Japanese Ship Arriving Thursday; U.S., Russian Crew Leaving Next Week

Commander Drew Feustel
Commander Drew Feustel participates in an event inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 56 crew aboard the International Space Station awaits the arrival of new science experiments and crew supplies Thursday morning. One week later, three crew members will return to Earth after 197 days in space.

Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7), also known as the “Kounotori,” is nearing the station and headed for a Thursday morning capture at 8 a.m. EDT. The HTV-7 is loaded with over five tons of science and supplies, including the new Life Sciences Glovebox and a half dozen lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the capture activities Thursday at 6:30 a.m.

NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are finalizing several weeks of computer training today to capture the HTV-7. Feustel will be inside the cupola and command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori Thursday morning. Auñón-Chancellor will back up Feustel and monitor the Kounotori’s approach and rendezvous.

Meanwhile, Feustel and two other Expedition 56 crewmates are scheduled to depart the orbital laboratory on Oct. 4 just a week after the Kounotori arrives. Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev will lead the flight home inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft flanked by Feustel and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold.

The three departing crewmates have been packing up crew supplies, station hardware and science experiments to take back to Earth. The trio also practiced their Soyuz descent maneuvers and prepared themselves for the effects of returning to gravity. . Once the trio departs, Expedition 57 officially begins.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin will launch and arrive one week later. During Expedition 57, the crew will conduct a set of spacewalks to install the new lithium-ion batteries delivered to the station on HTV-7.

Commander Leads Japanese, Russian Spaceship Preps and BEAM Checks

Expedition 55/56 crew members inside BEAM
Expedition 55/56 crew members (from left) Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev, pose for a portrait inside the Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module (BEAM).

The Expedition 56 crew is ramping for a busy traffic period at the International Space Station during the next couple of weeks. This all comes as the orbital residents ensure BEAM’s operational life and continue ongoing microgravity science.

Japan’s seventh “Kounotori” resupply ship is nearing the orbital complex and closing in for a Thursday morning capture. Commander Drew Feustel practiced on a computer today the procedures he will use when he commands the Canadarm2 to grapple Kounotori around 8 a.m. NASA TV is broadcasting the live coverage of the HTV-7 arrival and capture starting at 6:30 a.m.

Feustel is also getting ready to return to Earth on Oct. 4 with crewmates Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Ricky Arnold. During the morning, the three crewmates checked the Sokol launch and entry suits they will wear when they reenter Earth’s atmosphere inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft.

The commander also joined Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor opening up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) for maintenance and stowage work.The duo reinforced and stiffened struts inside BEAM to increase its safety margin and extend its operational life. They also stowed a variety of hardware inside the station’s newest module.

DNA sequencing from microbe samples is taking place onboard the station today to help scientists understand the impacts of living in space. The atomization of fluids continues to being studied potentially improving fuel efficiency on Earth and in spacecraft. A variety of space gear housing experiments and research samples was checked out today as part regularly scheduled maintenance.

Japan Delivery Due Thursday as Trio Preps Russian Spacecraft for Return

The International Space Station orbits above New Zealand.
Two docked Russian spacecraft are seen as the International Space Station orbited nearly 262 miles above New Zealand.

A Japanese cargo craft is orbiting Earth today and on its way to resupply the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the six Expedition 56 crew members are researching a variety of space phenomena as a trio prepares to return to Earth.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) resupply ship launched Saturday from Japan loaded with over five tons of new science and supplies destined for the crew. The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Thursday. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor will be in the cupola backing up Commander Drew Feustel when he captures the HTV-7 with the Canadarm2 around 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Included among the critical payloads packed inside the HTV-7 is the Life Sciences Glovebox. The new facility will enable research to advance human health on Earth and in space. HTV-7 is also delivering new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade power systems on the station’s truss structure. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the HTV-7 arrival and capture Thursday at 6:30 a.m.

Today’s science work aboard the orbital lab included looking at DNA and fluid physics. Auñón-Chancellor sequenced DNA extracted from microbial samples collected inside the station. Feustel activated gear for an experiment researching the atomization of liquids that could improve fuel efficiency on Earth and in space.

Feustel later joined his Soyuz crewmates Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Ricky Arnold of NASA and began preparations for their return to Earth Oct. 4. Artemyev will command the ride back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft flanked by the two astronauts. He and Feustel practiced on a computer their Soyuz descent back into Earth’s atmosphere. Arnold packed up crew provisions and other items inside the Russian spacecraft.

Japanese Rocket Blasts Off to Resupply Station

Japan's HTV-7 Resupply Ship Blasts Off
Japan’s H-IIB rocket with the HTV-7 resupply ship on top blasts off at 1:52 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s H-IIB rocket launched at 1:52 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. At the time of launch, the space station was 254 miles over the southwest Pacific, west of Chile.

A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket and began its four-and-a-half rendezvous with the International Space Station.

On Thursday, Sept. 27, the HTV-7 will approach the station from below and slowly inch its way toward the orbiting laboratory. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the spacecraft as it approaches. Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-7 systems during its approach. Robotic ground controllers will then install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will remain for several weeks.

NASA TV coverage of the Sept. 27 rendezvous and grapple will begin at 6:30 a.m. ET. Capture is scheduled for approximately 8:00 a.m. After a break, NASA TV coverage will resume at 10:30 a.m. for spacecraft installation to the space station’s Harmony module.

In addition to new hardware to upgrade the station’s electrical power system, the HTV-7 is carrying a new sample holder for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF), a protein crystal growth experiment at low temperatures (JAXA LT PCG), an investigation that looks at the effect of microgravity on bone marrow (MARROW), a Life Sciences Glovebox, and additional EXPRESS Racks.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Japanese Cargo Mission Set For Launch Today

Japan's HTV-5 resupply ship
Japan’s HTV-5 resupply ship is seen during a night pass with the Nile river lit up on the Earth below in September of 2015 during Expedition 45.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch a cargo spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan today at 1:52 p.m. EDT (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time).

Live coverage of the launch will begin at 1:30 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

The launch vehicle will send the HTV-7 into orbit on a four-day rendezvous for an arrival at the orbiting laboratory on Thursday, Sept. 27.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Launch Slips One Day as Station Boosts Orbit and Life Science Continues

Japan's HTV-3 resupply ship launches aboard an H-IIB rocket
Japan’s HTV-3 resupply ship launches aboard an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on July 20, 2012, during Expedition 32. Credit: JAXA

The launch of a Japanese resupply ship to the International Space Station was postponed till Saturday. Meanwhile, the Expedition 56 crew moved on with critical space research and orbital lab maintenance.

Inclement weather at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan led managers at JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to postpone the launch of its HTV-7 resupply ship by one day. The HTV-7 is now due to launch atop the H-IIB rocket Saturday at 1:52 p.m. EDT loaded with over five tons of cargo, including new science experiments and science hardware. Its arrival at the station is now planned for Thursday at 7:54 a.m.

The station’s Zvezda service module fired its engines today slightly boosting the space lab’s orbit. The reboost enables a crew swap taking place next month when Expedition 57 begins. Three Expedition 56 crew members will depart on Oct. 4 and return to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. A new pair of Expedition 57 crew members will arrive aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship to replace them Oct. 11

Astronauts Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducted a variety of biomedical research today sponsored by scientists from around the world. The duo partnered up for ultrasound scans inside Europe’s Columbus lab module as doctors on the ground monitored in real-time. Arnold also worked throughout the day processing blood and urine samples inside the Human Research Facility’s centrifuge.

The biological sample work is supporting a pair of ongoing experiments observing the physiological changes to humans in space. The Repository study analyzes blood and urine samples collected from astronauts before, during and after a space mission. The Biochemical Profile study also researches these samples for markers of astronaut health.

Commander Drew Feustel and Fight Engineer Alexander Gerst worked throughout the orbital lab on housekeeping tasks. Fuestel was in the Unity module installing computer network gear on an EXPRESS rack that can support multiple science experiments. Gerst relocated smoke detectors in the Tranquility module then moved on to computer maintenance in the Destiny lab module.

Japan Postpones Rocket Launch to Saturday

Japan's H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad
Japan’s H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center before it launched the HTV-6 cargo craft on Dec. 9, 2016. Credit: JAXA

As a result of inclement weather, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has postponed the launch of a cargo spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan one day to approximately 1:52 p.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time). Live coverage of the launch will begin at 1:30 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station.

NASA also will provide live coverage of the arrival and installation of HTV-7 at the space station Thursday, Sept. 27 beginning at 6:30 a.m. ET. Capture is scheduled for around 8 a.m. After a break, NASA TV coverage will resume at 10:30 a.m. for spacecraft installation to the space station’s Harmony module.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Physics, Human Research on Lab as Japan Announces Launch Date

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor poses with a U.S. spacesuit inside the U.S. Quest Airlock. The spacesuit helmet’s visor is coated with a thin layer of gold that filters out the sun’s harmful rays during spacewalks.

Physics science and human research continues unabated aboard the International Space Station as NASA and its partners seek to understand the impacts of living in space. Meanwhile, Japan announced a new launch date for its HTV-7 cargo mission to resupply the Expedition 56 crew.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) has been exploring for several weeks now whether a custom designed t-shirt can provide comfort and thermal efficiency during a space workout. He has also been testing a wearable device that measures cardio-pulmonary activity during exercise.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor worked on separate science gear today that enables research into flames, fuels and high temperatures in space. Arnold spent most of Wednesday replacing experiment hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. Auñón-Chancellor removed samples from inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace to observe changes in their thermo-physical properties.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) announced early today that it will attempt to launch its HTV-7 resupply ship, also known as the Kounotori, Friday at 2:15 p.m. EDT to the station. The Kounotori is due to arrive at the station Tuesday loaded with over five tons of cargo, including new science experiments and science hardware.

Commander Drew Feustel and will be in the cupola Tuesday, with Auñón-Chancellor as his backup, to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 8:05 a.m. The duo has been training for the Kounotori’s arrival for several weeks practicing on a computer rendezvous procedures and robotics maneuvers. NASA TV will broadcast the Kounotori launch and capture activities live.

Japan Reschedules Launch of Station Cargo Mission to Friday

Japan's H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad
Japan’s H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center before it launched the HTV-6 cargo craft on Dec. 9, 2016. Credit: JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has rescheduled the launch of a cargo spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan to 2:15 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 21 (3:15 a.m. Sept. 22 Japan standard time). Live coverage of the launch will begin at 1:45 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station.

NASA also will provide live coverage of the arrival of HTV-7 at the space station Tuesday, Sept. 25 beginning at 6:30 a.m. ET. Capture is scheduled for around 8 a.m. After a break, NASA TV coverage will resume at 10:30 a.m. for spacecraft installation to the space station’s Harmony module.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Exercise and DNA Studies as Crew Checks Spacesuits

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA
Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA works inside the seven-windowed Cupola as the International Space Station was about to fly over the coast of Chile in South America.

The Expedition 56 crew members started the work week exploring a variety of life science and ensuring the upkeep of advanced space research gear. U.S. spacesuits were also being looked at today ahead of a series of planned spacewalks.

All space station crew members exercise daily to maintain their health while living in space. Today, Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold strapped himself into an exercise bike and wore sensors to measure aerobic capacity, or how much physical exertion an astronaut can sustain in space. This helps doctors understand the fitness requirements necessary to successfully conduct spacewalks or respond to emergencies in the weightless environment of space.

Arnold then switched roles from subject to scientist as he extracted DNA from microbe samples swabbed from inside the International Space Station. The DNA undergoes further sample preparation and is sequenced using the Biomolecule Sequencer and Genes in Space hardware onboard the station. The research is helping scientists understand how life adapts to microgravity providing insights to improve crew health.

Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, both from NASA, worked on a variety of science gear Monday. Auñón-Chancellor restocked the Human Research Facility-2 with medical supplies and Feustel reconfigured a rack in the Kibo laboratory module for the new Life Sciences Glovebox.

The duo then joined astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) for spacesuit checks during the afternoon. The three astronauts verified the functionality of the suit jetpacks, ensured the correct sizing of the suits and cleaned the Quest airlock where U.S. spacewalks are staged. These suits will be used on a series of future spacewalks to upgrade batteries on the space station’s truss structure.