Dragon Launch Set for March 6, Station Bone Research Benefits Earth

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches Dec. 5, 2019, atop the Falcon 9 rocket on its last mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX has announced March 6 for the launch of its 20th contracted cargo mission to the International Space Station. Its Dragon resupply ship will arrive March 9 with over 5,600 pounds of science hardware, research samples and supplies to the Expedition 62 crew.

Meanwhile, NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan are tending to a new experiment, which was delivered early last week aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft. The astronauts are exploring the differences between bone cells exposed to microgravity versus samples magnetically levitated on Earth.

Doctors will use the comparisons to gain a deeper understanding of bone diseases. Space-caused bone loss is similar to the symptoms of Earth-bound conditions such as osteoporosis. Astronauts exercise daily keeping track of their diet to counteract the effects of microgravity and maintain healthy bones and muscles.

Meir and Morgan continue to unpack the over three tons of cargo shipped aboard Cygnus one week ago. The duo transferred powered payloads including science freezers containing research samples and tanks filled with nitrogen and oxygen to replenish the station’s atmosphere.

Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos was back on space physics research this morning observing the behavior of heavily charged particles, or plasma crystals. The three-time station resident also serviced life support gear before collecting measurements from Russian radiation detectors.

Human Research, Earth Studies Start the Work Week

Expedition 62 crewmates Oleg Skripochka, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan
Expedition 62 Commander and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka poses with NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan perched on his shoulders in the weightless environment of the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module.

The Expedition 62 crew spent Monday on a variety of human research activities while also exploring Earth from the vantage point of the International Space Station.

NASA is studying how astronauts’ bodies adapt to living and working in space as mission managers plan longer human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The long-running Fluid Shifts investigation is observing the impact of pressure on the brain and eyes due to the upward flow of body fluids caused by weightlessness.

Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan spent Monday morning collecting their blood, saliva and urine samples for the biomedical study. They spun the samples in a centrifuge before stowing them in a science freezer for analysis on Earth.

The duo then split up as Meir serviced cell samples for a bone study, while Morgan checked on samples being observed for a bio-fuel experiment. They got back together at the end of the day for eye exams as part of the Ocular Health study.

Station Commander Oleg Skripochka, a veteran of two prior station missions, juggled a wide array of space research. He first studied heavily charged particles, or plasma crystals, before setting up Earth observation gear to be remotely controlled by students on the ground. Next, Skripochka split his time on a pair of Earth studies seeking ways to monitor conditions and forecast natural and man-made disasters.

Bone Research and Pilot Studies as Crew Trains for Emergencies

Astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir
Astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir were conducting space biology research inside the Japanese Kibo lab module’s Life Sciences Glovebox in November 2019.

New bone research kicked off on the International Space Station today to improve human health on and off the Earth. The Expedition 62 crew also practiced an emergency simulation with ground controllers.

Living in space causes bone loss and scientists are studying ways to offset the negative effects to ensure long-term mission success. Results from the new OsteoOmics-02 study aboard the orbiting lab also have implications bone diseases on Earth.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan spent Thursday morning setting up the bone experiment hardware for operations in the Life Sciences Glovebox. Doctors will be observing the mechanisms of rapid bone loss in microgravity and extend that knowledge to learn more about osteoporosis on Earth.

The duo then joined Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos in the afternoon and practiced their emergency response training. The three crewmates coordinated their communication, roles and responsibilities with mission controllers in Houston and Moscow. In the unlikely event of a fire, chemical leak or pressure leak, the crew would need to locate safety gear, close module hatches and possibly evacuate the station aboard a Soyuz crew ship.

Before the training session, Skripochka spent the morning on an experiment exploring how long-term spaceflight impacts the professionalism of a crewmember. Results will help Russian scientists understand how a cosmonaut will react to different phases of a mission such as docking to another spacecraft or landing on another planet.

Cygnus Open for Business as New Science Starts

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir observes a floating sphere of water
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir observes a floating sphere of water formed by microgravity.

The Cygnus space freighter is open for business at the Unity module where it will stay for the next three months. The Expedition 62 crew has begun unloading over three tons of science, supplies and station hardware delivered Tuesday to replenish the orbital lab.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan opened Cygnus’ hatch a few hours after its capture and installation Tuesday morning. Afterward, the duo entered the vehicle and began unpacking and setting up over a ton of new science new experiments. The critical research is being stowed in station science freezers, activated in research racks and readied for upcoming operations.

Meir removed science freezers containing research samples from Cygnus and installed them in EXPRESS racks aboard the station. She also began reviewing operations for the just-delivered OsteOmics-02 study to prevent bone loss on Earth and in space.

Morgan retrieved a variety of research hardware from Cygnus and began integrating and activating them in station systems. The new Mobile SpaceLab, a tissue and cell culturing facility, was installed and powered up on an EXPRESS rack.

In the afternoon, the NASA Flight Engineers joined Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos to review emergency procedures. The trio went over the steps they would take in the unlikely event of a fire, pressure leak or ammonia leak aboard the station. The veteran cosmonaut spent the majority of Wednesday on the upkeep of Russian lab systems.

During the crew’s lunchtime a series of nine nanosatellites were deployed outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. They will each study different phenomena such as X-rays from distant pulsars, atmospheric and natural events and the effects of space radiation on hardware.

Station Crew Demos Wi-Fi Power, Sets Up For Rodent Research

The three-member Expedition 62 crew
The three-member Expedition 62 crew, sporting their mission patch on t-shirts, will be living aboard the station until April. In the center, is Roscosmos Commander Oleg Skripochka flanked by NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan.

A science demonstration for students and space research to improve life kept the Expedition 62 crew busy on Wednesday. The International Space Station residents also worked on a host of orbital plumbing and housecleaning tasks.

Radio waves generate energy that can be harnessed for a variety of applications including wirelessly powering devices or possibly beaming solar energy down to Earth. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir filmed how a flashlight powered by Wi-Fi gets brighter and darker as it moves closer or farther away from a Wi-Fi device aboard the station. The video will be sent down to students to demonstrate the technology developed by the Naval Research Laboratory.

Biology research also takes place aboard the orbiting lab and the crew will soon continue exploring how microgravity affects rodents. NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan worked in Japan’s Kibo lab module setting up the Life Science Glovebox that will house the rodents to be delivered on an upcoming cargo mission. Mice physiology is similar to humans so researchers observe how their bodies react to weightlessness as well as countermeasures to the long-term effects.

Meir and Morgan also split their on life support maintenance and space plumbing. Meir set up acoustic monitors to measure station sound levels before checking on safety masks and charging spacesuit batteries. Morgan printed out housecleaning to-do lists then worked on the U.S. bathroom, also known as the Waste and Hygiene Compartment.

Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos serviced Russian Orlan spacesuit water loops and checked for leaks. After checking on water tanks in the Progress 74 cargo craft, he set up exercise research gear then photographed the after effects of catastrophes on Earth.

The Cygnus cargo craft from Northrop Grumman is counting down to a launch from Virginia on Friday at 3:43 p.m. EST. The U.S. space freighter, loaded with 7,300 pounds of science, supplies and hardware, will arrive Sunday for a robotic capture with the Canadarm2 at 4 a.m. NASA TV will cover all the launch, capture and installation activities live.

U.S. Cargo Mission Targets Friday Launch as Crew Maintains Lab

The Cygnus cargo craft departs the station on Jan. 31, 2020
The most recent Cygnus cargo craft to visit the station is seen moments before its departure and release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Jan. 31, 2020.

The next U.S. cargo mission is now targeting Friday for its launch to replenish the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition 62 crew is continuing the upkeep of orbital lab systems.

Mission managers are waiting for the weather to clear up at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia so they can launch the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. Cygnus is now targeted to lift off Friday at 3:43 p.m. EST atop an Antares rocket.

Cygnus will arrive at the space station on Sunday packed with new science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware. NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will be in the cupola commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at 5:11 a.m. Robotics controllers will then take over and remotely command the Canadarm2 to install Cygnus to the Unity module where it will stay for three months.

NASA TV will cover all the launch, capture and installation activities live. View the NASA TV schedule here.

Morgan started his day replacing components inside an oxygen generator in the Tranquility module. Afterward, he serviced the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device that enables astronauts to maintain muscle strength during long-term space missions.

Jessica Meir of NASA worked throughout the day in Europe’s Columbus laboratory module. She was shifting cargo to access an area behind the Human Research Facility-2 rack. Once there, she installed cables that link to the Bartomoleo external payload facility on the outside of Columbus.

Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos began Tuesday transferring water from a docked Progress 74 cargo craft to a station tank. Skripochka, who is on his third station flight, then spent the afternoon cleaning cooling loops on a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits.

U.S. Cygnus Cargo Craft Launch Scrubbed

Cygnus-13 Scrubbed Launch
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket with a Cygnus resupply spacecraft Sunday February 2, 2020 after a scrubbed launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA TV

Northrop Grumman scrubbed tonight’s Antares launch after off-nominal readings from a ground support sensor. Northrop Grumman and NASA have set the next launch attempt to no earlier than Feb. 13 at 4:05 p.m. ET, due to an unfavorable weather forecast over the next two days, and time required to address the ground support issue. NASA TV coverage of the launch will begin at 3:30pm ET. Teams will refresh 24-hour late load cargo the day before. The Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft remain healthy. A launch Thursday would result in a capture of Cygnus on Saturday, Feb. 15. For more information on this mission, please visit www.nasa.gov/northropgrumman and NASA’s homepage .

Follow launch activities at the launch blog and @NASA_Wallops and 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.

NASA TV Broadcasts Launch of U.S. Cygnus Cargo Craft

Northrop Grumman Antares CRS-13 Prelaunch
A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen at sunrise as the Moon sets on Pad-0A, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The latest weather forecast is 100% favorable for the launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Northrop Grumman’s 13th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver more than 7,500 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. NASA’s commercial partner Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket carrying its Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station at 5:39 p.m. EST on Feb. 9.

Follow launch activities at the launch blog and @NASA_Wallops and 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.

Christina Koch Completes 328-Day Mission in Space

Astronaut Christina Koch smiles as she gives a "thumbs up" sign
Astronaut Christina Koch smiles as she gives a “thumbs up” sign shortly after being extracted from the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship that brought her home after 328 days in space. Credit: NASA TV

Setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman, NASA astronaut Christina Koch, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) landed on Earth at 4:12 a.m. EST in Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan. The trio departed the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft at 12:50 a.m.

For Parmitano and Skvortsov, this landing completed a 201-day stay in space, 3,216 orbits of Earth and a journey of 85.2 million miles.

Koch’s first journey into space became a 328-day mission in which she orbited Earth 5,248 times, a journey of 139 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 291 trips to the Moon and back. She conducted and supported more than 210 investigations during Expeditions 59, 60, and 61, including as a research subject volunteer to provide scientists the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars.

One particular research project in which Koch participated is the Vertebral Strength investigation, which better defines the extent of spaceflight-induced bone and muscle degradation of the spine, and the associated risk for broken vertebrae. This timely endeavor is expected to provide insight into the development of future countermeasures, such as preventative medicine or exercise. These results also could provide recommendations for limiting the amount of force astronauts are subjected to during launch.

Koch lived in space with four fellow NASA astronauts and classmates: Anne McClain, Nick Hague, Andrew Morgan, and Jessica Meir as well as four Russian cosmonauts, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, ESA astronaut Parmitano, and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Watch Koch’s most memorable moments from her record-breaking mission at: https://go.nasa.gov/36E40MZ

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.

Expedition 61 Crew With Christina Koch Landing Soon on NASA TV

NASA astronaut Christina Koch
NASA astronaut Christina Koch works on U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest joint airlock.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are now broadcasting live coverage of the return to Earth of NASA astronaut Christina Koch, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency). Their Soyuz MS-13 is expected to make its deorbit burn at 3:18 a.m. EST to set the spacecraft on its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in Kazakhstan at 4:12 a.m.

Koch’s extended mission will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars.

She shared 10 ways she will need to readjust back to life on Earth, including how her perspective has changed while living in space:

“Earth is alive, and I have witnessed its power and beauty from a special vantage point 250 miles above the surface. From the space station we see no borders, no boundaries – we are all part of one giant organism that breathes and adapts. I have been in awe of this perspective for almost a year now. Back on Earth I anticipate looking up and seeing the space station streak across the sky, wondering how my friends and colleagues are doing up there without me. For almost 20 years humans have continuously lived and worked in space and the mission continues.

“Of note, the Moon looks the same from orbit as it does from Earth. It is a common point of reference for us all and offers a common interest as we strive to return to its surface.”

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.