Virtual Reality, Spacesuits, Departure Preps Keeping Crew Busy

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur poses with an AstroBee robotic free-flying assistant inside the space station's Kibo laboratory module.
NASA astronaut Megan McArthur poses with an AstroBee robotic free-flying assistant inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

Exercising wearing virtual reality goggles, replacing spacesuit components, and getting ready for this weekend’s crew departure were the main objectives for the Expedition 65 crew today. The residents aboard the International Space Station also juggled ongoing research and maintenance tasks amidst Russian filmmaking activities.

Daily exercise in microgravity is vital to maintain bone and muscle health in the weightless environment of the orbiting lab. Scientists are studying whether virtual reality may add an extra dimension of pleasure and satisfaction for a crew member during an exercise session in space. Commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) put on a virtual reality headset and strapped himself on to an exercise bike Wednesday morning for the Immersive Exercise study. The virtual reality sequence, including audio, is synchronized with the pedaling speed to increase the immersive sensation.

Pesquet then spent the afternoon with NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough working on a U.S. spacesuit. The duo swapped components to resize the spacesuit and checked out the suit’s communications gear.

Kimbrough earlier swapped out fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack before cleaning up the seven-windowed cupola. NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur spent her day deploying camcorders inside the Harmony module where the SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked.

In the Unity module, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei set up networking hardware and software then moved on to cargo work inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter. Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cleaned smoke alarms in the Kibo laboratory module then worked on botany and life science activities.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy is preparing for his return to Earth this weekend inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. Joining him for this morning’s Soyuz descent training session were Russian spaceflight participants Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko. Novitskiy will lead the duo aboard the Soyuz to a parachuted landing in Kazakhstan on Sunday at 12:36 a.m. EDT (10:36 a.m. Kazakh time).

Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov spent Wednesday morning studying future spacecraft piloting and robotic techniques. First time space-flyer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos photographed Shkaplerov during the session. The duo, including Novitskiy, then spent the afternoon on filmmaking activities with their two Russian space station guests.

Russian Crew Ship Rolls Out; Station Keeps Up Science and Spaceship Tasks

The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Russia rolled out its Soyuz rocket in Kazakhstan early Friday morning that will launch three crewmates to the International Space Station next week. On the other side of the Earth, the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle completed its mission Thursday night after splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.

The next mission to the orbiting lab is due to blast off on Tuesday at 4:55 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov will command the near three-and-a-half hour ride to the station’s Rassvet module aboard the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship. Sitting to either side of Shkaplerov during the short flight will be Russian spaceflight participants Klim Shipenko and Yulia Peresild.

NASA TV starts its live coverage of the Soyuz launch on Tuesday at 4:15 a.m. on the NASA app and the agency’s website. NASA TV will be back on the air at 7:30 a.m. broadcasting the docking set for 8:12 a.m. and again at 9:30 a.m. for the hatch opening planned for 10:05 a.m.

Back on orbit, the seven-member Expedition 65 crew juggled a variety of science activities and maintenance tasks. The orbital residents also worked on U.S. crew ship inspections and Russian cargo transfers.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough swapped roles as crew medical officer on Friday morning. The duo took turns scanning each other’s neck, shoulder, and leg veins with the Ultrasound 2 device. In the afternoon, Kimbrough took charge again and examined the eyes and retinas of NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei using near infrared imaging gear. Doctors on the ground assisted the astronauts in real time during the vein scans and eye checks.

Kimbrough and McArthur also partnered up during the afternoon inspecting life support systems inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. The pair along with astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) are due to return to Earth aboard Endeavour in November.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy is packing up and gathering items, getting ready for his return to Earth on Oct. 18 inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. Novitskiy will be parachuting to a landing in Kazakhstan with the two spaceflight participants Shipenko and Peresild. Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, who launched to space with Novitskiy in April, will stay on the station for another five months.

Dubrov, meanwhile, worked on cargo transfers inside the ISS Progress 78 resupply ship today. The first-time space flyer also joined Novitskiy before lunchtime testing a specialized suit, the lower body negative suit, that counteracts the space-caused pooling of fluids toward the human head.

Dragon Heads Home, Crew Ship Nears Launch as Research Continues

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured approaching the station on Aug. 30 for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module's forward international docking adapter.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured approaching the station on Aug. 30 for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter.

A U.S. resupply ship departed the International Space Station on Thursday morning and will return to Earth in the evening. A Russian rocket is scheduled to roll out on Friday to prepare for next week’s launch with the crew members to the orbiting lab.

NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough was on duty monitoring the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle during its automated undocking from the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter today at 9:12 a.m. EDT. It will orbit Earth for several more hours before parachuting to a splashdown off the coast of Florida later tonight. NASA and SpaceX personnel will be on support boats ready to retrieve the cargo craft containing station hardware and completed science experiments for analysis.

The next mission to the orbiting lab will blast off on Tuesday at 4:55 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship will carry veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov leading spaceflight participants Klim Shipenko and Yulia Peresild. The Russian trio will dock to the station’s Rassvet module less than three-and-a-half hours after launch.

Meanwhile, microgravity science activities are ongoing aboard the space station today. Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) swapped samples inside the Fluids Science Laboratory to study the dynamics of granular materials in weightlessness. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration installed a deployer loaded with small satellites inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei spent their day on botany and biology studies. McArthur cleaned up debris and took photographs of Hatch chile plants growing inside the Plant Habitat. Vande Hei started his morning processing blood samples in a centrifuge then spent the afternoon stowing biological samples in a science freezer for the Food Physiology experiment.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy monitored his blood pressure while wearing the lower body negative pressure suit that counteracts the effect of microgravity pulling fluids toward the human head. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov photographed microbe samples swabbed from station surfaces to understand the risk to spacecraft and future human missions.

SpaceX Cargo Dragon Undocked From Station

Sept. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.
Sept. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

With NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough monitoring aboard the International Space Station, a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked from the station’s forward port of the Harmony module at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Cargo Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station prior to a deorbit burn later in the day that will begin its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will make parachute-assisted splashdown around 11 p.m. off the coast of Florida. NASA Television will not broadcast the splashdown live, but will provide updates on the space station blog..

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.

Dragon launched Aug. 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station the following day. The spacecraft delivered more than 4,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost.

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

Cargo Dragon Undocking Live on NASA TV

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the International Space Station for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module's forward international docking adapter
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the International Space Station for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter on Aug. 30, 2021.

NASA Television coverage is underway for departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station. The spacecraft is scheduled for automated release at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will command Dragon to undock from the forward port on the station’s Harmony module. After firing its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station, Dragon will execute a deorbit burn to leave orbit as it heads for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida around 11 p.m.

Dragon launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Aug. 29 from Space Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and arrived at the station the following day with more than 4,800 pounds of science, supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s 23rd commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

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

Crew Packs Dragon for Departure; Studies Robotics and Life Science

NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough are pictured inside the Kibo laboratory module answering questions from U.S. journalists on Earth.
NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough are pictured inside the Kibo laboratory module answering questions from U.S. journalists on Earth.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon is due to wrap up its month-long resupply mission to the International Space Station on Thursday morning. Amidst today’s cargo transfers, the Expedition 65 crew pursued a host of microgravity research on the orbital lab including robotics and biology.

Cargo Dragon’s automated undocking from the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter is set for Thursday at 9:05 a.m. EDT. The station’s astronauts will continue loading Dragon with hardware and science experiments until about two hours before its departure. Just over half-a-day later the U.S. cargo craft will parachute to a nighttime splashdown off the coast of Florida. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the spacecraft’s undocking at 8:45 a.m. on the NASA app and the agency’s website. NASA TV will not broadcast the Cargo Dragon’s return to Earth.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough took turns on Wednesday carefully packing and safely attaching cargo inside the U.S. space freighter. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) joined ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet installing science freezers containing research samples inside the Cargo Dragon for analysis back on Earth.

Hoshide, a three-time station veteran, began his day setting up the Astrobee robotic helpers inside the Kibo laboratory module. The toaster-sized robotic free-flyers then performed maneuvers using programs written by Japanese and American students competing in a robotics challenge. The event is designed to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to improve space-based and Earth-bound technologies.

Pesquet and NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei partnered up for a space exercise study inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module on Wednesday morning. The duo each spent about an hour on Destiny’s exercise cycle wearing sensors and breathing equipment to measure how working out affects pulmonary function in weightlessness.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy started his morning servicing a variety of Russian life support gear and electronics hardware before an hourlong cardiac study. Pyotr Dubrov, a first time space-flyer from Roscosmos, joined Novitskiy for the cardiac study that measured their heart function during a rest period with electrocardiogram sensors. Dubrov then spent the day removing camera gear from the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft and downloading imagery captured during Tuesday’s relocation maneuver.

Crew Gets Ready for Russian, U.S. Spaceship Activities This Week

The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module are pictured above Hurricane Henri in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 21, 2021.
The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module are pictured above Hurricane Henri in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 21, 2021.

A Soyuz crew ship with three Expedition 65 crew members aboard will move to a new docking port on Tuesday. Two days after that a U.S. cargo craft will depart the International Space Station and return to Earth packed with science experiments and station hardware for retrieval.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship when it switches ports on Tuesday. The trio will undock from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. EDT. Then they will maneuver temporarily toward the U.S. segment for a quick photo session of the orbiting lab’s configuration. Shortly afterward, Novitskiy will manually guide the Soyuz spaceship back toward the Russian segment and dock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module at 9 a.m.

This opens up Rassvet’s port for next month’s arrival of the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship carrying veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and two Russian spaceflight participants to the station. NASA TV will begin its live Tuesday coverage of the relocation at 8 a.m. on the NASA app and the agency’s website.

While the station trio ramps up for the docking port change, two NASA astronauts are loading the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship today with science gear and other cargo. Flight Engineer Megan McArthur started her day transferring cargo inside the Dragon vehicle. NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough configured science freezers inside Dragon that will contain research samples for analysis back on Earth.

Cargo Dragon leaves the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter on Thursday at 9:05 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast Dragon’s undocking and departure starting at 8:45 a.m. but will not be on air when the returning spacecraft splashes down off the coast of Florida about 14 hours later.

Science rolled on today, as Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and  ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet partnered up during the afternoon for space biology work in the Kibo laboratory module. The duo later prepared research samples for return to Earth inside Dragon’s science freezers.

Space Biology, Dragon Packing and Station Traffic Fill Crew Schedule

A portion of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured at lower left as the space station orbited above northern France.
A portion of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured at lower left as the space station orbited above northern France.

Rodent research, microbe sampling and Dragon packing filled the Expedition 65 crew’s day at the end of the week aboard the International Space Station. Three orbital residents are also preparing their Soyuz crew ship to switch docking ports next week.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough started their day observing mice once again inside the Life Science Glovebox (LSG) located in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. The space biology study is helping scientists identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes.

Assisting the duo, ESA (European Space Agency) Thomas Pesquet continued the mice observations during the afternoon. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei handled the LSG set up and closeout operations during Friday’s experiment work.

During the afternoon, McArthur swabbed and collected microbe samples from surfaces in the station’s U.S. segment. She photographed the surface areas and stowed the samples for later analysis to document the types of microbes living on the orbiting lab.

Vande Hei and Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration (JAXA) spent a couple of hours on Friday loading the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship for return to Earth. The Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter on Thursday at 9:05 a.m. EDT. It will parachute to a splashdown off the coast of Florida several hours later for retrieval by SpaceX and NASA personnel.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov reviewed the procedures today and the path they will take when their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft moves to a new port. Vande Hei will join his Russian crewmates when they undock from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. on Tuesday. They will temporarily maneuver toward the station’s U.S. segment where they will photograph the orbiting lab’s configuration. Shortly after that, they will move back toward the Russian segment and redock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module at around 9 a.m.

The Russian segment’s Zvezda service module fired its engines for less than a minute today slightly lowering the space station’s orbit. The deorbit boost, as it is called, places the station at the correct phase ahead of the arrival of the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the departure of the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship in October.

Space Biology and Upcoming Spaceship Relocation Keep Crew Busy

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The Expedition 65 astronauts are moving full speed ahead today studying how living in space affects skin processes. The International Space Station is also gearing up for a busy period of spaceship activities.

Rodents continue to be observed aboard the orbiting lab today so scientists can identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes. The Rodent Research-1 Demonstration will take place until next week when the mice are transferred into the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle for return and examination on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough partnered with ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet for the space biology study today taking place inside the Kibo laboratory module. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is assisting the astronauts with the rodent research, helping them with operations in the Life Science Glovebox.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spent Thursday morning exploring how weightlessness affects microbes living on the station. He extracted DNA earlier this week from microbe samples he swabbed from surfaces inside the station. Today, Hoshide prepared the DNA for onboard sequencing to help researchers understand the microbial environment of the station and future spacecraft.

In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are familiarizing themselves with the procedures for next week’s relocation of their Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. The duo, along with Vande Hei, will take a short ride in the Soyuz on Tuesday when they undock from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. EDT.

They will temporarily maneuver toward the station’s U.S. segment where they will photograph the orbiting lab’s configuration. Shortly after that, they will move back toward the Russian segment and redock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module module at around 9 a.m.

Crew Studies How Space Affects Skin Before Station Traffic Increases

Astronaut Megan McArthur takes a midday break inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
Astronaut Megan McArthur takes a midday break inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

The Expedition 65 astronauts worked on a biology study today exploring how long-term microgravity affects skin and the healing process. Three other crewmates are gearing up for next week’s relocation of their Soyuz crew ship to the International Space Station’s newest science module.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough continued the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration on Tuesday. The space biology study seeks to identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes. The rodents will be returned to Earth late next week on the Cargo Dragon vehicle for further examination.

The pace of traffic at the orbiting lab picks up next week as three crewmates prepare to move their Soyuz crew ship to a new port. Two days later, a U.S. resupply ship will be next when it departs the station to return to Earth loaded with cargo and science experiments.

Three station crew members will enter their Soyuz MS-18 crew ship next Tuesday and take a short ride to another port. The trio, led by cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy flanked by NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, will first back away from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. EDT. It will dock less than 45 minutes later to Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Next Thursday, the SpaceX Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter at 9:05 a.m. It will splashdown off the coast of Florida about 14 hours later where SpaceX and NASA personnel will retrieve the vehicle and begin unpacking its precious cargo.