Japan Postpones Rocket Launch to Station

JAXA's H-IIB rocket with the HTV-7 resupply ship atop
JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) H-IIB rocket with the HTV-7 resupply ship atop sits at its launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. Credit: JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has postponed the scheduled launch of a Japanese cargo spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station.

A new launch date has not yet been determined.

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.

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/

Japan Is Go for Monday Cargo Launch to Station

The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle is seen during final approach to the International Space Station on Dec. 13, 2016.

Japan’s seventh cargo mission (HTV-7) to the International Space Station is in the final stages of preparation for launch on Monday at 7:32 p.m. EDT. Mission controllers are monitoring the weather at the Tanegashima Space Center launch site while the Expedition 56 crew is preparing for its arrival early Friday.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) HTV-7 is delivering a wide variety of science gear to support new research aboard the orbital lab. The new facilities will enable astronauts to observe physical processes at high temperatures, protein crystal growth and genetic alterations as well as a variety of other important space phenomena.

HTV-7, also known as Kounotori, is also carrying six new lithium-ion batteries that robotics controllers will remove then install on the station’s port 4 truss structure. Astronauts Alexander Gerst, Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold will complete the battery maintenance work over two spacewalks set for Sept. 20 and 26.

Feustel will lead the effort to capture Kounotori when he commands the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple it Friday at 7:40 a.m. He trained today with Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who will back him up in the Cupola, practicing capture techniques on a computer.

All six crew members got together at the end of the day for more eye checks. The sextet from the U.S., Russia and Germany used an ultrasound device, with assistance from doctors on the ground, and scanned each other’s eyes.

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.

International Space Station Status

Aug. 22, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
International Space Station Configuration as of Aug. 22, 2018: Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the Progress 70 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships.

The International Space Station’s cabin pressure is holding steady after the Expedition 56 crew conducted repair work on one of two Russian Soyuz spacecraft attached to the complex. The repair was made to address a leak that had caused a minor reduction of station pressure.

After a morning of investigations, the crew reported that the leak was isolated to a hole about two millimeters in diameter in the orbital compartment, or upper section, of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module of the Russian segment of the station.

Flight controllers at their respective Mission Control centers in Houston and Moscow worked together with the crew to effect a repair option in which Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos used epoxy on a gauze wipe to plug the hole identified as the leak source. As the teams were discussing options, flight controllers in Moscow performed a partial increase of the station’s atmosphere using the ISS Progress 70 cargo ship’s oxygen supply. Flight controllers in Houston are continuing to monitor station’s cabin pressure in the wake of the repair.

Meanwhile, Roscosmos has convened a commission to conduct further analysis of the possible cause of the leak.

Throughout the day, the crew was never in any danger, and was told no further action was contemplated for the remainder of the day. Flight controllers will monitor the pressure trends overnight.

All station systems are stable and the crew is planning to return to its regular schedule of work on Friday.

International Space Station Status

Expedition 56 Crew Members
International Space Station Status
11:20 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 30. 2018

The crew aboard the International Space Station is conducting troubleshooting and repair work today after the discovery of a tiny leak last night traced to the Russian segment of the orbital complex.

The leak, which was detected Wednesday night by flight controllers as the Expedition 56 crew slept, resulted in a small loss of cabin pressure. Flight controllers determined there was no immediate danger to the crew overnight. Upon waking at their normal hour, the crew’s first task was to work with flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow to locate the source of the leak.

The leak has been isolated to a hole about two millimeters in diameter in the orbital compartment, or upper section, of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module of the Russian segment. This is a section of the Soyuz that does not return to Earth.

The rate of the leak was slowed this morning through the temporary application of Kapton tape at the leak site. Flight controllers are working with the crew to develop a more comprehensive long-term repair.

Once the patching is complete, additional leak checks will be performed. All station systems are stable, and the crew is in no danger as the work to develop a long-term repair continues.

International Space Station Status

Expedition 56 Crew Members
International Space Station Status
6 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 30. 2018

About 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, International Space Station flight controllers in Houston and Moscow began seeing signs of a minute pressure leak in the complex.

As flight controllers monitored their data, the decision was made to allow the Expedition 56 crew to sleep since they were in no danger. When the crew was awakened at its normal hour this morning, flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow began working procedures to try to determine the location of the leak.

The six crew members, station Commander Drew Feustel, Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, gathered in the Russian segment of the station and, after extensive checks, reported that the leak appears to be on the Russian side of the orbital outpost.

Program officials and flight controllers are continuing to monitor the situation as the crew works through its troubleshooting procedures.

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.