Spacewalk Preps Underway as Station Orbits Higher Ahead of Crew Departure

Astronaut Andrew Morgan
Astronaut Andrew Morgan holds on to a handrail during the second spacewalk to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on Nov. 22, 2019.

The International Space Station is orbiting higher today as three Expedition 61 crewmates get ready to return to Earth in two weeks. Meanwhile, two astronauts are finalizing preparations for a spacewalk early Saturday.

Russia’s Progress 74 cargo craft fired its engines twice boosting the space station’s altitude Thursday morning. The orbital adjustment sets up the correct trajectory for the undocking and landing of the Soyuz MS-13 crew ship on Feb. 6.

The Soyuz MS-13 will be commanded by Alexander Skvortsov returning home with astronauts Christina Koch and Luca Parmitano. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 4:14 a.m. EST (3:14 p.m. Kazakh time). Koch will have lived in space continuously for 328 days, second only to U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly with 340 days.

The third spacewalk of January 2020 is set to begin Saturday at 6:50 a.m. EST with live NASA TV coverage getting under way at 5:30 a.m. Parmitano with NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan will complete the complex thermal repairs on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a dark matter and antimatter detector.

Koch and fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir will assist the spacewalkers with the Canadarm2 robotic arm and are getting up to speed with the fine-tuned robotics maneuvers. They were joined by Morgan and Parmitano as the quartet reviewed spacewalk tasks and procedures.

Station Preps for New U.S. Crew Ship in Middle of Space Research

NASA astronauts pose with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft behind them
NASA astronauts (from left) Nicole Mann, Michael Fincke, Suni Williams, Josh Cassada, and Eric Boe pose for a picture with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft behind them.

Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner crew ship rolled out to its launch pad in Florida today. The Expedition 61 crew is preparing the International Space Station for Starliner’s arrival while continuing advanced space research.

The Starliner spacecraft sits atop an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance counting down to a liftoff Friday at 6:36 a.m. EST. This will be Boeing’s first Orbital Flight Test of the uncrewed vehicle that will dock to the station Saturday at 8:27 a.m.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are getting ready for duty Saturday morning when they will monitor Starliner’s automated rendezvous and docking with the orbiting lab. The duo will then conduct leak checks, open the hatch and ingress the vehicle to begin a week of docked operations. Starliner is also delivering about 600 pounds of cargo to the crew and will return science samples to Earth after its departure on Dec. 28.

Meanwhile, microgravity science is always ongoing aboard the station to improve life for humans on Earth and in space. Today, NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan studied how weightlessness affects an optical material that can control the reflection and absorption of light. Results could improve solar power technology and electronic mobile displays.

Meir had her eyes scanned with an ultrasound device by ESA (European Space Agency) Commander Luca Parmitano for a look at her cornea, lens and optic nerve. She had a second eye exam using optical coherence tomography for a view of her retina.

The flight engineers in the Russian side of the space station checked on a pair of docked spaceships while working science and maintenance. Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka charged electronics gear in the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship. He also worked on plumbing systems in the Progress 74 cargo craft. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov set up hardware for an Earth imaging study that explores the effects of natural and manmade catastrophes.

Russian Cargo Craft Arriving at Station Live on NASA TV

Russia's Progress 73 (73P) cargo craft is pictured departing the International Space Station on Nov. 29, 2019
Russia’s Progress 73 cargo craft is pictured departing the International Space Station on Nov. 29, 2019.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are now live broadcasting the expected arrival of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft set to dock to the Pirs compartment on the International Space Station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m.

The Progress 74 spacecraft is carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 61 crew aboard the station. Progress will arrive after making 49 orbits of Earth in three days since its launch Friday, Dec. 6 at 4:34 a.m.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon Attached to Station for Month-Long Stay

Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked to the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:47 a.m. EST.

The 19th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,700 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong
Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks
NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Next up, the station crew will be preparing for the arrival early Monday morning of a second resupply spacecraft. The Russian Progress 74 that launched Friday at 4:34 a.m. is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking at 4:45 a.m.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew Training for Two New Cargo Missions Launching This Week

Astronaut Luca Parmitano
Astronaut Luca Parmitano carries the new thermal pump system that was installed on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) during the third spacewalk to upgrade the AMS.

The Expedition 61 crew aboard the International Space Station is focusing on a pair of upcoming cargo deliveries after completing a spacewalk on Monday.

SpaceX will launch its 19th Dragon resupply ship aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday at 12:51 p.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon is delivering nearly three tons of cargo to the orbiting lab including new science hardware such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Saturday at 5:58 a.m. Robotics controllers will take command of the Canadarm2 and then install Dragon to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port.

Parmitano and Morgan wrapped up a spacewalk on Monday having replaced a thermal pump system on the station’s cosmic particle detector. They joined fellow astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch at the end of the day Tuesday with a call to Mission Control about their spacewalk experience.

The space station is also preparing for the arrival of Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft set for launch on Friday at 4:34 a.m. The 74P will take a three-day trip to the station and dock Monday Dec. 9 at 5:38 a.m. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka checked out the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit (TORU) today in the unlikely event they would need to remotely maneuver the 74P to a docking.

Russian Progress Cargo Ship Reaches Station in Just Two Orbits

Russia's Progress 73 resupply ship
This image from an external high definition video camera shows Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship nearing its docking port on the space station.

Traveling about 259 miles over northwest China, the unpiloted Russian Progress 73 cargo ship docked at 11:29 a.m. EDT to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex.

In addition to the arrival of Progress today, the six crewmembers aboard the space station welcomed SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft on July 27, two days after launching on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

On July 20, the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft arrived to the space station carrying NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Their arrival restored the station’s crew complement to six. They joined NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Russia’s Progress Cargo Craft Racing Toward Space Station

Progress 73 cargo craft launch
Russsia’s Progress 73 cargo craft launches on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 73 cargo spacecraft launched at 8:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. Following a 2-orbit rendezvous, the Russian cargo spacecraft will dock to the orbiting laboratory at 11:35 a.m. NASA Television coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 10:45 a.m.

Progress 73 will remain docked at the station for five months before departing in December for its deorbit in Earth’s atmosphere.

The Progress is the second of two cargo resupply ships delivering supplies to the six crewmembers aboard the space station this month. SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft attached to station on Saturday, July 27, two days after launching on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Live Now on NASA TV: Launch Coverage of Russian Resupply Mission

Progress 73 rocket at the launch pad
Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship stands at the launch pad in Kazakhstan surrounded by support gantries during final processing before its liftoff to the space station. Credit: Roscosmos

NASA Television is live for the launch of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 60 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website now!

The Progress 73 spacecraft is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 p.m. Baikonur time).

The Progress will orbit Earth twice then rendezvous with the station, where it will dock to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex. Live coverage of its arrival and docking will begin at 10:45 a.m., with docking scheduled for 11:35 a.m.

The spacecraft will remain at the orbital outpost until mid-December.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 73 online, follow @space_station.

NASA TV Broadcasts Russian Rocket Launching To Resupply Station

Support gantries rise toward the Progress 73 resupply ship
Support gantries rise toward the Progress 73 resupply ship during final processing at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

NASA Television will provide live launch coverage of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 60 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website on Wednesday beginning at 7:45 a.m. EDT.

The Progress 73 spacecraft is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 p.m. Baikonur time).

The Progress will orbit Earth twice then rendezvous with the station, where it will dock to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex. Live coverage of its arrival and docking will begin at 10:45 a.m., with docking scheduled for 11:35 a.m.

The spacecraft will remain at the orbital outpost until mid-December.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 73 online, follow @space_station.

 New Space Research Kicks Off Ahead of Wednesday Cargo Launch

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are pictured working inside the Unity module which connects the International Space Station’s U.S. segment with the Russian segment.

Microgravity research is ramping up aboard the International Space Station with brand new science payloads and an expanded Expedition 60 crew. July will see one more mission going up to the orbiting lab as a Russian cargo craft counts down to a Wednesday launch and docking.

The Cell Science-02 experiment is underway on the station to explore bone-healing therapies. Astronauts Nick Hague and Luca Parmitano activated the Life Sciences Glovebox this morning to conduct the new bone research. Hague then retrieved bone cell samples to observe healing and tissue regeneration properties to promote human health on Earth and in space.

Parmitano then photographed samples inside the Kubik incubator for the new Biorock space-mining study. Harnessing the power of microbes could help future astronauts extract precious minerals from the surface of the Moon and Mars.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan completed setting up habitats housing mice shipped aboard the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. Scientists are comparing the space rodents to a sample of mice back on Earth to understand biological changes caused by microgravity.

Russia’s Progress 73 (73P) cargo craft is standing at its launch pad in Kazakhstan counting down to a liftoff Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. EDT. It will take a three-and-a-half-hour trip to the station’s Pirs Docking Compartment carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the crew. NASA TV is broadcasting the fast-track launch and docking activities live starting at 7:45 a.m.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov will be monitoring the 73P’s automated approach and rendezvous Wednesday. Today, the veteran station residents split their time between human research, computer maintenance and hardware inspections.