Crew Works Robotics, Spacesuits as Station Orbits Higher for Crew Swap

The aurora australis streams above the Indian Ocean in this picture from the space station as it orbited 270 miles above the Earth.
The aurora australis streams above the Indian Ocean in this picture from the space station as it orbited 270 miles above the Earth.

The Expedition 66 crew kicked off the week working on robotics, spacesuits, and advanced research equipment. The International Space Station is also orbiting higher to get ready for a crew swap at the end of March.

Flight Engineers Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) started Monday collecting their blood samples then stowing them for future analysis. The duo then split up, as Chari spent the afternoon studying robotics mobility using the cube-shaped, toaster-sized Astrobee free-flyer. The Astrobatics investigation explores using hopping maneuvers to minimize propellant to inform future robotic missions. Maurer set up the Fluid Science Laboratory for the PASTA experiment that has implications for commercial applications such as pharmaceuticals, oil and fuels, paints and coatings, and more.

The crew is also revving up for a pair of spacewalks in mid-March to continue modifying the orbiting lab’s power systems. Maurer and NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn worked on U.S. spacesuit jet packs that an astronaut could use to maneuver to safety in the unlikely event of becoming untethered from the station. Marshburn also reviewed plans to assist spacewalkers from inside the space station including suit up procedures, hardware checks and a communications gear overview.

Orbital maintenance is key in space ensuring the station’s multitude of systems, including research and life support, operate safely and continuously. Astronaut Kayla Barron of NASA worked on payload components that support science experiments outside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module on its exposed facility unit. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei spent some time unpacking cargo from the Cygnus space freighter before swapping out gear inside the U.S. oxygen generation assembly.

The space station is orbiting slightly higher after Russia’s ISS Progress 79 cargo craft fired its engines for eight minutes on Friday evening. The orbital reboost maneuver puts the station at the proper altitude for the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship launch on March 18 and Vande Hei’s return to Earth on March 30 with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship.

Crew Kicks Off Skin Aging, Cancer Research and Unloads New Cargo Craft

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments away from being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm above northern Iraq on Feb. 21, 2022.
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments away from being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm above northern Iraq on Feb. 21, 2022.

New human research is underway aboard the International Space Station using the microgravity environment to gain unique insights into aging skin cells and cancer tumors. The Expedition 66 crew also continues to unpack cargo from a U.S. cargo craft while keeping up with eye checks to ensure the crew stays healthy in space.

Weightlessness provides scientists a unique opportunity to observe phenomena not possible in Earth’s gravity. Biology including microbes, plants, and humans, changes in response to microgravity and observations are helping NASA plan longer missions farther into space. Doctors on Earth also use the information to improve numerous treatments and conditions on the ground.

Two new biology experiments delivered on Monday aboard the Cygnus space freighter are already being activated on the orbital lab. NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn set up the Microgravity Science Glovebox and began exploring the cellular and molecular alterations taking place in samples of skin cells. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is observing tumor cells in the Life Science Glovebox to better understand the onset and progression of cancer. Both investigations have the potential to inform space research techniques and improve therapies on Earth.

Astronauts Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) worked throughout Wednesday continuing to offload the 8,300 pounds of cargo delivered Monday inside Cygnus. NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron deactivated space botany hardware then photographed cotton cell samples being harvested for the Plant Habitat-05 space agriculture study.

Working in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment, Commander Anton Shkaplerov studied plasma physics while Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov recorded his heart activity wearing a portable electrocardiogram. The duo from Roscosmos then wrapped up the day with more eye and retina checks using medical imaging gear.

Crew Unloads Cygnus and Begins New Research

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari harvest cotton cell samples to explore the genetic architecture of plant regeneration in microgravity.
Astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari harvest cotton cell samples to explore the genetic architecture of plant regeneration in microgravity.

A U.S. cargo craft is being unpacked today following its robotic capture and installation at the International Space Station early Monday morning. The Expedition 66 crew also spent Tuesday activating new research and conducting eye checks.

Three NASA astronauts, Mark Vande Hei, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, along with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer spent Monday unpacking research samples stowed in science freezers aboard the U.S. Cygnus space freighter. The quartet then loaded the frozen samples into research racks throughout the space station. Some of the new science samples delivered on Monday include skin cells and cancer cells being studied in the microgravity environment to improve human health on Earth and in space.

Marshburn set up the Microgravity Science Glovebox during the afternoon to begin looking at the skin cell samples. The new study getting underway today explores ways to diminish space-caused accelerated skin aging with benefits for astronauts and Earthlings.

Cygnus had launched from Virginia on Saturday as 12:40 p.m. EST loaded with 8,300 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies, and station hardware. It arrived Monday morning when NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari, backed up by Barron, commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at 4:44 a.m. Robotics controllers took over shortly afterward and guided Cygnus to the Unity module where it was installed just over two hours later.

Following a day’s worth of Cygnus cargo transfers on Tuesday, Vande Hei and Chari also participated in eye scans using standard medical imaging gear in the Harmony module. Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov kicked off the exams in the afternoon helping doctors understand how living in space affects the human eye and retina.

Shkaplerov first spent the morning on an exercise study exploring ways to maximize the effectiveness of working out in weightlessness. Dubrov worked on communications gear and ventilation hardware throughout the station’s Russian segment.

Cygnus Installed to Station for Cargo Transfers

Feb. 21, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon; Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; and Russia's Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.
Feb. 21, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon; Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft installation on the International Space Station is now complete. Cygnus launched atop an Antares rocket at 12:40 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 19 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At about 4:44 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari, along with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron as backup, captured Cygnus, carrying 8,300 pounds of research, hardware, and science experiments to the International Space Station.

Highlights of space station research facilitated by this mission include:

  • study that examines the effects of a drug on breast and prostate cancer cells
  • a new combustion facility
  • an investigation from Colgate-Palmolive that will leverage the acceleration of skin aging in microgravity to help create and validate an engineered tissue model to serve as a platform for testing potential products to protect aging skin
  • a demonstration of a lithium-ion secondary battery capable of safe, stable operation under extreme temperatures and in a vacuum environment
  • new hydrogen sensors that will be tested for the space station’s oxygen generation system
  • a system that will test hydroponic and aeroponic techniques for plant growth and will allow scientists to observe root growth through video and still images

Findings from these and other investigations aboard the space station will contribute to keeping astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars efforts, including lunar missions through the agency’s Artemis program.

Cygnus will also deliver critical hardware to be installed during the upcoming ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (IROSA) spacewalks, as well as other components for the successful functioning of astronaut life on the space station, such as a trash deployer and acoustic covers for the waste management system.

This Cygnus mission is the first to feature enhanced capabilities that will allow the spacecraft to perform a reboost, using its engines to adjust the space station’s orbit as a standard service for NASA. The agency has one reboost is planned while Cygnus is connected to the orbiting laboratory. A test of the maneuver was performed in 2018 during Cygnus’ ninth resupply mission.

Cygnus will remain at the space station until May before it deploys CubeSats, then disposes of several thousand pounds of trash during its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, which will result in its destruction.


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

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

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Cygnus Being Installed to Station Live on NASA TV

The Cygnus space freighter is positioned by the Canadarm2 robotic arm to be installed on the space station's Unity module.
The Cygnus space freighter is positioned by the Canadarm2 robotic arm to be installed on the space station’s Unity module.

NASA Television coverage of installation of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft is underway. At 4:44 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari, along with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron as backup, captured Cygnus, which launched Saturday at 12:40 p.m. on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and agency’s website will provide live coverage of the spacecraft’s installation.


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

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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Astronauts Capture U.S. Resupply Ship Packed With Cargo

The Cygnus space feighter is pictured in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm shortly after it was captured by NASA astronaut Raja Chari.
The Cygnus space feighter is pictured in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm shortly after it was captured by NASA astronaut Raja Chari.

At 4:44 a.m. EST, NASA astronaut Raja Chari, with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron acting as backup, captured Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft over the Indian Ocean. Mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the station’s Unity module Earth-facing port.

Cygnus spacecraft launched Saturday on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia at 12:40 p.m. EST. This is Northrop Grumman’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The Cygnus spacecraft is carrying a fresh supply of 8,300 pounds of scientific investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

The Cygnus spacecraft is named the S.S. Piers Sellers in honor of the late NASA astronaut who spent nearly 35 days across three missions helping to construct the space station.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and agency’s website will provide live coverage of the spacecraft’s installation beginning at 6:30 a.m.


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

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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Cygnus Nears Station for Capture Live on NASA TV Now

The Cygnus space freighter's cymbal-shaped solar arrays are pictured in this photograph taken from the space station in August of 2021.
The Cygnus space freighter’s cymbal-shaped solar arrays are pictured in this photograph taken from the space station in August of 2021.

NASA television is underway for the capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft which launched Saturday at 12:40 p.m. on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. At about 4:35 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari will capture Cygnus, with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron acting as backup. After Cygnus capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the station’s Unity module Earth-facing port.

This is Northrop Grumman’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The Cygnus spacecraft is carrying a fresh supply of 8,300 pounds of scientific investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

This Cygnus mission is the first to feature enhanced capabilities that will allow the spacecraft to perform a reboost, using its engines to adjust the space station’s orbit as a standard service for NASA. The agency has one reboost is planned while Cygnus is connected to the orbiting laboratory. A test of the maneuver was performed in 2018 during Cygnus’ ninth resupply mission.

The Cygnus spacecraft is named the S.S. Piers Sellers in honor of the late NASA astronaut who spent nearly 35 days across three missions helping to construct the space station.


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

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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

NASA TV is Live Monday Broadcasting Cygnus Arrival at Station

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments before its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm in February of 2021.
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments before its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm in February of 2021.

Tune in to NASA television beginning at 3 a.m. EST Monday, Feb. 21 to view the capture of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft which launched Saturday at 12:40 p.m. on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At about 4:35 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari will capture Cygnus, with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron acting as backup. After Cygnus capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the station’s Unity module Earth-facing port.

This is Northrop Grumman’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The Cygnus spacecraft is carrying a fresh supply of 8,300 pounds of scientific investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

The Cygnus spacecraft is named the S.S. Piers Sellers in honor of the late NASA astronaut who spent nearly 35 days across three missions helping to construct the space station.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and agency’s website will provide live coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival beginning at 3 a.m.


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

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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Solar Arrays Deploy on Cargo Craft Heading to Station

The Cygnus space freighter's cymbal-shaped solar arrays are pictured in this photograph taken from the space station in August of 2021.
The Cygnus space freighter’s cymbal-shaped solar arrays are pictured in this photograph taken from the space station in August of 2021.

Following its launch earlier today, Cygnus’ solar arrays have deployed and the S.S. Piers Sellers is on its way to the International Space Station. The arrays deployed following launch on the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket at 12:40 p.m. EST from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, carrying 8,300 pounds of research, hardware, and supplies to the International Space Station. Solar array deployment completes the launch phase.

The Cygnus spacecraft will arrive at the space station Monday, Feb. 21, for a capture at approximately 4:35 a.m. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival at the space station will begin at 3 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Cygnus spacecraft is filled with supplies and payloads including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expedition 66. Using the Canadarm2 robotic arm, NASA astronaut Raja Chari will capture Cygnus, and Kayla Barron will be acting as a backup. After capture, the spacecraft will be installed on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port.


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

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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

U.S. Cargo Craft Launches to Station for Monday Delivery

The Cygnus space freighter blasts off on time atop the Antares rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Cygnus space freighter blasts off on time atop the Antares rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

A fresh supply of 8,300 pounds of scientific investigations and cargo is on its way to the International Space Station on a Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft after launching on an Antares rocket at 12:40 p.m. EST Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the space station around 4:35 a.m. Monday, Feb. 21. NASA Television, the NASA app, and agency’s website will provide live coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival beginning at 3 a.m.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron will capture Cygnus with the station’s robotic Canadarm2 upon its arrival. After capture, the spacecraft will be installed on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port. This is Northrop Grumman’s 17th contracted resupply mission under the second Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.

This is the first Cygnus mission featuring enhanced capabilities to perform a re-boost to the space station’s orbit as a standard service for NASA; one re-boost is planned while Cygnus is connected to the orbiting laboratory.


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

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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe