Busy Day for Biology Research as Spacewalk Preps Continue

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer participate in a robotics training session inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer participate in a robotics training session inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Space biology research and spacewalk preparations kept the Expedition 66 crew busy aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. The orbital residents also ensured space hardware including exercise gear, a specialized microscope, and fluid systems continued operating in tip-top shape.

Living long-term in microgravity affects every aspect of the human body and the eyes are no exception. A study recently delivered aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle and under way today at the orbital lab is exploring how visual function is impacted by extended space missions. Three NASA astronauts, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron were on duty throughout the day contributing to the investigation that may protect astronaut’s vision and improve eye treatments on Earth.

Marshburn first started his day in the Tranquility module strengthening cables on the advanced resistive exercise device. Chari, toward the end of his work shift, cleaned the Veggie space botany facility before uninstalling and packing a spacecraft atmosphere monitor for return to the ground.

Microbe collections continued for the third day this week as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer swabbed station surfaces and stowed the samples for later analysis. The German astronaut also serviced the Mochii electron-scanning microscope, set up a computer for Earth observations, and worked on the Cytoskeleton human cell experiment.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei was on duty Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module conducting life support maintenance. The three-time station visitor worked on the fluid servicer system that removes gas bubbles and cleans fluid lines throughout the orbital lab.

Vande Hei also joined cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov helping the Russian duo install lights, batteries and video gear on their Orlan spacesuit helmets. The pair started the day with a physical fitness test to prepare for a spacewalk planned for Jan. 19. They will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space configuring both the Prichal and Nauka modules.


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

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Cosmonauts Prep for Spacewalk as Astronauts Work Science and Maintenance

NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn peers out from a window inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn peers out from a window inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

In one week the first spacewalk of 2022 is set begin at the International Space Station. Two Expedition 66 crew members are getting their spacesuits ready as the rest of the crew works research and maintenance.

Station Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov are due to exit the Poisk module in their Russian Orlan spacesuits on Jan. 19 at 7 a.m. EDT. They will spend about seven hours configuring both the Prichal docking module and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module in the vacuum of space.

Both cosmonauts continued setting up and attaching components to their spacesuits on Wednesday. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, who will assist the spacewalkers next week, joined the pair during the afternoon and reviewed the Poisk airlock depressurization/repressurization timeline.

The station’s other crew members focused on space physics, life science and lab maintenance. NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari started his day working on hardware maintenance for the Ring Sheared Drop experiment then took a robotics test for a behavioral study. Astronaut Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) continued collecting microbe samples swabbed from station surfaces for analysis.

NASA astronaut Kayla Barron collected microbe samples from the station’s atmosphere then took samples from a carbon dioxide removal system for analysis. At the end of the day, Vande Hei gathered equipment ahead of operations planned for station fluid systems.


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

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Dragon, Spacewalk Preps Amidst Space Botany and Biology Research

The station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around that took place on Nov. 8, 2021.
The station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around that took place on Nov. 8, 2021.

The International Space Station is gearing up for the departure of a U.S. resupply ship and a Russian spacewalk next week. Meanwhile, the Expedition 66 crew is maintaining its pace of research exploring how microgravity affects variety of biological phenomena.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle has been docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing docking port since Dec. 22 when it delivered over 6,500 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies, and station hardware. It is now being readied for departure on Jan. 21 its return to Earth a day later loaded with completed space research and old lab gear for analysis and inspection.

NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari took turns Tuesday morning organizing and packing gear inside the Cargo Dragon. Chari then spent the afternoon swapping out science freezer components inside Dragon that will soon house research samples for examination by scientists on Earth.

Barron later collected root and shoot samples from Arabidopsis plants grown on petri plates readying them for stowage and analysis back on the ground. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei worked on another space botany investigation as he photographed and harvested cotton cultures grown on the station to understand how weightlessness affects plant genetics.

NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn spent Tuesday on several human research and space biology tasks. He wrapped up blood pressure measurements for the Vascular Aging study, set up the Life Science Glovebox for an upcoming experiment, then took a robotics test for a behavioral investigation. Astronaut Matthias Maurer from ESA (European Space Agency) also worked on life science as he collected microbe samples for analysis, swapped particle samples inside the Mochii electron-scanning microscope, then took a cognition test.

Two cosmonauts, station Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, continue getting ready for a spacewalk on Jan.19. Today, they configured a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits that will be worn in the vacuum of space when they configure the station’s two newest modules, Nauka and Prichal.


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

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Crew Starts Week with Space Agriculture, Human Cells and Spacesuits

Pictured from left, are the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module with the Prichal docking module attached.
Pictured from left, are the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module with the Prichal docking module attached.

The Expedition 66 crew kicked off Monday promoting space agriculture and observing how the human cell adapts to weightlessness. Two cosmonauts are also gearing up for the first spacewalk of 2022 set to begin next week at the International Space Station.

Growing plants in space is critical to keeping crews healthy as NASA and its international partners plan human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Just like humans living in space, microgravity affects plants and scientists want to learn how to successfully grow crops in space to sustain crews with less support from Earth.

Today, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei harvested the shoots and roots of Arabidopsis plants grown on petri plates inside the Veggie facility. Fellow NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari collected the harvested samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. The APEX-07, or Advanced Plant Experiment-07, study is looking at how microgravity affects genetic expression in plants.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer worked throughout Monday on the Cytoskeleton space biology study. That study takes place in the Kibo laboratory module and uses the Life Science Glovebox to explore how the internal machinery of the human cell is impacted by long-term space missions.

NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron also worked in Kibo and set up the new Mochii electron-scanning microscope to identify trace particles aboard the station. NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn worked on life sciences experiments throughout Monday before inspecting and cleaning hatch seals in the station’s U.S. segment.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov partnered together during the morning on a pair of Russian studies looking at how space affects heart activity and arm muscles. The duo later spent the rest of the day setting up Russian Orlan spacesuits for a spacewalk set to begin on Jan. 19. The two cosmonauts will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space outfitting the station’s newest modules, Nauka and Prichal.


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

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Biology, Agriculture Studies as Astronaut Begins Record-Breaking Spree

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is scheduled to return to Earth on March 30 after 355 days in space.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is scheduled to return to Earth on March 30 after 355 days in space.

Biology and agriculture were the dominant research themes aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. Also, an Expedition 66 Flight Engineer is beginning a set of record-breaking milestones before returning to Earth at the end March.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron started work Thursday morning inside the Kibo laboratory module examining mice for the Rodent Research-18 study. The space biology experiment observes how microgravity affects the visual function and changes the retina. Barron transferred the mice back and forth into the Life Science Glovebox and restocked their habitats with food throughout the day. NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn took over the mice investigation during the afternoon.

Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) started his day with a hearing test for the Acoustics Diagnostics study. The human research investigation seeks to understand how sound levels on the station affect astronauts. Maurer then spent the afternoon setting up AstroPi computer hardware to promote coding and engineering education on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei photographed operations for the Plant Habitat-05 experiment that is studying cotton genetics. Space botany is an important area of study as NASA and its international partners learn to sustain healthy crews on long-term missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

As of Thursday, Vande Hei has lived in space continuously for 273 days, surpassing NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan‘s record of 272 days which was set on April 17, 2020. He will go on to break three more NASA records before the end of his mission at the end of March.

Vande Hei, along with Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, arrived at the station on April 9, 2021, and are staying on the station for 355 days. Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who has been aboard the station since Oct. 5, 2021, will lead Vande Hei and Dubrov to a parachuted landing in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship on March 30.


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

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Space Biology, Science Hardware Work Keeping Station Crew Busy

NASA astronaut Kayla Barron sets up the Plant Habitat-05 Growth experiment that is studying cotton genetics in microgravity.
NASA astronaut Kayla Barron sets up the Plant Habitat-05 Growth experiment that is studying cotton genetics in microgravity.

Space biology work and science hardware maintenance and were the main research goals for the Expedition 66 crew aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday. The orbital residents also checked out life support gear and worked on cargo transfers.

Three NASA astronauts, Mark Vande Hei, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron, joined each other in the Kibo laboratory module during the afternoon and set up external research components. Vande Hei installed the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) in Kibo’s airlock that will later be placed outside in the vacuum of space. Marshburn and Barron assisted with the MPEP installation work ahead of tiny satellites, or CubeSats, being deployed from the device into Earth orbit.

Marshburn then joined NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari for vein scans in the Columbus laboratory module. Chari once again led the biomedical activities as crew medical officer using the Ultrasound 2 device to scan Marshburn’s neck, shoulder, and leg veins. Doctors on Earth monitor the health checks in real time to gain insight into how long-term microgravity affects the human body.

Barron also tended to the oxygen generation system before analyzing microbe samples collected from inside BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) installed the ANITA-2 cabin air analyzer then inspected the Muscle Atrophy Research Exercise System ahead of upcoming new component work.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov worked throughout Wednesday in the station’s Russian segment on electronics maintenance on cargo transfers from the ISS Progress 79 resupply ship. Shkaplerov also spent some time on a study researching how international crews and mission controllers relate during a long-duration spaceflight. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov spent most of the day installing payload interface controller units while also finding time for immunity system research work.


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

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Dragon Checks, Biology and Spacewalk Preps Fill Crew Day

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the station on Dec. 22. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour can be seen docked to the Harmony module's forward port.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the station on Dec. 22. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour can be seen docked to the Harmony module’s forward port.

Crew Dragon proficiency checks were on the schedule for a pair of NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday. Eye checks, space biology research, and spacewalk preparations also kept the Expedition 66 crew busy throughout the day.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, which delivered four astronauts to the orbiting lab, has been docked to the Harmony module’s forward port since Nov. 11, 2021. The Crew Dragon’s commander and pilot, Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn, both station flight engineers, practiced and familiarized themselves with deorbit and landing procedures in Endeavour today. The duo will return to Earth, along with Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency), aboard the Crew Dragon in the spring.

Chari and Barron earlier joined each other Tuesday morning for vein scans. Chari took charge as crew medical officer and scanned the veins in Barron’s neck, shoulder and legs with the Ultrasound 2 device. Chari later partnered with Marshburn for eye checks and retina scans using medical imaging gear. Doctors on the ground monitored the vein and eye scans in real time. The regularly scheduled health checks provide researchers insight into how microgravity affects the human body long term.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei documented his meals today to understand how nutrition affects space health. The veteran astronaut, who will be on the station for nearly a year, also serviced a variety of science hardware to ensure ongoing research operations. Maurer continued setting up the Cytoskeleton space biology study that will explore how the human cell’s internal machinery adapts to weightlessness. The ESA astronaut later assisted Chari and Barron with retinal scans then stowing the eye imaging gear.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov are moving right along with their preparations for a spacewalk planned for Jan. 19. The pair from Roscosmos continued collecting and organizing the spacewalk tools they will use to finish configuring and connecting Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to the station’s Russian segment. They are scheduled to work for seven-and-a-half hours outside in the vacuum of space inside their Russian Orlan spacesuits.


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

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Crew Kicks off 2022 with Biology, Botany and Spacewalk Preps

Clockwise from bottom, astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, Thomas Marshburn and Matthias Maurer are pictured during a playful portrait aboard the station.
Clockwise from bottom, astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, Thomas Marshburn and Matthias Maurer are pictured during a playful portrait aboard the station.

The five astronauts and two cosmonauts of Expedition 66 started the first work week of 2022 researching microgravity science, reviewing Crew Dragon emergency procedures and ramping up for a spacewalk.

Biology and botany are critical research subjects on the orbiting lab as NASA and its international partners plan human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Robotics is also important as scientists and engineers explore a variety of ways to assist space crews.

NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari swabbed bacteria samples today and began sequencing their DNA with the BioMole Facility to understand the microbial environment on the station. Thomas Marshburn of NASA photographed operations for the Plant Habitat-05 experiment that is studying cotton genetics. Finally, NASA astronaut Kayla Barron set up an AstroBee robotic free flyer with an experimental audio sensor that may possibly identify early indications of space hardware failure.

The three NASA astronauts also joined ESA (European Space Agency) Matthias Maurer and reviewed their procedures for a variety of emergency scenarios aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The quartet trained on a computer for unlikely events such as a fire, a depressurization, and an emergency undocking in the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The station’s other NASA astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, had Monday morning off before going into the afternoon working on experimental gear that may maintain safe temperatures in U.S. spacesuits. Vande Hei, along with cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov, are due to depart the station in the spring after nearly a year in space.

The next spacewalk at the International Space Station is targeted for Jan. 19 to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Cosmonauts Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov started Monday morning inspecting the spacewalking tools they will use to configure and finish connecting Nauka to the station’s Russian segment.


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

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Last Week of 2021 Sees New Space Research Kick Off

The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module as the International Space Station orbited 260 miles above southeast Asia.
The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module as the International Space Station orbited 260 miles above southeast Asia.

The seven-member Expedition 66 crew is going into the final week of 2021 with a host of science experiments exploring numerous space phenomena benefitting astronauts in space and humans on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron worked on a pair of space farming studies during Monday afternoon exploring a variety of plant characteristics. Vande Hei set up components for the MVP (Multi Variable Platform) Plant-01 experiment inside the Harmony module. That study is investigating how a plant’s molecular mechanisms and regulatory networks adapt to weightlessness. Barron worked inside the Kibo laboratory module and configured the Plant Habitat-05 investigation which will observe the regenerative capacity of a variety of cotton genotypes.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn started Monday morning transferring research samples to science freezers in the Kibo lab. Chari then moved on and updated emergency checklists while also collecting and stowing his blood and urine samples for later analysis. Marshburn serviced the station’s oxygen generation system then unpacked medical gear from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle.

Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) spent his day working throughout the orbiting lab on a variety of research gear. Maurer first swapped science freezers inside the Unity module. Next, he installed the BioSentinel radiation exposure study in the Kibo lab. Finally, the astronaut from Germany worked in the Columbus laboratory module thawing research samples for the Cytoskeleton experiment before uninstalling the Kubik incubator.

The station’s commander, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, recharged computer tablets inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship while also working on Russian life support maintenance throughout the day. Russian Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov checked out electronics gear in the morning before joining Shkaplerov in the afternoon and replacing components on the Zvezda service module’s treadmill.


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

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Modified Russian Propulsion Module Departs Station

Dec. 22, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon vehicles, and Russia's Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and Progress 79 resupply ship.
Dec. 22, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon vehicles, and Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and Progress 79 resupply ship.

A modified Russian Progress propulsion compartment used to deliver the five-ton Prichal docking module to the International Space Station successfully undocked from the Prichal module at 6:03 p.m. EST.

The spacecraft arrived and docked to the Nauka module on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment Friday, Nov. 26, two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday, Nov. 24. Prichal, named for the Russian word for “pier,” has five available docking ports to accommodate multiple Russian spacecraft and provide fuel transfer capability to the Nauka module. Named for the Russian word for “science,” Nauka launched to the space station in July.

The Progress instrument assembly compartment will back away from the space station, and a few hours later, Progress’ engines will fire in a deorbit maneuver to send the cargo craft into a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. Deorbit and re-entry will not be covered on NASA TV.

The space station blog is taking a short break until Monday, Dec. 27, as the station’s five astronauts and two cosmonauts spend the holidays orbiting above Earth.


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

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