Crew Prepares to Split Up While Researching Space Biology

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Serena Auñón-Chancellor
NASA astronauts Anne McClain (background) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are pictured inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. McClain watches as Auñón-Chancellor trains on the robotics workstation ahead of the rendezvous and capture of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft on Dec. 8, 2018.

Half of the Expedition 57 crew is getting ready to depart International Space Station while the other half is getting used to life on orbit. Amidst those preparations, all six space residents are researching what microgravity does to their bodies while keeping the orbital lab in tip-top shape.

Commander Alexander Gerst continues unpacking the Space Dragon cargo craft today with its near 5,700 pounds of science, supplies and hardware. The German astronaut from ESA (European Space Agency) is also packing the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship that will take him and two crewmates home next week. He’ll parachute to a landing aboard the Soyuz in Kazakhstan Dec. 20 at 12:03 a.m. EST with fellow crew members Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev after 197 days in space.

Auñón-Chancellor spent Thursday working with a variety of research gear supporting space biology. She processed research samples today in the NanoRacks Plate Reader that enables pharmaceutical and biotechnology science in space. She also stowed biological samples in a science freezer for a cellular adaptation study.

The newest trio aboard the station that arrived last week are hard at work today on human research and getting up to speed on station systems. Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques collected blood and urine samples to be analyzed for the Biochemical Profile space adaptation study. The duo also scheduled some time today to get used to life in space. Four-time station cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko joined Prokopyev for more spacesuit maintenance after Tuesday’s spacewalk.

Well Rested Crew Moves To Human Research, Departure Preps After Spacewalk

NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor (background) and Anne McClain
NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor (background) and Anne McClain work inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module cleaning vents to maintain air circulation aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 57 crew were allowed to catch a few extra hours of sleep today after a lengthy spacewalk Tuesday by the two cosmonauts on board. They then went to work on a variety of microgravity science and lab maintenance aboard the International Space Station.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev performed routine maintenance on their Russian Orlan spacesuits after a seven-hour, 45-minute spacewalk to inspect the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship docked to the station. The duo took detailed photos and captured video of some of the sealant on the outer hull of the Habitation Module used in the repair of a hole discovered inside the vehicle in August.

The other four orbital residents also put in a good night’s sleep after supporting the eighth spacewalk at the station this year. The quartet moved headlong into human research and departure preps after waking up a few hours later than usual today.

Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor drew their own blood samples today and processed them in the Human Research Facility’s centrifuge. The samples were then coagulated and stowed in a science freezer for later analysis. The Biochemical Profile is a long-running study on astronauts and is providing insight into the human body’s adaptation to living in space.

Gerst is also packing the Soyuz spacecraft that will take him, Auñón-Chancellor and Prokopyev back to Earth Dec. 19. This is the same spaceship that was inspected Tuesday by the two Russian spacewalkers.

The station’s newest astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are still getting used to their new home in space. The pair also went about the day working on a variety of maintenance and research.  McClain strapped on an armband monitoring how her body adapts to orbiting Earth 16 times a day after setting up research hardware for two separate experiments. Saint-Jacques deployed over a dozen radiation monitors throughout the station today before some light plumbing work with Gerst in the orbital restroom.

Russian Spacewalkers Complete Crew Vehicle Inspection

Spacewalker Oleg Kononenko
Spacewalker Oleg Kononenko is on the Strela boom getting ready for inspection work on the Soyuz crew vehicle.

Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos completed a spacewalk lasting 7 hours and 45 minutes.

The two cosmonauts opened the hatch to the Pirs docking compartment to begin the spacewalk at 10:59 a.m. EST. They re-entered the airlock and closed the hatch at 6:44 p.m. EST.

During the spacewalk, the two examined the external hull of the Russian Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the space station, took images, and applied a thermal blanket. They also retrieved science experiments from the Rassvet module before heading back inside.

It was the 213th spacewalk in support of International Space Station assembly, maintenance and upgrades, the fourth for Kononenko, and the second for Prokopyev.

Prokopyev, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Alexander Gerst are scheduled to depart the station in the Soyuz MS-09 at 8:42 p.m. Dec. 19, returning home to Earth after a six-and-half-month mission.

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

Russian Spacewalkers Inspecting Crew Ship Today

Pirs Docking Compartment
A pair of empty Orlan spacesuits are seen inside the Pirs Docking Compartment airlock where cosmonauts stage Russian spacewalks.

Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos began a spacewalk when they opened the hatch of the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station at 10:59 a.m. EST.

Kononenko, on his fourth spacewalk today, is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), and is wearing a spacesuit bearing red stripes. Prokopyev, on his second spacewalk, is wearing blue stripes and is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).

Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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

Russian Spacewalk at Station Live on NASA TV Now

Spacewalkers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev
Spacewalkers Oleg Kononenko (left pic from February 2012) and Sergey Prokopyev (right pic from August 2018) will examine the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft that will return three Expedition 57 crew members to Earth Dec. 19.

Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos are preparing to venture outside the International Space Station for a spacewalk at approximately 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 11. NASA Television coverage is now underway and available on the agency’s website.

Over the course of about six hours, the duo will use this spacewalk to examine a section of the external hull of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft currently docked to station, and if time permits, retrieve external experiments.

In late August, a pressure leak occurred from the space station that was traced to the Soyuz. Within hours after finding the source of the leak, crew members sealed the hole and the station has since maintained steady pressure.

The cosmonauts will take samples of any residue found on the hull and take digital images of the area before placing a new thermal blanket over it. The samples and images will provide additional information that will aid the investigation in the cause of the pressure leak.

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

Dragon Attached to Station, Returns to Earth in January

Dec. 8, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 8, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are attached at the space station including the U.S. resupply ships Northrop Grumman Cygnus and the SpaceX Dragon; and Russia’s Progress 70 and 71 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-09 and MS-10 crew ships all from Roscosmos.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 10:36 a.m. EST.

The 16th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,600 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory. Among the research it will bring to station, science investigations and technology demonstrations aboard Dragon include:

The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) will provide high-quality laser ranging observations of the Earth’s forests and topography required to advance the understanding of important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat. GEDI will be mounted on the Japanese Experiment Module’s Exposed Facility and provide the first high-resolution observations of forest vertical structure at a global scale. These observations will quantify the aboveground carbon stored in vegetation and changes that result from vegetation disturbance and recovery, the potential for forests to sequester carbon in the future, and habitat structure and its influence on habitat quality and biodiversity.

A small satellite deployment mechanism, called SlingShot, will be ride up in Dragon and then be installed in a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft prior to its departure from the space station. SlingShot can accommodate as many as 18 CubeSats of any format. After the Cygnus cargo ship departs from station, the spacecraft navigates to an altitude of 280 to 310 miles (an orbit higher than that of the space station) to deploy the satellites.

Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM3) will demonstrate the first transfer and long-term storage of liquid methane, a cryogenic fluid, in microgravity. The ability to replenish and store cryogenic fluids, which can function as a fuel or coolant, will help enable long duration journeys to destinations, such as the Moon and Mars.

Growth of Large, Perfect Protein Crystals for Neutron Crystallography (Perfect Crystals) crystallizes an antioxidant protein found inside the human body to analyze its shape. This research may shed light on how the protein helps protect the human body from ionizing radiation and oxidants created as a byproduct of metabolism. For best results, analysis requires large crystals with minimal imperfections, which are more easily produced in the microgravity environment of the space station.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2019 and return to Earth with more than 4,000 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon in the Grips of Robotic Arm, Installation Occurs Next

SpaceX Dragon Capture
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is moments way from being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

While the International Space Station was traveling about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean north of Papua New Guinea, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, captured the Dragon spacecraft at 7:21 a.m. EST using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

The Dragon lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Wednesday, Dec 5 with more than 5,600 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The International Space Station is an accessible space laboratory with unparalleled capability that is increasing knowledge of engineering and physical sciences, biology, the Earth, and the universe through research and technology demonstrations and providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA’s human research is closing the gaps in current scientific understanding of how best to predict, assess, and solve the problems that humans encounter while living and working in space, and extend that knowledge to protect the women and men who will go forward to the Moon and Mars.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon and Spacewalk Preps as New Crew Adapts to Space

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in July of 2018
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in July of 2018 approaching the International Space Station as both spacecraft were orbiting over the Greek island of Crete.

A Dragon is chasing the International Space Station today to be gracefully captured by a robotic arm early Saturday. The expanded Expedition 57 crew prepared for Dragon’s arrival while conducting science, spacesuit checks and a variety of other station activities.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft has been orbiting Earth for one day now carrying over 5,600 pounds of science, supplies and hardware for the crew. It is due to arrive Saturday around 6 a.m. when astronauts Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon. The duo along with new Flight Engineer Anne McClain trained today for Dragon’s approach and rendezvous.

Gerst later worked on U.S. spacesuit maintenance cleaning their cooling loops. Serena worked on a cement study inside the orbital lab that could inform the construction of future lunar or Martian habitats.

McClain is getting used to her new home in space with fellow Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques who have been onboard the station since Monday. This is Kononenko’s fourth stint at the station and he is unpacking the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft that launched him and his crew to space. McClain and Saint-Jacques are first-time space residents and they worked on a visual perception and orientation study today. The duo also packed up biology research gear that will be stowed in Dragon for return to Earth after it arrives on Saturday.

Kononenko also joined Flight Engineer Sergey Prokopyev to ready a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits for a spacewalk on Dec. 11. The duo will inspect the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship that will return Prokopyev, Gerst and Serena back to Earth Dec. 19 U.S. time.

Dragon Launch Slips One Day as New Crew Moves In

Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst
Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) peers out the International Space Station’s “window to the world,” the seven-windowed cupola. Just outside the cupola are two spacecraft including the Soyuz MS-09 crew craft and Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft with one of its cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays featuring prominently in the frame.

The launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo vessel slipped one day to Wednesday at 1:16 p.m. EST with meteorologists forecasting 90% favorable weather for launch. Meanwhile, the newest crew members aboard the International Space Station are getting used to their new home in space.

Dragon’s 16th mission to the orbital lab will deliver almost 5,700 pounds of science, crew supplies and hardware. The commercial space freighter is due to arrive at the station Saturday when astronauts Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon around 6 a.m.

New station crew members Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are in their second day aboard the station. The trio are familiarizing themselves with station systems and safety procedures today. They began their mission Monday when they launched aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft at 6:31 a.m. and docked just six hours and two minutes later to the Poisk module. The new crew will stay in space until June.

Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst is getting for his return to Earth on Dec. 20 and began packing his personal items today. He’ll wrap up his mission with Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev and land in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship after six-and-a-half months in space.

Expedition 57 Crew Aboard Station Expands to Six

The six-member Expedition 57 crew
The six-member Expedition 57 crew (from left) Serena Auñón-Chancellor, David Saint-Jacques, Alexander Gerst, Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and Sergey Prokopyev gather for a portrait.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos joined Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 2:37 p.m. EST.

The arrival briefly restores the station’s crew complement to six until Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev return to Earth Dec. 20. Expedition 58 officially begins once the three departing spacefarers undock from the space station.

McClain, Saint-Jacques and Konenenko will spend more than six months conducting hundreds of science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars. Some of the investigations they will conduct are sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory on the space station, which Congress designated in 2005 to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth. Highlights of upcoming investigations include experiments in forest observation, robotic refueling, and satellite deployment.

The crew is scheduled to be onboard during the first test flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil.

In March, the station will again return to a full complement of six crew members when they are joined for Expedition 59 by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.

This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.