Science, Spacewalk Work During U.S. Resupply Ship Preps

(From left) Astronauts Akihiko Hoshide and Mark Vande Hei install components on a U.S. spacesuit inside the U.S. Quest airlock.
(From left) Astronauts Akihiko Hoshide and Mark Vande Hei install components on a U.S. spacesuit inside the U.S. Quest airlock.

The Expedition 65 crew was multi-tasking today working on everything from physics research to U.S. spacesuits to cargo transfers from Russia’s new science module. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is on track to resupply the International Space Station next week.

Station Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet were back on science duty today conducting more runs for the InSpace-4 space-manufacturing study. The investigation takes place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox researching ways to harness nanoparticles and develop advanced materials in microgravity to improve space and Earth systems.

The duo will also be watching Cygnus approach the space station a day-and-a-half after its launch from Virginia on Aug. 10 at 5:56 p.m. EDT. McArthur will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Cygnus at 6:10 a.m. on Aug. 12. Pesquet will back her up as he monitors the U.S. cargo craft’s approach and rendezvous.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei joined Commander Akihiko Hoshide gathering spacewalking tools and checking spacesuit tethers inside the U.S. Quest airlock. The crew is ramping up for a spacewalk to prepare the orbital lab’s Port-4 truss structure ahead of the installation of the next set of roll out solar arrays.

Throughout Thursday, Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough worked on three different EXPRESS racks which are refrigerator-sized research devices supporting a wide variety of science experiments. Kimbrough first repaired components with minor damage inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s EXPRESS-11 rack. Afterward, the three-time station visitor removed an incubator from the Kibo laboratory module’s EXPRESS rack-8 and installed it in the Columbus laboratory module’s EXPRESS rack-3.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov continued unpacking hardware delivered inside the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module. Novitskiy also worked on water transfers from the ISS Progress 78 cargo craft while Dubrov photographed microbes growing for a Russian science experiment.

Starliner Stands Down, Station Crew Works Physics and Nauka Transfers

The aurora australis seemingly crowns the Earth's horizon as the station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Asia and Antarctica.
The aurora australis seemingly crowns the Earth’s horizon as the station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Asia and Antarctica.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew ship will roll back to its Vehicle Integration Facility so mission teams can examine the cause of unexpected valve position indications on the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Starliner’s launch targeted for today was halted as a result.

NASA and Boeing are analyzing indications that not all of Starliner’s valves were in the proper configuration needed for launch. The commercial crew partners will take the time necessary to ensure Starliner is ready to launch on Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew explored space physics and transferred cargo from a new Russian science module on Wednesday.

Station Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet took turns today researching ways to harness nanoparticles for the InSpace-4 space-manufacturing study. The space physics investigation takes place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and  seeks to develop advanced materials in microgravity to improve and strengthen spacecraft and Earthbound systems.

NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough worked in the U.S. Quest airlock on Wednesday removing particles from a smoke detector. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency replaced lights in the Kibo laboratory module then moved on to orbital plumbing tasks inside the Tranquility module’s waste and hygiene compartment.

Over in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov partnered up to unpack cargo delivered inside the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The duo then took turns exploring spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques for future planetary missions.

Continued analysis following last week’s event with unplanned thruster firings on Nauka has shown the space station remains in good shape with systems performing normally. Post-event reconstructions showed that the station experienced a total attitude change of approximately 540 degrees. Most importantly, the maximum rate and acceleration of the attitude change did not approach safety limits for station systems and normal operations resumed once attitude control was regained.

Station Gears up for U.S. Crew and Cargo Spaceships

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rolls out to the launch pad on Monday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rolls out to the launch pad on Monday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is targeted for launch on Tuesday at 1:20 p.m. EDT atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Meteorologists predict a 60% chance of favorable weather at the launch pad on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

For an on-time launch, Starliner would reach the International Space Station one day later and dock to the Harmony module’s forward-port at 1:37 p.m. All events will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

All is well aboard the orbiting lab today as all seven Expedition 65 crew members focus on physics research, spacesuit maintenance and station upkeep. The orbital residents are also gearing up for the next U.S. cargo mission to resupply the station.

Flight Engineers Megan McArthur joined Thomas Pesquet for several runs of the InSpace-4 nanoparticle study throughout Monday. The duo from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) took turns working inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the space-manufacturing investigation. InSpace-4 seeks to develop advanced materials in microgravity to improve and strengthen spacecraft and Earthbound systems.

Both astronauts also trained on a computer for the rendezvous and capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter planned for Aug. 12 at 6:10 a.m. NASA TV will cover Cygnus’ station arrival including its launch scheduled on Aug. 10 at 5:56 p.m.

Pesquet moved on and assisted Commander Akihiko Hoshide inside the Quest airlock and serviced a pair U.S. spacesuits ahead of an upcoming spacewalk for more roll-out solar array work. NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei worked on a variety of science, communications hardware and life support throughout Monday.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov have been unpacking and configuring new hardware delivered aboard Nauka after it docked to the Zvezda service module’s Earth-facing port last week. Novitskiy also activated a long-running Russian Earth observation experiment while Dubrov photographed the condition of Zvezda’s treadmill and downlinked the files.

Nanoparticles and Robotics Research Amid Maintenance Today

Expedition 65 astronauts (from left) Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough talked to elementary school students from New York City on June 9.
Expedition 65 astronauts (from left) Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough talked to elementary school students from New York City on June 9.

The Expedition 65 crew members focused their Friday space research activities on nanoparticles and free-flying robotics. Their International Space Station maintenance activities included updating science communications hardware and replacing life support components.

State-of-the-art space manufacturing techniques being studied on the orbital lab have the potential to improve building technologies on Earth. The new InSPACE-4 study, delivered last month onboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship, seeks to harness nanoparticles and fabricate new and advanced materials. NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei were conducting more runs of the space physics experiment, that has been ongoing for several days, inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox today.

An AstroBee robotic free-flyer was powered up in the Kibo laboratory module Friday morning to demonstrate complex maneuvers in the orbital lab while using less propulsion. Commander Akihiko Hoshide configured the toaster-sized device Friday morning and ground scientists uplinked software commands to control the AstroBee. The Astrobatics robotic mobility study has implications for future space missions and technologies on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough spent the day installing new communications gear inside the Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) rack. Located in the Europe’s Columbus laboratory module, the HRF-2 enables studies of the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes that take place in the human body while living in space.

Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) joined Vande Hei and continued replacing aging components inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s carbon dioxide removal assembly. Pesquet later swapped a laptop computer battery and Vande Hei reviewed procedures to support next week’s port relocation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spaceship.

In the station’s Russian segment, first-time space flyer Pyotr Dubrov serviced communications hardware while veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy swapped out a variety of electronics gear.

Crew Using Virtual, Augmented Reality for Science and Maintenance

Flight Engineer Megan McArthur is wearing the Sidekick headset to test using augmented reality on the station. Commander Akihiko Hoshide is wearing virtual reality goggles for the Time Perception experiment.
Flight Engineer Megan McArthur tests augmented reality while wearing the Sidekick headset. Commander Akihiko Hoshide wears virtual reality goggles for a time perception study.

Science and maintenance using virtual and augmented reality tools were prominent aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 65 crew also made sure life support components remain in tip-top shape aboard the orbiting lab.

The universe’s coldest temperatures can be found inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s Cold Atom Lab (CAL). NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur replaced components inside the CAL today to improve the operation quality of the device that researches fundamental and quantum physics at extremely low temperatures. She wore the Sidekick headset and used augmented reality to assist her with the complex maintenance work.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide switched between a pair of different experiments on Thursday, one looking at space manufacturing and the other exploring astronaut adaptation in space. He conducted runs for the InSPACE-4 physics study that seeks to harness nanoparticles and fabricate new and advanced materials. In between that research, he wore virtual reality goggles and clicked a trackball for the Vection study observing how astronauts visually interpret motion, orientation and distance in microgravity.

Life support maintenance is critical on spacecraft so that crew members always have a safe breathing environment. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough, Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet partnered together replacing components inside the station’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly and inspecting the Avionics Air Assembly.

The four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts on the space station will relocate their Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft Wednesday, July 21. The relocation will free up Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, scheduled for launch Friday, July 30. Live coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

In the station’s Russian segment, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy explored how microgravity affects genetics then studied space photography techniques. First-time space flyer Pyotr Dubrov replaced components inside Russian Orlan spacesuits.

Nanoparticles, Microscopic Animal Research during Life Support Work

Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet and Mark Vande Hei service a variety of hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet and Mark Vande Hei service a variety of hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Nanoparticles and microscopic animals were the research highlights aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 65 crew also focused on servicing life support components and Russian spacesuit maintenance.

NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur continued ongoing operations for the InSPACE-4 physics study throughout Tuesday. Kimbrough started the first run in the morning then McArthur took over for the second run during the afternoon. The space manufacturing investigation takes place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and explores ways to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials.

Tiny organisms called water bears, or tardigrades, are being observed in the orbiting lab’s Life Sciences Glovebox located in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Commander Akihiko Hoshide placed the microbes, recently delivered aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle, into the Bioculture System for the Cell Science-04 biology experiment. The study seeks to identify genes that adapt best to the harsh environment of microgravity.

Some older components inside the station’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly were replaced today to ensure a safe breathing environment in space. Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet partnered together inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module servicing the critical life support gear all day on Tuesday.

In the orbiting lab’s Russian segment, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy concentrated on checking electronics and communications hardware. First-time space flyer Pyotr Dubrov spent the day replacing components and checking cable connections on Russian Orlan spacesuits.

Station Research Today Benefitting Astronauts and Earthlings

Astronaut Megan McArthur signs her name next to the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission sticker before the Cargo Dragon's departure last week.
Astronaut Megan McArthur signs her name next to the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission sticker before the Cargo Dragon’s departure last week.

Nanoparticles, time perception and peppers topped the science schedule aboard the International Space Station on Monday. Life support maintenance and cargo operations rounded out the day for the Expedition 65 crew aboard the orbiting lab.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur began her day swapping oxygen and fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that supports safe research into fuels, flames and soot in microgravity. She also set up a camera pointing outside a window inside the Harmony module to support the EarthKAM student-controlled experiment.

McArthur also joined astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet and took turns running operations for the InSPACE-4 study throughout the day. The physics experiment investigates ways to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials.

Pesquet also partnered with Commander Akihiko Hoshide wearing virtual reality goggles and clicking a trackball for the TIME experiment. The study observes how living in space affects an astronaut’s cognitive performance and perception of time.

Space botany has been a years-long pursuit on the station as NASA and its international partners learn to support astronauts on long-term spaceflights. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough configured the Advanced Plant Habitat and filled it with water to support growing peppers in space for the first time.

Vande Hei focused on lab maintenance tasks today starting with servicing a carbon removal device in station’s U.S. segment. The two-time station resident also worked on the Unity module’s common berthing mechanism then organized U.S. tools located inside Russia’s Zarya module.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy photographed the condition of the Pirs docking compartment today ahead of its undocking and disposal later this month. First-time cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov concentrated on cargo transfers and inventory updates inside the ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

Cargo Dragon Departs Station, Returns to Earth Friday

July 8, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.
July 8, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.

With NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough  monitoring aboard the International Space Station, a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked from the International Docking Adapter on the station’s space-facing port of the Harmony module at 10:45 a.m. EDT.

Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the space station during the next 36 hours. On Friday, July 9, Dragon will conduct a deorbit burn to begin its re-entry sequence into Earth’s atmosphere. Dragon is expected to splash down at approximately 11:29 p.m. in the Gulf of Mexico near Tallahassee, Florida. The splashdown will not be broadcast.

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers as soon as four to nine hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects. The Dragon’s departure will be the second splashdown of a U.S. commercial cargo craft off the Florida coast. Previous cargo Dragon spacecraft returned to the Pacific Ocean, with quick-return science cargo processed at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, and delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dragon launched June 3 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station a little less than 16 hours later. The spacecraft delivered more than 7,300 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost. Dragon’s external cargo “trunk” carried six new ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), two of which Expedition 65 crew members Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet, an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut, installed during three spacewalks June 16, 20, and 25.

Some of the scientific investigations Dragon will return to Earth include:

  • Lyophilization-2 examines how gravity affects freeze-dried materials and could result in improved freeze-drying processes for pharmaceutical and other industries. Freeze-drying also has potential use for long-term storage of medications and other resources on future exploration missions.
  • Molecular Muscle Experiment-2 tests a series of drugs to see whether they can improve health in space, possibly leading to new therapeutic targets for examination on Earth.
  • Oral Biofilms in Space studies how gravity affects the structure, composition, and activity of oral bacteria in the presence of common oral care agents. Findings could support development of novel treatments to fight oral diseases such as cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@Space_Station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Instagram and ISS Facebook accounts.

Dragon Undocking Planned Thursday, Crew Focuses on Space Research

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.

SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is planned for Thursday, July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with NASA TV coverage scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft. Additional opportunities are available on July 9 and 10. The space freighter’s departure had been scheduled for earlier this week but was postponed due to weather conditions off the coast of Florida.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew members stayed focused on a variety of science activities including human health, robotics and physics.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet took turns working out on an exercise cycle Wednesday for a fitness test. The veteran astronauts attached sensors to their chests and pedaled for an hour on the device more formally known as the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization, or CEVIS. The test took place in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module and measures how microgravity affects the duo’s physical exertion, or aerobic capacity.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur focused on electronics maintenance and robotics research throughout Wednesday. The two-time space visitor powered up a cube-shaped AstroBee robotic helper and tested new technology that monitors the acoustic environment of the station. SoundSee seeks to demonstrate that “listening” to station components can help detect anomalies in spacecraft systems that need servicing.

Space manufacturing using colloids is being investigated for the ability to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials. Station commander Akihiko Hoshide conducted three runs inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox of the InSPACE-4 study today that could improve the strength and safety of Earth and space systems.

The trio that launched to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship practiced an emergency evacuation drill during the morning. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei joined cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and reviewed procedures such as donning gas masks, quickly entering the Soyuz spacecraft, undocking and reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Vande Hei later assisted McArthur with cable management work inside the Tranquility module. Novitskiy and Dubrov wrapped up the day disconnecting antenna cables inside their Soyuz vehicle.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Wednesday, July 21, for Crew Dragon Endeavour’s International Space Station port relocation operation. Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide Pesquet will suit up in their launch and entry spacesuits for Crew Dragon’s automated relocation maneuver from the forward to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module. The maneuver frees up the forward port to prepare for the arrival of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission at the microgravity laboratory at the end of July.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@Space_Station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Instagram and ISS Facebook accounts.

Weather Delays Dragon Undocking, Crew Scans Veins for Health Checks

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur are pictured inside the cupola during the approach and rendezvous of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon on June 5, 2021.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur are pictured inside the cupola during the approach and rendezvous of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon on June 5, 2021.

Due to forecast extreme weather off the coast of Florida, SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is no longer planned for Wednesday, July 7. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations and are prepared to support undocking of the Dragon cargo spacecraft once conditions are safe to do so. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft.

The next opportunity for undocking is July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with NASA TV coverage scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Additional opportunities are available on July 9 and 10. NASA will provide an update Wednesday, July 7 on the date for undocking following a weather briefing.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Shane Kimbrough worked on cargo transfers inside the Dragon today. Kimbrough then joined Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet and Commander Akihiko Hoshide at the end of the day and reviewed cargo craft emergency departure procedures. Pesquet set up a pair of computers inside the cupola in support of Dragon’s undocking and monitoring.

Hoshide and Kimbrough swapped roles as Crew Medical Officer today taking charge of vein scans with the Ultrasound-2 device. The duo took turns scanning each other’s neck, shoulder and leg veins. Hoshide also scanned McArthur’s veins as part of standard health checks with doctors on the ground monitoring.

Pesquet also had time Tuesday to wear the specialized Sidekick headset and examine the Tranquility module’s treadmill using augmented reality. The two-time station resident then moved on inspecting and photographing hatch seals on the Kibo laboratory module.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed focused on Russian cargo and station life support activities. Novitskiy updated computer data files associated with the recent docking of the ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. Dubrov worked on orbital plumbing and thermal systems hardware.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@Space_Station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Instagram and ISS Facebook accounts.