Crew Researches Mold, Rodents and Stem Cells as Cargo Ship Chases Station

NASA Astronaut Jack Fischer
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer checks out science gear inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Russia’s Progress 67 (67P) cargo craft is orbiting Earth and on its way to the International Space Station Friday morning carrying over three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Meanwhile, the three member Expedition 52 crew researched a variety of space science on Thursday while preparing for the arrival of the 67P.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will monitor the automated docking of the 67P to the Zvezda service module Friday at 7:42 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast live the resupply ship’s approach and rendezvous beginning at 7 a.m. The 67P’s docking will mark four spaceships attached to the space station.

Fischer spent the morning photographing mold and bacteria samples on petri dishes as part of six student-led biology experiments that are taking place inside a NanoRacks module. In the afternoon, he removed protein crystal samples from a science freezer, let them thaw and observed the samples using a specialized microscope.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson tended to rodents Thursday morning cleaning their habitat facilities and restocking their food. In the afternoon, she moved to human research swapping out samples for the Cardiac Stem Cells study that is exploring why living in space may accelerate the aging process.


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Cargo Ship Ready for Launch as Robotic Arm Unloads Dragon Experiments

The Progress 67 cargo craft
The Progress 67 cargo craft rests atop the Progress MS-06 rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

Russia’s Progress 67 (67P) cargo craft stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan ready for liftoff Wednesday at 5:20 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast the launch live from the Baikonur Cosmodrome including the docking of the 67P Friday at 7:42 a.m. to the Zvezda service module.

Two external experiments have been extracted from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship and attached to the outside of the International Space Station. Ground controllers commanded the Canadarm2 to reach inside Dragon, grapple both experiments and install them on EXPRESS logistics carriers.

The first experiment, MUSES, or Multiple User System for Earth Sensing, was removed June 6 the day after Dragon’s arrival. It was installed two days later on the starboard side of the station’s truss structure. MUSES is an Earth-imaging platform that may improve navigation, agriculture and benefit emergency responders and the petroleum industry.

NICER, or Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, was extracted Sunday afternoon and will be installed this evening. It will search for new insights into the physics of neutron stars and help scientists develop a pulsar-based, space navigation system.

A third experiment will be extracted June 17 to test a new advanced solar array. The roll-out solar array, or ROSA, rolls out like a tape measure with solar cells on a flexible blanket. The ROSA, which could power future NASA spaceships and communication satellites, will be stowed back inside Dragon’s trunk after seven days of data collection while attached to the station’s robotic arm.


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Station Trio Works New Science Delivered Aboard Dragon

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm moments after it was captured early Monday.

The three-member Expedition 52 crew is settling down with science and cargo transfers this week after a trio of space ships arrived and departed at the International Space Station. NASA also introduced 12 new astronaut candidates Wednesday who could fly farther into space on newer spacecraft than any astronaut before them.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson looked after a student experiment today that is exploring how molds and bacteria adapt to microgravity. Afterward, she measured the lighting in the Destiny and Kibo lab modules to help engineers understand how light affects the habitability of spacecraft.

Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA installed and activated new science hardware delivered aboard the latest SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Fischer also joined Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin to prepare the station for the departure and arrival of a pair of Russian cargo ships next week. The Progress 66 resupply ship will depart June 13 followed three days later with a new space delivery aboard the Progress 67 cargo craft. Both spaceships are uncrewed.

On Wednesday, NASA celebrated the introduction of 12 new astronaut candidates. The 2017 class will officially report for duty in August and begin training for potential missions aboard NASA spacecraft as well as SpaceX and Boeing commercial spaceships.


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Dragon Attached to Station for Cargo Transfers

Dragon Installed to Harmony Module
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is installed to the Harmony module. The Progress 66 cargo craft is docked to the Pirs docking compartment and the Soyuz MS-04 crew vehicle is docked to the Poisk module.

A little over two hours after it was captured by Expedition 52 Flight Engineers Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, the unpiloted SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was attached to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module of the International Space Station. Ground controllers at Mission Control, Houston reported that Dragon was bolted into place at 12:07 p.m. EDT as the station flew 258 statute miles over central Kazakhstan.

Earlier, the Dragon was grappled by Fischer and Whitson using the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 9:52 a.m. EDT at the completion of a flawless two-day journey for the resupply vehicle following its launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Saturday.

The station crew expects to open Dragon’s hatch later today to begin transferring time-critical scientific experiments. Dragon will remain attached to the complex until July 2, when it will be detached from Harmony and robotically released for its deorbit back into the Earth’s atmosphere and a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.


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Dragon Captured After Two-Day Flight to Station

SpaceX Dragon Capture
The SpaceX Dragon is seen seconds away from its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

While the International Space Station was traveling about 250 miles over the south Atlantic ocean east of the coast of Argentina, Flight Engineers Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson of NASA captured Dragon a few minutes ahead of schedule at 9:52 a.m. EDT.

Following its capture, the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship will be maneuvered by ground controllers operating the International Space Station’s robotic arm for installation onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. For updates on installation and more information about the SpaceX CRS-11 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/spacex.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Dragon on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and use #Dragon.


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Expedition 51 Duo Undocks and Heads to Earth

Soyuz MS-03 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft (foreground) is seen docked to the Rassvet module at the International Space Station.

After spending 194 days aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 51 crew members Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) undocked from the station at 6:47 a.m. EDT to begin their voyage home. The undocking marked the official start of Expedition 52 aboard the space station.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the Soyuz deorbit burn and landing beginning at 8:45 a.m.

The duo is set to land in Kazakhstan at 10:10 a.m. (8:20 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Together, the Expedition 51 crew members pursued hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory. Their return will wrap up 196 days in space, since their launch on Nov. 17, 2016.


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Dragon Launch Slips to Saturday, Cygnus Departs Sunday

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon at Launch Pad
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon cargo craft was scrubbed today because of lightning in the vicinity of the launch pad. The next launch opportunity for SpaceX is on Saturday, June 3 at 4:07pm Central time, 5:07pm Eastern time. NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:30pm CT, 4:30pm ET.

This clears the way for the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft to be unberthed from the nadir port of Unity on Sunday, June 4. NASA TV coverage on Sunday of Cygnus’ departure will begin at 0730 CT. Release of Cygnus is scheduled at 0810 CT. Cygnus will remain in orbit for a week in support of scientific experiments and will deorbit on Sunday, June 11.

A launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Saturday will result in its arrival at the ISS on Monday, June 5 for a capture at 0900 CT. NASA TV coverage will begin at 0730 CT. There will be no installation coverage.


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