Dragon Attached to Station for Month-Long Stay

Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked to the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:47 a.m. EST.

The 19th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,700 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong
Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks
NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Next up, the station crew will be preparing for the arrival early Monday morning of a second resupply spacecraft. The Russian Progress 74 that launched Friday at 4:34 a.m. is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking at 4:45 a.m.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Capture Dragon Filled With Brand New Science

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship approaches the International Space Station over the Atlantic Ocean.

International Space Station was traveling more than 262 miles over the south Pacific Ocean, Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) grappled Dragon at 5:05 a.m. EST using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2 with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. Coverage may be adjusted as needed. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

Here’s some of the research arriving at station:

A Better Picture of Earth’s Surface
The Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) is a next-generation, hyperspectral Earth imaging system. Every material on Earth’s surface – rocks, soil, vegetation, snow/ice and human-made objects – has a unique reflectance spectrum. HISUI provides space-based observations for tasks such as resource exploration and applications in agriculture, forestry and other environmental areas.

Malting Barley in Microgravity
Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity tests an automated malting procedure and compares malt produced in space and on the ground for genetic and structural changes. Understanding how barley responds to microgravity could identify ways to adapt it for nutritional use on long-duration spaceflights.

Spread of Fire
The Confined Combustion investigation examines the behavior of flames as they spreads in differently shaped confined spaces in microgravity. Studying flames in microgravity gives researchers a better look at the underlying physics and basic principles of combustion by removing gravity from the equation.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Broadcasts Dragon’s Arrival at Station on Sunday

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured on May 18, 2014, attached to the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station tomorrow morning Dec 8, with an expected capture of the cargo spacecraft around 5:30 a.m. EST. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4 a.m. Watch live at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will grapple Dragon with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup. NASA’s Jessica Meir will assist the duo by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. Coverage of robotic installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 7:30 a.m.

Dragon lifted off on Thursday, Dec. 5, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The cargo spacecraft with more than 5,700 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory. Dragon will join three other spacecraft currently at the space station

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew Preps for Two Space Deliveries Racing to Station

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter and Russia's Progress 74 resupply ship blast off to resupply the space station
(At left) The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX with the Dragon space freighter on top lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (At right) Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Two space deliveries are racing to the International Space Station and the Expedition 61 crew is getting ready to receive them. Several tons of science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware are in orbit right now to replenish the orbiting laboratory.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship blasted off this morning from Kazakhstan and is on its way to the station’s Pirs docking compartment for a linkup on Monday morning. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will be on duty monitoring the 74P’s automated docking at 5:38 a.m. EST.

The SpaceX Dragon commercial space freighter will arrive first on Sunday and astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan will be waiting in the cupola to capture it. The duo will carefully guide the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Dragon at 5:30 a.m. Mission controllers will take over then remotely control the Canadarm2 and install the U.S. cargo craft to the Harmony module.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are configuring the space station for the new research gear Dragon is delivering on Sunday. Morgan and Parmitano will also be unloading the multitude of science experiments and critical research samples.

Northrop Grumman deorbited one of its two Cygnus resupply ships in space today four months after it departed the orbiting lab.  It orbited Earth for a series of engineering tests before it was commanded to reenter the atmosphere and burn up safely over the Pacific Ocean.  The most recent Cygnus is still attached to the space station’s Unity module and targeted to leave in mid-January.

US Space Freighter Heads to Station, Russian Cargo Craft Follows

A mission controller in Houston watches the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship blast off
A mission controller in Houston watches the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship blast off from Florida.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is on its way to the International Space Station packed with science and supplies for the Expedition 61 crew. Russia’s Progress 74 cargo craft will soon follow the U.S. spaceship with a launch set for Friday morning.

Dragon blasted off from Florida on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST carrying nearly three tons of cargo. Included in the space shipment are new science experiments such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan will capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Sunday at approximately 6 a.m. Robotics controllers on Earth will take over the Canadarm2 and remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module.

Russia’s’ Progress 74 resupply rocket stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan counting down to a Friday launch at 4:34 a.m. It will arrive Monday loaded with new station hardware and crew supplies. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will monitor the 74P’s automated docking to the Pirs docking compartment at 5:38 a.m.

Back inside the orbiting lab, a variety of space biology research took place today to understand how weightlessness affects the human body long term. Morgan and fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir collected and spun their blood samples in a centrifuge for the Fluid Shifts study. Meir then joined Parmitano for eye checks during the afternoon.

Parmitano started his morning installing cell research hardware in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch serviced the Bio-Monitor, a wearable device that monitors a crewmember’s vital signs real-time.

SpaceX Delays Launch One Day, Russia Rolls Out New Cargo Rocket

Russia's Progress 74 cargo rocket
Russia’s Progress 74 cargo rocket rolls out its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Energia

The Expedition 61 crew will wait an extra day for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft from Roscosmos rolled out to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

High upper level winds forced SpaceX to scrub today’s launch of its 19th Dragon resupply ship aboard a Falcon 9 rocket today. Mission personnel are now targeting a launch less than 24 hours later on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST from Florida.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Sunday at approximately 6 a.m. Dragon will deliver nearly three tons of cargo including new experiments such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

The duo along with NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch had a light-duty day today. The quartet focused on housecleaning duties in the station’s U.S. segment following a busy period of spacewalks and space biology research.

The 74P resupply rocket from Russia is now standing vertical at the launch site in Kazakhstan having rolled out early Wednesday morning from its processing facility. It will blast off Friday at 4:34 a.m. loaded with new station hardware and crew supplies. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will monitor its arrival on Monday when the 74P automatically docks to the Pirs docking compartment on Monday at 5:38 a.m.

Crew Training for Two New Cargo Missions Launching This Week

Astronaut Luca Parmitano
Astronaut Luca Parmitano carries the new thermal pump system that was installed on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) during the third spacewalk to upgrade the AMS.

The Expedition 61 crew aboard the International Space Station is focusing on a pair of upcoming cargo deliveries after completing a spacewalk on Monday.

SpaceX will launch its 19th Dragon resupply ship aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday at 12:51 p.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon is delivering nearly three tons of cargo to the orbiting lab including new science hardware such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Saturday at 5:58 a.m. Robotics controllers will take command of the Canadarm2 and then install Dragon to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port.

Parmitano and Morgan wrapped up a spacewalk on Monday having replaced a thermal pump system on the station’s cosmic particle detector. They joined fellow astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch at the end of the day Tuesday with a call to Mission Control about their spacewalk experience.

The space station is also preparing for the arrival of Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft set for launch on Friday at 4:34 a.m. The 74P will take a three-day trip to the station and dock Monday Dec. 9 at 5:38 a.m. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka checked out the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit (TORU) today in the unlikely event they would need to remotely maneuver the 74P to a docking.

Disease Therapy Research Ahead of Cargo Traffic and Spacewalks

Astronaut Andrew Morgan of NASA
Astronaut Andrew Morgan, whose U.S. spacesuit is outfitted with a variety of tools and cameras, holds on to a handrail during the second spacewalk to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. View more spacewalk imagery.

Thanksgiving week starts with the Expedition 61 crew exploring the stresses microgravity imposes on organisms at the cellular level. The International Space Station is also ramping up for cargo traffic and another spacewalk in December.

The astronauts in the U.S. segment of the orbiting lab focused their attention today on identifying the cellular changes caused by weightlessness. Observations may provide doctors with advanced therapeutic insights into diseases afflicting humans on Earth and ailments that affect astronauts in space.

Two more spacewalks are scheduled to service an astrophysics device, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), searching for clues to the origin of the universe. Astronauts Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano will continue the complex work on Monday, Dec. 2 at 6:50 a.m. EST to replace the AMS thermal control system.

Russia’s Progress 73 cargo craft will compete its 121-day mission attached to the Pirs docking compartment this Friday and undock for a fiery disposal above the south Pacific. It will be replaced when the Progress 74 resupply ship launches Dec. 6 and docks to Pirs on Dec. 8.

SpaceX is targeting Dec. 4 for the launch if its 19th commercial cargo mission to the space station. The Dragon space freighter would arrive on Dec. 7 delivering a variety of brand new research gear including Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite, or HISUI.

Crew Returns to Science After Coordinating Space Traffic

NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts science operations
NASA astronaut Christina Koch conducts science operations inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module with a science freezer that preserves biological research samples for later analysis.

The Expedition 60 crew is back on track with ongoing space research today after coordinating a flurry of space traffic at the International Space Station. The astronauts are also continuing to clean up after last week’s spacewalk.

The SpaceX Dragon is back on Earth after splashing down Tuesday afternoon in the Pacific Ocean. The commercial space freighter delivered critical science experiments to the station last month and returned samples for scientists around the world to analyze.

Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) took turns today organizing spacewalking tools in the U.S. Quest airlock. Morgan also cleaned cooling loops inside the U.S. spacesuits he and fellow astronaut Nick Hague wore last week to install the International Docking Adapter-3.

Parmitano also documented his meals today for a space nutrition study sponsored by ESA. Living in microgravity for a long time impacts the body and nutritionists are seeking the ideal diet to maintain astronaut health.

Astrobee, the free-flying robotic assistant, was testing and calibrating its mobility today inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module as NASA astronaut Christina Koch monitored. She also printed new station emergency procedures to accommodate a pair of Russian Soyuz crew ships that were required to switch docking ports.

The hatches are open on the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft after its automated docking to the Zvezda service module Monday night. Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov will be unloading space cargo from the MS-14 over the next several days before packing it with return gear. The Soyuz will parachute back to Earth in Kazakhstan with no crew onboard and carrying cargo on Sept. 6.

Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific Ocean Packed With Science and Cargo

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured above the Canadian Rocky Mountains
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured above the Canadian Rocky Mountains after it departed the International Space Station today. Credit: @Astro_Christina

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 4:21 p.m. EDT (1:21 p.m PDT), approximately 300 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s 18th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The spacecraft returned more than 2,700 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo.

Some of the scientific investigations Dragon will return to Earth include:

Bio-Mining in Microgravity

The Biorock investigation provides insight into the physical interactions of liquid, rocks and microorganisms in microgravity and improving the efficiency and understanding of mining materials in space. Bio-mining eventually could help explorers on the Moon or Mars get needed materials on site, lessening the need for precious resources from Earth and reducing the amount of supplies explorers must take with them.

Mechanisms of Moss in Microgravity

Space Moss compares mosses grown aboard the space station with those grown on Earth to determine how microgravity affects its growth, development, and other characteristics. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars. This investigation also could yield information that aids in engineering other plants to grow better on the Moon and Mars, as well as on Earth.

 Improving Tire Manufacturing from Orbit

The Goodyear Tire investigation uses microgravity to push the limits of silica fillers for tire applications. A better understanding of silica morphology and the relationship between silica structure and its properties could provide improvements for increased fuel efficiency, which would reduce transportation costs and help to protect Earth’s environment.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations aimed at keeping astronauts healthy during space travel and demonstrating technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, including missions to the Moon by 2024 and on to Mars. Space station research also provides opportunities for other U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments, and products that improve life on Earth.

For more than 18 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,500 research investigations from researchers in 106 countries.

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.