Astronauts Begin First of Two Power Upgrade Spacewalks

Spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson
Today’s spacewalkers are Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson. This is Kimbrough’s 3rd spacewalk and Whitson’s seventh spacewalk.

Two astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:23 a.m. EST aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about six-and-a-half hours. Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will install adapter plates and hook up electrical connections for three of six new lithium-ion batteries installed on the station’s starboard truss.

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

The batteries were delivered to the space station Dec. 13 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV). Earlier this week, the Canadian-built “Dextre” Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator installed three new lithium-ion batteries in the space station’s 3A power channel Integrated Electronics Assembly (IEA) pallet on the starboard truss. Dextre also removed four old nickel-hydrogen batteries from the IEA.

The robotic work cleared the way for Kimbrough and Whitson’s spacewalk today. The duo will install three adapter plates in slots on the IEA to which three of the old batteries will be mounted to remain on station, but will be dormant. In all, nine old nickel-hydrogen batteries will be stowed on the external pallet for disposal when the HTV is deorbited to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere later this month.

Kimbrough is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit bearing red stripes. Whitson is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes. Both will wear helmet cameras. Kimbrough is camera 18, and Whitson is camera 20.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.

Watch Spacewalk Live on NASA TV Now

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured during a spacewalk in November of 2007 when she was Expedition 16 Commander.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will begin a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station at about 7 a.m. EST today. NASA Television coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 5:30 a.m.

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

This will be the 196th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Kimbrough will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit bearing red stripes for both spacewalks, the third and fourth of his career.

Whitson will be making the seventh spacewalk of her career and match the record of NASA’s Suni Williams, for most spacewalks by a woman. She will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes for the first spacewalk.

Astronauts Wrap Up Preps for Friday Spacewalk

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson works on a U.S. spacesuit inside the Quest airlock.

Two Expedition 50 astronauts are in final preparations for the first of two power maintenance spacewalks that starts Friday at 7 a.m. EST. Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson will stow and replace power gear during the first 6.5 hour spacewalk. The duo will work near the solar arrays on the starboard truss segment.

The two spacewalkers will be assisted by ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy from inside the International Space Station. Pesquet will conduct the second spacewalk Jan. 13 with Kimbrough to wrap up the battery installation work. The majority of the complex power upgrade work was done by controllers on the ground remotely using the Canadarm2 robotic arm and hand.

The three cosmonauts worked on an array of station maintenance tasks and advanced space experiments. Cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov researched how blood flow and respiration is affected by living in space. Novitskiy explored the station’s magnetic field and how it affects navigation.

Astronauts Getting Ready for Friday Spacewalk

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured during her last spacewalk which took place nine years ago in January 2008.

The crew is getting ready for a pair of spacewalks scheduled for this Friday and next Friday to upgrade the International Space Station’s power system. The two spacewalks will take place on the station’s right-side, or starboard, truss structure to replace and install new power equipment.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will step outside for the first power maintenance spacewalk Friday at 7 a.m. EST. Kimbrough will be joined by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet the following Friday for the second spacewalk. The three astronauts are reviewing spacewalk procedures, collecting tools and configuring cameras in the U.S. Quest airlock today.

Robotics controllers remotely removed nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed new lithium-ion batteries on the starboard-4 truss over the holidays and into the New Year. The robotics work sets up the power maintenance work the spacewalkers will perform including replacing adapter plates and relocating the old batteries.

The three astronauts and their fellow cosmonauts still had time for a variety of science work and standard orbital maintenance. Kimbrough and Whitson explored how microgravity affects body shape and impacts suit sizing. Pesquet joined Andrey Borisenko and set up tiny internal satellites known as SPHERES for an upcoming student competition. Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Oleg Novitskiy checked Russian life support systems.

Robotics Work Starts Station Power Upgrade Before Spacewalks

Kounotori HTV-6
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle is seen with the Earth behind it.

In a remarkable demonstration of robotic prowess, ground controllers used the Canadian-built “Dextre” Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator over the weekend to install three new lithium-ion batteries in the International Space Station’s 3A power channel Integrated Electronics Assembly (IEA) pallet on the starboard 4 truss. Dextre also removed four old nickel-hydrogen batteries from the IEA, three of which were stowed on the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle’s external pallet to wrap up the first act of a complex procedure to upgrade the station’s power system. A fourth old battery was temporarily stowed on a platform on Dextre.

This clears the way for the first of two spacewalks Friday in which Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will install three adapter plates in slots on the IEA to which three of the old nickel-hydrogen batteries will be mounted to remain on the ISS but will be dormant. In all, nine nickel-hydrogen batteries will be stowed on the external pallet for disposal when the HTV is deorbited to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere late this month.

Three additional new lithium-ion batteries flown to the ISS aboard the HTV will be robotically installed in the starboard truss’ 1A power channel Integrated Electronics Assembly between Friday’s spacewalk and a second spacewalk scheduled Jan. 13 for Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency. Five additional nickel-hydrogen batteries will be removed robotically from the IEA prior to the second spacewalk.

A briefing to preview the two spacewalks and to review all of the robotics work will be broadcast on NASA Television on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Station Crew Gearing Up for 2017

The Expedition 50 crew enjoys an international Christmas dinner aboard the space station.
The Expedition 50 crew enjoys an international Christmas dinner aboard the space station.

The Expedition 50 crew aboard the International Space Station spent the week working on an array of science, maintenance and spacewalking preparation to close out 2016.

Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet are getting ready for a pair of spacewalks on Jan. 6 and 13. The spacewalks, in conjunction with remote robotics work, will complete the replacement of old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the station’s truss structure. The crew performed a loop scrub on their spacesuits, reviewed spacewalking procedures and did a fit verification with their suits on Friday.

The crew participated in a variety of science experiments during the week including the Fluid Shifts study, which investigates the causes for  lasting physical changes to astronauts’ eyes; performed the final harvest of the Outredgous Romaine Lettuce from the Veggie facility, which is further demonstrating the ability to grow fresh plants in space to supplement crew diets; and continued preparing the station’s Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR) for the upcoming Cool Flames Investigation, which will provide new insight into the phenomenon where some types of fuels initially burn very hot, then appear to go out — but they continue burning at a much lower temperature, with no visible flames (cool flames).

Going into New Year’s weekend, the crew will enjoy their typical off-duty time on Saturday and Sunday. They also will have Monday, Jan. 2 off.

Crew Heads into Christmas Weekend with Spacewalk Preps

Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA
Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA sent holiday greetings and festive imagery from the Japanese Kibo laboratory module on Dec. 18.

The six-member Expedition 50 crew from France, Russia and the U.S. is heading into the holiday weekend with spacesuit checks and eye studies. The international crew will share a Christmas meal, enjoy a light-duty weekend and take Dec. 26 off.

Commander Shane Kimbrough scrubbed cooling loops and tested the water in a pair of U.S. spacesuits today. Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet are getting ready for a pair of spacewalks on Jan. 6 and 13. The spacewalks, in conjunction with remote robotics work, will complete the replacement of old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the station’s truss structure.

Whitson, who is spending her second Christmas in space, and Pesquet drew blood, urine and saliva samples for the Fluid Shifts study. That experiment investigates the upward flow of body fluids in space potentially causing lasting vision changes in astronauts.

In the Russian segment of the International Space Station, the three cosmonauts primarily worked on maintenance tasks and science work. Oleg Novitskiy worked on communications gear and experimented with space photography techniques. Sergey Ryzhikov worked on water transfers and a cardiac study. Andrey Borisenko worked on life support equipment before studying how a crew member learns to orient themselves in microgravity.

Astronauts Study How Lack of Gravity Impacts Muscles

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough
Expedition 50 crew members Peggy Whitson (left) and Shane Kimbrough of NASA (right) share fresh fruit that was recently delivered by the HTV-6 cargo vehicle to the International Space Station.

The crew wrapped up part of a muscle research program today while continuing other experiments to study the effects of living in space. Also, a new CubeSat deployer was installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Scientists want to understand how the lack of gravity impacts muscles that aren’t used due to working in the microgravity environment. The Sarcolab experiment is one study that measures how the calf muscle changes in space using an ultrasound and electrode stimulators. The first part of that experiment was completed today as its gear was stowed and data downlinked for analysis on Earth.

The station residents also explored how astronauts adapt to spaceflight conditions, the effects of a long-term mission on the human circulatory system and how charged particles behave in a magnetic field.

An enhanced small satellite deployer was installed in the Kibo module replacing an older model that deployed its last CubeSat on Monday. The new CubeSat deployer has twice the satellite deployment capacity than the previous version. CubeSats scheduled for release from the new deployer will study a variety of space phenomena and enable advanced satellite communications.

Muscle Research and Space Emergency Drill for Crew

Commander Shane Kimbrough
Commander Shane Kimbrough rests in between a pair of U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock.

The Expedition 50 crew is exploring a wide variety of phenomena today to understand the effects of living and working in space. Results from the advanced space research aboard the International Space Station has the potential to benefit humans on Earth and astronauts on long-term missions.

Two first-time space flyers, Sergey Ryzhikov from Russia and Thomas Pesquet from France, partnered again today for the Sarcolab muscle study. The duo used an ultrasound scanner and electrodes to measure and stimulate the knee muscles for possible muscle loss due to microgravity.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson continued more maintenance work on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a combustion research device that enables high temperature science. Whitson then worked on the Packed Bed Reactor Experiment gear that observes the behavior of gases and liquids.

Whitson and Pesquet later joined their Soyuz crewmate Oleg Novitskiy for a medical emergency drill. The three Expedition 50-51 crew members reviewed CPR procedures, medical hardware and their roles and responsibilities.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Human Research and Emergency Drill Week Before Christmas

Docked Soyuz and Progress Spacecraft
The docked Soyuz and Progress spacecraft are seen as the International Space Station orbited over the southern continent of Africa. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

The six Expedition 50 crew members from France, Russia and the United States are heading into the final holidays of the year with a muscle study and Earth observations today. The astronauts also checked out fluids and combustion science gear and practiced an emergency escape drill.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet measured his muscle and tendon response today with assistance from Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov. Pesquet used an ultrasound while wearing electrode stimulators around his right calf muscle. The Sarcolab experiment from the European Space Agency seeks to define which muscles are used and not used when living in space.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson worked on replacing gear inside an integrated rack facility that contains two racks. One rack, the Fluids Integrated Rack, studies how fluids behave in space. The other rack, Combustion Integrated Rack, enables the safe research into how flames behave and materials burn in space.

Commander Shane Kimbrough swapped sample cartridges inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace which enables the observation of the levitation, melting and solidification materials. At the end of the workday, he joined his Soyuz crewmates Ryzhikov and veteran cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko for an emergency Soyuz descent drill. The trio practiced the escape routes and procedures they would use in the unlikely event they would need to evacuate the station aboard the Soyuz spacecraft.