Advanced microgravity science is moving full speed ahead now that the International Space Station is fully staffed with the six-member Expedition 43 crew. New science gear is also headed to the station as SpaceX readies its Dragon cargo craft for their sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission (SpaceX CRS-6).
Commander Terry Virts studied how blood pressure is impacted before, during and after a spaceflight for the BP Reg experiment. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly collected his perspiration samples after an exercise session for the Microbiome study then prepared for upcoming Ultrasound and blood pressure work. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti began her day with Aniso Tubule botany work then moved on to gathering tools for the Rodent Research study.
Kelly’s fellow One-Year crew member, Mikhail Kornienko, mixed cell cultures in a bioreactor before downloading data collected for identification of the dynamic forces on the space station. Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov ended his 24 hour blood pressure monitoring session then studied ways to detect pressure leaks inside the station for the Bar experiment.
Cristoforetti later joined Virts for a grapple training session as they prepare to capture the Dragon space freighter with the Canadarm2 when it arrives next week. Dragon will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket April 13 delivering new science experiments such as OASIS and ISSpresso.
Commander Terry Virts and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly, both NASA astronauts, partnered together Monday for spacesuit maintenance in the Quest airlock. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti also worked throughout the U.S. segment on a variety of botany science and life research benefitting humans on Earth and crews in space.
A trio of cosmonauts, Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov, Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked on an array of ongoing science and maintenance in the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory. They worked on the Kurs automated rendezvous system which can guide and dock a Russian spacecraft from inside the space station if necessary. The crew also sampled the Zvezda service module’s air and analyzed it for quality.
Back on Earth, SpaceX is readying its Falcon rocket and Dragon commercial space freighter for an April 13 launch from Florida to the International Space Station. Dragon will fly for two days before its capture and berthing to the Harmony module where it will stay until May 20. This will be the sixth SpaceX mission (SpaceX CRS-6) for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
A wide variety of research exploring how life adapts to long-term exposure to microgravity took place on the International Space Station Friday. The crew members also worked on cargo transfers to and from a pair of docked vehicles.
More crew Ocular Health eye checks were on the schedule as scientists study the fluid shifts caused by microgravity and how they affect a crew member’s vision. New software was loaded on computers for the Rodent Research study, a life sciences experiment that was delivered on a SpaceX mission in January.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who collected a saliva sample for stowage in a science freezer, and his twin brother on the ground Mark Kelly are the subjects of the Twins study. That investigation compares the two brothers, one in space and one on the ground, and explores how the different environments affect the twins with identical genes.
On the Russian side of the orbital lab, the crew unloaded gear from the recently docked Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft. The ISS Progress 57 space freighter, docked to the Pirs docking compartment, is also being packed with trash ahead of its departure and fiery disposal April 25.
Medical science and training took a significant portion of the Expedition 43 crew’s schedule Thursday. The newest three crew members are getting used to their new home on orbit. Finally, the International Space Station boosted its orbit.
Several crew members participated in eye checks for the Ocular Health study as scientists study how microgravity affects vision during long duration missions. The newest trio to join Expedition 43 trained to prepare for a medical emergency while also familiarizing themselves with station systems.
A docked ISS Progress 58 space freighter fired its engines boosting the space station’s orbit by eight-tenths of a mile. The reboost readies the station to receive the new ISS Progress 59 supply ship when it launches and docks April 28.
SpaceX is targeting Monday, April 13 to launch the next commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is targeted for approximately 4:33 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m.
A Monday launch will result in the Dragon spacecraft arriving at the space station Wednesday, April 15. Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station’s 57.7-foot robotic arm to reach out and capture Dragon at approximately 7:14 a.m. Flight Engineer Terry Virts of NASA will support Cristoforetti as they operate from the station’s cupola. NASA TV coverage of grapple will begin at 5 a.m. Coverage of Dragon’s installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 9:15 a.m.
If the launch does not occur on Monday, the next launch opportunity would be at approximately 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, April 14.
This is the sixth SpaceX commercial resupply services mission and the seventh trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the station. Dragon is filled with more than 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to support science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 43 and 44. After about five weeks at the space station, Dragon will return to Earth filled with cargo including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, and space station hardware.
The three newest Expedition 43 crew members joined Commander Terry Virts for emergency hardware familiarization Tuesday. Later, new cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly got together for communication training with ground controllers while wearing emergency masks. The trio also worked throughout the day on station orientation and familiarization activities.
Kelly is beginning his One-Year mission so doctors can learn how the human body adapts to long-term space missions. Doctors are comparing his body with his twin brother former astronaut Mark Kelly for the Twins study and will analyze biological samples from the duo during the mission.
Meanwhile, Expedition 43 will welcome its first space freighter April 12 after SpaceX launches its sixth Dragon mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract April 10. Virts began prepacking gear that will be returned on Dragon May 21.
Kelly and Kornienko will spend about a year on the space station to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. Data from the one-year mission will be used to determine whether there are ways to further reduce the risks on future long-duration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.
The crew will support several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth. Data and samples will be collected throughout the year from a series of studies involving Scott and his twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. The studies will compare data from the genetically-identical Kelly brothers to identify any subtle changes caused by spaceflight.
During the expedition, both a U.S. and a Russian cargo resupply vehicle will arrive at the station, bringing several tons of food, fuel, and supplies as well as a host of new science investigations.
Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti will return home in May 2015. At that time Padalka will become commander for Expedition 44. Padalka will spend six months aboard the outpost, during which he will become the first four-time station commander and record holder for most cumulative time spent in space. Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth in March 2016 with Expedition 46 after 342 days in space.
To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and the one-year mission on Twitter, follow the hashtag #YearinSpace. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.
The Soyuz TMA-16M vehicle docked to the International Space Station at 9:33 p.m. EDT, over the western coast of Colombia.
Aboard the space station, Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will welcome Soyuz crew members Scott Kelly of NASA, and Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened.
Aboard their Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft, Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka are scheduled to dock at 9:36 p.m. EDT to the International Space Station’s Poisk module. NASA Television coverage of the docking will begin at 8:45 p.m. and can also be seen online at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.
NASA TV will then resume at 10:45 p.m. to cover hatch opening between the two spacecraft as well as the welcome ceremony.
The Soyuz crew will join Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency). Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti have lived aboard the space station since November.
To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and the one-year mission on Twitter, follow the hashtag #YearinSpace.
The Soyuz TMA-16M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:42 p.m. EDT (1:42 a.m. on March 28 Baikonur time). Scott Kelly of NASA, Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) now are safely in orbit.
Kelly, Kornienko and Padalka will dock with the station’s Poisk module at 9:36 p.m. NASA Television coverage of the docking will begin at 8:45 p.m. Welcoming them aboard will be the current station residents, Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency). NASA TV coverage of the hatch opening and welcome ceremony begins at 10:45 p.m.
Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti arrived at the space station in November aboard their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft and will remain aboard until May 14.
Seven categories of human health research will occur with the inception of the One-Year Mission of Kelly and Kornienko. Researchers expect these investigations to yield beneficial knowledge on the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by astronauts during long-duration spaceflight.
Scientists believe fluid shifts into an astronaut’s head during spaceflight lead to increased pressure in the brain. This also may cause pressure to the back of the eye, causing the eye to change shape. The Fluid Shifts Before, During and After Prolonged Space Flight and Their Association with Intracranial Pressure and Visual Impairment (Fluid Shifts) investigation measures how much fluid moves from the lower body to the upper body, in or out of cells and blood vessels, and determines the impact these shifts have on fluid pressure in the head, changes in vision and eye structures. The study results will help improve researchers’ understanding of how blood pressure in the brain affects eye shape and vision. This knowledge may benefit people on Earth with disease states that include swelling and pressure to the brain or who are confined to bed rest. Results also could help scientists develop preventive measures against changes in astronauts’ vision and eye damage.
Another One-Year Mission investigation is the Biochemical Profile (Biochem Profile), which will allow for quicker response to researchers’ requests for spaceflight data about the effects of microgravity on human physiology. Through the collection, processing and storage of crew member blood and urine samples, the Biochem Profile study will establish a database of biomedical data to be shared among multi-disciplinary researchers and medical operations that assess the effects of spaceflight on humans. This data can be used to provide information about medical risks during long-duration space travel and to evaluate potential countermeasures established to protect crew health. With greater understanding of how various physiological systems respond to changing gravity conditions, physicians may be able to design new treatments for people on Earth with limited mobility.