Cygnus Cargo Craft Attached to Station Until July

April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 and 72 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-11 and MS-12 crew ships.

After its capture this morning at 5:28 a.m. EDT, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:31 a.m. At the time of installation, Cygnus was flying 255 miles above the Indian Ocean just south of Singapore.

Cygnus will remain at the space station until July 23, when the spacecraft will depart the station, deploy NanoRacks customer CubeSats, then have an extended mission of nine months before it will dispose of several tons of trash during a fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 7,600 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of NASA-sponsored research to advance exploration goals and enable future missions to the Moon and Mars include:

Models for growing increasingly complex materials

Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-10 (ACE-T-10) will test gels in a microgravity environment. This research could aid in the development of increasingly complex materials that may serve as the building blocks for a range of applications on Earth including foods, drugs, and electronic devices. The process also may provide an efficient method to build new materials and equipment in space.

Better life science research in a few drops

Although the space station is well equipped for health and life sciences research, the equipment available for cellular and molecular biology still is limited compared to capabilities found in laboratories on Earth. To address this limitation, CSA designed Bio-Analyzer, a new tool the size of a video game console that astronauts on station easily can use to test body fluids such as blood, saliva, and urine, with just a few drops. It returns key analyses, such as blood cell counts, in just two to three hours, eliminating the need to freeze and store samples.

Analyzing aging of the arteries in astronauts

The Vascular Aging investigation uses ultrasounds, blood samples, oral glucose tolerance tests, and wearable sensors to study aging-like changes that occur in many astronauts during their stay on the space station. It’s one of three Canadian experiments exploring the effects of weightlessness on the blood vessels and heart, and the links between these effects and bone health, blood biomarkers, insulin resistance, and radiation exposure. Increased understanding of these mechanisms can be used to address vascular aging in both astronauts and the aging Earth population.

Testing immune response in space

Spaceflight is known to have a dramatic influence on an astronaut’s immune response, but there is little research on its effect following an actual challenge to the body’s immune system. The rodent immune system closely parallels that of humans, and Rodent Research-12: Tetanus Antibody Response by B cells in Space (TARBIS) will examine the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory. This investigation aims to advance the development of measures to counter these effects and help maintain crew health during future long-duration space missions. On Earth, it could advance research to improve the effectiveness of vaccines and therapies for treating diseases and cancers.

Big buzz for new robot

A fleet of small robots is set to take on big jobs aboard the space station. Building on the success of SPHERES, NASA will test Astrobee, a robotic system comprised of three cube-shaped robots and a docking station for recharging; the first two are aboard Cygnus. The free-flying robots use electric fans for propulsion and cameras and sensors help them navigate their surroundings. The robots also have an arm to grasp station handrails or grab and hold items. Astrobee can operate in automated mode or under remote control from the ground as it assists with routine chores on station, and requires no supervision from the crew. This has the potential to free up astronauts to conduct more research.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronaut Commands Robotic Arm to Capture Cygnus Cargo Craft

The Cygnus spacecraft from Northrop Grumman
The Cygnus spacecraft from Northrop Grumman approaches the International Space Station for a robotic capture

At 5:28 a.m. EDT, Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Roger Chaffee, on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The station was flying over northeast France at an altitude of 254 miles when it was captured.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning. Cygnus will remain at the orbiting laboratory for a three-month stay.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Coverage Begins of U.S. Cygnus Craft Approaching Station

Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain
Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA uses the robotics workstation inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module to practice Canadarm2 robotics maneuvers and Cygnus spacecraft capture techniques.

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA will capture the spacecraft assisted by David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, who will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach for capture. They will use the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Roger Chaffee. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

NASA Television coverage of capture has begun. Watch live online at www.nasa.gov/live

A timeline of remaining Cygnus and space station activities for the earliest capture attempt is below:

Time (EDT)   Event

4:14 a.m.      Cygnus within 300m of Space Station
4:21 a.m.      250m Hold Point Arrival
4:36 a.m.      250m Hold Point Departure
4:47 a.m.      Cygnus within 100 meters of Space Station
5:00 a.m.      30 meters Hold Point Arrival
5:05 a.m.      Earliest “Go” for Capture
5:19 a.m.      Capture Point Arrival
5:24 a.m.      “Go” or “No-Go” for Capture
5:30 a.m.      Capture

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Broadcasts Friday Arrival of U.S. Resupply Ship to Station

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter with its prominent cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in November of 2018.

A Northrop Grumman cargo ship carrying about 7,600 pounds of science and research investigations, supplies, and hardware is set to arrive to the International Space Station early Friday morning. The uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft launched at 4:46 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 17 on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

When Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Roger Chaffee, arrives to the space station on Friday, April 19, Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain will use the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft at about 5:30 a.m. Fellow crew member David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will assist McClain. NASA astronaut Nick Hague will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach for capture. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module for a three-month stay.

Live coverage will begin on NASA TV at 4 a.m. and return to the air at 7 a.m. for installation coverage. Watch at www.nasa.gov/live

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Prepare for Arrival of Science-Packed Cargo Ship

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch
NASA astronauts (from left) Anne McClain and Christina Koch pose for a portrait inside the Kibo laboratory module from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Both Expedition 59 flight engineers are members of NASA’s 2013 class of astronauts.

The Cygnus space freighter is on orbit today and refining its approach to the International Space Station following its launch from Virginia Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Expedition 59 crew is juggling a variety of science and maintenance activities today before Friday morning’s space shipment arrives.

Astronaut Anne McClain, with Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques as her back up, will capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Ground controllers will take over afterward and remotely install Cygnus to the Unity module where it will stay until the end of July.

Cygnus is packed with about 7,600 pounds of science, supplies and crew hardware to replenish the orbital lab. Among its science payloads are mice, free-flying robots and a host of other experiments and research gear. The astronauts set up hardware today that will house the rodents and enable research into how the immune system responds to microgravity. The crew will also test the ability of tiny, autonomous robots to provide assistance with routine space chores and lab monitoring.

Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch started Thursday collecting and spinning blood and urine samples for ongoing human research. McClain checked out cables for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace while Saint-Jacques installed sample plates on a specialized microscope called the Light Microscopy Module.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and fellow cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin worked throughout the day on Russian life support maintenance.  Ovchinin also researched enzyme behavior in space and photographed plants for a botany investigation.

U.S. Resupply Ship Poised for Launch as Crew Studies Life Science

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen during sunrise on Pad-0A, Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia

The U.S. Cygnus resupply ship from Northrop Grumman is encapsulated atop the Antares rocket and standing at its launch pad in Virginia. The Expedition 59 crew is training for its capture at the end of the week in the midst of ongoing life science aboard the International Space Station.

Cygnus will blast off Wednesday at 4:46 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. It will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science, supplies and hardware to the orbital residents. Flight Engineer Anne McClain, with astronaut David Saint-Jacques backing her up, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus Friday about 5:30 a.m.

The duo continued sharpening their robotics skills today as they practiced Friday’s Cygnus capture maneuvers and techniques on a computer. NASA TV will broadcast the space freighter’s launch and capture activities live.

McClain started the day setting up a mouse habitat that will house rodents to gain insight into the immune system’s response to long-term spaceflight. Saint-Jacques set up the 360° camera in Tranquility module for more virtual reality filming of crew life on the station.

Flight Engineer Christina Koch started Tuesday collecting and spinning her blood samples in a centrifuge for the Myotones muscle study. She then joined NASA astronaut Nick Hague for body measurements and ultrasound scans to research how microgravity impacts the biochemical properties of muscles.

Cygnus Spaceship at Launch Pad as Crew Trains for Delivery Mission

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket is seen as it rolls out to Pad-0A, Monday, April 15, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The next U.S. spaceship to deliver goods to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad in Virginia today. The Expedition 59 crew is training to capture the U.S. space freighter while also filming a virtual reality experience aboard the orbital lab.

Northrop Grumman is poised to launch its Cygnus resupply ship atop an Antares rocket Wednesday at 4:46 p.m. EDT. It will blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on a day-and-a-half long delivery trip to the station’s Unity module.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will be waiting for Cygnus’ arrival Friday morning from inside the cupola. McClain will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus about 5:30 a.m. as Saint-Jacques backs her up. Robotics controllers will take over shortly after and remotely install the Cygnus to Unity’s Earth-facing point about two hours later.

The duo, supported by NASA astronaut Nick Hague, continued reviewing procedures and practicing robotics maneuvers today as Cygnus counts down to its Wednesday launch. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.

More virtual reality filming continued today and has been ongoing for several months now inside the orbital complex. The crew has been filming a 360° experience depicting life on the station for future viewing by audiences on Earth.

More Brain and Breath Studies Top Research on Station Today

David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency trims NASA astronaut Anne McClain’s hair
The orbital lab becomes a high-flying hair salon as David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency trims NASA astronaut Anne McClain’s hair aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew continued more brain and breath research aboard the International Space Station today. Along with a variety of other life science activities, the crew also filmed a virtual reality experience inside the station.

NASA is planning longer human missions, farther out in space and having a safe spacecraft atmosphere to breathe in is vitally important. Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Anne McClain spent most of Thursday helping doctors understand what exacerbates and how to alleviate the inflammation of an astronaut’s airways. The duo worked in the Quest airlock measuring and sampling their breath at a reduced air pressure.

Astronaut Christina Koch carried on today with more brain research then closed out the neuroscientific experiment. She worked with human research gear including the Cardiolab Portable Doppler and the Continuous Blood Pressure Device. The instruments measure blood pressure waveforms in the arteries and blood flow velocity to the brain. The data will help doctors understand how the brain regulates blood flow in microgravity.

Koch later videotaped herself in virtual reality for a film depicting life on the station. David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency set up the 360° camera inside the Unity module that links the station’s U.S. segment with the Russian segment. Saint-Jacques later collected his urine samples for stowage in a science freezer and later analysis.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin also explored an array of space phenomena today for the Roscosmos science program. The duo researched cardiovascular activity and enzyme reactions to give doctors better insight into crew health. The cosmonauts also photographed Earth landmarks to help predict catastrophes and studied how space crews relate to mission controllers on the ground.

Crew Trains to Capture U.S. Spaceship and Studies the Brain and Breathing

NASA astronaut Anne McClain
NASA astronaut Anne McClain is suited up in the U.S. Quest airlock preparing to begin what would be a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk on April 8, 2019.

The Expedition 59 crew is now training to capture a U.S. cargo ship when it arrives at the International Space Station next week. The orbital lab residents are also busy researching how living in space affects the human mind and body.

Fresh off their spacewalk Monday, astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are now practicing to capture Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. McClain will be at the robotics workstation in the cupola April 19 and command the Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus around 5:30 a.m. EDT. Saint-Jacques will back her up while Flight Engineer Nick Hague monitors Cygnus’ systems during its approach and rendezvous. The commercial cargo craft is due to launch April 17 at 4:46 p.m. from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Hague started his day with more brain research in the Japanese Kibo lab module. The NASA astronaut used a Doppler device to record his arterial blood flow waveforms. The data will help doctors understand how the brain regulates blood flow in microgravity.

The astronauts also researched how the station’s atmosphere affects breathing. The experiment studies how dust, particles and exhaled breath inflames a crewmember’s airways. Observations may reveal conditions that exacerbate or alleviate airway inflammation influencing future space missions.

SpaceX has announced April 26 as the launch date for its next Dragon cargo mission. The private space freighter will blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida arriving at the station April 28. This time Saint-Jacques will lead the robotics capture activities while Hague backs him up.

Post-Spacewalk Checkups and Space Research Before U.S. Cargo Deliveries

Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency
Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency takes a quick self portrait during a spacewalk while working outside the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew has switched focus from Monday’s spacewalk to microgravity science aboard the International Space Station. Soon, the orbital residents will be unpacking a pair of U.S. space freighters.

Astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are conducting their post-spacewalk medical checkups today. The astronauts measured their temperature, blood pressure, respiration and ear condition. After the checkups, the spacewalkers had their eyes scanned with an ultrasound device by Flight Engineer Nick Hague.

The spacewalking duo along with NASA astronaut Christina Koch also had an hour-long video debrief session with specialists on the ground. The crew and mission controllers discussed lessons they learned that could inform the planning of future spacewalks.

Koch spent most of her day on maintenance replacing science hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. The research device enables safe investigations of microgravity’s impacts on solid and gaseous fuel combustion aboard the orbital lab. Hague explored how blood flows to the brain for the Cerebral Autoregulation study. The brain research uses Doppler technology that measures blood flow waveforms to help doctors understand and treat space-caused lightheadedness.

With the recent series of spacewalks now complete, the crew will soon be turning its attention to the arrival of two resupply ships. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft and the SpaceX Dragon will each deliver science and supplies before the end of the month to replenish the space station crew. Cygnus is due to blast off for a three-month mission attached to the station’s Unity module April 17. Dragon is targeted to liftoff at the end of April for a month-long stay at the Harmony module.