Rodent Research Seeks to Benefit Astronauts and Earthlings

NASA astronaut Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel works inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox inspecting mice being observed as part of the Rodent Research-7 experiment.

Life science took precedence today aboard the International Space Station as the crew explored how microgravity impacts rodent physiology. The space research can help scientists improve astronaut health and treat humans on Earth.

Four Expedition 56 crew members worked together throughout the day examining mice for the Rodent Research-7 study. The experiment observes how microbes affect the gastrointestinal, immune, metabolic, circadian, and sleep systems. Results may help doctors implement programs to keep astronauts healthy on deep space missions. Patients on Earth may also benefit from newer advanced therapies that treat internal disorders.

Commander Drew Feustel joined Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Ricky Arnold and Alexander Gerst for the rodent study on Tuesday. The orbital lab researchers examined bone structure, collected blood samples and processed and stowed biological samples in science freezers.

Those samples will be returned to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Aug. 3 for analysis on Earth. Dragon will be packed with station hardware and research gear when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. It will be retrieved by SpaceX and NASA personnel for examination by engineers and scientists.

Fertility, DNA Studies and Disease Therapy Research on Station Today

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold works on gear inside the International Space Station.

The Expedition 56 crew members continued their work Friday on more fertility research and microbe studies aboard the International Space Station. They also worked on science gear for a study seeking advanced therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor examined biological samples for the Micro-11 fertility study. They looked at the samples through a microscope which were later stowed in a science freezer. The experiment seeks to determine if human reproduction would be possible off the Earth.

Feustel also spent some time in the morning working on the Amyloid experiment to help doctors develop advanced treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. He collected amyloid fibril samples from the Cell Biology Experiment Facility and stowed them in a science freezer for spectroscopy and microscopic analysis back on Earth.

European astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold were sampling the station’s atmosphere and surfaces for a pair of microbe investigations today. Gerst collected microbe samples and stowed them in a freezer for molecular analysis on Earth to identify potential pathogens on the station. Arnold processed microbial DNA using the Biomolecule Sequencer, a device that enables DNA sequencing in microgravity, to identify microbes able to survive in microgravity.

Today’s Research Explores How Space Impacts Life and Physics

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are at work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The six orbital residents living aboard the International Space Station worked on a broad array of advanced space experiments and research gear today. Today’s life science research included exploring fertility, extracting DNA from microbes and studying how the heart adapts to living in space. The crew also researched space physics observing magnetic fields, exploring the micro-properties of cement and detecting neutron radiation.

The Micro-11 experiment seeks to determine if human reproduction is possible in outer space. The study utilizes a microscope and the Microgravity Science Glovebox and observes sperm samples to determine the viability of fertility beyond Earth. DNA is being extracted from microbe samples swabbed off surfaces inside the space station. The DNA will be sequenced on Earth to help scientists understand how life adapts to microgravity. An ongoing Russian study is researching how a crew member’s heart and circulatory system adjusts to a long-term space mission.

A European astrophysics investigation is looking at how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with conductors. The study may provide insights for electrical engineers them design better space systems. Cement research is important in space and the crew has been exploring its microstructure possibly impacting the construction of future space habitats. Finally, radiation detectors have been deployed inside the orbital lab for a Canadian experiment to understand how neutrons affect astronauts.

Mid-week Cancer Study and Emergency Drill Fill Station Schedule

NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Drew Feustel begin cargo operations shortly after the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrived at the International Space Station packed with more than 5,900 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware.

Cancer and rodent studies were on the crew’s timeline today to help doctors and scientists improve the health of humans in space and on Earth. The crew also conducted an emergency drill aboard the International Space Station.

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor examined endothelial cells through a microscope for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study. The new cancer research seeks to test a safer, more effective treatment that targets tumor cells and blood vessels. Commander Drew Feustel partnered with astronaut Alexander Gerst and checked on mice being observed for the Rodent Research-7 (RR-7) experiment. RR-7 is exploring how microgravity impacts microbes living inside organisms.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold and Gerst collected and stowed their blood samples for a pair of ongoing human research studies. Arnold went on to work a series of student investigations dubbed NanoRacks Module-9 exploring a variety of topics including botany, biology and physics.

During the afternoon, all six Expedition 56 crew members joined forces to practice a simulated emergency. The orbital lab residents went over escape routes and safety procedures while coordinating communication and decision-making with mission controllers in Houston and Moscow.

Astronauts Release U.S. Spacecraft Completing Cargo Mission

Cygnus Released
The Cygnus cargo craft slowly departs the space station after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 56 Flight Engineers Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus cargo spacecraft at 8:37 a.m. EDT. At the time of release, the station was flying 253 miles above the Southeastern border of Colombia. Earlier, ground controllers used the robotic arm to unberth Cygnus.

The departing spacecraft will move a safe distance away from the space station before deploying a series of CubeSats. Cygnus will remain in orbit for two more weeks to allow a flight control team to conduct engineering tests.

Cynus is scheduled to deorbit with thousands of pounds of trash on Monday, July 30, as it burns up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean while entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The satellite deployment and deorbit burn will not be broadcast on NASA Television.

The spacecraft arrived on station May 24 delivering cargo for Orbital ATK’s (now Northrop Grumman’s) ninth contracted mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

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

Cancer, Fertility Research and Cargo Work Fill Crew Schedule

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold is inside the seven-windowed Cupola that provides views of the Earth below as well as approaching and departing resupply ships.

The Expedition 56 crew members explored a variety of microgravity science today potentially improving the lives of people on Earth and astronauts in space. The orbital residents are also unpacking a new resupply ship and getting ready for the departure of another.

Cancer research is taking place aboard the International Space Station possibly leading to safer, more effective therapies. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor contributed to that research today by examining endothelial cells through a microscope for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study. AngieX is seeking a better model in space to test a treatment that targets tumor cells and blood vessels.

She also teamed up with Commander Drew Feustel imaging biological samples in a microscope for the Micro-11 fertility study. The experiment is researching whether successful reproduction is possible off the Earth.

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter has been packed full of trash and is due to leave the space station Sunday morning. Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cygnus at 8:35 a.m. EDT as Auñón-Chancellor backs him up.  It will orbit Earth until July 30 for engineering studies before burning up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev were back at work unpacking cargo delivered Monday aboard the new Progress 70 cargo craft. The 70P will stay at the station’s Pirs docking compartment until January.

Crew Unpacking New Cargo, Researching Life Science Before Sunday Ship Departure

Expedition 56-57 crewmates
Expedition 56-57 crewmates (from left) Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA; Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency); and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

Expedition 56 crew members are transferring cargo in and out of U.S. and Russian cargo ships today. Two astronauts are also planning to release a U.S. resupply ship on Sunday ending its mission at the International Space Station.

Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst were back inside the SpaceX Dragon today unloading science gear and station hardware from inside the space freighter. Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos continued unloading the nearly three tons of crew supplies and station hardware delivered Monday aboard the new Progress 70 cargo craft.

The Cygnus resupply ship will complete its stay at the orbital Sunday at 8:35 a.m. EDT after 52 days attached to the Unity module. Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cygnus back into Earth orbit backed up by Auñón-Chancellor of NASA. Cygnus will remain in orbit until July 30 supporting engineering activities before it is deorbited to burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.

Space research aboard the orbital lab is always ongoing as the crew explored a variety of life science today. The space residents explored how microgravity impacts fertility, algae production and the gastrointestinal system. The crew also completed routine eye checks with an ultrasound device Wednesday morning to maintain good vision during spaceflight.


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

Cargo Ships and Cancer Research Keeps Orbital Lab Humming

The Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) Cygnus resupply ship
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) Cygnus resupply ship with its round, brass-colored UltraFlex solar arrays is guided to its port on the Unity module shortly after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on May 24, 2018.

Russia’s Progress 70 (70P) cargo craft delivered nearly 5,700 pounds of crew supplies and station cargo to the International Space Station on Monday less than four hours after launch. Meanwhile, the U.S. Cygnus resupply ship from Northrop Grumman tested its ability to boost the orbital laboratory’s altitude today.

Monday’s arrival of the Russian resupply craft set a milestone for station operations by arriving with its cargo in just 3 hours and 40 minutes, or only two Earth orbits. The new Progress makes six spacecraft parked at the orbital complex including the Progress 69 resupply ship, the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships and the SpaceX Dragon and Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighters.

The engine on Northrup Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship fired for 50 seconds Tuesday at 4:25 p.m. EDT to reboost the station in a test designed to verify an additional capability to adjust the station’s altitude, if required. The brief engine firing raised the station’s altitude by about 295 feet. Cygnus will depart the station on Sunday after delivering several tons of supplies and science experiments back in May for the six crewmembers on board.

Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst continued more life science work today exploring cancer research and fertility. Serena split her time today between testing ways to develop safer, more effective cancer therapies and exploring how living in space impacts fertility. Gerst set up a specialized microscope to look at proteins that could be used for cancer treatment and radiation protection.

Cargo Craft Docks to Station After Short Trip

Cargo Craft Final Approach
The Russian Progress 70 cargo craft approaches the space station’s Pirs docking compartment.

Traveling about 250 miles over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, the unpiloted Russian Progress 70 cargo ship docked at 9:31 p.m. EDT to the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station.

For more information about the current crew and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.

Lift Off of a Same-Day Cargo Delivery to the Space Station

Russian Cargo Craft Liftoff
The Russian Progress 70 cargo craft lifts off on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a short trip to deliver supplies to the space station.

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 70 cargo craft launched at 5:51 p.m. EDT (3:51 a.m. July 10 in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 250 miles over southwest Uzbekistan, south of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Russian cargo craft will make two orbits of Earth before docking to the orbiting laboratory. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and docking will resume on the NASA’s website at 9 p.m.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 70 online, follow @space_station on Twitter.