Ongoing Space Science Seeks to Keep Astronauts Healthy

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Astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet were pictured inside the cupola just after the SpaceX Dragon was captured Feb. 23, 2017.

NASA is preparing for longer human journeys deeper into space and is exploring how to keep astronauts healthy and productive. The Expedition 50 crew members today studied space nutrition, measured their bodies and checked their eyes to learn how to adapt to living in space. The space residents also unloaded a cargo ship, worked on the Tranquility module and practiced an emergency simulation.

The ongoing Energy experiment that ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet collected urine samples for today seeks to define the energy requirements necessary to keep an astronaut successful during a space mission. Pesquet also joined NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson for body measurements to learn how microgravity affects body shape and impacts crew suit sizing. Commander Shane Kimbrough checked his eyes today with Whitson’s help and support from experts on the ground.

Kimbrough worked throughout the day before his eye checks and configured the Tranquility module for upcoming electronics and communications work. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy continued unloading gear from the newly-arrived Progress 66 cargo ship. At the end of the day, Novitskiy joined Whitson and Pesquet for an emergency simulation with inputs from control centers in Houston and Moscow.

CubeSats Deployed During Crew Ultrasound Scans

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Expedition 50 Crew Members

Five Expedition 50 crew members gather in the Zvezda service module for mealtime. Clockwise from bottom are NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov.

Four CubeSats were deployed this morning as the crew researched fluid shifts toward the head that may affect astronaut vision. Tools were also being collected and organized today ahead of possible maintenance spacewalks.

Four CubeSats were ejected Monday morning from outside Japan’s Kibo lab module using the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer. The LEMUR-2 satellites will help monitor global ship tracking and improve weather forecasting.

Sergey Ryzhikov from Roscosmos participated in ultrasound scans of the head and neck for the long-running Fluid Shifts study. Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency joined Ryzhikov for the experiment to learn how to prevent upward fluid shifts that may cause lasting eye damage.

Commander Shane Kimbrough worked inside the Quest airlock today gathering spacewalk tools. Mission planners are looking at potential spacewalks to continue upgrading the International Space Station’s power systems.


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Trio Surpasses 100 Days as Dragon Unloads Earth Science

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson shows off posters signed by hundreds of personnel who have supported her mission.

Three Expedition 50 crew members recently surpassed 100 days in space and will come home in June. Also, SpaceX Dragon external experiments are being unloaded for installation on the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has been living in space with her Expedition 50 crewmates for over 100 days now. She and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency and Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos will return to Earth June 2 after 197 days in space. The trio launched Nov. 17 beginning a two-day trip to the station.

Whitson has reached out to her supporters on the ground and mentioned them with her “NASA Village” campaign from space. She launched to the station with posters signed by hundreds of support personnel and recently showed them off on orbit.

Watch Peggy Whitson describe the “NASA Village”
Visit Peggy Whitson’s Facebook page

A pair of Earth observation experiments delivered last week on the SpaceX Dragon have been robotically removed from the resupply ship. Both experiments will be installed on specialized pallets on the outside of the orbital laboratory and activated for years of research.

The first experiment, SAGE-III, will observe how tiny particles interact with Earth’s sunscreen, or ozone, possibly affecting the climate. The second, Lightning Image Sensor, will monitor lightning around the globe to improve weather forecasting, enhance climate models and increase aviation safety.


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

Station Lifts Orbit, Crew Explores Diet and Stem Cells

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Thomas Pesquet, Oleg Novitskiy and Peggy Whitson

(From left) Crewmates Thomas Pesquet, Oleg Novitskiy and Peggy Whitson just recently celebrated 100 days in space. The trio is scheduled to return to Earth June 2.

The International Space Station fired its engines Wednesday night slightly raising its orbit to accommodate a crew exchange in April. In the meantime, the six-person Expedition 50 crew continued learning how living in space affects the human body.

The station’s third module, the Zvezda service module which launched in 2000, fired its main engines for 43 seconds overnight. The orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for the departure of three Expedition 50 crew members April 10. Just ten days later, two new space residents will arrive completing the Expedition 51 crew.

Scientists are exploring the best nutrition requirements to keep astronauts healthy and productive during long-term space missions. Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is contributing to that research today beginning a prescribed diet for the next 11 days. During that period he will collect urine samples and measure his breathing for the Energy study. Results will help researchers plan meals to ensure successful missions farther out into space.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson, who will become station commander April 9, peered at stem cells through a specialized microscope on today. She is helping scientists understand how microgravity increases stem cell replication possibly improving disease treatments on Earth.


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Station Boosting Orbit for April Crew Swap

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The Expedition 50 Crew

The Expedition 50 crew members are (from left) Andrey Borisenko, Commander Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov, Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson and Oleg Novitskiy. Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford

The International Space Station will boost its orbit Wednesday night to get ready for a crew swap next month. Three Expedition 50 crew members will complete their mission and a new two-person crew will launch to the station in April.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and his crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will end their mission April 10 after 173 days in space. The trio will undock from the Poisk mini-research module in their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft officially ending the Expedition 50 mission.

The reboost also readies the station for the arrival of two new crew members who will arrive April 20. Veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, a first-time space flyer, will take a short four-orbit ride aboard the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft and dock to Poisk. The new Expedition 51 trio is scheduled to stay in space for 136 days.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will become Expedition 51 commander after Kimbrough and his crew undock. She is staying behind with fellow crewmates Thomas Pesquet from France and Oleg Novitskiy from Russia. They will stay in space until June 2 ending their mission after 195 days when they return home in their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft.

Engineers on the ground switched from one pump to another in the thermal cooling system for one of the particle detectors on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), an experiment to study cosmic ray particle physics from the outside of the International Space Station. The silicon tracker is one of several detectors that collect data on cosmic particles and is equipped with four redundant pumps used to circulate carbon dioxide to maintain the required temperature in the changing thermal environment outside the station. A pump stopped functioning on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, and was the second to stop after a different pump experienced a similar issue in March, 2014. Only one pump is required to operate at a given time, and long-term planning is underway to potentially bypass the pumps and associated equipment with an upgraded system put in place during a series of spacewalks. AMS launched in 2011, and results have already contributed to science showing potential indirect evidence of dark matter and other new cosmic ray particle physics discoveries.


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Crew Checks Spacesuits and Explores New Life Science

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Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Peggy Whitson

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Peggy Whitson set up the Microgravity Science Glovebox inside the Destiny lab module.

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency cleaned U.S. spacesuit cooling loops and collected water samples for a periodic maintenance check today. Afterward, he began charging spacewalking gear including helmet lights and tool batteries.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson worked on life support maintenance today. They removed and disassembled valves and ducts to access old carbon dioxide filters that needed replacing inside the Destiny lab module. The duo will be back at work Wednesday installing newer generation filters.

One of the main objectives of the International Space Station is to provide an orbital laboratory to research how living in space long-term affects humans. New and ongoing experiments conducted today may provide benefits for humans on and off Earth.

Kimbrough checked on rodents being observed for a tissue regeneration study. Whitson continued researching stem cells with a new microscope delivered last week aboard the SpaceX Dragon. Cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko studied how viruses behave in space while his fellow cosmonauts, Sergey Ryzhikov and Oleg Novitskiy, explored non-invasive ways to monitor a crew member’s health and methods to keep their skills sharp on and off Earth.


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Brand New Dragon Experiments Activated on Station

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SpaceX Dragon

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft is seen Feb. 23, 2017, during final approach to the International Space Station.

The Expedition 50 crew began activating new science experiments delivered last week aboard the SpaceX Dragon. The various life science studies will study bones and muscles, stem cells, botany and protein crystals.

Rodents delivered aboard Dragon were placed in their habitats over the weekend for the Rodent Research-4 study. That experiment is observing how bone and tissue regenerate in microgravity.

Stem cells were also unloaded from Dragon and stowed in a science freezer. The crew will research the replication of stem cells which may benefit clinical trials on Earth for new disease treatments. Astronaut Peggy Whitson used a specialized microscope to view the stem cells as the experiment got under way over the weekend.

The crew is also exploring how plants grow in space in order to provide food and oxygen for future long-duration missions. Plant samples were removed from a science freezer and placed in the Veggie facility for growth and observation. The spaceflight environment can change a plant’s genetic expression and growth pattern.

High-quality crystals are being grown on the International Space Station that otherwise couldn’t be grown on Earth due to gravity. The crystal samples are being studied for the Light Microscopy Module Biophysics-1 experiment to help researchers design new disease-fighting drugs.


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Russian Cargo Craft Docks 24 Hours After Dragon Arrives

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Feb. 24 Space Station Configuration

Today’s arrival of the Progress 66 cargo craft, just 24 hours after the capture ofthe Space X Dragon, makes four spaceships at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Traveling about 250 miles over the south Pacific, the unpiloted Progress 66 Russian cargo ship docked at 3:30 a.m. EST to the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station.

For more information about the current crew and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.


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Dragon Attached to Station’s Harmony Module

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Feb. 23 Space Station Configuration

The SpaceX Dragon was successfully installed to the Harmony module a few hours after it was captured with the Canadarm2. Credit: NASA

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was berthed to the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 8:12 a.m. EST. The hatch between the newly arrived spacecraft and the Harmony module of the space station is scheduled to be opened this afternoon. The capsule will spend about four weeks attached to the station.

For an overview of the science delivered to station aboard Dragon, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/SX10_science

With Dragon now berthed to station, the Expedition 50 crew will focus on its next cargo delivery, which is scheduled to arrive in less than 24 hours. The Russian Progress 66 was launched on Wednesday, Feb. 22 from Kazakhstan. It will arrive on station Friday morning for an automated docking at 3:34 a.m. EST and remain on the station until June. NASA Television will cover its arrival beginning at 2:45 a.m. EST.


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Astronauts Capture Dragon with Robotic Arm

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SpaceX Dragon in the Grips of the Canadarm2

The SpaceX Dragon is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 shortly after its capture by astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet. Credit: NASA TV

While the International Space Station was traveling about 250 statute miles over the west coast of Australia, Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) captured Dragon a few minutes ahead of schedule at 5:44 a.m. EST.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 8 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Dragon on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and use #Dragon. For more information about the SpaceX CRS-10 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/spacex.

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