Japanese Space Freighter Launch to Station Live on NASA TV

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center

NASA has begun live launch coverage of the Japanese cargo spacecraft carrying more than four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) spacecraft is scheduled to launch on a Japanese H-IIB rocket at 1:31 p.m. (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

This will be the final flight of this class of resupply spacecraft, named “Kounotori” – the Japanese word for white stork. The cargo craft launched on its maiden mission to the orbiting laboratory in September 2009. JAXA is developing a new class of HTV vehicles that will provide a reusable pressurized cargo section and the ability to carry more cargo due to its lighter weight. The new HTV-X vehicles will dock automatically to the station’s International Docking Adapters with the first flight scheduled in 2022.

Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Japan Ready for Cargo Launch, Crew Works Science and Emergency Procedures

The city lights of Japan
The city lights of Japan, with Tokyo at bottom, seemingly trail off onto into an orbital sunrise as the space station orbited 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

Japan is less than a day from launching its ninth mission to resupply the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the three-member Expedition 63 crew continued space science operations and practiced for an emergency.

More than four tons of crew supplies, station experiments and lithium-ion batteries are ready to head to the station inside the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9). The spacecraft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will lift off from the Tanegashima Space Center on Wednesday at 12:31 p.m. EDT (1:31 a.m. May 21 Japanese time).

The HTV-9 will arrive at the orbiting lab on Monday, May 25 for a robotic capture with the Canadarm2 at 8:15 a.m. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy brushed up on his robotics skills today and will lead the capture activities from the cupola. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the HTV-9’s approach and rendezvous. NASA TV is covering all the HTV-9 launch and capture activities live.

Vagner started Tuesday checking out medical gear for ear, nose and throat exams and ended the day synchronizing cameras in the station’s Russian segment. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin continued servicing the Combustion Integrated Rack as he swapped out fuel bottles inside the device that enables fuel, flame and soot research in microgravity.

Finally, the crew gathered together during mid-afternoon and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the unlikely event of an emergency. The trio practiced communicating with Houston and Moscow mission controllers, checked out safety gear and reviewed evacuation paths and procedures.

Crew Preps for Japanese Cargo, Studies Effects of Planetary Missions

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm during Expedition 56.

Japan’s ninth mission to resupply the International Space Station has been given a “go” to launch on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The Expedition 63 crew continues prepare for its arrival and robotic capture on Memorial Day.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will be in the cupola on May 25 to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple the Japanese resupply ship at 8:15 a.m. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner is backing up Cassidy and will monitor the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) as it approaches the orbiting lab. The duo continued their HTV-9 mission training and practiced capture techniques on a computer during the afternoon

NASA TV will be live broadcasting the HTV-9 launch and capture activities. HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of crew supplies, station experiments and lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries will be installed during a spacewalk at a later date to continue upgrading station power systems.

Meanwhile, space research operations and lab maintenance activities are ongoing as the three-member crew orbits Earth.

The commander started the day on a study that could inform the fabrication of materials in space or on the Moon. He serviced samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory that enables safe research into a variety of materials such as metals, alloys, semiconductors, etc… At the end of the day, Cassidy also explored how different gravity conditions could affect planetary surfaces impacting future spacecraft designs.

Vagner joined veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and spent midday inventorying maintenance and repair equipment. Ivanishin was also on heart research duty today exploring how blood circulation adapts to the conditions of microgravity.

Japanese Cargo, SpaceX Crew Dragon Activities Ramping Up

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley participate in a fully integrated test of SpaceX Crew Dragon flight hardware at the SpaceX processing facility in Florida on March 30.

The International Space Station is getting ready for a new Japanese cargo mission and the first Commercial Crew before the end of the month.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy joined Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner Friday afternoon to train for the arrival of a Japanese cargo craft after it launches on May 20 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The duo practiced the robotic capture techniques they will use when they command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-9) when it arrives on May 25 at 8:15 a.m.

The HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of food, fuel and supplies including new lithium-ion batteries to finish updating the station’s power systems. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.

Two days after the arrival of Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship, the first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will lift off from Florida to the orbiting lab aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are in preflight quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center counting down to their May 27 launch at 4:33 p.m.

The veteran astronauts, representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, will approach the station May 28 and dock to the Harmony Module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter at 11:39 a.m. They will open the hatch about two-and-a-half hours later to join the Expedition 63 crew and ramp up space science activities.

Station Trio Checks Eyes, Keeps Lab in Tip-Top Shape

The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station
The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station with (from left) NASA astronaut and Commander Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

The Expedition 63 crew focused its attention today on maintaining International Space Station systems and keeping the orbiting lab in tip-top shape. More eye checks were also on the schedule as doctors seek to protect crew vision in microgravity.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA started his morning organizing science hardware inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency (ESA). He reconfigured radiation detection gear and adjusted research racks to install stowage bags and create more space inside Columbus. Afterward, Cassidy removed an atmosphere monitor from the U.S. Destiny laboratory module then reinstalled and activated it inside the Harmony module.

The veteran NASA astronaut also partnered once again with experienced Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for another eye exam, this time using optical coherence tomography gear. Crew members have reported vision issues and scientists are exploring why and seek to ensure healthy eyes while living in space.

Ivanishin, who is on his third station spaceflight, spent Thursday morning servicing power systems in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab. Before wrapping up his day with eye checks, he replaced Russian thermal sensors and updated the station’s inventory management system.

First time space-flyer Ivan Vagner participated in a variety public affairs events for Russian media. He had a live event in the morning where he discussed living aboard the space station. He also recorded messages celebrating Russian space achievements to be broadcast on Earth at later date. Vagner ended his day checking out spacecraft systems inside the Progress 75 cargo craft.

Japanese Resupply Ship, SpaceX Crew Dragon Nearing Launch Dates

Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.

A Japanese cargo ship is poised to resupply the Expedition 63 crew just as a U.S. space freighter has completed its stay at the International Space Station. The three station residents are also getting ready to welcome two Commercial Crew members in just over two weeks.

Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo mission (HTV-9) is due to lift off on May 20 aboard an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center. The cargo craft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is delivering fresh food and supplies, new science experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems.

The HTV-9 will arrive at the station on May 25 where Commander Chris Cassidy, with Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner as back up, will capture the cargo craft with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Ground controllers will take over afterward and remotely install the HTV-9 to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port where it will stay for two months.

Just two days later, NASA will launch the first crew from the United States since 2011 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will take a 19-hour trip to the station while testing systems inside the Crew Dragon. It will automatically dock on May 28 to the International Docking Adapter located on the Harmony module’s forward port. After the hatches open, the duo will join the Expedition 63 crew to ramp up science and maintenance operations aboard the orbiting lab.

Cygnus Ready for Science After Departure, Commander Takes Break

The wispy atmospheric layer of the air glow
The wispy atmospheric layer of the air glow crowns the Earth’s horizon in this nighttime photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited over the South Atlantic Ocean.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship is packed for departure on Monday and will continue more science before its ultimate demise at the end of May. Meanwhile, two Expedition 63 Flight Engineers are maintaining International Space Station operations as the Commander takes a break today.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is relaxing today ahead of this weekend’s activities to ready a U.S. space freighter for its robotic release on Monday at noon EDT. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the cargo ship’s release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm beginning at 11:45 a.m.

The space veteran spent the week loading up the Cygnus space freighter with trash and preparing it for more science. Shortly after its departure, a controlled fire will be lit inside Cygnus for ongoing research into space fire safety. Next, tiny space research satellites, also known as CubeSats,  will be deployed outside the vehicle to improve space communications and GPS mapping technology.

Robotics controllers also attached the popular, but now-defunct HDEV (High Definition Earth Viewing) experiment on the outside of Cygnus for disposal. HDEV reached its end-of-life last year after five years in service providing live views of Earth to over 300 million viewers. The U.S. cargo craft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere at the end of the month for a fiery, but safe disposal above the South Pacific.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner started Friday studying how the heart adapts to a specialized suit that reverses the pooling of blood and water in a crewmember’s head caused by microgravity. They also took turns with an ongoing study that seeks to improve the detection and location of Earth landmarks for photography.

Ivanishin, a veteran of two previous station missions, then updated station inventory with the new cargo recently delivered aboard the Progress 75 cargo ship. Vagner, a first-time space flyer, collected radiation measurements and inspected the Zvezda service module’s windows.

Crew Preps for U.S. and Japanese Cargo Missions

The U.S. Cygnus cargo craft (left) from the United States departs the station on Monday. The H-II Transfer Vehicle (right) from Japan arrives at the station on April 25.
The U.S. Cygnus cargo craft (left) from the United States departs the station on Monday. The H-II Transfer Vehicle (right) from Japan arrives at the station on April 25.

The Expedition 63 crew will monitor the departure of an American resupply ship on Monday and welcome a Japanese cargo craft when it arrives two weeks later. Meanwhile, the three International Space Station residents are configuring the orbital lab for the spaceship activities and continuing microgravity science.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is nearing the end of its stay attached to the Unity module. Robotics controllers on the ground will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Cygnus from Unity then release the U.S. cargo craft on Monday noon EDT. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy will finalize the installation of the SlingShot small satellite deployer on Cygnus’ hatch on Sunday.

NASA TV will begin its live broadcast of Cygnus’ release and departure at 11:45 a.m. on Monday. Cygnus will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere over the south Pacific for a safe, but fiery destruction at the end of the month.

Japan is targeting May 20 for the launch of its ninth station cargo mission aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) resupply ship. The HTV-9 will launch from the Tanegashima Space Center and a take five-day trip to the orbital lab. It will be captured with the Canadarm2 and installed to the Harmony module for a two-month stay.

NASA Commander Chris Cassidy is setting up HTV-9 communications gear today inside the Kibo laboratory module from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). The Proximity Communication Systems (PROX) sends and receives spacecraft location and speed data during approach and rendezvous operations.

The two cosmonauts continued their set of maintenance and science duties today over in the station’s Russian segment. Anatoly Ivanishin picked up a camera for more photo inspections in the Pirs and Poisk modules. The veteran cosmonaut then serviced power tools and life support gear. Ivan Vagner started his day cleaning vents and filters. In the afternoon, Vagner photographed the effects of Earth catastrophes and studied ways to improve the identification and location while picturing targets on the ground.

Robotics, Cargo Mission and Photography Keep Station Crew Busy

63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant
63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant, one of a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robots, for a test of its mobility and vision system.

NASA’s International Space Station commander configured robotic assistants today while continuing to get ready for next week’s U.S. cargo craft departure. The two Expedition 63 Flight Engineers from Roscosmos explored advanced space photography techniques and inventoried electronics gear.

Three-time space visitor Chris Cassidy is readying a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robotic assistants for upcoming operations. The NASA astronaut and Navy captain swapped batteries in the advanced devices being tested for their ability to autonomously navigate the station and service small payloads. The program dubbed Astrobee is researching the potential of small robots to perform routine duties and monitor activities freeing up crew time for critical science.

A U.S. space freighter will leave the station Monday after nearly three months attached to the Unity module. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm at noon EDT on Monday completing its cargo mission.

Not only is Cygnus being packed with trash, but Cassidy prepared it for secondary missions to research space fires and deploy a set of CubeSats. Once Cygnus reaches a safe distance from the orbital lab, a small satellite deployer configuring on its hatch will eject a pair of nanosatellites. The shoe box-sized research satellites will research ways to improve space communication techniques and GPS mapping systems.

Over in the Russian segment, cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner concentrated on their set of tasks to maintain station operations. Ivanishin, who is on his third station mission, started his day with Vagner studying techniques to accurately detect and locate landmarks to improve Earth observations.

Ivanishin then spent the rest of the day servicing Russian life support gear and communications systems. First-time station resident Vagner inventoried electrical gear and checked network connections throughout the station’s five Russian modules.

Station Trio Works Spacesuits, Science as SpaceX Readies Crew Launch

The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station
The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station with (from left) NASA astronaut and Commander Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

Spacesuits, photo inspections and pilot studies kept the Expedition 63 crew busy aboard the International Space Station today. Meanwhile, the Commercial Crew Program is getting ready to launch its first crewed mission.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA spent most of Tuesday inside the Quest airlock where spacewalks in U.S. spacesuits are staged. The veteran space visitor serviced the spacesuits today replacing components and cleaning cooling loops. NASA is planning a series of spacewalks later this year to upgrade power and science systems on the orbiting lab.

Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, a veteran of two previous station missions, spent his morning photographing the interior condition of the Zarya and Pirs modules. Russian mission controllers will inspect the photos to determine areas necessary for repair as well locations for the installation of future science experiments.

First-time space station resident Ivan Vagner began his day exploring ways crews might pilot spacecraft and robotic rovers on future planetary missions. In the afternoon, the Roscosmos cosmonaut moved on and serviced a variety of communications and life support gear.

Back on Earth, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is being processed at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first crew since 2011 to launch aboard an American spacecraft.

The duo will be inside the Crew Dragon atop the Falcon 9 rocket when it lifts off May 27 for a 19-hour trip to the space station. The experienced NASA astronauts will join the Expedition 63 crew for several weeks to ramp up science activities aboard the orbiting lab.