Station Focusing on Japanese Ship Departure and Space Biology

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir
With the Earth 250 miles below, NASA astronaut Jessica Meir is pictured tethered to the outside of the International Space Station during a seven-hour, 17-minute spacewalk she conducted with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch (out of frame).

Japan’s resupply ship is nearing the end of its month-long stay at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition 61 crew is exploring how microgravity impacts humans and plants today.

Fresh off her fourth spacewalk last Friday, NASA astronaut Christina Koch is packing the Japanese HTV-8 cargo craft with discarded hardware and trash for disposal. Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) joined Koch for the cargo transfers today.

Koch and NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir will be in the cupola on Friday, Nov. 1 commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the HTV-8. It will reenter Earth’s atmosphere the following day for a fiery, but safe demise above the Pacific Ocean.

Parmitano and Koch switched roles during the afternoon from space movers to crew medical officers (CMO) examining Meir and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan. The CMOs operated an ultrasound scanner looking at the cornea, lens and optic nerve inside the eyes of Meir and Morgan.

Koch also researched surface tension in space to understand afflictions such as Alzheimer’s disease and design advanced materials. Meir tended to plants for an ongoing space agriculture study. Morgan installed new life science hardware inside the Kibo lab module’s Saibo biology research rack.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka set up acoustic gear testing the detection and location of micrometeoroid impacts on the space station. The duo spent the rest of the afternoon checking docking hardware on the Zvezda service module and the Pirs docking compartment.

NASA TV is Live Now Broadcasting First All-Woman Spacewalk

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir prepare for a spacewalk
NASA astronaut Christina Koch (right) poses for a portrait with fellow Expedition 61 Flight Engineer Jessica Meir of NASA who is inside a U.S. spacesuit for a fit check.

NASA TV coverage has begun of the first all-woman spacewalk in history. Watch on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA are making final preparations to go outside the International Space Station for today’s tasks to replace a faulty power controller. They are expected to begin their spacewalk at about 7:50 a.m. EDT.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and former astronaut and acting Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Ken Bowersox will host a media teleconference at 7:15 a.m. to discuss the historical significance of the event as the agency looks forward to putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. Listen at http://www.nasa.gov/live

Koch is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes. Meir is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes. Koch’s helmet camera will carry the number 18, and Meir’s helmet camera will carry the number 11.

The faulty power controller, also known as a battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU), regulates the charge to the batteries that collect and distribute solar power to the orbiting lab’s systems. The unit they are replacing failed to activate following the Oct. 11 installation of new lithium-ion batteries on the space station’s exterior structure.

Commander Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will assist the spacewalkers. Parmitano will control the Canadarm2 robotics arm and Morgan will provide airlock and spacesuit support.

Although it will be the 221st spacewalk performed in support of space station assembly and maintenance, it is the first to be conducted entirely by women. This will be Koch’s fourth spacewalk and Meir’s first.

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.

NASA Astronauts Continue the Series of Spacewalks for Power Upgrades

 

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are today’s spacewalkers.

Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Christina Koch of NASA will continue the series of spacewalks outside of the International Space Station at about 7:50 a.m. EDT to upgrade the station’s solar array batteries. Watch the spacewalk coverage now on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

This is the second of five battery replacement spacewalks in October. Koch and Morgan performed the first spacewalk on Oct. 6. This series of spacewalks is dedicated to replacing batteries on the far end of the station’s port truss. The existing nickel-hydrogen batteries will be upgraded with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries transported to the station aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, which arrived Saturday, Sept. 28. These spacewalks continue the overall upgrade of the station’s power system that began with similar battery replacement during spacewalks in January 2017.

This will be the 220th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Morgan will be designated extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes. Koch will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes. Morgan’s helmet camera will carry the number 18 and Koch’s helmet camera will carry the number 11.

NASA is preparing to conduct as many as 10 spacewalks in the next three months, a pace that has not been experienced since International Space Station assembly was completed in 2011. Both the crew and the equipment they need has been prepared to meet this demand.

The next spacewalks dedicated to the battery upgrades are scheduled on Oct. 16, 21 and 25.

After completion of the battery spacewalks, the second half of this sequence of spacewalks will focus on repairs to the space station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Dates for those spacewalks still are being discussed, but they are expected to begin in November.

All of the U.S. segment crewmembers that will be in space during this time – Christina Koch, Jessica Meir, Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano – are expected to take part in conducting the spacewalks.

NASA TV Broadcasts Crew Farewell and Spacecraft Hatch Closure

The homecoming crew
The homecoming crew with (from left) NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emriates.

NASA is providing live coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website as three people aboard the International Space Station prepare to close the hatches between the station and their spacecraft in preparation for their return to Earth from space. Hatch closure is expected at 12:15 a.m. EDT.

After closing the hatch to their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft, NASA astronaut and Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Nick Hague, Expedition 60 and Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates will prepare to undock from the station’s Rassvet module at 3:37 a.m. for their landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m.

Hague and Ovchinin, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch, launched and arrived at the space station on March 14 to begin their 203-day mission. The Expedition 60 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into devices that mimic the structure and function of human organs, free-flying robots, and an instrument to measure Earth’s distribution of carbon dioxide.

Almansoori, the first astronaut from the UAE, is concluding an eight-day stay on board the station since launching Sept. 25 with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos.

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.

Watch NASA TV Live Coverage of HTV-8 Arrival to Station

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured after it was captured by the Canadarm2 on Sept. 27, 2018

A Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft is approaching the International Space Station. Watch live coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

Capture of the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is expected around 7:15 a.m. The HTV-8 is loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Named Kounotori, meaning “white stork” in Japanese, the craft will deliver six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks the station’s crew members will conduct later this year.

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approaches from below. Robotics flight controllers will then take over the operation of the arm to install HTV-8 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it will spend a month attached to the orbiting laboratory. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Coverage of the final installation to Harmony will resume at 9:30 a.m. Robotic ground controllers will install HTV-8 on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft launched at 12:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 24 (1:05 a.m. Sept. 25 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

HTV-8 Launch Scrubbed for Tonight

The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle is seen during final approach to the International Space Station. Like HTV-8, HTV-6 was loaded with more than 4 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware. Credit: NASA

Mission Control in Houston informed the crew aboard the International Space Station that tonight’s launch of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) cargo spacecraft was scrubbed due to a fire on or near the launch pad at Tanegashima Space Center. The astronauts are safe aboard the station and well supplied.

 

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Three Expedition 60 Crew Members Heading to Station on Apollo 50th

Launch of the Soyuz MS-13 rocket
Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano launch aboard the Soyuz MS-13 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Fifty years to the day that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon in a giant leap for humanity, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and two fellow crew members arrived Saturday for their mission aboard the International Space Station, where humans have lived and worked continuously for more than 18 years.

The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft carrying Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos launched at 12:28 p.m. EDT July 20 (9:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and has safely reached orbit.  At the time of launch, the station was flying about 254 miles over southern Russia between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, 646 miles ahead of the Soyuz as it left the launch pad.

The crew has begun their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory where they will live and work for their mission. Coverage of the Soyuz docking to the International Space Station will begin on NASA TV and the agency’s website at 6 p.m., with the spacecraft docking expected at 6:50 p.m.

Coverage of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the space station will begin at 8 p.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/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.

Crew Researches Immunity Response Leading Up to Next Dragon Launch Attempt

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is in position at Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, which will boost a Dragon cargo module to the International Space Station on the company’s 17th Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA. Image Credit: NASA
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is in position at Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, which will boost a Dragon cargo module to the International Space Station on the company’s 17th Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA. Image Credit: NASA
This morning’s SpaceX Dragon launch was scrubbed due to a drone ship power issue. Launch coverage for the next attempt begins at 2:30 a.m. EDT Saturday, May 4, for a 2:48 a.m. launch. Viewers can watch it unfold on NASA Television and the agency’s website. This cargo delivery will replenish the International Space Station with nearly 5,500 pounds of science, supplies and hardware.

Today onboard the space station, in addition to routine maintenance and housekeeping, mice are keeping the astronauts aboard busy with the Rodent Research-12 investigation. While David Saint-Jacques was occupied cleaning habitats and cameras and restocking food, Nick Hague, in addition to Flight Engineers Anne McClain and Christina Koch, spent time calibrating Mass Measurement Devices and establishing baseline readings.

Saint-Jacques and Hague spent some time to reviewing training and procedures for when they command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Dragon cargo craft at the International Space Station, which is now scheduled for Monday, May 6, at 7 a.m. following a May 4 launch.

Mice could be key to studying immune response in humans. Spaceflight is known to affect immunity, but there’s little research that has been conducted to see how, in fact, humans would respond to a challenge to the body’s immunity in space. Since a mouse’s immune system parallels that of humans, these animal models enable us to learn and understand how astronaut health can be sustained in microgravity.

Robotics Work Successful, Station Returned to Full Power

Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator
The International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM), was used to replace a failed Main Bus Switching Unit and restore full power capability to the station.

This morning, Robotics Ground Controllers in Mission Control Houston successfully completed an operation to remove a failed Main Bus Switching Unit-3 and replace it with a spare. The MBSU in question had failed on April 29 and reduced the station’s power supply by about 25%. There were no immediate concerns for the crew or the station. The crew had installed a series of jumpers in Node 1 following the failure to reroute power to experiments and hardware and ensure limited impact to continued station operations. Since the successful replacement, the MBSU was powered up and checked out successfully with all station systems back to nominal power configuration, including redundant power to the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The completion of the robotics work marks the second time an MBSU was swapped out by means other than a spacewalk. The International Space Station continues to be a critical test bed where NASA is pioneering new methods to explore space, from complex robotic work to refueling spacecraft in flight and developing new robotic systems to assist astronauts on the frontier of space. Technologies like these will be vital as NASA looks to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024.

NASA’s commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting 3:11 a.m. EDT on Friday, May 3, for the launch of its 17th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Packed with more than 5,500 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Dragon Cargo Mission Launch No Earlier than May 3

The International Space Station
The International Space Station was pictured by an Expedition 56 crewmember aboard a departing Soyuz crew ship on Oct. 4, 2018.

NASA has requested SpaceX move off from May 1 for the launch of the company’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.

On April 29, the space station team identified an issue with one of the station’s Main Bus Switching Units that distributes power to two of the eight power channels on the station.  There are no immediate concerns for the crew or the station. Teams are working on a plan to robotically replace the failed unit and restore full power to the station system. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available. The earliest possible launch opportunity is no earlier than Friday, May 3.