Astronauts Exploring Head, Eye Pressure and Genetic Alterations

Astronaut Kate Rubins
Astronaut Kate Rubins conducts research for the Heart Cells experiment inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox located in the U.S. Destiny lab module.

The crew aboard the International Space Station continued exploring the numerous ways living in space affects the human body and other organisms. The station residents also participated in an emergency simulation exercise.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka this week are exploring fluid shifts from an astronaut’s lower body to the upper body during long-term space missions. This phenomena that occurs in microgravity increases pressure on a crew member’s brain and eye structure potentially affecting vision.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins relocated an incubator that houses Heart Cells research samples from one science rack to another. Those samples will be analyzed on Earth when the SpaceX Dragon returns the research at the end of August. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi continued the upkeep of an experiment that is researching genetic alteration in mice and their offspring due to the microgravity environment.

All six Expedition 48 crew members joined each other in the afternoon to practice their response to an unlikely emergency situation. The astronauts and cosmonauts practiced communication and coordination in conjunction with Houston and Moscow control centers in response to emergency simulators.

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Crew Kicks off August on Variety of Advanced Space Research

South Pacific Ocean
The South Pacific Ocean was pictured as the station orbited at an altitude of 220 nautical miles and over a thousand miles away from the coast of South America. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

The six-member Expedition 48 crew participated in a series of experiments today exploring how living in space affects the human body. Also, a set of bowling ball-sized experimental satellites was set up for a student contest.

Scientists are sampling crew respiration today to understand the health impacts of living in the International Space Station’s closed atmosphere. Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi used a portable device measuring the amount of nitrogen that is exhaled and diffused in the blood.

Onishi also collected biological samples for the Multi-Omics study that is observing how the human immune system functions in space. Commander Jeff Williams set up hardware to research how upper body fluid shifts affect a crew member’s head and eye structure.

Williams then joined cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka configuring tiny internal satellites for a planned high school student competition next week. The contest, known as SPHERES Zero Robotics, uses student written algorithms to control small SPHERES satellites performing functions similar to a space mission.

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Human Research and Suit Preps before Mid-August Spacewalk

NASA Astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins
NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins work on a pair of U.S. spacesuits in the Quest airlock. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 48 crew continued researching how living in space affects the eyes and the brain today. Two NASA astronauts also are getting ready for a mid-August spacewalk to install a new docking port.

Commander Jeff Williams and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin participated in the Fluid Shifts experiment today. They used an ultrasound scan and a tonometer to monitor the fluid pressure in an astronaut’s head and eyes. Microgravity tends to shift fluids to the upper body increasing pressure in the head with some astronauts experiencing vision problems.

Williams then joined Flight Engineer Kate Rubins in the U.S. Quest airlock to resize a pair of spacesuits. The duo are scheduled for an Aug. 19 spacewalk to install an International Docking Adapter on the Harmony module.

The adapter will be removed from the SpaceX Dragon Aug. 17 during a six-hour robotic maneuver to place it in installation position. The adapters will enable future commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX to dock to the International Space Station.

New Heart and DNA Research in Space Benefiting Health

Astronaut Kate Rubins
Astronaut Kate Rubins works to set up a new microscope for the Heart Cells study. Credit: NASA TV

New science unloaded from the latest SpaceX Dragon to visit the International Space Station is under way. The variety of new and ongoing space research is designed to benefit life on Earth and astronauts on long duration missions.

Astronaut Kate Rubins, a biological researcher on Earth, is lifting her science expertise to new heights today setting up a microscope in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The new microscope will observe heart cells to help doctors understand how the human heart adapts in space and improve crew health.

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi checked the habitat for the Mouse Epigenetics experiment today. That study is researching how microgravity alters the gene expression in mice and DNA in their offspring.

Commander Jeff Williams joined cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin for ultrasound scans today to investigate how fluids shift from the lower body to the upper body. The study is exploring how these fluid shifts affect fluid pressure in an astronaut’s head and eyes potentially affecting vision.

Cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Anatoly Ivanishin partnered together for a study of the upper body that observes changes in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The research explores breathing and blood pressure in microgravity to maintain the health of crews living in space.

New Spacesuit and Science Unloaded From Dragon

South Africa Agricultural Fields
Astronaut Jeff Williams photographed South African agricultural fields from the space station. Credit: @Astro_Jeff

Expedition 48 is moving ahead with preparations for an upcoming spacewalk. New science also is under way aboard the International Space Station after being delivered last week.

A new U.S. spacesuit was unpacked from inside Dragon and will be used during an August spacewalk to install a Commercial Crew docking port. An older U.S. spacesuit will be returned to Earth inside the Dragon for refurbishment.

Housed inside the trunk of the Dragon space freighter is the International Docking Adapter. The new docking adapter will be installed to the Harmony module during next month’s spacewalk. It will enable future crew spacecraft from Boeing and SpaceX to dock to the station.

The new Heart Cells study got under way last week to observe how heart muscle tissue adapts to microgravity. Another life science experiment, Mouse Epigenetics, is being set up this week to explore how living in space affects gene expression. The hardware and mice for both experiments were delivered last week inside Dragon.

New Heart and DNA Studies Begin after Dragon Delivery

SpaceX Dragon
The Sun’s rays illuminate the SpaceX Dragon after it was attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

The Expedition 48 crew is beginning work on new science delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. More cargo is also being unloaded from the new Russian Progress 64 resupply ship.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins has begun work on the new Heart Cells study that will observe how heart muscle tissue adapts to microgravity. Rubins also partnered with Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi for the Body Measures experiment that researches how the body shape changes in outer space. Onishi later setup Mouse Epigenetics gear that will enable research into genetic expression and DNA in mice and their offspring.

Commander Jeff Williams worked on plumbing activities in the U.S. segment of the International Space Station. He also worked on biological research hardware before moving on to cargo transfers from the new Dragon cargo craft.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin are unloading gear from the new Progress cargo craft today. The duo also looked at cell cultures for the Kaskad study. Fellow cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka worked on Russian maintenance tasks and joined Ovchinin for the Korrektsiya bone loss study.

Dragon Chasing Station with Science, Docking Adapter

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon space freighter was pictured April 10, 2016, approaching the International Space Station.

The SpaceX Dragon is chasing the International Space Station and the Expedition 48 crew is getting ready for its approach and capture Wednesday morning. This follows Monday evening’s rendezvous and docking of the Progress 64 resupply ship from Roscosmos.

Dragon is delivering several science experiments including a DNA sequencing study and the Heart Cells investigation. The private space freighter is also carrying one of two International Docking Adapters. The adapters will enable future crewed vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX to dock to the space station.

The research, hardware and other supplies stowed inside Dragon total nearly 5,000 pounds. Dragon will be robotically attached to the Harmony module after astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins capture it with the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2. This will be the second cargo mission to arrive at the station in less than two days.

The Progress arrival Monday night brought more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 48 crew. Progress automatically docked to the Pirs docking compartment after launching Saturday evening from Kazakhstan.

Williams, Rubins and Flight Engineer Takuya Onishi prepared for the Dragon’s arrival on Tuesday and participated in a variety of research and maintenance activities. The three cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka, Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin slept in Tuesday after a long day Monday preparing for the Progress delivery.

Dragon Prepares for Wednesday Morning Arrival

Launch of Dragon on the SpaceX CRS-9 Mission
The SpaceX Dragon launches atop the Falcon 9 rocket early July 18,2016, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: SpaceX

The International Space Station and SpaceX Dragon flight control teams are proceeding toward rendezvous and grapple of the unpiloted Dragon cargo craft Wednesday, July 20, following Monday’s launch of the spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Capture of Dragon is scheduled at 7 a.m. EDT. Installation of the Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin several hours later.

NASA Television coverage of rendezvous and grapple is scheduled for 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. Installation coverage is set to begin at 9:45 a.m. Watch live at

NASA’s Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins will use the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) robotic arm to reach out and capture the Dragon spacecraft from the station’s cupola work station. After capture, ground controllers will maneuver Dragon for its berthing to Harmony. Opening of the hatch to the Dragon is scheduled early Thursday.

SpaceX CRS-9 is scheduled to deliver nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies and payloads to the station, including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 48 and 49.

Below is a rendezvous timeline – all times listed in EDT.

Wednesday, July 20
Range < 28 km                                            2:21:00 a.m.
HA3 Burn (8 s, 0.37 m/s)                           3:00:00 a.m.
Sunset                                                          3:11:02 a.m.
HA3-MC1 Burn                                            3:16:40 a.m.
HA3-MC2 Burn                                            3:33:20 a.m.
CE3 Burn (8 s, 0.37 m/s)                             3:46:00 a.m.
Sunrise                                                          3:40:46 a.m.
Range < 6 km                                               4:01:00 a.m.
HA4 (Approach Init) Burn (6 s,0.31 m/s)  4:16:00 a.m.
HA4-MC1 Burn                                             4:32:40 a.m.
Sunset                                                           4:43:43 a.m.
HA4-MC2 Burn                                             4:49:20 a.m.
350m Arrival, 180 deg Yaw mnvr              5:05:10 a.m.
Depart 350m                                                5:11:40 a.m.
Sunrise                                                          5:13:21 a.m.
250m Arrival                                                 5:19:30 a.m.
NASA TV Coverage Begins                          5:30:00 a.m.
250m Departure                                           5:31:30 a.m.
Rng = 100m                                                   5:48:30 a.m.
30m Arrival                                                    6:05:00 a.m.
Sunset                                                            5:16:25 a.m.
Earliest 30m Departure (early window)   6:21:00 a.m.
30m Departure                                            6:24:00 a.m.
Latest 30m Departure (early window)      6:25:00 a.m.
CP Arrival                                                       6:40:00 a.m.
Earliest 30m Departure (prime window)  6:44:56 a.m.
Sunrise                                                           6:45:56 a.m.
Earliest GO for Capture (prime window)  6:46:56 a.m.
Go for Capture                                              6:50:00 a.m.
Capture                                                          7:00:00 a.m.
Latest 30m Departure (prime window)    7:37:31 a.m.
Sunset                                                            7:49:06 a.m.
Latest GO for Capture (prime window)    8:03:31 a.m.

For more information on the SpaceX CRS-9 mission, visit: For more information about the International Space Station, visit:

Pair of Space Deliveries Racing Towards Station

One cargo spacecraft begins its resupply mission to the International Space Station as another one prepares to dock tonight to the orbital laboratory.

Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, launched its 64th Progress spacecraft to resupply the station Saturday afternoon from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress is closing in on the space station today with more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies, and will dock to the Pirs docking compartment at 8:22 p.m. EDT tonight. NASA TV will cover the rendezvous and docking live beginning at 7:45 p.m.

SpaceX launched its Dragon space freighter early Monday from Florida atop a Falcon 9 rocket for a two-day delivery mission. Dragon is carrying nearly 5,000 pounds of science, supplies and hardware including the first of two international docking adapters. A pair of space experiments, among others, aboard Dragon include a DNA sequencing study and an investigation of the human heart and how it adapts to living in space.

Dragon will approach the station early Wednesday, when it will be captured by the Canadarm2 and installed to the Harmony module. Astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will be inside the cupola operating the robotic controls for capture of the spacecraft. Mission controllers on the ground will then take over and guide Dragon to its port on the Earth-facing side of Harmony.

Launch of SpaceX CRS-9
Dragon launches from Florida on the SpaceX CRS-9 mission to resupply the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray

Resupply Rocket Launches on Two-Day Delivery Mission

The Progress 64 Rocket Launches
The Progress 64 cargo craft launches on a two-day trip to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Carrying more than three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted ISS Progress 64 cargo craft launched at 5:41 p.m. EDT (3:41 a.m. Baikonur time July 17) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 250 miles over Eastern Chad.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Russian cargo craft will chase the station during the next two days before docking to the Pirs Docking Compartment at the orbiting laboratory at 8:22 p.m. Monday, July 18. The Progress 64 will spend more than six months docked at the outpost before departing in mid-January for its deorbit into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Beginning at 7:45 p.m. Monday, NASA Television will provide live coverage of Progress 64’s arrival at the space station’s Pirs Docking Compartment.

Watch live on NASA TV and online at:

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Progress 63 on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and the hashtag #ISScargo.