Health, Robotics and Construction Research on Station Today

The waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth's horizon from the International Space Station.
The waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth’s horizon from the International Space Station.

Life science, robotics and space construction kept the Expedition 66 crew busy aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday. The orbital residents also worked on spacesuits and inspected a Russian module.

Eye checks continued on the orbiting lab with NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn taking charge as crew medical officer during the afternoon. The three-time station astronaut used medical imaging gear, or optical coherence tomography, to scan the eyes and retinas of NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari.

Marshburn began his day studying how to produce and maintain nutrients during long-term space missions. Chari later worked on communications components inside a pair of U.S. spacesuits. Barron started her morning cleaning the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an incubator with an artificial gravity generator.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei set up the free-flying Astrobee robotic assistants and tested an autonomous rendezvous algorithm for the ROAM technology demonstration. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer resumed the Concrete Hardening experiment studying potential lunar and planetary construction techniques.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov photographed the condition of window panes in the Zvezda service module for inspection by engineers on the ground. Station Commander Anton Shkaplerov transferred water from tanks in the ISS Progress 79 resupply ship into 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.

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Crew Has Health Checks, Studies Construction on Planets

Astronaut Kayla Barron smiles while peering out from a window inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
Astronaut Kayla Barron smiles while peering out from a window inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

Spine scans and eye checks filled a portion of the Expedition 66 crew’s day while also preparing for CubeSat deployments and studying space construction techniques. The astronauts and cosmonauts also worked on U.S. spacesuits and inspected Russian modules aboard the International Space Station.

Medical checkups are a regular occurrence on the orbiting lab as scientists observe how microgravity affects the human body. Data from a variety of in-depth examinations of astronauts’ bodies helps doctors develop methods and treatments to keep crews healthy during long-term space missions.

NASA astronaut Kayla Barron swapped roles as the station’s crew medical officer with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer during Tuesday afternoon. The duo took turns scanning their lumbar spinal section using the Ultrasound 2 device with remote guidance from a doctor on the ground. Barron then wrapped up her day with NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari for eye imaging tasks once again using the Ultrasound 2 scanner.

Space scientists are also studying how to build structures using resources on other planetary surfaces. One experiment being worked on today by Maurer is looking at how concrete hardens with the lack of gravity. The German astronaut worked in the Harmony module with a variety of cement mixtures observing how pores, bubbles and crystals develop as the samples harden.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei spent his day on life support maintenance tasks. The astronaut, who is nearing 300 continuous days in space, partnered with Chari servicing components that control the thermal environment and the transfer of fluids throughout the space station.

Three-time space station visitor Thomas Marshburn of NASA worked on Tuesday morning readying a small satellite orbital deployer for deployment outside the Kibo laboratory module. The veteran astronaut also worked on U.S. spacesuit gear, including batteries and high-definition cameras, during the afternoon.

In the orbiting lab’s Russian segment, Commander Anton Shkaplerov photographed the interior of the Zvezda service module for inspection by engineers on the ground. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov checked communication hardware then serviced the ventilation system inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.


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.

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Crew Gets Ready for Spacewalk and Dragon Departure This Week

Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting Russia's Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

The Expedition 66 crew is getting ready for a spacewalk on Wednesday while packing a U.S. resupply ship for its departure on Friday. Meanwhile, the International Space Station also hosted a pair of space biology studies exploring exercise and vision.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov finalized their preparations today for the first spacewalk of 2022 set to begin at 7 a.m. EST on Wednesday. The duo completed reviewing the procedures they will use during the seven-hour spacewalk to outfit Russia’s new Nauka and Prichal modules. They will wear their Russian Orlan spacesuits and exit the Poisk module’s airlock at 7 a.m. where their spacewalking gear is staged.  NASA TV, on the NASA app and the agency’s website, will broadcast the space activities live beginning at 6 a.m.

Three NASA astronauts continued loading the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle ahead of its undocking on Friday at 10:40 a.m. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Raja Chari started the loading after lunch time, before NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn joined them at the end of the day to help organize and secure the cargo.

Marshburn, along with astronaut Matthias Maurer from ESA (European Space Agency), also participated in an workout session on the exercise cycle located in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The duo took turns pedaling for an hour each wearing monitors that measured their heart rate for a human research study.

Maurer then joined NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron for the rest of the day inside the Kibo laboratory module for a vision investigation. The pair conducted the research operations using the Life Science Glovebox to understand how a long-term space mission affects an astronaut’s visual function and to promote eye health on Earth.

Axiom Mission 1, the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is now targeting to launch March 31 to account for additional spacecraft preparations and space station traffic. Once aboard the orbiting laboratory, the four-person Axiom Space crew will conduct science, outreach, and commercial activities for eight days before their return to Earth.


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.

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Week Ends With Spacesuit Checks, Dragon Packing and Eye Exams

Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is pictured during a spacewalk on Sept. 3, 2021, to begin outfitting the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

The Expedition 66 crew is wrapping up the work week continuing its Russian spacewalk preparations while packing a U.S. resupply ship for departure next week. The orbital residents also had time set aside for eye checks and science hardware work.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is due to complete its mission at the International Space Station on Jan. 21 after 30 days docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn began Friday loading up the Dragon with a variety of cargo that will be returned to Earth one day after the vehicle’s undocking. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer assisted the duo in the afternoon organizing and securing the cargo inside the U.S. commercial cargo craft.

Chari and Maurer also led a pair of eye checks aboard the orbiting lab on Friday afternoon with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei as the subject. Maurer started the first exam scanning Vande Hei’s eye with the Ultrasound 2 device. Following that, Chari looked at the veteran astronaut’s retinas using standard medical imaging gear, optical coherence tomography, that can be found inside a doctor’s office.

NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron spent Friday working on experiment hardware throughout the space station’s U.S. segment. She started the morning retrieving research components exposed to the harsh environment of space from inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock. During the afternoon, Barron began setting up and photographing science gear in several station modules to prepare for upcoming research.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov spent the last day of the week trying on their Russian Orlan spacesuits, checking for pressure leaks and testing their communication systems. They will exit the Poisk module on Jan. 19 for a seven hour spacewalk to outfit and configure the Prichal and Nauka modules.


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.

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Busy Day for Biology Research as Spacewalk Preps Continue

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer participate in a robotics training session inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer participate in a robotics training session inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Space biology research and spacewalk preparations kept the Expedition 66 crew busy aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. The orbital residents also ensured space hardware including exercise gear, a specialized microscope, and fluid systems continued operating in tip-top shape.

Living long-term in microgravity affects every aspect of the human body and the eyes are no exception. A study recently delivered aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle and under way today at the orbital lab is exploring how visual function is impacted by extended space missions. Three NASA astronauts, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron were on duty throughout the day contributing to the investigation that may protect astronaut’s vision and improve eye treatments on Earth.

Marshburn first started his day in the Tranquility module strengthening cables on the advanced resistive exercise device. Chari, toward the end of his work shift, cleaned the Veggie space botany facility before uninstalling and packing a spacecraft atmosphere monitor for return to the ground.

Microbe collections continued for the third day this week as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer swabbed station surfaces and stowed the samples for later analysis. The German astronaut also serviced the Mochii electron-scanning microscope, set up a computer for Earth observations, and worked on the Cytoskeleton human cell experiment.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei was on duty Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module conducting life support maintenance. The two-time station visitor worked on the fluid servicer system that removes gas bubbles and cleans fluid lines throughout the orbital lab.

Vande Hei also joined cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov helping the Russian duo install lights, batteries and video gear on their Orlan spacesuit helmets. The pair started the day with a physical fitness test to prepare for a spacewalk planned for Jan. 19. They will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space configuring both the Prichal and Nauka modules.


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.

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Dragon Checks, Biology and Spacewalk Preps Fill Crew Day

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the station on Dec. 22. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour can be seen docked to the Harmony module's forward port.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon approaches the station on Dec. 22. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour can be seen docked to the Harmony module’s forward port.

Crew Dragon proficiency checks were on the schedule for a pair of NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday. Eye checks, space biology research, and spacewalk preparations also kept the Expedition 66 crew busy throughout the day.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, which delivered four astronauts to the orbiting lab, has been docked to the Harmony module’s forward port since Nov. 11, 2021. The Crew Dragon’s commander and pilot, Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn, both station flight engineers, practiced and familiarized themselves with deorbit and landing procedures in Endeavour today. The duo will return to Earth, along with Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency), aboard the Crew Dragon in the spring.

Chari and Barron earlier joined each other Tuesday morning for vein scans. Chari took charge as crew medical officer and scanned the veins in Barron’s neck, shoulder and legs with the Ultrasound 2 device. Chari later partnered with Marshburn for eye checks and retina scans using medical imaging gear. Doctors on the ground monitored the vein and eye scans in real time. The regularly scheduled health checks provide researchers insight into how microgravity affects the human body long term.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei documented his meals today to understand how nutrition affects space health. The veteran astronaut, who will be on the station for nearly a year, also serviced a variety of science hardware to ensure ongoing research operations. Maurer continued setting up the Cytoskeleton space biology study that will explore how the human cell’s internal machinery adapts to weightlessness. The ESA astronaut later assisted Chari and Barron with retinal scans then stowing the eye imaging gear.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov are moving right along with their preparations for a spacewalk planned for Jan. 19. The pair from Roscosmos continued collecting and organizing the spacewalk tools they will use to finish configuring and connecting Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to the station’s Russian segment. They are scheduled to work for seven-and-a-half hours outside in the vacuum of space inside their Russian Orlan spacesuits.


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.

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Day Before Soyuz Relocation, Astronauts Continue Studies on Microgravity’s Influence

Two Russian spacecraft are seen docked to the International Space Station as it orbited 269 miles above southern Argentina. At left is the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship that will soon undock from the Rassvet module and relocate to the Poisk module, making room for three new crew members due to launch April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. At right is the aft end of the Progress 77 cargo craft docked to the Pirs docking compartment. Credits: NASA
Two Russian spacecraft are seen docked to the International Space Station as it orbited 269 miles above southern Argentina. At left is the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship that will soon undock from the Rassvet module and relocate to the Poisk module, making room for three new crew members due to launch April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. At right is the aft end of the Progress 77 cargo craft docked to the Pirs docking compartment. Credits: NASA

A day before Expedition 64 relocates the Soyuz MS-17 to another port on the International Space Station, the seven-person crew continued studies on the effects of microgravity on humans, plants, and materials, along with a couple outreach events.

NASA astronaut Victor Glover took part in two media events, each accompanied by a different crewmate. First up, Glover and Kate Rubins spoke with Fox 11 “Good Day L.A.” about living and working aboard the space station. About two hours later, Glover joined Shannon Walker for an outreach event with U.S. Rep. Norma Torres of California, where they answered questions submitted by students.

Glover teamed up again with Rubins for an eye ultrasound. Receiving guidance from the ground, Glover served as operator for Rubins’ examination. Spaceflight, especially for prolonged missions, can affect vision and eye health. These ongoing checks provide invaluable data for researchers and test the accuracy and functionality of the portable medical equipment station crews rely upon — tools that will prove even more critical as explorers venture farther from Earth.

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins continued closing out spacesuit tools and equipment used during the previous Saturday spacewalk he and Glover completed to service the orbiting laboratory’s cooling system and communications gear. The veteran astronaut also swapped out a crystal growth chamber in support of the Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF). The ICF is used for growing crystals in space that are not possible on Earth — specimens large enough for commercial use. These crystals are not only interesting to look at, but integral to the research and development of new materials.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s) astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, was engrossed in an investigation that studies fast-growing plants, called Asian Herb in Space. Future space travel, especially to destinations like Mars, will rely on plants for sustenance, traditional medicine, and flavor. This experiment will add to the growing body of research on plant growth, plus provide new information on the formation of aroma compounds in herbs.

Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos cultured various types of cells with the Kaskad investigation, while his counterpart, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov, was focused on setup and preparation for the Soyuz relocation activity.

On Friday, March 19, viewers can watch the Soyuz MS-17 undock and take a spin in the orbital neighborhood, so to speak, and later reattach to the Poisk module, which will free up the Rassvet port for the docking of Soyuz MS-18. Live coverage of the maneuver on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will begin at 12:15 p.m. EDT. Undocking from Rassvet is anticipated at 12:38 p.m., with redocking at Poisk targeted for 1:07 p.m.

The new vehicle, MS-18, will embark to the station after a planned April 9 launch, carrying NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos’ Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov.

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.

SpaceX Dragon Targets Mid-July Launch

"Islands in the Sky"
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams took this majestic image of “Islands in the Sky” on Mar. 3, 2016 as dusk fell over the oceans.

SpaceX and NASA managers are targeting July 16 for the launch of the ninth Dragon commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, U.S. and Russian spaceships are being packed for upcoming departures in June and July from the orbital lab.

The crew also began preparing the vestibule space between BEAM – the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module –  and the rest of the station for Thursday’s expansion activities, by pressurizing the area and performing leak checks.

Dragon will lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida carrying supplies, science gear and one of two international docking adapters. The adapters will allow future commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX to dock. The first adapter will be attached to the station’s Harmony module in August by a pair of spacewalkers.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus private space freighter is due to be the next spaceship to leave the station when it is released June 14. Expedition 47 will end four days later when Yuri Malenchenko, Tim Kopra and Tim Peake undock and return to Earth inside the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft.

Back inside the station, a pair of crew members participated in blood pressure and vision checks for the Ocular Health study. Another astronaut conducted ultrasound scans today helping scientists explore the likelihood of clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis, occurring on long-term space missions.

Soyuz Stands Ready at Launch Pad as Cargo Missions Line Up

Soyuz TMA-20M Rocket at the Launch Pad
The Soyuz TMA-20M rocket stands ready for lifoff at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket that will carry three new crew members to the International Space Station Friday evening stands ready for launch in Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio awaiting reinforcements is busy with medical science and preparations for upcoming cargo missions.

High winds at the Baikonur Cosmodrome delayed the raising of the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft into vertical position a few hours after its roll out Wednesday. Launch is scheduled for 5:26 p.m. EDT/9:26 p.m. UTC Friday. Expedition 47-48 crew members Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka will arrive at their new home in space less than six hours later.

The three current residents onboard the orbital laboratory, Commander Tim Kopra and Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko, continued their medical research to help scientists understand how living off the Earth affects the human body. The crew is also getting ready for a pair of cargo deliveries due soon from Orbital ATK and SpaceX.

Kopra and Peake were back at work today on the Ocular Health study scanning their eyes with an ultrasound and checking their blood pressure. Kopra also explored how microbes affect the human immune system in space and practiced the robotic capture of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. Peake is helping engineers validate the technology that will control rovers on another planet from a spacecraft. Malenchenko researched how the digestive system adapts to microgravity and packed trash into the 61P resupply ship due to undock at the end of the month.

Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus space freighter Tuesday at 11 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center on a four-day trip to the space station. Cygnus will deliver almost 7,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew.

Station Boosts Orbit before Heavy Spacecraft Traffic Period

Solar Arrays and Earth's Limb
The International Space Station’s solar arrays and the Earth’s limb were photographed during a Jan. 15, 2016, spacewalk.

The International Space Station raised its orbit again today as three crew members prepare for a March 1 landing while another trio gets ready for a March 18 launch. Meanwhile, advanced research continued inside the orbital laboratory to improve life on Earth and for future space residents.

Today’s orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for the March 1 undocking of Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko. Their undocking will leave the Poisk module’s docking port vacant where a trio of Expedition 47 crew members will dock two-and-a-half weeks later inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.

Today, the Expedition 46 crew participated in a variety of human research exploring how the heart adapts to life in space, the risk of atherosclerosis in astronauts and how microgravity affects an astronaut’s vision. The crew also sampled the station’s air and surfaces for microbes to learn how to prevent contamination in future spacecraft.

Another spacecraft is being prepared for departure Friday morning when it will be released from the grips of the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm. The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is being loaded with trash before NASA astronauts Kelly and Tim Kopra release Cygnus using the robotics controls inside the seven-window cupola. NASA Television will cover the activities live Friday beginning at 7 a.m. EST.