Major One-Year Mission Experiment Begins This Week

Terry Virts Working in Quest
Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts gathers tools inside of the Quest airlock for upcoming spacesuit maintenance work. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly gathered hardware today for the start of the Fluid Shifts experiment. For the experiment on Tuesday, both Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will don the Russian Lower Body Negative Pressure (Chibis) suit and undergo ultrasound measurements. Fluid Shifts is a joint NASA-Russian experiment that investigates the causes for physical changes to astronaut’s eyes. Results from this study may help to develop preventative measures against lasting changes in vision and eye damage.

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Terry Virts worked today to prepare the Multi-Purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) and Thermal Container to enable the ground to perform additional data collection in advance of the Cell Mechanosensing-3 experiment, launching on SpaceX-7. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took samples for the Microbiome experiment which investigates the impact of space travel on both the human immune system and an individual’s microbiome, the collection of microbes that live in and on the human body at any given time.

Virts and Cristoforetti also gathered tools inside the station’s Quest airlock for upcoming work on one of the U.S. segment’s spacesuits.

Today, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced they will provide an updated vehicle launch and landing schedule by June 9.

Crew Finalizes Module Remodeling Work

One-Year Crew Member Scott Kelly
One-Year crew member Scott Kelly ws inside the Japanese Kibo lab module talking to journalists on the ground Friday. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 43 crew is wrapping up the remodeling of the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) at its new location on the forward port of the Tranquility module. The station residents also participated in maintenance and experiments exploring the long-term effects of living in space on the human body.

Commander Terry Virts and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly are finalizing configuration tasks in the PMM after Wednesday’s relocation from the Harmony module. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was working in Europe’s Columbus lab module on advanced microgravity plumbing tasks.

One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko teamed up with Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka for the Fluid Shifts experiment studying how upper and lower body fluid shifts affect a crew member’s brain pressure and vision. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov worked throughout the station’s Russian segment on orbital maintenance.

Over the weekend the crew the six-member international crew will have time to relax, exercise and talk to family members.

Leonardo Cargo Module Reopens for Business

NASA Astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts
ISS043E198419 (05/15/2015) — NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (left) and Terry Virts (right) share a snack while inside the station’s Unity module which holds the food and drink supply for the U.S. segment of the International Space Station.

The Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) has been reopened at its new location on the forward port of the Tranquility module. Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti worked on completing PMM configuration activities.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 43 crew went about its scheduled tasks of microgravity science and orbital maintenance.

One-Year crew member Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka joined each other for the Fluid Shifts study. That experiment observes how upper and lower body fluid shifts may affect a crew member’s brain pressure and vision.

Kelly’s fellow One-Year crew member, Mikhail Kornienko, explored how fluid changes in microgravity can affect a crew member’s immunology and blood pressure for the Morze experiment. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov primarily worked maintenance in the station’s Russian segment.

Leonardo Cargo Module Bolted to New Home

The Permanent Multipurpose Module
The Permanent Multipurpose Module is in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm during its relocation from the Harmony module to the Tranquility module Wednesday morning. Credit: NASA

The Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was successfully relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module Wednesday morning. Engineers from Canada and Houston jointly maneuvered the PMM with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly monitored the installation then successfully bolted the PMM in place on Tranquility. The duo are now getting the PMM ready for its hatch opening Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 43 crew also conducted periodic fitness evaluations and worked on a fluid physics experiment observing surface tension where liquid and gas meet. In the Russian segment, the cosmonauts studied the effects of earthquakes on the Earth’s ionosphere and explored how sound waves can help pinpoint micrometeoroid impacts.

Module Relocated Prepping Station for Commercial Crew

International Space Station
The International Space Station configuration as of May 27, 2015, shows the newly relocated Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), two Soyuz crew vehicles and a Progress resupply vehicle. Credit: NASA

The Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was successfully relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module at 9:08 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

The PMM was robotically relocated from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module on the International Space Station to the forward port of the Tranquility module in the next step to reconfigure the complex for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew vehicles. Robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Operations Center at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada, used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to maneuver the 11-ton module a short distance to its new location. Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA supervised the commanding of the bolting of the PMM to Tranquility. The PMM’s hatch will be reopened tomorrow.

The operation opened the Earth-facing port of Unity as another berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo vehicles. Future U.S. commercial crew vehicles will arrive at the space-facing and forward ports of the Harmony module, which will continue its transformation later this year when a pair of International Docking Adapters (IDAs) will be delivered on the seventh and ninth NASA-contracted SpaceX cargo resupply missions. The IDAs will be attached to Pressurized Mating Adapters 2 and 3, enabling the station to host up to two U.S. commercial cargo and two U.S. commercial crew vehicles at any given time.

 

Watch NASA TV at 8 a.m. EDT for Robotics Move

The Permanent Multipurpose Module
ISS038-E-015272 (12 Dec. 2013) — The Permanent Multipurpose Module and the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft docked to the Rassvet Mini-Research Module 1 are featured in this image photographed during Expedition 38.

The International Space Station’s Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was detached from a berthing mechanism on the Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 5:50 a.m. EDT by robotics flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) engineers at the robotics support center located at CSA Headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada. Used as a supply depot for the orbital laboratory, the 11-ton PMM is being maneuvered to an installation position at the forward port of the Tranquility module through the use of the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. NASA Television will provide coverage of the final steps of the installation and provide a replay of pertinent video from the start of the operation beginning at 8 a.m. EDT.

Once it is in the proper position, Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA will oversee the module’s final attachment to Tranquility. Virts and Kelly will reopen the hatch to the PMM at its new location tomorrow.

This move will clear the Unity port for its use as a second berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft; the Earth-facing port on Harmony is currently used as the home port for U.S. cargo craft. The relocation of the PMM is the next step in the reconfiguration of the station that will allow U.S. commercial crew vehicles to dock to new docking ports on the forward and space-facing side of the Harmony module. That will provide a total of four ports for U.S. vehicles arriving at the orbital outpost.

Station Preps for Module Relocation Work

The Permanent Multipurpose Module and a docked Soyuz spacecraft
ISS026-E-031068 (1 March 2011) — The Permanent Multipurpose Module and a docked Soyuz spacecraft were photographed by an Expedition 26 crew member while space shuttle Discovery (STS-133) was docked with the station.

A cargo module is getting ready to be relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the crew also conducted science, health checks and Japanese robotics work.

Commander Terry Virts and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly prepared the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) for its relocation. The duo closed the hatch on the large storage module and configured it for detachment tomorrow morning. Watch NASA TV Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. EDT for live coverage of the PMM relocation and installation that will prepare the International Space Station for future commercial crew vehicles. Also, you can view briefing graphics from a spacewalk to prepare for the PMM work

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked in Japan’s Kibo lab module maneuvering its robotic arm’s Small Fine Arm to install experiment samples on an external platform. She also photographed her work during the robotics activities.

The three cosmonauts, including One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked numerous science experiments and maintenance in the Russian segment. The trio observed how a crew member’s metabolism and motion adapt to microgravity, explored how sound waves could help pinpoint micrometeoroid impacts and studied the electromagnetic environment that surrounds space station.

Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific On Time

SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule
ISS043E190604 (05/13/2015) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule is seen here docked to the Earth facing port of the Harmony module.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m. EDT, about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is returning more than 3,100 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from the International Space Station. A boat will take the Dragon spacecraft to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA within 48 hours. Dragon will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.

The mission was the sixth of 15 cargo resupply trips SpaceX will make to the space station through 2016 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Dragon Headed for Splashdown as Crew Gets Back to Work

NASA mission controllers
NASA mission controllers monitor the release and departure of the SpaceX Dragon from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

Scott Kelly, NASA’s One-Year crew member, flawlessly released the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the grips of the Canadarm2 at 7:04 a.m. EDT this morning. Mission Control in Houston had earlier commanded the station’s 57.7 foot long robotic arm to remove Dragon from the Harmony module and place it in its release position.

After its release, SpaceX controllers in California took control of the cargo craft guiding it beyond the vicinity of the International Space Station with a trio of departure burns. The commercial space freighter is planned to parachute to a Pacific Ocean splashdown at 12:42 p.m. Engineers will be off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., to retrieve the spacecraft, which is filled with more than 3,100 pounds of science and other cargo.

Back inside the space station it’s business as usual as the six-member Expedition 43 crew worked ongoing microgravity science and maintenance of the world’s most advanced orbital laboratory. Commander Terry Virts, who is due to return home in early June, took a refresher course in Crew Medical Officer training and also participated in a hearing assessment. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti conducted fluid physics work that could benefit commercial products on Earth. The cosmonaut trio, including One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, were in the station’s Russian segment working on their to-do list of advanced science and technical tasks.

SpaceX is now gearing up for its seventh Commercial Resupply Services mission, scheduled for launch June 26. A Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Dragon spacecraft to orbit, allowing the vehicle to deliver the first of two International Docking Adapters to the space station. This mission, SpaceX CRS-7, will begin the process of readying the orbital lab for future Commercial Crew spacecraft.

Dragon Released for Pacific Splashdown

Dragon is released
Dragon is released and begins its departure while the station is in orbital night. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 7:04 a.m. EDT. The capsule will begin a series of departure burns and maneuvers to move beyond the 656-foot (200-meter) “keep out sphere” around the station and begin its return trip to Earth. The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m., about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California.