SpaceX engineers swapped out a suspect thrust vector control actuator in the second stage of their Falcon 9 rocket that halted Tuesday’ s launch of its Dragon commercial cargo craft. Dragon’s launch atop the Falcon 9 is now set for Saturday at 4:47 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m.
Thursday’s Expedition 42 science highlights included a pair of advanced remote control experiments inside the International Space Station. One experiment is studying the feasibility of controlling robots on the ground from space with a crew member using an advanced joystick that provides haptic feedback. The other uses bowling ball sized satellites, known as SPHERES, programmed by competing teams of high school students to accomplish tasks relevant to future space missions.
Another experiment is researching acoustic methods for locating punctures on the outside of the space station caused by human activity or micrometeoroid impacts. Crew members also studied the plasma environment in the station and photographed the ongoing man-made and natural changes to the Earth’s surface.
The six-member Expedition 42 crew had the day off and relaxed Wednesday for the Russian Christmas holiday. Meanwhile, SpaceX engineers in Florida worked to troubleshoot an issue in the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that halted Tuesday’ s launch of its Dragon commercial cargo craft.
Dragon’s launch atop the Falcon 9 rocket is now set for Saturday at 4:47 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m. SpaceX’s fifth cargo mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract will arrive at the International Space Station on Monday culminating in the robotic capture of Dragon around 6 a.m. Live NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m.
Expedition 42 will wait a few more days for a delivery from the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft. Its launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket was aborted Tuesday morning with one minute, 21 seconds left on the countdown clock. SpaceX is evaluating the issue and will determine the next opportunity to launch the company’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The next available opportunity to launch to the station would be Friday, Jan. 9.
Meanwhile, the six member crew stuck to its task list of science benefiting life on Earth and in space as well as advanced maintenance of the orbital laboratory.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti participated in a study observing the aging of skin and tested an X-ray device that measures bone density in space. Flight Engineer Terry Virts opened the Fluids Integrated Rack to prepare samples for the Advanced Colloids Experiment-Microscopy-3 study. Commander Barry Wilmore conducted plumbing and ventilation fan cleaning tasks.
Cosmonaut Elena Serova deployed dosimeters for a radiation detection study and downloaded data collected from an earthquake experiment. Alexander Samokutyaev took photographs and recorded video documenting life on the station before an afternoon of maintenance in the Russian segment. Anton Shkaplerov disinfected the area behind panels in the Zvezda service module.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for this morning at 6:20 a.m. EST aborted with one minute, 21 seconds left on the countdown clock. A thrust vector control actuator for the Falcon 9’s second stage failed to perform as expected, resulting in a launch abort. SpaceX is evaluating the issue and will determine the next opportunity to launch the company’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The next available opportunity to launch to the station would be Friday, Jan. 9.
The first full work week of 2015 for Expedition 42 includes advanced science, high-flying plumbing and preparations for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon. The Dragon commercial craft is due to launch Tuesday at 6:20 a.m. and be captured at the International Space Station about 48 hours later.
Commander Barry Wilmore worked on the European Space Agency experiment Haptics-1 testing the remote control of robots on the ground from orbit using a joystick. He later joined Flight Engineer Terry Virts gathering tools for a trio of spacewalks tentatively planned for February that will ready the station for future commercial crew and cargo vehicles.
Virts started Monday with a periodic fitness evaluation as he and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took turns on an exercise cycle. Virts then moved on to plumbing work replacing a dose pump in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. Cristoforetti then participated in an educational experiment that explores the possibility of using plants to produce food and oxygen on the station.
In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova studied ways to detect micrometeoroid impacts at the station, worked on maintenance and photographed windows for a contamination inspection.
The Expedition 42 crew orbiting Earth on the International Space Station gets the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve a whopping 16 times as it circles the globe at 17,500 miles an hour.
Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, say they plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts. The year 2015 starts officially for the station crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in London. The crew is scheduled to be in its sleep shift, but may elect to stay up late since it has a day off planned for New Year’s Day.
The crew spent New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments, ranging from those directed at better understanding changes that occur in the human eye during long-duration spaceflights, and with Earth observations aimed at helping with disaster aid on the Earth’s surface.
The crew also continued preparations for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship, the commercial resupply mission of SpaceX-5 and the Dragon spacecraft. Launch of Dragon on a Space-X Falcon 9 booster is planned for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 5 a.m.
Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Thursday, Jan. 8, and Wilmore will use the 58-foot robotic arm to grab the Dragon by its tail and berth if to the station. Grapple is expected about 6 a.m. NASA Television coverage of the grapple starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and installation coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. Dragon is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.
A series of briefings outlining Dragon’s mission and the scientific research it will be carrying is planned Monday, Jan. 5.
The six Expedition 42 crew members started Christmas week with a replanned schedule after SpaceX postponed its Dragon launch until Jan. 6. The crew would have been unloading new science and cargo from Dragon had it arrived Sunday but instead turned its attention to ongoing science and maintenance.
Commander Barry Wilmore worked on the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test experiment that will help scientists design higher quality consumer products that will last longer. Wilmore also joined NASA astronaut Terry Virts for an interview with CBS Morning News and WBAL Radio in Baltimore, Md.
Virts meanwhile continued preparing for the arrival of Dragon as he collected gear to be stowed on the commercial cargo craft for return to Earth. He also packed trash in Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, which will undock in February for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti spent a few minutes Monday talking to Giorgio Napolitano, the president of Italy, who was addressing the nation’s military forces. Later, Samantha collected biological samples for stowage in a science freezer and worked inside the Materials Science Laboratory.
NASA and SpaceX announced Thursday the launch of the Dragon commercial cargo craft is now scheduled for no earlier than Jan. 6. The six-member Expedition 42 crew postponed its Dragon mission preparations and focused on eye exams and station maintenance.
Veteran astronaut Terry Virts, who previously piloted space shuttle Endeavour in 2010, worked on the Sabatier system which produces water on the International Space Station. He also joined Commander Barry Wilmore and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti for a series of eye exams during the morning and afternoon.
Wilmore and Cristoforetti also partnered up for work on the Columbus lab module’s BioLab facility, which allows experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants, and small invertebrates.
The three cosmonauts – Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and Elena Serova – were back at work on more maintenance inside the Zarya cargo module and ongoing Russian science in their segment of the orbital laboratory.
NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6. This will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further some of the issues that arose from the static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year.
Beta angles are the angles between the space station orbital plane and the sun, resulting in the station being in almost constant sunlight for a 10 day period. During this time, there are thermal and operational constraints that prohibit Dragon from berthing to the station. This high beta period runs from Dec. 28 through Jan. 7.
The new launch date also will allow the teams to enjoy the holidays.
Space station managers will meet on Monday, Jan. 5, for a thorough readiness review in advance of the Jan. 6 launch attempt. The launch postponement has no impact on the station’s crew, its complement of food, fuel and supplies and will not impact the science being delivered to the crew once Dragon arrives at the station.
A launch on Tuesday, Jan. 6, is scheduled at approximately 6:18 a.m. EST. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5 a.m.
A backup launch attempt is available on Wednesday, Jan. 7.
A launch on Jan. 6 will result in a rendezvous and grapple of Dragon on Thursday, Jan. 8, at approximately 6 a.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. Installation coverage will begin at 9 a.m.
Prelaunch briefings at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will be rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 5 with the times to be determined.
For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit:
The International Space Station crew has been working on a variety of robotics activities this week. On Wednesday, they tested a humanoid robot and explored how bowling ball-sized satellites, known as SPHERES, can navigate around objects. Crew members trained earlier in the week for the planned Sunday capture of the Dragon spacecraft using the 57.7 foot Canadarm2.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts unpacked Robonaut 2 so that payload controllers from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama could power up its new legs for the first time. Robonaut’s legs, which arrived on a previous SpaceX mission, were installed in August. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti downloaded SPHERES data demonstrating how the small free-floating satellites build 3D maps of objects and interact and navigate using those 3D models.
Cristoforetti also joined Commander Barry Wilmore removing a small satellite deployer, nicknamed CYCLOPS, from Japan’s Kibo lab module for troubleshooting. Afterward, Wilmore conducted a vision test and set up a multipurpose experiment platform in Kibo.
Veteran cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov installed more overlay sheets inside the Zarya cargo module. New cosmonaut Elena Serova conducted a photographic inspection of the interior panels of the Zvezda service module. The trio also worked a wide variety of science including studies of bioelectric cardiac activity and the effects that earthquakes and human activities have on Earth’s ionosphere.