Astronauts Command Robotic Arm to Release Cygnus Cargo Craft

Cygnus Released
The Cygnus cargo craft is seen from an International Space Station video camera moments after it was released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

After delivering almost 7,400 pounds of cargo to support dozens of science experiments from around the world, the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft has departed the International Space Station. At 8:11 a.m., Expedition 53 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA gave the command to release Cygnus.

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, ground controllers used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the Cygnus spacecraft from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Unity module. The spacecraft, which arrived at the station Nov. 14, then maneuvered above the Harmony module to gather data overnight that will aid in rendezvous and docking operations for future U.S. commercial crew vehicles arriving for a linkup to Harmony’s international docking adapters.

Experiments delivered on Cygnus supported NASA and other research investigations during Expedition 53, including studies in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

Later today, Cygnus will release 14 CubeSats from an external NanoRacks deployer. Cygnus also is packed with more than 6,200 pounds of trash and other items marked for disposal during its destructive reentry Monday, Dec. 18.

The Cygnus launched Nov. 12 on Orbital ATK’s upgraded Antares 230 rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia for the company’s eighth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Cygnus Departure Preps as Muscle Study and CubeSat Ops Wrap Up

New York City and New Jersey Area
New York City and part of the state of New Jersey are pictured in this photograph taken during a night pass on Nov. 23, 2017.

The Cygnus resupply ship is in its final week at the International Space Station and two astronauts are training for its departure on Monday. Meanwhile, a leg muscle study and CubeSat deployment operations are wrapping up today.

Cygnus is now being filled with trash after delivering close to 7,400 pounds of research and supplies to the Expedition 53 crew on Nov. 14. NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba are training to release Cygnus from the Canadarm2 next week following a 20-day stay at the Unity module.

The duo will be inside the cupola commanding the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus back into Earth orbit on Dec. 4. Following its departure from the station, Cygnus will stay in orbit until Dec. 18 before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery demise over the Pacific Ocean.

Commander Randy Bresnik and cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy are completing a final run of the Sarcolab-3 experiment today. That research is observing how leg muscles adapt to microgravity using magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound devices.

Finally, a satellite deployer that ejected a set of CubeSats last week, has been brought back inside the Kibo lab module. One of the CubeSats deployed, the EcAMSat that was delivered aboard Cygnus, is now orbiting Earth researching how the E. coli pathogen reacts to antibiotics in space.

Crew Tests New Workouts and Lights as Rocket Preps for Launch

Antares Rocket
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is raised into vertical position at the launch pad Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Expedition 53 crew is working out on a new exercise device today and testing new lights for their impact on health. Back on Earth, a new resupply rocket stands at its launch pad ready for a Saturday launch to the International Space Station.

Astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei worked out on the new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) this morning performing dead lifts and rowing exercises. The duo tested its ability to provide reliable, effective workouts despite its smaller size to increase the habitability of a spacecraft.

Vande Hei is also analyzing the station’s new solid-state light-emitting diodes that are replacing older fluorescent lights. He conducted a series of tests throughout the day to determine how they impact crew sleep patterns and cognitive performance.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is encapsulated inside the Antares rocket and now stands vertical at the launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus is due to launch Saturday at 7:37 a.m. EDT with about 7,400 pounds of new science experiments and fresh supplies for the Expedition 53 crew.

Cygnus will unfurl its cymbal-like UltraFlex solar arrays less than two hours after launch as it begins a two-day trip to the International Space Station. Astronaut Paolo Nespoli will command the Canadarm2 from the Cupola to grapple Cygnus when it arrives Monday morning at 5:40 a.m. Commander Randy Bresnik will back up Nespoli and monitor the approach and rendezvous.

Cygnus Training, Respiratory Health and Performance Studies Today

Himalayas
This photograph taken on Nov. 5, 2017, shows a portion of the Himalayan mountain range as the International Space Station orbited about 250 miles above.

Two astronauts are training for Monday’s planned arrival of Orbital ATK’s newest Cygnus cargo craft dubbed the S.S. Eugene Cernan. The crew is also analyzing the International Space Station’s atmosphere and studying how crew performance adapts to microgravity.

Orbital ATK is counting down to a Veteran’s Day launch of its Cygnus spacecraft atop an Antares rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket is scheduled to blast off Saturday at 7:37 a.m. EST with about 7,400 pounds of science gear and crew supplies packed inside Cygnus.

Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli are training today to capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Nespoli will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Cygnus at 5:40 a.m. Monday when it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station. Bresnik will back up Nespoli and monitor the spacecraft’s approach and rendezvous.

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei has been helping doctors this week understand the risk of living inside the closed environment of a spacecraft for the Airway Monitoring study. He set up gear to analyze the air in the space station for dust and gases that could inflame an astronaut’s respiratory system. Results will help doctors improve crew health as NASA plans human missions farther and longer into space.

Nespoli started his day studying how floating in space impacts interacting with touch-based technologies and other sensitive equipment. Observations from the Fine Motor Skills study may influence the design of future spaceships and space habitats.

Station Crew Continues Prep for Eighth Orbital ATK Launch

Cygnus
Cygnus is an autonomous cargo vehicle that provides commercial cargo resupply services to the International Space Station. Its next launch is targeted for Nov. 11. Image Credit: NASA

Routine—and not-so-routine—housekeeping duties continue for Expedition 53 aboard the International Space Station in preparation for an upcoming Orbital ATK 8 (OA-8) commercial launch targeted for Nov. 11.

The crewmates prepared the Permanent Multipurpose Module rack fronts to accept cargo by moving smaller items off and staging them for disposal. During OA-8 cargo operations, the items marked for disposal will be swapped with new cargo arriving aboard OA-8.

During Orbital ATK’s eighth Cygnus resupply mission, the cargo craft will make a nine-minute ascent to space and then begin a two-day trek to the space station. Upon arrival, it will captured by Canadarm2 and installed for a month-long stay. Tonight, ground teams will reboost the station using the thrusters on Progress 67, which will put it at the proper altitude to meet up with Cygnus.

The crew also spent part of the workday photo documenting their uncommon “home life” aboard the orbiting laboratory for the Canadian Space Agency study called At Home in Space. This investigation assesses the culture, values and psychosocial adaptation of astronauts to a space environment shared by multinational crews during long mission timeframes. Questionnaires answered by the crew will help answer if astronauts develop a unique, shared space culture as an adaptive strategy for handling the cultural differences they encounter in their isolated and confined environment by creating a home in space.

For Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, their day was punctuated by an educational downlink with students from Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio. The students were immersed in the science and technology studies being executed daily approximately 240 miles above Earth.

Station Cargo Mission and Spacewalk Rescheduled

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei is pictured attached to the outside of the space station during a spacewalk on Oct. 10, 2017.

Roscosmos has rescheduled the launch of the Russian Progress 68 cargo spacecraft for Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (2:46 p.m. local time in Baikonur). The spacecraft is carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 53 crew aboard the International Space Station.

Launch coverage on NASA TV will begin at 4:15 a.m. Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress will arrive at the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station for docking on Monday, Oct. 16, at 7:09 a.m., with NASA TV coverage beginning at 6:15 a.m.

In addition, NASA has rescheduled the Expedition 53 crew’s third and final spacewalk in the current series to next Friday, Oct. 20. Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba will begin the spacewalk at approximately 8:05 a.m., and NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

The tasks for the crew members to conduct have been adjusted. Bresnik and Acaba will replace a fuse on Dextre’s enhanced orbital replacement unit temporary platform; install an enhanced HD camera on the Starboard 1 lower outboard truss; remove thermal insulation on two spare units to prepare those components for future robotic replacement work, if required; and replace a light on the Canadarm2’s new latching end effector installed during the first spacewalk Oct. 5. The final lubrication of the new end effector and the replacement of a camera system on the Destiny Lab will be deferred for a future spacewalk.

To join the conversation about the space station activities online, follow @space_station on Twitter.

 

Spacewalkers Going Outside Second Time in Less Than a Week

Spacewalkers Mark Vande Hei and Randy Bresnik
Spacewalkers Mark Vande Hei and Randy Bresnik are pictured Oct. 5, 2017, working outside the International Space Station.

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA will head outside the International Space Station at approximately 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday to begin a 6.5-hour spacewalk. Live coverage will be available on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 a.m.

During Tuesday’s spacewalk, Bresnik and Vande Hei will lubricate the Canadarm2 Latching End Effectors (LEE) that the spacewalkers replaced Oct. 5. Canadarm2 has two identical Latching End Effectors used to grapple visiting cargo vehicles and payloads, provide data and telemetry to the rest of the Canadian-built Mobile Base System and the unique capability to “walk” from one location on the station’s truss to another. The Canadarm2 grappling mechanism that was replaced last week experienced a stall of its motorized latches last month.

This will be the 204th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, and the second of three spacewalks planned for October.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates on the station and crew activities. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Spacewalkers Wrap Up Robotic Arm Work

Spacewalkers Mark Vande Hei and Randy Bresnik
Spacewalkers Mark Vande Hei and Randy Bresnik work on installing a new latching end effector on the tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA completed a 6 hour, 55 minute spacewalk at 3 p.m. EDT. The two astronauts replaced one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.

They also accomplished a couple of get-ahead tasks, including removal of the multi-layer insulation from a spare direct current switching unit. They also prepared a flex hose rotary coupler for future use.

This was the first of three spacewalks planned for October. Bresnik will lead the next two, as well. Vande Hei will join him again Oct. 10 with Flight Engineer Joe Acaba joining him Oct. 18.

The second and third spacewalks will be devoted to lubricating the newly installed end effector and replacing cameras on the left side of the station’s truss and the right side of the station’s U.S. Destiny laboratory.

Today’s spacewalk was the third for Bresnik’s career and the first for Vande Hei. The Oct. 18 spacewalk will mark the third of Acaba’s career.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

 

NASA TV Airs First of Three Spacewalks Today

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei trains for a spacewalk at the Johnson Space Center in March of 2017.

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA will head outside the International Space Station at approximately 8 a.m. EDT Thursday to begin a 6.5-hour spacewalk. Live coverage will be available on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 a.m.

This is the first of three spacewalks planned for October. Bresnik will lead all three, with Vande Hei joining him again Oct. 10 and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba joining him Oct. 18.

During Thursday’s spacewalk, Bresnik and Vande Hei will replace one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. One of the Canadarm2 grappling mechanisms recently experienced a stall of its motorized latches, but the problem has had no effect on planned station operations. A spare LEE is stored outside on the station’s truss. Canadarm2 has two identical Latching End Effectors used to grapple visiting cargo vehicles and payloads, provide data and telemetry to the rest of the Canadian-built Mobile Base System and the unique capability to “walk” from one location on the station’s truss to another.

This will be the 203rd spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates on the station and crew activities. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Crew Preps for Solar Array Jettison and Dragon Departure

ROSA Jettison
The ROSA, Roll Out Solar Array, is pictured shortly after it was jettisoned from the tip of the Canadarm2.

An experimental solar array demonstration was jettisoned while the Expedition 52 crew continued preparing the SpaceX Dragon for its release on Sunday. The three crew members also studied how microgravity impacts their bodies.

Following a week of successful science operations on the experiment for the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), attempts to retract the array were unsuccessful. The ISS Mission Management Team met Monday morning and made the decision to jettison ROSA directly from its location at the end of the space station’s robotic arm, where it remained fully deployed in a normal configuration.

The original plan called for ROSA to be stored back inside the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon which is detached and burned up in the atmosphere during Dragon reentry. The Operations team executed the jettison procedure that was developed as part of the pre-flight planning process that covered various scenarios. Once jettisoned, ROSA will not present any risk to the International Space Station and will not impact any upcoming visiting vehicle traffic.

ROSA is an experiment to test a new type of solar panel that rolls open in space and is more compact than current rigid panel designs. The ROSA investigation tests deployment and retraction, shape changes when the Earth blocks the sun, and other physical challenges to determine the array’s strength and durability.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is one week away from departing the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson continued packing Dragon this morning with used hardware and research samples for analysis back on Earth. Dragon will be released from the Canadarm2 Sunday at 11:38 a.m. EDT and splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 5-1/2 hours later.

Whitson then joined Flight Engineer Jack Fischer in the afternoon to wrap up the Seedling Growth-3 experiment. The botanical study is exploring how the lack of gravity impacts light sensing and growth in plants. Plant samples from the study will be returned to Earth on Sunday inside the Dragon resupply ship.

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, along with Whitson and Fischer, took body measurements today to help scientists understand how living in space affects body size. The crew also collected blood, urine, saliva and breath samples for more insight on astronaut health.


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