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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In Orbit Today: Improving Longer-Duration Space Travel and Cancer Treatments

solar arrays
This angled image of space station solar arrays frames the Earth scene.

The Expedition 52 crew embarked on tasks Wednesday to further NASA’s eventual journey to Mars and aid researchers in understanding how to stimulate cancer-fighting drugs to target cancer cells—and cancer cells alone—in the human body.

The astronauts lent their opinions to a food questionnaire designed to explore if the current food available in the spaceflight food system would be acceptable for even longer-duration missions, like a Martian sojourn. Their input will help develop strategies to improve futuristic food systems in support of crew health and performance.

Of even greater magnitude to Earthlings approximately 240 miles below the orbiting laboratory is the work being performed with the Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in Microgravity (ADCs in Microgravity) investigation. The crew retrieved a BioCell Habitat, inoculation kits and ADC samples from a Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI), set up hardware inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) and inoculated the Multiwall BioCells using syringes. Later, the astronauts will repeat these steps with a second BioCell Habitat, which begins an 11-day experiment stretch. In the zero-g environment of space, cancer cells grow in spheroid structures that closely resemble how they form in the human body. This study may speed up the development of targeted therapies for cancer patients, increasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment and while reducing unwanted side effects.

Expedition 52 is taking out the trash midday tomorrow when Russia’s Progress 66 (66P) uncrewed cargo craft departs the International Space Station for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean. The 66P is loaded with garbage and obsolete gear and will undock from the Pirs docking compartment Thursday at 1:46 p.m. EDT. The Russian resupply ship will orbit Earth for a few more hours before reentering Earth’s atmosphere harmlessly over the Pacific. NASA TV will not be covering the undocking activities.


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Full Day of Bone Loss Therapy and Life Support Work for Crew

Crew Members Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer
Expeditin 52 crew members Fyodor Yurchikhin (left) and Jack Fischer are seen working inside the Zvezda service module.

A pair of Expedition 52 astronauts from NASA aboard the International Space Station today explored how microgravity causes bone loss in space. The commander from Roscosmos also worked on life support maintenance tasks throughout Wednesday.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer studied a new drug therapy to determine its potential to prevent bone loss. The duo worked inside the Destiny lab module and used a bone densitometer to measure bone minerals in mice living in the Rodent Research habitat. The new drug may slow or reverse bone loss in astronauts during spaceflight and possibly help patients on Earth suffering bone loss syndromes.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin was on the opposite side of the station today doing plumbing work and transferring water from the new Progress 67 cargo craft into the Zvezda service module. The veteran cosmonaut also replaced water hoses and worked on air purification gear.


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Crew Starts Human, Botany Studies Before Next Cargo Mission

The Progress 67 rocket rolls out Sunday to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The Expedition 52 crew of two NASA astronauts and one Roscosmos cosmonaut is in its second week aboard the International Space Station. Also, as one station resupply ship completed its mission in space on Sunday another rolled out to its pad for a launch this week.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson started Monday measuring her shoulders, back, chest and hips for the Body Measures experiment. Scientists are researching how living in space changes body shape and size which may influence the design of future crew suits.

Jack Fischer of NASA studied how plants sense light and grow in space for the Seedling Growth-3 experiment. He also worked on removing and replacing a bolt that jammed after the last SpaceX Dragon cargo craft left the station back in March. The maintenance work is being done ahead of the departure of the newest Dragon which arrived June 5. Dragon will remain attached to the Harmony module until July 2.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft deorbited into Earth’s atmosphere Sunday at 1:12 p.m. EST after its release from the station a week earlier. The same day, Russia’s Progress 67 (67P) cargo ship rolled out to its launch pad in Kazakhstan where it will liftoff Wednesday at 5:20 a.m. EDT. The 67P will dock Friday at 7:42 a.m. to the Zvezda service module’s aft port.


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

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.

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