More Immunity Studies as Crew Preps for Cargo Mission, Spacewalks

Expedition 65 Flight Engineers (from left) Shane Kimbrough and Oleg Novitskiy unpack science hardware for installation inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Expedition 65 Flight Engineers (from left) Shane Kimbrough and Oleg Novitskiy unpack science hardware for installation inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The International Space Station hummed with activity on Thursday as the Expedition 65 crew gets ready for the next SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission and continues immune system research. All seven crew members also joined together and practiced their emergency response skills.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide teamed up with ESA Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet during the morning, gathering and organizing items for return to Earth on the next resupply mission from SpaceX. The upgraded Cargo Dragon vehicle is targeted for launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket on June 3 from Kennedy Space Center. It will deliver the first two of six new solar arrays, a kidney disease therapy study, plant and microbe experiments and more, about two days after liftoff.

The Kibo laboratory module’s Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG) once again was the center of activity for NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur. The duo continued servicing donor cell samples inside the LSG, which are being compared to cells on Earth, as scientists document the significant differences in microgravity. The Celestial Immunity study’s results may provide insights into new vaccines and drugs and advance the commercialization of space.

At the end of the day, Vande Hei had his veins scanned with an ultrasound device operated by NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough. Kimbrough earlier joined Pesquet and inspected tethers to be used during a pair of upcoming spacewalks. The spacewalks are planned for June and will see the installation of the soon-to-be delivered solar arrays on the station’s Port 6 truss structure.

Finally, cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov joined their five crewmates and simulated an emergency aboard the station in conjunction with mission controllers on the ground. The drill consisted of locating emergency gear, practicing procedures and decision-making, and coordinating communications with controllers in Houston and Moscow.

Immune System, Eye and Ear Studies Continue Aboard Station

Astronaut Megan McArthur services cells inside the Kibo laboratory module's Life Science Glovebox for the Celestial Immunity study.
Astronaut Megan McArthur services cells inside the Kibo laboratory module’s Life Science Glovebox for the Celestial Immunity study.

Human research continued full speed ahead on the International Space Station today as the Expedition 65 crew researched the immune system and conducted eye and ear checks.

The Celestial Immunity investigation has been under way all week inside the Kibo laboratory module from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur once again treated donor cell samples inside the Life Sciences Glovebox which are compared to samples on Earth. Observations may provide insights into new vaccines and drugs and advance the commercialization of space.

Vande Hei later had his eyes checked at the end of the day by NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough using near-infrared medical-imaging for detailed views of his retina. Kimbrough also worked throughout the day replacing life support components inside a U.S. spacesuit before organizing Russian spacewalk tools.

Ear checks were on the schedule on Wednesday with Kimbrough, ESA Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet and station Commander Akihiko Hoshide taking a hearing test using specialized audio software. The three astronauts individually took the hearing assessment isolated in their private crew quarters to block out external station sounds.

Hoshide began the morning collecting and stowing his urine samples before spending the rest of the day on lab maintenance and inventory tasks. Pesquet demonstrated a simple heat transfer experiment for kids. He then checked out the immersive Sidekick device that displays high-definition holograms to assist crews with science and maintenance tasks.

Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy worked on Russian maintenance tasks and continued packing the U.S. Cygnus space freighter ahead of its departure in a few weeks. First time space-flyer Pyotr Dubrov had orbital plumbing duties Wednesday morning and checking station cameras and ventilation systems.

The Water Processor Assembly (WPA) in the Tranquility module has been powered off due to a possible leak. This hardware is used to recycle water from multiple sources into clean, drinkable water for crew members aboard the International Space Station.

The crew is in no danger and has multiple spare parts aboard to begin the repair process which is expected to be complete early next week. Enough water is stored on the space station to provide the crew with the necessary consumables for several months if required.

The space station serves a vital role in testing and maturing life support technologies that will be required for future missions to the Moon and Mars. Repairs provide invaluable data to engineers refining these systems for use in future spacecraft and missions.

Human Research May Lead to New Vaccines, Increase Space Commercialization

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei works on the Celestial Immunity study that may provide insights into new treatments for diseases on Earth.
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei works on the Celestial Immunity study that may provide insights into new treatments for diseases on Earth.

Human research took precedence aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday as the Expedition 65 crew explored how weightlessness affects the immune system. The orbital residents also trained for a medical emergency and ensured station systems continued operating in tip-top shape.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Megan McArthur worked in the Kibo laboratory module researching possible age-associated effects of the human immune system. The Celestial Immunity study observes donor cells in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox for insights into new vaccines and drugs which may advance the commercialization of space.

McArthur started her day with NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough collecting blood samples, spinning them in a centrifuge and stowing them in a science freezer for later analysis. Kimbrough then spent the rest of Tuesday replacing fans that cool science racks in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Station Commander Aki Hoshide started the fan replacement work before swapping out life support components in the Tranquility module. At the end of the day, he and ESA Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet stowed hardware in Tranquility’s end cone. Pesquet also packed the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter with trash and discarded gear ahead of its departure in a few weeks.

Vande Hei joined his Soyuz MS-18 crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and trained for the unlikely event of a medical emergency in space. The trio reviewed medical hardware, performed simulated chest compressions, and practiced communication and coordination.

Novitskiy also transferred cargo from the ISS Progress 77 (77P) resupply ship before studying planetary spacecraft piloting techniques. Dubrov worked on plumbing tasks inside the 77P before contributing to the Russian future pilot study.

Three-Day Weekend Aboard Lab Ahead of June Cargo Mission

An aurora is pictured streaming above the Indian Ocean in between Australia and Antarctica on April 19, 2021.
An aurora is pictured streaming above the Indian Ocean in between Australia and Antarctica on April 19, 2021.

The seven orbital residents that comprise the Expedition 65 crew aboard the International Space Station took a well-deserved day off on Monday. May looks to be relaxed month, following a very busy April, with no spacecraft activities on the calendar until June.

It was a three-day weekend on the orbiting lab today as the five astronauts and two cosmonauts took Monday off. The septet cleared its schedule for personal activities such as looking at the Earth below, talking to family, watching movies and playing games.

The crewmates continued their daily workouts as each crew member exercises about two hours a day to counteract the lack of gravity on their bodies. There are U.S. and Russian treadmills, an exercise cycle and an advanced resistive exercise device that the space residents use to maintain muscle and bone health in weightlessness.

There were also urine sample collections aboard the orbital lab today which are part of a variety of ongoing studies into the effects of long-term spaceflight on humans. Those samples were stowed in a science freezer for later analysis by scientists on Earth.

The next cargo mission planned to replenish the Expedition 65 crew is targeted for launch on June 3. The SpaceX Cargo Dragon will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center and dock on June 4 to the Harmony module’s space-facing international adapter. The Cargo Dragon will deliver new solar arrays to augment the space station’s power system.

Crew Ends Week on Human Research and Space Physics

Russia’s ISS Progress 75 resupply ship is pictured with a Full Moon above the Earth’s horizon after undocking from the station. Credits: NASA
Russia’s ISS Progress 75 resupply ship is pictured with a Full Moon above the Earth’s horizon after undocking from the station. Credits: NASA

The work week is wrapping up with biology and physics aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 65 residents also maintained the upkeep of plumbing, computer, and power systems.

NASA and its international partners take advantage of the weightless environment of the orbiting lab to gain new insights unattainable due to Earth’s gravity. They use the knowledge from the long-term microgravity research to improve conditions for humans on and off the planet.

A new study recently delivered to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour is exploring how the immune system adapts to microgravity. NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur set up hardware and samples for the Celestial Immunity investigation inside the Life Science Glovebox today. Results may provide new vaccines and medicines for diseases on Earth and increase the potential for commercialization of space.

McArthur also joined fellow NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei logging their meals on a computer to help researchers understand the nutritional requirements for astronauts. Vande Hei spent most of Friday on maintenance replacing life support system components and swapping fuel tanks in the Combustion Integrated Rack.

Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) partnered with Vande Hei for some of the life support work on Friday. Pesquet also transferred the AstroPi science computer to the Columbus laboratory module after joining NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough for orbital plumbing work in the Tranquility module. Additionally, Kimbrough spent a few hours installing power equipment and routing cables inside Tranquility before collecting and stowing his urine samples for later analysis.

Station Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency started Friday in the Kibo laboratory module retrieving sample cartridges from the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. The three-time space traveler finally wrapped up the workday turning off the Astrobee robotic free-flyers and consolidating crew provisions.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, also a three-time space visitor, worked on Russian communications gear and power tools before exchanging samples for a semiconductor crystal study. Roscosmos Flight Engineer and first-time space flyer Pyotr Dubrov spent the day on plumbing and ventilation tasks in the station’s Russian segment.

Life Science, Cargo Packing Midweek Aboard Orbital Lab

SpaceX Crew-2 Mission Specialists and Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Akihiko Hoshide pose for a portrait together.
SpaceX Crew-2 Mission Specialists and Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Akihiko Hoshide pose for a portrait together.

Life science was the main science topic aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday. The Expedition 65 crew is also packing a U.S. cargo ship and maintaining orbital lab systems today.

Four astronauts, who rode to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, kicked off the day with the first health checkup of their expedition today. NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet spent a few moments in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module undergoing temperature, blood pressure and ear checks as part of periodic health evaluations.

Kimbrough and Hoshide then took turns loading the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman with trash and old gear before its departure in a few weeks. Kimbrough spent the rest of the afternoon setting up hardware inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a semiconductor crystal experiment. Hoshide serviced fluid systems and cleaned electrical hardware.

McArthur charged computer tablets delivered aboard Endeavour and organized cargo in the Tranquility module. Pesquet replaced components on the Destiny lab’s exercise cycle ahead of a space workout study planned on Thursday.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei collected donor samples delivered aboard Endeavour and transferred to the station’s science freezers for the new Celestial Immunity study. The experiment seeks to understand how weightlessness affects the immune system, potentially impacting the development of new vaccines and medicines.

The two cosmonauts aboard the station, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, had hearing tests today aboard the orbiting lab. The duo then spent most of the day on a variety of Russian computer and electrical maintenance tasks. Novitskiy also spent a few moments on a study investigating how international space crews get along and work together. Dubrov gathered Russian discarded items for disposal on the U.S. Cygnus resupply ship.

Crew-1 Takes Questions Thursday, Station Busy with Human Research

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience, with four astronauts aboard, is pictured from the station reentering Earth's atmosphere on May 2, 2021.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience, with four astronauts aboard, is pictured from the station reentering Earth’s atmosphere on May 2, 2021.

The SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts are back in Houston after splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday completing a 168-day mission. The quartet will have a news conference on NASA TV then participate in a Facebook Live event on Thursday.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will talk to reporters and answer social media questions on Thursday. The NASA TV news conference starts at 3:45 p.m. EDT. The Facebook Live event will begin at 4:35 p.m. and last 20 minutes.

Back in space, seven Expedition 65 crew members will be orbiting Earth on the International Space Station until October. The five astronauts and two cosmonauts are participating in a variety of research today to understand how living in space affects the human body.

Microbes can change characteristics in microgravity and scientists are testing anti-microbial coatings on the station. Today, an astronaut touched a sample with the coating representing a high-touch surface. The sample was stowed in a science freezer and will be returned later to Earth for analysis. Results could mitigate health issues on spacecraft and planetary surfaces.

The Celestial Immunity study taking place today on the orbiting lab is exploring how the immune system adapts to weightlessness. The astronauts look at human blood cells for age-associated effects giving scientists insights into the development of new vaccines and drugs to treat diseases.

Some of the crewmates also had ultrasound scans today to understand how long-term microgravity affects their muscle’s biochemical properties such as tone, stiffness and elasticity. Samples, including blood, saliva and urine, were also collected and stowed for the Standard Measures and Repository biology studies.

Crew Staying in Space Until October for Research Mission

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur is at the robotics workstation participating in Canadarm2 robotic arm training.
NASA astronaut Megan McArthur is at the robotics workstation participating in Canadarm2 robotic arm training.

The seven-member Expedition 65 crew aboard the International Space Station will be orbiting Earth until October after watching the SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts depart over the weekend. The five astronauts and two cosmonauts staying behind prepared for the next SpaceX Cargo mission and researched a variety of space phenomena today.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting June 3 for the launch of the next Cargo Dragon mission to resupply the orbital lab. NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough and station Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency began getting the station ready for the upcoming space shipment. The duo organized the Permanent Multipurpose Module and the Kibo laboratory module today to make room for the new cargo.

Monday’s science activities ran the gamut of robotics, human research and drug development. Research on the orbiting lab can improve the health of humans on and off the Earth, benefit a range of industries, and advance the commercialization of space.

The Astrobee robotic assistants were flying around inside Kibo testing automated rendezvous techniques as Kimbrough monitored the activities. Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency wore a virtual reality headset and reached for virtual objects to help scientists understand how weightlessness affects the central nervous system.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur cleaned up the Microgravity Science Glovebox after closing out the Transparent Alloys physics study. Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei of NASA checked out emergency hardware then set up gear for an immune system study that may promote the development of new vaccines and drugs to treat diseases.

Roscosmos cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy worked on inventory updates and cargo transfers from the ISS Progress 77 resupply ship. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov installed hardware for a Russian experiment that monitors the Earth’s atmosphere in ultraviolet light.

Station Astronauts Relax Before SpaceX Crew Launches

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket during a sunset at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket during a sunset at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Five Expedition 65 astronauts are off-duty today relaxing one day before four Commercial Crew astronauts launch toward the International Space Station. The orbiting lab’s two cosmonauts focused on Russian science and life support maintenance tasks throughout Thursday.

NASA Commander Shannon Walker and Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Mark Vande Hei of NASA including Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) took it easy on the station today. The quintet is relaxing before gearing up for six days of crew swap activities. They will get back to work on Friday with more space research and preparations for the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts early Saturday.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed busy on Thursday in the station’s Russian segment. The duo partnered up for a study to maximize the effectiveness of space exercise. Novitskiy then checked out power systems while Dubrov worked on life support gear.

SpaceX Crew-2 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Pilot Megan McArthur will launch Friday at 5:49 a.m. to the station aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour. The NASA duo will be flanked by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency. The veteran foursome will dock on Saturday at 5:10 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. NASA TV begins its continuous launch and docking coverage on Friday at 1:30 a.m.

The new quartet’s arrival will set in motion the next crew swap as the SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts turn their attention toward returning to Earth on April 28. Hopkins will lead his crewmates Glover, Walker and Noguchi as they undock from the station then parachute inside the Crew Dragon Resilience to a splashdown off the coast of Florida just a few hours later.

Vande Hei will stay behind with Novitskiy, Dubrov and the four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts. They will remain at the station as the Expedition 65 crew until the next series of crew swaps planned for later this year begins.

Orbital Science Continues as Crew-2 Launch Slips a Day

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endeavour atop stands at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endeavour atop stands at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The seven Expedition 65 crew members will wait an extra day to greet the four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts after their launch slipped due to high winds. The International Space Station residents will stay focused on their human research activities to improve life on Earth and in space.

NASA and SpaceX managers pushed back the launch of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to Friday at 5:49 a.m. EDT. Unfavorable weather conditions were predicted along the flight path after Thursday’s launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet, are now due to arrive at the orbital lab on Saturday at 5:10 a.m. The quartet will dock the Crew Dragon Endeavour to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. NASA TV begins its continuous coverage of the launch and docking activities on Friday at 1:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, space research continues full speed ahead as the station residents help scientists understand how their bodies are adapting to living in microgravity. Four of the station astronauts are also preparing to return to Earth next week in the midst of the science and maintenance work on orbit.

Commander Shannon Walker began her day scanning the leg muscles of Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins using an ultrasound device to observe muscle tone, stiffness and elasticity. The duo then partnered up in the afternoon observing microscopic worms to study how space affects the genetic expression of muscles.

Flight Engineers Victor Glover and Soichi Noguchi took turns wearing virtual reality goggles and clicking a trackball today for a study exploring how astronauts perceive time when living off the Earth. The duo, along Walker and Hopkins, is also getting ready to complete its station mission on April 28. The foursome will parachute to Earth inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience and splashdown off the coast of Florida ending a 162-day space research mission.

Nearly two weeks into their mission, three new Expedition 65 crewmates have stepped into their roles as orbital researchers and troubleshooters. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei collected and stowed his blood, urine and fecal samples for a pair of space biology studies today. Veteran cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy worked on Russian power and plumbing systems. First time cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov checked computer electronics and studied Earth photography techniques and optimal space exercises.