.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued more space physics experiment runs on Thursday as he explored how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in microgravity. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos spent his day on life support maintenance before partnering with fellow cosmonaut Anna Kikina for ultrasound eye scans. Kikina resumed her Earth observations using ultraviolet imaging hardware to obtain a map of the nighttime glow of Earth’s atmosphere.


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.

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Bone Healing Study Continues as SpaceX Crew-6 Mission Approaches

Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.
Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.

Wednesday was the last full day of research operations aboard the International Space Station to learn how to improve bone healing therapies both on Earth and in space. The Expedition 68 crew members also studied the human heart and plasma physics and set up Earth imagery hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata wrapped up three days of continuous research into bone growth. The quartet spent the day inside the Kibo laboratory module studying research samples in the Life Science Glovebox to understand the bone healing process in microgravity. Cassada will work on Thursday and Friday cleaning up the space biology hardware and completing sample processing.

Weightlessness inhibits bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair, and the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive investigation seeks to reverse these effects on stem cells and bone tissue. Insights gained from the biology experiment may help doctors provide advanced treatments for bone injuries that occur in space and improve therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.

Cardiac research in space is also very important as two cosmonauts joined each other on Wednesday morning learning how the circulatory system is impacted by long-term microgravity. Commander Sergey Prokopyev attached sensors to himself, with assistance from Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, for the cardiac study. The experiment seeks insights into how the heart adapts to microgravity and to prepare for the effects of returning to Earth’s gravity months later.

Prokopyev also continued this week’s space physics work studying the behavior of plasma crystals, or clouds of highly charged particles, inside a specialized chamber. Petelin studied kept up his observations of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. Both studies have the potential to advance space and Earth-bound industries as well as improve fundamental knowledge.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina of Roscosmos began her day pointing a camera outside station windows and photographing the external condition of the Nauka, Zvezda, and Rassvet modules. She finished her shift installing and activating gear that will acquire ultraviolet imagery of Earth’s nighttime atmosphere.

The next SpaceX crewed mission to the space station is soon approaching. The Crew-6 crewmates are Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, both from NASA, and Mission Specialists Andrey Fedyaev from Roscosmos and Sultan Alnedayi from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The quartet will lift off aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour at 2:07 a.m. EST on Feb. 26 and dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port just over half-a-day later.


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.

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Crew Studies Bone Growth, Space Physics and Works Eye Exams

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada peers through one of the seven windows in the cupola, the space station's "window to the world."
NASA astronaut Josh Cassada peers through one of the seven windows in the cupola, the space station’s “window to the world.”

Four Expedition 68 astronauts are midway through their bone research activities this week helping doctors improve treatment for bone conditions on and off the Earth. The three cosmonauts living aboard the International Space Station kept up their physics research, tested spacecraft communications gear, and conducted eye exams.

Weightlessness reveals phenomena that are difficult or impossible to study in Earth’s gravity environment. Scientists on the ground use the space station’s research facilities to study and observe this unique phenomena and provide advanced solutions benefiting a host of space and Earth-bound industries.

Four astronauts aboard the orbiting lab are in the middle of an experiment that is studying a bone graft adhesive that may reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. Doctors have learned that microgravity inhibits bone tissue regeneration and are exploring ways to promote bone repair while living in space. Results may improve recovery from bone injuries during space missions and benefit therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio from NASA and Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency were in their second of three days of research operations for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study. The quartet once again spent all day working in the Kibo laboratory module studying biological specimens inside the Life Science Glovebox. The samples are returned to Earth for evaluation and analysis and are compared to control samples on the ground maintained under similar conditions.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued his space physics research on Tuesday studying how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in a specialized chamber. This fundamental experiment may lead to more advanced research methods and improve practical knowledge for Earth and space industries.

Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent Tuesday morning collecting station air samples for analysis from the Zvezda, Zarya, Nauka, and Destiny modules. Petelin later joined Prokopyev and tested the station’s tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, in coordination with the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft docked to Zvezda.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina began her day with working on an oxygen generator and other life support components. Afterward, she joined Petelin for eye checks using medical imaging hardware to understand how living in space affects vision.


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.

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Crew Kicks off Week With Bone Research, Physics Studies

The space station's solar arrays and a small satellite orbital deployer are pictured as the orbiting lab soared above the African nation of Namibia.
The space station’s solar arrays and a small satellite orbital deployer are pictured as the orbiting lab soared above the African nation of Namibia.

Space medicine was the top research priority aboard the International Space Station on Monday as four Expedition 68 astronauts explored healing bone conditions. The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts spent the day studying a variety of physics, packing a resupply ship, and servicing station hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio joined Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for an all-day bone research session in the Kibo laboratory module. The quartet worked in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox servicing research samples for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study.

Living in microgravity may affect skeletal stem cells and bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair. Researchers are studying a bone graft adhesive on the space station with the potential to reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. Results may also benefit therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis. The astronauts will stay focused on the bone research activities through Wednesday.

Two cosmonauts worked on a several different space physics experiments throughout Monday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev explored the behavior of clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, in a specialized chamber. Observations may lead to improved spacecraft designs, as well as a better understanding of plasmas on Earth. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin studied the physics of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity.

The cosmonauts also worked on cargo activities and lab maintenance. Prokopyev stowed items for disposal inside the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft ahead of its departure in February. Petelin removed navigation hardware from the inside the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship then photographed the internal area of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to assess its potential stowage volume. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent her day servicing life support and electronics systems.


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.

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NASA, Space Station Partners Approve Next Axiom Private Mission Crew

The NASA meatball logoNASA and its international partners have approved the crew for Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2).

Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight and former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will command the privately funded mission. Aviator John Shoffner of Knoxville, Tennessee, will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists will be announced later.


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.

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Spacewalkers Wrap Up First Spacewalk of 2023

Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV
Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata concluded their spacewalk at 3:35 p.m. EST after 7 hours and 21 minutes.

Mann and Wakata completed work left over from a previous spacewalk for a platform on which a set of International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) for the station’s 1B power channel will be installed later this year, as well as most of the work to install a similar mounting platform for a set of iROSAs for the 1A power channel. Due to time constraints, plans to bolt a final strut for the second platform were deferred until a future spacewalk. There is no impact to station operations.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new iROSAs. Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

It was the 258th spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, the first spacewalk of 2023, and the first spacewalk for both astronauts.

Mann and Wakata are in the midst of a planned six-month science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.


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.

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Astronauts Begin Spacewalk to Prep for Station Power Upgrades

Expedition 68 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada prepares a roll-out solar array for deployment during a spacewalk on Dec. 22, 2022.
Expedition 68 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Josh Cassada prepares a roll-out solar array for deployment during a spacewalk on Dec. 22, 2022.

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata began a spacewalk at 8:14 a.m. EST to complete the installation of two mounting platforms as part of planned solar array augmentation on the starboard side of the space station’s truss. The duo will complete the installation of a mounting platform on the 1B power channel that was started during a previous spacewalk, and begin installing a mounting platform on the 1A power channel.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs). Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

Mann, designated as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), is wearing an unmarked suit. Wakata, designated as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), is wearing a suit with red stripes. Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.


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.

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