Nanoparticles, Microscopic Animal Research during Life Support Work

Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet and Mark Vande Hei service a variety of hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet and Mark Vande Hei service a variety of hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Nanoparticles and microscopic animals were the research highlights aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 65 crew also focused on servicing life support components and Russian spacesuit maintenance.

NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur continued ongoing operations for the InSPACE-4 physics study throughout Tuesday. Kimbrough started the first run in the morning then McArthur took over for the second run during the afternoon. The space manufacturing investigation takes place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and explores ways to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials.

Tiny organisms called water bears, or tardigrades, are being observed in the orbiting lab’s Life Sciences Glovebox located in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Commander Akihiko Hoshide placed the microbes, recently delivered aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle, into the Bioculture System for the Cell Science-04 biology experiment. The study seeks to identify genes that adapt best to the harsh environment of microgravity.

Some older components inside the station’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly were replaced today to ensure a safe breathing environment in space. Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet partnered together inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module servicing the critical life support gear all day on Tuesday.

In the orbiting lab’s Russian segment, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy concentrated on checking electronics and communications hardware. First-time space flyer Pyotr Dubrov spent the day replacing components and checking cable connections on Russian Orlan spacesuits.

Station Research Today Benefitting Astronauts and Earthlings

Astronaut Megan McArthur signs her name next to the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission sticker before the Cargo Dragon's departure last week.
Astronaut Megan McArthur signs her name next to the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission sticker before the Cargo Dragon’s departure last week.

Nanoparticles, time perception and peppers topped the science schedule aboard the International Space Station on Monday. Life support maintenance and cargo operations rounded out the day for the Expedition 65 crew aboard the orbiting lab.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur began her day swapping oxygen and fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that supports safe research into fuels, flames and soot in microgravity. She also set up a camera pointing outside a window inside the Harmony module to support the EarthKAM student-controlled experiment.

McArthur also joined astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Pesquet and took turns running operations for the InSPACE-4 study throughout the day. The physics experiment investigates ways to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials.

Pesquet also partnered with Commander Akihiko Hoshide wearing virtual reality goggles and clicking a trackball for the TIME experiment. The study observes how living in space affects an astronaut’s cognitive performance and perception of time.

Space botany has been a years-long pursuit on the station as NASA and its international partners learn to support astronauts on long-term spaceflights. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough configured the Advanced Plant Habitat and filled it with water to support growing peppers in space for the first time.

Vande Hei focused on lab maintenance tasks today starting with servicing a carbon removal device in station’s U.S. segment. The two-time station resident also worked on the Unity module’s common berthing mechanism then organized U.S. tools located inside Russia’s Zarya module.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy photographed the condition of the Pirs docking compartment today ahead of its undocking and disposal later this month. First-time cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov concentrated on cargo transfers and inventory updates inside the ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

Cargo Dragon Departs Station, Returns to Earth Friday

July 8, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.
July 8, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.

With NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough  monitoring aboard the International Space Station, a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked from the International Docking Adapter on the station’s space-facing port of the Harmony module at 10:45 a.m. EDT.

Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the space station during the next 36 hours. On Friday, July 9, Dragon will conduct a deorbit burn to begin its re-entry sequence into Earth’s atmosphere. Dragon is expected to splash down at approximately 11:29 p.m. in the Gulf of Mexico near Tallahassee, Florida. The splashdown will not be broadcast.

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers as soon as four to nine hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects. The Dragon’s departure will be the second splashdown of a U.S. commercial cargo craft off the Florida coast. Previous cargo Dragon spacecraft returned to the Pacific Ocean, with quick-return science cargo processed at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, and delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dragon launched June 3 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station a little less than 16 hours later. The spacecraft delivered more than 7,300 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost. Dragon’s external cargo “trunk” carried six new ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), two of which Expedition 65 crew members Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet, an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut, installed during three spacewalks June 16, 20, and 25.

Some of the scientific investigations Dragon will return to Earth include:

  • Lyophilization-2 examines how gravity affects freeze-dried materials and could result in improved freeze-drying processes for pharmaceutical and other industries. Freeze-drying also has potential use for long-term storage of medications and other resources on future exploration missions.
  • Molecular Muscle Experiment-2 tests a series of drugs to see whether they can improve health in space, possibly leading to new therapeutic targets for examination on Earth.
  • Oral Biofilms in Space studies how gravity affects the structure, composition, and activity of oral bacteria in the presence of common oral care agents. Findings could support development of novel treatments to fight oral diseases such as cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis.

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

Dragon Undocking Planned Thursday, Crew Focuses on Space Research

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.

SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is planned for Thursday, July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with NASA TV coverage scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft. Additional opportunities are available on July 9 and 10. The space freighter’s departure had been scheduled for earlier this week but was postponed due to weather conditions off the coast of Florida.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew members stayed focused on a variety of science activities including human health, robotics and physics.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet took turns working out on an exercise cycle Wednesday for a fitness test. The veteran astronauts attached sensors to their chests and pedaled for an hour on the device more formally known as the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization, or CEVIS. The test took place in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module and measures how microgravity affects the duo’s physical exertion, or aerobic capacity.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur focused on electronics maintenance and robotics research throughout Wednesday. The two-time space visitor powered up a cube-shaped AstroBee robotic helper and tested new technology that monitors the acoustic environment of the station. SoundSee seeks to demonstrate that “listening” to station components can help detect anomalies in spacecraft systems that need servicing.

Space manufacturing using colloids is being investigated for the ability to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials. Station commander Akihiko Hoshide conducted three runs inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox of the InSPACE-4 study today that could improve the strength and safety of Earth and space systems.

The trio that launched to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship practiced an emergency evacuation drill during the morning. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei joined cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and reviewed procedures such as donning gas masks, quickly entering the Soyuz spacecraft, undocking and reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Vande Hei later assisted McArthur with cable management work inside the Tranquility module. Novitskiy and Dubrov wrapped up the day disconnecting antenna cables inside their Soyuz vehicle.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Wednesday, July 21, for Crew Dragon Endeavour’s International Space Station port relocation operation. Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide Pesquet will suit up in their launch and entry spacesuits for Crew Dragon’s automated relocation maneuver from the forward to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module. The maneuver frees up the forward port to prepare for the arrival of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission at the microgravity laboratory at the end of July.

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

Weather Delays Dragon Undocking, Crew Scans Veins for Health Checks

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur are pictured inside the cupola during the approach and rendezvous of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon on June 5, 2021.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur are pictured inside the cupola during the approach and rendezvous of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon on June 5, 2021.

Due to forecast extreme weather off the coast of Florida, SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is no longer planned for Wednesday, July 7. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations and are prepared to support undocking of the Dragon cargo spacecraft once conditions are safe to do so. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft.

The next opportunity for undocking is July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with NASA TV coverage scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Additional opportunities are available on July 9 and 10. NASA will provide an update Wednesday, July 7 on the date for undocking following a weather briefing.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Shane Kimbrough worked on cargo transfers inside the Dragon today. Kimbrough then joined Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet and Commander Akihiko Hoshide at the end of the day and reviewed cargo craft emergency departure procedures. Pesquet set up a pair of computers inside the cupola in support of Dragon’s undocking and monitoring.

Hoshide and Kimbrough swapped roles as Crew Medical Officer today taking charge of vein scans with the Ultrasound-2 device. The duo took turns scanning each other’s neck, shoulder and leg veins. Hoshide also scanned McArthur’s veins as part of standard health checks with doctors on the ground monitoring.

Pesquet also had time Tuesday to wear the specialized Sidekick headset and examine the Tranquility module’s treadmill using augmented reality. The two-time station resident then moved on inspecting and photographing hatch seals on the Kibo laboratory module.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed focused on Russian cargo and station life support activities. Novitskiy updated computer data files associated with the recent docking of the ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. Dubrov worked on orbital plumbing and thermal systems hardware.

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

Weather Pushes Dragon Undocking to No Earlier than July 7

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station on June 5, 2021.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station on June 5, 2021.

Due to forecasted extreme weather off the coast of Florida, SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is now planned for no earlier than July 7. NASA Television coverage will begin at 10:45 am EDT. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft.

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

Russian Cargo Ship Docks to Station After Two-Day Trip

July 1, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon spaceships and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.
July 1, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon spaceships and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.

An uncrewed Russian Progress 78 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s Poisk module on the space-facing side of the Russian segment at 8:59 p.m. EDT, two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Sunday, Tuesday June 29 at 7:27 p.m. (4:27 a.m. Wednesday, June 30, Baikonur time). The spacecraft were flying over southeast Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile at the time of docking.

Carrying more than 3,600 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 65 crew, the Progress 78 resupply spacecraft will spend almost five months at the station. The cargo craft is scheduled to perform an automated undocking and relocation to the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module in late October. Named for the Russian word for “science,” Nauka is planned to launch to the space station in July.

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

Station Crew Busy with Cargo Ship Ops and Space Research

Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur works on a protein crystal experiment potentially benefitting pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies on Earth.
Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur works on a protein crystal experiment potentially benefitting pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies on Earth.

Cargo operations continue at the International Space Station as a Russian resupply ship gets ready for docking tonight and a U.S. spaceship prepares for undocking next week. The Expedition 65 crew is also staying focused today on life science and physics research.

Russia’s ISS Progress 78 cargo craft is orbiting Earth today fine-tuning its maneuvers as it heads toward the orbiting lab. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will be monitoring Progress as it approaches the station’s Poisk module for an automated docking at 9:03 p.m. EDT. NASA TV begins its live broadcast at 8:15 p.m. on the agency’s website and the NASA app,.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei joined Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) on Thursday and continued readying the Cargo Dragon for its undocking on July 6 at 11:05 a.m. EDT. The quartet is packing and organizing Dragon before final loading of critical research samples begins on Monday for analysis back on Earth.

Microgravity research has been proceeding apace as always with the astronauts exploring an array of space phenomena today. Commander Akihiko Hoshide worked on the Plant Habitat Facility throughout the day preparing for upcoming botany research. McArthur peered at protein crystals through a microscope before investigating how microgravity affects bacteria.

Kimbrough conducted operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox exploring ways to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials. Vande Hei serviced the Cold Atom Lab, a research device that explores the physics of temperatures near absolute zero, preparing some components for return to Earth aboard Dragon next week.

Russian Resupply Ship Arriving Thursday, Cargo Dragon Leaves Next Week

Russia's ISS Progress 78 resupply ship launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station. Credit: Roscosmos

A Russian resupply ship is racing toward the International Space Station as another U.S. cargo craft nears the end of its mission. Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew focused its research activities today on a variety of physics and biology studies.

Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship is orbiting Earth today following its Tuesday launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress will arrive on Thursday with over 3,600 pounds of food, fuel and supplies, for an automated approach and docking to the Poisk module at 9:03 p.m. NASA TV will broadcast its arrival beginning at 8:15 p.m. on the agency’s website and the NASA app,.

The next cargo craft to depart the station will leave on July 6 at 11:05 a.m. EDT. The SpaceX Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter and parachute to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida two days later.

NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei worked throughout Wednesday readying the Cargo Dragon for next week’s departure. Commander Akihiko Hoshide and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet joined the NASA trio packing and organizing Dragon before final loading of critical research samples begins for analysis back on Earth.

Hoshide also kicked off the InSpace-4 physics study that will explore advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. Pesquet collected and stowed his blood samples before charging a headband device that monitors an astronaut’s sleep patterns for the Dreams study.

McArthur and Vande Hei collected samples of microbes from station surfaces and air for incubation and analysis. Some of those samples will be returned to Earth next week inside the Cargo Dragon.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov concentrated on maintenance and science in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Novitskiy checked Orlan spacesuit gloves and analyzed the air in the Zvezda service module. Dubrov serviced a variety of life support hardware.

Russian Resupply Ship Blasts Off on Two-Day Trip to Station

Russia's ISS Progress 78 resupply ship blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station. Credit: NASA TV
Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station. Credit: NASA TV

The uncrewed Russian Progress 78 is safely in orbit headed for the International Space Station following launch at 7:27 p.m. (4:27 a.m. Wednesday, June 30, Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned for a two-day rendezvous on its way to meet up with the orbiting laboratory and its Expedition 65 crew members.

After making 34 orbits of Earth on its journey, Progress will dock to the station’s Poisk module on the space-facing side of the Russian segment at 9:03 p.m. Thursday, July 1. Live coverage on NASA TV of rendezvous and docking will begin at 8:15 p.m.

Carrying more than 3,600 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 65 crew, the Progress 78 resupply spacecraft will spend almost five months at the station. The cargo craft is scheduled to perform an automated undocking and relocation to the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module in late October. Named for the Russian word for “science,” Nauka is planned to launch to the space station in mid-July.

Progress 78 will undock from the orbiting laboratory in November for a re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere that results in its safe destruction.

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