More Space Biology Work Day Before Crew Launches on Apollo 50th

New Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano
New Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano are outfitted in Sokol launch and entry suits for a fit check inside their Soyuz spacecraft.

Three new Expedition 60 crewmembers are just one day away from launching and joining the space residents aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio worked on space biology hardware today while their crewmates on Earth completed final launch preparations in Kazakhstan.

Two different life science facilities onboard the station are being serviced today to support upcoming research into microgravity’s effect on biological systems. NASA astronaut Nick Hague ensured the Cell Biology Experiment Facility is airtight to contain the high humidity necessary for the Space Moss botany study. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch set up power to the Life Science Glovebox for the Cell Science-02 healing and tissue regeneration experiment.

The duo handled a variety of other station tasks today, including Hague reconfiguring the Kibo laboratory module‘s robotic arm backup drive system and testing new station lights. Koch loaded new software on a science laptop computer then replaced components in the station’s restroom, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment.

Station Commander Alexey Ovchinin had a light duty day in space mostly cleaning station hardware in the Russian segment. In the evening, he joined both astronauts reviewing emergency procedures for the arrival of a new crew on Saturday.

NASA astronaut Drew Morgan is launching Saturday at 12:28 p.m. EDT inside the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft on his first space mission. He joins veteran station residents Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov for their historic mission lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They will dock to the space station’s Zvezda service module at 6:51 p.m. 50 years to the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the Moon.

Rocket Rolls Out Ready to Launch New Station Crew on Apollo 50th

The Soyuz rocket stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan
The Soyuz rocket that will launch three new Expedition 60-61 crewmembers to the station on Saturday stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

A Soyuz rocket stands at its launch pad today at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ready to launch three new flight engineers to the International Space Station on Saturday. NASA astronaut Drew Morgan will embark on his first space mission with veteran station residents Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov.

The Expedition 60-61 trio from the United States, Italy and Russia, is lifting off Saturday at 12:28 p.m. EDT aboard the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft. They will dock less than six-and-a-half hours later to the Zvezda service module 50 years to the day NASA first landed humans on the Moon.

About two-and-a-half hours later the Soyuz and station hatches will open and they will enter their new home in space. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and station Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will greet their new crewmates then hold a ceremony with family, friends and mission officials on the ground.

NASA TV is broadcasting all the activities live with launch coverage beginning Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Docking coverage begins at 6 p.m. as the Soyuz begins its approach with the orbiting lab. Finally, NASA TV’s live coverage of the hatch opening and crew welcoming ceremony begins at 8 p.m.

Advanced Science Gear Work Ahead of Vehicle Rush Hour at Station

The light of the moon and the starry Milky Way
The Earth’s limb and the atmospheric glow highlight the thin blue atmosphere back lit by the Sun’s rays during a period between night and day. The light of the moon and the starry Milky Way drape the background as the International Space Station orbited 257 miles above the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico.

Three Expedition 60 crewmates aboard the International Space Station spent the day servicing a variety of research hardware. Back on Earth, three different rockets are preparing to replenish the orbiting lab with a new crew and more science and supplies.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague have been working on an array of science gear today supporting numerous advanced microgravity experiments.

Koch installed the HERMES facility researching the dynamics of asteroid and planetary surfaces with no atmospheres. She then checked out the Photobioreactor that explores microalgae as a means to support hybrid life support systems.

Hague was over in the Kibo laboratory module this morning configuring backup software for the Japanese robotic arm that maneuvers external experiments. After lunch, Hague replaced gear inside the Combustion Integrated Rack to support safe flame and fuel research in space.

The orbiting laboratory is gearing up for a high traffic period at the end of July. Two new Russian spaceships and a U.S. cargo craft will be occupying three different ports bringing the station crew up to full speed.

Saturday will see the launch and arrival of three new Flight Engineers aboard the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship. Astronauts Drew Morgan and Luca Parmitano and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will lift off Saturday at 12:28 p.m. EDT from Kazakhstan and dock to the Zvezda service module at 6:50 p.m.

Next, the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is scheduled to launch from Florida at Sunday at 7:35 p.m. Hague and Koch will be at the helm of the robotics workstation in the cupola to capture Dragon on Tuesday at 11 a.m. with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Finally, Russia’s Progress 73 (73P) space freighter will replace the Progress 72 when it departs the Pirs docking compartment July 29. The 73P is due to blast off July 31 on a short two-orbit trip before automatically docking to Pirs with food, fuel and supplies for the station inhabitants.

New Crew Checks Out Rocket During Biology Research on Station

Expedition 60 crewmembers
Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano pose for pictures in front of the first stage engines of their Soyuz rocket. Credit: Andrey Shelepin/GCTC

The International Space Station is set to receive a few more crewmembers on Saturday followed by a new docking port next Tuesday. Meanwhile, the orbiting Expedition 60 residents serviced a multitude of science hardware today while maintaining communication and life support systems.

The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft that will launch three new residents to the station on Saturday is being processed at its facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Astronauts Drew Morgan and Luca Parmitano and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov inspected their spacecraft during a walk-through today. The trio will blast off Saturday at 12:28 p.m. EDT and take a six-and-a-half hour trip to their new home in space.

Another spacecraft, the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship, is being readied for its liftoff Sunday at 7:35 p.m. from Florida. It will arrive at the station Tuesday for its capture at 11 a.m. by NASA Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

After Dragon’s installation to the Unity module, the crew will unload brand new science gear for advanced biology research to improve human health. Robotics controllers will detach the new International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) from the back of Dragon and position it on the space-facing side of the Harmony module in preparation for its installation during a future spacewalk. The IDA-3 is another docking port supporting future commercial crew missions with Boeing and SpaceX crew vehicles.

Koch stowed and relocated a pair of biology and botany facilities today. She powered down several rodent habitats and packed them up for return on the Dragon space freighter. Koch then relocated the Veggie botany facility to the Columbus laboratory module after last week’s lettuce harvest in the Unity module.

Hague and Koch started the day with body measurements for the Myotones muscle study to benefit rehabilitation treatments for astronauts and Earthlings. Hague then set up and inspected a fluorescence microscope that can observe cellular changes in microgravity.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin set up a video camera in the Zvezda service module to record the arrival of his new crewmates on Saturday. He later checked air and temperature sensors and swapped out air filters on the Russian side of the orbital lab.

Crew and Cargo Rockets Poised for Rollout Ahead of Weekend Launches

New Expedition 60 crewmembers
New Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano pose for pictures July 12 at the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Credit: Andrey Shelepin/GCTC

Two rockets will be rolling out to their launch pads this week in Kazakhstan and Florida to blastoff to the International Space Station. The orbiting Expedition 60 trio will be welcoming three new crewmates Saturday and receive more science experiments and crew supplies next Tuesday, July 23.

First-time space flyer Andrew Morgan of NASA is joining veteran station residents Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos for a ride to the station on Saturday. They will launch aboard the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 12:28 p.m. EDT for a six-and-a-half hour trip to their new home in space. Their mission comes 50 years to the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first stepped on the Moon.

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter is launching from Kennedy Space Center at 7:35 p.m. on Sunday for its 18th contracted mission to resupply the orbiting lab. The reusable cargo craft is delivering a variety of research gear supporting future space missions and healthier humans. NASA TV is broadcasting live the launch and arrival of both missions to the station.

Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch continue training today for the robotic capture of Dragon when it arrives early next Tuesday. Hague will command the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Dragon around 7 a.m. while Koch backs him up. Morgan will monitor telemetry during the spacecraft’s approach and rendezvous.

Station Commander Alexey Ovchinin spent the day on cleaning and maintenance duties on the Russian side of the space station. The veteran cosmonaut also inventoried medical equipment, medicines and dentistry gear.

New Crew, New Science Experiments Launching Next Weekend

The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft is processed launch
The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft that will carry three new crewmembers to the International Space Station is processed for its July 20 launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The International Space Station is gearing up for a pair of spaceships launching next weekend to deliver a new crew and more science and supplies. The Expedition 60 crew is also testing a new robotic assistant and learning how long-term weightlessness impacts crew performance.

Three people are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan counting down to their historic July 20 launch to the orbiting lab aboard the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship. Astronauts Drew Morgan and Luca Parmitano will flank cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov in the Soyuz spaceship as he commands their six-and-a-half hour ride to their new home in space. The trio’s launch comes 50 years to the day when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the Moon for the first time.

The following day on July 21, SpaceX will launch its Dragon space freighter from Florida on a day-and-a-half flight to the space station. Dragon is delivering supplies and a variety of new research gear to explore space-mining techniques, neurodegenerative disease treatments, space botany and microbial evolution.

NASA Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Tuesday, July 23. Hague will command Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Dragon when the resupply ship reaches a point about 10 meters from the station. Koch will back up Hague and monitor Dragon’s approach and rendezvous from inside the cupola.

Koch set up the Astrobee free-flying robotic helper Friday afternoon and monitored its flight test in the Kibo laboratory module. Engineers are testing and calibrating the cube-shaped Astrobee’s mobility for its potential to perform routine lab monitoring and station tasks.

Hague started the day helping scientists understand how microgravity affects blood flow to the brain for the Cerebral Autoregulation biomedical study. After completing that study, he closed out the Two-Phase Flow heat transfer experiment that may advance the design of cooling systems for Earth and space applications.

Station Commander Alexey Ovchinin is helping his home space agency, Roscosmos, train future cosmonauts today. He performed tasks to help scientists understand how microgravity affects a crewmember’s ability to pilot a spacecraft or remotely control a robotic vehicle on a planetary surface.

Crew Sequences DNA, Researches Blood Pressure and Tests Time Perception Today

The Volga River flows into the Caspian Sea
The International Space Station was orbiting above the Caspian Sea at an altitude of 256 miles when this photograph was taken of the Volga River.

The International Space Station is a unique orbiting laboratory that helps NASA and its partners explore what happens to humans living off the Earth. The Expedition 60 crew is contributing to the microgravity research everyday learning what it takes to live and work successfully in space.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague began Thursday morning investigating how space radiation-damaged DNA repairs itself. The Genes in Space-6 study sequences DNA samples inside the Biomolecule Sequencer and observes the mutation and molecular repair mechanisms.

Koch then measured her blood pressure to help doctors understand and treat lightheadedness symptoms some astronauts have experienced upon returning to Earth. During the afternoon, she swapped fuel bottles that support flame, fuel and soot experiments taking place inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

Hague set up a virtual reality camera inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module to record a cinematic, immersive experience of his science activities in the afternoon. He recorded himself exploring the hypothesis that astronauts working in space perceive time differently affecting mission performance.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin spent all day ensuring the upkeep of the Russian segment of the space station. The veteran cosmonaut swapped out life support system components and tested communications and electronics gear.

Crew Configures Hardware to Monitor Brain and Radiation Exposure in Space

Earth's luminous atmospheric glow back-dropped by the tranquil Milky Way
The International Space Station was orbiting 258 miles above the Bay of Bengal during an orbital nighttime when this photograph was taken of Earth’s luminous atmospheric glow back-dropped by the tranquil Milky Way.

The Expedition 60 crew configured a variety of science hardware today monitoring the brain and radiation exposure. The orbital residents also had a steady day of safety gear checks and lab maintenance on the International Space Station.

Astronauts experience blood flow changes caused by living in microgravity that may cause lightheadedness or fainting upon return to Earth. The Cerebral Autoregulation investigation is measuring the waveforms of these blood flows to understand blood pressure regulation in space. Flight Engineer Nick Hague set up the experiment hardware this morning that may help doctors treat and prevent these symptoms.

Hague next assembled hardware for a high definition camera that will be installed outside the station on an upcoming spacewalk. He and NASA astronaut Christina Koch also installed communication cables and conducted voice checks to support the arrival of future commercial crew vehicles.

Radiation exposure is another concern for crewmembers working in space for months or years at a time. Koch handed a set of dosimeters, or radiation detectors, to Commander Alexey Ovchinin during the afternoon for installation on the Russian side of the orbiting lab. Several studies are monitoring neutron radiation and the variation in the radiation environment as the station orbits Earth.

Koch started her morning inspecting breathing masks and fire extinguishers. She checked the emergency equipment for correct pressure measurements and any signs of physical damage on hoses and bottles. Ovchinin continued the replacement of more Russian life support system components during his morning.

 

Space Health and Station Gardening Fill Today’s Research Schedule

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA
Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA works on a U.S. spacesuit in the Quest airlock where U.S. spacewalks are staged aboard the International Space Station.

Biomedical research and space agriculture dominated the Expedition 60 crew’s schedule today. The investigations aboard the International Space Station are helping scientists, doctors and engineers plan human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Nick Hague of NASA started Tuesday morning collecting and stowing his blood and urine samples for a pair of life science studies. His blood samples are being compared with samples from space mice, other astronauts and ground patients for changes in protein expression. Another study is comparing the biological samples taken before, during and after a spaceflight.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch set up a 360-degree camera to record station gardening activities. The crew has been recording immersive, cinematic experiences throughout the year to share with audiences on Earth.

It was harvest time during the afternoon in the orbiting lab’s Harmony module today. Hague and Koch were picking salad-type plants after 28 days of growth, stowing samples for analysis and taste testing the rest. The VEG-04 botany study is exploring the viability of growing fresh food in space to support astronauts on long-term missions.

Exercising in microgravity is critical to maintain a crewmember’s health and ensure successful space missions. Commander Alexey Ovchinin spent Tuesday morning supporting a Russian study investigating the effectiveness of space workouts. In the afternoon, he moved on to lab maintenance changing out life support system components.

Biology, Spacesuit Work While New Crew Trains for Launch

Expedition 60 crewmembers pose with their Sokol launch and entry suits
Expedition 60 crewmembers pose for pictures with their Sokol launch and entry suits July 5 during pre-launch preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Three Expedition 60 crewmembers are orbiting Earth supporting a variety of biology research and spacesuit servicing today. A trio of soon-to-be International Space Station residents are in Kazakhstan awaiting a launch to their new home in space in less than two weeks.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague collected their blood samples Monday morning for spinning in a centrifuge. The samples were then stowed in a science freezer for later analysis by scientists on Earth.

Koch then went on to work on a pair of U.S. spacesuits, cleaning cooling loops and replacing components. She also watered plants growing inside the Columbus laboratory module for the two-part VEG-04 space agriculture study.

Hague wrapped up last week’s CubeSat deployment activities by retracting the deployer hardware back inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. The NASA astronaut later tested new adjustable LED lights installed throughout the orbiting lab to increase crew health and wellness.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin focused mainly on computer maintenance and lab cleaning in the Russian segment of the station. Toward the end of the day, the veteran cosmonaut explored space exercise techniques and photographed landmarks on Earth.

Back on Earth at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three new station residents are in final training ahead of their July 20 launch. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will lead astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano aboard the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship during their six-hour ride to the space station.