Expedition 70 Focuses on Science as Ax-3 Crew Returns to Earth

The space station is pictured from the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour during its departure and flyaround on Nov. 8, 2021.
The space station is pictured from the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft during its departure and flyaround on Nov. 8, 2021.

The Expedition 70 crew was in the middle of its shift aboard the International Space Station when the Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crew splashed down off the coast of Florida on Friday. The seven orbital residents were exploring how microgravity affects bone cells and optical fibers while the Ax-3 crew was retrieved aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean near Daytona.

NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara took turns on Friday processing bone cells inside the Kibo laboratory module on Friday afternoon. The cells are housed inside a specialized habitat designed for the Microgravity Associated Bone Loss-A investigation and may provide a better understanding of space-caused bone loss and aging-related bone conditions on Earth.

O’Hara also swapped optical fiber samples being drawn inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Flawless Space Fibers study. The space physics study seeks to produce optical fibers in space that are superior to those manufactured in Earth’s gravity environment. Moghbeli photographed plants growing for the APEX-10 space botany study then checked power connections on the European Drawer Rack, a research facility that can support experiments running autonomously.

Commander Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) stowed centrifuge-spun and incubated blood samples in a science freezer. Those samples will be analyzed later to gain insights into the adaptability of the human immune system in weightlessness. The ESA astronaut later attached sensors and breathing monitors to himself then pedaled on an exercise bike for an aerobics and fitness test.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency) Satoshi Furukawa spent his day servicing a variety of orbital plumbing gear and exercise hardware. Furukawa started the day inside the Tranquility module replacing hydraulic components inside the station’s restroom, also known as the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. In the afternoon, he went back in Tranquility and installed a new instrumentation box and set up a laptop computer to support operations on the advanced resistive exercise device which mimics the inertial load of free-weights on Earth.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub joined each other Friday afternoon training on a computer for next week’s departure of the Progress 85 resupply ship. Earlier, Kononenko packed the Progress 85 with trash and discarded gear for disposal. Chub investigated futuristic spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques that may inform planetary missions. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent his day inside the Nauka science module cleaning smoke detectors.

Ax-3 Commander Michael López-Alegría returned to Earth on Friday with Pilot Walter Villadei and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravcı and Marcus Wandt. The private quartet of astronauts from Axiom Space spent 18 days aboard the orbital outpost. The foursome orbited Earth for two more days after their departure before splashing down in the SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft off the coast of Daytona, Florida.


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

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Immunity, Robotics, and Optical Fibers Top Station’s Research Schedule

Astronauts (from left) Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara are pictured inside the cupola with the Cygnus resupply ship outside in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
Astronauts (from left) Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara are pictured inside the cupola with the Cygnus resupply ship outside in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The International Space Station has returned to its standard configuration of seven Expedition 70 crew members conducting advanced microgravity research and orbital lab maintenance. The four Axiom Mission 3 guests ended their stay at the orbital outpost on Wednesday and are targeting a return to Earth on Friday.

Biomedical science and space physics dominated the research schedule on Thursday as the crew investigated human immunity, robotic surgery, and optical fibers. The investigations have the potential to improve astronaut health, expand commercial space opportunities, and benefit the communications industry on Earth.

Flight Engineers Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA and Satoshi Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) began Thursday morning collecting their blood and saliva samples for analysis. Next, Commander Andreas Mogensen spun the blood samples in a centrifuge preparing the samples for stowage in a science freezer and others for placement in an incubator. The high-flying lab work will help doctors understand how spaceflight impacts an astronaut’s immune system.

Moghbeli then spent the afternoon, assisted by cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, inspecting the condition of structures inside the Zvezda service module. Furukawa collected metallic samples exposed to extreme heat then cleaned the inside of the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a specialized, high-temperature furnace. Mogensen later photographed the Moon then readied the Columbus laboratory module for the installation of a new Metal 3D Printer.

NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara installed a miniature surgical robot in the Destiny laboratory module that will demonstrate remotely controlled, or tele-operated, surgical techniques from Earth. Afterward, O’Hara worked in the Microgravity Science Glovebox testing the production of optical fibers superior to those manufactured in Earth’s gravity environment.

Prior to assisting Moghbeli, Kononenko strapped on a sensor-packed cap that measured his responses while practicing futuristic spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub checked out a carbon dioxide removal device then replaced an air conditioner power supply unit. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent his day servicing orbital plumbing gear, testing video hardware, and replacing smoke detectors.


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

Get weekly video highlights at: https://roundupreads.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Bone, Optical Fiber Studies as Ax-3 Crew Nears Departure

Astronauts (from left) Loral O'Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli are pictured in front of the Microgravity Science Glovebox, a biology and physics research facilty.
Astronauts (from left) Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli are pictured in front of the Microgravity Science Glovebox, a biology and physics research facilty inside the Destiny laboratory module.

Four Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) astronauts continue waiting for favorable weather conditions before ending their stay at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 70 crew focused its research objectives on bone health and high-quality optical fibers on Tuesday.

Mission managers from NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom Space waved off Tuesday’s planned undocking for the Ax-3 mission aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft. Ax-3 is now targeted to undock from the Harmony module’s forward port no earlier than 9:05 a.m. EST on Wednesday. Officials will continue to monitor weather at the potential splashdown sites off Florida’s coast before giving the final go for Ax-3 to return to Earth.

Veteran astronaut Michael López-Alegría is commanding Ax-3 leading Pilot Walter Villadei and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravcı and Marcus Wandt on their first spaceflight. The foursome docked to the orbital laboratory on Jan. 20 beginning two weeks of science, educational, and commercial activities. All four Ax-3 astronauts spent their 17th day in space performing light science duties, photographing Earth, and relaxing.

The Expedition 70 crew stayed busy learning how to keep humans healthy in space and improve optical fiber production processes. The orbital septet also kept up its ongoing cargo work and life support maintenance.

NASA Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara spent the day processing bone cell samples obtained from human donors on Earth. She was exploring space-caused bone loss helping doctors learn how to protect and treat astronauts on long-term missions. Results may also inform treatments for bone conditions on Earth.

Several investigations on the space station have tested producing optical fibers using the microgravity environment that are higher quality than those made on Earth. The newest investigation, Flawless Space Fibers-1, is examining fiber drawn aboard the station and comparing the results to samples drawn on Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli set up the experiment inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox that may expand commercial production opportunities in space and communication and remote-sensing applications on Earth.

Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) treated blood samples that are being analyzed to understand how weightlessness impacts an astronaut’s immune system. Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) worked in the Kibo laboratory module and checked out a free-flying camera robot for its ability to videotape and photograph activities on behalf of the crew.

The three cosmonauts representing Roscosmos spent their day readying a cargo ship for its departure while maintaining orbital lab systems. Veteran Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko packed the Progress 85 resupply ship with discarded gear for disposal ahead of the spacecraft’s departure planned for next week. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub set up a personal carbon dioxide monitor then collected hair samples to be examined for a Roscosmos space adaptation study. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov spent his day servicing orbital plumbing gear and electronics components.


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

Get weekly video highlights at: https://roundupreads.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Private Astronauts Target Undocking for No Earlier Than Wednesday

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft carrying four Axiom Mission 3 astronauts is pictured docked to the space station shortly after an orbital sunrise. Credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft carrying four Axiom Mission 3 astronauts is pictured docked to the space station shortly after an orbital sunrise. Credit: NASA TV

NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 9:05 a.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 7, for the undocking of Axiom Mission 3 from the International Space Station following the latest review of weather conditions off the coast of Florida. The next weather briefing is at 2 a.m.

For this undocking opportunity, NASA will provide live coverage of space station joint operations with Axiom Space and SpaceX. Coverage of hatch-closure preparations will begin at 7 a.m. NASA coverage of undocking will resume at 8:45 a.m. (times subject to change based on operations).

Coverage will be available on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

NASA’s coverage ends approximately 30 minutes after undocking when space station joint operations with Axiom Space and SpaceX mission teams conclude. Axiom Space will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown on the company’s website.


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

Get weekly video highlights at: https://roundupreads.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Dragon Safely on its Way to Space Station for NASA’s SpaceX Mission

First stage separation during NASA's SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services mission.
The first stage separates from the vehicle during NASA’s SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services mission launch on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. Photo credit: NASA

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft – carrying about 6,500 pounds of critical science, hardware, and crew supplies – is on its way to the International Space Station following a successful launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at 8:28 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 9, on SpaceX’s 29th resupply services mission for NASA to the orbiting laboratory.

The mission marks the ninth flight on the Commercial Resupply Services-2 SpaceX contract and the second flight of this Dragon, which previously flew on NASA’s SpaceX 26th resupply services mission.

Dragon now is safely in orbit, and its solar arrays have deployed. A series of thruster firings will help Dragon reach the space station at approximately 5:20 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. Upon its arrival, it will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara monitoring operations.

Live coverage of Dragon’s arrival will air on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 3:45 a.m. EST.

Dragon will remain at the space station for about one month until it returns to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down off the coast of Florida. To stay updated on all station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. Or follow along the station blog at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.

Space X Dragon Separates from Second Stage

SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon spacecraft has separated from the company’s Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage as the spacecraft continues its journey to the International Space Station for NASA, delivering critical supplies, equipment, and material to support multiple science and research experiments that will take place aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Arrival to the station is scheduled for approximately 5:20 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module.

SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage Lands!

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage successfully landed on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Today’s launch marked the ninth flight on the Commercial Resupply Services-2 SpaceX contract and the second flight of this Dragon spacecraft, which previously flew on NASA’s SpaceX 26th resupply services mission.

Coming up next, Dragon will separate from the rocket’s second stage to continue its journey to the space station.

Main Engine Cutoff; First Stage Separates

The nine Merlin engines in the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage have finished their burn, and the first stage has separated from the vehicle.

As the second stage continues carrying the company’s Dragon on its journey, the first stage will land on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. That landing is coming up in just over six minutes.

Liftoff! NASA’s SpaceX Mission Lights Up the Florida Evening Sky!

Launch of NASA's SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services mission from Kennedy Space Center
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the company’s Dragon spacecraft, lifts off the pad at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Thursday, Nov. 9. Photo credit: NASA

The rocket has powered off of the pad! At 8:28 p.m. EST, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, starting the Dragon spacecraft’s approximately 33-hour trip to the International Space Station for NASA.

Dragon will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the Expedition 70 crew currently aboard the orbiting laboratory. Coming up in the next minute, the Falcon 9 will pass through Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket.

At about two minutes and 17 seconds after liftoff, the main engine in the rocket’s first stage will shut off, followed by the first and second stages separating.

Counting Down: 10 Minutes Until Liftoff

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are ready for launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA

Launch preparations are well underway, and the countdown remains on track for SpaceX’s 29th cargo resupply launch to the International Space Station for NASA. In approximately 10 minutes, at 8:28 p.m. EST, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines will roar to life, sending the company’s Dragon spacecraft on its way to the orbiting laboratory.

The spacecraft will deliver critical supplies and equipment that will support dozens of the approximately 200 science and research investigations that will occur during Expedition 70.

Coming up in the next few minutes, the Falcon 9 will begin its prelaunch engine chill, which involves flowing a small amount of the super-cold liquid oxygen (LOX) into the Merlin engines’ turbo pumps to avoid thermally shocking the system when the full flow of LOX runs through them.

Following that, Dragon will transition to internal power and the command flight computer will begin its final prelaunch checks, culminating with the SpaceX launch director verifying we are “go” for launch.

As a reminder, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website  will continue to provide live coverage of today’s launch.