The Expedition 61 crew split its time today between upcoming spacewalk preparations and continuous microgravity research. SpaceX is also preparing for a final test of its commercial crew ship before it launches humans.
The International Space Station is bustling with activity as two astronauts keep their U.S. spacesuits ready for another spacewalk set for Monday at 6:50 a.m. EST. NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch will wrap up installing new lithium-ion batteries upgrading the orbiting lab’s power systems. NASA TV will start its live coverage at 5:30 a.m.
The spacewalking duo also had time for science work in their busy schedule today. Koch provided inputs on how spaceflight is impacting her cognition and documented her meals for a nutrition study. Meir also documented her nutritional intake before researching how flames spread in space.
The Commercial Crew Program is set for a critical milestone as SpaceX readies its Dragon crew ship for major test. The uncrewed Crew Dragon vehicle will blast off atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday at 8 a.m. and demonstrate its ability to safely escape in the event of a launch failure.
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch will conduct the first two spacewalks scheduled for Jan. 15 and Jan. 20. The duo will finish replacing older nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the station’s Port-6 truss structure. They spent Wednesday reviewing spacewalk procedures and inspecting spacesuit tethers.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft splashed down at 10:42 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean about 271 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s 19th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.
A key component being returned aboard Dragon is a faulty battery charge-discharge unit (BCDU), which failed to activate following the Oct. 11 installation of new lithium-ion batteries on the space station’s truss. The BCDU was removed and replaced during a spacewalk Oct. 18 by Expedition 61 flight engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA. The unit are being returned to teams on Earth for an evaluation and repair.
Dragon launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Dec. 5 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and arrived at the station two days later with almost 3,400 pounds of science, supplies and cargo.
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.
Filled with almost 3,600 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo, a SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft is set to leave the International Space Station Tuesday, Jan. 7. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 4:45 a.m. EST.
Dragon will be released from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module after flight controllers at mission control in Houston deliver remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 61 Station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will back up the ground controllers and monitor Dragon’s systems as it departs the orbital laboratory. The spacecraft is scheduled for release at approximately 5:03 a.m. EST.
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 in the Pacific Ocean, 202 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, at approximately 10:41 a.m. (7:41 p.m. PST). There will be no live coverage of deorbit burn or splashdown.
The SpaceX Dragon is due to leave the International Space Station on Tuesday and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean loaded with critical science and station hardware for analysis. The Expedition 61 crew worked over the weekend and into Monday finalizing cargo transfers.
NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are carefully packing research samples including live mice inside Dragon for retrieval and analysis on Earth. Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will close the hatches and conduct leak checks before robotics controllers uninstall Dragon from the Harmony module on Monday night.
Most of the crew will be asleep as Parmitano monitors Dragon’s release from the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Tuesday at 5:03 a.m. EST. The U.S. space freighter will orbit Earth a few more hours before parachuting to a splash down in the Pacific around 10:41 a.m. NASA TV will be live broadcasting Dragon’s departure starting at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday. Splashdown will not be seen on NASA TV.
The two veteran cosmonauts stayed focused on their Russian task list of space science and systems maintenance today. Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov started the day on plumbing duty before cleaning fans and filters. Oleg Skripochka worked on heart research before inventorying station tool kits.
Six humans from three countries will ring in the new year 16 times tonight from an average altitude of about 260 miles above the Earth’s surface. Before the Expedition 61 crew goes to bed tonight and relaxes on New Year’s Day, they are researching critical space science to benefit humans on and off Earth.
Fire safety is extremely important and even more so aboard a spacecraft. Flight Engineer Jessica Meir of NASA got to work using the Microgravity Science Glovebox and observed how different fabric and acrylic samples burn in microgravity. Space fires spread differently in confined spaces of different shapes and sizes. Scientists will use the data to improve products and procedures to save lives on the ground and in space.
A bone densitometer that images and measures the bone mass of mice living in space is being calibrated today. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan checked out the sensitive device to ensure accurate measurements. Morgan then switched from biology hardware to tiny satellites and tested formation flying using algorithms programmed in to the free-flying SPHERES.
Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) reconfigured a specialized incubator that uses a centrifuge to mimic different gravity environments for biology research. Afterward, he installed new components in a life support system that removes carbon dioxide from the station’s atmosphere.
A U.S. cargo craft is getting ready to depart the International Space Station early next week loaded with research results and degraded hardware for analysis on Earth. Meanwhile, the Expedition 61 crew explored a variety of space phenomena including how flames spread in weightlessness.
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is being configured for its departure on Jan. 5 after a month attached to the Harmony module. Dragon will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Sunday at 9:41 p.m. EST and splashdown in the Pacific off the coast California a few hours later.
NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan is leading the packing activities today with assistance from fellow NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch. The trio will be preserving and loading finalized experiment results inside Dragon. Obsolete hardware exposed to the harshness of space will also be returned to Earth for engineering inspections.
3-D surround video recordings of station science operations has been ongoing aboard the orbiting lab for months and today was no exception. Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) set up the unique video camera this morning to record him and Koch as they worked on combustion research. The duo burned acrylic and fabric samples in the Microgravity Science Glovebox to help scientists understand how flames expand in space to increase fire safety.
Parmitano and Meir also partnered together in the afternoon for life support maintenance tasks. The duo checked out hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module that condenses water vapor from air.
Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka spent Monday dividing their time between setting up communications gear and studying Russian science. The duo activated video hardware and explored advanced imaging techniques for locating targets on Earth to photograph.
It is back to work for the six-member Expedition 61 crew from the U.S., Russia and Italy after celebrating Christmas aboard the International Space Station. The space residents checked out BEAM and a commercial resupply ship and researched a variety of space phenomena.
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan opened up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) today for some housecleaning work. He and fellow NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch relocated gear stowed in front of BEAM’s hatch and sampled the module’s air and surfaces for microbes. BEAM has been attached to the station since April 2016.
Koch then moved on to loading cargo inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft due to return to Earth on January 5. Flight Engineer Jessica Meir started the packing work today as the crew readies research results for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean aboard Dragon.
Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) is also gathering hardware for return to Earth inside Dragon. He is packing the obsolete power and electronics gear retrieved during a series of spacewalks earlier this year. Engineers on the ground will analyze how years of exposure to the harsh space environment impacted the devices that powered multiple station systems.
Russia’s docked cargo craft, the Progress 74, will fire its engines twice beginning tonight to lift the station’s orbit to support Russian spacecraft activities in 2020. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka readied the orbital lab today and shuttered windows for the orbital reboost.
Advanced space research is in full gear aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 61 crew is activating new science gear and continuing long-running experiments to benefit humans on and off the Earth.
A specialized 3-D printer aboard the orbiting lab is testing printing cellular structures in space due to the detrimental effects of Earth’s gravity. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch has been operating the Bio-Fabrication Facility this week using “bio-inks” with more success than on the ground. The device is dedicated to manufacturing human organs, producing food and personalizing pharmaceuticals.
Koch and Meir also partnered together today to set up and calibrate a new bone densitometer in Japan’s Kibo lab module. The biology research gear will measure and image bone density in the mice living aboard the station.
Two new cargo spaceships are open for business at the International Space Station as a variety of new space research begins this week. The Expedition 61 crew has begun unpacking several tons new supplies from the U.S. and Russian space freighters.
NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch worked throughout Monday juggling numerous science and cargo activities. She was offloading new Dragon supplies and housing lab rodents delivered aboard the U.S. cargo craft.
Meir and Morgan started Monday with ultrasound scans of their veins and eye pressure checks for the Fluid Shifts study. Meir with assistance from Koch in the afternoon installed a bone densitometer in Japan’s Kibo lab module that will measure bone loss in microgravity.