New Space Toilet, Advanced Science Shipped for Monday Arrival

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket with the Cygnus space freighter atop blasts off from Virginia on its way to resupply the Expedition 63 aboard the space station.
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket with the Cygnus space freighter atop blasts off from Virginia on its way to resupply the Expedition 63 aboard the space station.

The solar arrays have successfully deployed on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft that is on its way to deliver nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations, technology demonstrations, commercial products, and other cargo to the International Space Station after launching at 9:16 p.m. EDT Thursday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival to the orbiting laboratory will begin Monday, Oct. 5 at 3:45 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus, while Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos monitors telemetry during rendezvous, capture, and installation on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port. NASA TV coverage of the spacecraft’s installation will begin at 7:30 a.m.

This delivery – Northrop Grumman’s 14th contracted cargo flight to the space station and the third under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA – will support dozens of new and existing investigations.

Included aboard Cygnus for delivery to the space station are:

 Improving how we ‘go’ in space

A new toilet is headed to the space station. Its features improve on current space toilet operations and help NASA prepare for future missions, including those to the Moon and Mars. The Universal Waste Management System (UWMS) demonstrates a compact toilet and the Urine Transfer System that further automates waste management and storage. The smaller footprint of the UWMS supports a possible increase in the number of crew members aboard the space station, as well as planning for future exploration missions.

 Energy and water from waste

The investigation Elucidating the Ammonia Electrochemical Oxidation Mechanism via Electrochemical Techniques at the ISS (Ammonia Electrooxidation) examines a process for ammonia oxidation in microgravity. An electrochemical ammonia removal system could serve as an innovative water recovery system on long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars and provide vital drinkable water in remote and arid areas on Earth.

 Adding radishes to the space salad

A new crop of vegetables is headed to the space station. While previous experiments have grown different types of lettuces and greens aboard the orbiting laboratory, the Assessment of Nutritional Value and Growth Parameters of Space-grown Plants (Plant Habitat-02) investigation adds radishes to the mix, cultivating seeds to see how different light and soil conditions affect growth. Findings could help optimize growth of the plants in space, as well as provide an assessment of their nutrition and taste.

 Identifying targeted cancer treatments

The Leveraging Microgravity to Screen Onco-selective Messenger RNAs for Cancer Immunotherapy (Onco-Selectors) investigation tests drugs based on messenger ribonucleic acids (mRNA) for treating leukemia. In normal gravity, the drugs to be tested are onco-selective, meaning they can distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones. Researchers expect any drugs that also demonstrate this trait in microgravity could make good candidates for safer, more effective, and affordable medicines to treat leukemia and other cancers. This could improve survival rates for thousands of people every year.

 Spacewalks in virtual reality

The International Space Station Experience (ISS Experience) is creating an immersive virtual reality series documenting life and research aboard the space station. Partnering with the ISS National Lab and TIME, a team from Felix and Paul Studios launched a customized 360-degree camera to the space station in December 2018 that crew members have used to record a few hours inside the station every week. Felix and Paul and partner NanoRacks further modified an additional camera to withstand the extreme conditions of space and are launching for use in filming a spacewalk. The new camera will be mounted to the Canadarm2 to capture a spacewalk from start to finish as well as footage of Earth and the exterior of the space station.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help 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 through NASA’s Artemis program.

In addition to science and research, this launch will also support commercial space endeavors. Estée Lauder’s New Advanced Night Repair serum will be photographed in the space station’s iconic cupola window as part of NASA’s efforts to enable commercial activities at the space station and develop a robust low-Earth orbit economy. The imagery will be used on the brand’s social media platforms. These opportunities can help catalyze and expand space exploration markets for many businesses.

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

New Station Trio Resting Today After Crew Departure

Expedition 64 crew members (from left) NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov pose for a crew portrait.
Expedition 64 crew members (from left) NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov pose for a crew portrait.

Three Expedition 64 crew members are sleeping in today following the departure of their Expedition 63 crewmates the day before. Back on Earth, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner have begun the flight back to their home space agencies.

The International Space Station is quiet today as Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov rest after preparing their crewmates for the short ride to Earth on Wednesday. The trio will resume their normal schedule on Friday and begin revving up advanced space science to improve life for humans on and off the Earth.

The next crew to visit the orbiting lab is targeting early to mid November to launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft from Florida. Four Commercial Crew astronauts, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, are planned to live and work on the station until Spring.

NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy and Crewmates Return Safely to Earth

The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft is seen as it lands in Kazakhstan with Expedition 63 crew. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos landed on Earth at 10:54 p.m. EDT in Kazakhstan. The trio departed the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft at 7:32 p.m.

Cassidy now has spent a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest among U.S. astronauts.

After post-landing medical checks, the crew will split up to return home; Cassidy will board a NASA plane back to Houston, and Vagner and Ivanishin will fly home to Star City, Russia.

Remaining aboard the station is the three-person crew of Expedition 64 with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, and station commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos. Upon the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission targeted to launch in November, the station’s long-duration crew will expand to seven people for the first time with the addition of NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

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.

Watch NASA TV for Crew Return to Earth

The Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 62 crew.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are now broadcasting live coverage of the return to Earth of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft carrying the trio is expected to make its deorbit burn at 10 p.m. to set the spaceship on its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:55 p.m.

While on station, Cassidy contributed to hundreds of experiments, including a study of the influence of gravity on electrolytic gas evolution, a complex electrochemical process with multiple applications on Earth and in space. Electrolysis generates bubbles that can be used to create pressure differentials in microfluidic devices, such as skin patches, used to deliver medications. Microgravity makes it possible to single out bubble growth and study its effect on the process.

During this latest mission, Cassidy served as commander of Expedition 63, contributed to hundreds of experiments, and welcomed SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley of NASA– the first astronauts to launch to the space station on an American spacecraft from American soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

Cassidy and Behnken completed four spacewalks, totaling 23 hours and 37 minutes, to upgrade station batteries. The final spacewalk was the 10th for both astronauts, making them two of only four only U.S. astronauts to complete 10 spacewalks. Cassidy now has spent a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest among U.S. astronauts.

Cassidy also worked with Astrobee, cube-shaped, free-flying robots that may one day assist astronauts with routine duties, and conducted research for the Onco-Selectors experiment, which leverages microgravity to identify targeted cancer therapies.

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.

Homecoming Day Arrives for Three Station Crewmates

(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will return to Earth completing a 196-day research mission aboard the space station.
(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will return to Earth completing a 196-day research mission aboard the space station.

It is departure day aboard the International Space Station for three Expedition 63 crew members.

The entire six-member space station crew slept in and shifted their schedules to accommodate tonight’s homecoming activities. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will board their Soyuz MS-16 crew ship and undock from the Poisk module at 7:32 p.m. EDT, soar through Earth’s atmosphere and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:55 p.m. (Oct. 22, 7:55 a.m. Baikonur time).

All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV. Coverage of crew farewells and hatch closing will begin at 3:30 p.m. Undocking coverage will begin at 7 p.m., and Soyuz deorbit burn and landing coverage at 9:30 p.m.

The trio is wrapping up final cargo loading today as they pack station hardware, research samples and personal items inside the Soyuz. After landing, the crew will have logged 196 days in space and circled Earth over 3,100 times for a total of just over 83 million miles.

Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos will assume command of the orbiting lab at the moment the departing crewmates undock tonight. He will be leading Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov during their planned 185-day space research mission.

Veteran Space Residents Swap Command Today

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (left) will hand over command of the station to Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov (right) today.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (left) will hand over command of the station to Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov (right) today.

Two veteran International Space Station crew members will swap command of the orbiting lab during the traditional Change of Command Ceremony this afternoon.

The six-member space station crew will gather together at 4:15 p.m. EDT when Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA ceremonially hands control of the station to Expedition 64 cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos. Ryzhikov will officially begin his command on Wednesday when Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner undock from the station at 7:32 p.m. inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Meanwhile, science and maintenance activities are moving right along inside the space station. Cassidy and NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins both had time set aside today collecting blood, saliva and urine for stowage and later analysis. Rubins then checked out research hardware and plumbing gear before familiarizing herself with station systems.

Ryzhikov and Vagner spent a couple of hours swabbing surfaces in the Russian segment of the station collecting microbial samples and placing them in petri dishes for incubation and analysis. Vagner also joined Ivanishin to test the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit for its ability counteract some adverse effects of long-duration spaceflight and prepare the duo for the return to Earth’s gravity.

New space flyer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov synchronized cameras with clocks on station laptop computers and worked on Russian plumbing tasks. The cosmonaut also is getting used to living and working in space for the first time.

Crews Change Command on Tuesday; Leak Temporarily Sealed

The sun's first rays burst over the Earth's horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.
The sun’s first rays burst over the Earth’s horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.

Two veteran International Space Station residents will have a Change of Command ceremony on Tuesday before the Expedition 63 crew returns to Earth the following day. Meanwhile, the Russian portion of the crew has temporarily sealed a leak on the orbiting lab.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will hand over control of the space station to cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov on Tuesday. The duo will be joined by the rest of their crewmates for the traditional event live on NASA TV starting at 4:15 p.m. EDT.

Cassidy will spend one more night in space with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner before departing the station on Wednesday inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. They will undock from the Poisk module at 7:32 p.m., re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere just over three hours later and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:55 p.m. (Oct. 22, 7:55 a.m. Baikonur time). All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Expedition 64 officially begins when Cassidy undocks with his two Russian crewmates. New station Commander Ryzhikov will stay in space until April with Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos.

Russian crew members were able to temporarily seal the air leak teams have been investigating aboard the station. The leak, which has been investigated for several months, continues to pose no immediate danger to the crew at the current leak rate. Roscosmos engineers are working with the station crew to develop a forward plan to permanently seal the suspected leak location.

Space Science Picking Up Before Trio Departs for Earth

Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.
Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.

Science is doubling up on the International Space Station with the addition of three new space residents. However, they will split up on Oct. 21 before four more astronauts launch to join the Expedition 64 crew in November.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second station mission, is stepping into her role as space scientist today while getting up to speed with life on orbit. She wore virtual reality goggles to explore how her sense of perception is adapting to microgravity. Rubins later serviced a biology research device that can produce up to 2g of artificial gravity.

Rubins’ fellow crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will stay with her in space until April. Ryzhikov, on his second stay aboard the orbiting lab, unpacked cargo from the new Soyuz MS-17 crew ship today. First-time space-flyer Kud-Sverchkov checked out Russian science hardware.

Station Commander Chris Cassidy is nearing the end of his stay onboard the station with crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio have been packing cargo and personal items inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that will parachute the crew back to Earth on Oct. 21. Cassidy will hand over command of the station to Ryzhikov on Oct. 20.

All six station residents got together in the middle of the day and reviewed their emergency roles and responsibilities.

Meanwhile, four astronauts are planning to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The company’s first operational crew mission is targeted to launch no sooner than early-to-mid November. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi and stay in space until the Spring.

Expedition 64 Crew Docks to Station to Begin Six-Month Mission

The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship with the Expedition 64 crew inside is pictured just a few meters away from the Rassvet module's docking port.
The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship with the Expedition 64 crew inside is pictured just a few meters away from the Rassvet module’s docking port.

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov docked to the International Space Station at 4:48 a.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 261 miles above the Mediterranean Sea.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

Watch the hatch opening on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 6 a.m. for hatch opening targeted for 6:45 a.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/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.

Cancer, Bone Loss Studies on Station Promote Earth and Space Health

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy unpacks fresh fruit and other food items shipped aboard the Northrop Grumman Cygnus.

Cancer therapy was the main focus of Friday’s research aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 63 crew is also getting ready to return to Earth while still finding time for more science work.

Microgravity research on the station has enabled pharmaceutical innovations with real benefits for patients on Earth. Biology experiments in space also provide insights into how the human body adapts to weightlessness. This helps doctors keep astronauts healthy as NASA plans missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The Onco-Selectors study taking place today inside the space station’s Life Sciences Glovebox, installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module, seeks to develop drugs that could improve the survival rate of cancer patients. Commander Chris Cassidy spent most of Friday mixing and applying a treatment to healthy and cancerous cell samples being observed for the new cancer investigation.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again exploring ways to reverse the loss of bone mass that occurs during a long-term space mission. The Russian duo worked throughout the day setting up hardware and logging meals and drinks to monitor and understand the mechanisms of bone loss caused by weightlessness.

The two cosmonauts are also gearing up for their return to Earth with Cassidy in less than two weeks. They have been gathering station hardware and personal items that will soon be stowed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All three crew members will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz spacecraft ending their 196-day space research mission on Oct. 21.