Crew Studies Space Impacts on Humans and Tech

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson was pictured June 28 conducting a live video interview with reporters on Earth.

Expedition 52 continued exploring today how microgravity impacts humans and technology to improve future spaceflight and benefit life on Earth. The trio also conducted an array of maintenance activities including space plumbing.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson took a look today at how living in space affects her ability to work on interactive tasks. The Fine Motor Skills study, which has been taking place for over two years, is researching the skills necessary for astronauts to interact with next-generation space technologies. Observations may impact the design of future spacecraft, spacesuits and habitats.

Jack Fischer, a first time space flyer from NASA, wrapped up operations with the Group Combustion Module experiment today. The combustion study was exploring how flames spread as the composition of fuel changes in space. Results could benefit the development of advanced rocket engines and improve cleaner, more efficient engines on Earth.

Whitson and Fischer also worked on a variety of plumbing tasks including collecting water samples and swapping and filling recycle tanks on the Urine Processing Assembly. Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin connected power and network cables before moving on to activating an antenna and more plumbing work.


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Full Day of Bone Loss Therapy and Life Support Work for Crew

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Crew Members Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer

Expeditin 52 crew members Fyodor Yurchikhin (left) and Jack Fischer are seen working inside the Zvezda service module.

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.


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Dragon Cargo Craft Flies Away From Station

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SpaceX Dragon Release

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is seen departing the space station after its release from the space station’s Canadarm2. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 52 astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson of NASA released the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 2:41 a.m. EDT.

Dragon’s thrusters will be fired to move the spacecraft a safe distance from the station before SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, command its deorbit burn. The capsule will splash down at about 8:41 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean, where recovery forces will retrieve the capsule and its more than 4,100 pounds of cargo. This cargo will include science from human and animal research, biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.

Splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.

Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched June 3 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and arrived at the station June 5 for the company’s eleventh NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission carrying almost 6,000 pounds of cargo and research supplies.

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at:

www.nasa.gov/station

Get breaking news, images, videos and features from the station on social media at:

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SpaceX Dragon Departure Slips to Monday

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SpaceX Dragon

The SpaceX Dragon was pictured May 31, 2012, moments before its release from the grip of the Canadarm2 and its departure from the space station.

Due to a forecast of unacceptable sea states in the Pacific Ocean in the prime opportunity splashdown zone, SpaceX and NASA have elected to delay the return of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft to Monday, July 3. The splashdown zone for Monday has an acceptable weather forecast and is closer to port in Long Beach, California. Splashdown is expected around 260 miles southwest of the California coast.

NASA TV coverage of the departure of Dragon Monday, July 3 will begin at 2:00 a.m. EDT for a release at 2:28 a.m.


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Astronauts Sharpen Dragon Release Skills and Examine Microbes

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NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson works on a science experiment in the Unity module.

A pair of NASA astronauts are almost finished packing the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship and are training for its Sunday morning departure. The three-member Expedition 52 crew also explored life science researching microgravity’s effect on microbes and plants.

Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer will be inside the Cupola Sunday to robotically release Dragon at 11:38 a.m. EDT. They duo trained today to prepare for Sunday’s departure activities. The astronauts are also nearly done loading Dragon with time-sensitive research samples and used station hardware for analysis on Earth by scientists and engineers.

The commercial space freighter will parachute to a splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 5-1/2 hours after release. A SpaceX team will retrieve Dragon from the ocean and ship it to port in southern California. NASA engineers will then unload Dragon on shore and return the cargo back to Houston for analysis.

Today’s life science activities included photographing mold and bacteria samples for a suite of student-designed experiments. Finally, microbes that have been swabbed from station surfaces are set to be examined for extremophiles, or microorganisms that live in extreme conditions that are normally hostile to life.


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Dragon Packing Ahead of Weekend Departure

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Aurora and Starry Night

The aurora and the starry night are pictured above Earth’s atmosphere in this photograph taken from the space station’s cupola June 19, 2017.

Onboard the International Space Station today, the Expedition 52 crew continued packing the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship for its departure Sunday morning. The crew is loading Dragon all week with scientific samples and station hardware for splashdown and retrieval in the Pacific Ocean.

SpaceX personnel will take a two-day boat ride with Dragon onboard and return it to port in southern California. NASA engineers will then unload Dragon on shore and ship the cargo back to Houston for analysis.

Meanwhile, the three station residents today continued exploring space science and gearing up for a Russian spacewalk. The trio also inspected safety gear and maintained station life support systems.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer worked on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that levitates, melts and solidifies materials for physical research. He later joined Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson and stowed frozen science samples inside Dragon. Commander Fyodor replaced gear on a Russian spacesuit and checked it for leaks.


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Aging and Heart Research Lead Station Science Today

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson floats inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Expedition 52 explored the aging process in space today and measured the lighting conditions on the International Space Station. The crew is also getting spacesuits ready for an upcoming Russian spacewalk.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson swapped out stem cell samples today inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Cardiac Stem Cells study. The experiment is researching spaceflight’s effect on accelerated aging and may provide a treatment for heart disease on Earth. Scientists are observing the stem cells in space to determine their role in cardiac biology and effectiveness in tissue regeneration.

Whitson also set up light meters to measure the intensity and color of new LED (light-emitting diode) light bulbs installed in the station. The data is being collected for the Lighting Effects study to determine how the new lights affect crew sleep, circadian rhythms and cognitive performance.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer checked out Russian Orlan spacesuits with Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin this morning. The spacesuit maintenance work is doing being done ahead of a Russian spacewalk planned for later this year.


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Crew Preps for Solar Array Jettison and Dragon Departure

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ROSA Jettison

The ROSA, Roll Out Solar Array, is pictured shortly after it was jettisoned from the tip of the Canadarm2.

An experimental solar array demonstration was jettisoned while the Expedition 52 crew continued preparing the SpaceX Dragon for its release on Sunday. The three crew members also studied how microgravity impacts their bodies.

Following a week of successful science operations on the experiment for the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), attempts to retract the array were unsuccessful. The ISS Mission Management Team met Monday morning and made the decision to jettison ROSA directly from its location at the end of the space station’s robotic arm, where it remained fully deployed in a normal configuration.

The original plan called for ROSA to be stored back inside the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon which is detached and burned up in the atmosphere during Dragon reentry. The Operations team executed the jettison procedure that was developed as part of the pre-flight planning process that covered various scenarios. Once jettisoned, ROSA will not present any risk to the International Space Station and will not impact any upcoming visiting vehicle traffic.

ROSA is an experiment to test a new type of solar panel that rolls open in space and is more compact than current rigid panel designs. The ROSA investigation tests deployment and retraction, shape changes when the Earth blocks the sun, and other physical challenges to determine the array’s strength and durability.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is one week away from departing the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson continued packing Dragon this morning with used hardware and research samples for analysis back on Earth. Dragon will be released from the Canadarm2 Sunday at 11:38 a.m. EDT and splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 5-1/2 hours later.

Whitson then joined Flight Engineer Jack Fischer in the afternoon to wrap up the Seedling Growth-3 experiment. The botanical study is exploring how the lack of gravity impacts light sensing and growth in plants. Plant samples from the study will be returned to Earth on Sunday inside the Dragon resupply ship.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, along with Whitson and Fischer, took body measurements today to help scientists understand how living in space affects body size. The crew also collected blood, urine, saliva and breath samples for more insight on astronaut health.


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Crew Explores Cardiac Research and Tiny Satellites Today

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Expedition 52 Crew Members Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer

Expedition 52 crew members Fyodor Yurchikhin (middle foreground) and Jack Fischer were inside the Zvezda service module monitoring the docking of a Russian Progress 67 cargo ship on June 16, 2017.

The Expedition 52 trio worked throughout Friday on human research studying cardiac biology and the microbes that live on humans. Tiny satellites inside the International Space Station were also investigated for future remote or autonomous use in space.

NASA astronaut Jack Fisher collected microbe samples from his body and stowed them inside a science freezer for later analysis on Earth. He also activated an ultrasound and scanned his legs for the Vascular Echo study that is exploring how veins and arteries adapt during a spaceflight mission.

Three-time station crew member Peggy Whitson retrieved stem cell samples for observation to determine if living in space speeds up the aging process. Whitson then set up the SPHERES Halo experiment that is exploring the possibility of using satellites to clean up space debris and assemble objects such as space telescopes and habitats.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin worked in the station’s Russian segment maintaining life support systems. The veteran cosmonaut also explored pain sensation in space then wrapped up the work day with Earth photography documenting human and natural impacts across the globe.


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Crew Studies Bone Loss Reversal and Unloads New Cargo

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson checks out new science gear inside the Harmony module. The SpaceX Dragon is attached to the Earth-facing port of Harmony.

Expedition 52 is continuing to explore a new drug therapy today that may keep humans healthier in space. The trio onboard the International Space Station also worked on standard maintenance activities to keep the orbital complex in ship-shape.

Astronauts living on the station exercise a couple of hours every day to offset the muscle and bone loss experienced in microgravity. A new injectable drug is also being explored as a way to maintain strong bones during spaceflight. Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA are testing that drug today on mice for the fifth version of the ongoing Rodent Research experiment. Rodent Research-5 is testing the drugs ability to stop and reverse bone loss in space and may help patients with bone disease on Earth.

Fischer also worked on light plumbing duties and microbe sampling throughout Thursday. Whitson also worked on microbe sampling and set up life science gear ahead of a new experiment to be delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin checked out Russian life support gear and continued unloading new gear delivered last week inside the Progress 67 (67P) resupply ship. The veteran cosmonaut also repressurized the station’s atmosphere using oxygen stored inside the 67P.


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