Crew Checks New Exercise Gear, CREAM Observes Cosmic Rays

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured at work inside the Unity module. Unity is the node that connects the Russian segment of the space station to the U.S. segment.

A pair of Expedition 52 astronauts checked out new, smaller exercise gear today. The crew also worked on a variety of human research while a new cosmic ray detector has begun scanning outer space.

The space station’s two newest astronauts, Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik, joined forces today to measure the effectiveness of the new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED2). The MED2 is smaller and less bulky than other space exercise equipment providing more habitability room on a spacecraft. The duo worked out on MED2 and took photographs to demonstrate its ability to provide motion and resistance during an exercise session.

Flight Engineer Jack Fischer scanned his leg artery with an ultrasound device after a short exercise during the afternoon. The Vascular Echo study is examining how blood vessels and the heart adapt to microgravity. Astronaut Peggy Whitson spent her afternoon swapping cell cultures inside the Advanced Space Experiment Processor.

The Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation, or CREAM, is now observing cosmic rays coming from across the galaxy. CREAM was attached to the outside of the Kibo lab module on Tuesday after a handoff from the Canadian robotic arm to the Japanese robotic arm. CREAM was delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon and will help determine the origin of the cosmic rays and measure their features across the energy spectrum.


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Cosmic Ray Study Prepped for Installation After Monday Eclipse

Solar Eclipse
The solar eclipse was photographed by Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin aboard the International Space Station on Monday Aug. 21.

Overnight, robotics controllers extracted a new astrophysics experiment from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. The Canadarm2 will hand off the new astronomy gear to the Japanese robotic arm which will then install it outside the Kibo laboratory module.

Dubbed CREAM, short for Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation, it will observe a variety of cosmic rays and measure their charges. The experiment is an extension of what started as high-altitude, long-duration balloon flights over Antarctica. The orbital data is expected to be several orders of magnitude greater than that collected in Earth’s atmosphere.

The six Expedition 52 crew members had a once-in-a-lifetime experience Monday as they witnessed the solar eclipse from space. The orbiting crewmates employed a multitude of cameras to photograph the eclipse. They captured stunning views of the moon’s shadow against the Earth with a high definition camcorder as the eclipse darkened a coast-to-coast swath of the United States.


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Eye Check Day on Station, Dragon Gets Ready For Launch

The full moon
The full moon is pictured from the International Space Station.

The Expedition 52 crew members pulled out their medical hardware today for a variety of eye checks and other biomedical research. The station residents are also making space and packing up gear for next week’s cargo delivery aboard the SpaceX Dragon.

The crew each participated in a series of eye exams throughout Thursday working with optical coherence tomography (OCT) gear. OCT is a medical imaging technique that captures imagery of the retina using light waves. A pair of cosmonauts then peered into a fundoscope for a more detailed look at the eye’s interior. The regularly scheduled eye checks were conducted with real-time input from doctors on the ground.

SpaceX completed a static fire test of its Falcon 9 rocket today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon cargo craft will be perched atop the Falcon 9 for a targeted launch Monday at 12:31 p.m. EDT.

Once in space, Dragon will conduct a series of orbital maneuvers navigating its way to the station Wednesday morning. Finally, Dragon will reach its capture point ten meters away from the complex. From there, astronauts Jack Fischer and Paolo Nespoli will command the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Dragon. Next, ground controllers remotely guide Dragon still attached to the Canadarm2 and install it to the Harmony module.

The crew is clearing space on the International Space Station today and packing gear to stow on Dragon after it arrives next week. NASA TV begins its pre-launch coverage Sunday covering Dragon’s science payloads. Monday’s launch coverage begins at noon. NASA TV will also broadcast Dragon’s arrival Wednesday beginning at 5:30 a.m.

Week Starts With Life Science and Spacewalk Preps

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli
Astronaut Paolo Nespoli is strapped into the Muscle Atrophy Resistive Exercise System for the Sarcolab muscle study.

The fully staffed International Space Station stepped up its life science research today studying a host of space phenomena. Two cosmonauts are also preparing for the 202nd spacewalk at the station late next week.

Astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli continued observing how living in space affects their muscles. The duo used electrodes and an ultrasound device to measure leg muscle performance during an exercise session.

Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer checked out a variety of rodent research gear today. Whitson is getting a biology facility ready for a new experiment to be delivered next week on the SpaceX Dragon. Fischer looked at mice to help researchers determine the effectiveness of a new drug that may slow or reverse muscle and bone loss in space.

The next spacewalk is targeted for Aug. 17. Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy are reviewing their external tasks and work areas for a spacewalk expected to last a little over six hours. They’ll perform science and maintenance tasks and deploy tiny satellites during their orbital excursion.


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Astronauts Work Muscle Scans and Science Gear Upgrades

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer
Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer work on station systems inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

From leg muscle scans to observing materials burning at high temperatures, the Expedition 52 crew continued researching what happens when you live in space. The space residents also upgraded electronics gear and installed new science racks.

Astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli are barely a week into their 4-1/2 month long mission and are already exploring what space is doing to their bodies. The astronauts took ultrasound scans of their legs today to assess the changes their leg muscles and tendons are undergoing. The data will later be compared to the condition of their muscles before and after their spaceflight mission.

Jack Fischer of NASA installed new electronics gear in a science rack to speed up the communications rate at which data is uploaded and downloaded from the research facility. Station veteran Peggy Whitson swapped out samples exposed to high temperatures inside a specialized furnace. She later installed a pair of NanoRacks research platforms in the Kibo laboratory module. The commercial science devices will support upcoming experiments being delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon mission.


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Hatches Open, Station Crew Expands to Six

The Expedition 52 crew
The Expedition 52 crew expanded to six today. In the front row from left are the newest crew members Paolo Nespoli, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Randy Bresnik. In the back row are Peggy Whitson, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer. Credit: NASA TV

Three new crew members have arrived to the International Space Station. The hatches on the space station and Soyuz MS-05 opened at 7:57 p.m. EDT, marking the arrival to the orbiting laboratory for NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency).

Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA welcomed the new crew members aboard their orbital home.

Momentarily, the crew will speak to their family and friends from Baikonur in a welcoming ceremony that will air live on NASA TV.

The crew will support  more than 250 experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

The Expedition 52/53 crew will spend more than four months together aboard the orbital complex before returning to Earth in December.

You can follow the crew’s activities and experiences in space on social media:

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik is posting to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Follow the experiences of NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson via Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Connect with NASA astronaut Jack Fischer via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Follow space station activities via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and research via @ISS_Research.

Follow Paolo Nespoli of ESA on Twitter, and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos is on Twitter and Facebook.


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Crew Inside Rocket and Ready for Liftoff

The Expedition 52-53 crew members
The Expedition 52-53 crew members wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz MS-05 rocket for launch, Friday, July 28, 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 11:41 a.m. EDT Friday (9:41 p.m. in Baikonur). Live launch coverage will begin at 10:45 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The three will join Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA. The Expedition 52 crew members will contribute to more than 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:

7:11:12am    4:30              Crew suit up
7:36:12am    4:05              Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
8:11:12am    3:30              Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
8:36:12am    3:05              First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
8:41:12am    3:00              Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
8:46:12am    2:55              Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
9:06:12am    2:35              Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
9:16:12am    2:25              Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
10:06:12am  1:35               Descent module hardware tested
10:21:12am  1:20               Hatch closed; leak checks begin
10:41:12am  1:00               Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
10:45:00am    :56:12         NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
10:56:12am    :45                Pad service structure components lowered
10:57:14am     :44               Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
11:00:00am     :41:12          NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
11:04:12am      :37               Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
11:07:12am      :34               Emergency escape system armed
11:26:12am      :15               Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
11:31:12am       :10               Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
11:34:12am       :07               Pre-launch operations complete
11:35:12am       :06               Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
11:36:12am       :05               Commander’s controls activated
11:37:07am      :04:05       The ISS flies directly over the Baikonur Cosmodrome
11:37:12am       :04               Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
11:38:12am       :03               Propellant drainback
11:38:27am       :02:45         Booster propellant tank pressurization
11:39:42am       :01:30         Ground propellant feed terminated
11:40:12am       :01:00         Vehicle to internal power
11:40:37am       :00:35         First umbilical tower separates
Auto sequence start
11:40:42am       :00:30         Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
11:40:57am       :00:15         Second umbilical tower separates
11:41:00am       :00:12         Launch command issued
Engine Start Sequence Begins
11:41:02am       :00:10         Engine turbopumps at flight speed
11:41:07am       :00:05         Engines at maximum thrust
11:41:12am      :00:00         LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-05 TO THE ISS
11:49:57am       +8:45         THIRD STAGE SHUTDOWN; ORBITAL INSERTION

The next update will be after the crew safely reaches orbit.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, 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.


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Trio Ready to Begin Space Mission Lasting till Mid-December

Soyuz MS-05 Rocket
The Soyuz MS-05 rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

It is less than one day before three new International Space Station crew members start a 4-1/2 month mission in space. The trio from Russia, United States and Italy will launch aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft Friday at 11:41 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli will dock to the Rassvet module having left Earth just six hours and 19 minutes earlier. After pressure checks the hatches will open and the crew will fly into their new home. They will join their Expedition 52 crewmates Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer.

Meanwhile, space research continues apace as scientists on the ground and the crew observe microgravity’s effects on humans, plants and animals. Research on the station also runs the gamut of physics, technology, earth observations and more, benefitting life on Earth and future crews in space.

All three crew members orbiting Earth today once again explored a lower body suit that has the potential to reverse the headward flow of body fluids in space. Whitson then studied new methods to manage liquid and gas mixtures on spacecraft life support systems. Fischer began setting up gear for an upcoming Japanese plant experiment.


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Two Days and Counting After Crew Rocket Rolls Out to Pad

The Soyuz MS-05 rocket
The Soyuz MS-05 rocket is vertically raised into launch position two days before its scheduled launch from Kazakhstan to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft that will launch three new crew members to the International Space Station has rolled out to its launch pad in Kazakhstan. The rocket was carted slowly by train from its processing facility to the pad and vertically raised to its launch position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy will command the Soyuz when it launches Friday at 11:41 a.m. EDT. He will be flanked by flight engineers Randy Bresnik from NASA and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency. The trio will take a six-hour, 19-minute ride from Earth to the station’s Rassvet module. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and docking activities live beginning at 10:45 a.m.

The three Expedition 52 crew members living on the space station now are moving right along with ongoing human research. Veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson continued exploring therapies that target only cancer cells. Flight Engineer Jack Fischer swabbed his mouth and body for a study tracking microbes in space. Station Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin worked life support maintenance and sampled the station’s air for a quality check.


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Russian Cargo Craft Departs Space Station

Progress
An unpiloted Russian Progress resupply ship undocks from the International Space Station.

The unpiloted Russian Progress 66 cargo craft departed the International Space Station today after a five-month stay. Loaded with trash and other items no longer needed by the Expedition 52 crew, the Progress automatically undocked from the Pirs Docking Compartment on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment of the complex at 1:46 p.m. EDT. With its mission completed, the cargo craft, which first arrived at the complex on Feb. 24, used its engines to conduct a separation maneuver, allowing it to move to a safe distance away from the station.  

The Progress’ engines will execute a deorbit burn at 4:58 p.m. to enable it to drop out of orbit for its entry back to Earth where it will burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.  

The next Russian Progress resupply ship is scheduled to launch to the station in mid-October.


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