Cygnus Spaceship at Launch Pad as Crew Trains for Delivery Mission

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket is seen as it rolls out to Pad-0A, Monday, April 15, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The next U.S. spaceship to deliver goods to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad in Virginia today. The Expedition 59 crew is training to capture the U.S. space freighter while also filming a virtual reality experience aboard the orbital lab.

Northrop Grumman is poised to launch its Cygnus resupply ship atop an Antares rocket Wednesday at 4:46 p.m. EDT. It will blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on a day-and-a-half long delivery trip to the station’s Unity module.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will be waiting for Cygnus’ arrival Friday morning from inside the cupola. McClain will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus about 5:30 a.m. as Saint-Jacques backs her up. Robotics controllers will take over shortly after and remotely install the Cygnus to Unity’s Earth-facing point about two hours later.

The duo, supported by NASA astronaut Nick Hague, continued reviewing procedures and practicing robotics maneuvers today as Cygnus counts down to its Wednesday launch. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.

More virtual reality filming continued today and has been ongoing for several months now inside the orbital complex. The crew has been filming a 360° experience depicting life on the station for future viewing by audiences on Earth.

More Brain and Breath Studies Top Research on Station Today

David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency trims NASA astronaut Anne McClain’s hair
The orbital lab becomes a high-flying hair salon as David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency trims NASA astronaut Anne McClain’s hair aboard the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew continued more brain and breath research aboard the International Space Station today. Along with a variety of other life science activities, the crew also filmed a virtual reality experience inside the station.

NASA is planning longer human missions, farther out in space and having a safe spacecraft atmosphere to breathe in is vitally important. Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Anne McClain spent most of Thursday helping doctors understand what exacerbates and how to alleviate the inflammation of an astronaut’s airways. The duo worked in the Quest airlock measuring and sampling their breath at a reduced air pressure.

Astronaut Christina Koch carried on today with more brain research then closed out the neuroscientific experiment. She worked with human research gear including the Cardiolab Portable Doppler and the Continuous Blood Pressure Device. The instruments measure blood pressure waveforms in the arteries and blood flow velocity to the brain. The data will help doctors understand how the brain regulates blood flow in microgravity.

Koch later videotaped herself in virtual reality for a film depicting life on the station. David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency set up the 360° camera inside the Unity module that links the station’s U.S. segment with the Russian segment. Saint-Jacques later collected his urine samples for stowage in a science freezer and later analysis.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin also explored an array of space phenomena today for the Roscosmos science program. The duo researched cardiovascular activity and enzyme reactions to give doctors better insight into crew health. The cosmonauts also photographed Earth landmarks to help predict catastrophes and studied how space crews relate to mission controllers on the ground.

Crew Trains to Capture U.S. Spaceship and Studies the Brain and Breathing

NASA astronaut Anne McClain
NASA astronaut Anne McClain is suited up in the U.S. Quest airlock preparing to begin what would be a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk on April 8, 2019.

The Expedition 59 crew is now training to capture a U.S. cargo ship when it arrives at the International Space Station next week. The orbital lab residents are also busy researching how living in space affects the human mind and body.

Fresh off their spacewalk Monday, astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are now practicing to capture Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. McClain will be at the robotics workstation in the cupola April 19 and command the Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus around 5:30 a.m. EDT. Saint-Jacques will back her up while Flight Engineer Nick Hague monitors Cygnus’ systems during its approach and rendezvous. The commercial cargo craft is due to launch April 17 at 4:46 p.m. from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Hague started his day with more brain research in the Japanese Kibo lab module. The NASA astronaut used a Doppler device to record his arterial blood flow waveforms. The data will help doctors understand how the brain regulates blood flow in microgravity.

The astronauts also researched how the station’s atmosphere affects breathing. The experiment studies how dust, particles and exhaled breath inflames a crewmember’s airways. Observations may reveal conditions that exacerbate or alleviate airway inflammation influencing future space missions.

SpaceX has announced April 26 as the launch date for its next Dragon cargo mission. The private space freighter will blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida arriving at the station April 28. This time Saint-Jacques will lead the robotics capture activities while Hague backs him up.

Post-Spacewalk Checkups and Space Research Before U.S. Cargo Deliveries

Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency
Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency takes a quick self portrait during a spacewalk while working outside the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew has switched focus from Monday’s spacewalk to microgravity science aboard the International Space Station. Soon, the orbital residents will be unpacking a pair of U.S. space freighters.

Astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are conducting their post-spacewalk medical checkups today. The astronauts measured their temperature, blood pressure, respiration and ear condition. After the checkups, the spacewalkers had their eyes scanned with an ultrasound device by Flight Engineer Nick Hague.

The spacewalking duo along with NASA astronaut Christina Koch also had an hour-long video debrief session with specialists on the ground. The crew and mission controllers discussed lessons they learned that could inform the planning of future spacewalks.

Koch spent most of her day on maintenance replacing science hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. The research device enables safe investigations of microgravity’s impacts on solid and gaseous fuel combustion aboard the orbital lab. Hague explored how blood flows to the brain for the Cerebral Autoregulation study. The brain research uses Doppler technology that measures blood flow waveforms to help doctors understand and treat space-caused lightheadedness.

With the recent series of spacewalks now complete, the crew will soon be turning its attention to the arrival of two resupply ships. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft and the SpaceX Dragon will each deliver science and supplies before the end of the month to replenish the space station crew. Cygnus is due to blast off for a three-month mission attached to the station’s Unity module April 17. Dragon is targeted to liftoff at the end of April for a month-long stay at the Harmony module.

U.S. and Canadian Astronauts Wrap Up Power Upgrades Spacewalk

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques
Astronauts Anne McClain (left) and David Saint-Jacques work outside the International Space Station during their spacewalk on April 8, 2019.

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency concluded their spacewalk at 2 p.m. EDT. During the six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully established a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, and installed cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability. The duo also relocated an adapter plate from the first spacewalk in preparation for future battery upgrade operations.

This was the third spacewalk in just under a month on the space station. The first two spacewalks installed powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station’s solar arrays. On March 22, the first spacewalk was completed by McClain and fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague. On March 28, the second spacewalk was completed by Hague and NASA astronaut Christina Koch.

  • March 22 was the first spacewalk for NASA astronauts Hague and McClain. McClain became the 13th female spacewalker in history.
  • March 29 also was the first spacewalk for NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who became the 14th female to complete a spacewalk.
  • Saint-Jacques became the first Canadian Expedition astronaut to walk in space and the fourth Canadian astronaut to spacewalk overall.
  • Space station crew members have conducted 216 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 56 days 10 hours and 53 minutes working outside the station.

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.

Astronauts Conducting Third Spacewalk to Upgrade Station Power Systems

NASA astronaut Anne McClain
NASA astronaut Anne McClain works outside the U.S. Quest airlock during a March 22, 2019, spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power storage capacity.

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques have begun the third spacewalk in under a month on the exterior of the International Space Station. Today’s spacewalk will work to establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, and install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

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

The spacewalkers set their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:31 a.m. EDT then exited the Quest airlock into the vacuum of space. The team will spend about six-and-a-half hours installing truss jumpers to provide a redundant power source for the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

This is the 216th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. McClain will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes. Saint-Jacques will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.

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

Monday’s Spacewalk Will Be Broadcast Live on NASA TV

NASA astronaut Anne McClain takes a "space-selfie"
NASA astronaut Anne McClain takes a “space-selfie” with her helmet visor up 260 miles above the Earth’s surface during a spacewalk on March 22, 2019.

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to conduct another spacewalk Monday, April 8, to establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, and install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website. Live coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 6:30 a.m., and is expected to last about 6.5 hours. The spacewalk is set to start at 8:05 a.m.

This will be the 216th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. McClain will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes. Saint-Jacques will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.

This is the third spacewalk in under a month on the space station. The first two spacewalks installed powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station’s solar arrays. On March 22, the first spacewalk in the series was completed by McClain and fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague. On March 29, the second spacewalk was completed by Hague and NASA astronaut Christina Koch.

The spacewalking work continues the overall upgrade of the station’s power system that began with similar battery replacement during spacewalks in January 2017.

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

Spacewalk This Monday Ahead of Two U.S. Cargo Missions This Month

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency
Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency works on a pair of U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock ahead of a trio of spacewalks to upgrade power systems on the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew is going into the weekend preparing for another spacewalk on Monday. The International Space Station residents also continue microgravity research as they wait for two U.S. cargo ships to arrive before the end of the month.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are getting their tools ready for another power upgrades spacewalk and will wrap up their final procedures review on Sunday. The spacewalkers will set their spacesuits to battery power around 8:05 a.m. EDT Monday signifying the start of their spacewalk and exit the space station’s Quest airlock.

The duo will work outside for about six-and-a-half hours installing truss jumpers to provide a redundant power source to the Canadarm2 robotic arm. McClain and Saint-Jacques will also install cables to update the station’s External Wireless Communications system. NASA TV starts its live coverage at 6:30 a.m. Monday.

Russia’s Progress 72 (72P) resupply ship delivered over 3.7 tons of food, fuel and supplies after docking to the Pirs docking compartment Thursday morning. Next up is Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter when it launches from Virginia on April 17 on a two-day ride to the station’s Unity module. SpaceX follows in late April when its Dragon cargo craft blasts off from Florida on a two-day trip to the orbital lab’s Harmony module.

Virtual reality filming and space research continued full pace inside the orbital lab today. Flight Engineer Christina Koch first strapped herself into an exercise bike to measure her aerobic capacity then set up a virtual reality camera inside the Unity module today. Nick Hague of NASA then recorded himself describing his space experiences for a short immersive, cinematic film.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin unloaded the new 72P and worked on an array of life science experiments in the orbital lab’s Russian segment. The duo photographed red blood samples and microbes to help doctors keep long-term crews healthy in space.

Express Delivery from Russia Brings 3.7 Tons of Station Supplies

Russia's Progress 72 resupply ship
Russia’s Progress 72 resupply ship approaches the International Space Station’s Pirs docking compartment today.

Traveling about 254 miles over central China, the unpiloted Russian Progress 72 cargo ship docked at 10:22 a.m. EDT to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex.

In addition to the arrival of Progress today, the crewmembers aboard the space station are scheduled to greet two other cargo resupply missions this month. Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket with Cygnus cargo spacecraft will launch from Pad 0A of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on April 17, followed the next week by the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft also is scheduled to launch from Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Russian Cargo Ship Reaches Space and Races to Station

Russia's Progress 72 resupply ship blasts off on time
Russia’s Progress 72 resupply ship blasts off on time from Kazakhstan to the International Space Station. Credit: Roscosmos

Carrying more than three-and-a-half tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 72 cargo spacecraft launched at 7:01 a.m. EDT (4:01 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. Following a 2-orbit rendezvous, the Russian cargo craft will dock to the orbiting laboratory at 10:25 a.m. NASA Television coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 9:45 a.m.

Progress 72 will remain docked at the station for about three months before departing in July for its deorbit in Earth’s atmosphere.

The Progress is the first of three cargo resupply ships delivering supplies to the six crewmembers aboard the space station this month. Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket with its Cygnus cargo spacecraft will launch from Pad 0A of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on April 17. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida the following week.

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