Crew Preps for Friday Spacewalk During Continuous Science

Astronauts (from left) Luca Parmitano, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan
Astronauts (from left) Luca Parmitano, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are pictured at the robotics workstation inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

The International Space Station’s cosmic particle detector, in operation since 2011, will get its first repair job during a series of spacewalks set to start this Friday. The Expedition 61 crew is gearing up for the spacewalk while ensuring ongoing advanced space research.

Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will lead at least four excursions into the vacuum of space to upgrade the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will assist the commander as they cut and reconnect fluid lines on the AMS’ thermal control system. The AMS captures cosmic particles and measures their electrical charge in its search for antimatter and dark matter.

NASA TV begins its live spacewalk coverage Friday at 5:30 a.m. EST. Parmitano and Morgan will set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power at 7:05 a.m. signifying the start of their spacewalk.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch will support the duo on Friday. Meir will be in charge of the Canadarm2 robotic arm while Koch manages the U.S. spacesuits. All four astronauts gathered today and reviewed robotics procedures for the spacewalk repairs.

Life science and space physics also took up a portion of the crew’s schedule today. Koch checked out hardware on a 3-D bioprinter and watered plants as Meir fed lab mice. Morgan and Parmitano serviced biology and fluids research gear.

In the Russian segment of the station, a pair of cosmonauts packed a resupply ship for its Nov. 29 departure while working science and life support maintenance. Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov researched plasma crystals for an experiment that may inform future spacecraft designs. Oleg Skripochka checked the Zarya module’s power supply system before plumbing work and computer maintenance.

Expedition 61 Crew Servicing Spacesuits and Science Hardware Today

Astronaut Christina Koch works on orbital plumbing tasks
Astronaut Christina Koch works on orbital plumbing tasks as she replaces components inside the International Space Station’s bathroom.

The Expedition 61 crew serviced a variety of science and life support hardware today aboard the International Space Station. U.S. spacesuits are also being readied for a series upcoming cosmic repair spacewalks.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will enter the vacuum of space on Nov. 15 to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Christina Koch of NASA is preparing the U.S. spacesuits and cleaning the components ahead of at least four planned AMS repair spacewalks. The spacewalking duo will perform the complex repairs necessary to upgrade the dark matter and antimatter detector’s thermal control system.

In the meantime, Morgan focused on science hardware and set up experiment gear containing materials for exposure in the harsh environment of space. He installed three experiment carriers inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock before depressurizing it. Japan’s robotic arm will grapple the carriers and deploy them outside Kibo. The research is testing how cosmic radiation, extreme temperatures and other space phenomena affect a variety of samples.

Science freezers that preserve critical research samples for analysis had their systems checked today by NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir. She also replaced components on a 3-D bioprinter, also called the BioFabrication Facility. The device is testing the manufacturing of complex human organ tissue shapes in space.

Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov is packing trash and obsolete gear inside the Progress 73 (73P) resupply ship. The 73P will undock from the Pirs docking compartment on Nov. 29 for a fiery but safe disposal over the southern Pacific.

Blood Pressure, DNA Studies as Astronauts Prep for Complex Spacewalk Repairs

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
Astronauts (from left) Christina Koch and Jessica Meir practice the Canadarm2 robotics techniques they would use to capture the Cygnus space freighter when it arrived Nov. 4.

The Expedition 61 crew explored how microgravity is affecting a variety of biological processes in humans and microbes today. Two astronauts are also gearing up for tentatively planned spacewalks to repair a cosmic particle detector.

Aging on Earth and living in space impacts an individual’s blood pressure with some astronauts experiencing stiffened arteries after returning to the ground. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir investigated the phenomena today attaching electrodes to her leg and scanning her veins with an ultrasound device. Doctors on Earth will review the downloaded data with results informing potential therapies for Earth-bound and space-caused ailments.

Microbes live everywhere including inside the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is sequencing DNA collected from microbial samples swabbed from inside the orbiting lab. Observations may provide insights into the genetic adaptations taking place to survive in weightlessness.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan are studying the complex spacewalk procedures required to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). At least four spacewalks are scheduled, the first of which will be on Friday, Nov. 15. The dates for the other spacewalks are under review and will be scheduled in the near future.

The duo have begun unpacking the AMS tools and hardware delivered aboard the Cygnus resupply ship on Monday. The eight-and-a-half year-old device, which searches for signs of dark matter and antimatter, will have its thermal control system upgraded over a series of soon-to-be scheduled spacewalks.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka explored their set of human research in the station’s Russian segment today. The duo researched the space-caused loss of bone mass and the interactions between international crews and mission controllers during long-duration missions.

Japan Cargo Ship Departs, U.S. Resupply Rocket Preps for Launch

Japan's HTV-8 resupply ship before release from the Canadarm2
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the International Space Station flies into an orbital sunrise.

A U.S. cargo craft is poised to resupply the International Space Station just days after a Japanese space freighter departed the orbiting lab Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Expedition 61 crew today continued an array of microgravity research and spacewalk preparations.

Flight Engineer Christina Koch with back-up support from NASA astronaut Jessica Meir used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Japan’s HTV-8 cargo spacecraft at 1:21 p.m. EDT today. The cargo craft spent five weeks attached to the orbiting lab following a Sept. 24 launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.

HTV-8 delivered some five tons of supplies and experiments to the orbital complex as well as new lithium-ion batteries. The batteries were installed in the electronics system of the far port truss of the complex replacing older nickel-hydrogen batteries and upgrading the station’s power supply.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship sits atop an Antares rocket loaded with 8,200 pounds of science experiments and station hardware. Liftoff will take place on Saturday at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Meir and Koch will be in the cupola Monday morning awaiting the arrival of Cygnus. Meir will command the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Cygnus at 4:10 a.m. EST. Koch will back up Meir as astronaut Andrew Morgan of NASA monitors Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous.

Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) are also getting up to speed with repair techniques for an external cosmic particle detector.  The duo is reviewing procedures to replace the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) thermal control system during a series of spacewalks tentatively planned for this month. The AMS measures the charge, velocity and mass of cosmic rays in its search for evidence of dark matter and anti-matter.

Morgan also watered plants and set up biology hardware that will house rodents shipped aboard Cygnus. Parmitano monitored the free-flying Astrobee robotic assistant testing its autonomous ability to perform tasks inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka focused on Russian spacecraft work and science in their segment of the space station. The duo charged Soyuz crew ship batteries and packed a Progress cargo craft. Skvortsov then studied how pain adjusts to microgravity while Skripochka moved on to plumbing tasks.

Astronauts Release Japanese Spaceship

The Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle 8 (HTV-8) from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
The Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle 8 (HTV-8) from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is pictured moments after it was released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch with back-up support from NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, used the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release a Japanese cargo spacecraft at 1:21 p.m. EDT. At the time of release, the space station was flying about 260 miles over the Pacific ocean just off the coast of California. Earlier, ground controllers used the robotic arm to unberth the cargo craft.

HTV-8 will be a safe distance away from the space station after the last of several deorbit maneuvers. The spacecraft is scheduled to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the South Pacific Ocean.

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

Japanese Cargo Craft Departs from Station

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is pictured in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic before it was attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

After delivering more than four tons of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station, an unpiloted Japanese cargo spacecraft is scheduled to depart the station today. Live coverage of the departure will begin at 1 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Earlier today, ground controllers used the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) from an Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, then moved the spacecraft into its release position. Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the HTV at 1:20 p.m.

Named “Kounotori,” or “white stork” in Japanese, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft delivered six new lithium-ion batteries to replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries used in two power channels on the space station’s port truss. HTV-8 also delivered scientific experiments, including an upgrade to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF-L), a small-sized satellite optical communication system (SOLISS), and a payload for testing the effects of gravity on powder and granular material (Hourglass).

HTV-8 launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan Sept. 24, and the spacecraft was installed at the station Sept. 28.

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

Station Crew Readies for Japan, U.S. Cargo Missions

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket that will launch the Cygnus cargo craft to the space station is seen at its Virginia launch pad.

A Japanese cargo craft is preparing to end its mission at the International Space Station, as a U.S. resupply ship stands ready to launch to the orbiting lab. The Expedition 61 crew is gearing up for the space traffic while also staying fresh on station emergency procedures.

Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft, also called Kounotori, will complete its 34-day mission attached to the station’s Harmony module on Friday. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are sharpening their Canadarm2 robotic arm skills today as they train to release the Kounotori packed with trash and obsolete gear  at 1:20 p.m. EDT. It will fall to Earth over the Pacific Ocean and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere on Saturday.

The 12th U.S.-made Cygnus resupply ship sits atop an Antares rocket and will blast off Saturday from Virginia at 9:59 a.m. EDT. The space delivery vehicle from Northrop Grumman will arrive Monday, when Meir with Koch as her backup will capture it at 4:10 a.m. EST with the Canadarm2. Robotic controllers on the ground will take over and remotely guide Cygnus and attach it to the Unity module where it will stay for 70 days.

NASA TV will cover all the mission activities live.

Three station crewmates brushed up on their emergency response skills today in the unlikely event they would need to evacuate the station in their Soyuz crew ship. Koch with Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov practiced quickly entering their Soyuz and simulated emergency undocking and descent procedures.

Crop Harvest on Station After Robotics, Human Research Today

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir waters plant pillows where Mizuna mustard greens are raised as part of the Veg-04B experiment.

The Expedition 61 crew harvested a space-grown crop today aboard the International Space Station. The orbital lab residents also tested robotics systems before exploring blood pressure and time perception in microgravity.

Space agriculture aboard the orbiting laboratory has been ongoing for several years to learn how to provide fresh food to space crews. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan continued that research by cutting Mizuna leaves today for a taste test and stowing the leftovers in a science freezer for scientific analysis.

Morgan also took turns with Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) wearing virtual reality goggles and clicking a trackball for a time perception study. The investigation observes subjective time changes astronauts experience during space missions and back on Earth after missions.

The Astrobee free-flying robotic assistant had a test-run today as Parmitano calibrated the autonomous device’s systems. The ESA astronaut checked Astrobee’s abilities to navigate, dock and visually monitor activities inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

The Cygnus resupply ship will launch Saturday at 9:59 a.m. EDT atop the Antares rocket from Virginia. Meir and NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch are practicing robotic techniques to capture Cygnus when it arrives two days later. Meir, with Koch backing her up in the cupola, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus Monday at 4:10 a.m. EST.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka spent Wednesday morning exploring how blood pressure responds to the lack of gravity. The duo split up in the afternoon as Skvortsov checked Russian communication and spacecraft systems. Skripochka worked on life support systems and explored how orbiting Earth affects the station’s magnetic field.

Spacesuits, Human Research, Robotics Training Ahead of Cargo Missions

Astronaut Jessica Meir works on the Combustion Integrated Rack
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir works to swap out a failed computer hard drive that supports experiments inside the Combustion Integrated Rack aboard the International Space Station’s U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The six-member Expedition 61 crew juggled spacesuit maintenance and human research activities aboard the International Space Station today. The orbital residents are also getting ready to send off and receive resupply ships.

Two U.S. spacesuits are being serviced ahead of a series of spacewalks planned to repair a cosmic particle detector, also known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan are tentatively scheduled to venture outside the station in November and upgrade the AMS thermal control system.

Parmitano also tested a device that measures an astronaut’s mass using Newton’s Second Law of Motion. The device applies a known force to an attached astronaut and the resulting acceleration is used to accurately calculate an astronaut’s mass.

NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch shared maintenance duties on a human organ printer, the BioFabrication Facility. Scientists are testing the 3D biological printing facility for its ability to print more cohesive organ structures in microgravity than on Earth.

Koch and Meir will also be on Canadarm2 robotics duty on Friday and Monday to support a pair of cargo missions. Koch, with Meir backing her up, will command the robotic release of Japan’s HTV-8 resupply ship Friday at 1:20 p.m. EDT. The HTV-8 is wrapping up a 34-day mission attached to the Harmony module.

They will switch roles on Monday when Meir takes charge of the Canadarm2 robotic arm and captures Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft at 4:10 a.m. EST. Koch will back her up in the cupola while Morgan monitors the Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous. Cygnus will launch Saturday at 9:59 a.m. atop the Antares rocket from Virginia.

Crew Gearing Up for U.S. and Japanese Cargo Ship Activities

NASA astronaut Christina Koch performs science operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Ring Sheared Drop human health and advanced materials investigation. Image Credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Christina Koch performs science operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Ring Sheared Drop human health and advanced materials investigation. Image Credit: NASA

A Japanese cargo vehicle will be departing the International Space Station and a U.S. vehicle beginning its trip there this Saturday. The Expedition 61 crew is getting ready for both missions while staying busy with space research and lab maintenance.

Japan’s HTV-8 resupply ship, also known as Kounotori, will depart the orbiting lab at the end of the week and complete a 34-day cargo mission attached to the Harmony module. NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan are loading the craft today with trash and obsolete gear. Meir will back up fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch on Friday when she releases HTV-8 from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 1:20 p.m. EDT.

The duo is also on robotics training today preparing for the 12th Cygnus resupply mission from Northrop Grumman. Meir, with Koch as her backup, will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Cygnus when it arrives Monday Nov. 2, at 4:10 a.m. The Cygnus cargo craft, named SS Alan Bean for the Apollo and Skylab astronaut, launches Saturday from Virginia at 9:59 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the spaceship launch and arrival activities to the station live.

Morgan started his workday setting up a laptop computer for science operations in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module’s Cell Biology Experiment Facility. After some life support maintenance, he moved on to botany research before finally moving a science freezer from one research rack to another.

Commander Luca Parmitano spent a few moments Monday afternoon checking samples for the Ring Sheared Drop human health and advanced materials investigation. The ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut also joined Morgan during the morning and reviewed spacewalk repair procedures for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka started the morning photographing Russian spacewalk hardware. The duo then split up as Skvortsov tested spacecraft simulation software while Skripochka inspected Russian segment surfaces for moisture and corrosion.