Japanese Rocket Fueled and Ready for Launch

Japan's Kounotori HTV-2 resupply ship
Japan’s Kounotori HTV-2 resupply ship is seen March 2011 in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

A Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-IIB rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan is fueled and ready for a launch of the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) at 8:26 a.m. EST. NASA Television is providing live coverage of the launch, which can be seen at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

Loaded with more than 4.5 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the six-person station crew, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft, named “Kounotori” – the Japanese word for white stork – will set sail on a four-day flight to the station. Also aboard the resupply vehicle are six new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates that will replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently used on the station to store electrical energy generated by the station’s solar arrays. These will be installed during a series of robotic operations and spacewalks between late December and mid-January.

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For more information on previous HTV missions from JAXA to the space station visit:


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NASA TV to Broadcast Live Launch of Japanese Rocket to Station

HTV-6 at Launch Pad
The HTV-6 cargo craft sits atop Japan’s H-IIB rocket at its launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center. Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch its H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 at 8:26 a.m. EST (10:26 p.m. Japan time) Friday, Dec. 9, from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The launch vehicle will send the Kounotori HTV-6 into orbit on a four-day rendezvous for an arrival at the International Space Station.

Live coverage of the launch will begin at 8 a.m. on NASA Television and https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

For more information on previous HTV missions from JAXA to the space station visit:


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Japan Ready for Launch as Crew Focuses on Space Research

NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson floats inside the seven-window cupola with the Earth below her. Whitson is on her third space station mission.

Japan is getting ready to roll out its H-IIB rocket today at the Tanegashima Space Center for a launch Friday at 8:26 a.m. EST to the International Space Station. Riding atop the H-IIB rocket is the Kounotori HTV-6 cargo craft that will take a four-day flight to the station before its capture and installation to the Harmony module Tuesday morning.

Onboard the station, Commander Shane Kimbrough set up gear and ran test runs for the Capillary Flow Experiment-2 today to study how liquids such as fuel and water behave in microgravity. Later in the day Kimbrough photographed lettuce for the VEGGIE-3 study as well as the port solar arrays and radiators for inspection.

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet scanned his neck, thigh and heart with an ultrasound to examine changes to blood vessels that occur while living in space. He later wore a “smart shirt” for the EVERYWEAR study that collects biomedical data for a wide variety of experiments.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson worked throughout the day relocating fluid gear and refilling coolant in the U.S., Japanese and European lab modules.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Oleg Novitskiy conducted an electrocardiogram to study how the heart adapts to long-term space missions. Andrey Borisenko researched ways to improve piloting skills in space and explored plasma physics.


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More Robotics Training as Crew Studies Eye Pressure

Nighttime View of Earth
This nighttime view of Earth includes two docked spacecraft – the Soyuz crew vehicle (bottom left) and the Progress resupply ship (top left) – at the International pace Station.

Japan is preparing to launch its sixth cargo mission to the International Space Station Friday morning. The Expedition 50 crew is training for the cargo ship’s arrival while studying how living in space affects the human body and maintaining station systems.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is getting ready to roll out its H-IIB rocket Thursday afternoon for a launch Friday at 8:26 a.m. Eastern time (10:26 p.m. Japan time) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The H-IIB is carrying the Kounotori HTV-6 cargo craft that will deliver over 4.5 tons of cargo to the International Space Station. Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet continue studying the robotic procedures they will use to capture the HTV-6 when it arrives Tuesday morning.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson, who is on her third station mission, spent the entire day researching how microgravity pulls fluids towards the head. Doctors have noted how these fluid shifts apply pressure to the back of astronauts’ eyes potentially causing damage and affecting vision.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko joined Whitson throughout the day for ultrasound scans and eye checks as part of the Fluid Shifts study. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy measured how activities on the station affect its magnetic field and microgravity environment.


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Artery, Vein Measurements and Robotic Training on Schedule Today

Storm near South America
This non-tropical storm system was captured by Commander Shane Kimbrough Dec. 6 as the International Space Station flew 250 miles over the northeast coast of South America. At the time, Kimbrough was practicing robotic maneuvers with the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm in preparation for the capture of the Japanese HTV-6 cargo ship planned for Dec. 13.

The Expedition 50 crew worked on a series of life science experiments and maintenance operations today. A pair of astronauts also trained for the arrival of Japan’s HTV-6 resupply ship next week.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko started work this morning on the long-running Fluid Shifts experiment. The crew measured their arteries and veins while wearing the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit that pulls fluids towards the feet. The crew then took ultrasound scans to help doctors understand and prevent vision changes astronauts have reported experiencing while living in space.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will roll out its H-IIB rocket with the HTV-6 cargo craft to the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan Thursday afternoon for liftoff Friday at Friday at 8:26 a.m. EST. The Japanese resupply ship will deliver fresh fruit, science hardware, life support gear and new lithium-ion batteries. NASA Television will broadcast the HTV-6 launch live as well as its arrival Dec. 13.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet got together again this afternoon practicing the robotics maneuvers necessary to capture the HTV-6 when it arrives next Tuesday at 6 a.m. Ground controllers are positioning and configuring the Canadarm2 robotic arm so it can grapple the Japanese cargo ship and install it to the Harmony module.


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Crew Preps for Japanese Cargo Mission

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, from France, works inside the Columbus lab module.

The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready for next week’s arrival and capture of Japan’s sixth resupply ship, the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6). The six station residents also worked on a pair of spacesuits and conducted a variety of human research experiments.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is set to launch its HTV-6 resupply ship Friday at 8:26 a.m. EST from the Tanegashima Space Center. Nicknamed “Kounotori,” the HTV-6 is delivering fresh fruit, experiment hardware, Cubesats, life support gear and new lithium-ion batteries. NASA Television will broadcast the HTV-6 launch live as well as its arrival next Tuesday at 6 a.m.

The new lithium-ion batteries will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries located on the S4 truss structure and upgrade the station’s power output. The replacement work will take place using a series of robotics maneuvers and spacewalks through mid-January.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet practiced next week’s HTV-6 robotic capture activities. The duo also reviewed the cargo craft’s rendezvous and approach maneuvers before its capture and installation to the Harmony module.

Kimbrough started his day with some plumbing work before scrubbing the cooling loops on two U.S. spacesuits. Pesquet assisted NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in the morning with an ultrasound scan for the Cardio Ox study that explores the long-term risk of atherosclerosis in astronauts.

Whitson then moved on to collecting gear with cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov for upcoming work on the Fluid Shifts experiment. That experiment researches the pressure an astronaut experiences on the brain and eyes. Veteran cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Oleg Novitskiy worked on numerous Russian science experiments and life support systems.


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Japan Preps Next Cargo Mission

Japan's fifth HII-Transfer Vehicle
Japan’s fifth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) was pictured Sept. 23, 2015 during Expedition 45.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is getting the last cargo mission of 2016 ready for launch next week. It’s sixth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) nick-named “Kounotori” has been in processing for months and will lift off Dec. 9 from Tanegashima, Japan for a three-day trip to the station. The payload aboard HTV-6 will include potable water, fresh food, seven Cubesats, a second small satellite deployer, hardware for new experiments, high-definition video cameras and lithium-ion batteries that will replace older nickel-hydrogen batteries.

Onboard the station, the crew collected blood samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. The blood draws were for a set of experiments exploring how microgravity affects crew health and the long-term risk of plaque build-up in artery walls, or atherosclerosis, in astronauts.

The crew also checked out science hardware aimed at studying the effects of fire and heat in space. A gear replacement task in the Combustion Integrated Rack was put on hold due to an obstruction in the device and is currently being investigated. Samples were also removed from the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that were heated and observed to understand the thermophysical properties of materials heated to high temperatures.


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Year-End Cargo Shipments Prepped Amidst Space Research

International Space Station Configuration
As of Nov. 21, 2016, there are three spacecraft are docked at the station including the Soyuz MS-02 and MS-03 crew vehicles and the Progress 64 resupply ship. Two more spaceships will arrive in December. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready to receive a shipment of space supplies Saturday after Russia launches the Progress 65 cargo craft Thursday morning. The final space delivery of the year will be Dec. 13 when the Kounotori HTV-6 resupply ship arrives four days after its launch from Tanegashima, Japan.

Inside the International Space Station, Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson installed aerosol samplers to collect airborne particles for analysis on Earth. Scientists will study the samples using specialized techniques with powerful microscopes.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is setting up science gear inside Japan’s Kibo lab module to study the fundamental physics of surface tension where liquid and gas meet. The experiment known as Marangoni Ultrasonic Velocity Profiler-2 may improve industrial processes and products on Earth and in space.

New astronaut Thomas Pesquet, from the European Space Agency, strapped himself into the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System chair for a study of his calf muscle and Achilles tendon. On Earth, that area carries loads from the entire human body. He conducted a series of ankle exercises while attached to sensors to monitor any changes in that area caused by living in space.


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Expedition 49 Lands After 115 Day Mission

Expedition 49 Returns Home
Expedition 49 crew members Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi are surrounded by support personnel moments after landing in Kazakhstan after 115 days in space. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency safely landed their Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft in Kazakhstan southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan at 11:58 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 29. Russian recovery teams are helping the crew exit the Soyuz spacecraft and adjust to gravity after their stay in space. The trio will be transported by helicopter to Karaganda, Kazakhstan where they will split up, with Rubins and Onishi returning to Houston in a NASA jet, while Ivanishin will be flown back to his training base at Star City, Russia.

During her time on the orbiting complex, Rubins ventured outside the confines of the station for two spacewalks. During the first one Aug. 19, she and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams installed the first international docking adapter. Outfitted with a host of sensors and systems, the adapter’s main purpose is to provide a port for commercial spacecraft to bring astronauts to the station in the future. Its first users are expected to be the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft now in development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. During her second spacewalk Sept. 1, Rubins and Williams retracted a spare thermal control radiator and installed two new high-definition cameras.

Together, the Expedition 49 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the world-class orbiting laboratory during their 115 days in space.

The trio also welcomed three cargo spacecraft delivering several tons of supplies and research experiments. Rubins was involved in the grapple of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft to the station in October, the company’s sixth contracted commercial resupply mission, and SpaceX’s Dragon ninth contracted mission in July. One Russian ISS Progress cargo spacecraft also docked to the station in July.

Rubins and Onishi spent a total of 115 days in space during their first mission. Ivanishin now has 280 days in space during two flights.

Expedition 50, with Shane Kimbrough of NASA in command and his crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

Peggy Whitson of NASA, Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch Nov. 17 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/iss and on Twitter @Space_Station.

Expedition 49 Departs Station, Begins Ride Home

Soyuz MS-01 Departs
The Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft departs the International Space Station on time carrying three Expedition 49 crew members back to Earth. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency undocked from the International Space Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT to begin their journey home.

Ivanishin, the Soyuz commander, is at the controls of the MS-01 spacecraft. The trio’s spacecraft completed the first flight to station for the upgraded Soyuz MS-01 when it launched in July.

The crew is scheduled to land at 11:59 p.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

As the Soyuz MS-01 undocked, Expedition 50 officially began on the station under the command of NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough. He and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members next month.

NASA TV will air live coverage of the Soyuz MS-01 deorbit burn and landing beginning at 10:45 p.m. Watch live online on NASA’s website.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/iss and on Twitter @Space_Station.