New International Docking Adapter Being Prepped for Installation

Astronaut Kate Rubins
Astronaut Kate Rubins checks a U.S. spacesuit she will wear during a spacewalk planned for Aug. 19, 2016.

Flight controllers and the Expedition 48 crew are preparing for tonight’s International Docking Adapter extraction work and Friday morning’s installation spacewalk. The orbital residents are also continuing to load the SpaceX Dragon with gear and science for return to Earth.

Controllers on the ground checked the Canadian robotics systems they will use to remove the International Docking Adapter from the rear of the SpaceX Dragon tonight. The new adapter will be extracted with the Canadarm2 then maneuvered to a point about three feet away from its installation point. It will then be installed on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module.

The final and intricate installation work will be done during a 6.5 hour spacewalk scheduled to begin Friday at 8:05 a.m. EDT with astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins . The new adapter, the first of two, will enable new Commercial Crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX to dock at the International Space Station in the future.

In the meantime, the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is still being loaded with gear ahead of its return to Earth on Aug. 26. Rubins spent the morning packing Dragon with research samples and used hardware for analysis back on Earth.

Crew Gets Ready for New Commercial Crew Port

Computer Rendering of a Spacewalker
This computer rendering depicts a spacewalker performing installation activities for the International Docking Adapter. Credit: NASA Johnson YouTube

Space station and Commercial Crew managers wrapped up a spacewalk briefing Monday afternoon discussing the installation of a new International Docking Adapter at the end of the week. Spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will begin the installation work Friday at 8:05 a.m. EDT to enable future crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX to dock in the future.

The first major task begins Wednesday evening when the docking adapter is extracted from the rear of the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. The Canadarm2 will then maneuver the new adapter about three feet away from the forward end of the Harmony module. It will stay there until Friday when Williams and Rubins will complete the installation during a 6.5 hour spacewalk.

Meanwhile, Williams is loading gear into Dragon for return to Earth and retrieval by NASA and SpaceX engineers. Dragon’s last day at the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module is Aug. 26 when it will be grappled and then released by the Canadarm2 for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The crew also explored a wide variety of space research today amidst the spacewalk preparations. A pair of cosmonauts studied how microgravity impacts fluid shifts from the lower body to the upper body. Rubins researched the physics of tiny particles suspended in water possibly benefiting materials manufacturing on Earth. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi observed altered gene expression and DNA changes in mice and their offspring living in space.

Cosmonauts Busy Today as Rest of Crew Takes Day Off

Expedition 48
All six Expedition 48 crew members gather in the Zvezda service module sharing a light moment and a meal. From left are Anatoly Ivanishin, Oleg Skripochka, Kate Rubins, Commander Jeff Williams, Takuya Onishi and Alexey Ovchinin.

Three astronauts are relaxing today in recognition of Mountain Day, an annual Japanese holiday in effect as of 2016. The three cosmonauts stayed busy with their set of Russian science and maintenance tasks aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi took the day off Thursday. Williams and Rubin, both NASA astronauts, will be getting ready for an Aug. 19 spacewalk to install the first of two International Docking Adapters. The two adapters will allow new Commercial Crew vehicles being designed by Boeing and SpaceX to dock at the station. Onishi will assist the spacewalkers and monitor their activities.

Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, on his second station mission, sampled the air and surfaces in the station’s Russian segment checking for microbes and quality today. His fellow cosmonauts, Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin, worked on communication connections between systems in the Russian modules.

Crew Tries On Spacesuits, Conducts Heart and Meteor Research

Spacesuit Checks
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams try on their U.S. spacesuits. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin assisted the duo. Credit: NASA TV

A pair of astronauts tried on U.S. spacesuits this morning ahead of a spacewalk next week. Afterward, the crew explored heart cells, fluid pressure in the head and the eyes and the composition of meteors.

NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins are due to work outside the International Space Station on Aug. 19 for 6.5 hours. The duo tried on the spacesuits today they will wear during the spacewalk to complete the installation of the first of two International Docking Adapters to the Harmony module. Commercial Crew vehicles are being developed by Boeing and SpaceX that will dock to the new adapters in the future.

Rubins then moved on to observing heart cells with a specialized microscope. The heart cells are derived from stem cells that were manufactured from human skin cells.

Williams joined cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin for ultrasound scans and vision checks. That work was part of the Fluid Shifts study that is exploring how the lack of gravity influences head pressure and eye shape possibly affecting an astronaut’s vision.

Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi replaced a hard drive on a laptop computer that collects data on the composition of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere. Cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin participated in a study that seeks to improve the ability of a crew member to pilot a spacecraft.

Eye Exams and Spacesuit Checks Today

Fluids Shifts
Fluids shift toward the upper body in space since they don’t have to fight against gravity. This results in familiar phenomena such as a puffy face. The fluid shifts also affect intra-cranial pressure and eye shape. Credit: NASA Johnson YouTube

The Expedition 48 crew continued more eye exams and ongoing research to understand how microgravity shifts body fluids toward the upper body. Two NASA astronauts also checked out U.S. spacesuit safety gear and tools.

All six crew members participated in variety of eye exams throughout the day. Some of the eye checks also coincided with the Fluid Shifts study. That research observes how fluid pressure in space affects a crew member’s head and eyes, possibly affecting vision.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are getting ready for an Aug. 19 spacewalk to install an International Docking Adapter. The docking port, delivered by the SpaceX Dragon last month, will enable future commercial crew spacecraft from Boeing and SpaceX dock to the station. The spacewalkers checked their spacesuit safety jetpacks they would use in the unlikely event they became separated from the International Space Station.

 

Duo Reviews Spacewalk After Crew Vision Tests

Okavanga Delta
The Okavango Delta in Botswana was photographed Aug. 2 as the space station orbited over the southern part of the African continent. Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography

Two astronauts called down to Mission Control today and reviewed next week’s spacewalk. In the Russian segment of the International Space Station, a pair of cosmonauts replaced outdated communications gear. Crew members also collected blood samples and conducted vision tests for a variety of space research.

Commander Jeff Williams joined Flight Engineer Kate Rubins for more spacesuit work and a conference with flight controllers in Houston to review plans for next week’s 6.5 hour spacewalk. On Aug. 19 the duo will work outside the station to complete the installation of an International Docking Adapter to the Harmony module. The first of two adapters will enable Commercial Crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX to dock in the future.

The entire Expedition 48 crew conducted vision tests throughout the morning. Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi then collected blood, urine and saliva samples for the Fluid Shifts experiment. That study observes how microgravity affects intra-cranial pressure and changes the shape of the eye.

In the afternoon, cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin worked in the Zvezda service module replacing older gear that communicates with systems throughout the Russian segment. Ovchinin also joined fellow Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka to explore how living in space changes the human heart.

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Crew Inspects Spacesuits and Preps for Student Contest

Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka
Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka works with the free-floating, bowling ball-sized satellites (in orange and red) also known as SPHERES.

Two NASA astronauts are readying their spacesuits and gear ahead of an Aug. 19 spacewalk. More life science, including heart and DNA research, continued Friday. Finally, tiny internal satellites were tested before next week’s student competition.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins inspected the spacesuits they will wear in two weeks during a 6.5 hour spacewalk. The duo will complete the installation of an International Docking Adapter to the Harmony module. The first of two new adapters will allow Commercial Crew vehicles being developed by Boeing and SpaceX to dock in the future.

Rubins continued more work on the Heart Cells experiment today while Takuya Onishi, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, tended to the Mouse Epigenetics hardware. Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin joined Williams during the morning collecting and stowing biological samples for the Fluid Shifts study.

Next week, high school students will compete for the best algorithm to control self-contained, bowling ball-sized satellites inside the station. The algorithms control the tiny satellites and test mission and research functions to advance future space missions. Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka tested the satellites inside the Destiny lab module today for the SPHERES Zero Robotics competition.

 

Williams Marks 500 Days in Space, Set to Break Kelly’s Record

Astronaut Jeff Williams
Commander Jeff Williams monitors bowling ball-sized internal satellites known as SPHERES during a maintenance run in the Japanese Kibo Laboratory Module.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams has accumulated 500 days of living in space over four missions as of today. Williams, who is scheduled to return to Earth Sept. 6, will break NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s record of 520 days on Aug. 24.

While Williams marked his milestone, he spent most of the day researching fluid shifts from the lower body to the upper body caused by microgravity. The fluid shifts increase pressure on the head and eyes potentially affecting an astronaut’s vision. Cosmonauts OIeg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin assisted Williams during experiment operations.

Flight Engineer Kate Rubins continued her preparations for an Aug. 19 spacewalk with Williams to install a new International Docking Adapter. She worked in the Quest airlock today gathering tools and equipment the duo will use during their 6.5-hour spacewalk. She also spent some time with Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi transferring cargo from the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

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Spacesuit Checks amid Life Science and Emergency Training

Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Jeff Williams work on spacesuits in the Quest airlock.

Two astronauts are getting ready for a spacewalk amidst ongoing heart and genetics research this week. The crew also practiced the techniques necessary to care for a crew member during a medical emergency in space.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins are due to complete the installation of a new International Docking Adapter during a spacewalk Aug. 19. The duo are setting up their spacesuits today, including a new one delivered on the SpaceX Dragon, and verifying the functionality of the suit systems.

Rubins started her day peering into a microscope exploring cell samples for the Heart Cells experiment. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi kept the Mouse Epigenetics habitat stocked with food and water for the experiment observing genetic alterations in mice and DNA changes in their offspring.

Rubins and Onishi joined cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin in the afternoon for a medical emergency training session. The crew members familiarized themselves with medical gear and locations, chest compression techniques and practiced communication and coordination.

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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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/