U.S. Astronauts Capture Japanese Spaceship Loaded With Cargo

Japanese Cargo Ship Captured By Canadian Robotic Arm
Japan’s HTV-7 cargo ship is pictured shortly after being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: @Space Station

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA grappled the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) at 7:34 a.m. EDT and successfully completed the capture at 7:36 a.m. At the time of capture, the space station and cargo spacecraft were flying 250 miles above the north Pacific Ocean.

Next, robotic ground controllers will install HTV-7 on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. NASA TV coverage of the berthing will begin at 10 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than originally scheduled, at https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#media

The Japanese cargo ship, whose name means “white stork,” is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

In addition to new hardware to upgrade the station’s electrical power system, the HTV-7 is carrying a new sample holder for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF), a protein crystal growth experiment at low temperatures (JAXA LT PCG), an investigation that looks at the effect of microgravity on bone marrow (MARROW), a Life Sciences Glovebox, and additional EXPRESS Racks.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Commander Leads Japanese, Russian Spaceship Preps and BEAM Checks

Expedition 55/56 crew members inside BEAM
Expedition 55/56 crew members (from left) Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev, pose for a portrait inside the Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module (BEAM).

The Expedition 56 crew is ramping for a busy traffic period at the International Space Station during the next couple of weeks. This all comes as the orbital residents ensure BEAM’s operational life and continue ongoing microgravity science.

Japan’s seventh “Kounotori” resupply ship is nearing the orbital complex and closing in for a Thursday morning capture. Commander Drew Feustel practiced on a computer today the procedures he will use when he commands the Canadarm2 to grapple Kounotori around 8 a.m. NASA TV is broadcasting the live coverage of the HTV-7 arrival and capture starting at 6:30 a.m.

Feustel is also getting ready to return to Earth on Oct. 4 with crewmates Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Ricky Arnold. During the morning, the three crewmates checked the Sokol launch and entry suits they will wear when they reenter Earth’s atmosphere inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft.

The commander also joined Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor opening up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) for maintenance and stowage work.The duo reinforced and stiffened struts inside BEAM to increase its safety margin and extend its operational life. They also stowed a variety of hardware inside the station’s newest module.

DNA sequencing from microbe samples is taking place onboard the station today to help scientists understand the impacts of living in space. The atomization of fluids continues to being studied potentially improving fuel efficiency on Earth and in spacecraft. A variety of space gear housing experiments and research samples was checked out today as part regularly scheduled maintenance.

Station Preps For Japan Resupply Ship as Next Crew Readies for Mission

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor train on a computer in the U.S. Destiny laboratory practicing rendezvous procedures and robotics maneuvers ahead of the arrival of Japan’s HTV-7 resupply ship.

Japan is poised to launch its HTV-7 resupply ship, nicknamed the Kounotori, loaded with over five tons of cargo to the International Space Station on Friday, U.S. time. Back on Earth, a new crew is preparing for its launch from Kazakhstan next month to the orbital lab.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) H-IIB rocket is set to blast off from the Tanegashima Space Center Friday at 4:59 p.m. EDT and send the Kounotori cargo craft on a four-day ride to the station. Commander Drew Feustel and will be in the Cupola Tuesday, with Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor as his backup, to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 7:30 a.m. The duo trained Thursday morning on a computer and practiced rendezvous procedures and robotics maneuvers.

More rodent research continued today as four astronauts teamed up to study how microgravity affects the gastroinstestinal systems of mice. In particular, scientists want to know how gut microbes react to the space environment and the impact it may have on astronaut health. Results will help doctors devise plans and treatments to keep astronauts healthy on long-term missions in outer space.

Two new Expedition 57 crew members are getting ready for their mission at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow. Alexey Ovchinin from Roscosmos and Nick Hague from NASA are in Russia for qualification exams ahead of their launch and six-hour ride aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship to the station on Oct. 11.


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

Science Gear Work, Japan Spaceship Preps Ahead of Orbital Reboost

The Expedition 56 crew members pose for a fun portrait
The Expedition 56 crew members pose for a fun portrait in the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Clockwise from top are Expedition 56 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Prokopyev and Ricky Arnold. In the center, from left, are ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA.

The Expedition 56 crew members conducted maintenance work on a variety of advanced science gear today to ensure ongoing space research aboard the International Space Station. The crew also continued a pair of exercise studies and trained to capture a Japanese cargo craft before tonight’s orbital reboost of the station.

Commander Drew Feustel spent Wednesday afternoon inside ESA’s (European Space Agency) Columbus laboratory module working on the Electromagnetic Levitator (EML). He installed a new storage disc and a high speed camera controller inside the EML. The space furnace enables research and observations of the properties of materials exposed to extremely high temperatures.

Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold worked in JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Kibo laboratory module during the morning replacing valves inside the EXPRESS Rack-5. The science rack, which was delivered to the orbital lab in 2001, can host a variety of experiments operated by astronauts on the station or remotely by scientists on Earth.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA has been contributing to a pair of German exercise studies for a few weeks to help doctors maintain astronaut health. Today, he continued testing a custom-designed thermal t-shirt and researching a wearable device for real-time cardio-pulmonary diagnosis during a workout.

Gerst and Feustel wrapped up the day with Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor reviewing next week’s arrival of JAXA’s HTV-7 resupply ship. The HTV-7’s launch is planned for Monday at 6:32 p.m. EDT and its capture with the Canadarm2 set for Sept. 14 at 7:40 a.m. NASA TV will cover both activities live.

Finally, the orbital lab is due to raise its orbit tonight in the second of three planned maneuvers to prepare for a crew swap in October. The Zvezda service module will fire its engines for 13 seconds slightly boosting the station’s orbit in advance of a pair of Soyuz crew ships departing and arriving next month.

Cancer, Fertility Research and Cargo Work Fill Crew Schedule

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold is inside the seven-windowed Cupola that provides views of the Earth below as well as approaching and departing resupply ships.

The Expedition 56 crew members explored a variety of microgravity science today potentially improving the lives of people on Earth and astronauts in space. The orbital residents are also unpacking a new resupply ship and getting ready for the departure of another.

Cancer research is taking place aboard the International Space Station possibly leading to safer, more effective therapies. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor contributed to that research today by examining endothelial cells through a microscope for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study. AngieX is seeking a better model in space to test a treatment that targets tumor cells and blood vessels.

She also teamed up with Commander Drew Feustel imaging biological samples in a microscope for the Micro-11 fertility study. The experiment is researching whether successful reproduction is possible off the Earth.

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter has been packed full of trash and is due to leave the space station Sunday morning. Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cygnus at 8:35 a.m. EDT as Auñón-Chancellor backs him up.  It will orbit Earth until July 30 for engineering studies before burning up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev were back at work unpacking cargo delivered Monday aboard the new Progress 70 cargo craft. The 70P will stay at the station’s Pirs docking compartment until January.

Spacewalkers Complete HD Camera Installation Work

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold exits the Quest airlock beginning the sixth spacewalk of 2018. Credit: @OlegMKS

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the sixth spacewalk at the International Space Station this year at 2:55 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 49 minutes. The two astronauts installed new high-definition cameras that will provide enhanced views during the final phase of approach and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft that will soon begin launching from American soil.

They also swapped a camera assembly on the starboard truss of the station, closed an aperture door on an external environmental imaging experiment outside the Japanese Kibo module, and completed two additional tasks to relocate a grapple bar to aid future spacewalkers and secured some gear associated with a spare cooling unit housed on the station’s truss.

This was the 211th spacewalk in support of assembly and maintenance of the unique orbiting laboratory where humans have been living and working continuously for nearly 18 years. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days, 23 hours and 29 minutes working outside the station.

During the ninth spacewalk of Feustel’s career, he moved into third place for total cumulative time spent spacewalking with a total of 61 hours and 48 minutes. It was Arnold’s fifth spacewalk with a total time of 32 hours and 4 minutes.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch Veteran Spacewalkers Live on NASA TV Now

NASA astronaut Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel seemingly hangs off the International Space Station while conducting a spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold (out of frame) on March 29, 2018. Feustel, as are all spacewalkers, was safely tethered at all times to the space station during the six-hour, ten-minute spacewalk.

NASA Television and the agency’s website have begun the broadcast of today’s spacewalk.

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA are preparing to exit the International Space Station to make improvements and repairs to the orbiting laboratory. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin about 8:10 a.m. EDT and last about six-and-a-half hours.

Newly arrived Expedition 56 crew members Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) are supporting the spacewalkers.

Feustel and Arnold will install new high-definition cameras near an international docking adapter mated to the front end of the station’s Harmony module. The additions will provide enhanced views during the final phase of approach and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft that will soon begin launching from American soil.

The astronauts also will swap out a camera assembly on the starboard truss of the station and close an aperture door on an external environmental imaging experiment outside the Japanese Kibo module.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Two NASA Astronauts Set to Go on Their Third Spacewalk This Year

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are suited up inside U.S. spacesuits for a fit check verification ahead of a spacewalk that took place May 16, 2016.

Correction, June 14, 2018:  This post has been updated to clarify the timing of the first uncrewed test missions, which are planned for later this year.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are set to go on their third spacewalk together this year on Thursday at the International Space Station. Their new Expedition 56 crewmates Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are training today to support the two spacewalkers.

Arnold and Feustel will begin Thursday’s spacewalk at 8:10 a.m. to install new high definition cameras to support upcoming commercial crew missions from SpaceX and Boeing to the orbital laboratory. The first uncrewed test missions are planned to begin later this year. The cameras will provide improved views of the commercial crew vehicles as they approach and dock to the station. NASA TV will provide complete live coverage of the 211th space station spacewalk starting at 6:30 a.m.

Auñón-Chancellor and Gerst, who just arrived at the station on Friday, will assist the spacewalkers on Thursday. Gerst will help the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits. Auñón-Chancellor will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The duo practiced today on a computer the robotics procedures necessary to maneuver a spacewalker to and from the worksite on the starboard side of the station’s truss structure.

Arnold and Feustel had some extra time today to work on science and maintenance activities. Arnold worked with the Microgravity Science Glovebox to troubleshoot a semiconductor crystal growth experiment. Feustel performed some plumbing work in the Tranquility module before relocating a pair of incubator units to support new experiments being delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. Finally, the duo readied the Quest airlock and their spacesuits for Thursday morning’s spacewalk.

Crew Begins Unloading Cygnus, Works Science Ahead of June Crew Swap

The Orbital ATK Space Freighter
This view taken from inside the Cupola shows the Orbital ATK space freighter moments before it was grappled with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on May 24, 2018.

The Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK is now open for business and the Expedition 55 crew has begun unloading the 7,400 pounds of cargo it delivered Thursday morning. The orbital residents are also conducting space research and preparing for a crew swap in early June.

There are now four spaceships parked at the International Space Station, the newest one having arrived to resupply the crew early Thursday morning. Astronauts Drew Feustel and Norishige Kanai opened Cygnus’ hatches shortly after it was installed to the Unity module. The cargo carrier will remain attached to the station until July so the astronauts can offload new supplies and repack Cygnus with trash.

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, who caught Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm, swapped out gear inside a small life science research facility today called TangoLab-1. Tingle also joined Kanai later in the day transferring frozen biological samples from the Destiny lab module to the Kibo lab module.

The duo also joined Commander Anton Shkaplerov and continued to pack gear and check spacesuits ahead of their return to Earth on June 3 inside the Soyuz MS-07 spaceship. When the three crewmates land in Kazakhstan, about three and a half hours after undocking, the trio will have spent 168 days in space and conducted one spacewalk each.

Three new Expedition 56-57 crew members, waiting to replace the homebound station crew, are counting down to a June 6 launch to space. Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst will take a two-day ride to the space station with cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft for a six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory.

Robotics Controllers Install Cygnus Resupply Ship on Station

May 24, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
May 24, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are attached to the space station including the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship, the Progress 69 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-07 and MS-08 crew ships.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 8:13 a.m. EDT. The spacecraft will spend about seven weeks attached to the space station before departing in July. After it leaves the station, the uncrewed spacecraft will deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as it disposes of several tons of trash.

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus was launched on the company’s Antares rocket Monday, May 21, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft’s arrival brings about 7,400 pounds of research and supplies to support Expedition 55 and 56. Highlights include:

  • The Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST), an investigation to identify unknown microbial organisms on the space station and understand how humans, plants and microbes adapt to living on the station
  • The Cold Atom Laboratory, a physics research facility used by scientists to explore how atoms interact when they have almost no motion due to extreme cold temperatures
  • A unique liquid separation system from Zaiput Flow Technologies that relies on surface forces, rather than gravity, to extract one liquid from another
  • The Ice Cubes Facility, the first commercial European opportunity to conduct research in space, made possible through an agreement with ESA (European Space Agency) and Space Applications Services.
  • The Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS) experiment is to investigate and understand the complex process of cement solidification in microgravity with the intent of improving Earth-based cement and concrete processing and as the first steps toward making and using concrete on extraterrestrial bodies.
  • Three Earth science CubeSats
    • RainCube (Radar in a CubeSat) will be NASA’s first active sensing instrument on a CubeSat that could enable future rainfall profiling missions on low-cost, quick-turnaround platforms.
    • TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration) is mission to validate technology that could improve our understanding of cloud processes.
    • CubeRRT (CubeSat Radiometer Radio Frequency Interference Technology) will seek to demonstrate a new technology that can identify and filter radio frequency interference, which is a growing problem that negatively affects the data quality collected by radiometers, instruments used in space for critical weather data and climate studies.

For more information about newly arrived science investigations aboard the Cygnus, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station