Spacewalkers Preparing for Monday’s Spacewalk With Updated Plan

NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei photographed himself with his helmet visor up during a spacewalk that took place on Jan. 23, 2018.

During a spacewalk on Jan. 23, 2018, Expedition 54 flight engineers Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle replaced a Latching End Effector (LEE-B) on the Canadarm2 robotic arm. An issue preventing the LEE from transitioning to an operational state on one of two redundant sets of communications strings was detected. The spacewalking crew demated and remated the connectors and ground teams were able to power up the arm to an operational state on its secondary communications string leaving the arm operational but without a redundant communications string.

After extensive troubleshooting by teams from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the decision was made by space station managers to use the scheduled Jan. 29 spacewalk to reinstall the LEE removed on the Jan. 23 spacewalk to restore fully redundant capability to the robotic arm. CSA and its robotics specialists are continuing diagnostics over the weekend to gain additional insight. If data is obtained that could be used to solve the issue, Monday’s spacewalk could be postponed.

Crew Looks to Monday Spacewalk and Works on Science Hardware

Spacewalk Preparations
Astronaut Joe Acaba (clockwise from bottom) assists spacewalkers Norishige Kanai, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration, and Mark Vande Hei, from NASA, during a fit check of their U.S. spacesuits. Kanai and Vande Hei will conduct a spacewalk Jan. 29 wrapping up work on a Latching End Effector from the Canadarm2.

Two Expedition 54 astronauts continue preparing for Monday’s upcoming spacewalk to wrap up robotics repair work. The crew is also working on a variety of science gear to ensure the orbital laboratory is in tip-top shape.

Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is going outside the International Space Station again for this year’s second spacewalk. This time he’ll work with Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai to finish maintenance on a Latching End Effector, or the robotic hand of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. That work was started Tuesday when Vande Hei partnered with NASA astronaut Scott Tingle during a seven-hour and 24-minute spacewalk. Monday’s spacewalk begins at 7:10 a.m. EST with live NASA TV coverage beginning at 5:30 a.m.

As usual, advanced microgravity research is ongoing inside and outside the space station. This morning, veteran station astronaut Joe Acaba tended to a pair of science freezers ensuring they maintain proper temperatures for the stowage of biological samples. Kanai checked out a 3D printed satellite deployer that will spring-launch four tiny satellites known as FemtoSats from the station.

Two Astronauts, Two Cosmonauts Prepping for Spacewalks Next Week

Spacewalker Mark Vande Hei
Spacewalker Mark Vande Hei took his own photograph during the first spacewalk of 2018. These sky-high pictures are better known as “space-selfies.”

One spacewalk down, two more to go before next weekend. A U.S. and a Japanese astronaut will go on the next spacewalk Jan. 29 followed by two cosmonauts on Feb. 2.

Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Norishige Kanai will put on their U.S. spacesuits early next week and exit the Quest airlock to wrap up maintenance on the Canadarm2. The duo will spend about six and a half hours wrapping up work from Tuesday’s spacewalk on swapping a degraded Latching End Effector from the Canadarm2. The spacewalkers will start their excursion Monday at 7:10 a.m. EST and NASA TV coverage will begin at 5:30 a.m.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Alexander Misurkin are also preparing for their next spacewalk set for next Friday when they open the Pirs docking compartment hatch at 10:34 a.m. The veteran station residents will don their Russian Orlan spacesuits for a near six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station’s Russian segment. The duo will retrieve science samples exposed to outer space and install a high gain antenna on the rear of the Zvezda service module. NASA TV coverage starts 9:45 a.m.

Both excursions come in the wake of Tuesday’s spacewalk with astronauts Vande Hei and Scott Tingle lasting seven hours and 24 minutes. The two astronauts replaced a Latching End Effector (LEE) on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.

In the midst of the busy spacewalk work, the Expedition 54 crew has been conducting science to understand how living in space affects the human body. Vande Hei is exploring how station lighting affects crew sleep while astronaut Scott Tingle looked at microgravity’s impacts on the brain. Flight Engineer Joe Acaba explored using a special strain of bacteria to support long-term life support systems on future spacecraft.

NASA Astronauts Wrap Up First Spacewalk of 2018

Astronauts Scott Tingle and Joe Acaba
Astronaut Joe Acaba (left) assists astronaut Scott Tingle during a fit check in his U.S. spacesuit.

Expedition 54 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Scott Tingle of NASA completed the first spacewalk this year at 2:13 p.m. EST, lasting 7 hours, 24 minutes. The two astronauts replaced a Latching End Effector (LEE) on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.

There are two redundant end effectors on each end of the arm used to grapple visiting vehicles and components during a variety of operational activities. The spacewalk was the 206th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the third in Vande Hei’s career and the first for Tingle. Vande Hei will venture outside the station again Jan. 29 with Flight Engineer Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to stow a spare latching end effector removed from the robotic arm last October on to the station’s mobile base system rail car for future use.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 53 days, 13 hours, and 49 minutes working outside the station in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

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

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Space Station Orbits Earth for 7000th Day

The Station Has Been On Orbit for 7000 Days
Clockwise from top left: The first station module, Zarya from Russia, is pictured December 1998 from Space Shuttle Endeavour; the first station crew, Expedition 1, was onboard the station in February of 2001; a growing station was pictured in June of 2007; the station in its near final configuration in February 2010.

The International Space Station has been orbiting Earth for 7,000 days as of today Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The first module, the Russian Zarya cargo module, launched to space in November of 1998. The first crew arrived at the young three-module orbital laboratory in November of 2000.

54 crews and 205 spacewalks later, the current six-member Expedition 54 crew is gearing up for a pair of spacewalks on Jan. 23 and 29. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will lead both spacewalks with Flight Engineer Scott Tingle joining him on the first spacewalk. Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai will join Vande Hei for the second spacewalk.

All three astronauts were joined today by Flight Engineer Acaba for a spacewalk procedures review with specialists on the ground. The spacewalking trio will be swapping and stowing robotics parts to maintain the upkeep of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Both spacewalks will start each day at 7:10 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage beginning at 5:30 a.m.

The two cosmonauts aboard the space station, Commander Alexander Misurkin and Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov, conducted regularly scheduled eye checks today. The veteran orbital residents worked with doctors on the ground using a fundoscope to view the interior of the eye. Crew members aboard the station participate in regular eye exams to understand how living in space affects vision.

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.