Expedition 56 Crew Unpacks Dragon to Begin New Science Operations

The SpaceX Dragon captured with the Canadarm2
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured moments after being captured with the Canadarm2 (the 57.7-foot-long robotic arm designed and built by the Canadian Space Agency) controlled by NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold as the International Space Station orbited over Quebec, Canada.

The International Space Station crew from the United States, Russia and Germany is going into the Fourth of July holiday unpacking new research gear from the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. The six Expedition 56 crew members also conducted advanced space research and orbital lab maintenance today.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold opened the hatches to the SpaceX Dragon space freighter Tuesday morning beginning a month of cargo swaps. He and Commander Drew Feustel began retrieving and unpacking a variety of new space cargo. Next, Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst transferred critical science gear into the space station. The duo reviewed the experiment installation and research operations to help scientists learn how microgravity affects physics and biology.

The space residents, including cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev, will spend the Fourth of July holiday with light duty. Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor will begin transferring mice delivered aboard Dragon into their new habitats aboard the station on Wednesday. The rodents will be observed to understand how microbes impact the gastrointestinal system in microgravity. Arnold and Feustel will be swapping frozen research samples from the Japanese Kibo lab module into the U.S. Destiny lab module.

Dragon Now Installed To Station For Month-Long Stay

July 2, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
July 2, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Dragon and Cygnus resupply ships from the United States; and from Roscosmos, the Progress 69 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 9:52 a.m. EDT.

The 15th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-15) delivers more than 5,900 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Among the research arriving to the U.S. National Laboratory is the Space Algae investigation, will discuss research to select algae strains adapted to space and sequence their genomes to identify growth-related genes. Algae consume waste carbon dioxide, can provide basic nutrition and may perceive microgravity as a trigger to produce algae oils rich in antioxidants that may help mitigate the harmful effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation during spaceflight. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the U.S. National Laboratory, is sponsoring the investigation.

A technology demonstration arriving is an observational pilot study with the Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) that aims to provide first insights into the effects of crew support from an artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of efficiency and acceptance during long-term missions in space.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with about 3,800 pounds of cargo and research, including an investigation to advance DNA sequencing in space and the Angiex cancer therapy investigation to improve understanding of endothelial cells that line the walls of blood vessels.

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.

Dragon Capture Confirmed Over Canada

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station. It would be captured minutes later when it reached its capture point 10 meters from the station Credit: NASA TV

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 256 miles over Quebec, Canada, NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, captured the Dragon spacecraft at 6:54 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 bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 9 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 Friday, June 29 with more than 5,900 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Among the hardware flying to the space station is a spare Canadian-built Latching End Effector (LEE), the part used as the “hands” that grapple payloads and visiting cargo spaceships such as Dragon. This was the 30th grapple of an arriving spacecraft, and the 15th time the Canadarm2 has captured a Dragon. Each end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm has an identical LEE, and they also enable Canadarm2 to “walk” to different locations on the orbiting outpost.

Among the research arriving on Dragon is a cellular biology investigation (Micro-12) to understand how microgravity affects the growth, gene expression and ability of a model bacterium to transfer electrons through its cell membrane along the bacterial nanowires it produces. Such bacteria could be used in microbial fuel cells to make electricity from waste organic material.

An Earth science instrument called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) will provide a new space-based measurement of how plants respond to changes in water availability. This data can help society better manage agricultural water use.

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.

Dragon Blasts Off Carrying Science and Supplies for Station Crew

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was successfully launched
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was successfully launched on the Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad LC-40 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Dragon successfully launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 5:42 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spacecraft’s solar arrays have deployed. It will arrive at the International Space Station Monday morning carrying more than 5,900 pounds of research investigations and equipment, cargo and supplies that will support some of the hundreds of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

A postlaunch press conference will take place at 8 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Participants are:

  • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program, Johnson Space Center
  • Jessica Jensen, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will use the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Dragon when it arrives at the station. Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 5:30 a.m. Monday, July 2. Installation coverage is set to begin at 9 a.m.

Research materials flying inside Dragon’s pressurized cargo area include a cellular biology investigation (Micro-12) to understand how microgravity affects the growth, gene expression and ability of a model bacterium to transfer electrons through its cell membrane along the bacterial nanowires it produces. Such bacteria could be used in microbial fuel cells to make electricity from waste organic material.

An Earth science instrument called the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) will provide a new space-based measurement of how plants respond to changes in water availability. This data can help society better manage agricultural water use.

An observational pilot study with the Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) aims to provide first insights into the effects of crew support from an artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of efficiency and acceptance during long-term missions in space.

Among the hundreds of pounds of hardware flying to the space station is a spare Canadian-built Latching End Effector (LEE). Each end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm has an identical LEE, and they are used as the “hands” that grapple payloads and visiting cargo spaceships. They also enable Canadarm2 to “walk” to different locations on the orbiting outpost.

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

Cancer and Cement Studies on Station Could Lead to Earth Benefits

Lagoons in the Crimea
An Expedition 56 crew member aboard the International Space Station pictured lagoons in the Crimea between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea which appear different colors due to shallow waters and their varied chemical composition.

Today’s science activities aboard the International Space Station are looking to improve cancer therapies and benefit cement processing on Earth. Meanwhile, two astronauts are practicing to capture the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft next week.

Cancer research in space can unlock positive benefits that are cloaked by Earth’s gravity possibly leading to advanced therapies. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor is preparing for the Angiex Cancer Therapy experiment which will be delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon. She is setting up the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the study that may lead to safer, more effective vascular-targeted drugs without animal testing.

Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold mixed cement samples today for stowage and future analysis on Earth. Studying how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties. Observations could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safer, lightweight space habitats.

Arnold will lead Monday morning’s capture of the SpaceX Dragon when he commands the Canadarm2 to grapple the space freighter Monday at 7 a.m. EDT. Commander Drew Feustel will back him up in the Cupola monitoring its approach and rendezvous. The duo set up the Cupola today and practiced the robotic maneuvers they will use to capture Dragon when it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station.

NASA TV begins its live broadcast Friday at 5:15 a.m. EDT of Dragon’s launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Dragon will blast off at 5:42 a.m. from the Kennedy Space Center on a three-day trip to the orbital lab carrying almost six thousand pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies and space station hardware. NASA TV will be back on the air Monday at 5:30 a.m. covering Dragon’s approach and rendezvous and again at 9 a.m. for Dragon’s installation to the Harmony module.


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

Crew Sets Up Station for New Research Delivery Aboard Dragon

The Canadarm2 and the Caspian Sea
Canada’s 57.7-foot-long robotic arm, also known as the Canadarm2, with a latching end effector at its tip (used to grapple approaching spacecraft and portable data grapple fixtures) is pictured in the foreground as the International Space Station was orbiting over the Caspian Sea.

The Expedition 56 crew members are configuring the International Space Station for several new experiments being delivered on the upcoming SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. The orbital residents also explored space physics and serviced U.S. spacesuits.

NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold worked on science hardware today to support new research being delivered aboard Dragon when it arrives Monday at 7 a.m. EDT. The duo also continued studying the robotics procedures necessary to capture Dragon after its approach and rendezvous next week.

Feustel cleaned a mouse habitat for the Rodent Research-7 experiment observing microbes in the gastrointestinal system in mice. Arnold checked out the functionality of the Veggie facility that will process plants for the Veg-03 study researching how to grow food in space.

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor looked at how cement solidifies in space exploring its microstructure and material properties. Results could impact the design of lightweight space habitats and improve cement and concrete processing on Earth.

Finally, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency looked at spacesuit gear and set up the Quest airlock for future spacewalk operations. Gerst purged nitrogen from the suit’s oxygen lines and helped ground controllers prepare for overnight oxygen leak checks.

Crew Gets Ready for Dragon, Studies Space Impacts on Health and Physics

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the International Space Station was orbiting above northern Africa on May 5, 2018.

The Expedition 56 crew members are getting ready for the arrival next week of the 15th SpaceX Dragon mission to the International Space Station. The space residents also explored how microgravity impacts health and physics today while setting up a variety of cubesats for deployment.

The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX that will launch the Dragon space freighter into Earth orbit is due to lift off Friday at 5:41 a.m. EDT and take a three-day trip to the orbital laboratory. The commercial space freighter will be loaded with almost six thousand pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies and space station hardware.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold will be backed up by Commander Drew Feustel in the Cupola when he commands the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon Monday at 7 a.m. The duo is reviewing procedures and training on a computer this week for the rendezvous and capture activities. Robotics controllers on the ground will then take over after the capture and remotely install Dragon a couple of hours later to the Harmony module where it will remain for 32 days. NASA TV will broadcast live the Dragon science briefings, launch, capture and installation activities.

Feustel started the workweek collecting and stowing biological samples for the Multi-Omics study that is observing how gut microbes may affect an astronaut’s immune system. He then worked on the Atomization experiment that is researching liquid spray processes to potentially improve the design of jet and rocket engines.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor installed a cubesat deployer on a multi-purpose experiment platform that will soon be placed outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. It will deploy nine different cubesats to continue space research and demonstrate space applications.

Crew Researching Microbes and Plants For Space and Earth Benefits

Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency
Astronaut Alexander Gerst is seated in the Columbus laboratory module participating in the Grip study. Grip is researching how the nervous system adapts to microgravity. Observations may improve the design of safer space habitats and help patients on Earth with neurological diseases.

The Expedition 56 crew members researched microbes and plants today and conducted more eye exams to benefit future space residents as well as people on Earth. The Cygnus space freighter continues to be packed for its release in July as robotics controllers get ready to inspect the vehicle.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor stowed genetically modified microbes in a science freezer that will be analyzed for their ability to compete with petrochemical production processes on Earth. Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold, also from NASA, thinned plants for the Plant Habitat-1 experiment that is comparing plants grown in microgravity to those grown on Earth.

Arnold and Auñón-Chancellor later joined Commander Drew Feustel for more eye checks. The trio used optical coherence tomography to capture 2D and 3D imagery of the eye to help doctors understand how living in space affects eyesight.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst was packing Cygnus with trash and old gear today ahead of its July 15 release.

Crew Studies How Space Affects Time Perception, Exercise and Eyesight Today

Cygnus and Soyuz spacecraft
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) Cygnus commercial space freighter with its cymbal-like Ultra-Flex solar arrays and the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft are pictured in this fish-eye lens view from a window on the International Space Station.

Quite a wide variety of science activities took place today aboard the International Space Station exploring time perception, exercise and eyesight. The Expedition 56 crew members also worked on station plumbing, stowed satellite deployer gear and checked out communications gear.

Two-time station resident Alexander Gerst started his morning helping doctors understand how living in space alters time perception and impacts crew performance. Later he strapped himself into an exercise bike and attached electrodes to his chest to monitor his pulmonary function during the workout session.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor teamed up for eye exams with an ultrasound device to study microgravity’s effects on eyesight. The scans were downlinked real-time to scientists on Earth observing the retina and optic nerve while monitoring the health of the astronaut’s eyes.

Auñón-Chancellor started her day changing out a filter and valve in the station’s bathroom located in the Tranquility module. She then checked out Wi-Fi gear connected to antennas installed during a March 29 spacewalk after assisting Feustel in the Japanese Kibo lab module. The duo stowed gear after Wednesday’s successful deployment of a satellite to demonstrate space junk clean up.

Arnold was set to install radio frequency tags today to improve tool tracking but that task was postponed till after the Cygnus cargo ship departs July 15. He then moved on to emergency communication tests with control centers around the world before light maintenance work on a 3D manufacturing device.

New Satellite, Space Research and Cargo Missions Fill Crew Agenda

Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor collects breath samples to analyze and measure red blood cell function for the Marrow investigation.

The International Space Station deployed a satellite this morning to demonstrate the potential of removing space junk. Back inside the orbital lab, the Expedition 56 crew explored space physics, studied human research and conducted an emergency drill.

A new satellite was deployed into space today from outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. Officially named the NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite, it will explore using a 3D camera to map the location and speed of space debris. It will also deploy a net to capture a nanosatellite that will simulate space junk.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold worked inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox to troubleshoot gear today for a semiconductor crystal growth experiment. Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, set up dosimeters and measured the station’s acoustic levels to understand the effects on crews.

Arnold later joined fellow Soyuz MS-08 crewmates Drew Feustel of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos for an emergency drill. The trio practiced evacuating the station in their Soyuz crew ship in the unlikely event of an emergency.

U.S. and Russian cargo ships are due to launch to the space station this summer. Another cargo craft is due to end its stay at the orbital lab next month. SpaceX is counting down to a June 29 launch of its Dragon cargo ship. Roscosmos will launch its Progress 70 cargo craft on July 9. Finally, the Cygnus space freighter attached to the Unity module is due to end its stay July 15.