Crew Researching Mice and Microbes to Understand Human Impacts

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Aurora and Night Sky

The aurora and the night sky above Earth’s atmosphere are pictured from the space station. A portion of the station’s solar arrays and a pair of nitrogen/oxygen recharge system tanks are pictured in the foreground.

The three orbiting crew members living on the International Space Station today explored the effects of microgravity on mice and microbes to understand how living in space impacts humans. Cargo transfers are also underway on the orbital complex after the arrival of the latest resupply ship.

A pair of life science experiments observing mice are being worked today to research how the weightless environment of space impacts bones, muscles and the immunity system. For the Rodent Research-5 study today, NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer observed how drug therapies on mice may offset the negative health impacts of spaceflight. The duo also set up gear for a new study, the Multi-Omics Mouse experiment, which will be launched on the next Space Dragon mission and will evaluate the impacts of space environment and prebiotics on astronauts’ immune function.

The crew also collected saliva samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later microbial analysis on Earth. Station surfaces were also swabbed and air samples were taken to help scientists identify the microbes living on the station and how they may change on orbit.

Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin continued unloading the 3,000 pounds of food, fuel and supplies delivered last week aboard the Progress 67 resupply ship. The veteran station cosmonaut also had some time set aside to update the station’s inventory system and check on Russian science experiments.


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Dragon Packing and BEAM Checks Onboard Station Today

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Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer are pictured packing up gear inside the International Space Station.

The Expedition 52 crew is loading the SpaceX Dragon with cargo for return back to Earth in less than two weeks. BEAM, the experimental habitat, also received a new radiation shield today that was 3D printed aboard the International Space Station.

Dragon is due to leave the International Space Station July 2 after cargo transfers with the resupply ship are complete. The crew offloaded new science experiments, spacewalking gear and station hardware shortly after it arrived on June 5. Dragon will now be packed with used station gear and research samples for analysis by NASA engineers and scientists after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.

Flight Engineer Jack Fischer opened up BEAM today and entered the expandable activity module for a regular checkup. He replaced an older radiation shield with a thicker shield that covers a radiation sensor inside BEAM. Fischer also sampled BEAM’s air and surfaces for microbes.

Veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson of NASA spent Tuesday sampling the air and surfaces for microbes in the station’s U.S. segment. Whitson also spent some time stowing synthetic DNA samples exposed to radiation in a science freezer and began readying rodent research gear for return next month aboard Dragon.


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Station Kicks off Week with Solar Array Study and Biological Research

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Roll Out Solar Array

The Roll Out Solar Array, also known as ROSA, was deployed June 18 from the tip of the Canadarm2.

Robotics controllers completed the unloading and set up of the third and final external experiment delivered last week aboard the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship. Inside the International Space Station, the Expedition 52 crew studied a variety of life science including plant growth, bone loss and cardiac biology.

Over the weekend, engineers on the ground remotely operated the Canadarm2 to extract the Roll Out Solar Array from Dragon.  The experiment, also known as ROSA, will remain attached to the Canadarm2 over seven days to test the effectiveness of the advanced, flexible solar array that rolls out like a tape measure.

Flight Engineer Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson set up the Seedling Growth-3 botany study today that is researching how plant cells respond to lighting conditions in microgravity. Fischer also installed samples in a NanoRacks facility for an educational research project that is studying the effects of radiation damage on synthetic DNA.

Whitson measured bone loss in mice for the Rodent Research-5 study. Results may improve the health of astronauts living in space and humans on Earth with bone diseases. Whitson later moved onto the Cardiac Stem Cells experiment that seeks to understand the accelerated aging process that takes place in space.


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Russian Cargo Craft Delivers Over Three Tons of Supplies

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Space Station Configuration

Today’s docking of the Progress 67 resupply ship to the Zvezda service module makes four spacecraft docked to the International Space Station.

Traveling about 250 miles over the Philippine Sea, the unpiloted ISS Progress 67 Russian cargo ship docked at 7:37 a.m. EDT to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station.

Read more about visiting vehicle launches, departures and arrivals at the station.

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


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Crew Researches Mold, Rodents and Stem Cells as Cargo Ship Chases Station

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NASA Astronaut Jack Fischer

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer checks out science gear inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Russia’s Progress 67 (67P) cargo craft is orbiting Earth and on its way to the International Space Station Friday morning carrying over three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Meanwhile, the three member Expedition 52 crew researched a variety of space science on Thursday while preparing for the arrival of the 67P.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will monitor the automated docking of the 67P to the Zvezda service module Friday at 7:42 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast live the resupply ship’s approach and rendezvous beginning at 7 a.m. The 67P’s docking will mark four spaceships attached to the space station.

Fischer spent the morning photographing mold and bacteria samples on petri dishes as part of six student-led biology experiments that are taking place inside a NanoRacks module. In the afternoon, he removed protein crystal samples from a science freezer, let them thaw and observed the samples using a specialized microscope.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson tended to rodents Thursday morning cleaning their habitat facilities and restocking their food. In the afternoon, she moved to human research swapping out samples for the Cardiac Stem Cells study that is exploring why living in space may accelerate the aging process.


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Russian Rocket Launches on Two-Day Cargo Delivery to Station

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Progress Cargo Craft Launch

The Russian Progress 67 cargo craft launch ascends to space after a flawless launch Wednesday from Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

Carrying more than three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted ISS Progress 67 cargo craft launched at 5:20 a.m. EDT (3:20 p.m. local time in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 258 miles over the south Atlantic southeast of Uruguay.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Russian cargo craft will make 34 orbits of Earth during the next two days before docking to the orbiting laboratory at 7:42 a.m. Friday, June 16.

Beginning at 7 a.m. on Friday, NASA Television will provide live coverage of Progress 67’s arrival to the space station’s Zvezda Service Module.

Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 67 online, follow @space_station on Twitter.


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Cargo Ship Ready for Launch as Robotic Arm Unloads Dragon Experiments

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The Progress 67 cargo craft

The Progress 67 cargo craft rests atop the Progress MS-06 rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

Russia’s Progress 67 (67P) cargo craft stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan ready for liftoff Wednesday at 5:20 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast the launch live from the Baikonur Cosmodrome including the docking of the 67P Friday at 7:42 a.m. to the Zvezda service module.

Two external experiments have been extracted from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship and attached to the outside of the International Space Station. Ground controllers commanded the Canadarm2 to reach inside Dragon, grapple both experiments and install them on EXPRESS logistics carriers.

The first experiment, MUSES, or Multiple User System for Earth Sensing, was removed June 6 the day after Dragon’s arrival. It was installed two days later on the starboard side of the station’s truss structure. MUSES is an Earth-imaging platform that may improve navigation, agriculture and benefit emergency responders and the petroleum industry.

NICER, or Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, was extracted Sunday afternoon and will be installed this evening. It will search for new insights into the physics of neutron stars and help scientists develop a pulsar-based, space navigation system.

A third experiment will be extracted June 17 to test a new advanced solar array. The roll-out solar array, or ROSA, rolls out like a tape measure with solar cells on a flexible blanket. The ROSA, which could power future NASA spaceships and communication satellites, will be stowed back inside Dragon’s trunk after seven days of data collection while attached to the station’s robotic arm.


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Crew Starts Human, Botany Studies Before Next Cargo Mission

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The Progress 67 rocket rolls out Sunday to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The Expedition 52 crew of two NASA astronauts and one Roscosmos cosmonaut is in its second week aboard the International Space Station. Also, as one station resupply ship completed its mission in space on Sunday another rolled out to its pad for a launch this week.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson started Monday measuring her shoulders, back, chest and hips for the Body Measures experiment. Scientists are researching how living in space changes body shape and size which may influence the design of future crew suits.

Jack Fischer of NASA studied how plants sense light and grow in space for the Seedling Growth-3 experiment. He also worked on removing and replacing a bolt that jammed after the last SpaceX Dragon cargo craft left the station back in March. The maintenance work is being done ahead of the departure of the newest Dragon which arrived June 5. Dragon will remain attached to the Harmony module until July 2.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft deorbited into Earth’s atmosphere Sunday at 1:12 p.m. EST after its release from the station a week earlier. The same day, Russia’s Progress 67 (67P) cargo ship rolled out to its launch pad in Kazakhstan where it will liftoff Wednesday at 5:20 a.m. EDT. The 67P will dock Friday at 7:42 a.m. to the Zvezda service module’s aft port.


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Station Trio Works New Science Delivered Aboard Dragon

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SpaceX Dragon

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm moments after it was captured early Monday.

The three-member Expedition 52 crew is settling down with science and cargo transfers this week after a trio of space ships arrived and departed at the International Space Station. NASA also introduced 12 new astronaut candidates Wednesday who could fly farther into space on newer spacecraft than any astronaut before them.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson looked after a student experiment today that is exploring how molds and bacteria adapt to microgravity. Afterward, she measured the lighting in the Destiny and Kibo lab modules to help engineers understand how light affects the habitability of spacecraft.

Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA installed and activated new science hardware delivered aboard the latest SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Fischer also joined Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin to prepare the station for the departure and arrival of a pair of Russian cargo ships next week. The Progress 66 resupply ship will depart June 13 followed three days later with a new space delivery aboard the Progress 67 cargo craft. Both spaceships are uncrewed.

On Wednesday, NASA celebrated the introduction of 12 new astronaut candidates. The 2017 class will officially report for duty in August and begin training for potential missions aboard NASA spacecraft as well as SpaceX and Boeing commercial spaceships.


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Dragon Attached to Station for Cargo Transfers

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Dragon Installed to Harmony Module

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is installed to the Harmony module. The Progress 66 cargo craft is docked to the Pirs docking compartment and the Soyuz MS-04 crew vehicle is docked to the Poisk module.

A little over two hours after it was captured by Expedition 52 Flight Engineers Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, the unpiloted SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was attached to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module of the International Space Station. Ground controllers at Mission Control, Houston reported that Dragon was bolted into place at 12:07 p.m. EDT as the station flew 258 statute miles over central Kazakhstan.

Earlier, the Dragon was grappled by Fischer and Whitson using the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 9:52 a.m. EDT at the completion of a flawless two-day journey for the resupply vehicle following its launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Saturday.

The station crew expects to open Dragon’s hatch later today to begin transferring time-critical scientific experiments. Dragon will remain attached to the complex until July 2, when it will be detached from Harmony and robotically released for its deorbit back into the Earth’s atmosphere and a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.


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