Spacewalkers Begin Work to Replace Batteries

Spacewalkers Bob Behnken (left) and Chris Cassidy (right) in the Quest Airlock before beginning today’s spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV
Spacewalkers Bob Behnken (left) and Chris Cassidy (right) in the Quest Airlock before beginning today’s spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken have begun the first of two scheduled spacewalks to replace batteries on one of two power channels on the far starboard truss (S6 Truss) of the International Space Station.

The spacewalkers switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:32 a.m. EDT to begin the spacewalk, which may last as long as seven hours.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

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.

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.

Crew Starts Week With Spacewalk Preps, Satellite Work

Russia's Progress 74 resupply ship
Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship is pictured docked to the space station as the orbiting lab flew above northern Iraq

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.

Flying Robots, Ultrasound Eye Scans Top Science Schedule

NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant
NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant, one of a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robots, for a test of its mobility and vision system inside the Kibo laboratory module.

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.

Live NASA TV Coverage of SpaceX Dragon Departure is Underway

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the Earth-facing port on the International Space Station's Harmony module.
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the Earth-facing port on the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

NASA Television coverage is underway for departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station. The spacecraft is scheduled for release at 9:05 a.m. EDT.

Dragon was detached robotically from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module earlier today after flight controllers at mission control in Houston delivered remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 62 Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan of NASA backed up the operation and will monitor Dragon’s systems as it departs the orbital laboratory.

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 in the Pacific Ocean, 300 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, at about 2:50 p.m. (11:50 a.m. PDT). There will be no live coverage of deorbit burn or splashdown.

Dragon launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket March 6 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and arrived at the station three days later with science, supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s 20th commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

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.

HTV-8 Launch Scrubbed for Tonight

The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle is seen during final approach to the International Space Station. Like HTV-8, HTV-6 was loaded with more than 4 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware. Credit: NASA

Mission Control in Houston informed the crew aboard the International Space Station that tonight’s launch of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) cargo spacecraft was scrubbed due to a fire on or near the launch pad at Tanegashima Space Center. The astronauts are safe aboard the station and well supplied.


More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Expedition 58 Crew Congratulates NASA and SpaceX after Crew Dragon Departure

Crew Dragon spacecraft on it's way back to Earth
Crew Dragon spacecraft on it’s way back to Earth after undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 am EST on March 8, 2019

On behalf of the Expedition 58 crew, NASA Astronaut Anne McClain takes time to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams immediately following the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8.

Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic Ending First Commercial Crew Mission

Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean after successful Demo-1 flight on March 8, 2019.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45 a.m. EST, completing an end-to-end flight test to demonstrate most of the capabilities of its crew transportation system to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.

Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.

Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.

NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic was almost 50 years after the return of Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969, the last human spacecraft to return to the waters off the East Coast.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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