The International Space Station hummed with activity on Thursday as the Expedition 65 crew gets ready for the next SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission and continues immune system research. All seven crew members also joined together and practiced their emergency response skills.
The Kibo laboratory module’s Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG) once again was the center of activity for NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur. The duo continued servicing donor cell samples inside the LSG, which are being compared to cells on Earth, as scientists document the significant differences in microgravity. The Celestial Immunity study’s results may provide insights into new vaccines and drugs and advance the commercialization of space.
At the end of the day, Vande Hei had his veins scanned with an ultrasound device operated by NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough. Kimbrough earlier joined Pesquet and inspected tethers to be used during a pair of upcoming spacewalks. The spacewalks are planned for June and will see the installation of the soon-to-be delivered solar arrays on the station’s Port 6 truss structure.
Finally, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov joined their five crewmates and simulated an emergency aboard the station in conjunction with mission controllers on the ground. The drill consisted of locating emergency gear, practicing procedures and decision-making, and coordinating communications with controllers in Houston and Moscow.
Vande Hei later had his eyes checked at the end of the day by NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough using near-infrared medical-imaging for detailed views of his retina. Kimbrough also worked throughout the day replacing life support components inside a U.S. spacesuit before organizing Russian spacewalk tools.
Ear checks were on the schedule on Wednesday with Kimbrough, ESA Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet and station Commander Akihiko Hoshide taking a hearing test using specialized audio software. The three astronauts individually took the hearing assessment isolated in their private crew quarters to block out external station sounds.
Hoshide began the morning collecting and stowing his urine samples before spending the rest of the day on lab maintenance and inventory tasks. Pesquet demonstrated a simple heat transfer experiment for kids. He then checked out the immersive Sidekick device that displays high-definition holograms to assist crews with science and maintenance tasks.
Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy worked on Russian maintenance tasks and continued packing the U.S. Cygnus space freighter ahead of its departure in a few weeks. First time space-flyer Pyotr Dubrov had orbital plumbing duties Wednesday morning and checking station cameras and ventilation systems.
The Water Processor Assembly (WPA) in the Tranquility module has been powered off due to a possible leak. This hardware is used to recycle water from multiple sources into clean, drinkable water for crew members aboard the International Space Station.
The crew is in no danger and has multiple spare parts aboard to begin the repair process which is expected to be complete early next week. Enough water is stored on the space station to provide the crew with the necessary consumables for several months if required.
The space station serves a vital role in testing and maturing life support technologies that will be required for future missions to the Moon and Mars. Repairs provide invaluable data to engineers refining these systems for use in future spacecraft and missions.
Human research took precedence aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday as the Expedition 65 crew explored how weightlessness affects the immune system. The orbital residents also trained for a medical emergency and ensured station systems continued operating in tip-top shape.
McArthur started her day with NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough collecting blood samples, spinning them in a centrifuge and stowing them in a science freezer for later analysis. Kimbrough then spent the rest of Tuesday replacing fans that cool science racks in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Station Commander Aki Hoshide started the fan replacement work before swapping out life support components in the Tranquility module. At the end of the day, he and ESA Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet stowed hardware in Tranquility’s end cone. Pesquet also packed the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter with trash and discarded gear ahead of its departure in a few weeks.
Vande Hei joined his Soyuz MS-18 crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and trained for the unlikely event of a medical emergency in space. The trio reviewed medical hardware, performed simulated chest compressions, and practiced communication and coordination.
The seven orbital residents that comprise the Expedition 65 crew aboard the International Space Station took a well-deserved day off on Monday. May looks to be relaxed month, following a very busy April, with no spacecraft activities on the calendar until June.
It was a three-day weekend on the orbiting lab today as the five astronauts and two cosmonauts took Monday off. The septet cleared its schedule for personal activities such as looking at the Earth below, talking to family, watching movies and playing games.
The crewmates continued their daily workouts as each crew member exercises about two hours a day to counteract the lack of gravity on their bodies. There are U.S. and Russian treadmills, an exercise cycle and an advanced resistive exercise device that the space residents use to maintain muscle and bone health in weightlessness.
There were also urine sample collections aboard the orbital lab today which are part of a variety of ongoing studies into the effects of long-term spaceflight on humans. Those samples were stowed in a science freezer for later analysis by scientists on Earth.
The next cargo mission planned to replenish the Expedition 65 crew is targeted for launch on June 3. The SpaceX Cargo Dragon will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center and dock on June 4 to the Harmony module’s space-facing international adapter. The Cargo Dragon will deliver new solar arrays to augment the space station’s power system.
McArthur charged computer tablets delivered aboard Endeavour and organized cargo in the Tranquility module. Pesquet replaced components on the Destiny lab’s exercise cycle ahead of a space workout study planned on Thursday.
NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei collected donor samples delivered aboard Endeavour and transferred to the station’s science freezers for the new Celestial Immunity study. The experiment seeks to understand how weightlessness affects the immune system, potentially impacting the development of new vaccines and medicines.
The two cosmonauts aboard the station, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, had hearing tests today aboard the orbiting lab. The duo then spent most of the day on a variety of Russian computer and electrical maintenance tasks. Novitskiy also spent a few moments on a study investigating how international space crews get along and work together. Dubrov gathered Russian discarded items for disposal on the U.S. Cygnus resupply ship.
The SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts are back in Houston after splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday completing a 168-day mission. The quartet will have a news conference on NASA TV then participate in a Facebook Live event on Thursday.
Back in space, seven Expedition 65 crew members will be orbiting Earth on the International Space Station until October. The five astronauts and two cosmonauts are participating in a variety of research today to understand how living in space affects the human body.
Microbes can change characteristics in microgravity and scientists are testing anti-microbial coatings on the station. Today, an astronaut touched a sample with the coating representing a high-touch surface. The sample was stowed in a science freezer and will be returned later to Earth for analysis. Results could mitigate health issues on spacecraft and planetary surfaces.
The Celestial Immunity study taking place today on the orbiting lab is exploring how the immune system adapts to weightlessness. The astronauts look at human blood cells for age-associated effects giving scientists insights into the development of new vaccines and drugs to treat diseases.
Some of the crewmates also had ultrasound scans today to understand how long-term microgravity affects their muscle’s biochemical properties such as tone, stiffness and elasticity. Samples, including blood, saliva and urine, were also collected and stowed for the Standard Measures and Repository biology studies.
The seven-member Expedition 65 crew aboard the International Space Station will be orbiting Earth until October after watching the SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts depart over the weekend. The five astronauts and two cosmonauts staying behind prepared for the next SpaceX Cargo mission and researched a variety of space phenomena today.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting June 3 for the launch of the next Cargo Dragon mission to resupply the orbital lab. NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough and station Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency began getting the station ready for the upcoming space shipment. The duo organized the Permanent Multipurpose Module and the Kibo laboratory module today to make room for the new cargo.
Monday’s science activities ran the gamut of robotics, human research and drug development. Research on the orbiting lab can improve the health of humans on and off the Earth, benefit a range of industries, and advance the commercialization of space.
The Astrobee robotic assistants were flying around inside Kibo testing automated rendezvous techniques as Kimbrough monitored the activities. Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency wore a virtual reality headset and reached for virtual objects to help scientists understand how weightlessness affects the central nervous system.
Roscosmos cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy worked on inventory updates and cargo transfers from the ISS Progress 77 resupply ship. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov installed hardware for a Russian experiment that monitors the Earth’s atmosphere in ultraviolet light.
Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) splashed down safely in the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, at 2:56 a.m. EDT after 168 days in space. The return marks the end of the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station of the Crew Dragon spacecraft developed in partnership between NASA and SpaceX as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
Teams on the Go Navigator recovery ship, including two fast boats, now are in the process of securing Crew Dragon and ensuring the spacecraft is safe for the recovery effort. As the fast boat teams complete their work, the recovery ship will move into position to hoist Crew Dragon onto the main deck of Go Navigator with the astronauts inside. Once on the main deck, the crew will be taken out of the spacecraft and receive medical checks before a helicopter ride to Pensacola to board a plane for Houston.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission launched Nov. 15, 2020, on a Falcon 9 rocket from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts named the spacecraft Resilience, in honor of their families, colleagues, and fellow citizens and highlighting the dedication displayed by the teams involved with the mission and demonstrating that there is no limit to what humans can achieve when they work together. Crew Dragon Resilience docked to the Harmony module’s forward port of the space station Nov. 16, nearly 27 hours after liftoff.
Hopkins has now spent a total of 335 days in space during two spaceflights; he conducted three spacewalks during this mission for a total of five in his career. It was Glover’s first spaceflight, during which he conducted four spacewalks during the 168 days. It was Walker’s second spaceflight, bringing her total time in space to 331 days. Noguchi conducted one spacewalk, for a total of four spacewalks during his three total spaceflights; he has spent a total of 345 days in space.
Watch NASA’s live coverage as astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft are about one hour away from splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:57 a.m. EDT. Weather conditions remain within the splashdown weather criteria and are “Go” at the primary targeted site off the coast of Panama City, Florida.
Here are the upcoming milestones (all times Eastern):
All times approximate:
1:57 a.m. – Crew Dragon performs claw separation. The claw is located on Crew Dragon’s trunk, connecting thermal control, power, and avionics system components located on the trunk to the capsule.
1:58 a.m. – Trunk separation
2:03 a.m. – Deorbit burn begins
2:19 a.m. – Deorbit burn complete
2:22 a.m. – Nosecone closed
2:40 a.m. – Crew Dragon maneuvers to attitude for re-entry
2:52 a.m. – Drogue parachutes deploy at about 18,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour.
2:53 p.m. – Main parachutes deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.