Cygnus Open for Business as New Science Starts

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir observes a floating sphere of water
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir observes a floating sphere of water formed by microgravity.

The Cygnus space freighter is open for business at the Unity module where it will stay for the next three months. The Expedition 62 crew has begun unloading over three tons of science, supplies and station hardware delivered Tuesday to replenish the orbital lab.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan opened Cygnus’ hatch a few hours after its capture and installation Tuesday morning. Afterward, the duo entered the vehicle and began unpacking and setting up over a ton of new science new experiments. The critical research is being stowed in station science freezers, activated in research racks and readied for upcoming operations.

Meir removed science freezers containing research samples from Cygnus and installed them in EXPRESS racks aboard the station. She also began reviewing operations for the just-delivered OsteOmics-02 study to prevent bone loss on Earth and in space.

Morgan retrieved a variety of research hardware from Cygnus and began integrating and activating them in station systems. The new Mobile SpaceLab, a tissue and cell culturing facility, was installed and powered up on an EXPRESS rack.

In the afternoon, the NASA Flight Engineers joined Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos to review emergency procedures. The trio went over the steps they would take in the unlikely event of a fire, pressure leak or ammonia leak aboard the station. The veteran cosmonaut spent the majority of Wednesday on the upkeep of Russian lab systems.

During the crew’s lunchtime a series of nine nanosatellites were deployed outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. They will each study different phenomena such as X-rays from distant pulsars, atmospheric and natural events and the effects of space radiation on hardware.

U.S. Cygnus Cargo Craft Launch Scrubbed

Cygnus-13 Scrubbed Launch
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket with a Cygnus resupply spacecraft Sunday February 2, 2020 after a scrubbed launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA TV

Northrop Grumman scrubbed tonight’s Antares launch after off-nominal readings from a ground support sensor. Northrop Grumman and NASA have set the next launch attempt to no earlier than Feb. 13 at 4:05 p.m. ET, due to an unfavorable weather forecast over the next two days, and time required to address the ground support issue. NASA TV coverage of the launch will begin at 3:30pm ET. Teams will refresh 24-hour late load cargo the day before. The Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft remain healthy. A launch Thursday would result in a capture of Cygnus on Saturday, Feb. 15. For more information on this mission, please visit www.nasa.gov/northropgrumman and NASA’s homepage .

Follow launch activities at the launch blog and @NASA_Wallops and learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Broadcasts Launch of U.S. Cygnus Cargo Craft

Northrop Grumman Antares CRS-13 Prelaunch
A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen at sunrise as the Moon sets on Pad-0A, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The latest weather forecast is 100% favorable for the launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Northrop Grumman’s 13th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver more than 7,500 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. NASA’s commercial partner Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket carrying its Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station at 5:39 p.m. EST on Feb. 9.

Follow launch activities at the launch blog and @NASA_Wallops and learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

U.S. Cygnus Space Freighter Departs Station After 88 Days

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter
The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments after the Canadarm2 robotic arm released the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman on January 31, 2020.

Northrup Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft departed the International Space Station’s at 9:36 a.m. EST after Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir of NASA commanded its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. At the time of release, the station was flying about 250 miles over the South Pacific just off the West Coast of Chile.

 

For this mission, Cygnus demonstrated a new release position for departure operations and incorporated the first ground-controlled release. The new orientation allowed for easier drift away from the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm.

 

Within 24 hours, Cygnus will begin its secondary mission deploying a series of payloads. The departing spacecraft will move a safe distance away from the space station before deploying a series of CubeSats: HuskySat-1 (University of Washington), SwampSat II (University of Florida), EdgeCube (Sonoma State University), and CIRis (Utah State University).

 

Northrop Grumman flight controllers in Dulles, Virginia, will initiate its deorbit and execute a safe, destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere at the end of February. 

 

The next Cygnus is set to launch to station on Feb. 9 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia carrying another batch of research.

 

The spacecraft arrived on station November 2 delivering cargo under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Astronauts Wrap Up Spacewalk Repair Job on Cosmic Ray Detector

Astronaut Luca Parmitano during the final spacewalk to repair a cosmic ray detector
A helmet cam attached to the spacesuit of astronaut Andrew Morgan pictures astronaut Luca Parmitano during the final spacewalk to repair a cosmic ray detector.

Expedition 61 crew members Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) concluded their spacewalk at 1:20 p.m. EST. During the 6 hour, 16 minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully completed leak checks for the cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and opened a valve to being pressurizing the system. Preliminary testing shows AMS is responding as expected.

Ground teams will work over the next several days to fill the new AMS thermal control system with carbon dioxide, allow the system to stabilize, and power on the pumps to verify and optimize their performance. The tracker, one of several detectors on AMS, should be collecting science data again before the end of next week. The upgraded cooling system is expected to support AMS through the lifetime of the space station.

AMS is a joint effort between NASA and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and is led by Principal Investigator Samuel Ting, a Nobel laureate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The AMS team includes some 600 physicists from 56 institutions in 16 countries from Europe, North America and Asia. AMS has been capturing high-energy cosmic rays to help researchers answer fundamental questions about the nature of antimatter, the unseen “dark matter” that makes up most of the mass in the universe, and the even-more-mysterious dark energy that is speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.

The astronauts also completed an additional task to remove degraded lens filters on two  high-definition video cameras.

This was the fourth spacewalk by Morgan and Parmitano to repair the spectrometer and the 227th in support of station assembly, maintenance and upgrades. For Morgan, it was the seventh spacewalk of his career, for a total of 45 hours and 48 minutes, and the sixth for Parmitano, with a total of 33 hours and 9 minutes, who will return to Earth Feb. 6 in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to complete a six-and-a-half month mission on the outpost. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 59 days 12 hours and 26 minutes working outside the station. This was also the ninth spacewalk for the Expedition 61 crew, more than in any other increment in the history of the station.

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

Dragon Released from Station Carrying Science for Earth-Analysis

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured moments after its release
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured moments after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm on January 7, 2020. Credit: @Space_Station

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft released from the International Space Station at 5:05 a.m. EST after flight controllers in Houston delivered remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 61 Station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will back up the ground controllers and monitor Dragon’s systems as it departs the orbital laboratory.

Next up, Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the station, then execute a deorbit burn as it heads for a parachute-assisted splashdown around 10:41 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Long Beach, California. The splashdown will not air on NASA TV.

Some of the scientific investigations Dragon will return to Earth include:

 Tiny Radiation Resistors

Rotifer-B1 examines the effects of spaceflight on tiny aquatic animals, called rotifers, which are found in freshwater ecosystems and soil and are highly resistant to radiation on Earth. The investigation specifically looks at the metabolism and genome of the rotifer Adineta vaga to determine whether they have similar adaptation mechanisms in microgravity.

 Mice in Space

Rodent Research-19 examines myostatin and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

 Finding the Perfect Solution

On Earth, our bodies deal with low-level radiation through a naturally occurring protein that helps our body safely process it. The Growth of Large, Perfect Protein Crystals for Neutron Crystallography (Perfect Crystals) study, aims to help scientists find a way to deal with the problem of radiation during long-duration spaceflight missions using the same protein that is already at work in our bodies.

 Convection and Crystallization in Microgravity

The Polymer Convection study examines the effects of gravity on formation and crystallization of Broadband Angular Selective Material (BASM), an optical material with the ability to control the reflection and absorption of light. BASM has applications in polymer packaging, optical films, solar power and electronic displays.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations providing opportunities for U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments and products that improve life on Earth. Conducting science aboard the orbiting laboratory will help us learn how to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.

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.

Science-Filled Dragon Set to Leave Station Tuesday Morning

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured moments before its release
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured moments before its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm on June 3, 2019.

Filled with almost 3,600 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo, a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft is set to leave the International Space Station Tuesday, Jan. 7. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 4:45 a.m. EST.

Dragon will be released from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module after flight controllers at mission control in Houston deliver remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 61 Station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will back up the ground controllers and monitor Dragon’s systems as it departs the orbital laboratory. The spacecraft is scheduled for release at approximately 5:03 a.m. EST.

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, 202 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, at approximately 10:41 a.m. (7:41 p.m. PST). There will be no live coverage of deorbit burn or splashdown.

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.

Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft Touches Down in New Mexico

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lands
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lands under three main parachutes in White Sands, New Mexico, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed the first touchdown on land of a human-rated space capsule in U.S. history Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, wrapping up the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner settled gently onto its air bags at 7:58 a.m. EST in a pre-dawn landing that helps set the stage for future crewed landings at the same site. The landing followed a deorbit burn at 7:23 a.m., separation of the spacecraft’s service module, and successful deployment of its three main parachutes and six airbags.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 10 a.m. with:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch Division
  • Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

The news conference will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

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.

U.S. Starliner Spacecraft Fires Engines to Return to Earth

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft
Illustration of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Credit: Boeing

NASA TV and the agency’s website continue to provide live coverage of the landing of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

At 7:23 a.m. EST, the spacecraft began its deorbit burn that puts Starliner on the right path to land at White Sands, New Mexico at 7:57 a.m. The service module has successfully separated from the crew module containing Rosie the rocketeer, an anthropometric test device whose sensors will provide teams on Earth valuable data for when crew members land in the Starliner.

At 7:53 the drogue parachute will be released, pulling out the spacecraft’s three main parachutes that will slow the capsule to a safe landing on Earth a little more than an hour before sunrise in the southwestern desert.

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.

NASA TV Broadcasting Live Landing Coverage of Starliner Today

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches on Dec. 20, 2019, from Florida. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA and Boeing will provide live coverage of the landing on Sunday, Dec. 22, of the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, on return from its Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner will execute a deorbit burn at 7:23 a.m. EST to begin its return to Earth, headed for a parachute-assisted landing at 7:57 a.m. at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide mission coverage ahead the spacecraft reentry and landing beginning at 6:45 a.m.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 10 a.m. with:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch Division
  • Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

The news conference will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The uncrewed Starliner spacecraft launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket Friday, Dec. 20, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Though Starliner did not reach the planned orbit or dock to the space station as planned, Boeing still was able to complete a number of test objectives. Teams from NASA, Boeing and ULA worked quickly to ensure the spacecraft was in a stable orbit and preserved enough fuel for multiple landing opportunities.

Boeing Starliner updates provides the latest information from the Orbital Flight Test.

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.