Life Sciences and Cargo Transfers Taking Place on Orbital Lab

Expedition 43 Crew Members
All six Expedition 43 crew members are gathered in the Destiny laboratory on board the International Space Station on Mar 30, 2015 after an emergency procedures training period.

A wide variety of research exploring how life adapts to long-term exposure to microgravity took place on the International Space Station Friday. The crew members also worked on cargo transfers to and from a pair of docked vehicles.

More crew Ocular Health eye checks were on the schedule as scientists study the fluid shifts caused by microgravity and how they affect a crew member’s vision. New software was loaded on computers for the Rodent Research study, a life sciences experiment that was delivered on a SpaceX mission in January.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who collected a saliva sample for stowage in a science freezer, and his twin brother on the ground Mark Kelly are the subjects of the Twins study. That investigation compares the two brothers, one in space and one on the ground, and explores how the different environments affect the twins with identical genes.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, the crew unloaded gear from the recently docked Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft. The ISS Progress 57 space freighter, docked to the Pirs docking compartment, is also being packed with trash ahead of its departure and fiery disposal April 25.

Eye Checks for Crew as Station Boosts Orbit

Astronaut Scott Kelly
ISS043E059259 (03/28/2015) — NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (left) is happy to be aboard the International Space Station after the hatch opening of the Soyuz spacecraft Mar. 28, 2015.

Medical science and training took a significant portion of the Expedition 43 crew’s schedule Thursday. The newest three crew members are getting used to their new home on orbit. Finally, the International Space Station boosted its orbit.

Several crew members participated in eye checks for the Ocular Health study as scientists study how microgravity affects vision during long duration missions. The newest trio to join Expedition 43 trained to prepare for a medical emergency while also familiarizing themselves with station systems.

A docked ISS Progress 58 space freighter fired its engines boosting the space station’s orbit by eight-tenths of a mile. The reboost readies the station to receive the new ISS Progress 59 supply ship when it launches and docks April 28.

Medical Checks on Station While New Trio Preps for Launch

Expedition 43 Crew Members
ISS043E001029 (03/13/2015) — Expedition 43 crewmembers prepare for another interview with Earthbound media on Mar 13, 2015 onboard the International Space Station. Commander Terry Virts (center) is joined by ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and flight engineer Samantha Cristoforetti (left) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, flight engineer (right) in handling the questions that are asked about life in space.

The orbiting Expedition 43 trio focused on science work Monday as another crew counts down to its launch Friday afternoon to the International Space Station.

Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineers Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov have been in space for 120 days. Virts and Cristoforetti participated in their 120 day medical tests. The commander conducted a vision test and measurements for the Ocular Health experiment. Cristoforetti collected blood and urine samples for her Biochemical Profile and Bone and Muscle Check. Shkaplerov worked on his set of Russian science experiments.

› Read more about the Ocular Health study

Back on Earth, One-Year Crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are in Kazakhstan getting ready to join Expedition 43. The duo will launch Friday at 3:42 p.m. EDT with Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka. Kelly and Kornienko will return home March 2016. Padalka will end his stay in space in September.

› Read more about the One-Year Crew

Astronauts Preparing for Friday Spacewalk

Spacewalkers Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts
Expedition 42 spacewalkers Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts are scheduled to conduct three spacewalks with the first to begin Friday. Credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts are counting down to the first of three assembly spacewalks set to begin Friday at 7:10 a.m. EST. The duo checked out their rescue jet packs they would use in the unlikely event they became untethered from the International Space Station. The spacewalks will prepare the station for new commercial crew vehicle docking ports.

› Read more about the upcoming spacewalks

The latest supply ship to dock to the orbital lab, Progress 58, had its hatches opened Wednesday morning, following its Tuesday arrival. The Expedition 42 crew members will now begin unloading several tons of food and supplies that will replenish the station residents for the next few months.

Meanwhile, the six-member crew continued the International Partners’ mission of conducting advanced microgravity science. Ultrasound eye scans and blood pressure checks were conducted with remote guidance from doctors on the ground today. The crew also studied cell cultures grown on orbit and explored techniques to improve Earth observation photography.

Crew Back to Work on Science; Europe Preps Cargo Craft for Departure

SpaceX Dragon Recovered
SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted this image of the Dragon space freighter being recovered Tuesday about 259 miles southwest of Long Beach, California. Credit: Elon Musk
› View tweet

The Expedition 42 crew worked on numerous science investigations Wednesday after releasing the SpaceX Dragon for its splashdown Tuesday. The six orbital lab assistants studied such things as exercise loads in space, plant growth and changes to vision during long duration space missions.

The Force Shoes study will help researchers design better training programs and exercise devices for astronauts to improve their musculoskeletal health. The Plant Rotation experiment observes the direction of plant growth in microgravity in anticipation of future crews growing their own food. The Ocular Health experiment is looking at the changes to crew member’s visual, vascular and central nervous system and how long before they return to normal after returning to Earth

› Read more about the Force Shoes study
› Read more about the Plant Rotation experiment
› Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Meanwhile, another spacecraft is preparing to end its stay at the International Space Station. Europe’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 is being prepared for its undocking from the Zvezda service module Saturday morning. It will reenter Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday afternoon and burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

CATS Installed, Eye Checks and Science Maintenance for Crew

Samantha Cristoforetti and Barry Wilmore
Astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Barry Wilmore check science hardware inside the Kibo laboratory module. Credit: NASA TV

With CATS successfully installed to an external platform on Japan’s Kibo laboratory, the Expedition 42 crew spent Friday working life science, combustion and a variety of other experiments.

› Read more about CATS

The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), located inside the Destiny lab module, needs fuel so scientists can ignite materials to study the behavior of flames and smoke in space. Pieces of hardware that store and deliver fuel, including igniter tips, were replaced on the CIR Friday by Commander Barry Wilmore to keep the rack in operating condition.

Astronauts Terry Virts – with the help of Samantha Cristoforetti and doctors on the ground – participated in more eye checks, undergoing ultrasound scans and an echocardiogram to gather more information. The Ocular Health study seeks to understand how microgravity affects a crew member’s eyes and explain why some astronauts report impaired vision during their missions in space.

› Read more about the Ocular Health study

Virts also checked samples and transferred data collected for the Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-2 (CSLM-2) experiment, which offers potential benefits for consumer and industrial products. Cristoforetti checked on the station’s fruit flies, and later worked maintenance on the Magvector study that observes how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor.

› Read more about CSLM-2
› Read more about the Fruit Fly Lab-01 experiment

Happy New Year 16 Times on Space Station

Virts-Robonaut-'Action-Figure'
Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweets: Unwrapping an early Christmas gift last week. @AstroRobonaut is my favorite action figure. #SpaceVine

The Expedition 42 crew orbiting Earth on the International Space Station gets the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve a whopping 16 times as it circles the globe at 17,500 miles an hour.

Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, say they plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts. The year 2015 starts officially for the station crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in London. The crew is scheduled to be in its sleep shift, but may elect to stay up late since it has a day off planned for New Year’s Day.

Watch the Happy New Year message

The crew spent New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments, ranging from those directed at better understanding changes that occur in the human eye during long-duration spaceflights, and with Earth observations aimed at helping with disaster aid on the Earth’s surface.

Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Read more about the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV)

The crew also continued preparations for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship, the commercial resupply mission of SpaceX-5 and the Dragon spacecraft. Launch of Dragon on a Space-X Falcon 9 booster is planned for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 5 a.m.

Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Thursday, Jan. 8, and Wilmore will use the 58-foot robotic arm to grab the Dragon by its tail and berth if to the station. Grapple is expected about 6 a.m. NASA Television coverage of the grapple starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and installation coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. Dragon is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.

A series of briefings outlining Dragon’s mission and the scientific research it will be carrying is planned Monday, Jan. 5.

Read full schedule of SpaceX-5 and ISS Research briefings

Watch Terry Virts’ #SpaceVine of Robonaut:

Station Commander Celebrates Birthday in Orbit

 

Happy Birthday Barry Wilmore
Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrates his birthday on the International Space Station.

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrated his 52nd birthday aboard the International Space Station today, and Mission Control gathered around a microphone to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.

Wilmore, who has been on the station since Sept. 25, was born Dec. 29, 1962, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

> Listen to Mission Control singing “Happy Birthday”

Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are resuming work on microgravity experiments and operational maintenance aboard the station after enjoying some time off for the holidays.

Wilmore donned a body-mounted high-tech force feedback computer joystick as part of the Haptics-1 experiment he’s scheduled to perform Tuesday. The test will look at how people in weightlessness experience touch-based feedback. Someday, astronauts may use such interfaces to guide planet or asteroid-exploring robots from orbiting human spacecraft.

> Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

His crew mates took readings on each other for eye health research, looking into why some astronauts are coming home from long-duration missions with diminished vision.

On Tuesday, Wilmore and Cristoforetti will be interviewed by the CBS Radio Network and BBC Radio at 9:55 a.m. EST on NASA Television.