Russian Ship Rolls to Launch Pad as Japanese Ship Descends to Earth

ISS Progress 61 Cargo Craft
The ISS Progress 61 cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ahead of Thursday afternoon’s launch. Credit: RSC Energia

The latest Russian resupply ship, the Progress 61, rolled out to its launch pad today, getting set for a Thursday launch at 12:49 p.m. EDT (4:49 p.m. UTC) and a docking to the Zvezda service module at 6:54 p.m. Meanwhile, Japan’s cargo craft, the “Kounotori” HTV-5, is descending to Earth this afternoon after completing a five-week delivery mission attached to the International Space Station’s Unity module.

The six-member Expedition 45 crew, including the One-Year Crew, worked a variety of science Tuesday looking at plants, performing eye exams and studying crew metabolism and the human respiratory system. The ongoing research is helping scientists and crews prepare for long-term deep space missions and NASA’s Journey to Mars. The space residents also worked on robotic inspections, replaced combustion experiment hardware and swapped batteries on a set of free-floating internal satellites known as SPHERES.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren are getting ready for the first of two U.S. spacewalks scheduled for Oct. 28. The duo will lubricate the Canadarm2’s leading end effector (LEE) systems. The LEE is used to grapple, maneuver and release cargo craft, as well as latch on to external station systems. Kelly photographed the LEE today from the seven-window cupola to document its condition and prepare for the upcoming spacewalk.

Robotic Arm Releases Japanese Cargo Craft After Five Weeks at Station

Canadarm2 and HTV-5 Resupply Ship
The Canadarm2 robotic arm backs away from the just released “Kounotori” HTV-5 resupply ship. Credit: NASA TV

Following a slight delay, Expedition 45 Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of JAXA, backed up by NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, commanded the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-5 from the International Space Station at 12:53 p.m. EDT while the spacecraft was flying 256 miles above the Southern Pacific, after it unberthed from the space station at 7:12 a.m. EDT.

The HTV-5 will now move away from the orbiting laboratory to a safe location where it will fire its engines to begin a controlled deorbit to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. The intense heat of reentry will cause the vehicle to burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

HTV-5 carried a variety of experiments and supplies to the space station, including the NanoRacks External Payload Platform, which can house multiple investigations in the open-space environment of the station, and the CALorimetric Electron Telescope investigation, an astrophysics mission that measures high energy particles to search for dark matter and the origin of cosmic rays.

HTV-5 also delivered materials to support the Twins Study, a compilation of 10 investigations designed to gain broader insights into the subtle effects of and changes that occur in the environment of space as compared to that of Earth by studying two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is participating from the space station while his identical twin Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut, is participating on Earth. The study includes a suite of integrated human space physiology and cellular-level experiments.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station.

Release of Japanese Cargo Ship Delayed

"Kounotori" in Grips of Canadarm2
Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV-5 resupply ship is in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

The release of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H-II Transport Vehicle-5 (HTV-5) has been delayed. Teams are troubleshooting, and the next opportunity will be at the next day pass at approximately 12:42 p.m. EDT. HTV-5 is still captured, and the crew is in no danger.

NASA TV Covering Release of Japanese Cargo Ship

HTV-5 and Aurora
Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo of an aurora, with Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV-5 cargo ship in the foreground, taken from the International Space Station to Instagram with the caption, “Day 154. #Aurora’s purple glow adds mystery to the nightscape. Good night from @ISS! #YearInSpace #space #iss #solarstorm #northernlights #goodnight.”

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the unberthing of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H-II Transport Vehicle-5 (HTV-5) from the International Space Station beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on Monday, Sept. 28. Release from the station’s Harmony module is scheduled for 11:20 a.m.

Watch the unberthing live on NASA Television or at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

The unpiloted cargo ship delivered about five tons of supplies and experiments to the station in August.

Several hours after the unberthing, the cargo ship will fire its engines to begin a controlled deorbit and entry through Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect

Long-Term Human Research As Crew Prepares to Swap Supply Ships

Station Crew Members Oleg Kononenko and Kjell Lindgren
Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko (foreground) receives a haircut from fellow Expedition 45 crew member Kjell Lindgren.

The Expedition 45 crew, including the One-Year Crew duo, worked on a variety of human research to help future crews persevere on longer missions in deep space. The crew is also getting ready for a pair of international cargo ships departing and arriving next week.

Scientists on the ground are exploring how microgravity affects humans living and working in space as NASA prepares for the Journey to Mars. Astronauts living on the International Space Station for months at a time, including the One-Year Crew, provide excellent subjects for long-term microgravity human research.

The crew today looked at cardiovascular health for the Cardio-Ox study and documented nutritional activity. Blood and urine samples were also drawn and stored in a science freezer for later analysis. Station Commander Scott Kelly continued more Twins research as doctors compare the human body in space with a human body on Earth, in this case ex-astronaut Mark Kelly, the commander’s twin brother.

Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV-5 space freighter is due for release Monday morning ending its month-long stay at the station’s Harmony module. The HTV-5 is still being packed with trash and disposable gear for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean. The next shipment of new research, gear, food and fuel is being prepared as Russia’s readies its ISS Progress 61 resupply ship for an Oct. 1 launch.

Eye Checks, Fitness Research and Spacewalk Preps for Space Station Crew

JAXA Astronaut Kimiya Yui
ISS044E088545 (09/05/2015) — JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui iss seen with a packet of almonds while floating inside of the Japanese Experiment Module.

The six-member space station crew is conducting human research to prepare future astronauts for long-term missions beyond low-Earth orbit including NASA’s Journey to Mars. The orbital residents are also getting ready to release a cargo craft Monday while getting ready for a late October spacewalk.

Space station Commander Scott Kelly, who is comparing his body to his ground-based twin brother ex-astronaut Mark Kelly, collected and stored a urine sample for the Twins study. He also scanned his legs with an ultrasound for the Sprint fitness study with some assistance from Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren partnered with Yui for ultrasound scans of the eyes and an echocardiogram of the heart for the Ocular Health study. The duo then moved on to tool collection for a planned October 28 spacewalk by Kelly and Lindgren before loading trash into Japan’s HTV-5 resupply ship due to leave the station Monday at 11:20 a.m. EDT.

Space Cargo Deliveries Coming and Going on Station Next Week

Crew Members Work in Unity Module
ISS044E089152 (09/05/2015) — NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly (left,) JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui (center) and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov (right) take some time off inside the station’s Unity module and set up the onboard projector.

Crew members practiced an emergency evacuation drill and conducted long-term biomedical research today onboard the International Space Station. Japan’s fifth resupply ship is also being loaded with trash before its mission ends early next week.

Station Commander Scott Kelly teamed up with his fellow One-Year Crew member Mikhail Kornienko and cosmonaut Sergey Volkov to review the procedures they would use to evacuate the station in the unlikely event of an emergency. Kelly then moved on to exploring fluid physics and more Twins studies. Kornienko, Volkov including cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko worked on Russian science and systems maintenance.

Meanwhile, astronauts Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren are preparing a Japanese cargo craft, the “Kounotori” HII Transfer Vehicle-5, for its release and destructive entry Monday over the Pacific Ocean. Another cargo craft, Russia’s ISS Progress 61 (61P), is being readied for its Oct. 1 launch and six-hour delivery mission to the station’s Zvezda service module. Kornienko and Volkov practiced the telerobotic rendezvous techniques they would use if it became necessary to manually dock the 61P.

Crew Begins Unloading Japanese Cargo Ship

Astronaut Kimiya Yui
Astronaut Kimiya Yui seemingly juggles fresh fruit upside down after opening the hatches and entering Japan’s fifth “Kounotori” resupply ship. Credit: NASA TV

The crew opened the hatches today to Japan’s fifth “Kounotori” resupply ship (HTV-5) and began unloading new supplies and science gear. The station residents also studied human research and reviewed changes to emergency procedures.

The HTV-5 arrived Monday morning carrying cargo and science for the crew and external experiments to be attached to the Kibo laboratory module. The external research gear includes the CALET dark matter study, the NanoRacks External Platform and a flock of 14 CubeSats.

One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are 151 days into their mission. The duo participated in research today looking at the long-term effects of microgravity on the human body. They collected blood and urine samples for the Fluid Shifts study which observes physical changes to an astronaut’s eyes during a space mission.

Japan’s Cargo Ship Installed on Station

"Kounotori" Installed to Harmony Module
Japan’s “Kounotori” resupply ship is installed to the Harmony module. Credit: NASA TV

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori 5 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Harmony module at 10:02 a.m. EDT.

The spacecraft’s arrival will support the crew members’ research off the Earth to benefit the Earth. The HTV-5 is delivering more than 8,000 pounds of equipment, supplies and experiments in a pressurized cargo compartment. The unpressurized compartment will deliver the 1,400-pound CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) investigation, an astrophysics mission that will search for signatures of dark matter and provide the highest energy direct measurements of the cosmic ray electron spectrum.

Items to be unloaded during HTV-5’s stay at the orbiting outpost include food, crew provisions, supplies, several Cubesats, and the NanoRacks External Platform capable of housing multiple, diverse investigations mounted to the JAXA Japanese External Facility.

JAXA and NASA teams adjusted the cargo manifest to deliver additional food supplies and critical components lost in the failure of the seventh SpaceX commercial resupply services mission. The delivery will ensure the crew has plenty of food through the end of 2015. HTV-5 is delivering two multifiltration beds that filter contaminants from the station’s water supply, a Fluids Control and Pump Assembly used for urine processing to support water recycling, a Wring Collector used in conjunction with the on-orbit toilet, a Respiratory Support Pack used in space to provide breathing assistance to an astronaut in the event lung function were impaired and space suit support equipment used during spacewalks.

The HTV-5 will spend five weeks attached to the international outpost, then the cargo vehicle will be filled with trash, detached from the station and sent to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station and the hashtag #HTV5. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect

Canadian Robotic Arm Captures Japanese “White Stork”

"Kounotori" Captured
Canada’s robotic arm has Japan’s fifth “Kounotori” resupply ship captured in its grips. Credit: NASA TV

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 44 Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully captured JAXA’s Kounotori 5 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) at 6:28 a.m. EDT. The space station crew and the robotics officer in mission control in Houston will position HTV-5 for berthing to the orbiting laboratory’s Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.

NASA TV coverage of the berthing will begin at 9:15 a.m. The installation process to berth HTV-5 to the space station is scheduled to begin at about 9:45 a.m. The Japanese cargo ship, whose name means “white stork” and was chosen because it is emblematic of an important delivery, is loaded with about 4-and-a-half tons of research and supplies.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via @Space_Station and the hashtag #HTV5.