The International Space Station residents were back at work Thursday after an ammonia leak indication sent the crew over to the Russian segment. Flight controllers determined there was no leak and NASA managers allowed the crew to resume normal activities and open the U.S. segment back up.
This week, the orbital residents kicked off several new experiments delivered Monday morning aboard the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked in Japan’s Kibo lab module feeding fruit flies for an experiment that will observe how long-term microgravity affects the immune system. NASA astronaut Terry Virts set up bacteria kits inside the Destiny lab’s Microgravity Science Glovebox for an experiment that explores the risk of infectious disease in space.
SpaceX engineers swapped out a suspect thrust vector control actuator in the second stage of their Falcon 9 rocket that halted Tuesday’ s launch of its Dragon commercial cargo craft. Dragon’s launch atop the Falcon 9 is now set for Saturday at 4:47 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m.
Thursday’s Expedition 42 science highlights included a pair of advanced remote control experiments inside the International Space Station. One experiment is studying the feasibility of controlling robots on the ground from space with a crew member using an advanced joystick that provides haptic feedback. The other uses bowling ball sized satellites, known as SPHERES, programmed by competing teams of high school students to accomplish tasks relevant to future space missions.
Another experiment is researching acoustic methods for locating punctures on the outside of the space station caused by human activity or micrometeoroid impacts. Crew members also studied the plasma environment in the station and photographed the ongoing man-made and natural changes to the Earth’s surface.
The International Space Station crew has been working on a variety of robotics activities this week. On Wednesday, they tested a humanoid robot and explored how bowling ball-sized satellites, known as SPHERES, can navigate around objects. Crew members trained earlier in the week for the planned Sunday capture of the Dragon spacecraft using the 57.7 foot Canadarm2.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts unpacked Robonaut 2 so that payload controllers from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama could power up its new legs for the first time. Robonaut’s legs, which arrived on a previous SpaceX mission, were installed in August. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti downloaded SPHERES data demonstrating how the small free-floating satellites build 3D maps of objects and interact and navigate using those 3D models.
Cristoforetti also joined Commander Barry Wilmore removing a small satellite deployer, nicknamed CYCLOPS, from Japan’s Kibo lab module for troubleshooting. Afterward, Wilmore conducted a vision test and set up a multipurpose experiment platform in Kibo.
Veteran cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov installed more overlay sheets inside the Zarya cargo module. New cosmonaut Elena Serova conducted a photographic inspection of the interior panels of the Zvezda service module. The trio also worked a wide variety of science including studies of bioelectric cardiac activity and the effects that earthquakes and human activities have on Earth’s ionosphere.
Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts were back at work Tuesday for more maintenance on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly. The device removes humidity and carbon dioxide from the International Space Station’s environment.
Wilmore later removed and stowed a printed test object, or coupon, from the new 3D printer located in the Destiny lab’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti started the 3D print job earlier in the day.
Fellow cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova partnered up on routine communications maintenance work. They were later joined by their newest crewmate, Anton Shkaplerov, on a chemistry experiment designed to educate Russian students.
The International Space Station is operating at full capacity as the six-member Expedition 42 crew ramps up new science experiments by setting up research hardware.
Commander Barry Wilmore partnered up with new Flight Engineer Terry Virts in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module setting up a nanosatellite deployer known as Cyclops. Wilmore then moved on to science freezer maintenance while Virts worked on the Aniso Tubule botany study and measured air velocity in Kibo.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on her first space mission set up gear for the Blind and Imagined experiment that observes visual and sensory changes in crew members on long-duration space missions. The three cosmonauts worked on a variety of Russian science experiments including the study of the cardiovascular system, radiation exposure in the station and plasma research.
The three orbiting Expedition 42 crew members are wrapping up the work week with science, cargo transfers and maintenance. Meanwhile, another crew is on the ground awaiting its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Commander Barry Wilmore worked in the Kibo laboratory checking out the lab module’s robotic arm. He was also in the Destiny lab module studying plants, which can provide oxygen and food for future crews, for the Seedling Growth experiment. His fellow crewmates Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova worked in the station’s Russian segment off-loading cargo from the docked ISS Progress 57 resupply ship and reconfiguring networks.
The next Expedition 42 trio is in Kazakhstan relaxing in their crew quarters at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti are preparing for a six hour trip to the International Space Station; they’re launching Nov. 23 aboard the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst scanned his arteries then measured his body shape and size Wednesday. Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore joined Gerst for the scanning activities using an Ultrasound for the Cardio Ox experiment. NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman assisted Gerst with the Body Measures study.
In the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory, Commander Max Suraev continued packing gear inside the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft that he, Wiseman and Gerst will use to return to Earth on Nov. 9. Cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev assisted Suraev’s departure effort, checking the Iridium phones used in the Soyuz for emergency communications. Elena Serova participated in a psychophysiological evaluation, then inventoried gear in the Zarya module and Pirs docking compartment.
The next trio to launch to the station is getting ready for a news conference to be held Thursday in Star City, Russia, before going to Moscow for traditional pre-launch ceremonies. Expedition 42/43 crew members Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov are due to liftoff Nov. 23 aboard their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft for a six hour ride to their new home in space.
Cosmonauts Max Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev opened the hatch to the ISS Progress 57 space freighter which arrived Wednesday morning. Suraev also joined NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman for descent training in advance of their Nov. 9 landing in the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft.
Flight Engineers Barry Wilmore and Alexander Gerst scrubbed cooling loops in the U.S. spacesuits throughout the day. Gerst also changed the water in the Kibo laboratory’s Aquatic Habitat.
Orbital Sciences Corp. has completed an initial assessment of its launch facility in Virginia after Tuesday night’s catastrophic failure of the Antares rocket.