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.
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.
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.
The International Space Station is preparing this week for the departure of two Expedition 51 crew members and the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon.
Expedition 52 will begin Friday morning when two Expedition 51 crew members depart the station inside the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and astronaut Thomas Pesquet will return to Earth and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan after a 196-day mission in space.
NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer along with cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin will continue their stay aboard the orbital complex. Whitson will hand over station command to Yurchikhin the day before the Expedition 51 crew leaves.
Dragon is due to launch Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EDT atop a Falcon 9 rocket for a three-day trip to the space station. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon when it arrives Sunday morning. Afterward, robotics controllers on the ground will remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module.
Dragon is hauling nearly 6,000 pounds of cargo to the station including new science payloads, crew supplies, vehicle hardware, spacewalk equipment and computer gear. Three new experiments are being delivered for installation on the station’s exterior. The external research gear will study flexible solar arrays, the physics of neutron stars and new ways to assist with navigation, agriculture, emergency response and petroleum exploration.
Expedition 51 is wrapping up a week of ongoing research into how living in space affects an astronaut’s brain and vision. The International Space Station also boosted its orbit ahead of crew and cargo missions coming and going in June.
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer strapped himself in a device for the NeuroMapping experiment today that tests how the human brain structure and function changes in space. The study also compares brain changes, motor control and multi-tasking when an astronaut is in a free-floating state.
Doctors have noted how microgravity causes a headward fluid shift of blood and other body fluids. As a result, astronaut’s experience face-swelling and elevated head pressure.
The Fluid Shifts study is exploring a way to offset the upward flow using unique suit known as the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit. Commander Peggy Whitson wore the suit today and underwent ultrasound scans and eye checks to help scientists determine its effectiveness against lasting changes in vision and eye damage.
The space station is orbiting a little higher above Earth this week to prepare for the departure of two crew members on June 2. The SpaceX Dragon is due to launch June 1 and arrive at the station three days later. Mission managers are working a plan dependent on an on-time Dragon launch that could see the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft depart in early June or mid-July.
The International Space Station is an orbiting platform to continuously explore a wide variety of space science both inside and outside the orbital lab to benefit humans and industry.
For example, the five Expedition 51 crew members continued helping scientists understand what happens to the body when living in outer space. Also, more CubeSats were ejected into orbit today to study a wide variety of phenomena.
Wednesday marked the third day the crew has worked on the Genes in Space studies, with both the second and third iteration taking place this week. Genes in Space-2 is looking at telomere changes in space which contributes to understanding how spaceflight affects telomere length and, in turn, astronaut health on future space missions. Genes in Space-3 seeks to establish a robust, user-friendly deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sample preparation process to enable biological monitoring aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Today was Commander Peggy Whitson’s turn to try on a unique suit that reverses the upward flow of fluids in astronaut’s body. The Lower Body Negative Pressure suit is being examined for its ability to counteract the effects of weightlessness and keep astronaut’s healthy.
Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Jack Fischer, in conjunction with doctors on Earth, participated in today’s Fluid Shifts study and scanned Whitson’s arteries with an ultrasound device. Results from this experiment may help doctors develop therapies to prevent lasting changes in vision and eye damage.
Japan’s Kibo lab module contains a small satellite deployer that was extended outside its airlock this week to eject numerous types of Cubesats safely into space. Today’s collection of CubeSats now orbiting Earth will study the Earth’s thermosphere properties and test experimental radar systems for up to two years.
Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA will venture outside the International Space Station for a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk Friday, May 12. The spacewalk will begin at about 8 a.m. EDT, with complete coverage on NASA Television and the agency’s website starting at 6:30 a.m.
Whitson and Fischer will replace a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections to the science experiments, and replacement hardware stored outside the station. The ExPRESS Carrier Avionics, or ExPCA is located on the starboard 3 truss of the station on one of the depots housing critical spare parts. It will be replaced with a unit delivered to the station last month aboard the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft.
This will be the 200th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Whitson, who already holds the U.S. record for most spacewalks by a female astronaut, will make this ninth excursion as extravehicular crew member 1, wearing the suit with red stripes. Fischer, extravehicular crew member 2, will wear the suit with no stripes on his first-ever spacewalk.
NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer live-streamed a broadcast from space today using 4K ultra-high-definition technology for the first time. The duo called down to the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas to demonstrate the advanced technology and promote space science and filmmaking.
Expedition 51 worked throughout Wednesday on a variety of microgravity research and spaceship unpacking. The five crew members also conducted vision checks while their newest pair continued getting up to speed on International Space Station systems.
French astronaut Pesquet joined Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy for ultrasound scans and eye exams in the morning. The two crewmates are participating in a study to understand and offset the headward fluid shifts in space that are known to affect vision.
Pesquet got together at the end of the day with Whitson and Jack Fischer for more eye checks with guidance from doctors on the ground. Whitson also studied how astronauts adapt to touchscreen interfaces. Fischer spent a few hours swapping sample cartridges in a high-temperature furnace lab facility.
Veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin continued offloading cargo from the new Soyuz MS-04 crew ship. Pesquet also transferred new science and crew supplies from the Cygnus resupply ship. Yurchikhin and Fischer are continuing to adapt to living and working aboard the station having been in space less than week.
Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record today for most cumulative time living in space, surpassing astronaut Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days set during his four spaceflights. She passed Williams’ mark at 1:27 a.m. EDT.
President Donald Trump called the International Space Station Monday morning and congratulated Whitson on her record-breaking career. Whitson and her newest crewmate NASA astronaut Jack Fischer discussed NASA’s research in space and its plans to go to Mars in the 2030’s.
Before today’s presidential call the Expedition 51 crew members joined together to review their roles and responsibilities in the unlikely event of an emergency aboard the International Space Station. If necessary, they could put on safety gear, evacuate the station into their docked Soyuz vehicles and quickly undock for a ride back to Earth.
The crew is also unloading gear today from two new spaceships that arrived last week. Veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin has been transferring cargo from the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft he piloted to a docking last Thursday. Whitson and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet are working to offload new science experiments and crew supplies that arrived Saturday morning aboard the Cygnus resupply ship.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 8:39 a.m. EDT. Crew will ingress the spacecraft later today. The spacecraft will spend about three months on station before it is released in July for a destructive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of several thousand pounds of trash.
The spacecraft’s arrival brings more than 7,600 pounds of research and supplies to support Expedition 51 and 52. Some of the research on board includes:
In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D, spheroid structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, enabling better tests for drug the efficacy. The ADCs in Microgravity investigation tests drugs designed as targeted cancer therapies called antibody-drug conjugates, developed by Oncolinx.
The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation originally was operated successfully aboard the station in 2002. Updated software, data acquisition, high definition video and communication interfaces will help advance understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth. Investigations such as the CLYC Crystal Growth experiment will be conducted in the SUBSA Furnace and inserts. High-quality crystals are essential to a variety of applications, and a microgravity environment can produce better quality crystals.
The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation studies a new type of recording device that rides alongside a spacecraft as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere, recording data about the extreme conditions it encounters. Scientists, so far, have been unable to monitor those conditions on a large scale, and a better understanding could lead to more accurate spacecraft breakup predictions, better spacecraft designs, and materials capable of better resisting the extreme heat and pressure during the return to Earth.
Prior to re-entry in late July, the Cygnus spacecraft will also host the third Spacecraft Fire Experiment, or SAFFIRE, to study how fire burns in microgravity. Data from these experiments will help inform the development of future crew spacecraft.