Expedition 53 Inspires the Next Generation, Learns More About How the Human Body Responds to Space

Commander Randy Bresnik
Commander Randy Bresnik addresses students in Kiev, Ukraine, during an in-flight event Oct. 25. Image Credit: NASA TV

Mid-week, the crew of Expedition 53 completed tasks to investigate the various ways microgravity affects the human body and shared the benefits of the International Space Station with students in Kiev, Ukraine, during a Public Affairs in-flight event.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA spoke with U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch live on NASA TV, and she moderated questions from Ukrainian and U.S. Embassy students eager to hear more on what it takes to be an astronaut aboard the orbiting laboratory. Bresnik spoke of his extensive training regimen before embarking on his mission, but reiterated that working together cohesively with a team and getting along with others ranked at the top of needed skills for an explorer. Bresnik also touted fellow crewmate Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA’s upcoming project on Friday: harvesting lettuce (five kinds, no less) that has been growing in space. He reminded the students that seeds may be a key component to deep space missions due to their small space requirements, making them perfect for packing into a compact spacecraft. Growing food is also the most sustainable option for crews hoping to live on the Red Planet for an extended period of time. Before closing out the event, Bresnik told the students to always nurture their thirst for knowledge, as it’s a trait that can be found among all astronauts and cosmonauts.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Paolo Nespoli took part in Day 2 of the 11-day study for Astronaut’s Energy Requirements for Long-Term Space Flight (Energy), an investigation zeroing in on the side effects of space travel. Today, he collected water samples from the station, continued with urine collection and stowed the deployed Pulmonary Function System equipment. The crew, as a whole, logged their food and drink consumption, furthering beefing up critical data for investigators. Physicians will examine metabolic rates, urine content and bone density to determine energy requirements for even longer missions in deep space. Since astronauts often lose body mass during extended stays for reasons that remain unclear, specifics about the crew’s metabolism and activities, as well as other conditions, help ensure they are properly nourished for their demanding schedules in zero-g.

A small amount of Freon (about 100 milliliters) leaked out from a small nanosatellite poised to be launched from Kibo on Friday. There is no risk to crew health and safety and no risk to station hardware. Teams remain on track to deploy this nanosatellite Friday.

Culmination of Spacewalks Leads into Studies on Crew Health and Performance

aurora borealis
A spectacular aurora borealis, or “northern lights,” over Canada is sighted from the International Space Station near the highest point of its orbital path. Image Credit: NASA

After a trio of spacewalks this month, including the final one conducted last Friday by Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA, the Expedition 53 crew returned to a schedule of full-time science this week.

Today, the crew explored how lighting aboard the International Space Station affects their performance and health. One such investigation is called Lighting Effects, which studies the impact of the change from fluorescent light bulbs to LEDs. By adjusting intensity and color, investigators on the ground will use crew feedback to determine if new lights can improve crew circadian rhythms, sleep and cognitive performance.

Blood and urine samples were also collected and stowed in the Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, marking Flight Day 30 for the Biochemical Profile and Repository experiments. Specific proteins and chemicals in the samples are used as biomarkers, or indicators of health. Armed with a database of test results, scientists can learn more about how spaceflight changes the human body and protect future astronauts on a journey to Mars based on their findings.

Expedition 53 is also preparing a microsatellite carrying an optical imaging system payload for deployment. Its operation in low-Earth orbit will attempt to solidify the concept that these small satellites are viable investigative platforms that can support critical operations and host advanced payloads.

Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk and Check Science Gear

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei is pictured tethered to the outside of the U.S. Destiny laboratory module during a spacewalk on Oct. 10, 2017.

Two NASA astronauts are getting ready to go on their mission’s third spacewalk on Friday. In the midst of those preparations, the Expedition 53 crew also worked on science gear exploring a wide variety of space phenomena.

Commander Randy Bresnik is preparing to go on the third spacewalk this month with NASA astronaut Joe Acaba. Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Mark Vande Hei will assist the spacewalking duo in and out of their spacesuits on Friday.

The spacewalkers will replace a camera light on the Canadarm2’s newly-installed Latching End Effector and install a high-definition camera on the starboard truss. Other tasks include the replacement of a fuse on Dextre’s payload platform and the removal of thermal insulation on two electrical spare parts housed on stowage platforms.

Bresnik started his day working on a specialized camera that photograph’s meteors entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Acaba finally wrapped up the day configuring a microscope inside the Fluids Integrated Rack.

Nespoli, from the European Space Agency, set up the new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) for a workout session today. Researchers are exploring the MED-2 for its ability to provide effective workouts while maximizing space aboard a spacecraft.

Station Crew Gearing Up for Three October Spacewalks

Astronauts Richard Arnold and Joseph Acaba
Astronauts Richard Arnold (bottom) and Joseph Acaba are pictured during a spacewalk in March of 2009. The duo were visiting the space station as STS-119 mission specialists aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Two astronauts are getting ready for a spacewalk set to begin Thursday at 8:05 a.m. EDT. This will be the first of three spacewalks taking place this month for maintenance at the International Space Station.

NASA TV is broadcasting a live briefing at 2 p.m. today describing what will take place during the three spacewalks planned for Oct. 5, 10 and 18. NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei will go outside for the first two spacewalks. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba will join Bresnik for the third and final spacewalk.

The first spacewalk will focus on the removal and replacement of one of the Canadarm2’s latching end effectors (LEE). The second and third spacewalks will concentrate on the lubrication of the LEE and the installation of a pair of external cameras. You can watch all three spacewalks live on NASA TV beginning at 6:30 a.m. here… https://www.nasa.gov/live

Ground controllers are remotely maneuvering the Canadarm2 to the correct worksite today to allow the spacewalkers access to its LEE. The three astronauts are also installing rechargeable batteries on their spacesuits and reviewing their tasks with specialists in Mission Control.


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NASA TV Broadcasts Dragon Release Early Sunday

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured attached to the Harmony module shortly after its arrival in mid-August.

NASA Television coverage of the departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station is set to begin early Sunday morning, Sept. 17 at 4:30 a.m. EDT. Watch the spacecraft departure live at http://www.nasa.gov/live

Dragon has been loaded with more than 3,800 pounds of cargo and research to be returned to Earth and its internal hatch closed. The spacecraft is targeted for release at 4:40 a.m.

Dragon launched to the space station Aug. 14 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying more than 6,400 pounds of supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s twelfth commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

Get breaking news, images, videos and features from the station on social media at:

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Expedition 52 Trio Undocks from Station

Expedition 52 Trio Undocks
The Expedition 52 trio undocked on time from the International Space Station inside their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA, along with Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, undocked from the International Space Station at 5:58 p.m. EDT to begin their voyage home. Whitson spent 288 days in space on this mission, and Fischer and Yurchikhin each completed 136 days in space.

The deborbit burn is targeted for 8:29 p.m., and will lead to a landing at 9:22 p.m. NASA Television coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 8 p.m.

Watch live coverage online at: www.nasa.gov/live

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at:

www.nasa.gov/station

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Departing Crew Enters Soyuz, Closes Hatches

Expedition 52 Trio
Expedition 52 crew members (from left) Jack Fischer, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Peggy Whitson are in their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft preparing to undock and return to Earth today at 9:22 p.m. EDT.

At 2:41 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. Expedition 52 crewmates Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 5:58 p.m. NASA Television will air live coverage of undocking beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Watch live coverage online at: www.nasa.gov/live

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at: www.nasa.gov/station

Get breaking news, images, videos and features from the station on social media at:


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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.