Station Gets Ready to Swap Two Crews in Five Days

Expedition 52-53 crew members
Expedition 52-53 crew members (from left) Paolo Nespoli, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Randy Bresnik are suited up for a test run of their Soyuz undocking and landing.

The Expedition 53 crew is getting ready to split up Thursday morning before another crew begins its mission next week. Soyuz Commander Sergey Ryazanskiy will pilot his crew mates Randy Bresnik of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency in the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft back to Earth after 139 days in space. The trio is scheduled to undock from the Rassvet module at 12:14 a.m. Thursday and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 3:38 a.m.

New Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin will stay onboard the orbital laboratory with Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei of NASA until March. The trio have been onboard the station since Sept. 12 and will welcome a new set of crewmates next week when the Soyuz MS-07 crew ship arrives.

The next space travelers to board the station will be veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and new astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. They are the Expedition 54-55 crew and are in Kazakhstan in final training ahead of their launch Sunday at 2:21 a.m. Shkaplerov, flanked by Tingle and Kanai, will take a two-day trip inside the Soyuz to the station before docking Tuesday at 3:43 a.m. for a four-month stay at the station.

Station Ramps Up for December Cargo and Crew Swaps

Expedition 54-55 Crew Members
The next crew to visit the International Space Station was in Moscow last week posing in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral for traditional ceremonies. From left are Anton Shkaplerov from Roscosmos, Scott Tingle from NASA and Norishige Kanai from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

A pair of commercial resupply missions are coming and going this week at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, a new crew has arrived at its launch site to prepare for a Dec. 17 liftoff to the orbital laboratory. All missions to and from the station this month will be televised live on NASA TV.

NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba are brushing up on their robotics skills today ahead of this week’s release of the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship. Ground controllers will remotely command the Canadarm2 on Tuesday to detach Cygnus from the Unity module. While still attached to the Canadarm2, Cygnus will be used for a series of communications tests to assist NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Then on Wednesday, the two astronauts will be in the cupola commanding the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus into Earth orbit at 8:10 a.m. EST.

Just two days later on Friday, the SpaceX Dragon will launch at 1:20 p.m. from the Kennedy Space Center where it will begin a two-day trip to the space station. Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli is cleaning up a pair of modules today to make way for the nearly 4,800 pounds of crew supplies and research gear Dragon is delivering to the station. Dragon is due to arrive Sunday at 6 a.m. when it will be captured by Vande Hei and Acaba once again operating the Canadarm2.

Three Expedition 53 crew members are due to return to Earth Dec. 14 after 139 days in space. Nespoli, Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Soyuz Commander Sergey Ryazanskiy will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spaceship.

The homebound trio will be replaced shortly after that when the Expedition 54-55 crew launches Dec. 17 for a two-day ride to its new home in space. Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov will blast off with two first-time astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to begin a four-month tour on the orbital laboratory. The crew has arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and is in final launch preparations.

Robotic Arm Reaches Out and Grapples Cygnus

Robotic Arm Reaches Out and Grapples Cygnus
The Canadarm2 robotic arm is seen grappling the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship on Nov. 14, 2017. Credit: NASA TV

At 5:04 a.m., Expedition 53 Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Randy Bresnik of NASA successfully captured Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft using the International Space Station’s robotic arm. Robotic ground controllers will position Cygnus for installation to the orbiting laboratory’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 6:15 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning.

Learn more about the Orbital ATK CRS-8 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station.

Pope Francis and Expedition 53 Crew Exchange Thoughts About Humanity’s Deepest and Oldest Questions

Pope Francis calls ISS
On a screen at right in NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Pope Francis speaks to the crew aboard the International Space Station on Oct. 26. Image Credit: NASA

In the middle of a workday where the Expedition 53 crew performed a routine emergency drill and additional ocular ultrasounds to map any eye changes, there was, most certainly, a higher (phone) call that actually came from more than 200 miles below the International Space Station at the Vatican: Pope Francis phoned in.

It was no ordinary ESA (European Space Agency) in-flight event. Though the Pope did ask the requisite question—what motivated them to become astronauts/cosmonauts—the conference delved quickly into deeper topics, like the crew’s thoughts of humankind’s place in the universe. Each crew member took turns speaking to Pope Francis through ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli of Italy, who translated.

Nespoli indicated that while he remains perplexed at humankind’s role, he feels their main objective is enriching the knowledge around us. The more we know, the more we realize we don’t. Part of space station’s ultimate mission is filling in those gaps and revealing the mysteries locked away in the cosmos.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky of Roscosmos told the Pope that it was an honor to continue his grandfather’s legacy aboard the orbiting laboratory. Ryazansky’s grandfather was a chief engineer of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite to launch to space. Ryazansky said he is now part of the future of humanity, helping to open frontiers of new technology.

Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA spoke candidly to Pope Francis, saying that one cannot serve aboard the space station and not be touched to their soul. From Bresnik’s unique vantage orbiting Earth, it is obvious there are no borders. Also evident: a fragile band of atmosphere protecting billions of people below.

Pope Francis said that while society is individualistic, we need collaboration—and there is no better example of international teamwork and cohesiveness than the space station. It is the ultimate human experiment, showing that people from diverse backgrounds can band together to solve some of the most daunting problems facing the world.

“The totality is greater than the sum of its parts,” Pope Francis observed.

At the end of the call, the Pope thanked his new friends, offered his blessings and asked that they, too, pray for him in return.

Expedition 53 Inspires the Next Generation, Learns More About How the Human Body Responds to Space

Commander Randy Bresnik
Commander Randy Bresnik addresses students in Kiev, Ukraine, during an in-flight event Oct. 25. Image Credit: NASA TV

Mid-week, the crew of Expedition 53 completed tasks to investigate the various ways microgravity affects the human body and shared the benefits of the International Space Station with students in Kiev, Ukraine, during a Public Affairs in-flight event.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA spoke with U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch live on NASA TV, and she moderated questions from Ukrainian and U.S. Embassy students eager to hear more on what it takes to be an astronaut aboard the orbiting laboratory. Bresnik spoke of his extensive training regimen before embarking on his mission, but reiterated that working together cohesively with a team and getting along with others ranked at the top of needed skills for an explorer. Bresnik also touted fellow crewmate Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA’s upcoming project on Friday: harvesting lettuce (five kinds, no less) that has been growing in space. He reminded the students that seeds may be a key component to deep space missions due to their small space requirements, making them perfect for packing into a compact spacecraft. Growing food is also the most sustainable option for crews hoping to live on the Red Planet for an extended period of time. Before closing out the event, Bresnik told the students to always nurture their thirst for knowledge, as it’s a trait that can be found among all astronauts and cosmonauts.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Paolo Nespoli took part in Day 2 of the 11-day study for Astronaut’s Energy Requirements for Long-Term Space Flight (Energy), an investigation zeroing in on the side effects of space travel. Today, he collected water samples from the station, continued with urine collection and stowed the deployed Pulmonary Function System equipment. The crew, as a whole, logged their food and drink consumption, furthering beefing up critical data for investigators. Physicians will examine metabolic rates, urine content and bone density to determine energy requirements for even longer missions in deep space. Since astronauts often lose body mass during extended stays for reasons that remain unclear, specifics about the crew’s metabolism and activities, as well as other conditions, help ensure they are properly nourished for their demanding schedules in zero-g.

A small amount of Freon (about 100 milliliters) leaked out from a small nanosatellite poised to be launched from Kibo on Friday. There is no risk to crew health and safety and no risk to station hardware. Teams remain on track to deploy this nanosatellite Friday.

Culmination of Spacewalks Leads into Studies on Crew Health and Performance

aurora borealis
A spectacular aurora borealis, or “northern lights,” over Canada is sighted from the International Space Station near the highest point of its orbital path. Image Credit: NASA

After a trio of spacewalks this month, including the final one conducted last Friday by Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA, the Expedition 53 crew returned to a schedule of full-time science this week.

Today, the crew explored how lighting aboard the International Space Station affects their performance and health. One such investigation is called Lighting Effects, which studies the impact of the change from fluorescent light bulbs to LEDs. By adjusting intensity and color, investigators on the ground will use crew feedback to determine if new lights can improve crew circadian rhythms, sleep and cognitive performance.

Blood and urine samples were also collected and stowed in the Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, marking Flight Day 30 for the Biochemical Profile and Repository experiments. Specific proteins and chemicals in the samples are used as biomarkers, or indicators of health. Armed with a database of test results, scientists can learn more about how spaceflight changes the human body and protect future astronauts on a journey to Mars based on their findings.

Expedition 53 is also preparing a microsatellite carrying an optical imaging system payload for deployment. Its operation in low-Earth orbit will attempt to solidify the concept that these small satellites are viable investigative platforms that can support critical operations and host advanced payloads.

Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk and Check Science Gear

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei is pictured tethered to the outside of the U.S. Destiny laboratory module during a spacewalk on Oct. 10, 2017.

Two NASA astronauts are getting ready to go on their mission’s third spacewalk on Friday. In the midst of those preparations, the Expedition 53 crew also worked on science gear exploring a wide variety of space phenomena.

Commander Randy Bresnik is preparing to go on the third spacewalk this month with NASA astronaut Joe Acaba. Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Mark Vande Hei will assist the spacewalking duo in and out of their spacesuits on Friday.

The spacewalkers will replace a camera light on the Canadarm2’s newly-installed Latching End Effector and install a high-definition camera on the starboard truss. Other tasks include the replacement of a fuse on Dextre’s payload platform and the removal of thermal insulation on two electrical spare parts housed on stowage platforms.

Bresnik started his day working on a specialized camera that photograph’s meteors entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Acaba finally wrapped up the day configuring a microscope inside the Fluids Integrated Rack.

Nespoli, from the European Space Agency, set up the new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) for a workout session today. Researchers are exploring the MED-2 for its ability to provide effective workouts while maximizing space aboard a spacecraft.

Station Crew Gearing Up for Three October Spacewalks

Astronauts Richard Arnold and Joseph Acaba
Astronauts Richard Arnold (bottom) and Joseph Acaba are pictured during a spacewalk in March of 2009. The duo were visiting the space station as STS-119 mission specialists aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Two astronauts are getting ready for a spacewalk set to begin Thursday at 8:05 a.m. EDT. This will be the first of three spacewalks taking place this month for maintenance at the International Space Station.

NASA TV is broadcasting a live briefing at 2 p.m. today describing what will take place during the three spacewalks planned for Oct. 5, 10 and 18. NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei will go outside for the first two spacewalks. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba will join Bresnik for the third and final spacewalk.

The first spacewalk will focus on the removal and replacement of one of the Canadarm2’s latching end effectors (LEE). The second and third spacewalks will concentrate on the lubrication of the LEE and the installation of a pair of external cameras. You can watch all three spacewalks live on NASA TV beginning at 6:30 a.m. here… https://www.nasa.gov/live

Ground controllers are remotely maneuvering the Canadarm2 to the correct worksite today to allow the spacewalkers access to its LEE. The three astronauts are also installing rechargeable batteries on their spacesuits and reviewing their tasks with specialists in Mission Control.


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

 

NASA TV Broadcasts Dragon Release Early Sunday

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured attached to the Harmony module shortly after its arrival in mid-August.

NASA Television coverage of the departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station is set to begin early Sunday morning, Sept. 17 at 4:30 a.m. EDT. Watch the spacecraft departure live at http://www.nasa.gov/live

Dragon has been loaded with more than 3,800 pounds of cargo and research to be returned to Earth and its internal hatch closed. The spacecraft is targeted for release at 4:40 a.m.

Dragon launched to the space station Aug. 14 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying more than 6,400 pounds of supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s twelfth commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

Get breaking news, images, videos and features from the station on social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/ISS
http://instagram.com/iss
http://www.twitter.com/Space_Station


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

Expedition 52 Trio Undocks from Station

Expedition 52 Trio Undocks
The Expedition 52 trio undocked on time from the International Space Station inside their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA, along with Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, undocked from the International Space Station at 5:58 p.m. EDT to begin their voyage home. Whitson spent 288 days in space on this mission, and Fischer and Yurchikhin each completed 136 days in space.

The deborbit burn is targeted for 8:29 p.m., and will lead to a landing at 9:22 p.m. NASA Television coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 8 p.m.

Watch live coverage online at: www.nasa.gov/live

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at:

www.nasa.gov/station

Get breaking news, images, videos and features from the station on social media at:


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