Crew Tests Lower Body Suit to Protect Vision; Soyuz Rocket Rolls Out Wednesday

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson looks at the Earth below from inside the seven-windowed cupola.

One of the effects of living in space is the tendency of fluids to shift upward towards an astronaut’s head. This results in the common “puffy face” appearance astronauts experience when they escape Earth’s gravity. However, the more serious effects observed on orbit could include eye and vision damage.

The three Expedition 52 crew members are exploring a unique device that reverses some of these headward fluid shifts and could counter changes to vision in space. Peggy Whitson of NASA tried on the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit today with assistance from Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer joined the commander and conducted brain/ear fluid pressure tests and eye exams on Whitson.

Back on Earth, three new Expedition 52-53 crew members will see their Soyuz MS-05 rocket roll out to its launch pad Wednesday. The trio from the United States, Russia and Italy will blast off inside the Soyuz rocket Friday at 11:41 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Randy Bresnik of NASA, Sergey Ryazanskiy from Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency will live on the orbital complex until mid-December.


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Launch Preps in Kazakhstan; Cancer Therapies Researched on Station

Expedition 52-53 crew with Soyuz rocket
Expedition 52-53 crew members (from left) Paolo Nespoli, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Randy Bresnik, stand in front of the Soyuz rocket that will launch them to space. Credit: Andrey Shelepin/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

A new International Space Station crew is less than a week away from beginning a 4-1/2 month mission living and working in space. The trio from the United States, Russia and Italy is in Kazakhstan counting down to a Friday launch at 11:41 a.m. EDT inside the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy will command the Soyuz vehicle during the six-hour, 19-minute ride from Earth to the station’s Rassvet module. He will be flanked by crewmates Randy Bresnik of NASA and astronaut Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency. NASA TV will cover the launch and docking activities live.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 52 crew orbiting Earth now explored how microgravity impacts cancer therapies. The trio also worked on various maintenance tasks throughout the orbital lab.

New space research aboard the station is providing insights that may accelerate development of drugs that target only cancer cells. Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson peered at cells today through a microscope for the cancer study that started in April this year. Results may create more effective treatments for cancer patients on Earth.

Jack Fischer of NASA moved a variety of science gear around and cleaned a mouse habitat. He also swapped out a hard drive for an experiment that measures the composition of meteors orbiting and entering Earth’s atmosphere.


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Crew Conducts Research to Mitigate the Human Body’s Response to Spaceflight

Sprint investigation
Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer assess spaceflight-induced changes in muscle volume with the Sprint study.

The crew of Expedition 52 wrapped up an intensive week of research on Friday, concentrating on studies in the field of human health and performance.

On Thursday, the crew conducted their second ultrasound for the Sprint investigation, which studies the use of high-intensity, low-volume exercise training to minimize the loss of muscle, bone and cardiovascular fitness during long-duration space excursions. Using meticulous thigh and calf scans through remote guidance from the ground team, these results will help determine what changes astronauts are experiencing in microgravity and how best to manage those fluctuations for future missions.

Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer today will gather and transfer Fluid Shifts hardware to the station’s Russian segment in preparation for Fluid Shifts Chibis (Lower Body Negative Pressure) operations that begin on Monday. Fluid Shifts investigates the causes for lasting physical changes to astronaut’s eyes—a side effect of human space exploration in a microgravity environment. It’s theorized that the headward fluid shift in space-faring explorers contributes to these changes. In response, a lower body negative pressure device is being evaluated to see if it can perhaps reverse this fluid shift. As an added bonus, what investigators glean from this study may contribute to the development of countermeasures against lasting changes in vision and prevention of eye damage.

The Expedition 52-53 crew that will lift off to the International Space Station within a week is finalizing preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, along with astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli, are slated to launch July 28 at 11:41 a.m. EDT for a six-hour journey to the orbiting laboratory. NASA TV will cover all the activities, so tune in.


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All About the Human, and New Crew at Launch Site

Expedition 52-53 crew
Expedition 52-53 crew members Paolo Nespoli (left), Sergey Ryazanskiy (center) and Randy Bresnik (right) arrive at their launch site in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on July 16. Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 52 astronauts furthered investigative data for NASA’s Human Research Program, collecting in-flight data and blood and urine samples over the weekend.

Today, the crew will take additional samples for the Biochem Profile, Repository and Cardio Ox investigations. An ultrasound was also used for the Cardio Ox study, which seeks to determine whether biological markers of oxidative and inflammatory stress are elevated during and after spaceflight, and whether this could result in an increased, long-term risk of the hardening of the arteries for space-faring explorers.

Also on tap is the Mag 3D cell culturing experiment. The crew will fixate the BioCells and insert them into the Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI). The orbiting laboratory provides a way to manipulate and culture cells in 2D and 3D in space and on the ground, which can help isolate the effects of gravity in experiments and enable biological research previously deemed unfeasible in space.

The next crew to lift off to the International Space Station has arrived at its launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The experienced space travelers from Roscosmos, NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are due to blast off inside the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft July 28 for a six-hour ride to the space station’s Rassvet module. Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, with astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli, are scheduled to live and work in space until mid-December.


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New Science Gear Installed, Cargo Craft Packed for Disposal

Flight Engineer Jack Fischer
Flight Engineer Jack Fischer evaluates scientific hardware aboard the International Space Station.

Expedition 52 worked throughout Thursday installing new science gear to improve the research capabilities of the International Space Station. A cargo craft is also being loaded with trash and obsolete gear for disposal next week.

New network connections were installed on the main window of the Destiny lab module today. Flight Engineer Jack Fischer installed new equipment in the Window Observational Research Facility, or WORF, which hosts a variety of Earth sensing payloads to study the planet through a large window on the bottom of the Destiny Laboratory.

Peggy Whitson of NASA installed a carbon dioxide controller inside an incubator. The incubator is part of the Space Automated Bioproduct Lab (SABL) located in Destiny. SABL enables space research that provides insights benefiting pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agricultural industries.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin is getting the Russian Progress 66 (66P) cargo craft ready to take out the trash next week. The 66P will undock July 20 from the Pirs docking compartment packed with old and discarded items and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.


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Crew Researches Exercise, Protein Crystals and High Temps

Pic of Earth and night sky
This long-exposure photograph of Earth and starry sky was taken during a night pass by the Expedition 52 crew aboard the International Space Station. The Japanese Kibo module and part of the station’s solar array are visible at the top.

A pair of astronauts explored new space exercise techniques today to stay healthy and fit on long duration missions. The crew also observed protein crystals and high temperatures to understand microgravity’s effects on humans and physical processes.

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer strapped himself in to the space station’s exercise bike this morning with assistance from veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson. The work out study is researching the effectiveness of high intensity, low volume exercise to minimize loss of muscle, bone, and cardiovascular function in space.

Whitson, who has been living in space since November 2016, then moved on and set up gear for the Two Phase Flow experiment. That study is observing how heat transfers from liquids in microgravity to help improve the design of thermal management systems in future space platforms.

Fischer later checked out protein crystals through a microscope for an experiment researching radiation damage, bone loss and muscle atrophy caused by living in space. At the end of the day, he swapped out samples that were heated up inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. The furnace is a facility that allows safe observations and measurements of materials exposed to extremely high temperatures.


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Magnetic Cell Studies and AC Repairs on Orbit Today

Expedition 52 trio
Expedition 52 flight engineers Paolo Nespoli, left, Sergey Ryazanskiy, center, and Randy Bresnik visit Red Square prepare to lay roses at the site where Russian space icons are interred as part of traditional pre-launch ceremonies. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The orbiting Expedition 52 trio continued exploring magnetized cell structures today and worked on advanced repair tasks. Also, a new crew is in Moscow getting ready for its launch in less than three weeks.

Astronaut Peggy Whitson was back at work Tuesday running the Mag 3D cell culturing experiment all day. She peered at magnetic three-dimensional cell cultures through a microscope, specifically looking at the borders of the biocell structures. The biocells were then stowed in a science freezer before being injected with magnetic 3D culture media. Mag 3D observations may improve cell and tissue culture capabilities and research on orbit.

Though the space station is an orbiting laboratory, it is also a home that needs regular maintenance. Flight Engineer Jack Fischer put on his repairman’s hat today replacing a failed water separator inside the Tranquility module. The water separator is part of the Common Cabin Air Assembly that controls the station’s temperature and humidity.

Three upcoming station crew members are spending their final week in Moscow before heading to the launch site in Kazakhstan on Sunday. The experienced space trio will launch to space aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft July 28 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Expedition 52-53 crew members Randy Bresnik, Paolo Nespoli and Sergey Ryazanskiy will live aboard the station for 4-1/2 months.


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Crew Starts Week with Emergency Drill and Magnetic Cell Study

Expedition 52 crew members
Expedition 52 flight engineers Paolo Nespoli, left, Sergey Ryazanskiy, center, and Randy Bresnik visit Red Square to lay roses at the site where Russian space icons are interred as part of traditional pre-launch ceremonies on July 10 in Moscow. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The three Expedition 52 crew members practiced evacuating the International Space Station today in the unlikely event of an emergency. The trio also set up an advanced life science study and continued the upkeep of the orbital complex.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin joined Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer for an emergency evacuation drill Monday morning. The crew practiced quickly donning safety gear and entering the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft before simulating an emergency undocking and descent to Earth.

Afterward, Whitson spent the rest of the day exploring magnetic cell cultures and bio-printing for the Mag 3D experiment. The new research which just started in April is exploring how magnetic tools may enhance cell and tissue culture capabilities on orbit.

Fischer pressurized the Japanese Kibo lab’s airlock and checked for leaks ahead of an external experiment set to begin next week. Fischer later worked on light plumbing duties and checked on the condition of a science freezer.

Back on Earth, another three Expedition 52 crew members are getting ready for their July 28 launch to the space station. The experienced space trio of Randy Bresnik, Paolo Nespoli and Sergey Ryazanskiy, visited Red Square in Moscow for traditional ceremonies on Monday. They will head to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan July 16 for final pre-launch training.


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New Crew in Final Training Before Late July Launch

Expedition 52 flight engineers
Expedition 52 flight engineers (from left) Paolo Nespoli of ESA, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Randy Bresnik of NASA are training in Star City, Russia, ahead of their July 28 launch to the space station.

Three new Expedition 52 crew members are in Star City, Russia, this week completing final exams ahead of their July 28 launch to the International Space Station. After launch, they’ll take a six-hour ride inside the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft before docking to the station’s Rassvet module. The trio from Italy, Russia and the United States are in final training for the 4-1/2 month-long mission orbiting Earth.

A pair of NASA astronauts living in space right now conducted a variety of activities today in support of life science research. Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer collected their blood, urine and saliva samples for stowage in a science freezer and later analysis. The samples will be studied back on Earth as part of the Fluid Shifts experiment to understand the impacts of microgravity on the human body, in particular the eyes.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos continued his life support maintenance activities on the Russian side of the orbital complex. The experienced, four-time station cosmonaut and one-time shuttle crew member spent the majority of his day replacing pumps and hoses and repressurizing the station’s atmosphere.

An international set of CubeSats also was deployed outside of the Kibo lab module early Friday. The CubeSats belong to Japan, Ghana, Mongolia, Bangladesh and Nigeria and will be monitored and operated by engineering students in Japan.


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Crew Studies Space Impacts on Humans and Tech

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson was pictured June 28 conducting a live video interview with reporters on Earth.

Expedition 52 continued exploring today how microgravity impacts humans and technology to improve future spaceflight and benefit life on Earth. The trio also conducted an array of maintenance activities including space plumbing.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson took a look today at how living in space affects her ability to work on interactive tasks. The Fine Motor Skills study, which has been taking place for over two years, is researching the skills necessary for astronauts to interact with next-generation space technologies. Observations may impact the design of future spacecraft, spacesuits and habitats.

Jack Fischer, a first time space flyer from NASA, wrapped up operations with the Group Combustion Module experiment today. The combustion study was exploring how flames spread as the composition of fuel changes in space. Results could benefit the development of advanced rocket engines and improve cleaner, more efficient engines on Earth.

Whitson and Fischer also worked on a variety of plumbing tasks including collecting water samples and swapping and filling recycle tanks on the Urine Processing Assembly. Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin connected power and network cables before moving on to activating an antenna and more plumbing work.


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