Mind and Body Studies as Crew Finalizes Cygnus Packing

Astronaut Anne McClain of NASA
Astronaut Anne McClain of NASA peers into a microscope and takes photographs for the Protein Crystal Growth-16 experiment that is exploring therapies for Parkinson’s disease.

The astronauts onboard the International Space Station continued exploring today how living in space affects their minds and bodies. The Expedition 58 crew also researched fluid physics and prepared a resupply ship for its departure.

Anne McClain of NASA collected blood and urine samples this morning for the Repository physiology study. She spun the samples in a centrifuge then stowed them in a science freezer. She later took a cognition test in support of the Lighting Effects experiment that seeks to improve health and wellness.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques along with McClain answered a pair of questionnaires in support of the Standard Measures and Behavioral Core Measures psychology studies. He also wrapped up a physics study observing the mechanics of fluids in hardware that represents a spacecraft fuel tank.

McClain will be in the cupola Friday at 11:10 a.m. EST and release the U.S. Cygnus resupply ship from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Saint-Jacques will back her up Friday and monitor the cargo vessel’s departure. The duo is finalizing packing, will install a small satellite deployer in Cygnus then close the hatches on Thursday.

Over in the station’s Russian segment, Commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos worked on power supply and battery maintenance in the Zarya module. The long-serving cosmonaut also researched crew psychology and studied radiation exposure.

Human, Physics Research as U.S. Spaceship Preps for Departure

Anne McClain of NASA
Anne McClain of NASA looks at a laptop computer screen inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module during ground conference operations.

The Expedition 58 crew participated in a suite of psychological, biomedical and physics experiments today. The orbital residents are also getting ready to send off a U.S. cargo craft on Friday.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques collaborated today on an experiment that observes how living in a spacecraft for long periods impacts crew behavior. The duo typed personal impressions about working in space in a private journal then took a robotics test to measure cognition. The astronauts also answered a questionnaire to gather more cognitive data before going to sleep.

McClain also collected and stored biological samples for a pair of human research studies looking at physiological changes and negative effects on bone marrow and blood cells. Saint-Jacques looked at how fluid mechanics affects fuel tanks in spaceships and ocean systems on Earth.

Commander Oleg Kononenko focused his day inside the station’s Russian segment. The veteran cosmonaut worked on computers, maintained life support systems and photographed Earth landmarks today.

Friday at 11:10 a.m. EST, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter will depart the station after 81 days attached to the Unity module. Robotics controllers will remotely guide the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Cygnus overnight. McClain will then command the Canadarm2 on Friday to release Cygnus back into Earth orbit as Saint-Jacques backs her up and monitors the activities.

Cygnus has more to do after its release. It will begin to deploy several sets of CubeSats after it reaches a safe distance from the space station. The U.S. resupply ship will then reenter Earth’s atmosphere in late February over a remote portion of the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe destruction.

Crew Wraps Up Biomedical Studies; Films Station in Virtual Reality

Astronaut Anne McClain is pictured wearing a sensor on her forehead
Astronaut Anne McClain is pictured wearing a sensor on her forehead that is collecting data to determine how an astronaut’s “biological clock” changes during long-duration spaceflight. Image Credit: NASA

A pair of biomedical experiments are wrapping up today aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 58 crew began its weekend. The orbital residents are also filming a virtual reality (VR) experience and working on plumbing and life support hardware.

Anne McClain of NASA removed sensors from her head and chest this morning that collected data about her circadian rhythm, or “biological clock,” and how it is adapting off Earth. Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques stowed the wearable Bio-Monitor hardware that monitors an astronaut’s vital signs during normal activities with minimum interference.

McClain then set up a VR camera to film a first-person’s view aboard the orbital lab in an immersive, cinematic experience. She finished the workday with Saint-Jacques on orbital plumbing work in the Tranquility module.

The Combustion Integrated Rack received more attention today as Saint-Jacques replaced hardware in the fuel and flame research platform. He also assisted McClain with the VR camera installation, set up audio equipment and filmed an introduction.

Commander Oleg Kononenko also up video gear today in Japan’s Kibo lab module and held a conference with Russian students and educators. The veteran cosmonaut then spent part of the afternoon conducting maintenance on life support equipment in the station’s Russian segment.

Fiery Research Work and CubeSats Deployed Today

Expedition 58 crew members gather inside the Zvezda service module
The Expedition 58 crew gathers inside the Zvezda service module for a portrait. From left are, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.

The Expedition 58 crew set up a variety of combustion research hardware today to look at what happens to high temperatures, fuels and flames in space. The International Space Station also deployed the first set of CubeSats this year.

The Two-Phase Flow Experiment, sponsored by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, investigates the heat transfer caused by boiling liquids in space. Flight Engineer Anne McClain set up a specialized microscope to study the phenomena inside Japan’s Kibo lab module today. Results may inform future designs of high-performance thermal management and cooling systems on Earth and in space.

Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques opened the Combustion Integrated Rack inside the U.S. Destiny lab module again today for more maintenance work. The Canadian astronaut replaced a control unit and a radiometer inside the fuel and flame research device.

The duo also monitored and photographed several CubeSats deployed into Earth orbit outside Kibo’s airlock today. The CubeSats are inexpensive tiny research satellites that will explore Earth’s ionosphere and study space communication techniques.

Commander Oleg Kononenko, the four-time space station resident from Roscosmos, started Thursday photographing the interior portion of the orbital lab’s Russian segment. The veteran cosmonaut then moved onto life support maintenance and explored ways students and educators can collaborate with space crews.

Crew Works CubeSats, Life Science and Configures Physics Hardware

Cuba, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands
Portions of Cuba, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are viewed from the International Space Station as the orbital complex flew 252 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. At left, is the aft end of the Progress 70 resupply ship from Russia attached to the Pirs docking compartment.

The International Space Station is set to deploy a new series of CubeSats as the Expedition 58 crew configures research hardware to enable a variety of space experiments.

Japan’s Kibo laboratory module airlock has been set up with a small satellite deployer loaded with several CubeSats. Astronaut Anne McClain finished the installation work Wednesday, depressurized the airlock and maneuvered the deployer outside Kibo.

She and fellow astronaut David Saint-Jacques will monitor and photograph the CubeSat deployments planned for Thursday around noon EST. The CubeSats will study Earth’s ionosphere and satellite communication techniques.

McClain next inventoried Rodent Research gear trashing some hardware to make extra space aboard the lab. She later swapped a hard drive on a laptop computer dedicated to meteor observations then attached sensors to her head and chest for the Circadian Rhythms study.

Saint-Jacques installed new electronics on the Kubik incubator upgrading the device that houses biology experiments on seeds, cells and small animals. He later swapped parts in the Combustion Integrated Rack that permits safe research into fuel and flames aboard the orbital lab.

Commander Oleg Kononenko started Wednesday researching microgravity’s effect on heart rate and breathing. He later explored advanced photography tools and techniques to better detect targets of interest on Earth.

Station Crew Helping Future Orion Explorers

The International Space Station
The International Space Station photographed by departing Expedition 56 crew members aboard a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking on Oct. 4, 2018.

The International Space Station is providing a research platform today to help future astronauts navigate deep space in the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The Expedition 58 crew is also testing new lights and setting up the orbital lab for CubeSat deployments.

NASA is planning deep space missions with its new Orion spacecraft that will rely on NASA’s Deep Space Network for communications and navigation. Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques took photographs of the moon from the cupola today to calibrate Orion’s navigation software. The lunar data will provide additional navigation capability for Orion in the event of a loss of communication with the Deep Space Network.

Another experiment geared towards future exploration taking place aboard the station is the Sextant study. As its name suggests, astronauts are testing a hand-held sextant to focus on stability and star-sighting opportunities while in microgravity. Results may aid future Orion explorers and provide a backup navigation source for missions far beyond Earth orbit.

Astronaut Anne McClain worked throughout the day inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. She is setting up the Kibo airlock with hardware to deploy a set of CubeSats on Thursday. The CubeSats have a variety of educational and technical mission objectives including studying the ionosphere and satellite communications.

McClain later tested and photographed new lights that scientists are researching for their ability to improve crew sleep and performance. She also continued loading the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft with disposable gear before it departs from the Unity module Feb. 8.

Both McClain and Saint-Jacques joined Commander Oleg Kononenko early Tuesday for body mass measurements. Kononenko then moved on to life support maintenance, crew culture studies and radiation measurements aboard the orbital lab.

Crew Tests Time Perception in Space and Real-Time Vital Signs Monitoring

NASA astronaut Anne McClain
NASA astronaut Anne McClain is pictured exercising aboard the International Space Station inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The Expedition 58 astronauts explored time perception and tested a wearable body monitor aboard the International Space Station today. The orbital residents also packed a U.S. space freighter and set up tiny satellites controlled by students on Earth.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques started Monday in the Columbus lab module learning how microgravity affects time perception. During the experiment the crew judges time length with results compared to ground tests. Scientists hypothesize that astronauts experience time passing at a faster rate than those of us here on Earth.

McClain then spent the rest of the day with Commander Oleg Kononenko setting up and monitoring SPHERES satellites in the Kibo lab module. High school students compete to design the best algorithms that control the basketball-sized satellites to mimic spacecraft maneuvers and formation flying.

Saint-Jacques set up a wearable device called the Bio-Monitor to test its ability to measure vital signs with minimum interference during a normal day in space. The Canadian astronaut also continued packing the Cygnus cargo craft from Northrop Grumman ahead of its Feb. 8 departure from the Unity module.

Cargo Ship Takes out Trash; Crew Works on Cygnus Preps and Science Hardware

Jan. 25, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Jan. 25, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are parked at the space station including the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Progress 71 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-11 crew ship.

A Russian cargo ship left the International Space Station this morning and was deorbited for a destructive demise over the Pacific Ocean. The Expedition 58 crew now turns its attention to the departure of a U.S. space freighter next month.

The Progress 70 (70P) resupply ship ended its six-and-a-half month stay at the station when it undocked from Pirs docking compartment today at 7:55 a.m. EST. It descended into Earth’s atmosphere less than four hours later loaded with trash and discarded gear and burned up safely over the southern Pacific.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus commercial cargo vessel is next up, scheduled to depart the Unity module in early February. Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques have been reviewing Cygnus departure procedures and carefully packing the spaceship throughout the week.

McClain and Saint-Jacques spent Friday working on a variety of science hardware and life support gear aboard the orbital lab. The duo first set up gear to measure airflow inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Next, they serviced a pair of science freezers nicknamed MELFI and GLACIER that store research samples at ultra-cold temperatures.

NASA’s McClain also replaced hardware in the Actiwatch Spectrum, a wearable device that analyzes an astronaut’s sleep quality, sleep onset, hyperactivity and other daily routines. Saint-Jacques from the Canadian Space Agency activated a new 3D printer known as the Refabricator that uses recycled plastics.

Commander Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos monitored this morning’s 70P undocking and photographed the departing spacecraft. The station veteran also checked on Russian laptop computers and participated in a study that explores how cosmonauts adapt to complex space tasks.

Russian Cargo Ship Undocks; U.S. Cygnus Leaves in February

Russian ISS Progress 70 cargo craft
Russia’s Progress 70 cargo craft undocks on time today from the Pirs Docking Compartment .

A Russian Progress 70 (70P) cargo craft undocked from the International Space Station today at 7:55 a.m. EST loaded with trash and discarded gear. It will orbit Earth a few more hours before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe destruction.

The Progress delivered three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the station crew members on July 9. It was the first two-orbit rendezvous in International Space Station history.

Today’s departure leaves three spaceships attached to the orbital lab including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-11 crew ship. Cygnus is due to complete its mission when it departs from the station’s Unity module on Feb. 8.

BEAM Stowage, Medical Procedures Review and Commercial Crew Update

Nighttime view of the Earth's limb with an aurora
A portion of the International Space Station’s solar arrays caps this nighttime view of the Earth’s limb with an aurora as the orbital complex orbited 258 miles above Ukraine and Russia.

The Expedition 58 crew opened up the International Space Station’s “closet” today stowing hardware inside the experimental module. The three orbital residents also reviewed medical emergency procedures and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program announced a crew update Tuesday.

The Bigelow Experimental Activity Module (BEAM) had its stay extended at the orbital lab in November of 2017. BEAM now serves as a cargo hold and continues to undergo tests of its ability to withstand the rigors of microgravity. Crews periodically check BEAM’s sensors to determine its ongoing suitability for spaceflight.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques entered BEAM today stowing a variety of station hardware inside the near three-year-old module. The added volume at the station enables more room for advanced space research at the orbital complex.

They later joined Commander Oleg Kononenko in the afternoon and reviewed procedures in the event a crew member experiences a medical emergency in space. Actions a crew can take if necessary include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, surgical procedures aboard the orbital lab or quickly returning an affected astronaut to Earth aboard the Soyuz spacecraft.

The Commercial Crew Program announced a crew change Tuesday afternoon with NASA astronaut Michael Fincke replacing NASA astronaut Eric Boe. Fincke now begins his training as a crew member for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Crew Flight Test. Boe will now become assistant chief of the commercial crew office at Johnson Space Center in Houston.