Station Boosts Orbit before Heavy Spacecraft Traffic Period

Solar Arrays and Earth's Limb
The International Space Station’s solar arrays and the Earth’s limb were photographed during a Jan. 15, 2016, spacewalk.

The International Space Station raised its orbit again today as three crew members prepare for a March 1 landing while another trio gets ready for a March 18 launch. Meanwhile, advanced research continued inside the orbital laboratory to improve life on Earth and for future space residents.

Today’s orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for the March 1 undocking of Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko. Their undocking will leave the Poisk module’s docking port vacant where a trio of Expedition 47 crew members will dock two-and-a-half weeks later inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.

Today, the Expedition 46 crew participated in a variety of human research exploring how the heart adapts to life in space, the risk of atherosclerosis in astronauts and how microgravity affects an astronaut’s vision. The crew also sampled the station’s air and surfaces for microbes to learn how to prevent contamination in future spacecraft.

Another spacecraft is being prepared for departure Friday morning when it will be released from the grips of the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm. The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is being loaded with trash before NASA astronauts Kelly and Tim Kopra release Cygnus using the robotics controls inside the seven-window cupola. NASA Television will cover the activities live Friday beginning at 7 a.m. EST.

Spacesuit Work Wraps Up as Robotic Arm Preps for Cygnus Release

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly works on a spacesuit inside the Quest airlock.

Two astronauts are wrapping up spacesuit maintenance today while a variety of human research takes place inside the International Space Station. Outside the station, the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm is being prepared for the upcoming release of a space freighter.

Commander Scott Kelly and astronaut Time Peake from the European Space Agency are finalizing gear replacement work on a U.S. spacesuit today. The spacesuit will be inspected Monday before it is certified for return to service.

On the life science front, Kelly joined cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for eye and heart scans with an ultrasound. The scans are part of the ongoing Ocular Health study seeking to understand visual impairment some astronauts have experienced during their space missions.

Kopra earlier attached sensors to himself for the Sprint study which seeks to reduce muscle and bone loss with new exercise techniques while living in space. Peake collected his own breath sample for the Marrow experiment that observes how microgravity affects bone marrow and blood cells.

Ground controllers are maneuvering the Canadarm2 in position for the Feb. 19 grapple and release of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. The Cygnus will be released for a fiery destruction high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean after being attached to the Unity module for over two months.


Crew Starts Week with Spacesuit Work and Vision Checks

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly
Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly received a call from former President George H. W. Bush on Friday. Watch the video…

The Expedition 46 crew members kicked off their work week today with a series of physics experiments and life science studies. The crew also worked on U.S. and Russian spacesuits and continued packing trash inside the Orbital ATK resupply ship.

British astronaut Tim Peake wrapped up maintenance work on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace which will study the thermophysical properties of various materials. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra tested the flammability of different textiles inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the BASS-M experiment.

Peake also explored crew immunology to potentially improve astronaut health and life on Earth. Kopra continued taking out the trash today loading the Cygnus spacecraft before its release on Feb. 19 for disposal over the Pacific Ocean.

Peake then joined Commander Scott Kelly in the Quest airlock to get a U.S. spacesuit ready for gear replacement work on Wednesday. Kelly also partnered up with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko for vision tests and blood pressure checks for the Ocular Health study.

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko is recharging Russian Orlan spacesuit batteries after completing a spacewalk last week. His fellow cosmonaut Sergey Volkov also helped stow spacewalk tools.

Spacewalkers Clean Up as Crew Works on Life Support Gear

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly
Astronauts Tim Kopra (foreground) and Scott Kelly work on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly inside the Tranquility module. Credit: NASA TV

Two cosmonauts are cleaning up today after a successful spacewalk on Wednesday. The other crew members are working on life support gear and taking out the trash.

Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov completed the third spacewalk of Expedition 46 after installing hardware and science gear and conducting experiments. Today the duo are cleaning and recharging their Orlan spacesuits and stowing their tools.

British astronaut Tim Peake helped Malenchenko and Volkov as he stowed the U.S. gear used on the suits. Peake later videotaped himself reading a children’s storybook and performing science demonstrations for students.

Commander Scott Kelly and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra partnered together to swap parts inside the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). Kelly then packed trash inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft due to leave the International Space Station on Feb. 19. Kopra later wrapped up the CDRA maintenance work.

Cosmonauts Finalize Preps Before Wednesday Spacewalk

Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov
Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov is pictured during a spacewalk in August 2011 when he was a Flight Engineer for Expedition 28.

Two cosmonauts are getting ready for a spacewalk to install hardware and science experiments outside the International Space Station’s Russian segment. Meanwhile, the other four crew members are working on research hardware, water testing and trash stowage.

Veteran flight engineers and spacewalkers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov are finalizing their reviews and preparations for the second Expedition 46 spacewalk in less than a month. NASA Television will provide live coverage of the Russian spacewalk set to begin tomorrow at 8:10 a.m. EST. They are scheduled to work outside in their Russian Orlan spacesuits for about 5 hours and 30 minutes on scheduled maintenance tasks.

Commander Scott Kelly set up a portable 3D printer today inside the Destiny laboratory module. The test fabrications on the device may precede the installation of a full-sized 3D printer in the future. Kelly also replaced fuel gear inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

European astronaut Tim Peake collected and tested samples from water dispensers in the U.S. and Russian segments of the orbital lab. The samples will also be returned to Earth inside a Soyuz spacecraft for further analysis. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra continued stowing trash inside the Orbital ATK cargo craft while also checking the status of pistol grip tools used during spacewalks.

Spacesuit Checks and Fire Science on Space Station Today

British Astronaut Tim Peake
British Astronaut Tim Peake works to install gear inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module.

A pair of cosmonauts is getting ready for the 193rd International Space Station spacewalk beginning Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. EST. The other four Expedition 46 crew members worked on science, cargo transfers and maintenance today.

Spacewalkers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov got into their Russian Orlan spacesuits today testing their systems and practicing their movements. NASA TV will cover the spacewalk activities Wednesday starting at 7:30 a.m. The duo will install hardware and science experiments and photograph the external condition of the space station.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra was back at work studying how materials burn in microgravity potentially improving fire safety on Earth and in space. British astronaut Tim Peake retracted a small satellite deployer back in the Kibo lab module and performed some maintenance work on the BioLab incubator.

Commander Scott Kelly packed trash and discarded gear inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft scheduled to depart Feb. 19. Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko performed a series of interactive tasks on a tablet for the Fine Motor Skills investigation. Kelly and Peake also participated in the study that observes how astronauts work on touch-based, sensitive and detailed tasks on long duration space missions.

Day of Remembrance as Spacewalk Preps and Cygnus Work Move On

Astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra
Astronauts Tim Kopra (left) and Scott Kelly talk to the Military Times this morning from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Today, NASA remembers the sacrifice of the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Columbia and Challenger. Mission Control Center in Houston and the crew aboard the International Space Station observed a moment of silence and Commander Scott Kelly sent down a few words memorializing the lost astronauts.

The six residents aboard the space station kept up their pace with spacewalk preparations, Cygnus cargo transfers and advanced space science. The orbital laboratory also completed two of a series of reboosts on Wednesday ahead of a crew swap and a cargo delivery planned for March.

Cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov checked out their Russian Orlan spacesuits and tools before next week’s spacewalk. The duo will install hardware and science experiments on the station’s Russian segment. NASA TV will broadcast the spacewalk live beginning Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. EST.

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake worked throughout the day transferring cargo from the Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter. The Cygnus is due to leave the station’s Unity module Feb. 19 and burn up over the Pacific Ocean the next day.

Student Satellites Prepped for Deployment from Japanese Lab

Astronaut Scott Kelly and Tim Peake
Astronaut Scott Kelly (foreground) and Tim Peake load a pair of nanosatellites inside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s airlock. Credit: NASA TV

The six Expedition 46 crew members today prepared for the deployment of a pair of nanosatellites, loaded trash in the Cygnus cargo craft and reviewed timelines and procedures for a Feb. 3 spacewalk. The International Space Station will also raise its orbit ahead of March’s crew swap and cargo delivery activities.

Commander Scott Kelly and British astronaut Tim Peake were inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory loading a satellite carrier and its deployer mechanism in the lab module’s airlock. After the Japanese robotic arm extracts the deployer from the airlock the Aggiesat4 and BEVO-2 nanosatellites will be deployed on Friday. The student-built nanosatellites will help further develop and refine autonomous navigation, rendezvous and docking software and procedures.

Peake then joined NASA astronaut Tim Kopra loading trash inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus supply ship. The private space freighter is due to leave the station Feb. 19 ending its stay at the Unity module. Next, Kopra moved on to a combustion experiment testing how well different samples resist burning in microgravity.

Cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov are a week away from the second spacewalk of 2016. The veteran spacewalkers reviewed the timeline and procedures they will use to install hardware and science experiments outside the station’s Russian segment on Feb. 3 at 8:10 a.m. EST.

More Spacewalk Preps as Crew Researches Effects of Space on Life

Cygnus and Soyuz
Two docked spacecraft, the Cygnus with its circular solar arrays (left) and the Soyuz, are seen with the Earth below.

Two astronauts are counting down to a spacewalk planned for next Friday to replace a failed voltage regulator. While those preparations are under way, the crew is also exploring human research, life science and advanced physics.

Next week’s spacewalkers are NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake. They will replace a voltage regulator to restore power to one of eight power channels and take care of other maintenance tasks. The duo worked on their spacesuit batteries then joined Commander Scott Kelly to review procedures for their Jan. 15 spacewalk.

Kelly also worked on exercise research to improve fitness in space. Kopra studied heart function and Fine Motor Skills while Peake looked at arteries and how they stiffen in space.

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko explored magnetic fields and coulomb crystals and transferred cargo from the newest Progress 62 cargo craft. His fellow flight engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov reported on the station’s scientific achievements for a Russian educational research program.

Russian Cargo Spaceship Departs Station

Dec. 19. 2015 International Space Station Configuration
The departure of the P60 this morning leaves four spacecraft docked to the orbital laboratory. Credit: NASA

A Russian resupply ship left the International Space Station today after 166 days attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-filled Progress 60 (60P) undocked from Pirs at 2:35 a.m. EST/7:35 a.m. UTC and will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere a few hours later for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.

Pirs will remain vacant until Wednesday morning when a new delivery spaceship arrives and docks to it filled with science and supplies replenishing the Expedition 46 crew. Russia’s Progress 62 (62P) will take a two-day trip to the space station after launching Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:44 a.m. EST/8:44 a.m. UTC (2:44 p.m. Kazakh time).

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra are expected to conduct a spacewalk a few hours after the launch to reposition the mobile transporter and lock it in place in advance of the 62P’s arrival to the station Wednesday morning. Live NASA Television Monday will resume at 6:30 a.m. in advance of the spacewalk expected to begin at approximately 8:10 a.m.

The departure of the 60P this morning leaves four spacecraft docked to the orbital laboratory. The Soyuz TMA-18M crew spaceship is docked to the Poisk module. The Soyuz TMA-19M is docked to the Rassvet module. A Progress 61 cargo craft is docked to the Zvezda service module. The Cygnus private space freighter from the U.S. company Orbital ATK is berthed to the Unity module.