Cygnus Races To Station as Crew Studies Life Science and Space Crops

Cygnus Launches Aboard Antares Rocket
The Cygnus resupply ship launches aboard the Antares rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK is less than 24 hours away from a rendezvous and capture at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition 53 crew members are conducting human research and exploring growing crops in space.

Cygnus is in Earth orbit today conducting a series of orbital maneuvers refining its path to the space station Tuesday morning. Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik will be in the cupola early tomorrow waiting to capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 at 4:50 a.m. EST. NASA TV will broadcast the capture and installation of Cygnus to the Unity module beginning at 3:15 a.m.

Bresnik and fellow NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba also worked on some biomedical experiments today helping doctors understand how humans adapt to microgravity. Bresnik collected his blood and urine samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. Vande Hei and Acaba measured and recorded their body mass to observe bone and muscle impacts of living in space.

Acaba is also harvesting and eating cabbage, lettuce and mizuna today to learn how plants grow in space. Results may help astronauts grow their own food helping NASA plan longer missions in outer space.

 

Lift Off of the Antares Rocket with Cygnus

The Antares rocket lifts off with the Cygnus cargo craft aboard
The Antares rocket lifts off with the Cygnus cargo craft aboard. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft lifted off at 7:19 a.m. EST and is on its way to the International Space Station.

About an hour and half after launch, commands will be given to deploy the spacecraft’s solar arrays.

Launch coverage will continue on NASA TV at http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv until shortly after spacecraft separation and then resume for solar array deployment, which is expected to last about 30 minutes.

A post-launch news conference will follow and is scheduled to begin on NASA TV at approximately 10:30 a.m.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Cygnus Launch Scrubbed and Rescheduled for Sunday

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft has scrubbed for Saturday after an aircraft was detected in the vicinity of the launch pad. The next launch attempt is set for Sunday, Nov. 12 at 7:14 a.m. EST.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Crew Tests New Workouts and Lights as Rocket Preps for Launch

Antares Rocket
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is raised into vertical position at the launch pad Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Expedition 53 crew is working out on a new exercise device today and testing new lights for their impact on health. Back on Earth, a new resupply rocket stands at its launch pad ready for a Saturday launch to the International Space Station.

Astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei worked out on the new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) this morning performing dead lifts and rowing exercises. The duo tested its ability to provide reliable, effective workouts despite its smaller size to increase the habitability of a spacecraft.

Vande Hei is also analyzing the station’s new solid-state light-emitting diodes that are replacing older fluorescent lights. He conducted a series of tests throughout the day to determine how they impact crew sleep patterns and cognitive performance.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is encapsulated inside the Antares rocket and now stands vertical at the launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus is due to launch Saturday at 7:37 a.m. EDT with about 7,400 pounds of new science experiments and fresh supplies for the Expedition 53 crew.

Cygnus will unfurl its cymbal-like UltraFlex solar arrays less than two hours after launch as it begins a two-day trip to the International Space Station. Astronaut Paolo Nespoli will command the Canadarm2 from the Cupola to grapple Cygnus when it arrives Monday morning at 5:40 a.m. Commander Randy Bresnik will back up Nespoli and monitor the approach and rendezvous.

Cygnus Training, Respiratory Health and Performance Studies Today

Himalayas
This photograph taken on Nov. 5, 2017, shows a portion of the Himalayan mountain range as the International Space Station orbited about 250 miles above.

Two astronauts are training for Monday’s planned arrival of Orbital ATK’s newest Cygnus cargo craft dubbed the S.S. Eugene Cernan. The crew is also analyzing the International Space Station’s atmosphere and studying how crew performance adapts to microgravity.

Orbital ATK is counting down to a Veteran’s Day launch of its Cygnus spacecraft atop an Antares rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket is scheduled to blast off Saturday at 7:37 a.m. EST with about 7,400 pounds of science gear and crew supplies packed inside Cygnus.

Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli are training today to capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Nespoli will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Cygnus at 5:40 a.m. Monday when it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station. Bresnik will back up Nespoli and monitor the spacecraft’s approach and rendezvous.

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei has been helping doctors this week understand the risk of living inside the closed environment of a spacecraft for the Airway Monitoring study. He set up gear to analyze the air in the space station for dust and gases that could inflame an astronaut’s respiratory system. Results will help doctors improve crew health as NASA plans human missions farther and longer into space.

Nespoli started his day studying how floating in space impacts interacting with touch-based technologies and other sensitive equipment. Observations from the Fine Motor Skills study may influence the design of future spaceships and space habitats.

Cygnus Cargo Mission Due for Launch on Veteran’s Day

 

Orbital ATK Cygnus
The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is seen just before being released from the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm on February 19, 2016.

Orbital ATK’s eighth commercial cargo mission is set to launch to the International Space Station at 7:37 a.m. EST Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11. The Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo craft will blast off from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, with over 7,000 pounds of food, supplies and research gear.

Two astronauts will be inside the cupola commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus when it arrives Monday at 5:40 a.m. Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli will capture Cygnus, dubbed the “SS Gene Cernan”, assisted by Commander Randy Bresnik. Cygnus will deliver numerous advanced science experiments exploring a wide variety of subjects including communication and navigation, microbiology, animal biology and plant biology.

Meanwhile, the orbiting Expedition 53 crew members continued investigating biology and robotics in microgravity.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei collected and stowed saliva samples today that will be analyzed later for a study on the human immune system and metabolism. Bresnik took panoramic photographs inside the Kibo laboratory module to prepare for the upcoming Astrobee experiment. Astrobee consists of three free-flying, cube-shaped robots that will be tested for their ability to assist astronauts and ground controllers.

Eye Checks and Cargo Ops Ahead of Thursday Spacewalk

Astronaut Joe Acaba
Astronaut Joe Acaba calculates his mass inside the Columbus laboratory module using the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD). The device generates a known force against a crew member mounted on an extension arm with the resulting acceleration used to calculate the subject’s mass.

Three Expedition 53 astronauts conducted eye exams Tuesday morning two days ahead of a spacewalk. The crew is also preparing for a pair of upcoming commercial cargo missions.

Commander Randy Bresnik, who is leading all three spacewalks this month, joined his fellow spacewalkers for a periodic eye exam. Bresnik and Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba scanned their eyes using an ultrasound device with guidance from doctors on the ground monitoring the crew’s health.

Paolo Nespoli, from the European Space Agency, did some rearranging inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module today. He is preparing Kibo for new science gear arriving on a pair of private space freighters in November. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus resupply ship is due to launch mid-November and the SpaceX Dragon is planned to launch at the end of November.


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Cygnus Departs Station Day Before Dragon Arrives

Cygnus Departure
The Cygnus cargo craft, with its prominent Ultra Flex solar arrays, is pictured moments after being released from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Candadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 9:10 a.m. EDT while the space station was flying above the south Atlantic Ocean. Earlier, ground controllers detached Cygnus from the station and maneuvered it into place for its departure.

The spacecraft spent 44 days at the station after delivering approximately 7,600 pounds of supplies and science experiments to the orbiting laboratory and its Expedition 51 and 52 crew members for Orbital ATK’s seventh NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission.

Dubbed the “SS John Glenn” after the iconic Mercury and shuttle astronaut and U.S. Senator from Ohio, Cygnus will remain in orbit for a week in support of the SAFFIRE experiment and the deployment of four small Nanoracks satellites before Orbital ATK flight controllers send commands June 11 to deorbit the spacecraft for its reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. NASA TV will not provide a live broadcast of the Saffire experiment or the Cygnus deorbit burn and reentry, but imagery from Saffire will be posted on NASA.gov as it becomes available.

As Cygnus departs, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched yesterday will close in on the station for its capture by Fischer and Whitson Monday, June 5. Using the Canadarm2 robotic arm, they will grapple the SpaceX cargo spacecraft at 10 a.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Get more information about the International Space Station at: http://www.nasa.gov/station


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Dragon Launches to Station, Cygnus Departs Sunday

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft onboard, launches from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Saturday, June 3, 2017. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 5:07 p.m. EDT, and Dragon has begun its journey to the International Space Station with an arrival scheduled for June 5. Dragon separated from Falcon 9 about 10 minutes after launch, and solar arrays successfully deployed shortly after separation from the second stage. A post-launch news conference is scheduled to begin on NASA TV at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Before Dragon arrives at the space station, the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft will depart the station Sunday, June 4. Expedition 52 Flight Engineers Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson of NASA will be at the controls of the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cygnus at 9:10 a.m. NASA TV coverage of the spacecraft’s departure will begin at 8:30 a.m.

For more information on the SpaceX CRS-11 mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.


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Dragon Launch Slips to Saturday, Cygnus Departs Sunday

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon at Launch Pad
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon cargo craft was scrubbed today because of lightning in the vicinity of the launch pad. The next launch opportunity for SpaceX is on Saturday, June 3 at 4:07pm Central time, 5:07pm Eastern time. NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:30pm CT, 4:30pm ET.

This clears the way for the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft to be unberthed from the nadir port of Unity on Sunday, June 4. NASA TV coverage on Sunday of Cygnus’ departure will begin at 0730 CT. Release of Cygnus is scheduled at 0810 CT. Cygnus will remain in orbit for a week in support of scientific experiments and will deorbit on Sunday, June 11.

A launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Saturday will result in its arrival at the ISS on Monday, June 5 for a capture at 0900 CT. NASA TV coverage will begin at 0730 CT. There will be no installation coverage.


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