Culmination of Spacewalks Leads into Studies on Crew Health and Performance

aurora borealis
A spectacular aurora borealis, or “northern lights,” over Canada is sighted from the International Space Station near the highest point of its orbital path. Image Credit: NASA

After a trio of spacewalks this month, including the final one conducted last Friday by Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA, the Expedition 53 crew returned to a schedule of full-time science this week.

Today, the crew explored how lighting aboard the International Space Station affects their performance and health. One such investigation is called Lighting Effects, which studies the impact of the change from fluorescent light bulbs to LEDs. By adjusting intensity and color, investigators on the ground will use crew feedback to determine if new lights can improve crew circadian rhythms, sleep and cognitive performance.

Blood and urine samples were also collected and stowed in the Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, marking Flight Day 30 for the Biochemical Profile and Repository experiments. Specific proteins and chemicals in the samples are used as biomarkers, or indicators of health. Armed with a database of test results, scientists can learn more about how spaceflight changes the human body and protect future astronauts on a journey to Mars based on their findings.

Expedition 53 is also preparing a microsatellite carrying an optical imaging system payload for deployment. Its operation in low-Earth orbit will attempt to solidify the concept that these small satellites are viable investigative platforms that can support critical operations and host advanced payloads.

Expedition 53 Spacewalk Successfully Comes to an End

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA completed a 6 hour, 49 minute spacewalk at 2:36 p.m. EDT. The two astronauts installed a new camera system on the Canadarm2 robotic arm’s latching end effector, an HD camera on the starboard truss of the station and replaced a fuse on the Dextre robotic arm extension.
 
The duo worked quickly and were able to complete several “get ahead” tasks. Acaba greased the new end effector on the robotic arm. Bresnik installed a new radiator grapple bar. Bresnik completed prep work for one of two spare pump modules on separate stowage platforms to enable easier access for potential robotic replacement tasks in the future. He nearly finished prep work on the second, but that work will be completed by future spacewalkers.
 
This was the fifth spacewalk of Bresnik’s career (32 hours total spacewalking) and the third for Acaba (19 hours and 46 minutes total spacewalking). Space station crew members have conducted 205 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 53 days, 6 hours and 25 minutes working outside the station.
 

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Expedition 53 Embarks upon Third and Final Spacewalk in October Series

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:47 a.m. EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about 6.5 hours. Live coverage is available on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba of NASA will replace a camera light assembly on the Canadarm2 latching end effectors (LEE) that spacewalkers installed on the Canadarm2 robotic Oct. 5. They will also install an HD camera outside the station among other tasks in the 205th spacewalk in support of assembly and maintenance in station history.

Bresnik is wearing the suit with red stripes, and helmet camera #18. Acaba is wearing the suit with no stripes, and helmet camera #17.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates on the station and crew activities. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

 

Final Spacewalk Preps Before November Cygnus Launch

Astronaut Joe Acaba and spacewalkers
Astronaut Joe Acaba (foreground) assisted crewmates Randy Bresnik (right) and Mark Vande Hei before they began a spacewalk on Oct. 10.

Four Expedition 53 crewmates huddled together and made final preparations the day before the third and final spacewalk planned for October. Meanwhile, NASA’s commercial partner Orbital ATK has announced Nov. 11 as the new launch date for its Cygnus cargo carrier to the International Space Station.

Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba are reviewing procedures and configuring tools before their spacewalk set for Friday at 8:05 a.m. EDT. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits and guide the duo as they work outside.

The spacewalk was originally set for Wednesday before mission managers replanned a new set of tasks due to a camera light failure. Bresnik and Acaba will now replace the camera light assembly on the Canadarm2’s newly installed Latching End Effector and install an HD camera on the starboard truss. The duo will also replace a fuse on Dextre’s payload platform and remove thermal insulation on two electrical spare parts housed on stowage platforms.

Orbital ATK is targeting the launch of its eighth Cygnus resupply mission to the station for Nov. 11. Cygnus will make a nine-minute ascent to space after launch, then begin a two-day trek to the station where it will be installed for a month-long stay after its capture by the Canadarm2.

Medical Training Ahead of Third Spacewalk

Astronaut Joe Acaba
Astronaut Joe Acaba poses in between two U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock. He will wear one of those spacesuits on a spacewalk scheduled for Oct. 20, 2017.

The Expedition 53 crew trained for a medical emergency in space today after spending the morning on weekly housecleaning tasks. Afterward, two astronauts reviewed procedures and checked their tools ahead of Friday’s spacewalk.

Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin joined NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba for a routine training session to handle a medical emergency aboard the International Space Station. The trio reviewed medical hardware, chest compression techniques and individual roles and responsibilities.

Afterward, Acaba moved on to spacewalk preparations with Commander Randy Bresnik. The spacewalkers are due to begin a 6.5 hour spacewalk Friday at 8:05 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will cover the spacewalking activities live beginning at 6:30 a.m.

This will be the third spacewalk this month and consists of repackaged tasks that include the replacement of a camera assembly on the newly installed Latching End Effector, the installation of an HD camera on the starboard truss, the replacement of a fuse on Dextre’s payload platform and the removal of thermal insulation on two electrical spare parts housed on stowage platforms.

Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk and Check Science Gear

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei is pictured tethered to the outside of the U.S. Destiny laboratory module during a spacewalk on Oct. 10, 2017.

Two NASA astronauts are getting ready to go on their mission’s third spacewalk on Friday. In the midst of those preparations, the Expedition 53 crew also worked on science gear exploring a wide variety of space phenomena.

Commander Randy Bresnik is preparing to go on the third spacewalk this month with NASA astronaut Joe Acaba. Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Mark Vande Hei will assist the spacewalking duo in and out of their spacesuits on Friday.

The spacewalkers will replace a camera light on the Canadarm2’s newly-installed Latching End Effector and install a high-definition camera on the starboard truss. Other tasks include the replacement of a fuse on Dextre’s payload platform and the removal of thermal insulation on two electrical spare parts housed on stowage platforms.

Bresnik started his day working on a specialized camera that photograph’s meteors entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Acaba finally wrapped up the day configuring a microscope inside the Fluids Integrated Rack.

Nespoli, from the European Space Agency, set up the new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) for a workout session today. Researchers are exploring the MED-2 for its ability to provide effective workouts while maximizing space aboard a spacecraft.

Russian Spacecraft Delivers Station Supplies

Russian 68P Cargo Craft
The Russian 68P cargo craft is pictured just meters away from docking to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Traveling about 252 miles over eastern China, the unpiloted Russian Progress 68 cargo ship docked at 7:04 a.m. EDT 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

Cargo Mission Launches Carrying Food, Fuel and Supplies to Station

The Russian Progress 68 cargo craft lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 68 cargo spacecraft launched at 4:46 a.m. EDT (2:46 p.m. local time in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 250 miles over the south Atlantic Ocean north of the Falkland Islands .

Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Expedition 53 crew will monitor key events during Progress 68’s approach and docking.

Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress will arrive at the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station for docking on Monday, Oct. 16, at 7:09 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin on NASA’s website at 6:15 a.m

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 68 online, follow @space_station on Twitter.

Station Cargo Mission and Spacewalk Rescheduled

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei is pictured attached to the outside of the space station during a spacewalk on Oct. 10, 2017.

Roscosmos has rescheduled the launch of the Russian Progress 68 cargo spacecraft for Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (2:46 p.m. local time in Baikonur). The spacecraft is carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 53 crew aboard the International Space Station.

Launch coverage on NASA TV will begin at 4:15 a.m. Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress will arrive at the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station for docking on Monday, Oct. 16, at 7:09 a.m., with NASA TV coverage beginning at 6:15 a.m.

In addition, NASA has rescheduled the Expedition 53 crew’s third and final spacewalk in the current series to next Friday, Oct. 20. Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba will begin the spacewalk at approximately 8:05 a.m., and NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

The tasks for the crew members to conduct have been adjusted. Bresnik and Acaba will replace a fuse on Dextre’s enhanced orbital replacement unit temporary platform; install an enhanced HD camera on the Starboard 1 lower outboard truss; remove thermal insulation on two spare units to prepare those components for future robotic replacement work, if required; and replace a light on the Canadarm2’s new latching end effector installed during the first spacewalk Oct. 5. The final lubrication of the new end effector and the replacement of a camera system on the Destiny Lab will be deferred for a future spacewalk.

To join the conversation about the space station activities online, follow @space_station on Twitter.

 

Launch of Russian Cargo Mission Scrubbed

Progress 68 Rocket
The Progress 68 resupply rocket stands at it launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

Launch of the Russian Progress 68 cargo craft has been scrubbed for today. The next launch attempt will be no earlier than Saturday Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (2:46 p.m. local time in Baikonur). Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress 68 would arrive at the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station for docking on Monday, Oct. 16. Roscosmos technicians in Baikonur are analyzing the cause of the scrubbed launch.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 68 online, follow @space_station on Twitter.