Spacewalkers Relax, Science Continues as Station Orbits Higher

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the Quest airlock organizing spacewalk tools and hardware on Jan. 31, 2023.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the Quest airlock organizing spacewalk tools and hardware on Jan. 31, 2023.

Two astronauts took the morning off on Friday following a spacewalk the day before while the rest of the Expedition 68 crew conducted the latest space experiments and lab maintenance tasks. Meanwhile, the International Space Station is orbiting higher today to get ready for a pair of spaceships arriving this month.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) relaxed Friday morning after conducting a six-hour and 41-minute spacewalk on Thursday. The duo completed the installation of hardware on the station’s Starboard-4 truss readying the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. The pair then went into the afternoon with standard post-spacewalk medical checks before cleaning up the Quest airlock where their spacewalking tools and Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, are stowed.

NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio had their hands full on Friday as they explored how weightlessness affects a wide range of phenomena including biotechnology, agriculture, and physics. The ongoing microgravity studies provide scientists and engineers new insights that could promote state-of-the-art industries both in space and on Earth.

Cassada began his day configuring the BioFabrication Facility, a research device that will investigate the 3-D printing of organ-like tissues in microgravity, in the Columbus laboratory module. Afterward, he was back inside Columbus watering tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility. The Veg-05 study is studying a continuous fresh-food production system for space missions. Rubio set up the new Particle Vibration experiment inside the Destiny laboratory module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. The physics study will investigate how particles organize themselves in fluids possibly advancing manufacturing techniques and providing new insights on astrophysics.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev assisted Flight Engineer Anna Kikina during her cardiac research early Friday as she attached sensors to herself to monitor her blood circulation in microgravity. Prokopyev then worked inside the Zvezda service module checking its systems. Kikina then spent her day inside Zvezda and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module servicing their ventilation systems. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent all day Friday replacing air purification hardware before transferring filters from the ISS Progress 82 cargo craft to the Unity module.

The space station is orbiting higher, 260 miles above Earth at its highest point and 257.1 miles at its lowest, after the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship fired its engines for nearly fifteen minutes early Friday morning. The new orbiting altitude places the station at the correct altitude for the arrival of the new ISS Progress 83 cargo craft on Feb. 11 and the unpiloted Soyuz MS-23 crew ship on Feb. 21.


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.

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Station is GO for Thursday Spacewalk as Space Research Keeps Up

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured in her spacesuit after completing a spacewalk to modify the station's power generation system on Jan. 20.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured in her spacesuit after completing a spacewalk to modify the station’s power generation system on Jan. 20.

Mission managers have given the “go” for two astronauts to exit the International Space Station on Thursday and conduct a seven-hour spacewalk. While the spacewalk preparations were under way, the rest of the Expedition 68 crew kept up its ongoing schedule of human research, botany, and physics experiments.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will set their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to battery power at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday. After their EMUs are set to battery power, the astronauts’ spacewalk officially begins and they will exit the Quest airlock into the vacuum of space and maneuver to the starboard truss structure. Once they arrive at the Starboard-4 truss, they will complete a modification kit installation job they began on Jan. 20 to prepare the station for its next roll-out solar array.

Mann and Wakata started Wednesday readying their spacesuits and its components inside Quest. Afterward, NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio joined the duo and began organizing spacewalking tools and hardware before a final procedures review and a conference with specialists on the ground. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina also handed the spacewalking astronauts dosimeters, or radiation detectors, to attach to their spacesuits. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Rubio began his day with NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada collecting and processing blood samples for spinning in a centrifuge, stowage in a science freezer, and later analysis. The pair then split up configuring advanced research hardware and an ultra-high resolution video camera. Cassada relocated two TangoLab facilities from a research rack in the Destiny laboratory module to a research rack in the Columbus laboratory module. The TangoLab cube modules enable a variety of space research from microbiology to chemistry. Cassada also watered tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study. Rubio installed the Sphere Camera-1 inside Destiny to evaluate its ultra-high resolution capabilities that may assist future space travelers with vehicle inspections, as well as Earth and space observations.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued testing a 3-D printer checking its performance while being controlled from a computer. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin worked throughout the day packing the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship with trash and discarded gear before replacing air filters inside the Zvezda service module. Kikina, after handing over radiation detectors in the morning, worked inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module testing operations with the European robotic arm.


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.

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Crew Gets Ready for Thursday Spacewalk, Keeps Up Space Research

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during her first spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, to prepare the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array.

The Expedition 68 crew kicked off Monday preparing for a spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power generation system on Thursday. The orbital residents also researched a variety of space phenomena and packed a cargo craft ahead of its upcoming departure.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) began their day reviewing procedures for a spacewalk set to begin at 8:15 a.m. EST on Thursday. The duo will spend about seven hours completing the installation of hardware to ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array on the starboard truss structure. This will be their second spacewalk together and they will finish the external installation job they began on Jan. 20.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio joined Mann and Wakata during Monday afternoon for a conference with spacewalk specialists on the ground at Mission Control in Houston. Cassada and Rubio will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, and monitor the excursion from inside the orbiting lab.

Cassada and Rubio also had time on Monday servicing botany and physics research hardware. Cassada worked inside the Kibo laboratory module planting seeds in the Advanced Plant Habitat for an experiment observing genetic changes in plants growing in microgravity. Rubio replaced experiment samples and research hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack for a study exploring how fires burn in weightlessness to improve fire safety techniques in space.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev is packing the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft with trash ahead of its departure on Feb. 6 after nearly eight-and-a-half months docked to the Zvezda service module. A new cargo craft will replenish the Expedition 68 crew and dock on Feb. 11 to the same port vacated by the Progress 81.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina spent Monday on human research activities and a station photography session. Petelin wore a helmet packed with sensors measuring his reactions as he simulated spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer for future planetary missions. Kikina first photographed the external condition of the Nauka and Zvezda modules before moving on and studying ways to improve communications with international crews and ground controllers.

Life Science, Spacewalk Preps as Station Orbits Higher

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the seven-window cupola as the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaches the space station on Nov. 27, 2022.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured inside the seven-window cupola as the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaches the space station on Nov. 27, 2022.

Science and spacewalk preparations kept the Expedition 68 crew busy throughout Wednesday. Meanwhile, the International Space Station is orbiting slightly higher after a docked cargo craft fired its engines during the morning.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Frank Rubio began the morning cleaning and stowing biology hardware used to transfer research samples from the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship into the space station’s U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Those samples will soon be examined to understand how microgravity affects the regeneration of skeletal stem cells possibly improving therapies for bone conditions on Earth and in space.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada started his day supporting student-designed botany experiments packed inside specialized tubes delivered aboard Dragon. Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) peered at microscopic worms inside the Confocal microscope for deeper insight into how the nervous system adapts to weightlessness. Observations may help doctors keep astronauts healthy in space and design therapies for neuromuscular diseases such as Parkinson’s.

After working on advanced science experiments during the morning, all four astronauts joined each other and reviewed plans for Saturday’s spacewalk set to start at 7:25 a.m. EST. Cassada and Rubio will exit the station for a seven-hour job to install a new roll-out solar array on the station’s starboard truss structure. Mann and Wakata will support the duo in and out of their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, and operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm during the spacewalk.

Station Commander Sergey Prokopyev from Roscosmos worked inside the Zvezda service module replacing life support gear on Wednesday afternoon after completing a heart-monitoring session during the morning. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin continued the heart research and attached sensors to himself to monitor his cardiac activity and blood pressure for 24 hours. Petelin then spent the rest of the day cleaning hydraulic components inside a Russian Orlan spacesuit. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina analyzed the Zarya module’s power supply system using an oscilloscope and infrared camera before conducting ventilation maintenance inside Zvezda.

A docked ISS Progress 81 space freighter fired its engines for 12 minutes early Wednesday raising the station’s altitude. The orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for an upcoming crew swap planned for early spring.


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.

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Blood Work, Robotics Training, and Lab Upkeep Fill Station Crew’s Day

Astronaut Josh Cassada is pictured inside the cupola, the space station's "window to the world," 264 miles above the Pacific Ocean.
Astronaut Josh Cassada is pictured inside the cupola, the space station’s “window to the world,” 264 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday’s main activities for the Expedition 68 crew included examining how the blood system is affected in weightlessness and working on a trio of different robotics activities. The four astronauts and three cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station also inspected a new toilet system and continued unpacking a new cargo craft.

The human body must adjust to living and working long-term in microgravity for a spaceflight mission to be successful. Astronauts exercise for about two hours every day and participate in a variety of tests their physiological adaptation, and to prepare their bodies for the return to Earth. Biomedical examinations are conducted before, during, and after a spaceflight, to learn how the human body changes on and off the Earth and to provide countermeasures against the adverse effects of living in orbit.

Tuesday’s human research looked at the cardiovascular system. NASA Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada started their day drawing their blood samples, spinning the blood tubes in a centrifuge, and stowing them in a science freezer for future analysis. Afterward, Cassada attached sensors to himself for the Cerebral Autoregulation study measuring how the brain manages its own blood supply in space. Results may help crew members adjust quicker to gravity after returning to Earth and provide insights into blood pressure conditions.

Meanwhile, Tuesday was also a busy robotics day. The crew members practiced capturing a cargo craft, reviewed how to control free-flying assistants, and trained to operate a new robotic arm. Mann and Cassada studied on a computer the techniques required to capture the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter, due to launch and arrive at the station next week, using the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Mann earlier turned on the Astrobee free-flyers in the Kibo laboratory module and learned how to maneuver the basketball-sized robotic assistants. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina continued getting up to speed with using the European robotic arm attached to the Nauka science module for upcoming cargo operations.

Astronauts Frank Rubio of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) focused on lab maintenance cleaning science gear and preparing a new toilet for operations during Tuesday. Rubio opened up the Microgravity Science Glovebox, which hosts numerous science experiments from physics to biology, and cleaned its fans. filters, and components. Wakata worked on advanced orbital plumbing inside the Tranquility module checking the performance of a new toilet and its components and sensors.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin were back inside the ISS Progress 82 cargo craft continuing to unpack some of the nearly 3,000 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies, less than a week after its arrival. The two cosmonauts also split their time working their contingent of space research, as well as, life support and electronic systems maintenance.


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.

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Crew Trains for Next Cargo Mission, Picks Tomatoes, and Fixes New Toilet

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio is pictured inside the cupola, the space station's "window to the world," as the orbiting lab flew above southeastern England.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio is pictured inside the cupola, the space station’s “window to the world,” as the orbiting lab flew above southeastern England.

The Expedition 68 crew kicked off the work week preparing for a U.S. cargo mission delivering new science experiments and unpacking a recently arrived resupply ship. The International Space Station residents also picked a tomato crop today while working on a new toilet.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is targeting a launch to the space station at 5:50 a.m. EST on Sunday, Nov. 6. It will arrive for a robotic capture at 5:50 a.m. on Nov. 8, carrying about 8,200 pounds of research gear, crew supplies, and station hardware. Some of the experiments arriving inside Cygnus will explore 3D bioprinting of human tissue, the impact of microgravity on ovaries, and growing repeated generations of space crops.

NASA Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada trained on a computer today to monitor Cygnus’ automated approach and rendezvous and practice its robotic capture. The duo will be inside the seven-window cupola when the science-packed vehicle nears a point about 30 feet (10 meters) from the station’s Unity module. Mann will then command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus as Cassada backs her up. Controllers on the ground will then take over and remotely maneuver Cygnus and install it on Unity where it will stay for 11 weeks of cargo activities.

It was harvest day aboard the orbiting lab as astronaut Koichi Wakata picked a small crop of tomato plants grown inside the Columbus laboratory module. The tomatoes were grown without soil using hydroponic and aeroponic nourishing techniques for the XROOTS botany study. The experiment is demonstrating space agricultural methods to sustain crews on long term space flights farther away from Earth where resupply missions become impossible.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio worked in the Tranquility module servicing a new toilet system, part of the station’s Waste and Hygiene Compartment. The advanced microgravity plumbing work required Rubio to swap and inspect several components and sensors prior to returning the space toilet to operations. Meanwhile, the older toilet inside Tranquility is still in operation.

The ISS Progress 82 resupply ship is still being unpacked after its docking to the Poisk module on Oct. 27. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin offloaded a variety of lab hardware, crew clothing, and medical kits on Monday for organizing and stowing throughout the station. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina worked on video and computer maintenance then photographed plume monitoring sensors attached to the Poisk module.


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.

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Crew Works Biology, Botany, and Physics after Cargo Ship’s Arrival

The ISS Progress 82 cargo craft, packed with three tons of food, fuel, and supplies, is pictured shortly after docking to the space station's Poisk module.
The ISS Progress 82 cargo craft, packed with three tons of food, fuel, and supplies, is pictured shortly after docking to the space station’s Poisk module.

Life science, space gardening, and physics filled the Expedition 68 crew’s research schedule at the end of the week aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, three tons of new cargo are being unpacked after its arrival overnight.

A host of biomedical studies have been underway this week on the orbiting lab as scientists on the ground explore what happens to the human body when living in weightlessness. Insights help astronauts stay fit and healthy beyond Earth’s gravity and provide an array of solutions and innovations improving life for those back on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada took charge of eye scans on Friday imaging the retinas of crewmates Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Mann then assumed control of the medical imaging hardware and scanned the eyes of NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio. The ocular examinations let doctors understand how microgravity affects the eye and provide countermeasures to protect a crew member’s sight.

Cassada and Mann started Friday morning collecting their blood samples and spinning them in a centrifuge before stowing the blood tubes in a science freezer. Researchers analyze the samples taken before, during, and after a space flight and compare them to samples from other astronauts adding to knowledge of the changes a crew member’s body goes through on and off the Earth.

Growing vegetables on spaceships and space habitats using soilless methods is a top research priority since cargo missions delivering food to the crews will be less feasible beyond low-Earth orbit. Rubio contributed to that research during the morning nourishing and tending to vegetables growing using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques for the XROOTS station botany study. Space agriculture is key to an astronaut’s health if crews are to sustain themselves farther away from Earth.

Space physics is also important as scientists and engineers observe what happens to a variety of materials exposed to ultra-high temperatures with implications for the development and manufacturing of new and advanced materials. The Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (ELF) in the Kibo laboratory module is a research device allowing safe thermophysical research in microgravity. Wakata opened up the ELF today servicing samples inside the device that uses lasers to heat specimens above 2,000 degrees Celsius to obtain data on a material’s density, surface tension, and viscosity.

The three cosmonauts aboard the station shifted their sleep schedules today following Thursday night’s arrival of the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin were on duty when the Progress 82 with its three tons of food, fuel, and supplies docked to the Poisk module at 10:49 p.m. EDT on Thursday. The duo conducted standard leak checks and pressure equalization before opening the hatch to Progress and unpacking the new cargo. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina was also working overnight checking robotics components and maintaining lab systems.


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.

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Space Freighter with Three Tons of Cargo Docks to Station

The ISS Progress 82 cargo craft approaches the space station nearing the Poisk module for a docking two days after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV
The ISS Progress 82 cargo craft approaches the space station nearing the Poisk module for a docking two days after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

An uncrewed Roscosmos Progress 82 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s space-facing side of the Poisk module at 10:49 p.m. EDT today. Progress delivered almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the International Space Station for the Expedition 68 crew.


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.

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Progress Cargo Craft Approaching Station Live on NASA TV

The trash-filled ISS Progress 80 cargo craft undocks the space station on Oct. 23, 2022, making way for the arrival of the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship.
The trash-filled ISS Progress 80 cargo craft undocks the space station on Oct. 23, 2022, making way for the arrival of the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship.

NASA Television, the agency’s website and the NASA app now are providing live coverage of the docking of a Roscosmos cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. The uncrewed Progress 82 launched on a Soyuz rocket at 8:20 p.m. EDT (5:20 a.m. Baikonur time), Tuesday, Oct. 25, 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.

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Space Delivery Arriving Tonight as Crew Scans Eyes and Veins

The trash-filled ISS Progress 80 cargo craft departs the space station on Oct. 23, 2022, to make way for the arrival of the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship.
The trash-filled ISS Progress 80 cargo craft departs the space station on Oct. 23, 2022, to make way for the arrival of the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship.

A Roscosmos space freighter is due to arrive at the International Space Station tonight and replenish the Expedition 68 crew. While they wait for the space delivery, the orbital residents stayed busy throughout Thursday working on more eye and vein scans, a plant habitat, and a spacesuit.

At 10:49 p.m. EDT tonight, two cosmonauts will be on duty when the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship docks to the orbiting lab’s Poisk module. Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin will be inside the Zvezda service module monitoring the Progress 82’s rendezvous and docking. A few hours after the vehicle arrives and the pressure equalizes with the station, the duo will open the hatches and begin offloading about three tons of food, fuel, and supplies.

Prokopyev and Petelin called down to mission controllers during Thursday morning to discuss and prepare for the automated approach of the Progress cargo ship. The duo will be at the controls of the telerobotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, inside Zvezda ready to take manual control of the approaching spacecraft on Thursday night if necessary. The two cosmonauts along with Flight Engineer Anna Kikina are sleep-shifting today to get ready for the cargo mission’s nighttime arrival.

Advanced microgravity science is continuing at full pace aboard the space station as the astronauts researched how their bodies adapt to microgravity. Scientists on the ground use the observations to help crews stay healthy and fit during long-term space missions, as well as adapt quicker when returning to Earth’s gravity environment.

Eye and vein scans were back on the orbital research schedule on Thursday morning as NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio powered on the Ultrasound 2 scanner for the ongoing biomedical research. He took charge as crew medical officer and first scanned the eyes of NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann during the 15-minute session. Next, Rubio spent an hour imaging Mann’s neck, shoulder, and leg veins, with the ultrasound device to help doctors understand how the human body adapts to living and working in space.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada serviced the Plant Habitat located in a science rack installed inside the Kibo laboratory module. He replaced carbon dioxide bottles and checked connections on the automated space botany research facility. Packed with sensors and components that control temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide levels and light intensity, the Plant Habitat enables plant growth experiments for up to four-and-a-half months at a time.

Astronaut Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spent his day inside the Quest airlock working on spacesuit maintenance with assistance from Rubio. The duo cleaned the spacesuit’s cooling loops and reconfigured the suit’s components in anticipation of upcoming spacewalks.