Dragon Opens Up Offering New Space Research

Astronauts Watch Dragon Arrive
Astronauts Scott Tingle (left) and Norishige Kanai watch the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrive moments before capturing it with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter is open for business today as the Expedition 55 crew begins unloading and activating new time-sensitive space experiments aboard the International Space Station.

Astronaut Scott Tingle opened Dragon’s hatch this morning and was the first to enter the spaceship. He and fellow NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold began offloading new science gear immediately afterward. Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai tended to new mice shipped aboard Dragon and transferred them to habitats located inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Some of the new space studies will enable research into a variety of biological organisms to understand microgravity’s long term effects on life systems. Scientists hypothesize their observations will benefit both crews in space and people on Earth. Other experiments will study physics phenomena both inside and outside the orbital lab with potential impacts on future space systems and industrial and manufacturing processes on the ground.

Robotics operators on the ground will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to ungrip the newly-installed Dragon today. They will remotely maneuver the Canadarm2 on Friday to extract unpressurized cargo, including life support gear and external research, from Dragon’s exposed aft-end, also called its trunk. Dragon will remain attached to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port until early May.

Dragon Bolted to Station’s Harmony Module

April 4, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Progress 69 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-07 and MS-08 crew ships.

Two days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 9:00 a.m. EDT.

The 14th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-14) delivered about 5,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Among the research arriving to the U.S. National Laboratory is a Metabolic Tracking investigation to evaluate the use of a new method to test, in microgravity, the metabolic impacts of pharmaceutical drugs. This could lead to more effective, less expensive medicines on Earth. The Multi-use Variable-g Platform (MVP) will serve as a new test bed aboard the space station, able to host 12 separate experiment modules with samples such as plants, cells, protein crystals and fruit flies. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the U.S. National Laboratory, is sponsoring the investigation and the MVP.

Dragon will remain attached to the space station until May, when it will return to Earth with more than 3,500 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Capture Dragon Resupply Ship

SpaceX Dragon Capture
The SpaceX Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm today as the space station orbited above the continent of Africa. Credit: NASA TV

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 250 miles over the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishige Kanai and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle captured the Dragon spacecraft at 6:40 a.m. EDT using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 8:30 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

The Dragon lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Monday, April 2 with more than 5,800 pounds of research investigations and equipment, cargo and supplies to support dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the space station during Expeditions 55 and 56.

Among the research arriving on Dragon is a new facility to test materials, coatings and components, or other large experiments, in the harsh environment of space. Designed by Alpha Space and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) provides a platform for testing how materials react to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, atomic oxygen, ionizing radiation, ultrahigh vacuum, charged particles, thermal cycles, electromagnetic radiation, and micro-meteoroids in the low-Earth orbit environment.

The Canadian Space Agency’s study Bone Marrow Adipose Reaction: Red or White (MARROW) will look at the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and the blood cells it produces – an effect likened to that of long-term bed rest on Earth. The extent of this effect, and bone marrow’s ability to recover when back on Earth, are of interest to space researchers and healthcare providers alike.

Dragon also is carrying an Earth observatory that will study severe thunderstorms and their role in the Earth’s atmosphere and climate, as well as upgrade equipment for the station’s carbon dioxide removal system, external high-definition camera components, and a new printer for the station’s crew.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Resupply Ship Midway to Station Amid Maintenance and Science Work

The "Horn of Africa"
The “Horn of Africa” is seen through one of the seven windows that make up the Cupola, a dome-shaped module on the International Space Station. The space station crew will be inside the Cupola Wednesday morning operating a robotics workstation to capture the upcoming SpaceX Dragon.

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter is midway on its trip to the resupply the International Space Station’s Expedition 55 crew. Waiting to capture Dragon Wednesday morning are Flight Engineers Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle.

The two astronauts have been reviewing procedures and training on a computer for Dragon’s capture for a few weeks now. Kanai will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Dragon about 7 a.m. EDT Wednesday when it reaches a point about 10 meters away from the station. Tingle is backing up Kanai and will monitor Dragon’s approach and rendezvous from inside the Cupola. Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold will be assisting the duo by overseeing approach telemetry from a communications unit on the space station. NASA TV will begin its live mission coverage starting at 5:30 a.m.

Dragon is carrying a variety of cargo including new science experiments researching the human body, plants and how materials react when exposed to space. The Marrow study will explore bone marrow and the blood cells it produces. PONDS will explore ways to achieve uniform plant growth as astronauts supplement their diets with fresh space-grown greens. The Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, or MISSE-FF, will observe what happens to materials exposed to outer space phenomena such as ultraviolet radiation, charged particles and micro-meteoroids.

Meanwhile, the six space station residents are keeping the orbital lab in tip-top shape today while continuing ongoing scientific studies. Commander Anton Shkaplerov stayed focused on maintenance duties in the station’s Russian segment. New Expedition 55 crew members Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev had time set aside to get used to their new home in space.

Tingle swapped out Combustion Integrated Rack hardware in the Destiny lab module. Kanai readied mouse habitat gear for a rodent study being delivered on Dragon. Kanai and Tingle later ended the day with more Dragon robotics practice.

Expedition Crew Waits for Dragon and Studies Life Science

NASA astronaut and Expedition 55 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut and Expedition 55 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold rests inside the seven-windowed cupola as the International Space Station orbits above the south Atlantic Ocean.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft stands atop its launch pad counting down to a 4:30 p.m. EDT liftoff today to the International Space Station. The Expedition 55 crew is preparing for its arrival on Wednesday while continuing a variety of advanced space research aboard the orbital lab today.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is hosting the 14th launch of a SpaceX commercial cargo mission to the space station. Astronauts Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle are practicing the maneuvers and procedures necessary to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 when it arrives at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. Their fellow flight engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold joined them later in the afternoon to review the cargo they’ll transfer back and forth after they open the hatches to Dragon.

Feustel spent the better part of his day testing algorithms on a pair of tiny internal satellites that could be used to detect spacecraft positions and velocities. Arnold strapped himself into an exercise cycle for an exertion in space study then collected his blood samples for stowage and later analysis.

Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov worked on a multitude of Russian maintenance tasks checking communications and life support gear. Shkaplerov also joined cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev for another exercise study, this time on the Russian side of the lab, exploring its effectiveness during long term space missions.

Astronauts Focus on Next Cargo Mission and Harvest Crops

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold takes an out of this world “space-selfie” during a brief opportunity while conducting a spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Drew Feustel (out of frame) on March 29, 2018.

The Expedition 55 crew is cleaning up today after a spacewalk and getting ready for next week’s cargo delivery aboard the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. The four astronauts and two cosmonauts are also researching life science and reviewing emergency hardware today.

NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold are checking their spacesuits and cleaning up the Quest airlock today after completing a six-hour, 10-minute spacewalk on Thursday. The duo also participated in a routine post-spacewalk health evaluation which consists of checking temperature, blood pressure and respiratory rate.

The next big event at the International Space Station is Wednesday’s planned rendezvous with Dragon carrying over 5,800 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies and other station hardware. The commercial cargo craft will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Monday at 4:30 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai will be inside the cupola operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm when he grapples Dragon around 7 a.m. Wednesday. Flight Engineer Scott Tingle will assist Kanai and monitor the cargo ship’s arrival until it reaches its capture point about 10 meters away from the station. Both astronauts were on a computer today practicing the procedures they will use in the moments before they capture Dragon next week.

The orbital lab residents watered and harvested small crops of leafy vegetables for consumption today. A pair of crew members also documented what a headache in space feels like and how it affects their performance. The entire crew also spent almost two hours today familiarizing themselves with the locations of safety gear and practiced emergency communication with Russian mission controllers.

Experienced Spacewalkers Wrap Up Station Maintenance Excursion

There have been 209 spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998
There have been 209 spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the fourth spacewalk this year at 3:43 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 10 minutes. The two astronauts installed wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replaced a camera system on the port truss and removed suspect hoses from a cooling system.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days and 10 hours working outside the station in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Veteran Astronauts Exit Station to Begin Spacewalk

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold is pictured in March 2009 during a spacewalk at the space station when he was a member of the STS-119 crew aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA switched their spacesuits to battery power at 9:33 a.m. EDT, signifying the official start of today’s planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Watch the spacewalk live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Feustel is wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Arnold’s suit has no stripes. Views from a camera on Feustel’s helmet are designated with the number 17, and Arnold’s is labeled with the number 18. Feustel is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) for this spacewalk, the seventh of his career. Arnold, embarking on his third spacewalk, is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).

Once outside the airlock, Feustel’s first task will be to install the wireless communications antenna on the Tranquility module, while Arnold will begin the process of removing a set of hoses from the cooling system.

Once they have completed those activities, they will work together to replace a camera system on the port truss.

Watch NASA TV Now as Spacewalkers Prepare to Exit Station

Astronauts Drew Feustel and John Grunsfeld
Astronauts Drew Feustel (top) and John Grunsfeld perform maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope from the payload bay of space shuttle Atlantis in May of 2009.

NASA Television has begun coverage of today’s spacewalk, as Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA prepare to work outside the International Space Station for approximately 6.5 hours. Today’s spacewalk was originally scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m. However, suit leak checks took longer than anticipated and has put them approximately 60-90 minutes behind the original timeline.

The objective of today’s spacewalk will be to will install wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replace a camera system on the port truss and remove suspect hoses from a cooling system.

The wireless communications equipment will enhance payload data processing for the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) experiment being flown to the station on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. The experiment will measure the temperature of plants on Earth to better understand how much water they need and how they respond to stress.

Follow along on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Keep up with station and crew activities via Twitter @space_station. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Veteran Astronauts to Conduct Spacewalk Thursday Morning

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold is pictured during a spacewalk in March of 2009 at the International Space Station. Arnold was visiting the station as an STS-119 mission specialist aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Veteran NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold will head outside the International Space Station at approximately 8 a.m. EDT Thursday to begin a 6.5-hour spacewalk. Live coverage will be available on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 a.m.

During Thursday’s spacewalk, Feustel and Arnold will install wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replace a camera system on the port truss and remove suspect hoses from a cooling system.

This will be the 209th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates on the station and crew activities. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.