Crew Dragon Endeavour Has Re-Docked to Station

The SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon is pictured after maneuvering to the Harmony module's space-facing international docking adapter.
The SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon is pictured after maneuvering to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter. Credit: NASA TV

Crew Dragon Endeavour with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, have re-docked to the International Space Station.

Crew Dragon autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. and relocated to the space-facing port at 7:35 a.m. completing the second space station port change for the crewed spacecraft.

Next up for commercial crew, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station about one day following its launch at 2:53 p.m. Friday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed flight test, NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data about Boeing’s crew transportation system, and help NASA certify Starliner and the Atlas V rocket for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

Crew-2 astronauts are targeted to return to Earth in early-to-mid November following a short handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts targeted to launch on Sunday, Oct. 31.

Coverage Underway for Crew-2 Port Relocation

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour approaches the International Space Station
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour approaches the International Space Station on April 24, 2021

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage as four residents of the International Space Station prepare to take a spin around their orbital neighborhood in the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft, relocating it to prepare for the arrival of the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet boarded the Crew Dragon spacecraft about 4:30 a.m. and are scheduled to undock from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. The spacecraft will dock again at the station’s space-facing port at 7:32 a.m.

This will be the second port relocation of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission lifted off April 23 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station April 24. Crew-2, targeted to return in early-to-mid November, is the second of six certified crew missions NASA and SpaceX have planned as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA TV to Air Crew Dragon’s Port Relocation

The SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon maneuvers to another port on the International Space Station on April 5, 2021
The SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon maneuvers to another port on the International Space Station on April 5, 2021

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts on the International Space Station will relocate their Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft Wednesday, July 21, setting the stage for a historic first when two different U.S. commercial spacecraft built for crew will be docked to the microgravity laboratory at the same time.

Live coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will board the Crew Dragon spacecraft about 4:30 a.m. and undock from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. The spacecraft will dock again at the station’s space-facing port at 7:32 a.m.

The relocation will free up Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, scheduled for launch Friday, July 30, as part of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). The flight will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data about Boeing’s crew transportation system, and help NASA certify Starliner and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

This will be the second port relocation of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission lifted off April 23 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station April 24. Crew-2, targeted to return in early-to-mid November, is the second of six certified crew missions NASA and SpaceX have planned as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Mission Prep Heats Up Amid Science and Medical Studies

Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) works with a science experiment within the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Credits: NASA
Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) works with a science experiment within the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Credits: NASA

Today, the Expedition 65 crewmates aboard the International Space Station continued down their checklists in preparation for the next day’s planned mission activities — to include a port-relocation maneuver and the launch of a new module that will replace the Pirs Docking Compartment. Pirs has only a few days left in its 20-year length of service to the orbiting outpost, as it will soon be jettisoned, along with the Progress 77 cargo craft, on Friday for a destructive re-entry in Earth’s atmosphere.

Investigations in materials science continued in between maintenance and mission prep, with NASA astronaut Megan McArthur conducting runs of the Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids, or InSPACE-4, study. Using magnetic fields, the experiment studies the assembly of tiny structures from colloids and their mechanical responses to interaction with light and heat.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, meanwhile, worked with ULTRA Tweezers, an experiment that aims to gain understanding of an acoustic phenomenon theorized more than 30 years ago. The microgravity environment inherent to station will be particularly helpful in validating use of ultrasonic tweezers, or non-audible sound waves, to exert force on the objects they encounter.

Ongoing medical studies in eye health involved many of the crew members, with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and McArthur setting up the fundoscope for ocular examinations. These exams are remotely guided from medical experts on the ground and obtain images of the retinol surface, seeking any detectable changes to the astronauts’ eyes and vision.

Maintenance and housekeeping was a priority for another contingent of astronauts and cosmonauts. Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough continued an install with the newly deployed toilet system in Node 3 while his fellow crew member, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, obtained a potable bus sample from the Water Recovery System. The Russian cosmonaut duo of Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy continued with cargo transfer activities.

Many tasks were a prelude to the port relocation happening Wednesday, with Hoshide going over the final configuration, McArthur calibrating the Crew Dragon handheld gas detectors, and Pesquet reorganizing supplies in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Endeavour.

Tomorrow, Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet will board Endeavour about 4:30 a.m. EDT and undock from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. The spacecraft will dock again at the station’s space-facing port a short time later, at 7:32 a.m. This fly-around will free up Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as part of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission.

On July 21, catch the port relocation first on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT. Four hours later, at 10:30 a.m., launch coverage begins for the Multipurpose Laboratory Module. Named Nauka, after the Russian word for “science,” the newest addition to station will hitch a ride to space on a three-stage Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Simulation and Station Maintenance Preface a Busy Week for the Crew

Expedition 65 Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency reviews procedures on a computer tablet for the InSPACE-4 physics study. Credits: NASA
Expedition 65 Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency reviews procedures on a computer tablet for the InSPACE-4 physics study. Credits: NASA

As the week kicked off, the Expedition 65 crew members spent much of their Monday fine-tuning procedures in anticipation of Wednesday’s port-relocation activity, which will free up the Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station. That vehicle is scheduled for launch Friday, July 30, as part of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

Science also continued aboard the orbiting laboratory, with NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei conducting experiment runs throughout the day for Investigating the Structure of Paramagnetic Aggregates from Colloidal Ellipsoids, or InSPACE-4. This investigation studies the assembly of tiny structures from colloids using magnetic fields. Off the Earth and without the constraints of gravity, scientists are able to observe the assembly processes free from confining sample walls and sedimentation and to timescales not possible during simulation.

Vande Hei teamed up with fellow crewmate Shane Kimbrough to perform needed maintenance to the station’s toilet system, removing and replacing a hose for the assembly and completing a motor test and leak check. Station Commander Akihiko Hoshide, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut, along with NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, helped keep station experiments running optimally by removing two deployers from the Japanese Experiment Module Small Satellite Orbital Deployer and a hard drive from the Fluids and Combustion Facility, respectively.

Cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy, meanwhile, worked to transfer equipment for disposal to the Progress 77 cargo craft, which is set to undock — along with the Pirs Docking Compartment — from the International Space Station on Friday, July 23. A few hours later, Progress’ engines will fire in a deorbit maneuver to send the cargo craft and Pirs into a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Replacing Pirs, a module that has been part of the orbital outpost for the past 20 years, is the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) named Nauka, the Russian word for “science.” The MLM is scheduled to launch on Wednesday, July 21, on a three-stage Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Most pressing for the team in space was a comprehensive onboard training session and simulation for the upcoming Crew Dragon port relocation, which will set the stage for a historic first — when two different U.S. commercial spacecraft built for crew will be docked to the outpost at the same time.

See all these mission events on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. Live coverage of the port relocation begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, July 21, with launch coverage of the MLM at 10:30 a.m. that same day. On Friday, July 23, coverage for the undocking of Progress 77 and Pirs beginning at 8:45 a.m. EDT Friday, July 23.

Dragon Undocking Planned Thursday, Crew Focuses on Space Research

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.

SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is planned for Thursday, July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with NASA TV coverage scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft. Additional opportunities are available on July 9 and 10. The space freighter’s departure had been scheduled for earlier this week but was postponed due to weather conditions off the coast of Florida.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew members stayed focused on a variety of science activities including human health, robotics and physics.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet took turns working out on an exercise cycle Wednesday for a fitness test. The veteran astronauts attached sensors to their chests and pedaled for an hour on the device more formally known as the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization, or CEVIS. The test took place in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module and measures how microgravity affects the duo’s physical exertion, or aerobic capacity.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur focused on electronics maintenance and robotics research throughout Wednesday. The two-time space visitor powered up a cube-shaped AstroBee robotic helper and tested new technology that monitors the acoustic environment of the station. SoundSee seeks to demonstrate that “listening” to station components can help detect anomalies in spacecraft systems that need servicing.

Space manufacturing using colloids is being investigated for the ability to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials. Station commander Akihiko Hoshide conducted three runs inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox of the InSPACE-4 study today that could improve the strength and safety of Earth and space systems.

The trio that launched to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship practiced an emergency evacuation drill during the morning. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei joined cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and reviewed procedures such as donning gas masks, quickly entering the Soyuz spacecraft, undocking and reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Vande Hei later assisted McArthur with cable management work inside the Tranquility module. Novitskiy and Dubrov wrapped up the day disconnecting antenna cables inside their Soyuz vehicle.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Wednesday, July 21, for Crew Dragon Endeavour’s International Space Station port relocation operation. Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide Pesquet will suit up in their launch and entry spacesuits for Crew Dragon’s automated relocation maneuver from the forward to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module. The maneuver frees up the forward port to prepare for the arrival of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission at the microgravity laboratory at the end of July.

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

Robotics Prepping Station for Upcoming Solar Array Spacewalks

At center, Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei pose with astronauts Shane Kimbrough (far left) and Thomas Pesquet (far right) who are in U.S. spacesuits.
At center, Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei pose with astronauts Shane Kimbrough (far left) and Thomas Pesquet (far right) who are in spacesuits.

Mission controllers will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to remove a new pair of solar arrays from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship tonight. Four Expedition 65 astronauts are also training for robotics activities to support two spacewalks scheduled to begin next week.

Packed inside the unpressurized segment of the Cargo Dragon, also known as its trunk, is a pair of unique solar arrays that will soon be attached to the International Space Station’s Port-6 truss structure. Also called iROSA, or ISS Roll Out Solar Arrays, they will be extracted tonight from Dragon’s trunk by robotics controllers remotely commanding the Canadarm2. It will be staged on the truss structure where two spacewalkers will install it on the station starting next week.

In the meantime, Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet are preparing for those two installation spacewalks planned for June 16 and 20. The duo joined fellow flight engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur on Thursday afternoon for computerized training to prepare for the robotics activities necessary to support the solar array installation work.

Kimbrough and Pesquet this week have been inspecting their spacesuits, organizing their tools and readying the U.S. Quest airlock where they will stage both spacewalks. They will set their spacesuit batteries to battery power at 8 a.m. EDT on both days signifying the start of their spacewalk. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of both spacewalks at 6:30 a.m.

Science is still ongoing aboard the orbital lab as the astronauts and mission controllers get ready for the two spacewalks.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide and Pesquet took turns wearing a virtual reality headset and clicking a trackball for the Time Perception experiment. Kimbrough inventoried medical supplies and photographed cotton plants growing for the TICTOC space botany study. McArthur worked on a pharmaceutical freeze-drying study while Vande Hei loaded a CubeSat deployer for upcoming satellite deployments.

In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy checked on Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 resupply ship gear today. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov assisted with the Soyuz work and worked throughout the day on Russian life support and computer maintenance.

Biology on Station Ahead of Spacewalk, Cargo Dragon Mission

Expedition 65 astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide perform maintenance on a pair of U.S. spacesuits.
Expedition 65 astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide perform maintenance on a pair of U.S. spacesuits.

Human research and space botany kept the Expedition 65 crew busy today. The International Space Station residents also stayed focused on next week’s spacewalk and packed a U.S. cargo craft.

Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet worked throughout Thursday scanning their leg, foot, arm, neck and lower back muscles with an ultrasound device. The duo performed the scans before and after working out on the advanced resistive exercise device. The long-running Myotones experiment, ongoing since 2011, measures how space affects muscle tone, stiffness and elasticity.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide installed an incubator inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module for upcoming research for the Kidney Cell-02 study. The biology study could lead to improved treatments for kidney stones and osteoporosis for humans living on and off the Earth. The three-time station visitor then joined NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei packing the U.S. Cygnus space freighter ahead of its departure at the end of June.

Vande Hei and Kimbrough also took turns during the day contributing to a space agriculture study that started in October of last year. The Plant Water Management explores hydroponics in microgravity and may also improve watering systems on Earth.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov partnered together Thursday morning pedaling on an exercise bike to evaluate their cardiovascular function. The duo then spent the rest of the day configuring Orlan spacesuits for a spacewalk scheduled on June 2 to service Russian hardware and install science experiments.

The very next day SpaceX will launch its upgraded Cargo Dragon vehicle from Kennedy Space Center to the station at 1:29 p.m. EDT. It will automatically dock on June 5 at 5 a.m. to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter carrying about 7,300 pounds of science, supplies and hardware. Dragon is also carrying the first set of new solar arrays that will be installed on upcoming spacewalk to augment the orbital lab’s power system.

Ultrasound Scans, Emergency Drill amid Spacewalk Preps Today

Expedition 65 astronauts (clockwise from bottom) Akihiko Hoshide, Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet are pictured inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience.
Expedition 65 astronauts (clockwise from bottom) Akihiko Hoshide, Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet are pictured inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience.

Tuesday aboard the International Space Station was packed with human research activities helping doctors understand how the Expedition 65 crew is adapting to microgravity. Meanwhile, preparations are ramping up for a Russian spacewalk scheduled for next week.

Four astronauts took turns during the afternoon using the Ultrasound 2 device for artery scans. NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur kicked off the biomedical investigation today and scanned Commander Akihiko Hoshide’s neck, clavicle, shoulder and leg arteries in the Columbus laboratory module. Next up, astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough took turns as they participated in the ultrasound scanning activities.

McArthur started her day swapping fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack before readying a science freezer for a new animal-microbe study due to be delivered on the next SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission. Kimbrough also spent some time setting up Plant Water Management hardware inside the Harmony module for ongoing botany research.

The Celestial Immunity study is still under way aboard the orbital lab as researchers compare donor cells recently launched to the station with those harvested on Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei serviced the cell samples inside the Life Science Glovebox possibly helping scientists develop new vaccines and drugs for diseases on Earth.

Four members of the Expedition 65 crew, who rode to the station aboard the Space Crew Dragon Endeavour, also joined up for an emergency drill before lunch today. Kimbrough, McArthur, Pesquet and Hoshide practiced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), reviewed medical hardware, and rehearsed communication and coordination procedures.

The sixth spacewalk of the year is set for June 2. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will open the hatch to the Poisk module at 1:20 a.m. EDT  and exit into the vacuum of space wearing their Orlan spacesuits. NASA TV will begin its live coverage at 1 a.m. of the six-and-a-half hour spacewalk for Russian hardware maintenance and science experiment installations.

Life Science Work Fills Day Ahead of June Spacewalks

Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet and Mark Vande Hei set up the Kibo laboratory module's airlock for the installation of an experiment platform.
Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet and Mark Vande Hei set up the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock for the installation of an experiment platform.

The Expedition 65 crew is staying focused on numerous life science experiments aboard the International Space Station today while gearing up for three spacewalks in June.

The Celestial Immunity study has been ongoing aboard the orbital lab since shortly after it arrived on the SpaceX Crew-2 mission. NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur started Wednesday retrieving donor cell samples from a science freezer before thawing and spinning the cells in a centrifuge. Next, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei inoculated and treated the sample cultures to help scientists observe the differences from samples harvested on Earth. Results could lead to improved vaccines and treatments for diseases on Earth, as well as advance the commercialization of space.

Akihiko Hoshide, Japan’s second station commander, spent the day on a variety of human research studies. In the morning, he took glucose measurements and collected blood samples for the Phospho-Aging and Vascular Aging studies looking at bone, muscle and artery changes in space. Hoshide then took turns with ESA Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet wearing a virtual reality headset and clicking a trackball for the Time Perception experiment. Researchers are exploring how astronauts perceive space and time which may impact navigation and fine motor coordination in microgravity.

Over in the Tranquility module, NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough, with assistance from Vande Hei and Pesquet, continued more maintenance work on the Water Processing Assembly (WPA) due to a suspected leak. The WPA, which recycles water into drinkable water, has been powered down for several days during the troubleshooting work. The crew is fine and has several months of water supply on the station if necessary.

Next month’s first spacewalk is planned for June 2. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will spend about six-and-a-hours on external maintenance and installing science experiments. Novitskiy worked on Orlan spacesuit maintenance today before joining Dubrov for more Russian cardiac research to understand how weightlessness affects the circulatory system.

In mid-June, two U.S. spacewalks are planned for the installation of a pair of new solar arrays on the station’s Port-6 truss structure. Four more solar arrays will be installed on upcoming spacewalks to augment the orbiting lab’s power systems.