Bone Healing Study Continues as SpaceX Crew-6 Mission Approaches

Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.
Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.

Wednesday was the last full day of research operations aboard the International Space Station to learn how to improve bone healing therapies both on Earth and in space. The Expedition 68 crew members also studied the human heart and plasma physics and set up Earth imagery hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata wrapped up three days of continuous research into bone growth. The quartet spent the day inside the Kibo laboratory module studying research samples in the Life Science Glovebox to understand the bone healing process in microgravity. Cassada will work on Thursday and Friday cleaning up the space biology hardware and completing sample processing.

Weightlessness inhibits bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair, and the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive investigation seeks to reverse these effects on stem cells and bone tissue. Insights gained from the biology experiment may help doctors provide advanced treatments for bone injuries that occur in space and improve therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.

Cardiac research in space is also very important as two cosmonauts joined each other on Wednesday morning learning how the circulatory system is impacted by long-term microgravity. Commander Sergey Prokopyev attached sensors to himself, with assistance from Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, for the cardiac study. The experiment seeks insights into how the heart adapts to microgravity and to prepare for the effects of returning to Earth’s gravity months later.

Prokopyev also continued this week’s space physics work studying the behavior of plasma crystals, or clouds of highly charged particles, inside a specialized chamber. Petelin studied kept up his observations of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. Both studies have the potential to advance space and Earth-bound industries as well as improve fundamental knowledge.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina of Roscosmos began her day pointing a camera outside station windows and photographing the external condition of the Nauka, Zvezda, and Rassvet modules. She finished her shift installing and activating gear that will acquire ultraviolet imagery of Earth’s nighttime atmosphere.

The next SpaceX crewed mission to the space station is soon approaching. The Crew-6 crewmates are Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, both from NASA, and Mission Specialists Andrey Fedyaev from Roscosmos and Sultan Alnedayi from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The quartet will lift off aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour at 2:07 a.m. EST on Feb. 26 and dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port just over half-a-day later.


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 is GO for U.S. Spacewalks Outside International Space Station

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer points the camera toward himself and takes a "space-selfie" during a spacewalk on March 23, 2022.
ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer points the camera toward himself and takes a “space-selfie” during a spacewalk on March 23, 2022.

NASA completed a flight readiness review in October, and is “GO” to resume routine spacewalks outside of the International Space Station. The first of three planned spacewalks is targeted to begin around mid-November to continue the work to install roll out solar arrays, called iROSA.

The review marks the completion of an investigation into the cause of a thin layer of moisture being discovered in March inside ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer’s helmet after station airlock re-pressurization following a nearly seven-hour spacewalk. Mauer was conducting a spacewalk focused on preparation of new solar array installation outside the microgravity laboratory.

Following the successful spacewalk, the space station crew expedited Maurer’s helmet removal and then gathered data in coordination with ground support teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The agency identified the event as a close-call and immediately declared a stop to all future planned U.S. Operating Segment spacewalks pending an investigation into the cause. NASA returned to Earth water samples and some suit hardware with Soyuz 65S and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission, as well as returned the spacesuit as part of the agency’s SpaceX CRS-25 mission for detailed analysis.

During the investigation, the space station team completed a detailed test, teardown, and evaluation of the water samples and suit hardware to determine what led to the observed water, which was more than normal, in the helmet.

The team confirmed there were no hardware failures within the suit. The cause for the water in the helmet was likely due to integrated system performance where several variables such as crew exertion and crew cooling settings led to the generation of comparatively larger than normal amounts of condensation within the system.

Based on the findings, the team has updated operational procedures and developed new mitigation hardware to minimize scenarios where integrated performance results in water accumulation, while absorbing any water that does appear. These measures will help contain any liquid in the helmet to continue to keep crew safe.

“Crew safety is the top priority of NASA and our international partners,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate. “I’m proud of the space station and ground teams’ work to keep our crew members safe, for taking the time necessary to close out the investigation, and for continually findings ways to mitigate risks in human spaceflight.”

Based on the results of the investigation, the additional operational procedures, and mitigation hardware, the NASA management team concurred and approved return to normal 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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SpaceX Crew-4 Returns with Splashdown on Florida’s Atlantic Coast

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship carrying four astronauts splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship carrying four astronauts splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts aboard the Dragon spacecraft safely splashed down Friday off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, completing the agency’s fourth commercial crew mission to the International Space Station. The international crew of four spent 170 days in orbit.

NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted splashdown at 4:55 p.m. EDT. Teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels retrieved the spacecraft and astronauts. After returning to shore, all astronauts will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Cristoforetti then will board a plane to Europe.

“Welcome home Crew-4! This international crew has spent nearly six months on the International Space Station conducting science for the benefit of all. Their work aboard the orbiting laboratory will help prepare future explorers for future space missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Working and living on the space station is the opportunity of a lifetime, but it also requires these explorers to make sacrifices, especially time away from loved ones. Kjell, Bob, Jessica and Samantha, thank you for your contributions over the past six months to science, innovation, and discovery!”

The Crew-4 mission launched at 3:52 a.m. EDT April 27 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Less than 16 hours later, Dragon docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. The astronauts undocked from the same port at 12:05 p.m. Friday, to begin the trip home.

Hines, Lindgren, Watkins, and Cristoforetti traveled 72,168,935 miles during their mission, spent 170 days aboard the space station, and completed 2,720 orbits around Earth. Lindgren has logged 311 days in space over his two flights, and with the completion of their flight today, Cristoforetti has logged 369 days in space on her two flights, making her second on the all-time list for most days in space by a woman. The Crew-4 mission was the first spaceflight for Hines and Watkins.

Throughout their mission, the Crew-4 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities and technology demonstrations. Cristoforetti completed two spacewalks with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev to perform station maintenance and upgrades.

Crew-4 continued work on investigations documenting how improvements to the space diet affect immune function and the gut microbiome, determining the effect of fuel temperature on the flammability of a material, exploring possible adverse effects on astronaut hearing from equipment noise and microgravity, and studying whether additives increase or decrease the stability of emulsions. The astronauts also investigated microgravity-induced changes in the human immune system similar to aging, tested a novel water-reclamation membrane, and examined a concrete alternative made with a material found in lunar and Martian dust.

The spacecraft, named Freedom by Crew-4, will return to Florida for inspection and processing at SpaceX’s Dragon Lair, where teams will examine the spacecraft’s data and performance throughout the flight.

The Crew-4 flight is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its return to Earth follows on the heels of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 launch, which docked to the station Oct. 6, beginning another science expedition.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This already has provided additional research time and has increased the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s microgravity testbed for exploration, including helping NASA prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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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Dragon Freedom Undocks with SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship with four Crew-4 astronauts aboard undocks from the space station to begin its return to Earth. Credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship with four Crew-4 astronauts aboard undocks from the space station to begin its return to Earth. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti inside undocked from the space-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 12:05 p.m. EDT to complete a nearly six-month science mission.

NASA will continue to provide live coverage until Freedom splashes down at approximately 4:55 p.m. EDT near Jacksonville off the coast of Florida and the Crew-4 astronauts are recovered.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission launched Apr. 27 on a Falcon 9 rocket from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station later the same day.


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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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Hatches Closed, SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts Prepare to Undock

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship is pictured docked to the Harmony module's space-facing port where it been parked since April 27, 2022. Credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port where it been parked since April 27, 2022. Credit: NASA TV

At 10:20 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14, the hatch closed between the Dragon Freedom spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking and return to Earth of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

NASA Television will air live coverage beginning at 11:15 a.m., for undocking scheduled at 11:35 a.m. and continue coverage through their splashdown off the coast of Florida at about 4:55 p.m.


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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The SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts Prepare to Undock Today

Astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Samantha Cristoforetti talk to journalists on Earth about the space station mission. Credit: NASA TV
Astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Samantha Cristoforetti talk to journalists on Earth about the space station mission. Credit: NASA TV

Watch live coverage now on NASA TV, the NASA app and the agency’s website as hatch closure and undocking preparations are underway for the return of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission.

NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are in the process of boarding the Dragon for departure from the International Space Station.

Crew-4 is targeting a return to Earth at about 4:55 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 11:35 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14, to begin the journey home.

Dragon will autonomously undock, depart the space station, and splash down at one of seven targeted landing zones in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. Freedom also will return important and time-sensitive research to Earth.


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’s SpaceX Crew-4 Targets New Return Date Weather Permitting

International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragons Freedom and Endurance; and Russia's Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships.
International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragons Freedom and Endurance; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 11:35 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14, for the agency’s Crew-4 undocking from the International Space Station to begin their return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. Splashdown is targeted several hours later at approximately 4:50 p.m. off the coast of Florida.

Mission teams continue to monitor a cold front passing through Florida on Thursday, Oct. 13, bringing high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Current weather predictions are showing greater forecast certainty Friday due to a high-pressure system behind the cold front, which is expected to bring more favorable conditions for splashdown and recovery. NASA and SpaceX will continue to monitor splashdown and recovery conditions with another weather review around eight hours prior to undocking. Teams also will review multiple options for undocking opportunities Friday and Saturday.

Crew-4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station.

NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Dragon’s hatch closing, undocking, and splashdown coverage will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA also will host an audio only post-splashdown news teleconference. Follow all live events at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Friday, Oct. 14

9:30 a.m. – Hatch closure coverage begins for the approximately 9:55 a.m. hatch closing

11:15 a.m. – Undocking coverage begins for 11:35 a.m. undocking with a Friday splashdown

4:50 p.m. (approximately) – Splashdown off the coast of Florida

6:30 p.m. – Return to Earth media teleconference call from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Joel Montalbano, manger, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
    • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX

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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Weather Delays SpaceX Crew-4 Undocking from Station

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti handed over station command to cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev as the Expedition 68 crew observed on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti handed over station command to cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev as the Expedition 68 crew observed on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.

NASA and SpaceX are standing down from the Oct. 13 departure opportunity for the agency’s Crew-4 mission from the International Space Station due to increased winds forecast in the splashdown area.

Mission teams will meet later in the day to determine the next target for Crew-4’s undocking to begin their return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. The next available undocking opportunity is no earlier than 11:35 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14.

NASA and SpaceX will continue to monitor a cold front passing over Florida bringing high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Crew-4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station.

NASA will provide more information about live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Space Station Departure Delayed for Weather

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are seated inside the Dragon Freedom crew ship. The commercial crew quartet (from left) are Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, Pilot Robert Hines, Commander Kjell Lindgren, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristorforetti. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 10:05 a.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 13, for the agency’s Crew-4 undocking from the International Space Station to begin the return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. Splashdown is targeted several hours later at 5:43 p.m. Thursday off the coast of Florida.

Mission teams continue to monitor a cold front passing over Florida with the potential to bring high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Mission teams will continue to monitor splashdown and recovery conditions with another weather review around six hours prior to undocking.

Crew 4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station. Back-up undocking opportunities also are available Friday, Oct. 14.

NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Dragon’s hatch closing, undocking, and splashdown coverage will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA also will host an audio only post-splashdown news teleconference. Follow all live events at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Thursday, Oct. 13

8 a.m. – Hatch closure coverage begins for 8:20 a.m. hatch closing
9:45 a.m. – Undocking coverage begins for 10:05 a.m. undocking with a Thursday splashdown
5:43 p.m. – Splashdown off the coast of Florida
7 p.m. – Return to Earth media teleconference call from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Joel Montalbano, manger, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • SpaceX Representative

Station Crew Prepares to Split Up While Research Continues

Astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Samantha Cristoforetti talk to journalists on Earth about their space station mission. Credit: NASA TV
Astronauts (from left) Jessica Watkins, Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Samantha Cristoforetti talk to journalists on Earth about their space station mission. Credit: NASA TV

It was a busy Tuesday aboard the International Space Station as the 11 crew members split their time between advanced space research and orbital lab maintenance.  Four astronauts are also turning their attention to returning to Earth ending a mission that began in April.

Two new Expedition 68 crewmates focused their science activities on growing crops in space and maneuvering free-flying robots. NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio nourished vegetables and photographed their growth progress for the XROOTS space botany study. The experiment investigates using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to support crop growth and sustain astronauts living in microgravity. Astronaut Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) turned on the Astrobee robotic free-flyers and watched as the toaster-sized devices performed image processing and laser pointing tasks using pre-programmed algorithms.

First-time NASA Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada spent their day on maintenance and crew orientation activities. Mann collected a water sample and replaced a sensor in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s oxygen generation system. Cassada swapped components on the station’s bathroom, or Waste and Hygiene Compartment, then joined Rubio and reviewed how to install and remove helmets on the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuits. Mann and Cassada also trained on the operation of station exercise gear including the COLBERT treadmill and the Destiny module’s exercise bike.

Four astronauts are getting ready to return to Earth soon aboard the SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship. The quartet consisting of Freedom Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti spent Tuesday packing up cargo and personal items, charging computer tablets, and downloading deorbit data necessary to target Freedom’s reentry into Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown off the coast of Florida.

Watch the four departing astronauts’ farewell remarks on YouTube

The station’s three cosmonauts focused on station research and lab upkeep tasks on Tuesday. Two-time station visitor Sergey Prokopyev worked on computer hardware then researched how international crews and mission controllers can improve interactions. First-time space flyer Dmitri Petelin checked the Zvezda service module’s ventilation system then studied advanced Earth photography methods. New Flight Engineer Anna Kikina, who has been aboard the station less than a week, explored future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques and later joined Petelin for the Earth photography session.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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