Spaceship Ready for Release as Crew Studies Vision

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough
Astronauts Thomas Pesquet (left) and Shane Kimbrough pose for a portrait with Japan’s HTV-6 resupply ship orbiting a short distance away from the space station’s cupola on Dec. 13, 2016.

The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready for Friday morning’s release of Japan’s sixth cargo craft to visit the International Space Station. The station residents are also continuing to explore how their eyes adapt to living in space for months at a time.

The Kounotori HTV-6 resupply ship, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is being disconnected from station systems today as it prepares for its departure Friday at 10:30 a.m. EST. Overnight, ground controllers will operate the Canadarm2 and maneuver the HTV-6 away from the Harmony module where it is attached.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA will then command the 57.7-foot-long robotic arm to release Kounotori back into orbit. After the HTV supports science experiments for a week, Japanese flight controllers will command the craft to deorbit on Feb. 5 for a fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

More Fluid Shifts research took place today as astronauts study the possibility of using a special suit, the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suit, to prevent the upward flow of fluids towards the head caused by microgravity. This headward flow may be causing pressure on the back of crew members’ eyes potentially causing damage and affecting vision.

During the afternoon, the crew also participated in ultrasound eye scans. Doctors on the ground assisted the crew to ensure good views of the optic nerve, cornea and back of the eye.


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Japanese Cargo Ship Set to Leave Friday

Japan's HTV-6 Resupply Ship
Japan’s HTV-6 resupply ship is pictured attached to the Harmony module during robotics operations.

Mission controllers are preparing to release Japan’s Kounotori cargo ship from the International Space Station at the end of the week. Meanwhile, the Expedition 50 crew is getting ready for a new protein crystal experiment and reconfiguring combustion science gear.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is getting ready to complete its sixth cargo mission to the station. Overnight, robotics controllers maneuvered Canada’s 57.7-foot-long robotic arm holding an external pallet with discarded nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed them inside the Japanese cargo ship for disposal.

Next, the Canadarm2 will release Japan’s HTV-6 resupply ship from the Harmony module Friday for a fiery re-entry back in Earth’s atmosphere. The HTV-6 arrived Dec. 13 four days after its launch from the Tanegashima Space Center carrying crew supplies, new science experiments and lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power supply.

The California-based space company SpaceX is planning its tenth station cargo mission. The Dragon cargo craft will deliver a new experiment to study protein crystals to help scientists design better drugs to fight diseases. In advance of the Dragon delivery, Astronaut Peggy Whitson set up the Light Microscopy Module with new lenses today to get ready for the new experiment installation.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is getting the Combustion Integrated Rack ready for the Cool Flames Investigation (CFI). That study will observe how fuels burn at lower temperatures with no visible flames. CFI may engineers develop advanced engines and fuels and improve crew safety.


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Second Spacewalk Sets Stage for Upcoming Cargo Missions

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency is suited up for a dry run of this Friday’s upcoming spacewalk.

The six-member Expedition 50 crew has the day off today after a pair of NASA astronauts completed the first spacewalk of 2017 on Friday of last week. That spacewalk is the first of two planned in January to upgrade the International Space Station’s power systems. Both spacewalks have been backed-up with external robotics work that installed the new lithium-ion batteries and removed the old nickel-hydrogen batteries.

The next spacewalk will take place this Friday to complete the upgrades which include connecting new batteries, installing adapter plates and stowing older batteries. Commander Shane Kimbrough will suit up for the second time in a week joining first-time spacewalker astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency.

Expedition 50 crew members Peggy Whitson from NASA and Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos will assist the spacewalkers. They will help them in and out of their U.S. spacesuits and guide them in and out of the crew airlock.

It will be a busy few weeks after the conclusion of Friday’s upcoming spacewalk. Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV-6 resupply ship will depart at the end of January completing its cargo delivery mission that included the new batteries the spacewalkers have been hooking up. A Russian Progress 64 (64P) cargo craft will undock shortly after the HTV-6 leaves.

New Japanese Gear Installed, New European Experiment Started

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough
Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough work inside the cupola module to robotically capture the Japanese HTV-6 cargo craft.

External and internal cargo is currently being unloaded from Japan’s sixth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) to visit the International Space Station. The Expedition 50 commander also talked to students on Earth today and helped the rest of the crew with space research and orbital lab maintenance.

Commander Shane Kimbrough continued unpacking gear and fresh food delivered in the HTV-6 day. Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson installed a new small satellite deployer delivered on the Japanese resupply ship inside the Kibo lab module. Kimbrough also spent a few minutes during his workday answering questions uplinked live from Nantucket New School students in Massachusetts this morning.

European Space Agency Thomas Pesquet astronaut looked at a new method for water recycling in space called AquaMembrane. Pesquet also joined Kimbrough and Whitson in the afternoon for eye and retina checks as part of the Ocular Health study.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko partnered throughout the day on Russian communication gear maintenance tasks. Veteran cosmonaut and second-time station resident Oleg Novitskiy worked on various science experiments studying how weightlessness affects respiration and the remote control of rovers on another planet from a spacecraft.

Crew Begins Unloading Japanese Cargo Ship

Japan's HTV-6 cargo craft
Japan’s HTV-6 cargo craft is pictured moments before it was grappled by Canada’s 57.7-foot-long robotic arm Tuesday morning.

Robotic officers in Mission Control, Houston maneuvered the Canadarm2 robotic arm overnight to extract a pallet from the newly-arrived Japanese HTV-6 cargo ship containing new batteries for the station’s power supply.  The batteries will replace older batteries on the starboard truss through a series of robotic operations and spacewalks planned through mid-January.

The hatch to the HTV-6 resupply vehicle was opened Tuesday just a few hours after it arrived and was installed to the International Space Station. The Expedition 50 crew began unloading supplies from the vehicle shortly afterward.

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

While cargo transfers were under way the six-member crew also worked on analyzing water samples, installing new science gear, continuing ongoing research and maintaining station systems. The orbital residents also reviewed procedures in the unlikely event of an emergency with the HTV-6 attached to the station.

Commander Shane Kimbrough began work to install a new Japanese experiment that measures space radiation and the exposure risk to astronauts. ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet explored new technologies to analyze water samples for microbes. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson researched how astronauts work with touch-based devices and repair sensitive equipment.

Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy studied plasma physics then moved onto testing the remote control of rovers on another planet from a spacecraft. Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov gathered radiation detectors for the Matryeshka-Bubble experiment. Veteran cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko worked throughout the station’s Russian segment on maintenance task.


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Japan’s “White Stork” Spacecraft Installed on Station

Dec. 13 Space Station Configuration
Japan’s HTV-6 cargo craft is installed to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port. There are now four spacecraft parked at the International Space Station, including two Soyuz crew vehicles and one Progress resupply ship. Credit: NASA

Ground controllers successfully installed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori 6 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) to the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Harmony module at 8:57 a.m. EST.

The spacecraft’s arrival supports the crew members’ research off the Earth to benefit the Earth. The cargo spacecraft began its trip on an H-IIB rocket at 8:26 a.m. EST (10:26 p.m. Japan time) on Friday, Dec. 9 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The early Tuesday morning cargo delivery includes more than 4.5 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

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


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Two Astronauts Capture Japanese “White Stork”

HTV-6 in the Grip of the Canadarm2
Japan’s HTV-6 cargo craft is pictured in the grip of the Canadarm2 shortly after it was captured Tuesday morning. Credit: NASA TV

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) successfully captured the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6). At the time of capture, the space station and cargo spacecraft were flying 250 miles over southern Chile. Robotic ground controllers now will install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module.

NASA TV coverage of the berthing currently is scheduled to begin about 7:45 a.m. at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

The Japanese cargo ship, whose name means “white stork,” is delivering more than 4.5 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the six-person station crew.

The re-supply vehicle is delivering 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.

The spacecraft also is bringing the Technology Education (TechEdSat-5) nanosatellite, which includes the Exo-Brake technology demonstration mission. The Exo-Brake technology is a tension-based, flexible braking device that could help bring small payloads back through Earth’s atmosphere unharmed, accurately de-orbiting through a series of adjustments to modulate drag. Exo-Brake deployment is targeted for early 2017.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect

 

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


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Astronauts Ready to Capture Japan’s Cargo Ship

Japan's HTV-2 cargo craft
Japan’s HTV-2 cargo craft is seen moments before its capture on Jan. 27, 2011, during Expedition 26 at the International Space Station.

Aboard the International Space Station, crew members are making final preparations for the arrival of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s HTV-6 cargo spacecraft. NASA Television is providing live coverage, available at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv. Capture is scheduled around 6 a.m. EST.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to reach out and grapple the 12-ton spacecraft. Robotic ground controllers will then install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will monitor HTV-6 systems during the rendezvous and grapple.

The spacecraft is 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 – launched Friday, Dec. 9 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The re-supply vehicle is delivering 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.

The spacecraft also is bringing the Technology Education (TechEdSat-5) nanosatellite, which includes the Exo-Brake technology demonstration mission. The Exo-Brake technology is a tension-based, flexible braking device that could help bring small payloads back through Earth’s atmosphere unharmed, accurately de-orbiting through a series of adjustments to modulate drag. Exo-Brake deployment is targeted for early 2017.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect

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


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Sixth Japanese Spaceship Arrives Tuesday Morning

Japan's fifth Kounotori HTV spacecraft was pictured attached to the International Space Station Aug. 24, 2015.
Japan’s fifth Kounotori HTV spacecraft was pictured attached to the International Space Station Aug. 24, 2015.

The six crew members aboard the International Space Station are getting ready for the arrival of new resupply ship early Tuesday. The crew is also exploring human research and physics and cleaning spacesuits.

Japan’s sixth cargo craft, the Kounotori HTV-6, has been orbiting Earth and chasing the International Space Station for three days after its launch from the Tanegashima Space Center last week. It will arrive Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. EST for a robotic capture and installation to the Harmony module. NASA TV will cover the events live beginning Tuesday at 4:30 a.m.

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet will be in the cupola Tuesday morning commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the HTV-6 while monitoring its approach. After its successful capture, ground controllers will remotely guide the 57.7-foot-long robotic arm with the HTV-6 in its grasp and begin the careful, methodical process of attaching the cargo craft to Harmony’s Earth-facing port where it will stay until January.

The six-member Expedition 50 crew in the meantime is continuing advanced space research to improve the health of astronauts in space and benefit life on Earth. The crew collected blood and urine samples today so scientists can analyze health changes an astronaut goes through before, during and after a spaceflight. The samples were collected for the Biochemical Profile, Repository and Multi-Omics experiments.

The crew also checked gear that enables the observation of fuel burning in space for the Group Combustion study. The gas supply was also swapped inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that observes how different materials melt in space.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson scrubbed the cooling loops and collected water samples from inside two U.S. spacesuits. The spacesuits will be used for a pair of battery maintenance spacewalks scheduled for the beginning of January.

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


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Japanese Cargo Craft Flying to Station, Arrives Tuesday

Japan's H-IIB rocket launches on time
Japan’s H-IIB rocket launches on time from the Tanegashima Space Center. Credit: NASA TV

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s H-IIB rocket launched at 8:26 a.m. EST (10:26 p.m. Japan time) on Friday, Dec. 9 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 250 miles over the Philippine Sea south of Japan.

A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the HTV-6 cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket and began its four-day rendezvous with the International Space Station.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the HTV-6 will approach the station from below, and slowly inch its way toward the complex. Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to reach out and grapple the 12-ton spacecraft. Robotic ground controllers will then install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will spend more than five weeks. Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will monitor HTV-6 systems during the rendezvous and grapple.

NASA TV coverage of the Dec. 13 rendezvous and grapple will begin at 4:30 a.m. Capture of the spacecraft is scheduled around 6 a.m. Coverage of the final installation to Harmony will resume at 9:15 a.m.

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


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/