Crew Unpacks New Science from U.S. and Russian Cargo Ships

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station (left) and after it was installed to the Harmony module (right) on Dec. 8, 2019.

Two new cargo spaceships are open for business at the International Space Station as a variety of new space research begins this week. The Expedition 61 crew has begun unpacking several tons new supplies from the U.S. and Russian space freighters.

Russia’s Progress 74 cargo craft automatically docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment at 5:35 a.m. EST today after launching midday Friday. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka opened the hatch shortly afterward and began retrieving critical research hardware for stowage on the orbiting lab.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship arrived at the station on Sunday for a capture and installation with the Canadarm2 robotic arm to the U.S. Harmony module. Commander Luca Parmitano joined NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan and quickly unpacked brand new science gear and rodents for observation aboard the space station.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch worked throughout Monday juggling numerous science and cargo activities. She was offloading new Dragon supplies and housing lab rodents delivered aboard the U.S. cargo craft.

Meir and Morgan started Monday with ultrasound scans of their veins and eye pressure checks for the Fluid Shifts study. Meir with assistance from Koch in the afternoon installed a bone densitometer in Japan’s Kibo lab module that will measure bone loss in microgravity.

Dragon Attached to Station for Month-Long Stay

Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked to the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:47 a.m. EST.

The 19th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,700 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong
Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks
NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Next up, the station crew will be preparing for the arrival early Monday morning of a second resupply spacecraft. The Russian Progress 74 that launched Friday at 4:34 a.m. is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking at 4:45 a.m.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Capture Dragon Filled With Brand New Science

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station over the Atlantic Ocean.

International Space Station was traveling more than 262 miles over the south Pacific Ocean, Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) grappled Dragon at 5:05 a.m. EST using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2 with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. Coverage may be adjusted as needed. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

Here’s some of the research arriving at station:

A Better Picture of Earth’s Surface
The Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) is a next-generation, hyperspectral Earth imaging system. Every material on Earth’s surface – rocks, soil, vegetation, snow/ice and human-made objects – has a unique reflectance spectrum. HISUI provides space-based observations for tasks such as resource exploration and applications in agriculture, forestry and other environmental areas.

Malting Barley in Microgravity
Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity tests an automated malting procedure and compares malt produced in space and on the ground for genetic and structural changes. Understanding how barley responds to microgravity could identify ways to adapt it for nutritional use on long-duration spaceflights.

Spread of Fire
The Confined Combustion investigation examines the behavior of flames as they spreads in differently shaped confined spaces in microgravity. Studying flames in microgravity gives researchers a better look at the underlying physics and basic principles of combustion by removing gravity from the equation.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Broadcasts Dragon’s Arrival at Station on Sunday

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured on May 18, 2014, attached to the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station tomorrow morning Dec 8, with an expected capture of the cargo spacecraft around 5:30 a.m. EST. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4 a.m. Watch live at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will grapple Dragon with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup. NASA’s Jessica Meir will assist the duo by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. Coverage of robotic installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 7:30 a.m.

Dragon lifted off on Thursday, Dec. 5, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The cargo spacecraft with more than 5,700 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory. Dragon will join three other spacecraft currently at the space station

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew Preps for Two Space Deliveries Racing to Station

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter and Russia's Progress 74 resupply ship blast off to resupply the space station
(At left) The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX with the Dragon space freighter on top lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (At right) Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Two space deliveries are racing to the International Space Station and the Expedition 61 crew is getting ready to receive them. Several tons of science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware are in orbit right now to replenish the orbiting laboratory.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship blasted off this morning from Kazakhstan and is on its way to the station’s Pirs docking compartment for a linkup on Monday morning. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will be on duty monitoring the 74P’s automated docking at 5:38 a.m. EST.

The SpaceX Dragon commercial space freighter will arrive first on Sunday and astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan will be waiting in the cupola to capture it. The duo will carefully guide the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Dragon at 5:30 a.m. Mission controllers will take over then remotely control the Canadarm2 and install the U.S. cargo craft to the Harmony module.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are configuring the space station for the new research gear Dragon is delivering on Sunday. Morgan and Parmitano will also be unloading the multitude of science experiments and critical research samples.

Northrop Grumman deorbited one of its two Cygnus resupply ships in space today four months after it departed the orbiting lab.  It orbited Earth for a series of engineering tests before it was commanded to reenter the atmosphere and burn up safely over the Pacific Ocean.  The most recent Cygnus is still attached to the space station’s Unity module and targeted to leave in mid-January.

US Space Freighter Heads to Station, Russian Cargo Craft Follows

A mission controller in Houston watches the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship blast off
A mission controller in Houston watches the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship blast off from Florida.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is on its way to the International Space Station packed with science and supplies for the Expedition 61 crew. Russia’s Progress 74 cargo craft will soon follow the U.S. spaceship with a launch set for Friday morning.

Dragon blasted off from Florida on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST carrying nearly three tons of cargo. Included in the space shipment are new science experiments such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan will capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Sunday at approximately 6 a.m. Robotics controllers on Earth will take over the Canadarm2 and remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module.

Russia’s’ Progress 74 resupply rocket stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan counting down to a Friday launch at 4:34 a.m. It will arrive Monday loaded with new station hardware and crew supplies. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will monitor the 74P’s automated docking to the Pirs docking compartment at 5:38 a.m.

Back inside the orbiting lab, a variety of space biology research took place today to understand how weightlessness affects the human body long term. Morgan and fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir collected and spun their blood samples in a centrifuge for the Fluid Shifts study. Meir then joined Parmitano for eye checks during the afternoon.

Parmitano started his morning installing cell research hardware in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch serviced the Bio-Monitor, a wearable device that monitors a crewmember’s vital signs real-time.

SpaceX Delays Launch One Day, Russia Rolls Out New Cargo Rocket

Russia's Progress 74 cargo rocket
Russia’s Progress 74 cargo rocket rolls out its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Energia

The Expedition 61 crew will wait an extra day for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft from Roscosmos rolled out to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

High upper level winds forced SpaceX to scrub today’s launch of its 19th Dragon resupply ship aboard a Falcon 9 rocket today. Mission personnel are now targeting a launch less than 24 hours later on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST from Florida.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Sunday at approximately 6 a.m. Dragon will deliver nearly three tons of cargo including new experiments such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

The duo along with NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch had a light-duty day today. The quartet focused on housecleaning duties in the station’s U.S. segment following a busy period of spacewalks and space biology research.

The 74P resupply rocket from Russia is now standing vertical at the launch site in Kazakhstan having rolled out early Wednesday morning from its processing facility. It will blast off Friday at 4:34 a.m. loaded with new station hardware and crew supplies. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will monitor its arrival on Monday when the 74P automatically docks to the Pirs docking compartment on Monday at 5:38 a.m.

Crew Training for Two New Cargo Missions Launching This Week

Astronaut Luca Parmitano
Astronaut Luca Parmitano carries the new thermal pump system that was installed on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) during the third spacewalk to upgrade the AMS.

The Expedition 61 crew aboard the International Space Station is focusing on a pair of upcoming cargo deliveries after completing a spacewalk on Monday.

SpaceX will launch its 19th Dragon resupply ship aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday at 12:51 p.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon is delivering nearly three tons of cargo to the orbiting lab including new science hardware such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Saturday at 5:58 a.m. Robotics controllers will take command of the Canadarm2 and then install Dragon to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port.

Parmitano and Morgan wrapped up a spacewalk on Monday having replaced a thermal pump system on the station’s cosmic particle detector. They joined fellow astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch at the end of the day Tuesday with a call to Mission Control about their spacewalk experience.

The space station is also preparing for the arrival of Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft set for launch on Friday at 4:34 a.m. The 74P will take a three-day trip to the station and dock Monday Dec. 9 at 5:38 a.m. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka checked out the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit (TORU) today in the unlikely event they would need to remotely maneuver the 74P to a docking.

Astronauts Wrap Up Third Spacewalk for Cosmic Particle Detector Repairs

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan
Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are pictured during a spacewalk to continue upgrading the station’s cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan concluded their spacewalk at 12:33 p.m. EST. During the six hour and two minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully installed a new cooling system for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS).

The crew completed the primary task to install the upgraded cooling system, called the upgraded tracker thermal pump system (UTTPS), completed the power and data cable connection for the system, and connected all eight cooling lines from the AMS to the new system. The intricate connection work required making a clean cut for each existing stainless steel tube connected to the AMS then connecting it to the new system through a process of metalworking known as swaging.

The astronauts also completed an additional task to install an insulating blanket on the nadir side of the AMS to replace the heat shield and blanket they removed during the first spacewalk to begin the repair work. The flight control team on Earth initiated power-up of the system and confirmed it is receiving power and data.

It is the first long day of a very busy several weeks for the space station crew, with two cargo resupply spacecraft launching to the station loaded with science investigations; a SpaceX Dragon is scheduled to lift off at 12:51 p.m. Wednesday, and a Russian Progress is set to launch Friday at 4:34 a.m. Crew members then will be focused on the spacecrafts’ arrivals and associated work. Meanwhile, teams on Earth will evaluate the date for the planned fourth spacewalk to conduct leak checks for the spectrometer’s refurbished cooling lines and complete the work to resume operations of the cosmic ray detector.

For more information about the AMS science and spacewalks, listen to the recent podcasts:

Parmitano has now conducted five spacewalks in his career for a total of 26 hours and 53 minutes, and Morgan has logged 39 hours and 32 minutes during six spacewalks since his arrival on the station in July. It was the 11th spacewalk at the station this year. Space station crew members have conducted a total of 224 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 58 days 15 hours and 43 minutes working outside the station.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Spacewalkers Begin Third Venture for Cosmic Particle Detector Upgrades

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan
Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are pictured during a spacewalk to continue upgrading the station’s cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 6:31 a.m. EST aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about seven-and-a-half hours during which they will install a new cooling system for the cosmic ray detector attached to the station called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS).

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

Parmitano is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes, and with the helmet camera labeled #11. Morgan is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes and with helmet camera #18.

In addition to revitalizing an important piece of scientific equipment, the process of creating the tools and procedures for these spacewalks is preparing teams for the types of spacewalks that may be required on Moon and Mars missions. The tools include plumbing instruments to cut into the cooling lines, new screwdriver bits and devices to capture the fasteners the astronauts remove from AMS. Learn more about the unique tools developed for the spacewalks to repair AMS.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.