Resupply Ship Midway to Station Amid Maintenance and Science Work

The "Horn of Africa"
The “Horn of Africa” is seen through one of the seven windows that make up the Cupola, a dome-shaped module on the International Space Station. The space station crew will be inside the Cupola Wednesday morning operating a robotics workstation to capture the upcoming SpaceX Dragon.

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter is midway on its trip to the resupply the International Space Station’s Expedition 55 crew. Waiting to capture Dragon Wednesday morning are Flight Engineers Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle.

The two astronauts have been reviewing procedures and training on a computer for Dragon’s capture for a few weeks now. Kanai will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple Dragon about 7 a.m. EDT Wednesday when it reaches a point about 10 meters away from the station. Tingle is backing up Kanai and will monitor Dragon’s approach and rendezvous from inside the Cupola. Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold will be assisting the duo by overseeing approach telemetry from a communications unit on the space station. NASA TV will begin its live mission coverage starting at 5:30 a.m.

Dragon is carrying a variety of cargo including new science experiments researching the human body, plants and how materials react when exposed to space. The Marrow study will explore bone marrow and the blood cells it produces. PONDS will explore ways to achieve uniform plant growth as astronauts supplement their diets with fresh space-grown greens. The Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, or MISSE-FF, will observe what happens to materials exposed to outer space phenomena such as ultraviolet radiation, charged particles and micro-meteoroids.

Meanwhile, the six space station residents are keeping the orbital lab in tip-top shape today while continuing ongoing scientific studies. Commander Anton Shkaplerov stayed focused on maintenance duties in the station’s Russian segment. New Expedition 55 crew members Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev had time set aside to get used to their new home in space.

Tingle swapped out Combustion Integrated Rack hardware in the Destiny lab module. Kanai readied mouse habitat gear for a rodent study being delivered on Dragon. Kanai and Tingle later ended the day with more Dragon robotics practice.

Expedition Crew Waits for Dragon and Studies Life Science

NASA astronaut and Expedition 55 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut and Expedition 55 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold rests inside the seven-windowed cupola as the International Space Station orbits above the south Atlantic Ocean.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft stands atop its launch pad counting down to a 4:30 p.m. EDT liftoff today to the International Space Station. The Expedition 55 crew is preparing for its arrival on Wednesday while continuing a variety of advanced space research aboard the orbital lab today.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is hosting the 14th launch of a SpaceX commercial cargo mission to the space station. Astronauts Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle are practicing the maneuvers and procedures necessary to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 when it arrives at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. Their fellow flight engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold joined them later in the afternoon to review the cargo they’ll transfer back and forth after they open the hatches to Dragon.

Feustel spent the better part of his day testing algorithms on a pair of tiny internal satellites that could be used to detect spacecraft positions and velocities. Arnold strapped himself into an exercise cycle for an exertion in space study then collected his blood samples for stowage and later analysis.

Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov worked on a multitude of Russian maintenance tasks checking communications and life support gear. Shkaplerov also joined cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev for another exercise study, this time on the Russian side of the lab, exploring its effectiveness during long term space missions.

Experienced Spacewalkers Wrap Up Station Maintenance Excursion

There have been 209 spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998
There have been 209 spacewalks at the International Space Station since December 1998.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the fourth spacewalk this year at 3:43 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 10 minutes. The two astronauts installed wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replaced a camera system on the port truss and removed suspect hoses from a cooling system.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days and 10 hours working outside the station in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Veteran Astronauts Exit Station to Begin Spacewalk

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold is pictured in March 2009 during a spacewalk at the space station when he was a member of the STS-119 crew aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA switched their spacesuits to battery power at 9:33 a.m. EDT, signifying the official start of today’s planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

Watch the spacewalk live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Feustel is wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Arnold’s suit has no stripes. Views from a camera on Feustel’s helmet are designated with the number 17, and Arnold’s is labeled with the number 18. Feustel is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) for this spacewalk, the seventh of his career. Arnold, embarking on his third spacewalk, is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2).

Once outside the airlock, Feustel’s first task will be to install the wireless communications antenna on the Tranquility module, while Arnold will begin the process of removing a set of hoses from the cooling system.

Once they have completed those activities, they will work together to replace a camera system on the port truss.

Watch NASA TV Now as Spacewalkers Prepare to Exit Station

Astronauts Drew Feustel and John Grunsfeld
Astronauts Drew Feustel (top) and John Grunsfeld perform maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope from the payload bay of space shuttle Atlantis in May of 2009.

NASA Television has begun coverage of today’s spacewalk, as Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA prepare to work outside the International Space Station for approximately 6.5 hours. Today’s spacewalk was originally scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m. However, suit leak checks took longer than anticipated and has put them approximately 60-90 minutes behind the original timeline.

The objective of today’s spacewalk will be to will install wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replace a camera system on the port truss and remove suspect hoses from a cooling system.

The wireless communications equipment will enhance payload data processing for the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) experiment being flown to the station on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. The experiment will measure the temperature of plants on Earth to better understand how much water they need and how they respond to stress.

Follow along on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Keep up with station and crew activities via Twitter @space_station. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Veteran Astronauts to Conduct Spacewalk Thursday Morning

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold is pictured during a spacewalk in March of 2009 at the International Space Station. Arnold was visiting the station as an STS-119 mission specialist aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Veteran NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold will head outside the International Space Station at approximately 8 a.m. EDT Thursday to begin a 6.5-hour spacewalk. Live coverage will be available on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6:30 a.m.

During Thursday’s spacewalk, Feustel and Arnold will install wireless communications antennas on the Tranquility module, replace a camera system on the port truss and remove suspect hoses from a cooling system.

This will be the 209th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates on the station and crew activities. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Cargo Ship Departs, Emergency Reviews Day Before Spacewalk Begins

Russia's Progress 68 resupply ship
Russia’s Progress 68 resupply ship is pictured docked to the Pirs docking compartment as the International Space Station orbited over the Atlantic Ocean south of the island of Bermuda.

A Russian cargo craft departed the International Space Station this morning after completing a six-month stay at the Pirs docking compartment. Meanwhile, the Expedition 55 crew is less than a day away from beginning the fourth spacewalk this the year for orbital lab maintenance.

Russia’s Progress 68 (68P) resupply ship flawlessly undocked from Pirs this morning at 9:50 a.m. EDT. It will orbit Earth for a month where Russian ground controllers will conduct a series of engineering tests on the 68P. The cargo ship will then reenter the atmosphere April 25 loaded with trash and discarded items for a fiery but safe demise over the Pacific Ocean.

While a pair of astronauts are finalizing spacewalk preparations today, the six Expedition 55 crew members spent an hour today reviewing emergency roles and responsibilities. The four astronauts and two cosmonauts practiced communication procedures with each other and mission controllers on the ground. The crew also checked the location of safety gear and followed escape routes to their Soyuz vehicles in the unlikely event a crisis would require evacuating the station.

Finally, spacewalkers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel have their tools and suits ready for Thursday’s excursion to install antennas and replace a camera assembly outside the space station. The duo wrapped up final reviews today with Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai who will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits. The spacewalk is expected to start at 8:10 a.m. tomorrow with NASA TV beginning its live coverage at 6:30 a.m.

Expedition 55 Focuses on Spacewalk and Dragon Delivery

Spacewalker Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel is pictured during a spacewalk in May of 2011 at the International Space Station. Feustel was a mission specialist for STS-134 who last visited the station aboard space shuttle Endeavour.

The Expedition 55 crew is ramping up for Thursday’s spacewalk and training for next week’s arrival of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

Just four days after moving into their new home NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are getting their suits and gear ready for a spacewalk on Thursday. The duo filled spacesuit tanks and cooling garments with water and reviewed checklists and warning systems today.

They will work outside for about 6.5 hours to install communications antennas on the Tranquility module. The pair will also replace a camera assembly on the Port 1 truss structure. Arnold and Feustel are expected to set their spacesuits to battery power at 8:10 a.m. signifying the official start of Thursday’s spacewalk. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the spacewalk at 6:30 a.m. ET.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineers Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle continue training for next week’s capture of the Dragon cargo craft with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Kanai will be at the robotics controls inside the cupola as Tingle monitors Dragon’s approach and rendezvous.

Dragon is set to launch Monday at 4:30 p.m. and arrive Wednesday just ten meters away from the station where Kanai will robotically capture it at 7 a.m. The commercial cargo craft will deliver over 5,800 pounds of crew supplies, science gear, spacewalking equipment and other station hardware. NASA TV will broadcast both events live.

The Progress 68 (68P) cargo craft will undock from the Pirs docking compartment Wednesday at 9:50 a.m. loaded with trash and old gear. It will reenter Earth’s atmosphere April 25 for a fiery demise over the Pacific Ocean. The 68P has been attached to the station since Oct. 16.

New Station Astronauts March into Spacewalk Preparations

NASA Astronaut Scott Tingle
NASA astronaut Scott Tingle is inside the International Space Station’s window to the world, the seven-windowed cupola, where astronauts operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture visiting vehicles such as the SpaceX Dragon, the Orbital ATK Cygnus and Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle.

Three new Expedition 55 crew members are beginning their first full workweek aboard the International Space Station. They and the rest of the crew are getting ready for a spacewalk on Thursday and next week’s arrival of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are preparing for a spacewalk just six days after arriving at their new home in space. The duo reviewed their spacewalk procedures today with fellow astronauts Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai. The veteran spacewalkers will install communications antennas and replace a camera assembly during the excursion set to begin Thursday at 8:10 a.m. EDT. NASA TV broadcast the spacewalk activities live beginning at 7 a.m.

Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov has been packing a Russian resupply ship with trash and old gear readying it for its departure on Wednesday. The Progress 68 (68P) cargo craft will undock from the Pirs docking compartment Wednesday at 9:50 a.m. It will reenter Earth’s atmosphere April 25 for a fiery demise over the Pacific Ocean. The 68P has been attached to the station since Oct. 16.

The next cargo craft due to resupply the station is the SpaceX Dragon. After its launch April 2 at 4:30 p.m. Dragon will take a two-day flight to the station. The commercial cargo craft will be robotically captured and installed next Wednesday at 6 a.m. to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.

Kanai and Tingle will be at the robotics controls inside the cupola when they capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The duo practiced the Dragon rendezvous and capture procedures today. The crew has also been configuring the orbital lab for the new science experiments Dragon is delivering next week.

Expedition 55 at Full Staff After New Trio Boards Station

Expedition 55 Crew Greeting Creremony
The newest Expedition 55 crew members (front row from left) Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel gather in the Zvezda service module and speak to family and colleagues back on Earth. Behind them are (from left) Norishige Kanai, Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Scott Tingle. Credit: NASA TV

Three new Expedition 55 crew members were welcomed aboard the International Space Station today. The hatches between the two spacecraft opened at 5:48 p.m. EDT, marking the arrival of Expedition 55 Flight Engineers Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos.

The trio joined Scott Tingle of NASA, Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Momentarily, crew will speak to their family and friends from Baiknour in a welcoming ceremony that will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

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