(From left) The Antares rocket with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on top rests at its launch pad in Virginia. The Soyuz rocket that will carry three new crew members stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan.
Launch day has arrived for the Cygnus cargo craft which is scheduled to liftoff aboard the Orbital ATK Antares rocket today at 7:40 p.m. EDT. Two days later, three new crew members will launch aboard a Soyuz rocket for a two-day trip to the International Space Station.
Cygnus will wait for the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft to dock on Friday before it approaches the station Sunday for capture and installation to the Harmony module. Cygnus is delivering about 2,400 kilograms of crew supplies and research.
Meanwhile, the three orbiting Expedition 49 crew members stayed busy with life science research, lab maintenance and cargo packing.
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi took body measurements to determine the impacts microgravity has on body size. Rubins also explored how skin ages quicker in space while Onishi attached electrodes to himself to analyze his heart function. The duo also reviewed Cygnus approach and rendezvous procedures.
Commander Anatoly Ivanishin looked at wide variety of Russian research including nutrition and pain thresholds in space. The veteran cosmonaut also began loading cargo for his crew’s return home at the end of October.
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A during sunrise, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Today’s launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket is postponed 24 hours due to a ground support equipment (GSE) cable that did not perform as expected during the pre-launch check out. We have spares on hand and rework procedures are in process. The Antares and Cygnus teams are not currently working any technical issues with the rocket or the spacecraft.
The launch is now scheduled for October 17 at 7:40 p.m. EDT.
If Cygnus launches on time it will arrive at the station Wednesday morning and deliver about 2,400 kilograms of crew supplies and research. Cygnus will depart in late November and deploy a set of weather monitoring nanosatellites before conducting the Saffire-II internal combustion experiment.
Back in space, astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi collected blood samples and spun them in a centrifuge before stowing them in a science freezer. Samples are collected before, during and after missions then analyzed by doctors to understand the effects of living in space on humans. Current human research experiments using the sample data include Biochem Profile, Cardio Ox and Repository.
Onishi also scanned his neck, thigh and heart with an ultrasound then checked his blood pressure. The biomedical study from Canada observes heart and blood vessel changes with results potentially improving health on Earth and in space.
Russia’s Progress 63 space freighter undocked from the International Space Station early Friday morning and burned up safely over the Pacific Ocean a few hours later. It will be replaced by a Progress 63 cargo craft in early December.
Expedition 49-50 crew members conduct a dress rehearsal Oct. 8, 2016, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov
NASA and Orbital ATK mission managers are tracking Hurricane Nicole before finalizing a Cygnus cargo craft launch to the International Space Station no earlier than Oct. 16. Officials are securing a spacecraft tracking station in the Bermudas and monitoring the facility threatened by the category three storm.
Two astronauts – Kate Rubins from the United States and Takuya Onishi from Japan – are getting ready for Cygnus’ planned arrival next week. The two Expedition 49 flight engineers checked out video and robotics gear today and discussed cargo operations with ground controllers.
The duo also teamed up for ultrasound scans of their arteries and blood pressure checks. Doctors will use the observations from the Cardio Ox study to understand the cardiovascular risk of living in space. Commander Anatoly Ivanishin explored ionized gases produced by high temperatures, also known as plasmas, potentially helping engineers design future spacecraft
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, a new space station crew is counting down to an Oct. 19 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov will take a two-day trip inside the upgraded Soyuz to their new home in space. The trio are in final mission preparations in Kazakhstan where they will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
(From left) Expedition 49 crew members Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi pose for a portrait inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.
A pair of spaceships are on opposite sides of the world gearing up for missions to the International Space Station next week.
Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is getting ready for its sixth Orbital ATK mission aboard a Cygnus resupply ship no earlier than Oct. 16. NASA and Orbital ATK mission mangers are monitoring Hurricane Nicole before finalizing the Cygnus launch date.
The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan will host the launch of three Expedition 49-50 crew members inside the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. The trio is scheduled to launch Oct. 19 on a two-day trip to its new home in space.
Two astronauts living in space right now spent the first part of their day exploring upper body fluid shifts caused by microgravity. These fluid shifts apply pressure to eyes and have been known to affect crew vision. Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi participated in eye exams and ultrasound scans for today’s experiment run.
This will be the sixth cargo mission to the International Space Station for Orbital ATK which will be packing about 2,400 kilograms of crew supplies and research gear inside Cygnus. While mission managers work on pre-launch activities, the Expedition 49 crew is preparing for Cygnus’ cargo delivery and training for its robotic capture.
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi will monitor Cygnus from the robotics workstation inside the cupola during its approach and rendezvous. When Cygnus reaches a point about 10 meters from the station the duo will command the 57.7-foot Canadarm2 to grapple the resupply ship. Ground controllers will then remotely take control of Canadarm2 and mount Cygnus to the Unity module.
Despite a busy schedule, all three crew members, including Commander Anatoly Ivanishin, continue pressing ahead with ongoing science experiments and station maintenance. Onishi is in the middle of a study documenting his nutritional intake this week while Rubins checked out a U.S. spacesuit today. Ivanishin worked on Russian life support systems and had time set aside for space research.
Hurricane Matthew (eye at top center) was pictured from the space station on the afternoon of Oct. 3, 2016. Credit: @Space_Station
The Expedition 49 crew is getting ready for the mid-October arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. The trio is also exploring human research and setting up a student Earth observation experiment.
First-time astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are brushing up on the robotic capture techniques necessary to grapple the Cygnus cargo craft. The Cygnus private space freighter is targeted to launch from Virginia between Oct. 9 and 13 and arrive at the International Space Station about 2-1/2 days later.
The duo will be inside the cupola at the robotics controls monitoring Cygnus’ arrival then capturing it with the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2. Ground controllers will then take over robotic operations and remotely attach Cygnus to the Unity module. Cygnus is delivering crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the station crew members.
Before the pair began training today, Rubins sampled the station’s water for microbes and stowed the Hard to Wet Surfaces research gear. Onishi tested his fine motor skills on a mobile tablet device and logged his diet for the ENERGY experiment.
Commander Anatoly Ivanishin set up the Sally Ride EarthKAM experiment inside a Harmony module window today. The Earth imagery gear allows students to take pictures of Earth from space and share them on the internet.
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured before its capture Dec. 9, 2015 at the International Space Station.
Mission managers are targeting the Oct. 9-13 timeframe for the launch of the sixth Orbital ATK resupply mission to the International Space Station. A pair of astronauts onboard the station are also training for the robotic capture of the Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK when it arrives about two days after launch.
Cygnus’ primary mission is to deliver about 2,400 kilograms of supplies and science experiments to the Expedition 49 crew. When Cygnus departs the station about a month later it will participate in secondary missions including combustion research and deploying CubeSats for weather forecasting before reentering Earth’s atmosphere.
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi called down to ground controllers today to review and train for next month’s planned arrival of the Cygnus. The duo will be in the cupola monitoring the Cygnus’ rendezvous and approach before grappling and installing the spacecraft with Canada’s robotic arm Canadarm2.
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins holds a reference guide during an emergency descent drill aboard the space station.
The United States and Russia are working to get a pair of cargo ships ready for a mid-October launch schedule to the International Space Station. While the new shipments are being processed, the Expedition 49 crew conducted eye checks, wore carbon dioxide monitors and prepared for a fuel combustion experiment.
The U.S. company Orbital ATK is targeting the Oct. 9-13 time frame for the launch of its sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission to the space station. Its Cygnus spacecraft will be scheduled to launch atop an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Va., after successfully completing operational milestones and technical reviews.
The next resupply mission will be Oct. 20 when the Progress 65 cargo craft launches from Kazakhstan on a two-day trip to the space station. The new Russian space freighter will replace the Progress 63 after it undocks Oct. 14 from the rear port of the Zvezda service module.
Back on orbit, astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi paired up for routine eye exams today with remote support from ground personnel. Rubins, from NASA, also wore personal devices to demonstrate the ability to monitor a crew member’s exposure to carbon dioxide aboard a spacecraft.
Onishi, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, continued setting up gear to begin the Group Combustion experiment next week. That study will explore how flames fed by fuel droplets spread in microgravity.
Astronaut Jeff Williams works on a pair of U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock. Credit: NASA TV
Commander Jeff Williams continued the ongoing maintenance on U.S. spacesuits throughout the workday on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Cygnus cargo craft from Orbital ATK re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere completing one final experiment.
Williams scrubbed cooling loops and collected water samples from inside U.S. spacesuits ahead of a pair of spacewalks planned for later this year. The main task planned for the first spacewalk will be installing an international docking adapter to the Harmony module. The second spacewalk will see the replacement of batteries as part of maintenance for the International Space Station’s power system.
Cygnus has been busy since its release from the station June 14 serving as a platform for science. Its first experiment saw a large fire set inside the vehicle helping scientists understand combustion in space. Earlier this week, a set of nanosatellites was released from Cygnus. Finally, as Cygnus broke apart during its re-entry recorders downlinked data providing insights into the behavior of spacecraft re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.