Cancer Therapy, Gravity Suit Research Before Crew and Cargo Launches

The six-member Expedition 60 crew from the United States, Russia and Italy
The six-member Expedition 60 crew from the United States, Russia and Italy gathers for a portrait inside the International Space Station’s Harmony module. At the top from left, are NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano, station commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague.

The Expedition 60 crew is getting ready to welcome a Japanese cargo craft and new space residents next week before splitting up the following week. Meanwhile, the orbiting lab residents are starting the weekend exploring potential cancer therapies and testing a suit that counteracts the effects of microgravity.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has set Monday, Sept. 23 at 12:30 p.m. EDT for the launch of its H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) cargo craft to resupply the space station. The HTV-8 will take a five-day trip before its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm and installation to the station’s Harmony module.

A pair of Expedition 61 crewmembers will blast off to the International Space Station on Wednesday with the tenth spaceflight participant to visit the orbiting lab. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates will take a near six-hour ride aboard the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship and dock to the station’s Zvezda service module.

Almansoori will stay in space for eight days and return to Earth with station Commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague. The trio will undock from the Rassvet module in the Soyuz MS-12 spaceship on Oct. 3 and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan about three and a half hours later. Their departure signifies the official start of the Expedition 61 mission.

Science to benefit humans on Earth and astronauts in space is always ongoing and today was no exception. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan were processing protein crystal samples and loading them into an incubator for the Microgravity Crystals study. The research is exploring cancer therapies targeting a protein responsible for tumor growth and survival.

Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov checked out a specialized suit today that pulls body fluids, such as water and blood, towards the feet of a space resident. He monitored Ovchinin who wore the Lower Negative Body Pressure suit while testing its ability to counteract the headward fluid shifts caused by microgravity. Astronauts have reported increased head and eye pressure due to the upward flow after living for months at a time in weightlessness.

Astronaut Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) recorded himself on a 360-degree video camera as he demonstrated rotational dynamics with a soccer ball. The experiment is investigating the general behavior of free-flying objects in microgravity. Results could inform the design of small robots in space and even improve sports equipment on Earth.

Today’s Space Science Seeks Therapies for Aging, Muscle Conditions

The six-member Expedition 60 crew from the United States, Russia and Italy
The six-member Expedition 60 crew from the United States, Russia and Italy gathers for a portrait. In the front row from left are, NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. In the back are, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano, Roscosmos cosmonaut and station commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Christina Koch.

Three Expedition 60 crewmembers finalized four days in a row of rodent research aboard the International Space Station this week. Meanwhile, more space science is underway as the orbiting lab residents prepare to swap crews.

Astronauts living in space have shown signs of accelerated aging and scientists are looking to understand why. The crew has spent all week observing mice aboard the station since they show similar physiological changes in microgravity. Scientists are hoping results from the rodent study may provide insights and therapies for aging conditions and muscle diseases to promote healthier humans on Earth and in space.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan conducted the rodent research this week with assistance from ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano. The trio performed the biological research using the Life Sciences Glovebox installed inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA set up fluid research hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module throughout Thursday. The new science gear will support the Ring Sheared Drop experiment to understand how fluids flow in the human body and other materials. Observations may lead to a deeper understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and improved production of advanced materials.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin is still gathering items he will pack inside the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft for his return home in a couple of weeks. He and Hague will soar back to Earth inside the Soyuz crew ship and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 3.

Spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori will hitch a ride back to Earth with Hague and Ovchinin after he launches to the station next week. He will join Expedition 61 crewmembers Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft when it launches on Wednesday at 9:57 a.m. EDT. The trio will dock to the aft end of the Zvezda service module at 3:45 p.m. the same day.

Crews Preparing to Trade Places During Biomedical Science on Station

(From left) Spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori and Expedition 61 crewmembers Oleg Skripochka and Jessica Meir review their flight plan with training instructors. Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

Two Expedition 60 crewmembers are moving ahead with departure preparations as the rest of their crewmates focused diligently on space biology research today. Back on Earth, three upcoming International Space Station residents are making final preparations before their launch next week.

Station Commander Alexey Ovchinin is collecting personal items and station cargo that he and Flight Engineer Nick Hague will take home inside their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The duo have been in space since March and are counting down to an Oct. 3 landing in Kazakhstan after 203 days in space. They will parachute to Earth with Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori who will arrive at the orbiting lab next week for an eight-day stay.

New Expedition 61 crewmates Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos will liftoff Sept. 25 with Almansoori aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft. They will dock their Soyuz crew ship to the Zvezda service module’s rear port after a near six-hour, four-orbit ride in space.

The trio stepped outside the Cosmonaut Hotel today at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome for traditional tree-planting ceremonies and media activities. Meir and Skripochka will stay in space until April of 2020 and return to Earth with NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan.

Vital biomedical research to support astronauts in space and improve health on Earth is keeping the crew busy all week aboard the orbiting lab. Once again, Morgan and fellow astronauts Christina Koch and Luca Parmitano are exploring how microgravity causes cellular and molecular changes in mice. Experimental results may provide doctors with therapeutic insights into aging and muscle ailments in humans.

Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos inspected the Zarya module for microbes today. The veteran cosmonaut photographed and swabbed several spots in the Russian segment today and stowed the samples for analysis.

Crews Prepare for Swap as Space Research Benefits Humans

The six-member Expedition 60 crew is gathered together for dinner
The six-member Expedition 60 crew is gathered together for dinner inside the galley of the Zvezda service module.

The six residents aboard the International Space Station continued more biomedical science and rodent research to improve human health on Earth and in space. The Expedition 60 crew is also gearing up for a crew swap beginning next week.

NASA Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Nick Hague started Tuesday drawing their blood samples and spinning them in a centrifuge. The samples were stowed in a science freezer for later analysis to help scientists understand how astronauts adapt to microgravity.

Koch then spent the rest of the day with crewmates Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) observing space-caused cellular and molecular changes in mice. The rodents’ genetic similarity to humans may provide therapeutic insights into aging and muscle ailments.

Hague is getting ready to return to Earth on Oct. 3 after 203 days in space. He and Commander Alexey Ovchinin are packing gear and familiarizing themselves with the landing procedures they will use inside the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. The duo will return to Earth with a new crewmember, Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, who will arrive at the orbiting lab next week for an eight-day stay.

Almansoori, from the United Arab Emirates, is joining NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka for a launch to the station on Sept. 25. The trio will lift off inside the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft from Kazakhstan for a five-hour and 48-minute ride to the aft-end of the Zvezda service module where they will dock. Meir and Skripochka will stay in space until April of 2020 and return to Earth with Morgan.

Space Biology, Brad Pitt Interview as New Crew Preps for Launch

Astronaut Nick Hague and actor Brad Pitt
Actor Brad Pitt called up to to the International Space Station today and had a conversation with NASA astronaut Nick Hague. Credit: NASA TV

The six Expedition 60 crewmembers aboard the International Space Station began the workweek exploring how microgravity affects a variety of biological systems. Back on Earth, three new crewmates are in final preparations for next week’s launch to the orbiting lab from Kazakhstan.

Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan started Monday morning collecting and stowing their blood and urine samples for later analysis. Afterward, the pair joined fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch for body mass measurements using a device that applies a known force on a crewmember. The resulting acceleration is used to accurately calculate an astronaut’s mass.

Hague spoke to actor Brad Pitt today who called up to the station from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. They talked about Pitt’s upcoming movie and discussed what it is like to live in space.

Koch also assisted ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano with a bioelectrical sensor that measures changes in body composition to determine the effectiveness of space nutrition. The duo, along with Morgan, then turned to rodent research the rest of the day for insights into aging and disease therapies.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin collaborated with fellow cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov for cardiology research during an exercise session Monday morning. The commander then inspected hardware inside the Electromagnetic Levitator that enables the safe research of materials exposed to high temperatures. Skvortsov moved onto ventilation maintenance in the Zvezda service module. The duo wrapped up the day with an Earth photography session.

The next crew to launch to the station is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final mission training. Expedition 61 crewmembers Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos will blast off on Sept. 25 aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft with Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. The trio from the U.S., Russia and the U.A.E. will take a four-orbit, near six-hour ride in space before docking to the aft port of Zvezda.

Almansoori will return to Earth on Oct. 3 aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft with Hague and Ovchinin. Meir and Skripochka will orbit Earth until the spring of 2020.

Ground personnel are fueling the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship and integrating the spacecraft to its launch vehicle this week. The rocket with the Soyuz on top will roll out to its launch pad early in the morning on Sept. 23.

Space Science Ahead of Russian and Japanese Station Missions

NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts science operations
NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts science operations inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module with a science freezer that preserves biological research samples for later analysis.

Human research kept the Expedition 60 crew busy today helping NASA and its partners understand how to keep astronauts healthy on long-term space missions. More spaceship activity is also coming up in September to ensure a well-stocked and fully staffed International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan continued researching how fluid shifts caused by microgravity induce vascular changes as well as head and eye pressure. The duo processed more blood and urine samples today for the ongoing study observing the potentially risky condition.

Doctors on the ground are exploring telemedicine as a way to examine astronauts orbiting Earth and farther in space. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) set up and held a remotely controlled ultrasound scanner to his femoral artery for the Vascular Echo study today. A doctor on Earth then guided the device’s motorized probes during the cardiovascular exam.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch set up protein crystal samples for stowage inside an automated incubator. The research takes advantage of microgravity’s weightlessness to support the development of advanced pharmaceutical therapies.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft continues to be unpacked by cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov. They will soon load the crew ship back up with more cargo for return to Earth next week.

Another crew ship, the Soyuz MS-15, is being processed for its launch to the station on Sept. 25. Commander Oleg Skripochka will lead Flight Engineer Jessica Meir and Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori on a six-hour ride to their new home in space. The new trio along with their backups began two days of qualification exams today

In between the Soyuz missions, the H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is due to blast off Sept. 10 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. It will take a four-day trip to the orbiting lab and deliver new batteries for the Port-6 truss power channels. It will be robotically captured and installed to the Harmony module for a month-long stay.

Space Biology Research as Preps Begin for Japan Cargo Mission

Hurricane Dorian
An camera on the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Dorian as it churned over the Atlantic Ocean north of Puerto Rico. Watch the video

The Expedition 60 crew focused on a variety of biomedical research and life science activities aboard the International Space Station today. The astronauts are still cleaning up after last week’s spacewalk while preparing for an upcoming Japanese cargo mission.

Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan spent Thursday morning collecting their blood, urine and saliva samples. The samples are being processed and analyzed for the Fluid Shifts study. The long-running research explores vascular changes including head and eye pressure caused by living in microgravity.

Morgan moved on and continued organizing a multitude of tools used during a spacewalk last week to install a new commercial crew docking port. During the afternoon, he joined astronaut Luca Parmitano for eye pressure measurements using a tonometer.

Hague set up a 3D camera in the Harmony module and videotaped a cinematic virtual reality experience of himself at work for Earth audiences. He finally tested a communications panel that will send commands to Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft planned to arrive at the station in mid-September. The HTV-8 will deliver new batteries for the station’s Port-6 truss power channels.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch checked on mice studied in space for their genetic similarity to humans and potential therapeutic insights. She also discussed with a nutritionist on the ground how the food aboard the orbiting lab affects her appetite.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov explored microbes in the Russian side of the station to learn how to fight space viruses and spacecraft contamination. The duo then continued unpacking cargo from the Soyuz MS-14 spaceship that arrived Monday night.

Another crew ship, the Soyuz MS-15, is being processed for its launch to the station on Sept. 25. Commander Oleg Skripochka will lead Flight Engineer Jessica Meir and Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori on a six-hour ride to their new home in space. The new trio along with their backups began two days of qualification exams today .

Crew Returns to Science After Coordinating Space Traffic

NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts science operations
NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts science operations inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module with a science freezer that preserves biological research samples for later analysis.

The Expedition 60 crew is back on track with ongoing space research today after coordinating a flurry of space traffic at the International Space Station. The astronauts are also continuing to clean up after last week’s spacewalk.

The SpaceX Dragon is back on Earth after splashing down Tuesday afternoon in the Pacific Ocean. The commercial space freighter delivered critical science experiments to the station last month and returned samples for scientists around the world to analyze.

Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) took turns today organizing spacewalking tools in the U.S. Quest airlock. Morgan also cleaned cooling loops inside the U.S. spacesuits he and fellow astronaut Nick Hague wore last week to install the International Docking Adapter-3.

Parmitano also documented his meals today for a space nutrition study sponsored by ESA. Living in microgravity for a long time impacts the body and nutritionists are seeking the ideal diet to maintain astronaut health.

Astrobee, the free-flying robotic assistant, was testing and calibrating its mobility today inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module as NASA astronaut Christina Koch monitored. She also printed new station emergency procedures to accommodate a pair of Russian Soyuz crew ships that were required to switch docking ports.

The hatches are open on the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft after its automated docking to the Zvezda service module Monday night. Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov will be unloading space cargo from the MS-14 over the next several days before packing it with return gear. The Soyuz will parachute back to Earth in Kazakhstan with no crew onboard and carrying cargo on Sept. 6.

Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific Ocean Packed With Science and Cargo

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured above the Canadian Rocky Mountains
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured above the Canadian Rocky Mountains after it departed the International Space Station today. Credit: @Astro_Christina

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 4:21 p.m. EDT (1:21 p.m PDT), approximately 300 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s 18th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft returned more than 2,700 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo.

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

Bio-Mining in Microgravity

The Biorock investigation provides insight into the physical interactions of liquid, rocks and microorganisms in microgravity and improving the efficiency and understanding of mining materials in space. Bio-mining eventually could help explorers on the Moon or Mars get needed materials on site, lessening the need for precious resources from Earth and reducing the amount of supplies explorers must take with them.

Mechanisms of Moss in Microgravity

Space Moss compares mosses grown aboard the space station with those grown on Earth to determine how microgravity affects its growth, development, and other characteristics. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars. This investigation also could yield information that aids in engineering other plants to grow better on the Moon and Mars, as well as on Earth.

 Improving Tire Manufacturing from Orbit

The Goodyear Tire investigation uses microgravity to push the limits of silica fillers for tire applications. A better understanding of silica morphology and the relationship between silica structure and its properties could provide improvements for increased fuel efficiency, which would reduce transportation costs and help to protect Earth’s environment.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations aimed at keeping astronauts healthy during space travel and demonstrating technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, including missions to the Moon by 2024 and on to Mars. Space station research also provides opportunities for other U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments, and products that improve life on Earth.

For more than 18 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,500 research investigations from researchers in 106 countries.

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.

SpaceX Dragon Released from Station for Earth Return

The SpaceX Dragon above the Nile River Delta
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module on Aug. 13, 2019, as the orbital complex flew 260 miles above the Nile River Delta in Egypt.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft released from the International Space Station at 10:59 a.m. EDT after flight controllers in Houston delivered remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA monitored Dragon’s systems as it departed the microgravity laboratory.

Next up, Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the station and execute a deorbit burn around 3:22 p.m. to leave orbit. Splashdown down is targeted for 4:21 p.m. EDT (1:21 p.m. PDT).

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.