Spacewalkers Complete First Excursion to Repair Cosmic Particle Detector

Luca Parmitano of ESA attached to the Canadarm
Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) attached to the Canadarm during the first Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer repair spacewalk on Nov. 15, 2019

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan concluded their spacewalk at 1:18 p.m. EST. During the six hour and 39 minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully positioned materials, removed a debris cover on the AMS, and installed handrails in preparation for the subsequent spacewalks.

The duo also completed a number of get-ahead tasks originally planned for the second spacewalk, including the removal of the vertical support beam cover for the area that houses the eight stainless steel tubes that will be cut and spliced together on the upcoming spacewalks.

Today’s work clears the way for Parmitano and Morgan’s next spacewalk in the repair series Friday Nov. 22. The main focus of the second spacewalk will be the access, cut, and label the stainless steel tubes that attach the current cooling system to the AMS. The plan is to bypass the old thermal control system, attach a new one off the side of AMS during the third spacewalk, and then conduct leak checks.

In addition to the overall complexity of the instrument, astronauts have never before cut and reconnected fluid lines, like those that are part of the AMS thermal control system, during a spacewalk. To cut the cooling lines and complete other tasks in this series of spacewalks, scientists, engineers and astronauts on Earth have gone through several iterations of designing, prototyping, experimenting and validating many specialized tools in preparation for the complex work in space.

Space station crew members have conducted 222 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 58 days 3 hours and 8 minutes working outside the station. Parmitano has now conducted three spacewalks in his career and Morgan has now logged four spacewalks since his arrival on the station in July.

Keep up with the crew aboard the International Space Station on the agency’s blog, follow @ISS on Instagram, and @space_station on Twitter.

Veteran Spacewalkers Begin Complex Work to Repair Cosmic Particle Detector

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and ESA Commander Luca Parmitano
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Luca Parmitano work inside the Quest airlock to prepare for their space walk to upgrade the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) thermal control system.

Two astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 6:39 a.m. EST aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about six-and-a-half hours. Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will venture outside the International Space Station for the first in a series of complex spacewalks to replace a cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a cosmic ray detector.

Parmitano is designated extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes, and with the helmet camera labeled #11. Morgan is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes, and with helmet camera #18.

During the first spacewalk in the series to repair the AMS, the astronauts will position materials, remove a debris cover on the AMS, and install handrails in preparation for the subsequent spacewalks.

AMS is a joint effort between NASA and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and is led by Principal Investigator Samuel Ting, a Nobel laureate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The AMS team includes some 600 physicists from 56 institutions in 16 countries from Europe, North America and Asia. AMS has been capturing high-energy cosmic rays to help researchers answer fundamental questions about the nature of antimatter, the unseen “dark matter” that makes up most of the mass in the universe, and the even-more-mysterious dark energy that is speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.

NASA TV Broadcasts Particle Detector Spacewalk Repairs on Friday

ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan.
ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan.

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will begin a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station at about 7 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 15. NASA Television coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 5:30 a.m.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

The two astronauts will venture outside the International Space Station for the first in a series of complex spacewalks to replace a cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a cosmic ray detector. The upgraded cooling system will support AMS through the lifetime of the space station.

Parmitano and Morgan have spent dozens of hours training specifically for the AMS repair spacewalks. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will help Parmitano and Morgan suit up for the spacewalks and will maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm to help position the spacewalkers around the AMS repair worksite.

These spacewalks are considered the most complex of their kind since the Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions. The AMS originally was designed for a three-year mission and, unlike Hubble, was not designed to be serviced once in space. More than 20 unique tools were designed for the intricate repair work, which will include the cutting and splicing of eight cooling tubes to be connected to the new system, and reconnection of a myriad of power and data cables. In addition to the overall complexity, astronauts have never before cut and reconnected fluid lines, like those that are part of the cooling system, during a spacewalk.

Watch the briefings from this Tuesday for more detail:

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Final Spacewalk Preps During Biology, Physics Studies

The six-member Expedition 61 crew
The six-member Expedition 61 crew, wearing t-shirts printed with their crew insignia, gathers for a playful portrait inside the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module. From left are, Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan, Oleg Skripochka, Jessica Meir, Christina Koch and Alexander Skvortsov and Commander Luca Parmitano.

The Expedition 61 crew is about to kick off a series of complex spacewalks on Friday to repair the International Space Station’s cosmic particle detector. They will have one more spacewalk review today while continuing advanced biology research.

Spacewalkers Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan readied the Quest airlock, their U.S. spacesuits and tools for Friday’s excursion set to begin at 7:05 a.m. EST. The duo then joined Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch for a final procedures review. All four astronauts called down to Mission Control to discuss their readiness with spacewalk experts on the ground. Live NASA TV coverage begins at 5:30 a.m.

Meir and Koch spent the rest of Thursday on space research and lab upkeep. Meir conducted a test run of a 3-D bioprinter before the device will manufacture complex human organ tissue shapes. Koch measured airflow in the station then serviced microbe samples to extract and sequence their DNA.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka focused on their complement of science and maintenance in the station’s Russian segment. Skvortsov updated cargo inventory and explored plasma physics for insights into advanced spacecraft designs. Skripochka collected radiation readings and studied how a crew adapts to piloting in space.

Space Gardening Aboard Station Ahead of Spacewalks

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir dines on fresh Mizuna mustard greens
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir dines on fresh Mizuna mustard greens she harvested aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 61 crewmembers started taking turns “weighing in” Wednesday before a slew of space gardening and life science activities. The orbital residents are also nearing the start of a series of spacewalks to repair the International Space Station’s cosmic particle detector.

Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion allows for the calculation of mass in space using a variant of the equation — force equals mass times acceleration. Each crewmate attached themselves to a device this morning that applies a known force to the subject. The resulting acceleration provides a value used to calculate an astronaut’s mass.

It is harvest time once again aboard the orbiting lab. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch cut leaves from Mizuna mustard greens grown inside ESA’s (European Space Agency) Columbus lab module. Half of the space crop is destined for crew tasting while the other half was stowed in science freezers for analysis on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan is getting ready for Friday’s spacewalk with ESA Commander Luca Parmitano. Morgan reviewed robotics activities planned for Friday’s excursion and checked spacewalking gear. The duo will set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power at 7:05 a.m. EST inside the Quest airlock signifying the start of their spacewalk. NASA TV begins its live coverage at 5:30 a.m.

Parmitano focused on science today attaching electrodes to himself after his “weigh-in” to measure any changes to his body fat. Afterward, he collected noise level measurements in Russia’s Zarya module. He then set up samples in the U.S. Destiny lab module to explore how fluids behave in microgravity to improve medical conditions on Earth.

Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka handed over radiation detectors to Meir for deployment in the station’s U.S. segment. He later joined cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov and recorded video to share historical space accomplishments with Russian audiences.

Crew Preps for Friday Spacewalk During Continuous Science

Astronauts (from left) Luca Parmitano, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan
Astronauts (from left) Luca Parmitano, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are pictured at the robotics workstation inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

The International Space Station’s cosmic particle detector, in operation since 2011, will get its first repair job during a series of spacewalks set to start this Friday. The Expedition 61 crew is gearing up for the spacewalk while ensuring ongoing advanced space research.

Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will lead at least four excursions into the vacuum of space to upgrade the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will assist the commander as they cut and reconnect fluid lines on the AMS’ thermal control system. The AMS captures cosmic particles and measures their electrical charge in its search for antimatter and dark matter.

NASA TV begins its live spacewalk coverage Friday at 5:30 a.m. EST. Parmitano and Morgan will set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power at 7:05 a.m. signifying the start of their spacewalk.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch will support the duo on Friday. Meir will be in charge of the Canadarm2 robotic arm while Koch manages the U.S. spacesuits. All four astronauts gathered today and reviewed robotics procedures for the spacewalk repairs.

Life science and space physics also took up a portion of the crew’s schedule today. Koch checked out hardware on a 3-D bioprinter and watered plants as Meir fed lab mice. Morgan and Parmitano serviced biology and fluids research gear.

In the Russian segment of the station, a pair of cosmonauts packed a resupply ship for its Nov. 29 departure while working science and life support maintenance. Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov researched plasma crystals for an experiment that may inform future spacecraft designs. Oleg Skripochka checked the Zarya module’s power supply system before plumbing work and computer maintenance.

Crew Focuses on Cosmic Repair Spacewalks, Practices Medical Emergency

Expedition 61 crewmates Christina Koch, Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov practice emergency response skills aboard the space station. Image Credit: NASA
Expedition 61 crewmates Christina Koch, Luca Parmitano and Alexander Skvortsov practice emergency response skills aboard the space station. Image Credit: NASA

The Expedition 61 crew is focusing on a complex series of spacewalks set to start soon to repair a cosmic particle detector. The orbital residents also conducted an emergency drill aboard the International Space Station today.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are familiarizing themselves with new spacewalking gear delivered aboard the Cygnus space freighter. The duo will use the new tools and hardware on a series of spacewalks to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) thermal control system.

The spacewalks will highlight advanced repair techniques, including cutting and reconnecting fluid lines, never performed during a spacewalk. Parmitano and Morgan are set to venture outside the station on Friday Nov. 15 to begin the first of at least four spacewalks to upgrade the AMS, a device that searches for dark matter and antimatter.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch joined the upcoming spacewalkers today and reviewed tools and procedures for the excursions. The quartet then called Mission Control for a conference with experts on the ground about their spacewalking duties.

At the end of the workday, all six crew members, including cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka, practiced responding to an emergency simulation. The crew reviewed safety and medical gear, translated evacuation paths, practiced chest compressions (CPR) and coordinated communications.

The space station raised its orbit during the crew’s sleep period Thursday night when Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship fired its thrusters for six minutes and 45 seconds. Now orbiting a mile higher at its perigee, the orbital complex is at the correct altitude for Russia’s next resupply ship, Progress 74, to dock on Dec. 3 after it launches Dec. 1.

Expedition 61 Crew Servicing Spacesuits and Science Hardware Today

Astronaut Christina Koch works on orbital plumbing tasks
Astronaut Christina Koch works on orbital plumbing tasks as she replaces components inside the International Space Station’s bathroom.

The Expedition 61 crew serviced a variety of science and life support hardware today aboard the International Space Station. U.S. spacesuits are also being readied for a series upcoming cosmic repair spacewalks.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will enter the vacuum of space on Nov. 15 to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Christina Koch of NASA is preparing the U.S. spacesuits and cleaning the components ahead of at least four planned AMS repair spacewalks. The spacewalking duo will perform the complex repairs necessary to upgrade the dark matter and antimatter detector’s thermal control system.

In the meantime, Morgan focused on science hardware and set up experiment gear containing materials for exposure in the harsh environment of space. He installed three experiment carriers inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock before depressurizing it. Japan’s robotic arm will grapple the carriers and deploy them outside Kibo. The research is testing how cosmic radiation, extreme temperatures and other space phenomena affect a variety of samples.

Science freezers that preserve critical research samples for analysis had their systems checked today by NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir. She also replaced components on a 3-D bioprinter, also called the BioFabrication Facility. The device is testing the manufacturing of complex human organ tissue shapes in space.

Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov is packing trash and obsolete gear inside the Progress 73 (73P) resupply ship. The 73P will undock from the Pirs docking compartment on Nov. 29 for a fiery but safe disposal over the southern Pacific.

Blood Pressure, DNA Studies as Astronauts Prep for Complex Spacewalk Repairs

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
Astronauts (from left) Christina Koch and Jessica Meir practice the Canadarm2 robotics techniques they would use to capture the Cygnus space freighter when it arrived Nov. 4.

The Expedition 61 crew explored how microgravity is affecting a variety of biological processes in humans and microbes today. Two astronauts are also gearing up for tentatively planned spacewalks to repair a cosmic particle detector.

Aging on Earth and living in space impacts an individual’s blood pressure with some astronauts experiencing stiffened arteries after returning to the ground. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir investigated the phenomena today attaching electrodes to her leg and scanning her veins with an ultrasound device. Doctors on Earth will review the downloaded data with results informing potential therapies for Earth-bound and space-caused ailments.

Microbes live everywhere including inside the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is sequencing DNA collected from microbial samples swabbed from inside the orbiting lab. Observations may provide insights into the genetic adaptations taking place to survive in weightlessness.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan are studying the complex spacewalk procedures required to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). At least four spacewalks are scheduled, the first of which will be on Friday, Nov. 15. The dates for the other spacewalks are under review and will be scheduled in the near future.

The duo have begun unpacking the AMS tools and hardware delivered aboard the Cygnus resupply ship on Monday. The eight-and-a-half year-old device, which searches for signs of dark matter and antimatter, will have its thermal control system upgraded over a series of soon-to-be scheduled spacewalks.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka explored their set of human research in the station’s Russian segment today. The duo researched the space-caused loss of bone mass and the interactions between international crews and mission controllers during long-duration missions.

U.S. Cygnus Cargo Ship Reaches Orbit for Monday Delivery

The Antares rocket lifts off on time
The Antares rocket lifts off on time from Virginia carrying the Cygnus cargo craft to orbit. Credit: NASA TV

On the anniversary of the arrival of the first crew members to live aboard the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply spacecraft is on its way to the station with nearly 8,200 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 9:59 a.m. EDT Saturday, Nov. 2 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At the time of lift off, the International Space Station was traveling over the south Atlantic southwest of Cape Town, South Africa, at an altitude of 257 statute miles.

The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops. Automated command to initiate solar array deploy will begin about 2 hours and 53 minutes after launch (about 12:53 p.m.). Solar array deployment will take about 30 minutes. Confirmation of solar deployment will be shared on the launch blog and social media at @NASA_Wallops and  @space_station.

Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory around 4:10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 2:45 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Expedition 61 astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus, while NASA’s Andrew Morgan monitors telemetry. The spacecraft is scheduled to stay at the space station until January.

The Cygnus spacecraft for this space station resupply mission is named in honor of NASA astronaut Alan Bean. The late Apollo 12 astronaut flew to the Moon on Apollo 12 and became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface. This is Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo flight to the space station, and the first under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA, will support dozens of new and existing investigations.

Follow the Cygnus spacecraft’s arrival to the orbiting laboratory on the space station blog and by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as theISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.