Crew Readies for New Space Toilet and Continues Eye Exams

NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy poses for a portrait in front of the Microgravity Science Glovebox.
NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy poses for a portrait in front of the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

The International Space Station is gearing up for an advanced bathroom set to arrive on a U.S. resupply ship early next month. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew continued this week’s eye checks and more space research and life support maintenance.

The orbital lab will get a new space toilet scheduled to be delivered inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft on Oct. 3. The upgraded restroom facility will be smaller, more comfortable and support a larger crew as NASA’s Commercial Crew Program sends more astronauts to the station.

Station crewmates Chris Cassidy and Ivan Vagner will be at the robotics workstation commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus next Saturday. The duo began reviewing Cygnus’ mission profile today and are getting up to speed with the tasks necessary to support the upcoming space delivery.

The two crewmates then joined their colleague cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin for regularly scheduled eye checks in the afternoon. Wednesday’s tests looked at the retina using non-invasive light wave technology, or optical coherence tomography. The weeklong exams also consist of reading vision charts with one eye covered, as well as self-administered ultrasound eye scans with real-time support from ground doctors.

Cassidy’s science work today saw him activate the Astrobee robotic helpers and check out hardware for a perception and orientation in space study. The NASA astronaut then collected samples of the station’s U.S. segment drinking water for microbial analysis.

Working from the Russian side of the station, Ivanishin spent the morning replacing smoke detectors in the Zarya module. Vagner also gathered drinking water samples for later analysis both on the orbiting lab and back on Earth.

Space Traffic Clear at Station Until October

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy applies a mission sticker inside the space station to signify the departure of Japan's HTV-9 resupply ship from the U.S. Harmony module.
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy applies a mission sticker inside the space station to signify the departure of Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship from the U.S. Harmony module.

The Expedition 63 crew has turned its attention toward space science and lab maintenance after releasing a Japanese cargo craft from the International Space Station on Tuesday. More cargo and crew missions to replenish the orbiting lab are planned for October.

Commander Chris Cassidy switched off communications gear today used to send commands to Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) after its departure on Tuesday. The HTV-9 will orbit Earth until Thursday morning when it descends into the atmosphere for a fiery, but safe demise over the South Pacific.

The NASA commander spent the rest of the day working on orbital plumbing and life support gear. Cassidy removed and replaced the Waste and Hygiene Compartment’s recycle tank located in the Tranquility module. He also inspected out gear that analyzes organic compounds in the station’s air.

Veteran station cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin focused on battery work as he installed current converters throughout the lab’s Russian segment. First-time cosmonaut Ivan Vagner spent Wednesday morning working on more orbital plumbing before exploring ways to improve Earth photography techniques and determine how mission events impact the orbiting lab.

Space traffic will be clear at the space station for the rest of August and into September. The mission pace will pick back up in October with a U.S. Cygnus cargo ship from Northrop Grumman, the Expedition 64 crew and the SpaceX Crew-1 mission all to set to arrive within a period of three weeks.

Japan’s Ship Nears Departure Before October Cargo, Crew Missions

The SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Japan's HTV-9 resupply ship figure prominently in this photograph taken during the July 1 spacewalk.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship figure prominently in this photograph taken during the July 1 spacewalk.

Canada’s versatile robotic arm, the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2, is in place and ready to grapple and release Japan’s resupply ship from the International Space Station next week. The Expedition 63 crew is continuing to pack the cargo craft while training for its robotic release.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will command the Canadarm2 to release the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) on Tuesday at 1:35 p.m. EDT. Roscosmos cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will support Cassidy at the robotics workstation in the station’s “window to the world,” the cupola.

Both crewmates will be practicing the robotic maneuvers on a computer Friday and Monday to prepare for the HTV-9’s release. Cassidy finalized packing the HTV-9 with discarded gear and will close the hatch to the Japanese resupply ship on Monday. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the release activities on Tuesday at 1:15 p.m.

Space traffic will pick up again in October with a U.S. cargo ship slated to arrive and a crew exchange planned at the orbiting lab. Northrop Grumman is targeting early October for the rendezvous and robotic capture of its Cygnus cargo craft at the station.

On Oct. 14, three Expedition 64 crew members will launch aboard the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship toward the orbital lab. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will take a six-hour ride that day and dock to the Rassvet module beginning a six-month station mission.

One week later, Cassidy will end his mission along with Expedition 63 crewmates Vagner and Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin. The trio will undock from the Poisk module in the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship on Oct. 21 and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan ending a 195-day research mission aboard the station.

U.S. Cygnus Resupply Ship Departs Station

In this frame from NASA TV, the U.S. Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is pictured moments after being released from the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm.
In this frame from NASA TV, the U.S. Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is pictured moments after being released from the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The Cygnus spacecraft successfully departed the International Space Station three months after arriving at the space station to deliver about 7,500 of scientific experiments and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.

Within 24 hours of its release, Cygnus will begin its secondary mission, hosting the Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment – IV (Saffire-IV), which provides an environment to safely study fire in microgravity. It also will deploy a series of payloads. Northrop Grumman flight controllers in Dulles, Virginia, will initiate Cygnus’ deorbit to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere Friday, May 29.

Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

U.S. Cargo Craft Departing Station Live on NASA TV Now

The Cygnus cargo craft is pictured before its release during Expedition 46 on Feb. 19, 2016.
The Cygnus cargo craft is pictured before its release during the Expedition 46 mission on Feb. 19, 2016.

NASA has begun live coverage of departure of Northrop Grumman’s SS Robert H. Lawrence Cygnus spacecraft from the International Space Station.

Cygnus has been detached from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module, and flight controllers on the ground are scheduled to send commands to robotically detach Cygnus from the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 12 p.m. EDT.

Station commander Christopher Cassidy of NASA will monitor Cygnus’ systems as it moves away from the orbiting laboratory.

Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch Canadarm2 Release U.S. Cargo Craft on NASA TV

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments after its release
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm on January 31, 2020.

Nearly three months after delivering several tons of scientific experiments and supplies to the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s autonomous Cygnus cargo craft is scheduled to depart the International Space Station on Monday, May 11.

Live coverage of the spacecraft’s release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 11:45 a.m. EDT, with release scheduled for 12:08 p.m.

Flight controllers on the ground will send commands to robotically detach Cygnus from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module, maneuver it into place, and release it from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Station commander Christopher Cassidy of NASA will monitor Cygnus’ systems as it moves away from the orbiting laboratory.

Dubbed the “SS Robert H. Lawrence,” Cygnus arrived at the station Feb. 18 for the company’s 13th cargo mission with about 7,500 pounds of supplies and science experiments ranging from research with cell cultures and bone loss to demonstration of a new miniature scanning electron microscope (SEM) with spectroscopy. Cygnus launched on Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Cygnus Ready for Science After Departure, Commander Takes Break

The wispy atmospheric layer of the air glow
The wispy atmospheric layer of the air glow crowns the Earth’s horizon in this nighttime photograph from the International Space Station as it orbited over the South Atlantic Ocean.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship is packed for departure on Monday and will continue more science before its ultimate demise at the end of May. Meanwhile, two Expedition 63 Flight Engineers are maintaining International Space Station operations as the Commander takes a break today.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is relaxing today ahead of this weekend’s activities to ready a U.S. space freighter for its robotic release on Monday at noon EDT. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the cargo ship’s release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm beginning at 11:45 a.m.

The space veteran spent the week loading up the Cygnus space freighter with trash and preparing it for more science. Shortly after its departure, a controlled fire will be lit inside Cygnus for ongoing research into space fire safety. Next, tiny space research satellites, also known as CubeSats,  will be deployed outside the vehicle to improve space communications and GPS mapping technology.

Robotics controllers also attached the popular, but now-defunct HDEV (High Definition Earth Viewing) experiment on the outside of Cygnus for disposal. HDEV reached its end-of-life last year after five years in service providing live views of Earth to over 300 million viewers. The U.S. cargo craft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere at the end of the month for a fiery, but safe disposal above the South Pacific.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner started Friday studying how the heart adapts to a specialized suit that reverses the pooling of blood and water in a crewmember’s head caused by microgravity. They also took turns with an ongoing study that seeks to improve the detection and location of Earth landmarks for photography.

Ivanishin, a veteran of two previous station missions, then updated station inventory with the new cargo recently delivered aboard the Progress 75 cargo ship. Vagner, a first-time space flyer, collected radiation measurements and inspected the Zvezda service module’s windows.

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.

Robotics, Cargo Mission and Photography Keep Station Crew Busy

63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant
63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant, one of a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robots, for a test of its mobility and vision system.

NASA’s International Space Station commander configured robotic assistants today while continuing to get ready for next week’s U.S. cargo craft departure. The two Expedition 63 Flight Engineers from Roscosmos explored advanced space photography techniques and inventoried electronics gear.

Three-time space visitor Chris Cassidy is readying a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robotic assistants for upcoming operations. The NASA astronaut and Navy captain swapped batteries in the advanced devices being tested for their ability to autonomously navigate the station and service small payloads. The program dubbed Astrobee is researching the potential of small robots to perform routine duties and monitor activities freeing up crew time for critical science.

A U.S. space freighter will leave the station Monday after nearly three months attached to the Unity module. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm at noon EDT on Monday completing its cargo mission.

Not only is Cygnus being packed with trash, but Cassidy prepared it for secondary missions to research space fires and deploy a set of CubeSats. Once Cygnus reaches a safe distance from the orbital lab, a small satellite deployer configuring on its hatch will eject a pair of nanosatellites. The shoe box-sized research satellites will research ways to improve space communication techniques and GPS mapping systems.

Over in the Russian segment, cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner concentrated on their set of tasks to maintain station operations. Ivanishin, who is on his third station mission, started his day with Vagner studying techniques to accurately detect and locate landmarks to improve Earth observations.

Ivanishin then spent the rest of the day servicing Russian life support gear and communications systems. First-time station resident Vagner inventoried electrical gear and checked network connections throughout the station’s five Russian modules.

Cygnus Readied for Departure, Crew Trains for Medical Emergency

April 25, 2020: International Space Station Configuration.
Four spaceships are attached at the space station including the U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft and Russia’s Progress 74 and 75 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.

A U.S. cargo craft is one week away from completing its mission at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the three-member Expedition 63 crew focused its attention today on emergency training and orbital maintenance.

On Monday May 11, the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman will complete its mission attached to the station’s Unity module. Cygnus will serve a dual purpose after its departure as it takes out the trash and deploys a set of CubeSats for a variety of space research.

Commander Chris Cassidy is setting up a small satellite deployer, called the SlingShot, that will be installed on the hatch of Cygnus before its departure. The tiny satellites will test space communication technologies and advanced GPS mapping techniques.

Cassidy then joined Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner for an emergency drill after lunchtime. The trio practiced CPR techniques necessary in microgravity. The crewmates also reviewed medical hardware, communication and coordination in the event of a medical emergency aboard the orbiting lab.

Ivanishin started Monday morning photographing the interior of the station’s Russian segment to document spaces that could support new research gear and areas that may require repairs. Vagner explored ways to prevent science experiments or degraded station hardware from potentially contaminating the cabin atmosphere.