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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More life science work took place Thursday aboard the International Space Station as scientists study the effects of living in space during a long term space mission. Back on Earth, SpaceX is counting down to a Monday launch of its Dragon space freighter.
More eye checks took place Thursday as the crew in the U.S. segment of the orbital lab participated in a series of week-long Ocular Health activities. The crew also conducted artery scans using an Ultrasound for the Cardio Ox inflammatory stress study. The space station residents are also getting ready for the Rodent Research experiment setting up gear inside the Destiny lab module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox.
The station cosmonauts participated in their array of Russian science and maintenance on their side of the orbital laboratory. The veteran cosmonaut trio explored the micro-vibrations the station experiences and tested new photography techniques for Earth observation studies.
Mission managers are finalizing preparations for the April 13 launch of the sixth SpaceX Dragon Commercial Resupply Services mission to the space station. SpaceX will perform a hot-fire test this weekend of its Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad. Dragon will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket for a two day trip to the station where it will be captured by the Canadarm2 and installed on the Harmony module.
Medical science and training took a significant portion of the Expedition 43 crew’s schedule Thursday. The newest three crew members are getting used to their new home on orbit. Finally, the International Space Station boosted its orbit.
Several crew members participated in eye checks for the Ocular Health study as scientists study how microgravity affects vision during long duration missions. The newest trio to join Expedition 43 trained to prepare for a medical emergency while also familiarizing themselves with station systems.
A docked ISS Progress 58 space freighter fired its engines boosting the space station’s orbit by eight-tenths of a mile. The reboost readies the station to receive the new ISS Progress 59 supply ship when it launches and docks April 28.
The International Space Station raised its orbit on Wednesday evening, placing it in the correct orientation for the docking of a new Soyuz spacecraft and crew next week. Inside the station the multinational Expedition 43 crew stayed focused on long-term microgravity studies and the upkeep of their orbital laboratory.
The ISS Progress 58 spacecraft, docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module, fired its engines Wednesday afternoon for four minutes, 18 seconds. The orbital boost readies the station for the arrival next Friday of the Soyuz TMA-16M, which will carry to the station Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko.
Meanwhile, Commander Terry Virts put on his high-flying plumber’s cap and replaced hardware on the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. He also participated in the Astro Palate study investigating how food affects the mood of crew members during a spaceflight.
After troubleshooting the BioLab earlier in week, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti began the first of two runs of the TripleLux-B experiment inside the BioLab glovebox. TripleLux-B studies cellular mechanisms that cause impairment of immune functions in microgravity.