More Head and Eye Pressure Research and Dragon Robotics Training

Astronauts David Saint-Jacques and Anne McClain
Astronauts David Saint-Jacques and Anne McClain practice Canadarm2 robotics maneuvers and spacecraft capture techniques on the robotics workstation in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The Expedition 59 crew is unloading one U.S. cargo ship today and preparing for the arrival of another after it launches from Florida next week. The orbital residents also continued exploring how microgravity impacts the human body and a variety of terrestrial materials.

Astronauts Christina Koch and David Saint-Jacques worked Wednesday afternoon to offload some of the 7,600 pounds of cargo the Cygnus space freighter delivered last week. Saint-Jacques is also training today to capture the SpaceX resupply ship with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives next Thursday. Dragon will be the sixth spaceship parked at the station and occupy the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port.

The duo also split the day working with a variety of biomedical hardware and research gear to ensure healthy astronauts and successful space research. Koch and Saint-Jacques participated in ultrasound scans for ongoing health checks. Koch then explored the feasibility of manufacturing fiber optic cables in space. Saint-Jacques set up Kubik incubator hardware inside Europe’s Columbus lab module.

NASA Flight Engineers Anne McClain and Nick Hague were back collecting more blood, urine and saliva samples today. The samples are spun in a centrifuge, stowed in a science freezer then analyzed for the long-running Fluid Shifts study. The experiment seeks to understand and prevent the upward flow of body fluids in space that cause head and eye pressure in astronauts.

McClain then studied how living aboard the International Space Station affects her perception and cognition. Hague researched and photographed a variety of coating materials for their thermal protection and optical recognition properties.

Human Research, Materials Science and Robotics on Tuesday’s Schedule

The moon is photographed in its waning gibbous phase
The moon is photographed in its waning gibbous phase just above the Earth’s limb as the International Space Station orbited 258 miles above the North Atlantic Ocean just off the Canadian-American coast.

The Expedition 59 crew spent the majority of Tuesday conducting space experiments and setting up research hardware. The International Space Station residents are also continuing to unpack a pair of recently arrived cargo ships while training for the next U.S. cargo mission.

The weightless conditions of microgravity pull fluids towards an astronaut’s head causing a common space phenomenon sometimes called “puffy-face.” Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA spent the morning collecting and stowing his blood, urine and saliva samples for the long-running Fluid Shifts study. The research observes and seeks to reverse the upward flow of fluids causing increased head and eye pressure that concerns flight surgeons.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch set up hardware in the Destiny lab module to begin researching the feasibility of manufacturing fiber optic cable in space. The Space Fibers study takes place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox and will explore a blend of materials more transparent than silica-based glass.

A new materials exposure experiment is ready for deployment outside Japan’s Kibo lab module. NASA astronaut Anne McClain installed the MISSE-FF gear inside Kibo’s airlock before depressurizing the unit. Robotics controllers will deploy the exposed sample trays outside the airlock. The study will help scientists understand how radiation, the vacuum of space and micrometeoroids affect a variety of materials.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques is training for his role to capture the next SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Hague joined him today for the robotics training and will back him up in the cupola. Dragon is scheduled to launch April 30 from Florida and take a two-day trip to the station where it will be grappled with the Canadarm2 robotic arm and installed to the Harmony module.

Commander Oleg Kononenko helped attach sensors to Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin as the duo researched cardiovascular activity during exercise in space. Kononenko went on to replace smoke detectors as Ovchinin worked on life support maintenance.

New Life Science Begins; Next Dragon Cargo Mission Due Next Week

Cygnus approaches its capture point
The Canadarm2 robotic arm is positioned to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft as it approaches its capture point with the International Space Station orbiting 255 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. Highlighting the foreground is the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship docked to the Rassvet module.

The Expedition 59 crew has been unpacking Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft over the weekend and began science operations on the newly delivered space research. The 17th SpaceX Dragon mission is now due to launch next week to replenish the International Space Station.

Three NASA astronauts and one Canadian Space Agency astronaut split the workday measuring the mass of 40 mice shipped to the station aboard Cygnus last week. Flight Engineers Anne McClain and Christina Koch started the first half of the day with Flight Engineers Nick Hague and David Saint-Jacques wrapping up the rodent research work in the afternoon. The quartet used the mass measurement device inside the Life Sciences Glovebox beginning the study to learn how microgravity impacts the immune system.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is due to join the five other spacecraft parked at the station after it launches from Florida April 30. Dragon is scheduled to arrive May 2 and Saint-Jacques will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture the cargo vessel. Dragon will deliver over 5,000 pounds of new science, supplies and hardware to the orbital lab.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin stayed focused on the Russian side of the station with their complement of orbital science and lab maintenance. Commander Kononenko updated communications gear, cleaned fans and filters and explored enzyme behaviors. Flight Engineer Ovchinin offloaded cargo from the new Progress 72 resupply ship and studied radiation exposure.

Cygnus Cargo Craft Attached to Station Until July

April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
April 19, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 and 72 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-11 and MS-12 crew ships.

After its capture this morning at 5:28 a.m. EDT, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:31 a.m. At the time of installation, Cygnus was flying 255 miles above the Indian Ocean just south of Singapore.

Cygnus will remain at the space station until July 23, when the spacecraft will depart the station, deploy NanoRacks customer CubeSats, then have an extended mission of nine months before it will dispose of several tons of trash during a fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 7,600 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of NASA-sponsored research to advance exploration goals and enable future missions to the Moon and Mars include:

Models for growing increasingly complex materials

Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-10 (ACE-T-10) will test gels in a microgravity environment. This research could aid in the development of increasingly complex materials that may serve as the building blocks for a range of applications on Earth including foods, drugs, and electronic devices. The process also may provide an efficient method to build new materials and equipment in space.

Better life science research in a few drops

Although the space station is well equipped for health and life sciences research, the equipment available for cellular and molecular biology still is limited compared to capabilities found in laboratories on Earth. To address this limitation, CSA designed Bio-Analyzer, a new tool the size of a video game console that astronauts on station easily can use to test body fluids such as blood, saliva, and urine, with just a few drops. It returns key analyses, such as blood cell counts, in just two to three hours, eliminating the need to freeze and store samples.

Analyzing aging of the arteries in astronauts

The Vascular Aging investigation uses ultrasounds, blood samples, oral glucose tolerance tests, and wearable sensors to study aging-like changes that occur in many astronauts during their stay on the space station. It’s one of three Canadian experiments exploring the effects of weightlessness on the blood vessels and heart, and the links between these effects and bone health, blood biomarkers, insulin resistance, and radiation exposure. Increased understanding of these mechanisms can be used to address vascular aging in both astronauts and the aging Earth population.

Testing immune response in space

Spaceflight is known to have a dramatic influence on an astronaut’s immune response, but there is little research on its effect following an actual challenge to the body’s immune system. The rodent immune system closely parallels that of humans, and Rodent Research-12: Tetanus Antibody Response by B cells in Space (TARBIS) will examine the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory. This investigation aims to advance the development of measures to counter these effects and help maintain crew health during future long-duration space missions. On Earth, it could advance research to improve the effectiveness of vaccines and therapies for treating diseases and cancers.

Big buzz for new robot

A fleet of small robots is set to take on big jobs aboard the space station. Building on the success of SPHERES, NASA will test Astrobee, a robotic system comprised of three cube-shaped robots and a docking station for recharging; the first two are aboard Cygnus. The free-flying robots use electric fans for propulsion and cameras and sensors help them navigate their surroundings. The robots also have an arm to grasp station handrails or grab and hold items. Astrobee can operate in automated mode or under remote control from the ground as it assists with routine chores on station, and requires no supervision from the crew. This has the potential to free up astronauts to conduct more research.

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

Astronaut Commands Robotic Arm to Capture Cygnus Cargo Craft

The Cygnus spacecraft from Northrop Grumman
The Cygnus spacecraft from Northrop Grumman approaches the International Space Station for a robotic capture

At 5:28 a.m. EDT, Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Roger Chaffee, on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The station was flying over northeast France at an altitude of 254 miles when it was captured.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning. Cygnus will remain at the orbiting laboratory for a three-month stay.

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

NASA TV Coverage Begins of U.S. Cygnus Craft Approaching Station

Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain
Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA uses the robotics workstation inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module to practice Canadarm2 robotics maneuvers and Cygnus spacecraft capture techniques.

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA will capture the spacecraft assisted by David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, who will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach for capture. They will use the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Roger Chaffee. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

NASA Television coverage of capture has begun. Watch live online at www.nasa.gov/live

A timeline of remaining Cygnus and space station activities for the earliest capture attempt is below:

Time (EDT)   Event

4:14 a.m.      Cygnus within 300m of Space Station
4:21 a.m.      250m Hold Point Arrival
4:36 a.m.      250m Hold Point Departure
4:47 a.m.      Cygnus within 100 meters of Space Station
5:00 a.m.      30 meters Hold Point Arrival
5:05 a.m.      Earliest “Go” for Capture
5:19 a.m.      Capture Point Arrival
5:24 a.m.      “Go” or “No-Go” for Capture
5:30 a.m.      Capture

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

NASA TV Broadcasts Friday Arrival of U.S. Resupply Ship to Station

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter with its prominent cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in November of 2018.

A Northrop Grumman cargo ship carrying about 7,600 pounds of science and research investigations, supplies, and hardware is set to arrive to the International Space Station early Friday morning. The uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft launched at 4:46 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 17 on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

When Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Roger Chaffee, arrives to the space station on Friday, April 19, Expedition 59 Flight Engineer Anne McClain will use the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft at about 5:30 a.m. Fellow crew member David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will assist McClain. NASA astronaut Nick Hague will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach for capture. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module for a three-month stay.

Live coverage will begin on NASA TV at 4 a.m. and return to the air at 7 a.m. for installation coverage. Watch at www.nasa.gov/live

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

Crew Prepares for Arrival of Science-Packed Cargo Ship

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch
NASA astronauts (from left) Anne McClain and Christina Koch pose for a portrait inside the Kibo laboratory module from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Both Expedition 59 flight engineers are members of NASA’s 2013 class of astronauts.

The Cygnus space freighter is on orbit today and refining its approach to the International Space Station following its launch from Virginia Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Expedition 59 crew is juggling a variety of science and maintenance activities today before Friday morning’s space shipment arrives.

Astronaut Anne McClain, with Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques as her back up, will capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Ground controllers will take over afterward and remotely install Cygnus to the Unity module where it will stay until the end of July.

Cygnus is packed with about 7,600 pounds of science, supplies and crew hardware to replenish the orbital lab. Among its science payloads are mice, free-flying robots and a host of other experiments and research gear. The astronauts set up hardware today that will house the rodents and enable research into how the immune system responds to microgravity. The crew will also test the ability of tiny, autonomous robots to provide assistance with routine space chores and lab monitoring.

Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch started Thursday collecting and spinning blood and urine samples for ongoing human research. McClain checked out cables for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace while Saint-Jacques installed sample plates on a specialized microscope called the Light Microscopy Module.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and fellow cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin worked throughout the day on Russian life support maintenance.  Ovchinin also researched enzyme behavior in space and photographed plants for a botany investigation.

U.S. Resupply Ship Poised for Launch as Crew Studies Life Science

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen during sunrise on Pad-0A, Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia

The U.S. Cygnus resupply ship from Northrop Grumman is encapsulated atop the Antares rocket and standing at its launch pad in Virginia. The Expedition 59 crew is training for its capture at the end of the week in the midst of ongoing life science aboard the International Space Station.

Cygnus will blast off Wednesday at 4:46 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. It will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science, supplies and hardware to the orbital residents. Flight Engineer Anne McClain, with astronaut David Saint-Jacques backing her up, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus Friday about 5:30 a.m.

The duo continued sharpening their robotics skills today as they practiced Friday’s Cygnus capture maneuvers and techniques on a computer. NASA TV will broadcast the space freighter’s launch and capture activities live.

McClain started the day setting up a mouse habitat that will house rodents to gain insight into the immune system’s response to long-term spaceflight. Saint-Jacques set up the 360° camera in Tranquility module for more virtual reality filming of crew life on the station.

Flight Engineer Christina Koch started Tuesday collecting and spinning her blood samples in a centrifuge for the Myotones muscle study. She then joined NASA astronaut Nick Hague for body measurements and ultrasound scans to research how microgravity impacts the biochemical properties of muscles.

Cygnus Spaceship at Launch Pad as Crew Trains for Delivery Mission

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket is seen as it rolls out to Pad-0A, Monday, April 15, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The next U.S. spaceship to deliver goods to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad in Virginia today. The Expedition 59 crew is training to capture the U.S. space freighter while also filming a virtual reality experience aboard the orbital lab.

Northrop Grumman is poised to launch its Cygnus resupply ship atop an Antares rocket Wednesday at 4:46 p.m. EDT. It will blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on a day-and-a-half long delivery trip to the station’s Unity module.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will be waiting for Cygnus’ arrival Friday morning from inside the cupola. McClain will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus about 5:30 a.m. as Saint-Jacques backs her up. Robotics controllers will take over shortly after and remotely install the Cygnus to Unity’s Earth-facing point about two hours later.

The duo, supported by NASA astronaut Nick Hague, continued reviewing procedures and practicing robotics maneuvers today as Cygnus counts down to its Wednesday launch. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.

More virtual reality filming continued today and has been ongoing for several months now inside the orbital complex. The crew has been filming a 360° experience depicting life on the station for future viewing by audiences on Earth.