Emergency Training, Eye Checks Ahead of Spacewalks

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy is pictured in his U.S. spacesuit halfway inside the crew lock portion of the Quest airlock during a spacewalk on July 1, 2020.
Astronaut Chris Cassidy is pictured in his U.S. spacesuit halfway inside the crew lock portion of the Quest airlock during a spacewalk on July 1, 2020.

The International Space Station was a hive of activity today with the Expedition 63 crew practicing emergency skills, examining eyes and studying water conservation. Two astronauts also will continue more battery swaps in a pair of spacewalks set to begin next week.

Living 260 miles above the Earth and orbiting the planet 16 times a day presents a unique set of risks that space residents must be prepared for. Today, NASA Commander Chris Cassidy joined Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner for a simulated emergency evacuation of the station. The trio spent the afternoon practicing quickly entering their Soyuz MS-16 crew ship for a rapid undocking and Earth re-entry.

Afterward, Cassidy partnered up with his fellow NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken for eye exams at the end of the day. Hurley led the effort as the Crew Medical Officer and used optical coherence tomography gear to scan the retinas of his two crewmates.

Behnken and Cassidy are set to go out on two more spacewalks scheduled for July 16 and 21. The duo will continue replacing aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the starboard portion of the station’s truss structure. The batteries store and release power collected from the orbiting lab’s main solar arrays.

Robotics controllers overnight commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to replace a failed remote power control module (RPCM) on the port truss segment. The replacement restores redundancy to the solar alpha rotary joint after the old RPCM failed last week.

In the Russian side of the station, Vagner primarily worked on housekeeping chores as he checked water tanks and cleaned air filters. Ivanishin spent some time photographing the effects of Earth catastrophes and exploring how international crews and ground controllers communicate with each other.

Russian Cargo Ship Leaves, Crew Tests Dragon’s Comfort Factors

July 8, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the HTV-9 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Russia's Progress 75 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.
July 8, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the HTV-9 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Russia’s Progress 75 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft departed the International Space Station today leaving four spaceships from the U.S., Russia and Japan parked at the orbital lab. It will be replaced in two weeks when the Progress 76 arrives to replenish the crew.

The 74P undocked today at 2:23 p.m. EDT after seven months attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-packed resupply ship will descend into Earth’s atmosphere above the South Pacific for a fiery but safe demise. The 76P will take its place when it launches on July 23 at 10:26 a.m. and docks just three-and-a-half hours later to Pirs.

Four out of the five Expedition 63 crew members assessed comfort factors inside the docked SpaceX Crew Dragon today. This is a demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s habitability ahead of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission planned for later this year.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who piloted the Crew Dragon, will be joined by station Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for the one-hour habitability test. The crew will arrange the cabin to suit the four space residents and report their comfort levels to engineers on the ground.

While they were setting up Crew Dragon for the test, the three NASA astronauts also had time for ultrasound eye scans, microfluid studies and orbital plumbing work. The two cosmonauts, including Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner, juggled a variety of Russian space research and tested Soyuz crew ship communications gear.

New Satellites Set for Deployment, Cargo Craft Ready for Departure

(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).
(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

The Expedition 63 crew readied a pair of tiny satellites for deployment and finished packing a Russian cargo craft for departure. The International Space Station residents also checked on BEAM today then worked on life support and computer maintenance.

Two CubeSats were installed inside a NanoRacks small satellite deployer this morning for release into Earth orbit later this week from outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy set up the satellite gear and placed it inside Kibo’s airlock for retrieval by the Japanese robotic arm. One satellite will demonstrate the performance of a tiny but powerful exo-planet telescope, while the other will test returning small payloads safely into Earth’s atmosphere.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship has been packed with trash and obsolete gear and is ready to end its seven-month stay at the orbiting lab. Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner finalized the cargo transfers today before closing the 74P’s hatch and performing the standard spacecraft leak checks. The 74P will undock Wednesday at 2:23 p.m. EDT from the Pirs docking compartment and descend into Earth’s atmosphere over the South Pacific for a fiery disposal.

BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, has been attached to the station since 2016 and is currently being used as a storage space. NASA Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken opened up and entered BEAM today to check sensor batteries and retrieve charcoal filters. The sensors monitor BEAM’s pressure and environment while the filters remove impurities from the station’s atmosphere.

The duo also worked on a variety of lab maintenance tasks keeping the station in tip-top shape. Hurley worked on orbital plumbing and checked computer connections. Behnken set up the charcoal filters from BEAM and upgraded software on a laptop computer dedicated to operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

Cargo and Science Operations Start Work Week

 The SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Japan's HTV-9 resupply ship figure prominently in this photograph taken during the July 1 spacewalk.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship figure prominently in this photograph taken during the July 1 spacewalk.

A Russian cargo craft is due to depart the International Space Station in the middle of the week after seven months on orbit. The five-member Expedition 63 crew stayed busy all-day Monday continuing the upkeep of space research gear and life support hardware.

The Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship is being packed with trash and obsolete gear today ahead of its undocking on Wednesday at 2:23 p.m. EDT. The 74P has been attached to the Pirs docking compartment since Dec. 9 where it docked carrying nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the orbital residents. After separating from the station, the 74P will fire its deorbit engines over the South Pacific and burn up safely in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Progress 76 (76P), the next cargo ship to replenish the crew, is scheduled to launch on July 23 and dock to Pirs just two orbits later. The station will slightly lower its orbit on Saturday to accommodate the approach and rendezvous of 76P. This follows last week’s orbital maneuver to boost the station out of the way of a piece of rocket debris near its flight path.

Amidst the cargo craft operations, the space lab residents serviced a variety of advanced science equipment today. The gear work is continuing the numerous space experiments benefiting humans on Earth and in space.

Commander Chris Cassidy stowed satellite deployment gear before cleaning a specialized furnace that enables observation of materials heated to extreme temperatures. Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken juggled an array of orbital plumbing, computer maintenance, light installation and sensor battery swap tasks.

Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack to continue safe fuel and flame research. Fellow cosmonaut Ivan Vagner checked smoke detectors and photographed the Earth while wrapping up cargo operations in the 74P. The duo started the day measuring their body mass using a device that applies a known force to the crew member with the resulting acceleration providing a mass calculation.

Astronauts Check Suits Following Spacewalk

Astronaut Bob Behnken works during a spacewalk to swap an aging nickel-hydrogen battery for a new lithium-ion battery.
Astronaut Bob Behnken works during a spacewalk to swap an aging nickel-hydrogen battery for a new lithium-ion battery.

Spacesuit checks were on the schedule today for the Expedition 63 crew following a spacewalk to replace aging batteries on the International Space Station. The orbital residents also juggled a variety of science activities.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken are back to work today after Wednesday’s spacewalk to swap batteries and route cables on the station’s Starboard-6 truss structure. The duo recharged batteries and refilled water tanks inside their U.S. spacesuits. Flight Engineer Doug Hurley also joined the pair in the afternoon for eye scans with an ultrasound device.

All three astronauts called down to Mission Control today and briefed specialists with the results of the mission’s second spacewalk. Station managers will assess the orbital lab’s upgraded power status before scheduling more battery swap spacewalks later this month.

Cassidy also configured cables on a specialized furnace before uploading new software to the high-temperature research device. Hurley worked with experiment hardware that seeks to better control the separation of blood cells and plasma to improve medical diagnostic devices.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner partnered up Thursday morning for cardiac research. The duo is studying how the heart reacts to a unique suit that reverses the flow of blood towards the head caused by weightlessness. The pair then split up for life support maintenance and radiation checks.

Cassidy and Behnken Wrap Up Battery Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken is pictured tethered to the space station during a spacewalk to swap batteries on the orbiting lab's truss structure.
NASA astronaut Bob Behnken is pictured tethered to the space station’s truss structure during a spacewalk to swap batteries and route cables .

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken concluded their spacewalk at 12:14 p.m. EDT. During the six hour and one-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts completed half the work to upgrade the batteries that provide power for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.

They successfully moved and connected one new, powerful lithium-ion battery and its adapter place to complete the circuit to the new battery and relocated one aging nickel-hydrogen battery to an external platform for future disposal.

They also loosened the bolts on nickel-hydrogen batteries that will be replaced to complete the power capability upgrade on the far starboard truss and complete the station’s battery replacement work that began in January 2017 with the first series of power upgrade spacewalks. Behnken and Cassidy will complete the work during the final two spacewalks later this month.

Cassidy and Behnken also will route power and ethernet cables in preparation for the installation of a new external wireless communications system with an enhanced HD camera and to increase helmet camera coverage for future spacewalks. To support future power system upgrades, they also will remove a device called an “H-Fixture” that was installed before the solar arrays were launched to the space station.

This was the eighth spacewalk for both each astronaut. Cassidy now has spent a total of 43 hours and 22 minutes spacewalking. Behnken has now spent a total of 49 hours and 41 minutes spacewalking.

Space station crew members have conducted 229 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 60 days and 34 minutes working outside the station.

At 4 p.m. today, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will discuss her upcoming second mission to the International Space Station, along with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, during a news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston that will be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency’s website.

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

Astronauts Spacewalking Live Now on NASA TV

NASA astronauts (from top) Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken work on U.S. spacesuits inside the International Space Station's Quest airlock.
NASA astronauts (from top) Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken work on U.S. spacesuits inside the International Space Station’s Quest airlock.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken have begun the second of two scheduled spacewalks to replace batteries on one of two power channels on the far starboard truss (S6 Truss) of the International Space Station.

The spacewalkers switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:13 a.m. EDT to begin the spacewalk, which may last as long as seven hours.

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

Cassidy is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the spacesuit with red stripes, and using helmet camera #18. Behnken is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the spacesuit with no stripes and helmet camera #20. It is the eighth spacewalk for both astronauts and the 229th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

The spacewalkers will be removing the sixth nickel-hydrogen battery for this channel and replace it with a new lithium-ion battery and an adapter plate that arrived on a Japanese cargo ship last month. The swap will upgrade the station’s power supply by replacing the batteries that store power generated by the station’s solar arrays and provide it to the microgravity laboratory when the station is not in sunlight as it circles Earth during orbital night.

Cassidy and Behnken also will route power and ethernet cables and do work to prepare for future power system upgrades.

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

NASA TV is Live Now as Astronauts Get Ready for Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is pictured during a spacewalk in July of 2013
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is pictured during a spacewalk in July of 2013 when he was an Expedition 36 Flight Engineer.

NASA Television coverage of today’s spacewalk with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken is now underway and available on the agency’s website.

The crew members of Expedition 63 are preparing to venture outside the International Space Station for a spacewalk expected to begin at approximately 7:35 a.m. EDT and last as long as seven hours.

The crew is in the airlock and have put on their spacesuits in preparation to exit the airlock and begin today’s activities working on one of two power channels on the far starboard truss (S6 Truss) of the station.

The primary tasks for today are to install one more lithium-ion battery and one more adapter plate and remove the sixth nickel-hydrogen battery that will no longer be used. The batteries store electricity for one pair of the station’s solar arrays. They also will do some advance work for the final two spacewalks for the battery upgrades, route power and ethernet cables to provide better views on future spacewalks, and release a device in support of future power system upgrades.

Leading the mission control team today is Flight Director Royce Renfrew with support from Jaclyn Kagey as the lead spacewalk officer.

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

NASA TV Goes Live Wednesday to Broadcast Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken (at left) is pictured during a spacewalk to swap batteries on June 26.
NASA astronaut Bob Behnken is pictured during a spacewalk to swap station batteries on June 26.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken are scheduled to depart the International Space Station’s Quest airlock Wednesday for a spacewalk to complete battery replacement activities to upgrade one of two power channels on the station’s far starboard truss (S6 Truss). The upgrade includes removing six aging nickel-hydrogen batteries and replacing them with three new lithium-ion batteries and the adapter plates that complete the power circuit to the new batteries.

The duo will set their spacesuits to battery power about 7:35 a.m. EDT Wednesday, signifying the start of their spacewalk, which will last between six and seven hours. NASA will begin its live coverage on NASA Television and the agency’s website at 6 a.m.

In a prior spacewalk June 26, Cassidy and Behnken began the work to complete the upgrade to this initial power channel, additionally completing some of the tasks originally scheduled for today. The remaining tasks for today are to install one more lithium-ion battery and one more adapter plate and remove the sixth nickel-hydrogen battery that will no longer be used. NASA animation depicts the originally scheduled spacewalk activities. The new lithium-ion batteries  arrived on a Japanese cargo ship last month.

New tasks added for tomorrow’s spacewalk include loosening the bolts on the nickel-hydrogen batteries that will be replaced during two future spacewalks to complete the power capability upgrade on the far starboard truss and complete the station’s battery replacement work that began in January 2017 with the first series of power upgrade spacewalks.

Cassidy and Behnken also will route power and ethernet cables in preparation for the installation of a new external wireless communications system with an enhanced HD camera and to increase helmet camera coverage for future spacewalks. To support future power system upgrades, they also will remove a device called an “H-Fixture” that was installed before the solar arrays were launched to the space station.

This will be the 229th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Cassidy again will be extravehicular crew member 1, wearing the spacesuit with red stripes, while Behnken will be extravehicular crew member 2, wearing the spacesuit with no stripes. It will be the eighth spacewalk for each astronaut.

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

 

Astronauts Finalize Preps Before Wednesday’s Battery Spacewalk

Expedition 63 crewmates assists spacewalkers
Spacewalkers Bob Behnken (far left) and Chris Cassidy (far right) are suited up with assistance from Expedition 63 Flight Engineers (middle left) Doug Hurley and Ivan Vagner (middle right) ahead of their June 26 spacewalk.

The Expedition 63 crew is set for its second spacewalk on Wednesday at 7:35 a.m. EDT to continue upgrading International Space Station power systems.

Commander Chris Cassidy will lead the spacewalk and exit the Quest airlock in the U.S. spacesuit with the red stripes. He’ll be followed by Flight Engineer Bob Behnken in his spacesuit with no stripes.

Both astronauts are being joined today by Flight Engineer Doug Hurley as they finalize procedure reviews, organize tools and perform suit leak checks before tomorrow’s spacewalk. Hurley will be on duty helping the spacewalkers in and out their spacesuits and monitoring the excursion. Roscosmos cosmonaut Ivan Vagner will assist the NASA trio on Wednesday.

Cassidy and Behnken have one more aging nickel-hydrogen battery to remove from the Starboard-6 truss structure and place into an external pallet. They will replace it with a new lithium-ion battery that will channel power collected from the station’s main solar arrays. After that work, the duo will move on and route power and ethernet cables before going back inside the orbiting lab to wrap up their spacewalk.

NASA TV starts its live coverage of Wednesday’s spacewalk, planned to last about six-and-a-half hours, at 6 a.m. Station managers will assess the results of the battery swaps before scheduling more power upgrade spacewalks planned for later this month.