Crew Studies How Space Impacts Brain and Perception

The International Space Station
The International Space Station was pictured Oct. 4, 2018, from the departing Expedition 56 crew during a flyaround aboard the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. Credit: Roscosmos/NASA

A pair of Expedition 57 astronauts spent the day exploring how humans think and work while living long-term in space. A cosmonaut also tested a pair of tiny, free-floating satellites operating inside the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor is helping doctors on the ground understand if an astronaut’s brain structure and mental abilities change in space. She took part in a behavioral assessment test today that involves the mental imaging of rotating objects, target accuracy during motion or stillness and concentrating on two tasks at the same time. The NeuroMapping experiment, which has been ongoing since 2014, is exploring an astronaut’s neuro-cognitive abilities before, during and after a spaceflight.

Scientists are also learning how an astronaut’s nervous system may be impacted by different gravitational environments such as the moon, asteroids or planets. The GRIP study from ESA (European Space Agency) is exploring how space residents interact with objects by monitoring their grip and load forces.

Commander Alexander Gerst from Germany strapped himself into a specialized seat in the Columbus lab module for the GRIP study today. He performed several motions in the seat while gripping a device collecting data measuring cognition, grip force and movement kinematics.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev set up the bowling ball-sized SPHERES satellites for a test run inside Japan’s Kibo lab module. The SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) are used for a variety of experiments including autonomous formation-flying, shipping liquids such as fuels and introducing students to spacecraft navigation techniques.

Station Crew Back on Earth After 197 Days in Space

The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft that is carrying Expedition 55/56 crew members Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev is pictured seconds away from landing under a parachute in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

Three crew members who have been living and working aboard the International Space Station have landed safely in Kazakhstan.

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, along with Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos landed at 7:44 a.m. EDT (5:44 p.m. in Kazakhstan) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The crew completed hundreds of experiments during its 197-day expedition. Highlights included an investigation to study ultra-cold quantum gases using the first commercial European facility for microgravity research, and a system that uses surface forces to accomplish liquid-liquid separation.

The crew also welcomed five cargo spacecraft that delivered several tons of supplies and research experiments. The 14th SpaceX Dragon arrived in April, shortly after the three crew members did, bringing supplies and equipment, and the 15th Dragon arrived in July. The ninth Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft arrived in May before the end of Expedition 55. A Russian Progress completed a record rapid rendezvous of less than four hours in August. And, the seventh Japanese Konotouri cargo craft arrived just a week before the Expedition 56 trio departed for home.

Both Feustel and Arnold participated in dozens of educational events while in space as part of NASA’s Year of Education on Station, reaching more than 200,000 students in 29 states. Feustel now has logged more than 226 days in space on three spaceflights, and Arnold more than 209 days on two missions.

The duo ventured outside the space station on three spacewalks to effect maintenance and upgrades during Expeditions 55 and 56. Their work included replacing and upgrading external cameras, including those that will facilitate the approach and docking of the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft when they begin launching soon from American soil. The spacewalkers also replaced components of the space station’s cooling system and communications network, and installed new wireless communication antennas for external experiments. Feustel has accumulated 61 hours and 48 minutes over nine career spacewalks, and ranks third overall among American astronauts. Arnold has 32 hours and 4 minutes over five career spacewalks.

Artemyev conducted one spacewalk with fellow cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev to manually launch four small technology satellites and install an experiment called Icarus onto the Russian segment of the space station. The spacewalk timed out at 7 hours and 46 minutes, the longest in Russian space program history. Artemyev now has spent 366 days in space on his two flights.

Expedition 57 continues station research and operations with a crew comprised of Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos. Gerst assumed command of the station as Feustel prepared to depart.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are scheduled to launch Oct. 11 for a same-day arrival, increasing the crew size to five.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.


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Expedition 56 Trio Undocks For Trip Home

Soyuz MS-08 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft that is returning three Expedition 56 crew members back to Earth is pictured from a space station camera just before to undocking from the Poisk module. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, along with Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 3:57 a.m. EDT to begin their trip home.

Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 6:51 a.m., with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 7:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. Kazakhstan time). NASA TV coverage will resume at 6:30 a.m. for deorbit burn and landing coverage.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 57 will begin formally aboard the station, with Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev comprising a three-person crew for one week.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Crews Say Farewell, Close Soyuz and Station Hatches

Expedition 55-56 crew members Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel
Expedition 55-56 crew members Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel pose for a picture March 5, 2018 in front of their Soyuz spacecraft that launched them to space March 21, 2018.

At 1:06 a.m. EDT, the hatches were closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, along with Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 3:57 a.m.

Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 7:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. Kazakhstan time) and will conclude a 197-day mission spanning 3,152 orbits of Earth and a journey of 83.4 million miles.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Crews Switch Command as Trio Readies for Departure

Expedition 56 Crew Members
The six-member Expedition 56 crew gathers together for a team portrait. In the front row, from left, are NASA astronauts Serena Auñon-Chancellor, Commander Drew Fuestel and Ricky Arnold. Behind them, from left, are Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Artemyev. At the top of the group is astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency).

A European astronaut has taken command of the International Space Station for the second time since 2009. Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) accepted control of the orbital lab today from NASA astronaut and Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel.

Feustel is returning to Earth Thursday at 7:45 a.m. EDT with fellow crew members Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev ending a 197-day stay in space. The trio will undock Thursday at 3:57 a.m. in their Soyuz MS-08 crew ship leaving behind German astronaut Gerst to begin his command with Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev.

This is Gerst’s second stay aboard the space station and his first command. He is the second European to command the outpost after Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne.

NASA TV’s live coverage of the Expedition 56 departure activities begins Thursday at 12:30 a.m. when the homebound trio says goodbye and the Soyuz hatches close at 12:55 a.m. NASA TV will come back on air at 3:30 a.m. for the undocking and then return at 6:30 a.m. for the deorbit burn and landing coverage.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

U.S., German Astronauts Swapping Command Before Homecoming

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Alexander Gerst
Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel (left) of NASA will hand over command of the station to German astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA.

A NASA astronaut will swap command of the International Space Station with a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Wednesday at 10:10 a.m. live on NASA TV. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel will be handing the station “keys” over to German astronaut Alexander Gerst during the traditional change of command ceremony.

Expedition 57 officially starts Thursday at 3:57 a.m. EDT when Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold undock in the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft commanded by cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. Gerst, ESA’s second astronaut to command the station, is remaining onboard to lead Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev. The homebound trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. Kazakhstan time) just two orbits after undocking and 197 days in space.

Astronaut Nick Hague from NASA’s astronaut class of 2014 and veteran station cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will be the next crew to blast off to the space station. The duo will launch Oct. 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and take a six hour ride to their new home in space.

Amidst the crew departure activities today the station residents also worked space science and lab maintenance. Auñón-Chancellor worked on botany research inside the Plant Habitat located in the Columbus lab module. Gerst worked on hardware for the mobiPV study that is researching ways to increase productivity between astronauts and mission controllers. Departing astronauts Arnold and Feustel cleaned up their crew quarters.

October Starts With Crew Swap Then Spacewalks

Expedition 56 crew members Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev
(From left) Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA and Soyuz MS-08 Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos practice on a computer the Soyuz descent procedures they will use when they return to Earth on Oct. 4.

October will be a busy month as a pair of crews get ready to swap places on the International Space Station followed by a pair of spacewalks. Also, Japan’s HTV-7 resupply ship is open for business and the Expedition 56 crew has begun unloading its science and supplies.

Station commander Drew Feustel is preparing to return to Earth Thursday with two of his crewmates despite a busy schedule of science and maintenance aboard the orbital lab. Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev is packing the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft today that he will pilot back to Earth flanked by Feustel and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold. The trio is due to land in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. after 197 days in space.

Expedition 57 starts when the Soyuz MS-08 crew ship undocks Thursday at 3:57 a.m. EDT. Staying behind are Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) who will command the station with Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev until a new pair of crewmates join the following week.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin will blast off Oct. 11 at 4:40 a.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship and take a six hour ride to their new home in space. The duo is in Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site making final preparations for their 187 day mission.

The station is being replenished today as the crew begins offloading cargo from the HTV-7 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Robotics controllers will soon unload new lithion-ion batteries packed inside HTV-7 and install them on the truss structure to upgrade the station’s power systems. A pair of spacewalks are planned before the end of the month to complete the battery connections.

Japan’s Kounotori Spaceship Attached to Station

Sept. 27, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
Sept. 27, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the HTV-7 and Progress 70 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships.

Ground controllers successfully installed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori 7 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) to the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Harmony module at 10:09 a.m. EDT.

The spacecraft’s arrival supports the crew members’ research off the Earth to benefit the Earth. The cargo spacecraft began its trip on an H-IIB rocket at 1:52 p.m. EDT (2:52 a.m. Japan time) on Saturday, Sat. 22 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The early Thursday morning cargo delivery includes more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

U.S. Astronauts Capture Japanese Spaceship Loaded With Cargo

Japanese Cargo Ship Captured By Canadian Robotic Arm
Japan’s HTV-7 cargo ship is pictured shortly after being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: @Space Station

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA grappled the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) at 7:34 a.m. EDT and successfully completed the capture at 7:36 a.m. At the time of capture, the space station and cargo spacecraft were flying 250 miles above the north Pacific Ocean.

Next, robotic ground controllers will install HTV-7 on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. NASA TV coverage of the berthing will begin at 10 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than originally scheduled, at https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#media

The Japanese cargo ship, whose name means “white stork,” is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

In addition to new hardware to upgrade the station’s electrical power system, the HTV-7 is carrying a new sample holder for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF), a protein crystal growth experiment at low temperatures (JAXA LT PCG), an investigation that looks at the effect of microgravity on bone marrow (MARROW), a Life Sciences Glovebox, and additional EXPRESS Racks.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA TV to Broadcast Arrival of Seventh Japanese Spaceship to Station

Japan’s third resupply ship, the H-II Transfer Vehicle-3
Japan’s third resupply ship, the H-II Transfer Vehicle-3, is pictured in September of 2012 attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module and in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft that launched at 1:52 p.m. EDT Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan is set to arrive at the International Space Station early tomorrow morning.

Beginning Thursday at 6:30 a.m., NASA will provide live coverage of the arrival of the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) via NASA TV and online at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

Capture is scheduled around 8 a.m. Coverage of the final installation to Harmony will resume at 10:30 a.m.

The HTV-7 is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory, including a new glovebox for life sciences investigations. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.