Crew Sets Up Station for New Research Delivery Aboard Dragon

The Canadarm2 and the Caspian Sea
Canada’s 57.7-foot-long robotic arm, also known as the Canadarm2, with a latching end effector at its tip (used to grapple approaching spacecraft and portable data grapple fixtures) is pictured in the foreground as the International Space Station was orbiting over the Caspian Sea.

The Expedition 56 crew members are configuring the International Space Station for several new experiments being delivered on the upcoming SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. The orbital residents also explored space physics and serviced U.S. spacesuits.

NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold worked on science hardware today to support new research being delivered aboard Dragon when it arrives Monday at 7 a.m. EDT. The duo also continued studying the robotics procedures necessary to capture Dragon after its approach and rendezvous next week.

Feustel cleaned a mouse habitat for the Rodent Research-7 experiment observing microbes in the gastrointestinal system in mice. Arnold checked out the functionality of the Veggie facility that will process plants for the Veg-03 study researching how to grow food in space.

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor looked at how cement solidifies in space exploring its microstructure and material properties. Results could impact the design of lightweight space habitats and improve cement and concrete processing on Earth.

Finally, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency looked at spacesuit gear and set up the Quest airlock for future spacewalk operations. Gerst purged nitrogen from the suit’s oxygen lines and helped ground controllers prepare for overnight oxygen leak checks.

Crew Gets Ready for Dragon, Studies Space Impacts on Health and Physics

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the International Space Station was orbiting above northern Africa on May 5, 2018.

The Expedition 56 crew members are getting ready for the arrival next week of the 15th SpaceX Dragon mission to the International Space Station. The space residents also explored how microgravity impacts health and physics today while setting up a variety of cubesats for deployment.

The Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX that will launch the Dragon space freighter into Earth orbit is due to lift off Friday at 5:41 a.m. EDT and take a three-day trip to the orbital laboratory. The commercial space freighter will be loaded with almost six thousand pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies and space station hardware.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold will be backed up by Commander Drew Feustel in the Cupola when he commands the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon Monday at 7 a.m. The duo is reviewing procedures and training on a computer this week for the rendezvous and capture activities. Robotics controllers on the ground will then take over after the capture and remotely install Dragon a couple of hours later to the Harmony module where it will remain for 32 days. NASA TV will broadcast live the Dragon science briefings, launch, capture and installation activities.

Feustel started the workweek collecting and stowing biological samples for the Multi-Omics study that is observing how gut microbes may affect an astronaut’s immune system. He then worked on the Atomization experiment that is researching liquid spray processes to potentially improve the design of jet and rocket engines.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor installed a cubesat deployer on a multi-purpose experiment platform that will soon be placed outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. It will deploy nine different cubesats to continue space research and demonstrate space applications.

Crew Researching Microbes and Plants For Space and Earth Benefits

Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency
Astronaut Alexander Gerst is seated in the Columbus laboratory module participating in the Grip study. Grip is researching how the nervous system adapts to microgravity. Observations may improve the design of safer space habitats and help patients on Earth with neurological diseases.

The Expedition 56 crew members researched microbes and plants today and conducted more eye exams to benefit future space residents as well as people on Earth. The Cygnus space freighter continues to be packed for its release in July as robotics controllers get ready to inspect the vehicle.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor stowed genetically modified microbes in a science freezer that will be analyzed for their ability to compete with petrochemical production processes on Earth. Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold, also from NASA, thinned plants for the Plant Habitat-1 experiment that is comparing plants grown in microgravity to those grown on Earth.

Arnold and Auñón-Chancellor later joined Commander Drew Feustel for more eye checks. The trio used optical coherence tomography to capture 2D and 3D imagery of the eye to help doctors understand how living in space affects eyesight.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst was packing Cygnus with trash and old gear today ahead of its July 15 release.

Crew Studies How Space Affects Time Perception, Exercise and Eyesight Today

Cygnus and Soyuz spacecraft
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) Cygnus commercial space freighter with its cymbal-like Ultra-Flex solar arrays and the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft are pictured in this fish-eye lens view from a window on the International Space Station.

Quite a wide variety of science activities took place today aboard the International Space Station exploring time perception, exercise and eyesight. The Expedition 56 crew members also worked on station plumbing, stowed satellite deployer gear and checked out communications gear.

Two-time station resident Alexander Gerst started his morning helping doctors understand how living in space alters time perception and impacts crew performance. Later he strapped himself into an exercise bike and attached electrodes to his chest to monitor his pulmonary function during the workout session.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor teamed up for eye exams with an ultrasound device to study microgravity’s effects on eyesight. The scans were downlinked real-time to scientists on Earth observing the retina and optic nerve while monitoring the health of the astronaut’s eyes.

Auñón-Chancellor started her day changing out a filter and valve in the station’s bathroom located in the Tranquility module. She then checked out Wi-Fi gear connected to antennas installed during a March 29 spacewalk after assisting Feustel in the Japanese Kibo lab module. The duo stowed gear after Wednesday’s successful deployment of a satellite to demonstrate space junk clean up.

Arnold was set to install radio frequency tags today to improve tool tracking but that task was postponed till after the Cygnus cargo ship departs July 15. He then moved on to emergency communication tests with control centers around the world before light maintenance work on a 3D manufacturing device.

New Satellite, Space Research and Cargo Missions Fill Crew Agenda

Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor collects breath samples to analyze and measure red blood cell function for the Marrow investigation.

The International Space Station deployed a satellite this morning to demonstrate the potential of removing space junk. Back inside the orbital lab, the Expedition 56 crew explored space physics, studied human research and conducted an emergency drill.

A new satellite was deployed into space today from outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. Officially named the NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite, it will explore using a 3D camera to map the location and speed of space debris. It will also deploy a net to capture a nanosatellite that will simulate space junk.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold worked inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox to troubleshoot gear today for a semiconductor crystal growth experiment. Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, set up dosimeters and measured the station’s acoustic levels to understand the effects on crews.

Arnold later joined fellow Soyuz MS-08 crewmates Drew Feustel of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos for an emergency drill. The trio practiced evacuating the station in their Soyuz crew ship in the unlikely event of an emergency.

U.S. and Russian cargo ships are due to launch to the space station this summer. Another cargo craft is due to end its stay at the orbital lab next month. SpaceX is counting down to a June 29 launch of its Dragon cargo ship. Roscosmos will launch its Progress 70 cargo craft on July 9. Finally, the Cygnus space freighter attached to the Unity module is due to end its stay July 15.

Spacewalkers Complete HD Camera Installation Work

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold exits the Quest airlock beginning the sixth spacewalk of 2018. Credit: @OlegMKS

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA completed the sixth spacewalk at the International Space Station this year at 2:55 p.m. EDT, lasting 6 hours, 49 minutes. The two astronauts installed new high-definition cameras that will provide enhanced views during the final phase of approach and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft that will soon begin launching from American soil.

They also swapped a camera assembly on the starboard truss of the station, closed an aperture door on an external environmental imaging experiment outside the Japanese Kibo module, and completed two additional tasks to relocate a grapple bar to aid future spacewalkers and secured some gear associated with a spare cooling unit housed on the station’s truss.

This was the 211th spacewalk in support of assembly and maintenance of the unique orbiting laboratory where humans have been living and working continuously for nearly 18 years. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 54 days, 23 hours and 29 minutes working outside the station.

During the ninth spacewalk of Feustel’s career, he moved into third place for total cumulative time spent spacewalking with a total of 61 hours and 48 minutes. It was Arnold’s fifth spacewalk with a total time of 32 hours and 4 minutes.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Astronauts Begin Sixth Spacewalk at Station This Year

Spacewalkers Suited Up
Spacewalkers Ricky Arnold (left) and Drew Feustel (right) are suited up inside the Quest airlock prior to beginning today’s spacewalk. Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor (top) and Alexander Gerst (bottom) assisted the duo this morning. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:06 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.

Arnold, embarking on his fifth spacewalk, is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1). His spacesuit has red stripes, and views from a camera on Arnold’s helmet are designated with the number 17.

Feustel is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2) for this spacewalk, the ninth of his career. Feustel’s spacesuit has no stripes, and views from his helmet camera are labeled with the number 18.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch Veteran Spacewalkers Live on NASA TV Now

NASA astronaut Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel seemingly hangs off the International Space Station while conducting a spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold (out of frame) on March 29, 2018. Feustel, as are all spacewalkers, was safely tethered at all times to the space station during the six-hour, ten-minute spacewalk.

NASA Television and the agency’s website have begun the broadcast of today’s spacewalk.

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA are preparing to exit the International Space Station to make improvements and repairs to the orbiting laboratory. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin about 8:10 a.m. EDT and last about six-and-a-half hours.

Newly arrived Expedition 56 crew members Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) are supporting the spacewalkers.

Feustel and Arnold will install new high-definition cameras near an international docking adapter mated to the front end of the station’s Harmony module. The additions will provide enhanced views during the final phase of approach and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft that will soon begin launching from American soil.

The astronauts also will swap out a camera assembly on the starboard truss of the station and close an aperture door on an external environmental imaging experiment outside the Japanese Kibo module.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA TV Set to Broadcast Spacewalk Live on Thursday

NASA astronaut Drew Feustel
An Expedition 55 crew member inside the cupola photographed NASA astronaut Drew Feustel outside the International Space Station conducting a spacewalk with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold (out of frame) on March 29, 2018.

Veteran NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will head outside the International Space Station just after 8 a.m. EDT Thursday to begin a planned six-and-a-half-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 new cameras to provide high-definition views of spacecraft docking with the station.

The two spacewalkers will install brackets and high-definition cameras near an international docking adapter mated to the front end of the station’s Harmony module. The additions will provide enhanced views during the final phase of approach and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft that will soon begin launching from American soil.

During their spacewalk, the astronauts also will swap out a camera assembly on the starboard truss of the station and close an aperture door on an external environmental imaging experiment outside the Japanese Kibo module. The imaging experiment hardware will be discarded on a future SpaceX cargo resupply mission.

The spacewalk will be the 211th in support of space station assembly and maintenance and the sixth station spacewalk this year. It also will be the fifth spacewalk for Arnold and the ninth spacewalk in Feustel’s career. During the spacewalk, Arnold will wear a suit bearing red stripes while Feustel’s suit will not have stripes.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Two NASA Astronauts Set to Go on Their Third Spacewalk This Year

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are suited up inside U.S. spacesuits for a fit check verification ahead of a spacewalk that took place May 16, 2016.

Correction, June 14, 2018:  This post has been updated to clarify the timing of the first uncrewed test missions, which are planned for later this year.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are set to go on their third spacewalk together this year on Thursday at the International Space Station. Their new Expedition 56 crewmates Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are training today to support the two spacewalkers.

Arnold and Feustel will begin Thursday’s spacewalk at 8:10 a.m. to install new high definition cameras to support upcoming commercial crew missions from SpaceX and Boeing to the orbital laboratory. The first uncrewed test missions are planned to begin later this year. The cameras will provide improved views of the commercial crew vehicles as they approach and dock to the station. NASA TV will provide complete live coverage of the 211th space station spacewalk starting at 6:30 a.m.

Auñón-Chancellor and Gerst, who just arrived at the station on Friday, will assist the spacewalkers on Thursday. Gerst will help the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits. Auñón-Chancellor will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The duo practiced today on a computer the robotics procedures necessary to maneuver a spacewalker to and from the worksite on the starboard side of the station’s truss structure.

Arnold and Feustel had some extra time today to work on science and maintenance activities. Arnold worked with the Microgravity Science Glovebox to troubleshoot a semiconductor crystal growth experiment. Feustel performed some plumbing work in the Tranquility module before relocating a pair of incubator units to support new experiments being delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. Finally, the duo readied the Quest airlock and their spacesuits for Thursday morning’s spacewalk.