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 Astronauts Complete Seat Liner Move

The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.
The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.

On Jan. 17, NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada, with assistance from NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann, worked inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship collecting tools and readying the spacecraft for a seat liner move. The seat liner move, completed today, Jan. 18, ensures NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio will be able to return to Earth in the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation from the International Space Station. Rubio originally launched to the station with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship on Sept. 21, 2022. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for Prokopyev and Petelin in case of an emergency return 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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Spacewalk Preps Continue as Soyuz Seat Move Planned as Precaution

Astronauts Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured inside the space station's Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured inside the space station’s Destiny laboratory module.

Spacewalk preparations continue onboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 68 crew begins it weekend. The orbital residents also worked on space botany and robotics while maintaining orbital lab operations on Friday.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked throughout Friday familiarizing themselves with an upcoming spacewalk. The pair was joined by NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio for computerized spacewalk training and a conference with specialists on the ground. Two astronauts are scheduled exit the station and mount hardware on the truss structure readying the orbital lab for its next roll-out solar array.

Cassada also continued tending to tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study and worked on cargo transfers inside the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. Rubio inspected emergency hardware than took a computerized robotics test to remain proficient when operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Wakata repaired components on a multipurpose small payload rack in the Kibo laboratory module that supports a wide variety of research and educational activities in space. Mann spent some time tightening screws on the advanced resistive exercise device located in the Tranquility module.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos worked on a variety of maintenance tasks inside the Zvezda service module on Friday. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin transferred cargo from inside the ISS Progress 82 cargo craft and updated the station’s inventory management system. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina set up video equipment to record an exercise session then tested laptop computers inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the International Space Station mission management team polled “go” to move NASA astronaut Frank Rubio’s Soyuz seat liner from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft to Dragon Endurance to provide lifeboat capabilities in the event Rubio would need to return to Earth because of an emergency evacuation from the space station. The seat liner move is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 17, with installation and configuration continuing through most of the day Wednesday, Jan. 18. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for cosmonauts Prokopyev and Petelin in the event of an emergency return to Earth.

Once the replacement Soyuz MS-23 arrives at the space station on Feb. 22, Rubio’s seat liner will be transferred to the new Soyuz and the seat liners for Prokopyev and Petelin will be moved from MS-22 to MS-23 ahead of their return in the Soyuz.


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 Resupply Ship Splashes Down Returning Critical Science

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured departing the vicinity of the space station following its undocking from the Harmony module's space-facing port.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured departing the vicinity of the space station following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port.

SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 5:19 a.m. EST Wednesday, Jan. 11, off the coast of Tampa, Florida, marking the return of the company’s 26th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft carried approximately 4,400 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo back to Earth.

Some of the scientific investigations returned by Dragon include:

  • Deep space radiation protection: A vest designed to protect astronauts from high doses of radiation caused by unpredictable solar particle events is returning to Earth after months of testing. Crew members wore the Astrorad vest while performing daily tasks and provided feedback about how easy it is to put on, how it fits and feels, and the range of motion possible while wearing it. The vest’s developers plan to use that feedback to improve design of the garment, which could provide radiation protection for astronauts on Artemis missions to the Moon.
  • Air, water, plants: XROOTS used hydroponic (water-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants without soil or other growth media. Researchers collected video and still images to evaluate growth chambers through the plant life cycle from seed germination through maturity. The plant chambers are returning to Earth for additional analysis. Similar techniques could be used to produce crops for future space missions and to enhance cultivation and food security for the benefit of people on Earth.
  • Bioprospecting in space: Bioprospecting is the process of identifying plants and animals that may contain substances with potential for use as drugs, biochemicals, and more. Previous studies found that space can cause genetic and physiological changes that could result in microbes yielding such materials. Rhodium Microgravity Bioprospecting-1 studied a way to search for these microbes. The science chambers and temperature logger from the investigation are returning to Earth for further examination.

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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Astronauts Relax after Dragon Leaves, Cosmonauts Study Heart Activity in Space

The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.
The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.

Four Expedition 68 astronauts are enjoying Tuesday off after spending the weekend packing a U.S. cargo craft and readying it for departure on Monday. The International Space Station’s three cosmonauts spent their day concentrating on cardiac research while servicing a variety of orbital lab systems.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is orbiting Earth following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 5:05 p.m. EST on Monday. Dragon will return about 4,400 pounds of station hardware and scientific cargo when it splashes down off the coast of Florida on Wednesday.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio along with Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) completed loading Dragon a couple of hours before it departed on Monday. The quartet worked over the weekend and into Monday carefully preserving and packing sensitive biological and physical research samples inside Dragon for retrieval and analysis in laboratories on Earth. All four flight engineers relaxed throughout Tuesday taking time off for quick medical checks, watering plants, and calling down to family members.

Meanwhile, the orbiting lab’s three Roscosmos cosmonauts stayed busy Tuesday with their standard research and maintenance schedule.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev partnered with Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina taking turns attaching electrodes to themselves to measure their heart activity. Just one of numerous heart studies that have taken place on orbit, the investigation explores how living in space long-term affects the cardiovascular system.

Prokopyev also spent some time dismantling navigation components inside the ISS Progress 81 cargo ship. Petelin explored the physics of fluids exposed to vibrations, magnetic fields, and electric fields in microgravity. Kikina worked on orbital plumbing tasks then photographed crew activities on the station.


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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Science-Packed Dragon Cargo Craft Undocks from Station

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured departing the vicinity of the space station following its undocking from the Harmony module's space-facing port.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured departing the vicinity of the space station following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port.

After receiving commands from flight controllers on the ground, the uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft undocked from the zenith port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 5:05 p.m. At the time of undocking, the station was flying about 259 miles over the Pacific Ocean.

The Dragon spacecraft successfully departed the space station after arriving at the orbiting laboratory a little over one month ago to deliver about 4,400 pounds of scientific investigations and supplies.

After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will make a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida on Wednesday, Jan. 11. NASA will not broadcast the splashdown, but updates will be posted on the agency’s space station blog.

Dragon arrived at the space station Nov. 27, following a launch one day prior on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the company’s 26th commercial resupply services mission to the space station for NASA.


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 Cargo Craft Prepares to Leave Station Live on NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship is pictured approaching the International Space Station on Nov. 27, 2022, to resupply the Expedition 68 crew.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship is pictured approaching the International Space Station on Nov. 27, 2022, to resupply the Expedition 68 crew.

Live coverage of the departure of SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station is underway on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

After receiving a command from ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, Dragon will undock at 5:05 p.m. from the zenith port of the station’s Harmony module and fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station

On Wednesday, Jan. 11, controllers will command a deorbit burn. After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will make a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida. NASA TV will not broadcast the deorbit burn and splashdown. Updates will be posted on the agency’s space station blog.


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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Science-Filled Dragon Leaving Station Today After Crew Med Checks

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, with its nose cone open, is pictured docked to the space-facing port on the space station's Harmony module.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, with its nose cone open, is pictured docked to the space-facing port on the space station’s Harmony module.

A U.S. cargo craft is being loaded with hardware and sensitive research samples for analysis on Earth before it departs the International Space Station today. The Expedition 68 crew members also had time on Monday for biomedical activities and lab maintenance ensuring the crew and the station continue operating in tip-top shape.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is poised to complete a 43-day stay attached to the station when it undocks from the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 5:05 p.m. EDT today. NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio along with Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are finalizing the loading of about 4,400 pounds supplies and science experiments inside the Dragon. NASA TV’s live coverage of Dragon’s undocking and departure begins at 4:45 p.m. on NASA’s website and the agency’s app.

The crew will close Dragon’s hatch about an hour-and-a-half before its departure today. Dragon will then orbit Earth until Wednesday when it reenters Earth’s atmosphere and parachutes to a landing off the coast of Florida for retrieval by SpaceX and NASA support personnel. NASA TV will not air Dragon’s return to Earth.

The quartet also split its day collecting and stowing a variety of samples as part of ongoing human research studies. The astronauts began the morning gathering their saliva samples and placing them in science freezer for later analysis. The foursome, with assistance from specialists on the ground, wrapped up the day drawing blood samples that will be examined back on Earth to understand how living long-term in space affects the human body.

The space station’s three cosmonauts focused mainly on orbital maintenance throughout Monday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin serviced an assortment of life support and electronics components. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina charged video camera batteries and photographed electronics hardware inside the Zarya module.


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 Packs Dragon, Conducts Life Sustaining Research at End of Week

Astronaut Koichi Wakata is pictured inside the Kibo laboratory module's airlock where external payloads are placed into the outer space environment.
Astronaut Koichi Wakata is pictured inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock where external payloads are placed into the outer space environment.

The Expedition 68 crew will go into the weekend packing a U.S. resupply ship before it departs the International Space Station on Monday. In the meantime, the seven orbital residents concluded the work week researching a variety of space phenomena, maintaining advanced science hardware, and wrapping up three days of eye exams.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft will complete a 43-day mission at the orbital lab when it undocks from the Harmony module’s space-facing port at 5:05 p.m. EST on Monday. NASA astronauts Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann, and Frank Rubio will join astronaut Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and spend Saturday and Sunday loading Dragon with critical research samples from completed station experiments for analysis on Earth after it splashes down off the coast of Florida. NASA TV will begin live coverage of Dragon’s undocking and departure at 4:45 p.m. on NASA’s website and the agency’s app.

However, the station’s four astronauts spent Friday servicing advanced research gear and conducting microgravity experiments. Three NASA astronauts also concluded several days of vision tests as Mann scanned the retinas of Cassada and Rubio using standard medical imaging hardware found in an optometrist’s office.

Wakata began his day taking photos of a set of nanosatellites as they were deployed outside the Kibo laboratory module into Earth orbit. The CubeSats will demonstrate a variety of technologies such as communications, propulsion systems, and Earth observations. He also assisted Rubio connecting communications gear and patching cables inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Mann researched ways to generate nutrients on demand by manipulating genetically engineered microbes. Cassada tended to tomatoes growing for a space botany study. Both experiments are informing ways NASA and its international partners can sustain crews on missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev from Roscosmos worked on several science projects at the end of the week as he tested a 3-D printer, explored futuristic spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques, and studied ways international crews and mission controllers can communicate better. Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina took turns attaching sensors to themselves measuring their heart activity then downloading the data to researchers on Earth for a long-running cardiac study.


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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Research Informing Deep Space Missions as Dragon Nears Departure

The Waxing Gibbous Moon is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the southern Indian Ocean.
The Waxing Gibbous Moon is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the southern Indian Ocean.

Space science and spacesuits dominated the Expedition 68 crew’s work day aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. The orbital lab will also see the departure of a U.S. cargo ship early next week.

Sustaining crews farther away from Earth is a key objective as NASA and its international partners plan human missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The BioNutrients-2 investigation taking place on the station seeks to provide nutrients in flight for astronauts to reduce reliance on visiting cargo missions. Food stowed for long periods of time also tends to lose its nutritional value. NASA astronauts Frank Rubio and Nicole Mann took turns today servicing and photographing genetically engineered yeast samples incubated in the Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory for the study that could provide adequate nutrition on demand quickly using a minimal amount of equipment.

Mann also partnered with Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) resizing a pair of spacesuits, also known as Extravehicular Mobility Units, or EMUs. Mann also installed lithium-ion batteries in the EMUs that power the spacesuit life support systems. The suits are being readied for an upcoming spacewalk planned to continue upgrading the station’s power generation system.

Wakata earlier joined NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada and continued packing the soon-to-depart SpaceX Dragon resupply ship. Dragon will complete a 43-day cargo mission and undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Monday at 5:05 p.m. EST. It will splash down off the coast of Florida packed with station hardware for inspection and finalized science experiments for analysis.

The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts focused on their complement of microgravity research on Thursday benefiting humans on and off the Earth and providing insights on deep space exploration. Commander Sergey Prokopyev analyzed his blood samples using chromatography, a process for separating components of a mixture, then he studied how stress during a spaceflight may affect a cosmonaut’s immune system.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, wearing sensors, used a computer to explore how future crews may handle piloting spaceships or robots on planetary missions. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina pointed a camera outside a station window and photographed wildfires in South America. She then turned her attention to researching ways to improve communications between international crews and mission controllers from around the world.


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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