Cygnus Resupply Ship Leaving Station Today Live on NASA TV

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments before its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Feb. 22, 2021.
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments before its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Feb. 22, 2021.

About four months after delivering several tons of scientific experiments and supplies to the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s uncrewed Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled to depart the orbiting laboratory Tuesday, June 29. This morning, flight controllers on the ground sent commands to use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to robotically detach Cygnus from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module and maneuver it into place.

Live coverage of the spacecraft’s release will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, and the NASA app beginning at noon EDT, with its release from the robotic arm scheduled for 12:25 p.m.

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur will monitor Cygnus’ systems upon its departure from the space station.

The Cygnus resupply spacecraft is named after NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, a Black woman who broke through barriers of gender and race, calculating orbital mechanics for some of the first U.S. human spaceflights.

Cygnus arrived at the International Space Station Feb. 22 with nearly 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations and supplies following a launch two days prior on Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. It was the company’s 15th commercial resupply services mission to the space station for NASA.

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.

U.S., Russian Resupply Ships Depart and Launch on Tuesday

(From left) The Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia's ISS Progress 78 cargo craft will depart and launch just hours apart on Tuesday.
(From left) The Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s ISS Progress 78 cargo craft will depart and launch just hours apart on Tuesday.

The Cygnus resupply ship will complete its cargo mission to the International Space Station on Tuesday. Several hours later, Russia’s ISS Progress 78 (78P) cargo craft will launch on a two-day trip to replenish the Expedition 65 crew.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide joined Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet and closed the hatch on the trash-filled Cygnus early Monday morning. Following that, NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei installed the Slingshot small satellite deployer on Cygnus’ hatch.

Cygnus will be released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 12:25 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. Once Cygnus reaches a safe distance from the station, the Slingshot will deploy five CubeSats for a variety of research including atmospheric physics as well as software evaluation and development.

The 78P cargo craft sits atop its rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. It will launch Tuesday at 7:27 p.m. carrying over 3,600 pounds of food, fuel and supplies for the seven space station residents.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov spent Monday morning preparing for the arrival of the 78P scheduled on Thursday at 9:03 p.m. The duo practiced telerobotically operated maneuvers to manually dock the ISS Progress 78 to the Poisk module in the unlikely event the Russian cargo craft was unable to automatically dock on its own.

NASA TV, on the agency’s website and the NASA app, will broadcast all three mission events live. Cygnus departure coverage begins at noon. The ISS Progress 78 launch broadcast starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday with docking coverage starting Thursday at 8:15 p.m. View the NASA Television schedule here.

Despite the cargo craft preparations, there was time for science today aboard the orbiting lab. Kimbrough set up the InSpace-4 physics study that will explore advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur studied ways to produce high-quality protein crystals in microgravity to benefit the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries on Earth.

Crew Looks to Friday Spacewalk, Cargo Ship Swap Next Week

Spacewalkers (from left) Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet work to complete the installation of a roll out solar array on June 20, 2021,
Spacewalkers (from left) Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet work to complete the installation of a roll out solar array on June 20, 2021,

The Expedition 65 crew continued its space research activities today while two astronauts prepared for their third spacewalk in less than two weeks. The International Space Station will also see a U.S. cargo craft depart and a Russian one launch on the same day next week.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei strapped himself to an exercise cycle and attached sensors to himself on Tuesday morning for a workout study measuring aerobic capacity in space. NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur explored how bacteria is affected by microgravity and ways to counteract harmful changes.

Eye checks were back on the schedule for four astronauts on Tuesday afternoon. Commander Akihiko Hoshide and Vande Hei took turns operating medical imaging gear and scanned the eyes of astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet. A variety of eye exams take place on the station helping researchers understand how weightlessness impacts an astronaut’s vision.

Kimbrough and Pesquet are also getting ready for more solar array installation work on the outside of the orbiting lab. The duo reviewed procedures today for installing a second roll out solar array on the station’s Port-6 truss structure. The veteran spacewalkers will set their spacesuits to battery power at 8 a.m. EDT on Friday signifying the official start of their third excursion in 9 days. Live coverage on NASA TV starts at 6:30 a.m. on the agency’s website and the NASA app.

Hoshide and Vande Hei spent some time Tuesday morning loading Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter ahead of its departure scheduled for July 29 at 12:25 p.m. Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship will launch the same day at 7:27 p.m. and dock to the station two days later at 9:02 p.m.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy packed the ISS Progress 77 resupply ship readying the vehicle for its undocking in late July. The veteran cosmonaut also trapped clouds of particles using both neon and argon gas for a plasma crystal experiment. Russian Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov had an exercise test on a treadmill today then serviced a variety of communications and life support hardware.

Station Readies for Expanded Crew as Science Stays in Focus

A waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth's horizon as the space station orbited 269 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.
A waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth’s horizon as the space station orbited 269 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

The Expedition 64 crew is getting ready to welcome three new crew members who are due to launch on Friday to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, a variety of space research activities are underway aboard the orbiting lab today.

One NASA astronaut and two Roscosmos cosmonauts are in final preparations for their liftoff on a Soyuz rocket set for Friday at 3:42 a.m. EDT. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Pyotr Dubrov will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy for the short trip to the station inside the new Soyuz MS-18 crew ship.

Docking of the new Expedition 65 trio to the Rassvet module is planned for 7:07 a.m. The crew will open the hatch after leak and pressure checks and enter the station about 9 a.m. A welcoming ceremony with the expanded 10-person crew along with participants on the ground will occur shortly afterward. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and docking activities beginning at 2:45 a.m.

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker are busy readying the station to temporarily accommodate the new crew members. The trio is setting up extra sleep stations for this month’s crew swaps when there will be as many as 11 people occupying the space station.

Biomedical studies, or human research, is always ongoing aboard the station. Saliva and blood sample collections were the first tasks of the day for Hopkins, Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov. Glover scanned his own neck, leg and cardiac veins with an ultrasound device then checked his blood pressure for the Vascular Aging study.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins installed the new TangoLab-2 biology research hardware, delivered in February aboard the Cygnus space freighter, inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi readied a materials space exposure study for placement outside the Kibo laboratory module.

Crew Examines Worms, Explores Space Manufacturing During Spacewalk Preps

Three spaceships are pictured attached to the space station as the orbital complex flew 261 miles above the Bay of Bengal.
Three spaceships are pictured attached to the space station as the orbital complex flew 261 miles above the Bay of Bengal.

Two NASA astronauts are getting their tools and spacesuits ready for Sunday’s spacewalk to ready the International Space Station for new solar arrays. Meanwhile, the rest of the Expedition 64 crew focused on a variety of space research on Thursday.

NASA Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover are finalizing their preparations for a planned six-and-a-half hour spacewalk set to begin Sunday at 6 a.m. EST. NASA TV will begin its live spacewalk beginning at 4:30 a.m.

Rubins and Glover configured spacewalk tools and checked U.S. spacesuits today before calling down to experts in Mission Control to report on their readiness. The duo today also continued reviewing the spacewalk procedures they will use to upgrade power channels that will soon support new solar arrays. Those solar arrays will be shipped on upcoming Space Dragon cargo missions for installation this year.

Science is always ongoing aboard the space station, not just with crew inputs but also remotely from scientists on the ground. Results and insights help improve industry, business and medicine on Earth and in space.

Worms are being observed on the station after their arrival on Monday inside the Cygnus resupply ship from Northrop Grumman. Astronauts Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins examined the tiny worms with a microscope to explore how microgravity affects gene expression and muscle strength.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi worked on advanced space science hardware to explore different space manufacturing techniques. He first installed the new Industrial Crystallization Facility that will demonstrate commercial crystal production available only in space. Next, he checked samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that investigates the thermophysical properties of commercial materials exposed to extreme temperatures.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov split their day working on batteries, cameras and laptop computers.

Astronauts Get Ready for Spacewalks After U.S. Cargo Ship Arrives

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi works on U.S. spacesuit gear inside the Quest airlock.
JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi works on U.S. spacesuit gear inside the Quest airlock.

Spacewalks are the focus now aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 64 crew begins unloading four tons of cargo delivered Monday aboard a U.S. space freighter.

NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover are gearing up for a spacewalk on Sunday, Feb. 28, to ready the station for upcoming solar array upgrades. They will set their U.S. spacesuits to battery power at approximately 6 a.m. EST signifying the start of their spacewalk planned to last six-and-a-half hours. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the spacewalk activities at 4:30 a.m.

NASA managers will discuss that spacewalk, including a March 5 spacewalk with Rubins and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, on Wednesday during a live briefing on NASA TV set for 2 p.m. The second spacewalk will see Rubins and Noguchi work on upgrading coolant gear and communication systems.

The duo spent Tuesday servicing their spacesuits and practicing safety procedures inside the Quest airlock. Glover cleaned the spacesuit cooling water loops and tested the quality of the water samples collected from the loops. Rubins reviewed the spacesuit caution and warning system then checked glove heaters, helmet cameras and batteries.

In the midst of the spacewalk preparations, the orbital residents have begun unpacking the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship. NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker have been offloading the new science hardware, crew supplies and station hardware stowed inside Cygnus. Noguchi transferred Cygnus’ science freezers containing biological samples into the station and installed them into specialized science racks. Rubins and Glover also assisted with the cargo transfers.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos started the day sampling the station’s air and surfaces for microbial analysis. Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov worked on Russian life support systems and station cameras.

Cygnus Resupply Ship Bolted to Station’s Unity Module

Feb. 22, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft, and Russia's Progress 76 and 77 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.
Feb. 22, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft, and Russia’s Progress 75 and 77 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft was berthed to the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:16 a.m. EST Monday morning and subsequently bolted into place. Cygnus will remain at the space station until May, when the spacecraft will depart the station. Following departure, the Cygnus will dispose of several tons of trash during a fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft, which launched at 12:36 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 20, on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, brings approximately 8,000 pounds of research, hardware, and supplies to the orbiting laboratory to support the Expedition 64 and 65 crews. The Cygnus was captured earlier Monday morning at 4:38 a.m. EST.

Highlights of science investigations aboard this Cygnus include:

A new vision

Millions of people on Earth suffer from retinal degenerative diseases. These conditions have no cure, although treatments can slow their progression. Artificial retinas or retinal implants may provide a way to restore meaningful vision for those affected. In 2018, startup LambdaVision sent their first experiment to the space station to determine whether the process used to create artificial retinal implants by forming a thin film one layer at a time may work better in microgravity.

A second experiment by LambdaVision launching on NG CRS-15, Protein-Based Artificial Retina Manufacturing, builds on the first project, evaluating a manufacturing system that uses a light-activated protein to replace the function of damaged cells in the eye. This information may help LambdaVision uncover whether microgravity optimizes production of these retinas, and could assist people back on Earth.

Bringing advanced computing aboard the space station

Due to a need to prioritize reliability over performance, computing capabilities in space are reduced compared to capabilities on the ground, creating challenges when transmitting data to and from space. Although relying on ground-based computers is possible for exploration on the Moon or in low-Earth orbit, this solution will not work for exploration farther into the solar system. Launched in 2017, the SpaceborneComputer study ran a high-performance commercial off-the-shelf computer system in space with the goal of having the system operate seamlessly for one year. It successfully performed more than 1 trillion calculations (or one teraflop) per second for 207 days without requiring reset.

Spaceborne Computer-2 builds on the successes of this first study, exploring how off-the-shelf computer systems can advance exploration by processing data significantly faster in space with edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. This experiment plans to demonstrate that Earth-based data processing of current station science data can instead be performed on station. Eliminating the need for researchers to send all raw data back to Earth for analysis could speed scientists’ time-to-insight from months to minutes.

Space worms to the rescue

Tiny worms could help us determine the cause of muscle weakening that astronauts can experience in microgravity. Astronauts work out more than two hours a day aboard the space station to prevent bone and muscle loss caused by living in a microgravity environment during long-duration missions. Thanks to a new device for measuring the muscle strength of tiny C. elegans worms, researchers with the Micro-16 study can test whether decreased expression of muscle proteins is associated with this decreased strength. The device consists of a small microscope slide filled with little rubber pillars. The strength of the worms is measured by how much force the worms apply to the pillars as they move around the slide.

Preparing for the Moon

The International Space Station serves as a testing ground for technologies we plan to use on future Artemis missions to the Moon. The NASA A-HoSS investigation puts to the test tools planned for use on the crewed Artemis II mission that will orbit the Moon. Built as the primary radiation detection system for the Orion spacecraft, the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor (HERA) was modified for operation on the space station.

Verifying that HERA can operate without error for 30 days validates the system for crewed Artemis mission operations. A related investigation, ISS HERA, flew in 2019 aboard the space station. ISS HERA provided data and operational feedback in preparation for the Orion spacecraft’s uncrewed Artemis I mission that will launch in 2021.

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.

JAXA, NASA astronauts Capture Cygnus Resupply Ship

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship is pictured about 30 meters away from the space station approaching its capture point near the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV
The Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship is pictured about 30 meters away from the space station approaching its capture point near the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

At 4:38 a.m. EST, Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins of NASA monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Katherine Johnson, on the Earth-facing port of the station’s Unity module.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 6 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. Watch live on the agency’s website or on the NASA app.

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.

Watch NASA TV for Cygnus Arrival and Capture at Station

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in February of 2020 during Expedition 62.
The Cygnus space freighter is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm in February of 2020 during Expedition 62.

A Northrop Grumman cargo spacecraft carrying almost 8,000 pounds of science and research investigations, supplies, and hardware is set to arrive to the International Space Station today at 4:40 a.m. EST. The uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft launched at 12:36 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft for its 15th commercial resupply services mission was named after NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, a Black woman who time and again broke through barriers of gender and race.

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will capture Cygnus, and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins will be acting as a backup. After capture, the spacecraft will be installed on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port.

NASA Television coverage of capture has begun. Watch live on the agency’s website or on the NASA app.

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.

U.S. Cargo Craft Deploys Solar Arrays, On its Way to Station

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket blasted off with the Cygnus space freighter today at 12:36 p.m. EST from Virginia. Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket blasts off with the Cygnus space freighter  from Virginia. Credit: NASA Wallops/Allison Stancil

The solar arrays have successfully deployed on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft that is on its way to deliver approximately 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations, cargo, and supplies to the International Space Station after launching at 12:36 p.m. EST Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island in Virginia.

Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival to the orbiting laboratory will begin Monday, Feb. 22, at 3:00 a.m. EST on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi will capture Cygnus, and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins will be acting as a backup. After capture, the spacecraft will be installed on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port. NASA TV coverage of the spacecraft’s installation will begin Monday, Feb. 22, at 6:00 a.m. EST.

This delivery is Northrop Grumman’s 15th contracted cargo flight to the space station and will support dozens of new and existing investigations.

Included aboard Cygnus for delivery to the space station are:

A life support upgrade

The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) is a crucial element of regenerative life support hardware that provides clean air and water to the space station crew. Current systems enable recovery of about 93% of the water and water vapor on the station. The system will get an upgrade thanks to the Exploration ECLSS: Brine Processor System. This investigation demonstrates technology to recover additional water from the Urine Processor Assembly. The brine processor’s dual membrane bladder allows water vapor to pass through while filtering out the brine and the majority of contaminants. Long-duration crewed exploration missions require about 98% water recovery, and this technology demonstration in brine processing will help achieve this goal. This Brine Processor System plans to close this gap for the urine waste stream of the space station.

A new vision

Millions of people on Earth suffer from retinal degenerative diseases. These conditions have no cure, although treatments can slow their progression. Artificial retinas or retinal implants may provide a way to restore meaningful vision for those affected. In 2018, startup LambdaVision sent their first experiment to the space station to determine whether the process used to create artificial retinal implants by forming a thin film one layer at a time may work better in microgravity.

Protein-Based Artificial Retina Manufacturing builds on the first project, evaluating a manufacturing system that uses a light-activated protein to replace the function of damaged cells in the eye. This information may help LambdaVision uncover whether microgravity optimizes production of these retinas, and could assist people back on Earth.

I dream of space

Strapped inside sleeping bags, astronauts often report getting a better night’s sleep during their stays aboard the space station than when lying on a bed on Earth. The ESA (European Space Agency) Dreams experiment will provide a quantitative look at these astronaut sleep reports. When crew members get ready for bed, they will add another step: donning a sleep monitoring headband. The investigation serves as a technology demonstration of the Dry-EEG Headband in microgravity while also monitoring astronaut sleep quality during a long-duration mission. Raw data will be available to scientists for analysis, and the crew can input direct feedback on their sleep via an application on a tablet. Sleep is central to human health, so a better understanding of sleep in space provides a more comprehensive picture of human health in microgravity.

Preparing for the Moon

The International Space Station serves as a testing ground for technologies we plan to use on future Artemis missions to the Moon. The NASA A-HoSS investigation puts to the test tools planned for use on the crewed Artemis II mission that will orbit the Moon. Built as the primary radiation detection system for the Orion spacecraft, the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor (HERA) was modified for operation on the space station. Verifying that HERA can operate without error for 30 days validates the system for crewed Artemis mission operations. A related investigation, ISS HERA, flew in 2019 aboard the space station. ISS HERA provided data and operational feedback in preparation for the Orion spacecraft’s uncrewed Artemis I mission that will launch in 2021.