Dragon Readied for Launch, European Ship Prepped for Departure

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Space Station Configuration

There will be five spacecraft at the International Space Station when the Dragon commercial craft arrives Jan. 12. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 42 crew is getting ready for a delivery aboard the Dragon commercial cargo craft as well as next month’s departure of Europe’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5).

The weather looks favorable for Saturday’s planned launch of Dragon aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:47 a.m. EST. Dragon will arrive at the International Space Station Monday morning carrying more than 5,000 pounds of supplies, payloads and critical research.

› Read more about Saturday’s launch and television coverage
› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts worked on readying the ATV-5 resupply craft for it’s undocking from the Zvezda service module and departure Feb. 27. It will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere loaded with trash and discarded gear for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean.

Read more about the launch and docking of the ATV-5 last summer.

SpaceX Readies Rocket for Saturday Launch

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Samantha Cristoforetti

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti works with the bowling ball sized satellites, known as SPHERES, inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory. Credit: NASA TV

SpaceX engineers swapped out a suspect thrust vector control actuator in the second stage of their Falcon 9 rocket that halted Tuesday’ s launch of its Dragon commercial cargo craft. Dragon’s launch atop the Falcon 9 is now set for Saturday at 4:47 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m.

› Read more about Saturday’s launch and television coverage
› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

Thursday’s Expedition 42 science highlights included a pair of advanced remote control experiments inside the International Space Station. One experiment is studying the feasibility of controlling robots on the ground from space with a crew member using an advanced joystick that provides haptic feedback. The other uses bowling ball sized satellites, known as SPHERES, programmed by competing teams of high school students to accomplish tasks relevant to future space missions.

› Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment
› Read more about the SPHERES-Zero-Robotics competition

Another experiment is researching acoustic methods for locating punctures on the outside of the space station caused by human activity or micrometeoroid impacts. Crew members also studied the plasma environment in the station and photographed the ongoing man-made and natural changes to the Earth’s surface.

Crew Off-Duty for Russian Holiday While SpaceX Sets Saturday Launch

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Barry Wilmore and Samantha Cristoforetti

Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore of NASA and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) pose for the camera on Christmas day aboard the International Space Station. Wilmore is holding a patch traditionally given to astronauts following their first flight on a Soyuz spacecraft.

The six-member Expedition 42 crew had the day off and relaxed Wednesday for the Russian Christmas holiday. Meanwhile, SpaceX engineers in Florida worked to troubleshoot an issue in the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that halted Tuesday’ s launch of its Dragon commercial cargo craft.

Dragon’s launch atop the Falcon 9 rocket is now set for Saturday at 4:47 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m. SpaceX’s fifth cargo mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract will arrive at the International Space Station on Monday culminating in the robotic capture of Dragon around 6 a.m. Live NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m.

› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

Dragon Launch Aborted, Crew Continues Advanced Science

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Astronauts Conduct Interview

(From left) Astronauts Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Barry Wilmore conduct an interview with reporters from The Associated Press and KGO-TV, San Francisco.

Expedition 42 will wait a few more days for a delivery from the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft. Its launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket was aborted Tuesday morning with one minute, 21 seconds left on the countdown clock. SpaceX is evaluating the issue and will determine the next opportunity to launch the company’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The next available opportunity to launch to the station would be Friday, Jan. 9.

› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

Meanwhile, the six member crew stuck to its task list of science benefiting life on Earth and in space as well as advanced maintenance of the orbital laboratory.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti participated in a study observing the aging of skin and tested an X-ray device that measures bone density in space. Flight Engineer Terry Virts opened the Fluids Integrated Rack to prepare samples for the Advanced Colloids Experiment-Microscopy-3 study. Commander Barry Wilmore conducted plumbing and ventilation fan cleaning tasks.

› Read more about the Skin-B study
› Read more about the ACE-M-3 study
› Read more about the Bone Densitometer Validation

Cosmonaut Elena Serova deployed dosimeters for a radiation detection study and downloaded data collected from an earthquake experiment. Alexander Samokutyaev took photographs and recorded video documenting life on the station before an afternoon of maintenance in the Russian segment. Anton Shkaplerov disinfected the area behind panels in the Zvezda service module.

› Read more about the Matryeshka-R BUBBLE study

Next SpaceX Launch to be Determined

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for this morning at 6:20 a.m. EST aborted with one minute, 21 seconds left on the countdown clock. A thrust vector control actuator for the Falcon 9’s second stage failed to perform as expected, resulting in a launch abort. SpaceX is evaluating the issue and will determine the next opportunity to launch the company’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The next available opportunity to launch to the station would be Friday, Jan. 9.

Follow the mission here… https://www.nasa.gov/spacex

The New Year Brings Dragon and Spacewalk Preparations

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Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti peers out one of the windows of the Cupola onto the Earth below.

The first full work week of 2015 for Expedition 42 includes advanced science, high-flying plumbing and preparations for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon. The Dragon commercial craft is due to launch Tuesday at 6:20 a.m. and be captured at the International Space Station about 48 hours later.

› Read more about the SpaceX CRS-5 mission

Commander Barry Wilmore worked on the European Space Agency experiment Haptics-1 testing the remote control of robots on the ground from orbit using a joystick. He later joined Flight Engineer Terry Virts gathering tools for a trio of spacewalks tentatively planned for February that will ready the station for future commercial crew and cargo vehicles.

› Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

Virts started Monday with a periodic fitness evaluation as he and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took turns on an exercise cycle. Virts then moved on to plumbing work replacing a dose pump in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. Cristoforetti then participated in an educational experiment that explores the possibility of using plants to produce food and oxygen on the station.

In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova studied ways to detect micrometeoroid impacts at the station, worked on maintenance and photographed windows for a contamination inspection.

Happy New Year 16 Times on Space Station

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Virts-Robonaut-'Action-Figure'

Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweets: Unwrapping an early Christmas gift last week. @AstroRobonaut is my favorite action figure. #SpaceVine

The Expedition 42 crew orbiting Earth on the International Space Station gets the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve a whopping 16 times as it circles the globe at 17,500 miles an hour.

Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, say they plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts. The year 2015 starts officially for the station crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in London. The crew is scheduled to be in its sleep shift, but may elect to stay up late since it has a day off planned for New Year’s Day.

Watch the Happy New Year message

The crew spent New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments, ranging from those directed at better understanding changes that occur in the human eye during long-duration spaceflights, and with Earth observations aimed at helping with disaster aid on the Earth’s surface.

Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Read more about the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV)

The crew also continued preparations for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship, the commercial resupply mission of SpaceX-5 and the Dragon spacecraft. Launch of Dragon on a Space-X Falcon 9 booster is planned for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 5 a.m.

Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Thursday, Jan. 8, and Wilmore will use the 58-foot robotic arm to grab the Dragon by its tail and berth if to the station. Grapple is expected about 6 a.m. NASA Television coverage of the grapple starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and installation coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. Dragon is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.

A series of briefings outlining Dragon’s mission and the scientific research it will be carrying is planned Monday, Jan. 5.

Read full schedule of SpaceX-5 and ISS Research briefings

Watch Terry Virts’ #SpaceVine of Robonaut:

Crew Shares New Year’s Wishes, Research Continues

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Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti answer questions posed by CBS and BBC reporters on Dec. 30, 2014.

Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti answer questions posed by CBS and BBC reporters on Dec. 30, 2014.

As the crew of the International Space Station prepares to ring in the new year with a fruit juice toast, NASA today released a pre-recorded  New Year’s greeting from space for everyone on Earth.

> Watch the Happy New Year message

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore  of NASA and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency shared their plans for a New Year’s Eve celebration and some resolutions during an interview with CBS News and the BBC.

> Watch the Dec. 30 interview

The crew spent most of its day conducting a variety of experiments, ranging from human life sciences to physics and Earth observations, and threw in a good measure of routine maintenance on station systems.

Cristoforetti set up hardware for eye exams using ocular coherence tomography, which records a detailed 3-D image of the retina and the interior of the eyes, so doctors may look to better understand why some astronauts return to Earth with long-term vision problems. Wilmore then conducted the tests on both Cristoforetti and NASA Flight Engineer Terry Virts.

> Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Wilmore also continued work setting up and conducting experiment runs with the European Space Agency Haptics-1 experiment, using a body-mounted force-feedback joystick and a tablet computer to help scientists learn how people in weightlessness might use such game-like hardware to someday control robots on another planet, moon or asteroid from an orbiting human spacecraft.

> Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov spent their day performing station life support system maintenance, testing a procedure for detecting air leaks on the station and conducting a Russian physics experiment on the dynamics of charged particles in space.

Station Commander Celebrates Birthday in Orbit

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Happy Birthday Barry Wilmore

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrates his birthday on the International Space Station.

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrated his 52nd birthday aboard the International Space Station today, and Mission Control gathered around a microphone to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.

Wilmore, who has been on the station since Sept. 25, was born Dec. 29, 1962, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

> Listen to Mission Control singing “Happy Birthday”

Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are resuming work on microgravity experiments and operational maintenance aboard the station after enjoying some time off for the holidays.

Wilmore donned a body-mounted high-tech force feedback computer joystick as part of the Haptics-1 experiment he’s scheduled to perform Tuesday. The test will look at how people in weightlessness experience touch-based feedback. Someday, astronauts may use such interfaces to guide planet or asteroid-exploring robots from orbiting human spacecraft.

> Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

His crew mates took readings on each other for eye health research, looking into why some astronauts are coming home from long-duration missions with diminished vision.

On Tuesday, Wilmore and Cristoforetti will be interviewed by the CBS Radio Network and BBC Radio at 9:55 a.m. EST on NASA Television.

Station Decorated for Holidays as Crew Studies Life in Space

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Italian Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is in the holiday spirit as the station is decorated with stockings for each crew member and a tree.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas on the International Space Station. The stockings are out, the tree is up and the station residents continue advanced space research to benefit life on Earth and in space.

A wide array of research work took place Tuesday with scientists on the ground, working in conjunction with the astronaut lab assistants, exploring different fields.

Behavioral testing was scheduled Tuesday for the Neuromapping study to assess changes in a crew member’s perception, motor control, memory and attention during a six-month space mission. Results will help physicians understand brain structure and function changes in space, how a crew member adapts to returning to Earth and develop effective countermeasures.

› Read more about NeuroMapping

Another study is observing why human skin ages at a quicker rate in space than on Earth. The Skin B experiment will provide scientists a model to study the aging of other human organs and help future crew members prepare for long-term missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

› Read more about Skin-B

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