NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken concluded their spacewalk at 1:39 p.m. EDT, after six hours and seven minutes. The two NASA astronauts completed all the work planned for this first of four spacewalks to replace batteries that provide power for the station’s solar arrays on the starboard truss of the complex as well as initial tasks originally planned for the second scheduled spacewalk next Wednesday. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.
The spacewalkers removed five of six aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for one of two power channels for the starboard 6 (S6) truss, installed two of three new lithium-ion batteries, and installed two of three associated adapter plates that are used to complete the power circuit to the new batteries. Mission control reports that the two new batteries are working.
Cassidy and Behnken are scheduled to complete the upgrade to this initial power channel in a second spacewalk on July 1, during which they will install one more lithium-ion battery and one more adapter plate and remove the sixth nickel-hydrogen battery that will no longer be used.
This was the seventh spacewalk for both each astronaut. Cassidy now has spent a total of 37 hours and 21 minutes spacewalking, and Behnken has spent a total of 43 hours and 40 minutes spacewalking.
Space station crew members have conducted 228 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 59 days, 18 hours, and 33 minutes working outside the station.
Cassidy and Behnken will be removing existing nickel-hydrogen batteries and replacing them with new lithium-ion batteries that arrived on a Japanese cargo ship last month. The batteries store electricity for one pair of the station’s solar arrays, and the swap will upgrade the station’s power supply capability. The batteries store power generated by the station’s solar arrays to provide power to the microgravity laboratory when the station is not in sunlight as it circles Earth during orbital night.
This is the 228th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Cassidy is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the spacesuit with red stripes, and using helmet camera #18. Behnken is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the spacesuit with no stripes and helmet camera #20. It is the seventh spacewalk for both astronauts.
The crew members of Expedition 63 are preparing to venture outside the International Space Station for a spacewalk expected to begin at approximately 7:35 a.m. EDT and last as long as seven hours.
The crew is in the airlock and have donned their suits in preparation to exit the airlock and begin today’s activities working on one of two power channels on the far starboard truss (S6 Truss) of the station.
The primary tasks for today, as illustrated in a NASA animation, are to remove three existing nickel-hydrogen batteries and replace them with two new lithium-ion batteries. The batteries store electricity for one pair of the station’s solar arrays. Cassidy and Hurley also will be installing an adapter plate to complete the circuit to the new batteries and relocating the nickel-hydrogen batteries, two of which will be moved to an external platform for future disposal.
Leading the mission control team today is Flight Director Royce Renfrew with support from Jackie Kagey as the lead spacewalk officer.
The Expedition 63 crew is starting the week getting ready for a pair of upcoming spacewalks and a satellite deployment. The International Space Station residents are also setting up research gear that will analyze hazardous particles and plasma crystals.
The three NASA astronauts onboard the station teamed up today setting up hardware and reviewing plans for two spacewalks planned to start at the end of the month. Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken checked out rechargeable batteries that will power up U.S. spacesuit components. Flight Engineer Doug Hurley looked at procedures to put on the spacesuits as well as steps a spacewalker would take during an emergency.
The spacewalks will continue power upgrades begun last year on the outside of the space station. Cassidy and Behnken will replace old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the Starboard-6 truss segment. The batteries store and distribute power collected from the solar arrays throughout the station.
Cassidy started Monday in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module readying a 110-kilogram Red-Eye satellite for deployment in the next couple of weeks. He installed the satellite inside Kibo’s airlock where it will be placed into the vacuum of space and ejected into orbit from the NanoRacks Kaber Microsat deployer. Red-Eye, the second of three microsatellites, will test satellite communications, flight computers and thermal management technologies.
Behnken helped out with the Red-Eye work before installing the new Mochii microscope in the Kibo lab where it will analyze particles that could threaten crew health and spacecraft safety. Hurley worked in the European Columbus laboratory module making room for the new European Drawer Rack-2 that will support a variety of new space experiments.
The two cosmonauts in the Russian segment of the station kept up their schedule of microgravity research and life support operations. Veteran Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin serviced hardware that observes plasma crystals which could lead to improved research methods and new spacecraft designs. First time space-flyer Ivan Vagner checked space radiation readings and set up Earth observation hardware.
The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and Dragon Endeavour at 1:02 p.m. EDT, allowing Hurley and Behnken to enter their new home in space as members of Expedition 63. The five crew members will hold a welcome ceremony next, after which the continuous coverage of the mission that began prior to launch will conclude.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will hold a news conference at 3:15 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss the successful docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Johnson Center Director Mark Geyer, International Space Station Program Deputy Manager Kenneth Todd, NASA Commercial Crew Program Deputy Manager Steve Stich, and NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren also will participate in the live media briefing broadcast on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
It is the second arrival and autonomous docking to the International Space Station for a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the first time any commercially built spacecraft has delivered astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.
Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations and pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, enabling the expansion of the inhabitants of the space station, increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, and returning more science back to Earth.
The Crew Dragon arrived at the station’s Harmony port, docking at 10:16 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying about 262 miles above the northern border of China and Mongolia. Following soft capture, 12 hooks were closed to complete a hard capture at 10:27 a.m. Teams now will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for approximately 12:45 p.m.
NASA Television and the agency’s website are continuing to provide live continuous coverage of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission.
Behnken and Hurley made history Saturday as they became the first Americans to launch on an American rocket from American soil to the space station in nearly a decade. Their successful docking completed many of the test objectives of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, and the rest will be completed as the spacecraft operates as part of the space station, then at the conclusion of its mission undocks and descends for a parachute landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurley and Behnkhen received their wake-up call at 4:45 a.m. EDT with the song “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath. This morning they shared a tour inside the spacecraft, which they named Dragon Endeavour. Next they will conduct a near field manual piloting test to demonstrate their ability to control the spacecraft should an issue with the spacecraft’s automated flight arise.
The spacecraft will begin its close approach to the station at about 8:27 a.m. and is scheduled to dock at 10:29 a.m. Crew Dragon is designed to dock autonomously, but the crews onboard the spacecraft and the space station will diligently monitor the performance of the spacecraft as it approaches and docks to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module.
As SpaceX’s final flight test, the Demo-2 mission will validate all aspects of its crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon spacecraft, spacesuits, Falcon 9 launch vehicle, launch pad LC-39A, and operations capabilities before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station.
Behnken and Hurley will work with SpaceX mission control to verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system, and by maneuvering the thrusters, among other things.
Carrying four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station, HTV-9 launched from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Wednesday, May 20 at 1:31 p.m. EDT (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time).
The cargo vehicle will arrive at the station Monday, May 25. Live coverage of rendezvous and grapple will begin at 6:45 a.m. and capture of HTV-9 is scheduled to occur around 8:15 a.m. and coverage of HTV-9’s final installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.
HTV-9 will approach the station from below and slowly make its way toward the orbital outpost. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA, with assistance from Russian Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola and grapple the 12-ton spacecraft.
The cargo includes six new lithium-ion batteries needed to complete an overall update of the station’s electrical system. The batteries and corresponding adapter plates will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far starboard truss segment (S6) through a series of spacewalks by the station’s crew members planned for later this year. This is the final set of new batteries to be launched to the station as part of an overall upgrade of its power system that began in January 2017. Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.
At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying about 256 statute miles over the Atlantic Ocean just off the southern coast of Brazil.
NASA has begun live launch coverage of the Japanese cargo spacecraft carrying more than four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.
The H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) spacecraft is scheduled to launch on a Japanese H-IIB rocket at 1:31 p.m. (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.
This will be the final flight of this class of resupply spacecraft, named “Kounotori” – the Japanese word for white stork. The cargo craft launched on its maiden mission to the orbiting laboratory in September 2009. JAXA is developing a new class of HTV vehicles that will provide a reusable pressurized cargo section and the ability to carry more cargo due to its lighter weight. The new HTV-X vehicles will dock automatically to the station’s International Docking Adapters with the first flight scheduled in 2022.
Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.
Flying robots and ultrasound eye scans were the top science activities aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 63 crew also serviced a variety of lab hardware and tested a wearable health monitor.
Free-flying robotic assistants called AstroBees were checked out as Commander Chris Cassidy once again tested their ability to autonomously navigate the orbiting lab. The veteran astronaut then shut down and docked the small cube-shaped devices inside the Kibo laboratory module from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).
Students on Earth will soon get a chance to “test-drive” the Astrobees in a competition for the best program to control the robotic devices. Researchers are also exploring the Astrobees’ potential to perform routine station duties so the crew has more time for critical science.
Cassidy also tackled more mundane tasks during the morning as he worked on space plumbing duties in the Kibo lab. The commander wiped leaking water and inspected plumbing connections in Kibo’s Water Recovery System.
In the afternoon, Cassidy had his eyes scanned by three-time station Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin using an ultrasound device. The ultrasound exam, with real-time inputs from doctors on the ground, looks at the health of the retina, cornea and optic nerve.
Ivanishin started his workday swapping fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack which enables safe studies of fuels, flames and soot in microgravity. First-time space flyer Ivan Vagner worked during the morning on Russian power supply systems before servicing water tanks in the Zvezda service module. Just after lunchtime, Vagner attached the Holter Monitor, a non-invasive medical device, to his chest that will measure his heart’s electrical activity.