Author Archives: Mark Garcia

Dragon Training and Body Measurements on Station Today

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SpaceX Dragon

SpaceX is celebrating five years of commercial resupply missions to the space station. The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is seen Feb. 23, 2017, moments before being captured with Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The Expedition 51 crew trained today for the next SpaceX Dragon mission due early next month. The five crew members also explored how microgravity affects their bodies to help scientists keep astronauts healthy in space.

The next Dragon mission, SpaceX CRS-11, is scheduled to launch June 1 to deliver new space science gear to the International Space Station. The commercial cargo craft will arrive three days later to begin its stay attached to the Harmony module for cargo operations.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer trained today to familiarize themselves with the robotic procedures during Dragon’s rendezvous and approach. Fischer, with Whitson’s assistance, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Dragon when it reaches a point 10 meters away from the station. Ground controllers will then take over and remotely install Dragon to Harmony with the Canadarm2.

The crew began its day taking body size measurements studying how an astronaut’s shape changes during a spaceflight. Observations may result in new designs for space clothing and spacecraft work areas to improve mission effectiveness.

Short Spacewalk Complete After Successful Installation Work

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Astronaut Jack Fischer

Astronaut Jack Fischer waves while attached to the Destiny laboratory during a spacewalk to replace a failed data relay box and install a pair wireless antennas.

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 10:06 a.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, which lasted two hours and 46 minutes, the two astronauts successfully replaced a computer relay box, and installed a pair of antennas on station to enhance wireless communication for future spacewalks.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,250 hours and 41 minutes working outside the station during 201 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. This was the 10th spacewalk for Whitson, who moves into third place all-time for cumulative spacewalking time, and the second for Fischer.

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

Two NASA Astronauts Begin Station Spacewalk

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured May 12, 2017, during the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station.

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:20 a.m., EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about 2.5 hours. Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will replace a critical computer relay box.

The relay box, known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM), is equipped with upgraded software installed in the truss March 30 during a spacewalk by Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough. Whitson prepared a spare data relay box on Sunday and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit.

While Whitson is replacing the MDM, Fischer will install a pair of antennas on the U.S. Destiny Laboratory module to enhance wireless communication capability for future spacewalks. That task was deferred from Whitson and Fischer’s May 12 spacewalk.

Whitson is wearing the suit with red stripes as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1). Fischer, extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), is wearing the suit with no stripes.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

NASA TV Live Broadcasts Tuesday Spacewalk

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Astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson

NASA astronauts Jack Fischer (left) and Peggy Whitson are outfitted in their U.S. spacesuits inside the U.S. Quest airlock before beginning the 200th spacewalk in support of International Space Station maintenance and assembly on May 12, 2017.

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA will venture outside the International Space Station for a 2.5-hour contingency spacewalk Tuesday, May 23. The spacewalk will begin about 8 a.m. EDT, with complete coverage on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Whitson and Fischer will replace a critical computer relay box that failed on Saturday, May 20. The relay box, known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM), is one of two units that regulate the operation of radiators, solar arrays and cooling loops. They also will route commands to other vital station systems and install a pair of antennas to enhance wireless communication.

Because each MDM is capable of performing the critical station functions, the crew on the station was never in danger and station operations have not been affected.

The spacewalk will be the 201st in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the sixth spacewalk conducted from the Quest airlock this year, the 10th for Whitson and the second for Fischer.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Astronauts Review Plans, Ready Gear for Tuesday Spacewalk

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The International Space Station

The International Space Station with its prominent solar arrays and radiators attached to the truss structure was pictured May 2010 from space shuttle Atlantis.

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer are getting ready for a contingency spacewalk Tuesday morning. Whitson and Fischer are set to begin the spacewalk at 8 a.m. Tuesday for about two hours of maintenance work. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

The spacewalkers are gathering their tools and checking their spacesuits today with assistance from Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet. The trio are also reviewing the contingency spacewalk procedures.

The spacewalk’s primary task is the removal and replacement of a data relay box, known as a Multiplexer-Demultiplexer (MDM), which failed Saturday morning. The MDM controls the functionality of station components such as the solar arrays, radiators, cooling loops and other systems.

Whitson will replace the failed MDM with a spare unit on the Starboard Zero truss. The truss is attached to the space-facing side of the U.S. Destiny lab module and is the centerpiece of the station’s truss structure which houses the solar arrays, radiators and cooling loops. Fischer will install a pair of wireless communications antennas on the Destiny Lab, a task that was postponed during the May 12 spacewalk.

Tuesday’s spacewalk will be the 201st in support of station assembly and maintenance. This will be Commander Whitson’s 10th spacewalk likely moving her to third place all-time in cumulative spacewalking time. Flight Engineer Fischer will be embarking on his 2nd spacewalk.

Station Managers Give Go for Tuesday Spacewalk

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The International Space Station

This picture of the International Space Station was photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis as the orbiting complex and the shuttle performed their relative separation in the early hours of July 19, 2011.

International Space Station Program managers have given the green light for a contingency spacewalk on Tuesday by two Expedition 51 crewmembers to change out a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay box on the S0 truss that failed on Saturday morning. The cause of the MDM failure is not known. After a review of spacewalk preparations and crew readiness throughout the day Sunday, the decision was made to press ahead with the spacewalk on Tuesday. It will be conducted by Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA.

The data relay box is one of two fully redundant systems housed in the truss that control the functionality of radiators, solar arrays, cooling loops and other station hardware. The other MDM in the truss is functioning perfectly, providing uninterrupted telemetry routing to the station’s systems. The crew has never been in any danger, and the MDM failure, believed to be internal to the box itself, has had no impact on station activities.

On Sunday morning, Whitson prepared a spare data relay box and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported that the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit. Back on March 30, Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA conducted a spacewalk to install the same MDM with upgraded software tat failed Saturday.

A similar MDM replacement spacewalk was conducted in April 2014 by Expedition 39 crewmembers Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio of NASA.

Tuesday’s spacewalk will last about two hours in duration to replace the failed box. An additional task was added for Fischer to install a pair of wireless communications antennas on the Destiny Lab while Whitson replaces the failed data relay box. The antenna installation task was originally planned for the last spacewalk on May 12.

The contingency spacewalk will be the 201st in support of space station assembly and maintenance and the sixth conducted from the Quest airlock this year.

This will be the 10th spacewalk in Whitson’s career and the second for Fischer. Whitson will be designated as extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1) and will wear the suit with the red stripes. Fischer will be extravehicular crewmember 2 (EV 2) and will wear the suit with no stripes.

Tuesday’s spacewalk is expected to begin around 8 a.m. EDT, or earlier, if the crew is running ahead of schedule with its spacewalking preparations. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

Spacewalk Planned to Change Out Failed Relay Box

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured with the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship behind her during a spacewalk on May 12, 2017.

International Space Station Program managers met Sunday and gave approval for a contingency spacewalk no earlier than Tuesday by two Expedition 51 crewmembers to change out a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay box on the S0 truss that failed on Saturday morning. The cause of the MDM failure is not known. A final decision on a firm date for the spacewalk and who will conduct the spacewalk will be made later in the day Sunday.

The data relay box is one of two fully redundant systems housed in the truss that control the functionality of radiators, solar arrays, cooling loops and other station hardware. The other MDM in the truss is functioning perfectly, providing uninterrupted telemetry routing to the station’s systems. The crew has never been in any danger and the MDM failure, believed to be internal to the box itself, has had no impact on station activities.

On Sunday, shortly before managers met to discuss the forward plan for dealing with the failed MDM, station commander Peggy Whitson of NASA prepared a spare data relay box and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported that the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit. Back on March 30, Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA conducted a spacewalk to install the MDM with upgraded software that failed Saturday.

A similar MDM replacement spacewalk was conducted in April 2014 by Expedition 39 crewmembers Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio.

The spacewalk will last about two hours in duration to replace the failed box. No other tasks are planned for the excursion. It will be the sixth spacewalk conducted from the Quest airlock this year.

Station Managers Work Plan as Controllers Troubleshoot Data Relay Box

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Docked Soyuz and Progress Vehicles

The Soyuz MS-03 crew ship (foreground) and the Progress 66 cargo craft are pictured as the International Space Station orbits about 250 miles above Earth.

International Space Station managers will meet Sunday morning to discuss a forward plan for dealing with the apparent failure of one of two fully redundant multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay boxes on the S0 truss of the complex.

External MDM-1 apparently failed at 1:13 p.m. Central time Saturday. Multiple attempts by flight controllers to restore power to the relay box have not been successful. Troubleshooting efforts are continuing. The Expedition 51 crew was informed of the apparent failure and is not in any danger. The MDMs on the truss control the functionality of the station’s solar arrays and radiators among other equipment, and provide power to a variety of other station components.

Because the two MDMs have full redundancy, the apparent loss of MDM-1 has had no impact on station operations.

Brain, Vision Research Ahead of June Crew and Cargo Missions

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Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer

This week, Commander Peggy Whitson evaluated Flight Engineer Jack Fischer’s calf and thigh for the Sprint study to assess spaceflight-induced changes in muscle volume. Doctors are evaluating the effectiveness of high intensity, low volume exercise to keep astronauts healthy in space.

Expedition 51 is wrapping up a week of ongoing research into how living in space affects an astronaut’s brain and vision. The International Space Station also boosted its orbit ahead of crew and cargo missions coming and going in June.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer strapped himself in a device for the NeuroMapping experiment today that tests how the human brain structure and function changes in space. The study also compares brain changes, motor control and multi-tasking when an astronaut is in a free-floating state.

Doctors have noted how microgravity causes a headward fluid shift of blood and other body fluids. As a result, astronaut’s experience face-swelling and elevated head pressure.

The Fluid Shifts study is exploring a way to offset the upward flow using unique suit known as the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit. Commander Peggy Whitson wore the suit today and underwent ultrasound scans and eye checks to help scientists determine its effectiveness against lasting changes in vision and eye damage.

The space station is orbiting a little higher above Earth this week to prepare for the departure of two crew members on June 2. The SpaceX Dragon is due to launch June 1 and arrive at the station three days later. Mission managers are working a plan dependent on an on-time Dragon launch that could see the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft depart in early June or mid-July.

Week’s Last CubeSats Deployed as Crew Studies Space Health

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CubeSat Deployment

A pair of CubeSats, with the Earth’s limb in the background, is seen moments after being ejected from a small satellite deployer outside of the space station’s Kibo lab module.

The week’s final set of CubeSats were deployed today from outside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s airlock. Inside the International Space Station, the Expedition 51 crew continued exploring microgravity’s effects on muscles, bone cells and vision.

Over a dozen CubeSats were ejected into Earth orbit this week outside the Kibo module to study Earth and space phenomena for the next one to two years. Today’s constellation of tiny satellites will explore a variety of subjects including hybrid, low temperature energy stowage systems and the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere known as the thermosphere.

Commander Peggy Whitson started her morning with eye checks for the Fluids Shifts study to determine how weightlessness affects eyes. That same study is also analyzing the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit for its ability to offset the upward flow of blood and other body fluids possibly affecting crew vision. Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin assisted European astronaut Thomas Pesquet into the unique suit today that draws fluids into the lower body preventing face-swelling and elevated head pressure.

More bone cell samples were inserted into a science freezer during the crew’s afternoon. The samples are part of the OsteoOmics experiment researching the mechanisms that drive bone loss in space. Results may impact therapies benefitting astronaut health and those suffering bone diseases on Earth.

New station crew member Jack Fischer is studying how high intensity, low volume exercise may improve muscle, bone and cardiovascular health in space. He scanned his thigh and calf muscles with an ultrasound device to help doctors understand the impacts of the new exercise techniques.

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