Soyuz and New Crew Go for Docking Tonight

Soyuz spacecraft
The Soyuz spacecraft is composed of three modules. Credit: NASA

During the launch of the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft at 5:02 p.m. EDT (3:02 a.m. on July 23 Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the port solar array on the vehicle did not deploy as planned. The starboard solar array did deploy along with all navigational antennas, is functioning normally, and is fully providing power to the spacecraft. The flight of the Expedition 44 crew to the International Space Station is proceeding nominally and the crew is in excellent condition. The Soyuz vehicle will dock to the station as planned after a 4-orbit rendezvous at 10:46 p.m. EDT (02:46 GMT).

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 9

NASA astronauts Suni Williams (left) and Karen Nyberg (right) give a keynote talk on the final day of the 2015 ISS R&D Conference in Boston
NASA astronauts Suni Williams (left) and Karen Nyberg (right) give a keynote talk on the final day of the 2015 ISS R&D Conference in Boston

The final day of the 2015 International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference closed the event with multiple talks looking at exploration beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) and novel ways the space station is affecting life on Earth.

Panel sessions began with a talk about the commercial capabilities and technologies that will be needed—together with international collaboration and new relationships between government, constituents such as international consortia, and industry partners—in order to successfully address the challenges and promise of deep space exploration. NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, along with NASA’s Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan and Chief Technologist David Miller, presented as the group explored key questions associated with international and commercial partnerships in support of exploration beyond LEO.

Additional panels included discussions about materials science testing and manufacturing in space, how the ISS National Lab is influencing students and educators in the area of science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM), and the challenges for the journey to Mars —getting there (and back) and developing the technology necessary to keep human astronauts alive, thriving, and productive for the 1,000 days such a mission will require.

A series of technical breakout sessions also took place, focusing on space biology tools, cell and microbiology in space, materials manufacturing and function in space, STEM programs and processes and concepts for the future.

Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Suni Williams also provided a keynote address to conference participants. Using their experiences and stories from living aboard the orbiting laboratory, they shared three life lessons: get to the starting line and make yourself available for these kinds of opportunities, don’t forget the basics that you learned in kindergarten, and stop and enjoy the journey along the way. Williams was announced today as one of four U.S. astronauts who will be the first to train to fly on American commercial crew vehicles.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information about the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 8

ISS R&D 2015

The second full day of the 2015 International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development conference was dominated by panels and technical sessions featuring the leading minds in scientific research from the commercial and academic ISS communities.

Panel sessions were led by a look at what the ISS Program is doing to maximize use of the ISS as a world renowned laboratory in space enabling discoveries in science and technology that benefit life on Earth and exploration of the universe. It featured multiple NASA ISS managers discussing many efforts underway to update and upgrade ISS facilities and processes to improve how the ISS Program provides timely, efficient, customer friendly and cost effective access to the low-Earth orbit microgravity environment for both existing and new users.

Additional panels included discussions about leveraging the station to enable the commercialization of low-Earth orbit, the role of microgravity in ongoing stem cell research, new capabilities in commercial remote sensing from space, and the impact of space science on precision medicine.

A series of technical breakout sessions also took place, focusing on science in areas including drug discovery and delivery, plants and omics in space, the development of commercial capabilities and services, crew research and performance and technology developments on ISS.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information about the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

ISS R&D Conference 2015 – July 7

ISS R&D 2015

The 2015 International Space Station R&D Conference officially kicked off in Boston today with researchers gathering to learn about the incredible breadth of research and technology development on humankind’s most innovative learning platform.

The day began with opening remarks from Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS Program Manager, followed immediately by his conversation with keynote speaker, Elon Musk, the CEO and Lead Designer of commercial space company SpaceX.

Panels for the day began with a talk on the role of the ISS as a “first step” away from our home planet on the path of human exploration that featured William Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Additional panels on Tuesday covered the benefits of microgravity for protein crystal growth in order to grow larger, more well-ordered crystals for pharmaceutical research, the capital investments and grants fueling the growth of “New Space” businesses and more.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the winners of the Galactic Grant Competition, a collaboration between the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. It has been established to provide access to a unique zero-gravity environment, that’s only available on the International Space Station lab, to Massachusetts based life sciences companies.

Awards were also presented to three investigations that were recognized for significant scientific results:

  • Joel Plawsky, Sc.D., and Peter C. Wayner Jr., Ph.D., both of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, in recognition of work on the physics of evaporation and condensation in microgravity.
  • Robert J. Ferl, Ph.D., and Anna-Lisa Paul, Ph.D., both of the University of Florida in Gainesville, for their work using a plant as a real-time biosensor to determine the quality of the surrounding environment.
  • Daniela Grimm of Aarhus, Denmark, in recognition of her findings while growing thyroid cancer cells in orbit to determine new courses of treatment.

The conference is bringing together leaders from industry, academia, and government for three days of detailed presentations and discussions about innovations and breakthroughs in microgravity research, life sciences, materials development technology development, human health and remote sensing.

For more information on the annual ISS R&D Conference, visit the conference website: http://www.issconference.org, or watch a livestream of the conference at http://www.issconference.org/livestream.php

Progress Reaches Orbit for Two Day trip to Station

ISS Progress 60 launch
The ISS Progress 60 resupply ship launches on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Credit: NASA TV

Carrying more than 6,100 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted ISS Progress 60 cargo craft launched at 12:55 a.m. EDT (10:55 p.m. local time in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 249 miles over northwestern Sudan, near the border with Egypt and Libya.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Russian cargo craft will make 34 orbits of Earth during the next two days before docking to the orbiting laboratory at 3:13 a.m. Sunday, July 5.

Beginning at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, July 5, NASA Television will provide live coverage of Progress 60’s arrival to the space station’s Pirs Docking Compartment. Watch live on NASA TV and online at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Progress 60 on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and the hashtag #ISScargo.

A camera from the Progress spacecraft shows the Earth below as it begins its two day trip to the space station. Credit: NASA TV
A camera from the Progress spacecraft shows the Earth below as it begins its two day trip to the space station. Credit: NASA TV

Astronaut Scott Kelly Relaxes Ahead of Dragon Mission

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft
ISS043E122200 (04/17/2015) — The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is seen approaching the International Space Station Apr. 17th, 2015.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly had some off-time today relaxing ahead of Sunday’s launch of the SpaceX CRS-7 mission. Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko worked on Russian science and maintenance activities.

Kelly will be inside the cupola and at the controls of the Canadarm2 when the Dragon space freighter arrives Tuesday morning at the International Space Station. Padalka will back up Kelly monitoring systems as Dragon approaches. NASA TV will cover the Sunday launch and Tuesday capture activities live.

Padalka spent time on the Splanh experiment studying how a crew member’s digestive system changes in microgravity. Kornienko worked throughout the station’s Russian segment inspecting gear, performing leak checks and working on life support systems.

There is a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions for Sunday morning’s SpaceX Dragon launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon is delivering over 4,000 pounds of supplies, gear and research in its pressurized section. The largest payload being delivered is the first of two international docking adapters in Dragon’s unpressurized section.

Medical Science for Crew as SpaceX Preps for Cargo Delivery

Colorful Aurora, Sparkling City Lights, and a Rising Sun
ISS044E002699 (06/23/2015) — This spectacular view of the Earth with colorful aurora, sparkling city lights, and a rising sun over a background of diamond twinkling stars was taken by members of Expedition 44 on the International Space Station on June 23, 2015.

The Expedition 44 trio aboard the International Space Station participated in a variety of medical science today. The crew is also preparing for the arrival of SpaceX CRS-7 scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly got together in the morning for ultrasound scans of their eyes with assistance from specialists on the ground for the Ocular Health study. Kelly also partnered with his fellow One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko for the Fine Motor Skills experiment that observes how astronauts operate and repair interactive, touch-based and sensitive technologies in space.

SpaceX is counting down to its launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo craft Sunday at 10:21 a.m. EDT. Dragon will deliver all kinds of investigations enabling research into growing food in space, the chemical composition of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere and the causes of cancer and impaired immune systems. Among the international investigations are also student investigations.

The largest payload being delivered on SpaceX CRS-7 is the first of two international docking adapters (IDA #1). The IDA #1 will be installed on the forward port of the Harmony module so future commercial crew vehicles can dock at the space station.

Orbital Trio Presses on With Year-Long Science and Dragon Preps

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly
ISS043E279114 (05/30/2015) — NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly works aboard the International Space Station on May 30, 2015 on a number of science experiments and maintenance of the stations equipment.

The three residents aboard the International Space Station conducted advanced microgravity science and trained for the arrival of the seventh SpaceX Dragon mission scheduled for the end of the month.

One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko partnered up for the Fine Motor Skills study, part of a suite of yearlong studies planned for the pair. That experiment explores how astronauts operate and repair interactive, touch-based and sensitive technologies in space. Kornienko later studied the possibility of using 3-D manuals, or virtual manuals, to improve training techniques on science hardware.

Kelly joined Commander Gennady Padalka in the afternoon for rendezvous training as they prepare for the next SpaceX Dragon launch scheduled for June 26. The duo will be in the cupola monitoring Dragon and waiting to capture it with the Canadarm2 when it arrives June 29.

Crew Enters Soyuz, Hatch Closed

Expedition 43 Says Goodbye
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly takes a final portrait of Expedition 43 crew members (clockwise from top) Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov before they enter their Soyuz spacecraft and close the hatches. Credit: NASA TV

At 3:04 a.m. EDT, the Soyuz hatch closed between the International Space Station and the TMA-15M spacecraft. Expedition 43 crew members Terry Virts of NASA, Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) and Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos are preparing to undock at 6:20 a.m. NASA Television will air live coverage of undocking beginning at 6 a.m. Watch live at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

The deorbit burn is targeted for 8:51 a.m. and will lead to a landing at 9:43 a.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 8:30 a.m.

Crew Gets a Breather Before SpaceX Departure

SpaceX Dragon CRS-6
ISS043E190604 (05/13/2015) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule is seen here docked to the Earth facing port of the Harmony module. SpaceX’s sixth commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station launched on April 14th and arrived three days later. It will depart with over 3,100 pounds of research samples and equipment and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on May 21.

The USOS crewmembers worked a reduced day today as they prepare to sleep shift in preparation for SpaceX-6 departure on Thursday.

The crew performed a checkout of the Commercial Orbital Transport Services (COTS) UHF Communication Unit (CUCU) that the crew will use to communicate with the Dragon capsule while it is flying free in the vicinity of the station. They also continued loading the final cargo items onto Dragon which will return about 3,100 pounds of experiment samples and other hardware.

One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko took samples for the Fluid Shifts experiment, an investigation into the suspected cause of astronaut vision changes while in microgravity. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti also performed eye scans on NASA astronaut Terry Virts for an astronaut vision study known as Ocular Health which tests microgravity-induced visual impairment, as well as changes believed to arise from elevated intracranial pressure, to characterize how living in microgravity can affect the visual, vascular and central nervous systems. The investigation also measures how long it takes for crew members to return to normal after they return to Earth.