Cosmonauts Get Suits Ready for Next Spacewalk as Rest of Crew Relaxes

Empty Russian Orlan spacesuits
Empty Russian Orlan spacesuits are pictured in the Pirs Docking Compartment.

Two Expedition 56 cosmonauts are getting ready for a spacewalk set for next week as the rest of the International Space Station crew took the day off. A Russian cargo craft is also poised to take out the trash and depart the orbital lab at the end of the month.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev will put on their Orlan spacesuits and work outside the station’s Russian segment for about seven hours on Aug. 15. The duo will toss tiny satellites into Earth orbit, install antennas and cables on the Zvezda service module and retrieve experiments that analyzed external station surfaces and observed plasma waves.

They spent Monday installing batteries that will power their spacesuits next week for the duration of their spacewalk. Artemyev and Prokopyev also ensured their suits were sized properly and conducted leak checks. Finally, they reviewed the procedures they will use next week when they exit and enter the airlock inside the Pirs docking compartment.

The rest of the crew is relaxing today after an intense week of completing crucial space science and loading the time-sensitive research samples inside the Dragon cargo craft for its return to Earth. Dragon splashed down in the Pacific Ocean Friday and was quickly retrieved so scientists and engineers could begin analyzing the science and refurbishing the station hardware.

The next spacecraft due to leave the station is Russia’s Progress 69 (69P) resupply ship on Aug. 22 packed with trash and discarded gear. It launched Feb. 13 and arrived two days later loaded with over three tons of food, fuel and supplies. The 69P will deorbit on Aug. 29 after a week of engineering tests for a fiery but safe disposal over the Pacific Ocean.

Dragon Ends Stay at Station, On Its Way Home

SpaceX Dragon Released from Station
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft begins its separation from the space station after being released from the Canadarm2.

Robotic flight controllers released the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 12:38 p.m. EDT, and Expedition 56 Serena Auñon-Chancellor of NASA is monitoring its departure.

Dragon’s thrusters will be fired to move the spacecraft a safe distance from the station before SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, command its deorbit burn about 5:23 p.m. The capsule will splashdown about 6:17 p.m. in the Pacific Ocean, where the SpaceX recovery team will retrieve the capsule and its more than 3,800 pounds of cargo, including a variety of technological and biological studies.

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. National Laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.

Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft currently capable of returning cargo to Earth, and this was the second trip to the orbiting laboratory for this spacecraft. SpaceX launched its 15th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station June 29 from Space Launch Complex 40 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket that also previously launched NASA’s TESS mission to study exoplanets.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.


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Dragon Ready for Return Ahead of Commercial Crew Announcement

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured attached to the International Space Station's Harmony module
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module framed on the left by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and a pair of the station’s main solar arrays.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is packed with science and hardware ready for return to Earth on Friday. NASA is also introducing a team of astronauts who will soon fly Boeing and SpaceX vehicles to the International Space Station.

The Expedition 56 crew has finished loading Dragon with sensitive research results and station gear for analysis and refurbishment back on Earth. Space station officials from around the world gave the “go” on Thursday for Dragon’s release from the orbital complex.

Mission controllers, with astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor monitoring, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Dragon at 12:37 p.m. EDT Friday. Splashdown in the Pacific Ocean will occur less than six hours later under a trio of huge parachutes off the coast of Baja California.

NASA will introduce Friday at 11 a.m. on NASA TV new astronauts assigned to spaceflights launching from the United States for the first time since July 8, 2011. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to launch humans on U.S.-built spaceships from Kennedy Space Center on test flights to the space station.


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Station Teams Are Go For Dragon’s Return To Earth Friday

SpaceX Dragon Resupply Ship
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship, on its 15th Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-15), is pictured the day after it was captured and installed on the Harmony module. The orbital complex was flying over northern central China near the Mongolian border at the time this photograph was taken.

The International Space Station Partners and mission managers polled “go” for tomorrow’s release of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for its deorbit and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean to wrap up the CRS-15 mission.

With favorable weather conditions forecast in the splashdown zone, Dragon’s hatch will be closed early Friday around 3 a.m. Central time. Robotic ground controllers will then use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Dragon from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module around 5:30 a.m. Central time and will maneuver Dragon into the release position.

With Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA monitoring Dragon’s systems, the ground controllers will release Dragon from Canadarm2 at 11:37 a.m. Central time. After its release, Dragon will conduct a series of “departure” burns to move to a safe distance away from the station.

Several hours later, at 4:23 p.m. Central time, SpaceX flight controllers at Hawthorne, California will command Dragon’s engine to fire for 12 minutes and 53 seconds in the deorbit burn that will enable Dragon to slip out of orbit for its descent back to Earth.

Dragon’s parachute-assisted splashdown is scheduled at 5:17 p.m. Central time, 3:17 p.m. Pacific time, about 410 miles southwest of Long Beach, California. It will take about two days for Dragon to be brought back to port for its cache of cargo and scientific experiments to be unloaded.


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Dragon Packing, Eye Science and Spacewalk Preps Today

Alexander Gerst and Sergey Prokopyev
Astronaut Alexander Gerst practices cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as cosmonaut Sergey Prokopev looks on during an emergency training session aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 56 crew has nearly completed loading the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship with cargo for retrieval back on Earth this Friday. The orbital residents are also busy with an intense day of space research and Russian spacewalk preparations.

Dragon is due to be released Friday at 12:37 p.m. EDT from the International Space Station carrying several tons of experiment results and orbital lab hardware. The crew has been packing the crucial research samples this week inside specialized, portable freezers onboard the commercial space freighter.

SpaceX technicians will pick up Dragon with its precious cargo after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean and return to shore in southern California. Scientists and engineers will then begin the process of analyzing the critical space science and refurbishing station hardware.

Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst spent Wednesday morning helping doctors understand how living in space impacts the human eye. They are exploring the hypothesis that upward fluid shifts in the body caused by microgravity increases pressure on the brain possibly pushing against the eyes. This may affect the shape of the eye and permanently affect vision.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev are getting ready for a spacewalk on Aug. 15. The duo reviewed the translation paths to their work sites on the outside of the station’s Russian segment. During the near seven-hour excursion, the spacewalkers will hand-deploy four tiny satellites, install antennas and cables on the Zvezda service module and collect exposed science experiments.


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Dragon Being Packed With Science as Research Wraps Up

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are seen while Auñón-Chancellor works inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the Micro-11 investigation. The study is looking to provide fundamental data indicating whether successful human reproduction beyond Earth is possible.

Numerous microgravity investigations are wrapping up this week onboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 56 crew is carefully packing the research results and science gear inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for return to Earth on Friday.

A host of life science studies being returned aboard Dragon looked at cancer therapies, gut microbes, and a variety of other biological phenomena. Samples collected from those studies, including the experiment hardware housing the research, are being transferred from the station and stowed inside the Dragon.

The AngieX Cancer Therapy investigation is completing its run today with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor finalizing research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The experiment tested a treatment that targets tumors and the resulting samples are being stowed inside Dragon science freezers.

Rodents studied for the Rodent Research-7 experiment to understand how microbes interact with the gut in space are being returned Friday. Biological samples observed in July for the Micro-11 human reproduction study are also being cold stowed aboard Dragon.

SpaceX technicians will retrieve Dragon loaded with the Earth-bound cargo when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean Friday afternoon. Once the cargo craft reaches port, personnel from NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) will collect the research and hardware and distribute it to scientists and engineers for analysis.


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Cancer Study Prepped for Earth Return Amid Time Perception Research

The Cygnus space freighter is poised for release from the Canadarm2
The Cygnus space freighter was pictured July 15 , 2018, poised for release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm back into Earth orbit ending a 52-day cargo mission at the International Space Station.

A new cancer therapy study is wrapping up aboard the International Space Station this week as an American cargo craft is packed for return to Earth. The Expedition 56 crew also researched how astronauts perceive time and distance in space and back on Earth.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor has been contributing to pharmaceutical research since the arrival of the AngieX Cancer Therapy experiment July 2 inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Today, she is examining endothelial cells in space to help determine if they make a good model for targeting the vasculature of tumor cells. Results may improve the design of safer, more effective therapies targeting cancer tumors.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold has been loading Dragon with hardware and science samples today ahead of its return to Earth on Friday. Results from the AngieX cancer investigation will also be stowed in Dragon this week for retrieval and analysis on Earth. Robotics controllers will release Dragon from the grips of the Canadarm2 Friday at 12:37 p.m. EDT as Auñón-Chancellor monitors from the Cupola. Less than six hours later, the commercial space freighter will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

Another U.S. cargo craft, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship, released from the space station on July 15 is getting ready to end its stay in space today. The Cygnus was detached from the station’s Harmony module in mid-July and has been orbiting Earth for engineering research. It is due to burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean at 5:07 p.m. today.

Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, worked in the Columbus lab module to help doctors understand how an astronaut’s perception of time and distance is affected during and after a mission. Results will help mission planners understand how astronauts adapt to space impacting the success and safety of long-term missions.


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Today’s Science Focuses on Human Benefits While Crew Packs Dragon

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold processes microbial DNA using the Biomolecule Sequencer, a device that enables DNA sequencing in microgravity, to identify microbes able to survive in microgravity.

A trio of studies taking place today aboard the International Space Station explored a potential cancer therapy, researched human reproduction and observed protein crystals. Eye exams were also on the schedule to understand how microgravity impacts vision.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor started her morning peering at endothelial cells through a microscope for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study. Afterward, she moved on to the Micro-11 investigation examining more biological samples in a microscope to gain fundamental data about successful reproduction in space.

Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, contributed to pharmaceutical research during the afternoon stowing protein molecules in a science freezer. Microgravity enables the growth of high quality protein crystals revealing structures and properties that could improve disease-fighting therapies on Earth.

Gerst first started his day scanning NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold’s for eyes using Optical Coherence Tomography, a light imaging technique analogous to ultrasound. The data helps doctors understand how the weightless environment of microgravity impacts vision so mission controllers can plan safer spaceflight missions.

Finally, the SpaceX Dragon space freighter is being packed for its return to Earth on Aug. 3. Arnold and Commander Drew Feustel took turns today loading Dragon with station hardware and research samples for retrieval and analysis on Earth.

Station Boosts Orbit as Crew Studies Reproduction, Space Geology and Microbes

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducts research operations for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study
Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducts research operations for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The new cancer research seeks to test a safer, more effective treatment that targets tumor cells and blood vessels.

The International Space Station got an orbital boost today to position itself for a crew swap taking place later this year. Inside the lab complex, the current residents spent their time today exploring a diversity of phenomena impacted by long-term exposure to microgravity.

A docked Russian Progress 69 resupply ship fired its engines this morning slightly increasing the space station’s orbital altitude to enable the departure and arrival of a pair of Soyuz crew ships this autumn. Three Expedition 56 crew members will return to Earth Oct. 4 inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. They will be replaced a week later by two new Expedition 57 crew members when they dock inside the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor continued a second week of research operations to gain fundamental data about fertility in space. The duo examined biological samples in a microscope and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. The Micro-11 study is exploring the possibility of human reproduction in space including ways to address aging problems on Earth.

Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, explored the sedimentary properties of quartz and clay particles. The German astronaut mixed quartz and clay samples suspended in a liquid for photographic and video downlink to scientists on Earth. Observations can help guide future geological studies of unexplored planets and improve petroleum exploration here on Earth.

Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA split his time working on a variety of science gear that examines different microscopic properties. He set up Aerosol Samplers in the Harmony and Tranquility modules to collect airborne particles in the station’s air cabin for analysis. Arnold later stowed a Biomolecule Sequencer he used this month to sequence DNA extracted from microbes living on space station surfaces.

Rodent Research Returning Soon in Dragon For Analysis on Earth

 

The SpaceX Dragon and the International Space Station orbit above the Bahamas
The SpaceX Dragon and the International Space Station orbit above the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean.

Expedition 56 crewmembers collaborated for the second day in a row studying how living in microgravity impacts rodents. The space research onboard the International Space Station is helping doctors keep astronauts healthy in space and while developing advanced therapies for humans on Earth.

Rodent research, and a variety of other life science studies observing organisms in space, has been ongoing for years aboard the orbital laboratory. The latest experiment, Rodent Research-7, looks at how microbes affect the physiology of mice. The mice and research gear were delivered July 2 aboard the SpaceX Dragon. Scientists are seeking to understand how microbes affect the gastrointestinal, immune, metabolic, circadian, and sleep systems.

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Alexander Gerst collected blood samples and measured the bone mass of the rodents today. Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor contributed to the research work stowing biological samples in science freezers. The samples will be returned to Earth Aug. 3 when Dragon splashes down in the Pacific Ocean for retrieval and analysis by scientists on Earth.