New Technology Debuts as Crew Begins Week

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly performing checkouts for NASA's Project Sidekick, which makes use of Microsoft's HoloLens device.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly performing checkouts for NASA’s Project Sidekick, which makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens device.

Over the weekend, Expedition 46 commander Scott Kelly worked with ground controllers to successfully checkout the Sidekick device and internet connectivity. The project, which makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens device, aims to enable station crews with assistance when and where they need it. This new capability could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space.

Also on Saturday, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus resupply vehicle successfully deorbited at approximately 10:53 a.m. EST.

The crew engaged in a variety of scientific experiments on Monday, including research into colloidal structures vital to the design of advanced materials, human research on astronaut heart health and overall body changes, and protecting human fitness during long-duration spaceflight.

Kelly and his fellow Expedition 46 crew mates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov are continuing to prepare for their landing on March 1, U.S. time. The landing will wrap up Kelly and Kornienko’s yearlong stay in space.

Spacewalk Ends Successfully But Early After Water Detected in Helmet

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake completed the primary task for their spacewalk on January 15, 2016 before it was ended early by Mission Control Houston. The astronauts replaced a failed voltage regulator that caused a loss of power to one of the station’s eight power channels last November, accomplishing the major objective for this spacewalk.

See photos from the spacewalk

The pair ended its spacewalk at 12:31 p.m. EST with the repressurization of the U.S. Quest airlock following an early termination after Kopra reported a small water bubble had formed inside his helmet.

“These procedures did their job, the team did their job and we flowed right into a nice, safe return into the airlock for these guys,” remarked NASA’s Chief Astronaut Chris Cassidy, who took part in the July 2013 spacewalk when ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano experienced a similar, but more serious, incident.

Listen to the full audio from the interview with NASA Chief Astronaut Chris Cassidy

Commander Scott Kelly assisted the crew members with an expedited removal of their spacesuits and helmets. Once they removed the spacesuits and helmets, the astronauts used a syringe to take a water sample and retrieve the helmet absorption pad to determine how much water was introduced. Engineers are already looking at data to find what may have prompted the water to form inside Kopra’s helmet.

The crew was never in any danger and returned to the airlock in an orderly fashion.

The 4 hour and 43 minutes spacewalk was the third for Kopra and the first for Peake, who both arrived to the station Dec. 15. It was the 192 in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

Teams will continue to look over data collected during the spacewalk and discuss forward plans in the days to come.

Next Soyuz Crew Ready for Launch

Soyuz crew (left to right) Aidyn Aimbetov, Sergey Volkov and Andreas Mogensen are set to launch at 12:37 a.m. Sept 2.
Soyuz crew (left to right) Aidyn Aimbetov, Sergey Volkov and Andreas Mogensen are set to launch at 12:37 a.m. Sept 2.

An international crew of three is  ready for a two-day ride to the International Space Station. The Soyuz rocket that will lift them to space is set to launch tonight from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:37 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 2.

Watch tonight’s launch LIVE on NASA TV

Veteran cosmonaut Sergey Volkov will command the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft. Joining him for the trip to the station will be first time flyers Andreas Mogensen from the European Space Agency and Aidyn Aimbetov from Kazcosmos, the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile aboard the station, One-year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko continued their Human Research Program studies today taking measurements for the Fluid Shifts study and Fine Motor Skills.

JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui is continuing work to reconfigure the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF) to support the new Mouse Habitat Unit (MHU) delivered on HTV-5. NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren is performing post-transfer work on the newly arrived Multi-Purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR)-2.

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 9

NASA astronauts Suni Williams (left) and Karen Nyberg (right) give a keynote talk on the final day of the 2015 ISS R&D Conference in Boston
NASA astronauts Suni Williams (left) and Karen Nyberg (right) give a keynote talk on the final day of the 2015 ISS R&D Conference in Boston

The final day of the 2015 International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference closed the event with multiple talks looking at exploration beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) and novel ways the space station is affecting life on Earth.

Panel sessions began with a talk about the commercial capabilities and technologies that will be needed—together with international collaboration and new relationships between government, constituents such as international consortia, and industry partners—in order to successfully address the challenges and promise of deep space exploration. NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, along with NASA’s Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan and Chief Technologist David Miller, presented as the group explored key questions associated with international and commercial partnerships in support of exploration beyond LEO.

Additional panels included discussions about materials science testing and manufacturing in space, how the ISS National Lab is influencing students and educators in the area of science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM), and the challenges for the journey to Mars —getting there (and back) and developing the technology necessary to keep human astronauts alive, thriving, and productive for the 1,000 days such a mission will require.

A series of technical breakout sessions also took place, focusing on space biology tools, cell and microbiology in space, materials manufacturing and function in space, STEM programs and processes and concepts for the future.

Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Suni Williams also provided a keynote address to conference participants. Using their experiences and stories from living aboard the orbiting laboratory, they shared three life lessons: get to the starting line and make yourself available for these kinds of opportunities, don’t forget the basics that you learned in kindergarten, and stop and enjoy the journey along the way. Williams was announced today as one of four U.S. astronauts who will be the first to train to fly on American commercial crew vehicles.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information about the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 8

ISS R&D 2015

The second full day of the 2015 International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference was dominated by panels and technical sessions featuring the leading minds in scientific research from the commercial and academic ISS communities.

Panel sessions were led by a look at what the ISS Program is doing to maximize use of the ISS as a world renowned laboratory in space enabling discoveries in science and technology that benefit life on Earth and exploration of the universe. It featured multiple NASA ISS managers discussing many efforts underway to update and upgrade ISS facilities and processes to improve how the ISS Program provides timely, efficient, customer friendly and cost effective access to the low-Earth orbit microgravity environment for both existing and new users.

Additional panels included discussions about leveraging the station to enable the commercialization of low-Earth orbit, the role of microgravity in ongoing stem cell research, new capabilities in commercial remote sensing from space, and the impact of space science on precision medicine.

A series of technical breakout sessions also took place, focusing on science in areas including drug discovery and delivery, plants and omics in space, the development of commercial capabilities and services, crew research and performance and technology developments on ISS.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information about the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 7

ISS R&D 2015

The 2015 International Space Station R&D Conference officially kicked off in Boston today with researchers gathering to learn about the incredible breadth of research and technology development on humankind’s most innovative learning platform.

The day began with opening remarks from Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS Program Manager, followed immediately by his conversation with keynote speaker, Elon Musk, the CEO and Lead Designer of commercial space company SpaceX.

Panels for the day began with a talk on the role of the ISS as a “first step” away from our home planet on the path of human exploration that featured William Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Additional panels on Tuesday covered the benefits of microgravity for protein crystal growth in order to grow larger, more well-ordered crystals for pharmaceutical research, the capital investments and grants fueling the growth of “New Space” businesses and more.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the winners of the Galactic Grant Competition, a collaboration between the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. It has been established to provide access to a unique zero-gravity environment, that’s only available on the International Space Station lab, to Massachusetts based life sciences companies.

Awards were also presented to three investigations that were recognized for significant scientific results:

  • Joel Plawsky, Sc.D., and Peter C. Wayner Jr., Ph.D., both of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, in recognition of work on the physics of evaporation and condensation in microgravity.
  • Robert J. Ferl, Ph.D., and Anna-Lisa Paul, Ph.D., both of the University of Florida in Gainesville, for their work using a plant as a real-time biosensor to determine the quality of the surrounding environment.
  • Daniela Grimm of Aarhus, Denmark, in recognition of her findings while growing thyroid cancer cells in orbit to determine new courses of treatment.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information on the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

Major One-Year Mission Experiment Begins This Week

Terry Virts Working in Quest
Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts gathers tools inside of the Quest airlock for upcoming spacesuit maintenance work. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly gathered hardware today for the start of the Fluid Shifts experiment. For the experiment on Tuesday, both Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will don the Russian Lower Body Negative Pressure (Chibis) suit and undergo ultrasound measurements. Fluid Shifts is a joint NASA-Russian experiment that investigates the causes for physical changes to astronaut’s eyes. Results from this study may help to develop preventative measures against lasting changes in vision and eye damage.

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Terry Virts worked today to prepare the Multi-Purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) and Thermal Container to enable the ground to perform additional data collection in advance of the Cell Mechanosensing-3 experiment, launching on SpaceX-7. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took samples for the Microbiome experiment which investigates the impact of space travel on both the human immune system and an individual’s microbiome, the collection of microbes that live in and on the human body at any given time.

Virts and Cristoforetti also gathered tools inside the station’s Quest airlock for upcoming work on one of the U.S. segment’s spacesuits.

Today, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced they will provide an updated vehicle launch and landing schedule by June 9.

SpaceX Dragon Set For Thursday Departure

SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
ISS043E193779 (05/14/2015) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule is seen here docked to the Earth facing port of the Harmony module. SpaceX’s sixth commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station launched on April 14th and arrived three days later. It will depart with over 3,100 pounds of research samples and equipment and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on May 21.

The Expedition 43 crew completed preparations on Wednesday to send SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle back to Earth.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts transferred samples from two of the station’s Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, freezers for return on Dragon. These included samples from the Cell Shape and Expression, CASIS PCG-3, Nematode Muscles experiments along with human research samples.

After final cargo loading was completed, the crew closed the hatch to Dragon and began preparing it for release tomorrow. Dragon has been grappled by the station’s robotic arm and is set to be released on Thursday, May 21 at 7:04 a.m. EDT.

Full Coverage Times

Crew Gets a Breather Before SpaceX Departure

SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
ISS043E190604 (05/13/2015) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule is seen here docked to the Earth facing port of the Harmony module. SpaceX’s sixth commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station launched on April 14th and arrived three days later. It will depart with over 3,100 pounds of research samples and equipment and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on May 21.

The USOS crewmembers worked a reduced day today as they prepare to sleep shift in preparation for SpaceX-6 departure on Thursday.

The crew performed a checkout of the Commercial Orbital Transport Services (COTS) UHF Communication Unit (CUCU) that the crew will use to communicate with the Dragon capsule while it is flying free in the vicinity of the station. They also continued loading the final cargo items onto Dragon which will return about 3,100 pounds of experiment samples and other hardware.

One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko took samples for the Fluid Shifts experiment, an investigation into the suspected cause of astronaut vision changes while in microgravity. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti also performed eye scans on NASA astronaut Terry Virts for an astronaut vision study known as Ocular Health which tests microgravity-induced visual impairment, as well as changes believed to arise from elevated intracranial pressure, to characterize how living in microgravity can affect the visual, vascular and central nervous systems. The investigation also measures how long it takes for crew members to return to normal after they return to Earth.

Station Orbit Boosted Sunday Night; Eye Science on Monday

Progress 58 Docking
iss042e274677 (02/17/2015) – The Russian Progress 58 cargo craft pictured shortly before docking to the aft end of the Zvezda service module on the International Space Station.

A reboost of the International Space Station using the Russian Progress 58 cargo craft was completed successfully on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CDT. A previous attempt on Friday evening was aborted one second into the burn automatically by the Progress vehicle. Russian flight controllers identified an issue with one of the eight thrusters on the spacecraft that was disabled for Sunday’s backup attempt.

The burn lasted 32 minutes and 3 seconds and began the process of setting up the correct phasing for the early June landing of three members of the Expedition 43 crew while providing the proper trajectory for Thursday’s return of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for its parachute-assisted landing in the Pacific. The reboost raised the station’s altitude by 1.2 statute miles at apogee and 3 miles at perigee and left the station in an orbit of 252.2 x 247.1 statute miles.

The six-member Expedition 43 crew started its work week with medical science. The crew practiced using a tonometer on an eye simulator with help from doctors on the ground. Similarly, One-Year crew member Scott Kelly explored how microgravity shifts fluids to the upper body impacting a crew member’s vision and eye structure.