U.S. Cargo Mission Targets Friday Launch as Crew Maintains Lab

The Cygnus cargo craft departs the station on Jan. 31, 2020
The most recent Cygnus cargo craft to visit the station is seen moments before its departure and release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Jan. 31, 2020.

The next U.S. cargo mission is now targeting Friday for its launch to replenish the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition 62 crew is continuing the upkeep of orbital lab systems.

Mission managers are waiting for the weather to clear up at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia so they can launch the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. Cygnus is now targeted to lift off Friday at 3:43 p.m. EST atop an Antares rocket.

Cygnus will arrive at the space station on Sunday packed with new science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware. NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will be in the cupola commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at 5:11 a.m. Robotics controllers will then take over and remotely command the Canadarm2 to install Cygnus to the Unity module where it will stay for three months.

NASA TV will cover all the launch, capture and installation activities live. View the NASA TV schedule here.

Morgan started his day replacing components inside an oxygen generator in the Tranquility module. Afterward, he serviced the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device that enables astronauts to maintain muscle strength during long-term space missions.

Jessica Meir of NASA worked throughout the day in Europe’s Columbus laboratory module. She was shifting cargo to access an area behind the Human Research Facility-2 rack. Once there, she installed cables that link to the Bartomoleo external payload facility on the outside of Columbus.

Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos began Tuesday transferring water from a docked Progress 74 cargo craft to a station tank. Skripochka, who is on his third station flight, then spent the afternoon cleaning cooling loops on a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits.

Crew Studies DNA and Space Flames Before Cargo Ship Launch

Expedition 62 crew portrait with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. Image Credit: NASA
Expedition 62 crew portrait with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. Image Credit: NASA

The three-member Expedition 62 crew is getting ready for a resupply mission scheduled to launch to the International Space Station no earlier than Thursday, Feb. 13, at 4:06 p.m. EST due to an unfavorable weather forecast in the next few days and the time required to address a ground support issue. The crewmates from the United States and Russia also ran advanced space science experiments while maintaining orbital lab systems.

NASA Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir split their time today between robotics training and microgravity research. The two U.S. astronauts used a computer to practice the techniques they will use to capture the Cygnus space freighter Saturday, Feb. 15.

Morgan will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Cygnus. Meir will back him up and monitor the Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous. Ground controllers will take over the Canadarm2 after Cygnus’ capture and remotely install the cargo craft to the Unity module.

Morgan started his day sequencing DNA for the Genes in Space-6 experiment. The experiment places microbial samples inside the hand-held Biomolecule Sequencer to demonstrate the feasibility of space-based DNA sequencing. Results could boost astrobiology research on not just the space station, but also future spacecraft and planetary bodies.

Meir also spent a portion of Monday researching how flames spread in space. She burned a variety of fabric and acrylic samples inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Confined Combustion study. The research will inform the design and development of fire safety products and procedures for humans on Earth and in space.

Commander Oleg Skripochka spent his day in the Russian segment of the station. The veteran cosmonaut primarily serviced life-support gear before checking components on the Progress 74 cargo craft and updating an inventory database.