U.S. Cargo Ship Rolls Out to Pad for Thursday Launch

Cygnus Rolls Out to Launch Pad
The Cygnus cargo craft atop the Atlas V rocket rolls out to the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Orbital ATK rolled out its Cygnus resupply ship to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad in Florida today. Cygnus will launch atop an Atlas V rocket at 5:55 p.m. EST Thursday. The private U.S. space freighter will deliver new science experiments and crew supplies to the International Space Station crew early Sunday.

Amid Cygnus rendezvous and capture preparations, Commander Scott Kelly with Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui also worked on biomedical science activities today. The trio collected blood and urine samples and participated in a vision test to help doctors understand the effects of living in space on astronauts.

Cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko continued studying how blood circulates in space. Volkov then moved on to an experiment observing how the vacuum of space and space radiation may influence organisms off Earth. Kornienko explored new Earth photography techniques.

Lindgren and Yui are returning home Dec. 11 with Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko after 141 days in space. The three Expedition 45 home-bound crew members checked the spacesuits they will wear on the way home for leaks.

Station Ramping Up for New Crew and New Supplies

The Sun's light
The Sun’s light is reflected off a body of water as the space station orbit’s Earth.

A trio of International Space Station residents is getting ready to return to Earth while a new crew in Kazakhstan is preparing to replace them. Meanwhile, a pair of space freighters, the Orbital ATK Cygnus and Russia’s Progress 62 (62P), is being readied for liftoff as another docked cargo craft is being packed before it’s undocking.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft will launch Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EST to the station. The 61P is scheduled for a Dec. 21 liftoff. While mission managers are preparing three different spacecraft for launch this month, the Expedition 45 crew is performing research to help scientists benefit life on Earth and crews in space.

The next home-bound astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui checked their vision and blood pressure today for the Ocular Health study. The duo will return home with Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko Dec. 11 officially ending the Expedition 45 mission. Kononenko participated in a pair of blood circulation experiments, Cosmocard and Cardiovector, and prepared the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for its departure in less than two weeks.

Commander Scott Kelly, who is staying in space until March with Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov and fellow One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, sampled and tested the station’s water quality. Volkov and Kornienko explored veins in the lower body to understand blood flow during a long-term space mission.

The next crew to live on the space station, Expedition 46, is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site counting down to its Dec. 15 liftoff inside the Soyuz TMA-19M rocket. First-time British astronaut Timothy Peake is joining veteran station crew members Timothy Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko for the six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory.

Station Gearing Up for Science Delivery and Crew Swap

Expedition 46-47 Crew Members
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, the Expedition 46-47 crew poses for pictures following a news conference Nov. 23. (From left) European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra.Credit: NASA/Seth Marcantel

The International Space Station residents are gearing up to host the Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter when it arrives Dec. 6. On the ground, a new trio of Expedition 46-47 crew members headed to their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan before their mid-December mission.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren trained for the rendezvous and robotic capture of Cygnus after its Dec. 3 launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The Cygnus will deliver supplies for the crew and new science experiments Dec. 6 when it is captured and berthed to the Unity module.

Three new station crew members are in the final stage of their mission training before beginning a six-month mission to the orbital laboratory. First-time British astronaut Timothy Peake will join veteran station residents Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Kopra inside the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft for a six-hour ride to the space station set for Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, advanced space science continued today as the crew explored radiation, blood circulation and microbes living on crew members. Scientists hope to use the results from the many experiments on the station to benefit people on Earth and future crews.

Finally, the crew is packing the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft before its undocking Dec. 11. The Soyuz will bring home Expedition 45-46 crew members Lindgren, Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui.

Station Crew Getting Ready for Heavy Traffic Before Christmas

International Current Space Station Configuration
The current space station configuration has two Soyuz crew spacecraft and two Progress resupply ships docked at the orbital laboratory. View the station overview page.

Crews and cargo shipments will be coming and going at the International Space Station during a busy December in space. Two resupply ships will arrive, one cargo craft will leave and an Expedition 45 trio will head home before an Expedition 46 trio replaces it.

Commander Scott Kelly teamed up with Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren for more robotics training before the Dec. 3 launch and Dec. 6 arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. When Cygnus arrives it will be captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm and berthed to the Unity module.

Meanwhile, Lindgren along with Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko are preparing for their Dec. 11 landing. On the ground in Russia, their Expedition 46 replacements Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineers Timothy Kopra and Timothy Peake are counting down to their Dec. 15 launch. A docked Progress 61 resupply ship will fire its engines Wednesday raising the station’s orbit to accommodate the mid-December crew swap.

The Cygnus cargo craft is in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center being processed before its early December launch atop an Atlas V rocket. Russia’s Progress 60 (60P) cargo craft will undock from the Pirs docking compartment Dec. 19. A new Progress 62 resupply ship will replace the 60P when it arrives at Pirs Dec. 23.

Astronauts Prepare for Dec. 6 Commercial Cargo Shipment

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The next cargo mission to the International Space Station is set to launch Dec. 3 at 5:55 p.m. EST.  The Orbital ATK Cygnus commercial cargo craft will arrive Dec. 6 when it will be grappled with the Canadarm2 and berthed to the Unity module.

Commander Scott Kelly joined Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui and trained for Cygnus arrival. They used computer training software and practiced the rendezvous and grapple techniques they will use while operating the Canadarm2 from inside the cupola.

The crew was back at work Monday conducting more science to benefit life on Earth and astronauts in space. They explored a variety of subjects including human research, botany and physics.

Kelly looked at working with touch-based technologies, explored liquid crystals and tended plants. His One-Year crewmate Mikhail Kornienko downlinked earthquake data captured on the orbital lab and stowed trash inside a Russian resupply ship.

Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko researched veins in the lower extremities of crew members and performed a vision test. Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov participated in Crew Medical Officer training and photographed the condition of the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft windows.

Yui researched intracranial pressure caused by microgravity potentially affecting an astronaut’s vision. He also began a 24-hour data take while attached to an electrocardiogram. Lindgren studied new exercise techniques using gear that measures respiratory and cardiovascular functions.

 

 

Crew Focuses on Life Science Research

Russian Spacecraft
Russian spacecraft are seen docked to the International Space Station as it orbits over the Earth during the day. Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 45 crew continued exploring more life science Thursday.

Commander Scott Kelly, who is comparing his space-borne body with his ground-based twin brother and ex-astronaut Mark Kelly, collected and stored blood and urine samples for the ongoing Twins study. Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren explored using a joystick that transmits sensitive vibrations to control a rover on the ground from a spacecraft. Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui studied the atrophy of skeletal muscle cells caused by the lack of gravity while living in space.

Kelly and Yui later partnered up to install and route cables in the U.S. Destiny lab module. Those cables will standardize and increase the efficiency of video, audio and telemetry data links with future crew and cargo vehicles docking to the station.

In the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory, cosmonaut Sergey Volkov studied the depletion of calcium in a crew member’s bones. He then joined Oleg Kononenko to research acoustic methods for detecting micrometeoroid impacts on the station. Kononenko also got together with One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko to explore microgravity’s effects on the human cardiovascular and respiratory system.

At about 2:14 a.m. Central time this morning, a Potential Fire Alarm sensor was triggered aboard the International Space Station and was traced to the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) experiment in Express Rack 3 in the Columbus module. The experiment is enclosed and no smoke or fire was detected. Sensors indicated a slight rise in carbon monoxide inside EMCS, while background readings in all surrounding areas remained normal. The crew was never in any danger and the event only lasted a few minutes. As a precautionary measure, Express Rack 3 was temporarily powered down.  The rack has since been repowered with the exception of EMCS. There was no impact to station science.

Crew Explores Human Research and Cleans Orbital Lab

Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko
Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko is pictured with photography gear floating in front of him.

The Expedition 45 crew is continuing more biomedical and psychological research today. Ground controllers are also remotely operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm for a video scan of Russian solar arrays.

Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui were back at work Wednesday with more Ocular Health science conducting eye scans and cardiac exams. Lindgren also worked on gear that fuels combustion science experiments while Yui talked to his Japanese support team and cleaned inside the Kibo laboratory module.

Commander Scott Kelly collected and stowed a urine sample for the Twins study then participated in research that explores how international space crews operate under stress. Kelly also replaced Trace Contaminant Control System gear inside the Tranquility module.

Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov explored the effect of micro-vibrations in the Russian segment of the station. He also explored the relationship between a crew and Mission Control during a long term spaceflight. One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko studied chemical reactions in Earth’s upper atmosphere. He, Volkov and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko also worked on Russian cleaning and maintenance tasks.

Crew Checks Eyes and Works on International Spacewalk Gear

Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly
One-Year crew members Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly talk to reporters on Earth Tuesday morning. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 45 crew kicked off Tuesday with a wide variety of science exploring how living in space affects humans. The orbital laboratory residents also worked on U.S. and Russian spacewalking gear.

Astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui participated throughout the day on Ocular Health studies. The trio subjected themselves to eye exams so scientists can understand microgravity’s effect on crew vision.

The three veteran International Space Station cosmonauts conducted their set of Russian space research and lab maintenance activities. One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko studied space digestion while Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko explored how international crews work together on long duration missions. Sergey Volkov, a three-time station resident, worked on repairs inside the Zvezda service module.

Kelly and Lindgren were back inside the U.S. Quest airlock putting away tools and cleaning up after a pair of spacewalks in October and November. Volkov and Kononenko were in the Russian segment checking Orlan spacesuits for leaks ahead of a planned spacewalk in 2016.

Crew Observes Moment of Silence for Paris Attack Victims

Paris, France
Paris, France is seen from the International Space Station in this photograph from 2005. View Flickr image

The six-member Expedition 45 crew paused for a minute of silence today in tribute to the victims of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren bowed his head in the middle of experiment work while Commander Scott Kelly said the crew “was shocked and saddened” by the events.

Engineers continued to troubleshoot station systems after 1 of the 8 station power channels went down last Friday. There were no impacts to crew activities, the station maintained orbital control and communications remained in good condition. Ground teams are discussing future repair plans and are currently able to manage the power balance for the foreseeable future.

The orbital residents kicked off Monday with the Veggie botany experiment as NASA learns to grow food in space. There were more vision and blood pressure checks helping scientists understand microgravity’s effects on vision. As usual, the crew also continued the upkeep of the orbital laboratory with some plumbing work, battery replacements and cleaning duties.

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End of Week Life Science and Cygnus Mission Preps for Crew

The Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft
The Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft is seen docked to the International Space Station.

The Expedition 45 crew is wrapping up the work week on biomedical science and Cygnus mission preparations. The orbital residents also worked maintenance throughout the numerous modules inside the International Space Station.

Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui, who both have been in space over 100 days, checked their vision and blood pressure for the long-running Ocular Health study. Yui then worked on experiment hardware inside Japan’s Kibo lab module.  Lindgren explored growing food in space for the Veggie botany experiment.

Commander Scott Kelly continued installing gear to prepare for the early December arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft.  He also worked on station maintenance tasks and cleaned his crew quarters.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko explored human digestion in space and sampled the station’s atmosphere and surfaces for microbes. Veteran cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Volkov worked in the Zvezda service module to replace a battery and repair overhead sheets. Volkov is the newest Expedition 45 crew member having been in space 70 days.