Station Boosts Orbit to Avoid Space Debris

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured orbiting Earth in October of 2018.

Using the ISS Progress 75 thrusters and with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem, the International Space Station conducted a 150-second reboost Tuesday afternoon at 5:19 p.m. EDT to avoid a possible conjunction with an unknown piece of space debris. Because of the late notification of the possible conjunction, the three Expedition 63 crew members were directed to move to the Russian segment of the station to be closer to their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft as part of the safe haven procedure out of an abundance of caution. At no time was the crew in any danger.

The maneuver raised the station’s orbit out of the predicted path of the debris, which was estimated to come within 1.39 kilometers of the station with a time of closest approach of 6:21 p.m. EDT.

Once the avoidance maneuver was completed, the crew reopened hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments and resumed their regular activities.

Station Crew Preps for Space Debris Avoidance Maneuver

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured orbiting Earth in October of 2018.

Flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, with assistance from U.S. Space Command, are tracking an unknown piece of space debris expected to pass within several kilometers of the International Space Station. An avoidance maneuver is scheduled to take place using the Russian Progress resupply spacecraft currently docked to the aft end of the Zvezda service module at 4:19 p.m. CT. Out of an abundance of caution, the Expedition 63 crew will relocate to their Soyuz spacecraft until the debris has passed by the station. The time of closest approach is 5:21 p.m. CT.

Resupply Ship Docks to Station After Two Orbits

July 23, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the HTV-9 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Russia's Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.
July 23, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the HTV-9 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Russia’s Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.

An uncrewed Russian Progress 76 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s Pirs docking compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 1:45 p.m. EDT, a little more than three hours after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:26 a.m. (7:26 p.m. Baikonur time). At the time of docking, the spacecraft were traveling about 250 miles over [LOCATION].

The cargo spacecraft is delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the Expedition 63 crew members who are living and working in space to advance scientific knowledge, demonstrate new technologies, and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.

Progress 76 will remain docked at the station for more than four months, departing in December for its deorbit into Earth’s atmosphere.

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.

NASA TV Broadcasts Russian Rocket Launch to Station

Russia's Progress 76 cargo craft stands its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan packed with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia’s Progress 76 cargo craft stands its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan packed with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Credit: Roscosmos

NASA Television is providing live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 76 is scheduled to launch on a Soyuz rocket at 10:26 a.m. (7:26 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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.

New Satellites Set for Deployment, Cargo Craft Ready for Departure

(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).
(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

The Expedition 63 crew readied a pair of tiny satellites for deployment and finished packing a Russian cargo craft for departure. The International Space Station residents also checked on BEAM today then worked on life support and computer maintenance.

Two CubeSats were installed inside a NanoRacks small satellite deployer this morning for release into Earth orbit later this week from outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy set up the satellite gear and placed it inside Kibo’s airlock for retrieval by the Japanese robotic arm. One satellite will demonstrate the performance of a tiny but powerful exo-planet telescope, while the other will test returning small payloads safely into Earth’s atmosphere.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship has been packed with trash and obsolete gear and is ready to end its seven-month stay at the orbiting lab. Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner finalized the cargo transfers today before closing the 74P’s hatch and performing the standard spacecraft leak checks. The 74P will undock Wednesday at 2:23 p.m. EDT from the Pirs docking compartment and descend into Earth’s atmosphere over the South Pacific for a fiery disposal.

BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, has been attached to the station since 2016 and is currently being used as a storage space. NASA Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken opened up and entered BEAM today to check sensor batteries and retrieve charcoal filters. The sensors monitor BEAM’s pressure and environment while the filters remove impurities from the station’s atmosphere.

The duo also worked on a variety of lab maintenance tasks keeping the station in tip-top shape. Hurley worked on orbital plumbing and checked computer connections. Behnken set up the charcoal filters from BEAM and upgraded software on a laptop computer dedicated to operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

Crew Starts Week With Spacewalk Preps, Satellite Work

Russia's Progress 74 resupply ship
Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship is pictured docked to the space station as the orbiting lab flew above northern Iraq

The Expedition 63 crew is starting the week getting ready for a pair of upcoming spacewalks and a satellite deployment. The International Space Station residents are also setting up research gear that will analyze hazardous particles and plasma crystals.

The three NASA astronauts onboard the station teamed up today setting up hardware and reviewing plans for two spacewalks planned to start at the end of the month. Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken checked out rechargeable batteries that will power up U.S. spacesuit components. Flight Engineer Doug Hurley looked at procedures to put on the spacesuits as well as steps a spacewalker would take during an emergency.

The spacewalks will continue power upgrades begun last year on the outside of the space station. Cassidy and Behnken will replace old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries on the Starboard-6 truss segment. The batteries store and distribute power collected from the solar arrays throughout the station.

Cassidy started Monday in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module readying a 110-kilogram Red-Eye satellite for deployment in the next couple of weeks. He installed the satellite inside Kibo’s airlock where it will be placed into the vacuum of space and ejected into orbit from the NanoRacks Kaber Microsat deployer. Red-Eye, the second of three microsatellites, will test satellite communications, flight computers and thermal management technologies.

Behnken helped out with the Red-Eye work before installing the new Mochii microscope in the Kibo lab where it will analyze particles that could threaten crew health and spacecraft safety. Hurley worked in the European Columbus laboratory module making room for the new European Drawer Rack-2 that will support a variety of new space experiments.

The two cosmonauts in the Russian segment of the station kept up their schedule of microgravity research and life support operations. Veteran Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin serviced hardware that observes plasma crystals which could lead to improved research methods and new spacecraft designs. First time space-flyer Ivan Vagner checked space radiation readings and set up Earth observation hardware.

Space Bubbles, Advanced Optics Benefiting Earthlings, Astronauts

Japan's HTV-9 resupply ship is pictured dwarfing the Moon behind it
Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship is pictured dwarfing the Moon behind it. Nearly hidden at the top center is the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle.

A pair of space freighters from Russia and Japan docked to the International Space Station are getting attention today as the Expedition 63 crew works on a variety of space experiments.

NASA Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have nearly finished unpacking Japan’s HTV-9 cargo craft which arrived May 25. They have been carefully transferring several tons of new station hardware and science experiments and distributing it throughout the station.

Both astronauts also continued their research into space bubbles and how they behave in microfluid systems. Results from the study may improve spacecraft oxygen generation systems and drug delivery applications in skin patches.

One new science experiment being configured today is a high-resolution binocular telescope to be tested outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Station Commander Chris Cassidy is setting up the device to demonstrate low-cost, advanced optical payloads for use by public and private institutions. Designed to be affordable and quickly developed, the cutting-edge technology imager will provide detailed views of natural phenomena and critical infrastructure on Earth.

One of two Russian resupply ships, the Progress 74 (74P), at the station is being readied for its departure in July. Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin checked out navigation gear and packed trash inside the 74P that has been parked at the Pirs docking compartment since Dec. 6, 2019. The 74P will wrap up its seven-month cargo mission in early July for a fiery atmospheric disposal above the south Pacific.

He and fellow cosmonaut Ivan Vagner also ensured the upkeep of Russian life support systems. The duo later split up for an Earth photography session and the study of group dynamics between space crews and mission controllers.

Expedition 63 Waits for Weekend Arrival of SpaceX Crew

The sun's rays glisten above the Atlantic Ocean
The sun’s rays glisten in this photograph from an external high definition camera as the International Space Station orbited over the Atlantic Ocean southwest of South Africa.

The Expedition 63 crew will wait a few more days to gain two new crewmembers after weather scrubbed the initial launch attempt of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio aboard the International Space Station continued focusing on lab operations.

Rain and lightning around Kennedy Space Center kept Commercial Crew members Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the ground Wednesday. The Florida weather violated launch rules and SpaceX scrubbed the liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket with the two NASA astronauts atop sitting inside the Crew Dragon vehicle.

NASA has rescheduled the Crew Dragon launch for Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT with a backup launch date on Sunday at 3 p.m. If Hurley and Behnken launch Saturday, they would dock Sunday at 10:29 a.m. to the Harmony module’s International Docking Adapter.

Back on orbit, NASA Commander Chris Cassidy was setting up Japanese network communications gear and science hardware during the morning. Afterward, the veteran astronaut spent the rest of Thursday exploring how planetary bodies might affect the density and dynamics of different materials.

The Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner started the day transferring cargo to and from the Soyuz crew ship and the two Progress space freighters. The duo then turned its attention to videotaping and photographing their station activities for an Earth audience.

Expedition 63 Explores Free-Flying Robots and Heart Research

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy works on the Fluids Integrated Rack
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy works on the Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) replacing components in the research device that studies the behavior of fluids in microgravity.

Free-flying robots and heart research filled the science schedule aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 63 crew also managed cargo activities in a pair of resupply ships and cleaned biology research gear.

Astrobee is a robotics investigation that explores the ability of a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robots to assist crews aboard the station. Commander Chris Cassidy set up one of the autonomous robotic assistants in the afternoon for a test of its mobility and vision system. Astrobee could perform routine lab chores giving astronauts more time to conduct critical space research.

Cassidy also finalized the cleaning of a mouse habitat that housed rodents monitored for changes to their genetic expression due to microgravity. The mice have since returned to Earth aboard the last SpaceX Dragon cargo mission on April 7.

Living and working in space impacts the human body and scientists are exploring measures to ensure astronauts adapt successfully to weightlessness. How heart performance changes in space is fundamental to keeping crews healthy during long-term missions.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner continued a long-running Russian heart study today that utilizes the Lower Body Negative Pressure Suit. The investigation examines how the heart behaves as the specialized spacesuit prevents blood from pooling in a crewmember’s head reducing head and eye pressure.

The Russian duo then spent the afternoon transferring cargo to and from the Progress 74 and 75 space freighters. Ivanishin packed trash and old gear in the 74P which is due to complete its mission in July. Vagner unloaded new gear and supplies from the 75P which just arrived on April 25.

Study Improving Fiber Optics; Cosmonauts Relaxing After Cargo Mission

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy services botany research hardware in Europe’s Columbus laboratory module.

The International Space Station provides an orbiting research platform that benefits not only human health, but also industry and technology. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy kicked off a physics study today that explores space manufacturing.

Cassidy began his workday in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module configuring the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) for the Space Fibers physics investigation. The study is using the MSG to test techniques for manufacturing fiber optic cables superior to those produced on Earth.

Gravity degrades the performance of fiber optic cables produced on Earth. Space Fibers may enable the manufacturing and commercialization of cables with greater transparency and higher transmission rates than on Earth.

The NASA commander then spent Monday afternoon on regularly scheduled maintenance for the COLBERT treadmill in the station’s Tranquility module. Cassidy greased the treadmill’s axles, tightened belts and replaced components.

In the Russian segment of the station, cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner took the day off after a weekend of cargo activities. The duo welcomed the new Progress 75 cargo craft after its docking early Saturday and started unloading the nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies.