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.

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.

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/

Robotic Arm Releases Cygnus Before Fire Experiment Starts

Cygnus Departs Station
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft departs the International Space Station after its release from the Canadarm2. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 47 robotic arm operator Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 9:30 a.m. EDT while the space station was flying above Paraguay. Earlier, ground controllers detached Cygnus from the station and maneuvered it into place for its departure.

After Cygnus is a safe distance away, ground controllers at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio will initiate the sequence for Saffire-1, and controllers at Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, will activate the experiment.  Cygnus will continue to orbit Earth for up to eight days as it transmits hi-resolution imagery and data from the Saffire experiment. Following complete data transmission, the Cygnus spacecraft will complete its destructive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on June 22. NASA TV will not provide a live broadcast of the Saffire experiment or the Cygnus deorbit burn and re-entry, but imagery from Saffire will be posted on NASA.gov as it becomes available.

The Cygnus resupply craft launched March 22 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for the company’s fifth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission.

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

Robotic Arm Releases Japanese Cargo Craft After Five Weeks at Station

Canadarm2 and HTV-5 Resupply Ship
The Canadarm2 robotic arm backs away from the just released “Kounotori” HTV-5 resupply ship. Credit: NASA TV

Following a slight delay, Expedition 45 Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of JAXA, backed up by NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, commanded the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-5 from the International Space Station at 12:53 p.m. EDT while the spacecraft was flying 256 miles above the Southern Pacific, after it unberthed from the space station at 7:12 a.m. EDT.

The HTV-5 will now move away from the orbiting laboratory to a safe location where it will fire its engines to begin a controlled deorbit to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. The intense heat of reentry will cause the vehicle to burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

HTV-5 carried a variety of experiments and supplies to the space station, including the NanoRacks External Payload Platform, which can house multiple investigations in the open-space environment of the station, and the CALorimetric Electron Telescope investigation, an astrophysics mission that measures high energy particles to search for dark matter and the origin of cosmic rays.

HTV-5 also delivered materials to support the Twins Study, a compilation of 10 investigations designed to gain broader insights into the subtle effects of and changes that occur in the environment of space as compared to that of Earth by studying two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is participating from the space station while his identical twin Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut, is participating on Earth. The study includes a suite of integrated human space physiology and cellular-level experiments.

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