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Bone and Muscle Studies, Spacewalk Preps and New Crew Intro Today

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Commander Peggy Whitson

Commander Peggy Whitson works on an experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox, a facility suited for working with and containing liquids, particles and hazardous materials.

The Expedition 51 crew reviewed Friday’s spacewalk today and researched how the human body adapts to microgravity. At the Johnson Space Center, three future International Space Station crew members introduced themselves live on NASA TV.

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer reviewed procedures for Friday morning’s spacewalk this morning. The duo will replace an avionics box that sends electricity and data to science experiments installed outside the space station. Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet will assist the spacewalkers from inside the station. This will be the 200th spacewalk at the station for assembly and maintenance, the ninth for Whitson and the first for Fischer.

Whitson also continued researching the differences in bone growth in space versus Earth. Pesquet then joined cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin for a muscle study using electrodes attached to their legs while exercising.

NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin talked about their upcoming Expedition 53-54 mission today from Houston. The trio’s mission is due to launch Sept. 13 and stay on orbit until March 2018.

Expedition 53-54 Crew Members

Future station crew members (from left) Joe Acaba, Alexander Misurkin and Mark Vande Hei introduced themselves at NASA’s Johnson Space Center today. They are due to launch to space in September.

Station Boosts Orbit, Crew Studies Space Effects on Eyes

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Expedition 51 Crew Meal Time

Expedition 51 crew members share a meal inside the Unity module. From left are Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer and Commander Peggy Whitson.

The International Space Station raised its orbit today to get ready for a June crew departure. The first of two orbital reboosts comes just a week after two new crew members arrived to begin their mission with Expedition 51.

Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet will return to Earth June 2 ending the Expedition 51 mission. Expedition 52 will begin and veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin will stay behind with NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer waiting for the next crew arrival on July 28.

The current orbiting crew of five Expedition 51 crew members continued more biomedical research and eye checks today. The crew underwent a series of ultrasound scans and eye tests to learn how living in space affects vision. The astronauts are subjects of ongoing studies to help NASA plan missions farther out in space for longer periods of time.

One symptom of living in space for long periods is the pressure that builds up behind astronauts’ eyes due to the upward flow of fluids. Doctors are seeking to counteract this flow after some astronauts have reported vision problems during and after their long-term missions.

New Space Science and Supplies Arrive at Station Saturday Morning

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 The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft

The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft was pictured Feb. 19, 2016, grappled by the Canadarm2 after being unberthed from the Unity module Earth-facing port.

An Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft carrying more than 7,600 pounds of supplies, science and research investigations is set to arrive to the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The uncrewed cargo ship launched at 11:11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 18 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin its four-day journey to the orbiting laboratory.

Expedition 51 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station’s robotic Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus at approximately 6:05 a.m. on Saturday, April 22. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. Installation coverage will resume at 7:30 a.m.

Coverage will air live on NASA Television and stream on the agency’s website at: www.nasa.gov/live.

The mission is Orbital ATK’s seventh contracted commercial resupply services (CRS) mission, and its third launch atop an Atlas V rocket from Florida. Future missions under Orbital ATK’s CRS-1 contract with NASA are expected to resume from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Learn more about the Orbital ATK CRS-7 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To subscribe or unsubscribe to this list, please email heo-pao@lists.nasa.gov.

U.S., Russian Rockets Rollout for Cargo and Crew Deliveries

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Cygnus and Soyuz Spacecraft

The Cygnus spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket (left) and the Soyuz MS-04 rocket rolled out to their launch pads today.

Two rockets on opposite sides of the world rolled out to their launch pads today ready to blast off to the International Space Station. An American rocket rolled out to its pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A Russian rocket was carted by train and raised to its vertical position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is stacked atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance and ready for its Tuesday launch at 11:11 a.m. EDT from Florida. The seventh contracted Commercial Resupply Services mission for Orbital ATK will deliver over 7,600 pounds science gear and crew supplies to the Expedition 51 crew. Cygnus is due to arrive Saturday morning for a robotic capture and installation to the Unity module.

Two new Expedition 51 crew members will be seated in the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft when it lifts off from Kazakhstan Thursday at 3:13 a.m. Just six hours and 10 minutes later the duo will dock to the Poisk module to begin a mission expected to last about 4-1/2 months.

Meanwhile, the orbiting trio of Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Thomas Pesquet and Oleg Novitskiy are getting ready for the new arrivals and continuing space research. Whitson explored how the brain adapts to microgravity while Pesquet set up hardware to collect body fluid samples for later analysis. Novitskiy focused on systems maintenance in the station’s Russian segment.

Spacesuit Checks Ahead of Monday Crew Departure

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Astronaut Shane Kimbrough

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough is seen inside the Quest airlock at the end of a spacewalk on March 24, 2017.

The Expedition 50 crew is checking out U.S. spacesuits today and testing tiny internal satellites for research. Three crew members are also packing up for a ride back to Earth on Monday.

Commander Shane Kimbrough worked on a pair of spacesuits today following the completion of two spacewalks last month. He sampled and tested the cooling water that flows through the suits to keep astronauts cool in the extreme environment of outer space.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson conducted test runs of the SPHERES satellites today to demonstrate autonomous docking maneuvers. The bowling ball-sized miniature satellites (also known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) have been used for a variety of purposes including student algorithm competitions and fluid physics.

Kimbrough is winding down his stay in space with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko. The trio this week is packing the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft with science samples, personal items and other cargo for a landing in Kazakhstan after 173 days in space. NASA TV will broadcast the crew departure activities live with landing scheduled for Monday at 7:20 a.m. EDT.

Spacewalkers Successfully Connect Adapter for Commercial Crew Vehicles

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Spacewalk support personnel

Spacewalk support personnel quickly teamed up for a solution to cover the Tranquility module’s port after a thermal and micrometeoroid shield was inadvertently lost during today’s spacewalk. The team supporting EVA Officer John Mularski explored options in a room nearby Mission Control, and chose to install a cover that had been removed earlier from the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:33 p.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, which lasted just over seven hours, the two astronauts successfully reconnected cables and electrical connections on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3. PMA-3 will provide the pressurized interface between the station and the second of two international docking adapters to be delivered to the complex to support the dockings of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft in the future.

The duo were also tasked with installing four thermal protection shields on the Tranquility module of the International Space Station. The shields were required to cover the port where the PMA-3 was removed earlier in the week and robotically installed on the Harmony module. During the spacewalk, one of the shields was inadvertently lost. The loss posed no immediate danger to the astronauts and Kimbrough and Whitson went on to successfully install the remaining shields on the common berthing mechanism port.

A team from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston devised a plan for the astronauts to finish covering the port with the PMA-3 cover Whitson removed earlier in the day. The plan worked, and the cover was successfully installed, providing thermal protection and micrometeoroid and orbital debris cover for the port.

To round out the spacewalk, Kimbrough and Whitson also installed a different shield around the base of the PMA-3 adapter for micrometeoroid protection. The shield was nicknamed a cummerbund as it fits around the adapter similar to a tuxedo’s cummerbund worn around the waist.

Having completed her eighth spacewalk, Whitson now holds the record for the most spacewalks and accumulated time spacewalking by a female astronaut.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,243 hours and 42 minutes outside the station during 199 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

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

SpaceX Dragon Rendezvous and Docking Waved Off for Today

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spacex dragon 9

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft waved off its planned rendezvous with the International Space Station at 3:25 a.m. EST. Dragon’s onboard computers triggered the abort after recognizing an incorrect value in navigational data about the location of Dragon relative to the space station. Flight controllers immediately began planning for a second rendezvous attempt on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The spacecraft is in excellent shape with no issues, and the crew aboard the space station is safe. The next rendezvous attempt is targeted for Thursday morning. NASA TV coverage will begin at 4 a.m. with grapple expected around 6 a.m. Installation coverage will begin at 8 a.m. Watch live on NASA TV and online at: http://www.nasa.gov/live.

Astronauts Begin Second Spacewalk to Upgrade Power Systems

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Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough (left) and Thomas Pesquet are today’s spacewalkers. credit: NASA

Two astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 6:22 a.m. EST aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about six-and-a-half hours.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for the remaining three of six new lithium-ion batteries installed on the station’s starboard truss. Kimbrough is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit bearing red stripes. Pesquet is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.

The new channel lithium-ion batteries installed Friday, Jan. 6 during the first spacewalk with Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA are functioning properly and all electrical loads are being routed normally to systems through that power channel.

Earlier this week, the robotic ground controllers used the Canadian-built “Dextre” Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator to move the three new lithium-ion batteries for today’s spacewalk into their slots in the Integrated Electronics Assembly. Engineers also moved one of the old nickel-hydrogen battery onto the HTV External Pallet for disposal and two others to one of Dextre’s arms for temporary stowage.

In all, nine old nickel-hydrogen batteries will be stowed on the external pallet for disposal when the HTV is deorbited to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere later this month. The power channel for the last of the new batteries will be activated during the spacewalk after adapter plates are moved into place on the Integrated Electronics Assembly.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.

Second Power Upgrade Spacewalk Starts Friday Morning

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Astronaut Assists Spacewalkers

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet (center) assists spacewalkers Peggy Whitson (left) and Shane Kimbrough in the U.S. Quest airlock on Jan. 6, 2017.

Expedition 50 astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet are ready for their mission’s second spacewalk that starts Friday at 7 a.m. EST. The duo will wrap up power maintenance work to connect new lithium-ion batteries and install adapter plates. Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson started that work last Friday during a six-hour, 32-minute spacewalk.

Both spacewalks complement the ongoing robotics work that started at the end of December. Ground controllers have been remotely-operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm and Dextre robotic hand to remove and stow the old nickel-hydrogen batteries and the install the new batteries.

The three cosmonauts have been staying focused on their set of Russian space research and lab maintenance. Station veterans Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy collected blood samples for a pair human research studies looking at bone loss and stress responses caused by living in space. First-time station resident Sergy Ryzhikov explored chemical reactions caused by jet engine exhaust in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Crew Heads Into Thanksgiving With Human Research

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Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough pause for a portrait inside the space station.

Six International Space Station crew members are heading in to the Thanksgiving holiday with human research activities and orbital lab maintenance.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is the most experienced crew member in space right now getting ready to spend her third holiday season on orbit. Today, she stowed the tools used for space plumbing work done on Tuesday putting the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, the station’s toilet, back in service after a leak was discovered.

She and her new crewmates, Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency, are in their first week aboard the space station. They are getting used to their new home in space and familiarizing themselves with station emergency gear and procedures today. Whitson is beginning her third mission aboard the orbital complex while Novitskiy is starting his second mission. Pesquet is on his first mission and is France’s fourth astronaut to visit the space station.

The rest of the crew members, including Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, are beginning their second month in space.

Today’s science work included collecting breath samples to help doctors understand how living in space affects bone marrow and blood cells. A new device that indirectly measures an astronaut’s intracranial pressure is being checked out today while the crew is also conducting eye exams.

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