Crew Preps for U.S. and Japanese Cargo Missions

The U.S. Cygnus cargo craft (left) from the United States departs the station on Monday. The H-II Transfer Vehicle (right) from Japan arrives at the station on April 25.
The U.S. Cygnus cargo craft (left) from the United States departs the station on Monday. The H-II Transfer Vehicle (right) from Japan arrives at the station on April 25.

The Expedition 63 crew will monitor the departure of an American resupply ship on Monday and welcome a Japanese cargo craft when it arrives two weeks later. Meanwhile, the three International Space Station residents are configuring the orbital lab for the spaceship activities and continuing microgravity science.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is nearing the end of its stay attached to the Unity module. Robotics controllers on the ground will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Cygnus from Unity then release the U.S. cargo craft on Monday noon EDT. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy will finalize the installation of the SlingShot small satellite deployer on Cygnus’ hatch on Sunday.

NASA TV will begin its live broadcast of Cygnus’ release and departure at 11:45 a.m. on Monday. Cygnus will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere over the south Pacific for a safe, but fiery destruction at the end of the month.

Japan is targeting May 20 for the launch of its ninth station cargo mission aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) resupply ship. The HTV-9 will launch from the Tanegashima Space Center and a take five-day trip to the orbital lab. It will be captured with the Canadarm2 and installed to the Harmony module for a two-month stay.

NASA Commander Chris Cassidy is setting up HTV-9 communications gear today inside the Kibo laboratory module from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). The Proximity Communication Systems (PROX) sends and receives spacecraft location and speed data during approach and rendezvous operations.

The two cosmonauts continued their set of maintenance and science duties today over in the station’s Russian segment. Anatoly Ivanishin picked up a camera for more photo inspections in the Pirs and Poisk modules. The veteran cosmonaut then serviced power tools and life support gear. Ivan Vagner started his day cleaning vents and filters. In the afternoon, Vagner photographed the effects of Earth catastrophes and studied ways to improve the identification and location while picturing targets on the ground.

Station Ramps Up for SpaceX Crew and Global Cargo Missions

The Progress 75 cargo craft stands at its launch pad
The Progress 75 cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

A Russian space freighter has rolled out to its launch pad ready to resupply the International Space Station this weekend. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew is ramping up its preparations for the first Commercial Crew mission and more cargo activities planned for May.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA is looking forward to welcoming a pair of fellow NASA astronauts aboard the station at the end of May. Commercial Crew astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley are preparing for their launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship scheduled for May 27 at 4:23 p.m. The first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will dock one day later to the station and join Expedition 63 for a months-long mission.

The crew aboard the orbiting lab is also due to receive its first space delivery on Saturday at 1:12 a.m. EDT. Russia’s Progress 75 (75P) cargo craft will carry several tons of crew supplies and station hardware and automatically dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module. The 75P will lift off on Friday at 9:51 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the short three-and-a-half hour flight to the station.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are training for Saturday morning’s automated arrival of the 75P. The duo practiced remotely-controlled emergency rendezvous and docking techniques in the unlikely event the 75P wouldn’t be able to approach and dock to the station on its own.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft is being readied to end its stay attached to the station’s Unity module on May 11. Cassidy and Ivanishin packed trash and discarded gear inside Cygnus today for a fiery disposal in the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean.

Finally, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is targeting May 20 for the launch of its ninth cargo mission to the station. JAXA’s HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle) cargo craft, nicknamed Kounotori, would take a five-day trip before being captured and installed to the station with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Japanese Cargo Craft Departs from Station

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is pictured in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic before it was attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

After delivering more than four tons of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station, an unpiloted Japanese cargo spacecraft is scheduled to depart the station today. Live coverage of the departure will begin at 1 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Earlier today, ground controllers used the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) from an Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, then moved the spacecraft into its release position. Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir of NASA will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the HTV at 1:20 p.m.

Named “Kounotori,” or “white stork” in Japanese, the unpiloted cargo spacecraft delivered six new lithium-ion batteries to replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries used in two power channels on the space station’s port truss. HTV-8 also delivered scientific experiments, including an upgrade to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF-L), a small-sized satellite optical communication system (SOLISS), and a payload for testing the effects of gravity on powder and granular material (Hourglass).

HTV-8 launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan Sept. 24, and the spacecraft was installed at the station Sept. 28.

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

Crew Gearing Up for U.S. and Japanese Cargo Ship Activities

NASA astronaut Christina Koch performs science operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Ring Sheared Drop human health and advanced materials investigation. Image Credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Christina Koch performs science operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the Ring Sheared Drop human health and advanced materials investigation. Image Credit: NASA

A Japanese cargo vehicle will be departing the International Space Station and a U.S. vehicle beginning its trip there this Saturday. The Expedition 61 crew is getting ready for both missions while staying busy with space research and lab maintenance.

Japan’s HTV-8 resupply ship, also known as Kounotori, will depart the orbiting lab at the end of the week and complete a 34-day cargo mission attached to the Harmony module. NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan are loading the craft today with trash and obsolete gear. Meir will back up fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch on Friday when she releases HTV-8 from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 1:20 p.m. EDT.

The duo is also on robotics training today preparing for the 12th Cygnus resupply mission from Northrop Grumman. Meir, with Koch as her backup, will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Cygnus when it arrives Monday Nov. 2, at 4:10 a.m. The Cygnus cargo craft, named SS Alan Bean for the Apollo and Skylab astronaut, launches Saturday from Virginia at 9:59 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the spaceship launch and arrival activities to the station live.

Morgan started his workday setting up a laptop computer for science operations in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module’s Cell Biology Experiment Facility. After some life support maintenance, he moved on to botany research before finally moving a science freezer from one research rack to another.

Commander Luca Parmitano spent a few moments Monday afternoon checking samples for the Ring Sheared Drop human health and advanced materials investigation. The ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut also joined Morgan during the morning and reviewed spacewalk repair procedures for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka started the morning photographing Russian spacewalk hardware. The duo then split up as Skvortsov tested spacecraft simulation software while Skripochka inspected Russian segment surfaces for moisture and corrosion.

Japan’s Kounotori Spaceship Attached to Station

Sept. 28, 2019: International Space Station Configuration.
Sept. 28, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft with Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12, MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Ground controllers successfully installed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori 8 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-8) to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 10:09 a.m. EDT.

Named Kounotori, meaning “white stork” in Japanese, the craft delivered six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks the station’s crew members will conduct later this year.

Additional experiments on board HTV-8 include an upgrade to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF-L), a small-sized satellite optical communication system (SOLISS), and a payload for testing the effects of gravity on powder and granular material (Hourglass).

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch NASA TV Live Coverage of HTV-8 Installation

The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle during installation on Saturday Sept. 28, 2019.

Robotic ground controllers are preparing to install the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle 8 (HTV-8) on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

Live coverage of the berthing has begun, and can be viewed on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The HTV-8 is loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

U.S. Astronauts Captured Japanese Cargo Spacecraft at 7:12 a.m. EDT

The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle captured by the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm at 7:12 am EDT on Saturday Sept. 28, 2019.

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, operated the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approached from below. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) monitored HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Next, robotic ground controllers will install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. NASA TV coverage of the berthing will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch NASA TV Live Coverage of HTV-8 Arrival to Station

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured after it was captured by the Canadarm2 on Sept. 27, 2018

A Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft is approaching the International Space Station. Watch live coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

Capture of the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is expected around 7:15 a.m. The HTV-8 is loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Named Kounotori, meaning “white stork” in Japanese, the craft will deliver six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks the station’s crew members will conduct later this year.

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approaches from below. Robotics flight controllers will then take over the operation of the arm to install HTV-8 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it will spend a month attached to the orbiting laboratory. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Coverage of the final installation to Harmony will resume at 9:30 a.m. Robotic ground controllers will install HTV-8 on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft launched at 12:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 24 (1:05 a.m. Sept. 25 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA TV to Broadcast Arrival of Japanese Spaceship to Station

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7)
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm moves in to capture the resupply ship on Sept. 27, 2018.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft that launched at 12:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 24 (1:05 a.m. Sept. 25 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan is set to arrive at the International Space Station early tomorrow morning.

NASA will provide live coverage of the arrival of the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) via NASA TV and the agency’s website at 5:45 a.m.

Capture is scheduled around 7:15 a.m. Coverage of the final installation to the Harmony module will resume at 9:30 a.m.

The HTV-8 is loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Named Kounotori, meaning “white stork” in Japanese, the craft will deliver six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks the station’s crew members will conduct later this year.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Japanese Space Freighter Blasts Off To Resupply Station Crew

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft launches on time
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft launches on time from the Tanegashima Space Center atop the H-IIB rocket.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-IIB rocket launched at 12:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 24 (1:05 a.m. Sept. 25 in Japan) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. At the time of launch, the space station was flying 258 statute miles over Mali in southwest Africa.

A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket and began its four-day rendezvous with the International Space Station.

 The spacecraft will arrive at the station Saturday, Sept. 28. Live coverage of the spacecraft rendezvous and capture will begin at 5:45 a.m. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approaches from below. Robotics flight controllers will then take over the operation of the arm to install HTV-8 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it will spend a month attached to the orbiting laboratory. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Capture of the HTV-8 is scheduled around 7:15 a.m. Coverage will resume at 9:30 a.m. for the final installation of the resupply craft to Harmony by robotic ground controllers. If the installation operations are running ahead of schedule, coverage would begin earlier.

Named Kounotori, meaning white stork in Japanese, the craft will deliver six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks by the station’s crew members later this year.

Additional experiments on board HTV-8 include an upgrade to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF-L), a small-sized satellite optical communication system (SOLISS), and a payload for testing the effects of gravity on powder and granular material (Hourglass).