SpaceX Cargo Dragon Undocked From Station

Sept. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.
Sept. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

With NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough monitoring aboard the International Space Station, a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked from the station’s forward port of the Harmony module at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Cargo Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station prior to a deorbit burn later in the day that will begin its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will make parachute-assisted splashdown around 11 p.m. off the coast of Florida. NASA Television will not broadcast the splashdown live, but will provide updates on the space station blog..

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 hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.

Dragon launched Aug. 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station the following day. The spacecraft delivered more than 4,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost.

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

Cargo Dragon Undocking Live on NASA TV

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the International Space Station for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module's forward international docking adapter
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the International Space Station for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter on Aug. 30, 2021.

NASA Television coverage is underway for departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station. The spacecraft is scheduled for automated release at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will command Dragon to undock from the forward port on the station’s Harmony module. After firing its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station, Dragon will execute a deorbit burn to leave orbit as it heads for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida around 11 p.m.

Dragon launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Aug. 29 from Space Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and arrived at the station the following day with more than 4,800 pounds of science, supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s 23rd commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

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

Crew Kicks off Week With Space Biology and Robotics

The prominent city lights of Europe from Amsterdam to Paris and London across the English Channel are pictured from the space station.
The prominent city lights of Europe from Amsterdam to Paris and London across the English Channel are pictured from the space station.

Expedition 65 is kicking off the week with a host of space biology and robotics activities aboard the International Space Station today.

Five astronauts out of the seven crewmates who comprise the space station crew joined each other today for a review of upcoming research operations with rodents. The quintet reviewed roles and procedures for the study to learn how microgravity affects normal skin and healing functions. The astronauts will take turns transferring the mice to the Life Science Glovebox for observation.

Full-fledged operations for the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration will begin Tuesday and continue before the SpaceX Cargo Dragon returns to Earth with the rodents on Sept. 30. NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough will trade shifts on Tuesday with Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei will also contribute to the experiment later in the week.

Kimbrough started Monday checking out and activating the toaster-sized Astrobee robotic fee-flyers in cooperation with engineers on the ground. Hoshide began his day extracting DNA from microbe samples for sequencing to understand the microbial environment of the station. McArthur replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. Pesquet set up student-controlled Earth observation hardware then cleaned up debris to support the Plant Habitat-04 space crop experiment.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are continuing to set up hardware, including cables and laptop computers, inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. The new gear will enable the crew to control the European Robotic Arm from both inside and outside the station. The duo then split up Monday afternoon for Russian communications work and life support maintenance.

Crew Turns Attention to Research Following Trio of Spacewalks

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) works on the Ring-Sheared Drop experiment inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module's Microgravity Science Glovebox.
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) works on the Ring-Sheared Drop experiment inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox.

The Expedition 65 crew is back on microgravity research aboard the International Space Station today after kicking off September with three spacewalks in less than two weeks.

International astronauts Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet relaxed Monday morning following their six-hour and 54-minute spacewalk on Sunday to install a modification kit on the station’s Port-4 (P4) truss structure. The Commander from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) then joined the ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer for standard health checks that take place after the strenuous spacewalks.

Afterward, Hoshide swabbed and collected microbe samples from station surfaces for incubation and analysis back on Earth. Pesquet also collected microbe samples from the station’s atmosphere for observation on petri dishes.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur both relaxed on Monday morning having assisted spacewalkers Hoshide and Pesquet throughout the day on Sunday. Vande Hei then moved on and swapped and cleaned components for the ACE-T-11 physics study that is exploring space manufacturing techniques. McArthur replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack and later cleaned up debris in the orbiting lab’s Plant Habitat housing Hatch Green chiles growing for the Plant Habitat-04 space crop experiment.

Working throughout Monday inside the Kibo laboratory module, NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough began setting up hardware and trained for the newest rodent research experiment. Mice, delivered on the recent SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission, will soon be observed inside Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox to understand how microgravity affects the healing process.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov continue cleaning up in the station’s Russian segment following their spacewalks on Sept. 3 and Sept. 9 to configure the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for science operations. The duo from Roscosmos also had time for life support maintenance and cargo transfers from the Progress 78 resupply ship today.

Cosmonauts Conclude First Spacewalk To Ready New Module

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov during a spacewalk to connect power and ethernet cables to the Nauka laboratory module.
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov during a spacewalk to connect power and ethernet cables to the Nauka laboratory module.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos concluded their spacewalk at 6:35 p.m. EDT after 7 hours and 54 minutes. It is the first of up to 11 spacewalks to prepare the new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for operations in space.

Novitskiy and Dubrov completed the major objective for today to connect power cables between the recently arrived Nauka module and the Zarya module to enable the routing of electricity from the U.S. segment of the station to Nauka. Checkouts of the two electrical power cable systems from Zarya to Nauka were successful. They also partially installed one new handrail.

Tasks deferred to a future spacewalk are to install two additional handrails to enable spacewalkers to maneuver to and about Nauka more easily, make the final connection for the ethernet cable the duo partially routed today, deploy a science investigation, jettison the ethernet cable reel following the completion of the connection, and take imagery of the Russian segment of the station.

The duo will continue work during a second spacewalk on Thursday, Sept. 9; coverage on NASA Television, the NASA app, and agency’s website will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the spacewalk expected to begin about 11 a.m. and last about five hours.

This was the 10th spacewalk this year and the 242nd overall in support of space station assembly, maintenance and upgrades. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 63 days, 15 hours, and 35 minutes working outside the station.

It is the second spacewalk for both cosmonauts, both of whom have now spent a total of 15 hours and 13 minutes spacewalking.

In November 2020, the International Space Station surpassed its 20-year milestone of continuous human presence, providing opportunities for unique research and technological demonstrations that help prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars and also improve life on Earth. In that time, 244 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

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.

Two Cosmonauts Exit Station for Spacewalk

Cosmonauts (from left) Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are conducting their second spacewalk together.
Cosmonauts (from left) Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are conducting their second spacewalk together.

Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos began a spacewalk to prepare the new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for operations in space when they opened the hatch of the Poisk docking compartment airlock of the International Space Station at 10:41 a.m. EDT.

Novitskiy, designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), is wearing a Russian Orlan spacesuit with red stripes, and Dubrov is wearing a spacesuit with blue stripes as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).

Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. Views from a camera on Novitskiy’s helmet are designated with the number 22, and Dubrov’s is labeled with the number 20.

The duo’s primary tasks for today’s spacewalk are to connect power and ethernet cables to the new module and install handrails to enable spacewalkers to maneuver to and about its exterior more easily.

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

NASA TV Coverage of Spacewalk is Underway

Cosmonauts (from left) Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are conducting their second spacewalk together.
Cosmonauts (from left) Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are conducting their second spacewalk together.

NASA Television coverage of today’s spacewalk with cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos is now underway and is also available on the NASA app and the agency’s website.

The crew members of Expedition 65 are preparing to exit the International Space Station‘s Poisk module on the space-facing side of the station’s Russian segment for a spacewalk expected to begin at approximately 10:35 a.m. EDT and last as long as seven hours.

It will be the first of up to 11 spacewalks to prepare the new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module for operations in space. Watch a video animation preview of today’s spacewalk and planned activities at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfacX6864b4

During the spacewalk today and subsequent spacewalk planned for Sept. 9, the cosmonauts will install handrails on Nauka and connect power, ethernet, and data cables between the recently arrived module and the Zvezda service module. Nauka launched on a Russian Proton-M rocket July 21 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and docked autonomously to the Earth-facing Zvezda port July 29.

This will be the second spacewalk for both Novitskiy and Dubrov; the 242nd spacewalk in support of space station assembly, maintenance and upgrades; and the 10th and spacewalk at the station in 2021.

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

SpaceX Cargo Dragon Successfully Docks to Station

Aug. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragon vehicles; and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.
Aug. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragon vehicles; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

While the International Space Station was traveling about 260 miles over the Western Australia, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Monday, Aug. 30. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitored operations.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

Building bone with byproducts
REducing Arthritis Dependent Inflammation First Phase (READI FP) evaluates the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the growth of bone tissue and tests whether bioactive metabolites, which include substances such as antioxidants formed when food is broken down, might protect bones during spaceflight. The metabolites that will be tested come from plant extracts generated as waste products in wine production. Protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve scientists’ understanding of the physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women.

Keeping an eye on eyes
Retinal Diagnostics tests whether a small, light-based device can capture images of the retinas of astronauts to document progression of vision problems known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). The device uses a commercially available lens approved for routine clinical use and is lightweight, mobile, and noninvasive. The videos and images will be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. The investigation is sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) with the German Aerospace Center Institute of Space Medicine and European Astronaut Centre.

Robotic helpers
The Nanoracks-GITAI Robotic Arm will demonstrate the microgravity versatility and dexterity of a robot designed by GITAI Japan Inc. Results could support development of robotic labor to support crew activities and tasks, as well as inform servicing, assembly, and manufacturing tasks while in orbit. Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards. The technology also has applications in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. The experiment will be conducted inside the Nanoracks Bishop Airlockthe space station’s first commercial airlock.

Putting materials to the test
MISSE-15 NASA is one of a series of investigations on Alpha Space’s Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, which is testing how the space environment affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. These tests provide insights that support development of better materials needed for space exploration. Testing materials in space has the potential to significantly speed up their development. Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete.

Helping plants deal with stress
Plants grown under microgravity conditions typically display evidence of stress.  Advanced Plant EXperiment-08 (APEX-08) examines the role of compounds known as polyamines in the response of the small, flowering plant thale cress to microgravity stress. Because expression of the genes involved in polyamine metabolism remain the same in space as on the ground, plants do not appear to use polyamines to respond to stress in microgravity. APEX-08 attempts to engineer a way for them to do so. Results could help identify key targets for genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity.

Easier drug delivery
The Faraday Research Facility is a multipurpose unit that uses the space station’s EXPRESS payload rack systems, which enable quick, simple integration of multiple payloads . On this first flight, the facility hosts a Houston Methodist Research Institute experiment and two STEM collaborations, including “Making Space for Girls” with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando, Florida.

The Faraday Nanofluidic Implant Communication Experiment  (Faraday-NICE) tests an implantable, remote-controlled drug delivery system using sealed containers of saline solution as surrogate test subjects. The device could provide an alternative to bulky, cumbersome infusion pumps, a possible game changer for long-term management of chronic conditions on Earth. Remote-controlled drug delivery could simplify administration for people with limitations.

partnership between Faraday and Girls Scouts allows troops to play a role in conducting the control experiments, including providing them with images of the same experiments that are happening in space. The studies involve plant growth, ant colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through Artemis.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Cygnus Arrival and Hatch Open Complete

The Cygnus space freighter attached to the station robotic arm following a day-and-a-half trip after its launch from Virginia. Credit: NASA TV
The Cygnus space freighter attached to the station robotic arm following a day-and-a-half trip after its launch from Virginia. Credit: NASA TV

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft’s hatch was opened this afternoon after successful rendezvous and berthing operations. At 6:07 a.m. EDT, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Cygnus was then bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 9:42 a.m. EDT. Cygnus will remain at the space station for about three months until the spacecraft departs in November.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings more than 8,200 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of cargo aboard Cygnus include research studying 3D printing using simulated lunar regolith, seeking to utilize microgravity to develop new means to treat a degenerative muscle condition on Earth, investigating new tactics to control heat during operations in space and during the intense heating of reentry, and testing a technology to remove carbon dioxide from spacecraft atmospheres with applications to future NASA exploration missions.

These are just a sample of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration approach, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.

NASA has continued to assess any integrated impacts to the space station from the inadvertent firing of thrusters on the newly arrived Russian Nauka module. Routine operations have continued uninterrupted since the event, with the space station prepared for the arrival of multiple spacecraft. Consistent with NASA policies, an investigation team is being formed to review the activity. NASA’s team will begin with identifying team members and defining the scope of the investigation. The team will focus on analyzing available data, cooperating with our Russian colleagues for any information they require for their assessment, and coordinating with the other international partners.

Space Station Stable After Earlier Unplanned MLM Thruster Firing

July 29, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. The new Nauka Multipurpose Logistics Module (MLM) is now attached to the Zvezda service module's Earth-facing port.
July 29, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. The new Nauka Multipurpose Logistics Module (MLM) is now attached to the Zvezda service module’s Earth-facing port.

Following the docking of the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), named Nauka, to the International Space Station at 9:29 am EDT, Russian cosmonauts aboard the space station conducted leak checks between Nauka and the service module. At 12:45 pm, the flight control team noticed the unplanned firing of MLM thrusters that caused the station to move out of orientation. Ground teams have regained attitude control and the motion of the space station is stable.

The crew was never and is not in any danger, and flight controllers in Mission Control Houston are monitoring the status of the space station. Teams are also monitoring the impact to tomorrow’s launch of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft. Updates on the space station will be provided on NASA.gov and the agency’s social media pages.

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.