Crew Explores Space Effects on Humans, Foams Before SpaceX Crew Launch

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins observes the behavior of a free-flying water bubble inside the International Space Station's Kibo laboratory module.
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins observes the behavior of a free-flying water bubble inside the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module.

The seven-member Expedition 68 crew continued its science activities on Tuesday exploring how microgravity affects biology and physics. Back on Earth, three astronauts and one cosmonaut are less than a day away from launching to the International Space Station.

NASA Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Bob Hines targeted their biology studies on what is happening inside the human body during spaceflight. Rubio explored how enhancing space nutrition affects the human immune and microbiome systems for the Food Physiology experiment. Hines collected his blood and urine samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. A host of space biology investigations require the samples to understand how human physiology adapts to weightlessness.

A portion of Tuesday’s space research looked at fluid physics as station Commander Samantha Cristoforetti studied how foams behave differently in space than on Earth. The ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut swapped foam samples inside the Fluid Science Laboratory for the Soft Matter Dynamics experiment.  The study may provide insights helping researchers improve materials production for Earthbound industries such as firefighting, petroleum, medicine, and food products.

Maintenance is also key on the orbital lab to ensure the space station’s many systems continuously operate in tip-top shape while orbiting an average of 260 miles above the Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren cleaned vents and fans inside the Unity module to remove impediments to the airflow. NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins worked on water transfer operations then cleaned and inspected station module hatches.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, who is on his second spaceflight, spent Tuesday on orbital plumbing and ventilation work before configuring Earth observation hardware. First-time space flyer Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos also spent his day on orbital plumbing duties and life support maintenance as he and Prokopyev continue to familiarize themselves with life on orbit.

Back on Earth, the SpaceX Crew-5 mission is counting down to its launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at noon EDT on Wednesday. Commander Nicole Mann will board the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance, atop the Falcon 9 rocket, with Pilot Josh Cassada and Mission Specialists Koichi Wakata and Anna Kikina then take a 29-hour ride after liftoff to the forward port on the station’s Harmony module. The commercial crew quartet will open the vehicle’s hatch and join the Expedition 68 crew shortly afterward. NASA TV will have continuous coverage of the launch, docking, and crew greeting, beginning Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. EDT on the agency’s app and website.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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SpaceX Crew Nears Launch as Station Research Under Way

The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship atop the Falcon 9 rocket stands at the launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship atop the Falcon 9 rocket stands at the launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The next crew to the launch to the International Space Station is at the Kennedy Space Center counting down to liftoff this week. Back onboard the orbiting lab, the seven-member Expedition 68 crew is busy conducting advanced space research to improve life for humans on and off the Earth.

Four SpaceX Crew-5 crew members arrived in Florida on Saturday ahead of their launch aboard the Dragon Endurance at noon EDT on Wednesday. NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada will command and pilot Endurance respectively. They will ride along with Mission Specialists Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos. The commercial crew quartet will dock to the forward port of the Harmony module 29 hours after launch to begin their station mission.

After the Dragon Endurance docks to the orbiting lab, another four station crew members will turn their attention to ending their mission and returning to Earth just over a week later. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who have been living on the station since April 27, will help their Crew-5 replacements adjust to life on the station. The homebound astronauts will then undock inside the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship and parachute to a splashdown off the coast of Florida.

In the meantime, Lindgren and Hines began Monday focusing on how living in space is affecting their muscles. The duo used an Ultrasound device and the Myotones device to scan and measure the biochemical properties of their leg, neck, and back muscles. Watkins nourished vegetables and took photos of the plants growing for the XROOTS space agriculture study taking place in the Columbus laboratory module. NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio swapped glass fiber samples in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Intelligent Glass Optics space manufacturing investigation. Station Commander Cristoforetti serviced samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that supports high-temperature thermophysical research in space.

The station’s two cosmonauts, two-time station visitor Sergey Prokopyev and first-time space flyer Dmitri Petelin, had their hands full on Monday keeping up with lab maintenance while continuing their station familiarization activities. Prokopyev inspected windows inside the Zvezda service module then set up Earth observation gear. Petelin worked on orbital plumbing duties before inventorying and restocking station docking hardware.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Expedition 68 Begins, SpaceX Crew Swap Planned for October

NASA astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and Frank Rubio pose for a portrait together inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
NASA astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, and Frank Rubio pose for a portrait together inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

The Expedition 68 mission is officially underway with seven astronauts and cosmonauts living and working together aboard the International Space Station. The crew swaps aren’t over yet as four SpaceX Crew-5 members count down to their upcoming launch to the orbiting lab.

Commander Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will lead station operations until she and fellow crewmates Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship in about two weeks. The quartet, who have been aboard the space station since April 27, spent Friday checking their Dragon pressure suits, packing personal items, and reviewing departure and landing procedures.

The homebound commercial crew is waiting for their replacements who are targeting a launch to the orbiting lab for no earlier than noon EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 5. SpaceX Crew-5 Commander Nicole Mann and Pilot Josh Cassada, both from NASA, with Mission Specialists Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, are due to arrive at the station one day after launching aboard the Dragon Endurance. They will spend a few days getting used to life on orbit before Cristoforetti and her three Freedom crewmates end their mission and parachute to Earth inside the Freedom crew ship.

In the meantime, first time space-flyer Frank Rubio of NASA is in his second week as a space station flight engineer. He arrived at the orbiting lab with fellow flight engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, both from Roscosmos, on Sept. 21 inside the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship.

Rubio spent the end of the week exploring how to use artificial intelligence to adapt materials manufacturing, such as fiber optics, to the vacuum of space for the Intelligent Glass Optics study. He swapped and observed glass fiber samples being pulled inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Petelin and Prokopyev and Petelin partnered together for a study exploring how microgravity affects the heart and blood vessels.v

ESA Astronaut Takes Command Day Before Soyuz Crew Departure

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti assumed command of the space station on Wednesday from Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti assumed command of the space station on Wednesday from Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.

The International Space Station has a new commander as three Expedition 67 crewmates are less than a day away from returning to Earth. Most of the crew is sleep-shifting today to prepare for Thursday morning’s crew departure as the rest of the station’s astronauts focused on lab maintenance during Wednesday.

Three cosmonauts are set to board their Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and undock from the Prichal module at 3:34 a.m. EDT Thursday. Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev, flanked by Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, will then soar through Earth’s atmosphere and parachute inside the Soyuz vehicle to a landing in Kazakhstan at 6:57 a.m. (4:57 p.m. Kazakh time) ending a six-month mission that began on March 18. Live undocking coverage begins at 3:15 a.m. on NASA TV, the agency’s app and its website.

The homebound trio will be assisted overnight by the station’s newest cosmonauts, Flight Engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, during the crew farewell and hatch closing activities. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will also be on hand monitoring station systems as the Soyuz crew ship departs for Earth.

Cristoforetti, earlier Wednesday, accepted station command responsibilities from Artemyev as the rest of the station crew gathered for the traditional Change of Command ceremony. She will lead the station crew until her departure, planned for October, with fellow SpaceX Dragon Freedom crewmates Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins. The Commercial Crew quartet docked the Freedom spacecraft to the space-facing port on the station’s Harmony module on April 27.

Meanwhile, as the cosmonauts turned their attention to Thursday’s Soyuz undocking, the four NASA astronauts aboard the station maintained their normal work schedules. Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Kjell Lindgren partnered together on Wednesday for orbital plumbing duties. Flight Engineer Bob Hines rerouted cables inside the Tranquility module as Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins cleaned fans and sensors inside the Harmony module’s crew quarters. The four crewmates later prepared for October’s launch of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission and the return to Earth of Lindgren and his crewmates.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Station Swaps Command on Wednesday Before Thursday’s Crew Departure

New station Flight Engineer Frank Rubio (center) of NASA is greeted by fellow NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins and Bob Hines shortly after arriving at the orbital lab on Sept. 21, 2022.
New station Flight Engineer Frank Rubio (center) of NASA is greeted by fellow NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins and Bob Hines shortly after arriving at the orbital lab on Sept. 21, 2022.

The Expedition 67 crew is in the midst of a crew swap as three new flight engineers adapt to life in space and another crew prepares to go home this week. Meanwhile, with 10 people living aboard the International Space Station today there were plenty of opportunities to keep up ongoing microgravity research and lab maintenance.

New Flight Engineer Frank Rubio from NASA was back on space physics today installing hardware for the Intelligent Glass Optics study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The investigation explores using artificial intelligence to adapt materials manufacturing, such as fiber optics, to the vacuum of space. His two cosmonaut partners, flight engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos, spent time unloading their Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and working on a variety of life support tasks. The duo also took turns studying ways to pilot spacecraft and robots on future planetary missions.

Station Commander Oleg Artemyev is turning his attention to this week’s return to Earth with Roscosmos Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov. The trio will board their Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and undock from the Prichal module at 3:34 a.m. EDT on Thursday. They will descend into Earth’s atmosphere and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan less than three-and-a-half hours later completing a six-month space research mission.

Artemyev will hand over station leadership responsibilities to ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on Wednesday. The traditional Change of Command ceremony starts at 9:35 a.m. EDT live on NASA TV, the agency’s app and its website.

Cristoforetti will lead the new Expedition 68 crew until she and three of her SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom crewmates depart the space station in October. She joined NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins today and reviewed their Dragon descent procedures with flight controllers on Earth. The quartet have been aboard the station since their arrival inside Freedom on April 27.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Human Research, Space Botany Wrap Up Crew Workweek

Astronauts (from left) Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins, and Kjell Lindgren talked to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday when she visited the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Astronauts (from left) Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins, and Kjell Lindgren talked to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday when she visited the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

The Expedition 67 crew wrapped up its workweek today with a host of advanced space science work while also beginning preparations for next month’s crew departure activities on the International Space Station.

Friday’s research topics looked at human cognition and perception, space botany, and Earth observations. The microgravity investigations take place inside and outside the orbital lab helping scientists and engineers develop solutions benefitting the Earth and space economies.

NASA Flight Engineers Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins were back in the Columbus laboratory module on Friday morning exploring how cognition and perception is affected when living in space long-term. The duo took turns lying horizontally inside Columbus while gripping and maneuvering a specialized device in response to pre-programmed stimuli. Observations may provide insights helping astronauts adapt to the differing gravitational environments of deep space travel, planets, moons, and asteroids.

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from ESA (European Space Agency) nourished and checked on vegetables growing for the non-soil XROOTS space agricultural study. The experiment explores hydroponic and aeroponic methods as a way to grow larger scale crops during missions beyond low-Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren removed a small satellite deployer from inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock in the morning after it completed its latest CubeSat deployment mission.

Lindgren and Hines also joined each other on Friday afternoon and practiced on a computer the procedures they would use to return to Earth inside the Crew Dragon Freedom spaceship. Freedom Commander Lindgren and Pilot Hines, along with Dragon Mission Specialists Watkins and Cristoforetti, are targeting undocking from the space station next month and ending their mission which began on April 27.

Lindgren, Hines and Watkins received a call from Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday morning when she visited the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). The Vice President is in Houston with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson for a meeting of the National Space Council and a tour of JSC’s facilities.

Roscosmos Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov partnered together in the afternoon for an Earth observation study in the station’s Russian segment. The duo filmed their activities for educational purposes as they photographed landmark’s on the ground using powerful cameras and ultrasonic techniques. Artemyev had earlier checked seat components inside the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship while Korsakov trained to operate the European robotic arm. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev spent his day on Russian life support maintenance and payload operations.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Crew Relaxes Day Before Three Tons of Station Cargo Arrives

The ISS Progress 79 resupply ship is pictured after undocking from the Zvezda service module and departing the vicinity the International Space Station.
The ISS Progress 79 resupply ship is pictured after undocking from the Zvezda service module and departing the vicinity the International Space Station.

The Expedition 67 crew is taking a well-deserved day off following a busy few weeks of commercial crew and private astronaut missions. Meanwhile, the next cargo craft to resupply the International Space Station stands ready to launch from Kazakhstan on Friday morning.

The seven orbital residents are relaxing today following an intense period that saw three different SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicles come and go, as well as the arrival and departure of Boeing’s Starliner crew ship. Axiom Mission 1 arrived first at the station on April 9, aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour for a two-week stay. Following that, Crew-4 docked to the station inside the Dragon Freedom on April 27. On May 5, Crew-3 ended its six-month mission after undocking aboard the Dragon Endurance. Finally, the station crew welcomed NASA’s and Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 for a five-day mission when it docked on May 20.

Three tons of food, fuel, and supplies are packed inside the Progress 81 cargo craft destined to replenish the station residents on Friday. The Progress is counting down to a liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:32 a.m. on Friday. After just two orbits, the space freighter will approach the Zvezda service module’s rear port for an automated docking at 9:03 a.m. The  Progress 79 cargo craft undocked from Zvezda early Wednesday ending its 214-day stay.

Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Denis Matveev will be on duty Friday morning monitoring the space freighter’s arrival. The duo from Roscosmos has been reviewing approach and rendezvous procedures as well as practicing manual docking techniques with Zvezda’s tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU. NASA TV begins its live Progress 81 launch coverage at 5:15 a.m. on NASA’s app and website.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Station Crew Gets Back to Work After Crew-3 Mission Ends

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, are pictured inside the Dragon Endurance vehicle after returning to Earth. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, are pictured inside the Dragon Endurance vehicle after returning to Earth. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The Expedition 67 crew was back to normal on Friday following the departure of four commercial crew astronauts early Thursday morning. The seven International Space Station astronauts and cosmonauts will live and work in space together until late summer.

The SpaceX Crew-3 mission ended at 12:43 a.m. EDT on Friday when the Dragon Endurance crew ship splashed down off the coast of Tampa, Florida. Nearly 24 hours earlier, Crew-3 Commander Raja Chari with Pilot Tom Marshburn and Mission Specialists Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer undocked from the Harmony module’s forward port inside Dragon.

After saying farewell to the Crew-3 astronauts early Thursday, the orbiting lab’s four newest astronauts, who arrived the week before aboard the Dragon Freedom spaceship, closed the station’s hatches, went to bed about two hours later, and took the rest of the day off.

On Friday, NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, who is one week into his second spaceflight, stowed emergency gear and checked out hydroponic hardware for the XROOTS space botany study. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti, who is also on her second mission, spent her day maintaining orbital plumbing systems.

First time space-flyers Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins partnered once again in the Columbus laboratory module studying how the central nervous system adapts to weightlessness. Hines and Watkins were both selected as members of the 2017 class of astronaut candidates in August of the same year.

The station’s new commander, Oleg Artemyev, started his day installing video gear before continuing his weeklong research on ways to maximize the effectiveness of a space workout. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov also participated on the space exercise study before working on networking equipment. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Denis Matveev checked out systems inside the Rassvet and Zarya modules before performing Russian orbital maintenance tasks.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Crew-3 Astronauts Splashdown Ending Six-Month Mission

The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship lands in the Gulf of Mexico for a nighttime splashdown with four commercial crew astronauts inside.
The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship returns to Earth in the Gulf of Mexico for a nighttime splashdown with four commercial crew astronauts inside.

NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, and Tom Marshburn, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer splashed down safely in the SpaceX Dragon Endurance in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, Florida, at 12:43 a.m. EDT after 177 days in space.

Teams on the Shannon recovery ship, including two fast boats, now are in the process of securing Dragon and ensuring the spacecraft is safe for the recovery effort. As the fast boat teams complete their work, the recovery ship will move into position to hoist Dragon onto the main deck of Shannon with the astronauts inside. Once on the main deck, the crew will be taken out of the spacecraft and receive medical checks before a helicopter ride to board a plane for Houston.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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NASA TV is Live as Crew-3 Gets Ready for Earth Return

The four commercial crew astronauts representing the SpaceX Crew-3 mission are pictured in their Dragon spacesuits for a fit check on April 21, 2022.
The four commercial crew astronauts representing the SpaceX Crew-3 mission are pictured in their Dragon spacesuits for a fit check on April 21, 2022.

Watch the agency’s live coverage as NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, and Tom Marshburn, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft are nearing the final stages of return before splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico at 12:43 a.m. EDT. Weather conditions remain within the splashdown weather criteria and are “Go” at the primary targeted site off the coast of Tampa, Florida.

Here are the upcoming approximate milestones (all times Eastern):

Thursday, May 5

11:47 p.m. – Dragon performs claw separation. The claw is located on Dragon’s trunk, connecting thermal control, power, and avionics system components located on the trunk to the capsule.
11:48 p.m. – Trunk jettison
11:53 p.m. – Deorbit burn

FRIDAY, MAY 6

12:01 a.m. – Deorbit burn complete
12:04 a.m. – Nosecone closed
12:27 a.m. – Dragon maneuvers to attitude for re-entry
12:39 a.m. – Drogue parachutes deploy at about 18,000 feet in altitude while Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour.
12:40 a.m. – Main parachutes deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.
12:43 a.m. – Dragon splashdown


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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