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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The International Space Station raised its orbit today to get ready for a June crew departure. The first of two orbital reboosts comes just a week after two new crew members arrived to begin their mission with Expedition 51.
Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet will return to Earth June 2 ending the Expedition 51 mission. Expedition 52 will begin and veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin will stay behind with NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer waiting for the next crew arrival on July 28.
The current orbiting crew of five Expedition 51 crew members continued more biomedical research and eye checks today. The crew underwent a series of ultrasound scans and eye tests to learn how living in space affects vision. The astronauts are subjects of ongoing studies to help NASA plan missions farther out in space for longer periods of time.
One symptom of living in space for long periods is the pressure that builds up behind astronauts’ eyes due to the upward flow of fluids. Doctors are seeking to counteract this flow after some astronauts have reported vision problems during and after their long-term missions.
An Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft carrying more than 7,600 pounds of supplies, science and research investigations is set to arrive to the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The uncrewed cargo ship launched at 11:11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 18 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin its four-day journey to the orbiting laboratory.
Expedition 51 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station’s robotic Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus at approximately 6:05 a.m. on Saturday, April 22. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. Installation coverage will resume at 7:30 a.m.
Coverage will air live on NASA Television and stream on the agency’s website at: www.nasa.gov/live.
The mission is Orbital ATK’s seventh contracted commercial resupply services (CRS) mission, and its third launch atop an Atlas V rocket from Florida. Future missions under Orbital ATK’s CRS-1 contract with NASA are expected to resume from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Two rockets on opposite sides of the world rolled out to their launch pads today ready to blast off to the International Space Station. An American rocket rolled out to its pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A Russian rocket was carted by train and raised to its vertical position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is stacked atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance and ready for its Tuesday launch at 11:11 a.m. EDT from Florida. The seventh contracted Commercial Resupply Services mission for Orbital ATK will deliver over 7,600 pounds science gear and crew supplies to the Expedition 51 crew. Cygnus is due to arrive Saturday morning for a robotic capture and installation to the Unity module.
Two new Expedition 51 crew members will be seated in the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft when it lifts off from Kazakhstan Thursday at 3:13 a.m. Just six hours and 10 minutes later the duo will dock to the Poisk module to begin a mission expected to last about 4-1/2 months.
Meanwhile, the orbiting trio of Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Thomas Pesquet and Oleg Novitskiy are getting ready for the new arrivals and continuing space research. Whitson explored how the brain adapts to microgravity while Pesquet set up hardware to collect body fluid samples for later analysis. Novitskiy focused on systems maintenance in the station’s Russian segment.
The Expedition 50 crew is checking out U.S. spacesuits today and testing tiny internal satellites for research. Three crew members are also packing up for a ride back to Earth on Monday.
Commander Shane Kimbrough worked on a pair of spacesuits today following the completion of two spacewalks last month. He sampled and tested the cooling water that flows through the suits to keep astronauts cool in the extreme environment of outer space.
Kimbrough is winding down his stay in space with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko. The trio this week is packing the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft with science samples, personal items and other cargo for a landing in Kazakhstan after 173 days in space. NASA TV will broadcast the crew departure activities live with landing scheduled for Monday at 7:20 a.m. EDT.
Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:33 p.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, which lasted just over seven hours, the two astronauts successfully reconnected cables and electrical connections on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3. PMA-3 will provide the pressurized interface between the station and the second of two international docking adapters to be delivered to the complex to support the dockings of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft in the future.
The duo were also tasked with installing four thermal protection shields on the Tranquility module of the International Space Station. The shields were required to cover the port where the PMA-3 was removed earlier in the week and robotically installed on the Harmony module. During the spacewalk, one of the shields was inadvertently lost. The loss posed no immediate danger to the astronauts and Kimbrough and Whitson went on to successfully install the remaining shields on the common berthing mechanism port.
A team from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston devised a plan for the astronauts to finish covering the port with the PMA-3 cover Whitson removed earlier in the day. The plan worked, and the cover was successfully installed, providing thermal protection and micrometeoroid and orbital debris cover for the port.
To round out the spacewalk, Kimbrough and Whitson also installed a different shield around the base of the PMA-3 adapter for micrometeoroid protection. The shield was nicknamed a cummerbund as it fits around the adapter similar to a tuxedo’s cummerbund worn around the waist.
Having completed her eighth spacewalk, Whitson now holds the record for the most spacewalks and accumulated time spacewalking by a female astronaut.
Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,243 hours and 42 minutes outside the station during 199 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.