Three Humans Will Spend Thanksgiving 260 Miles Above Earth

Expedition 57 crew selfie
Serena Auñón-Chancellor (right) takes a group selfie with her Expedition 57 crew mates (from left) Sergey Prokopyev and Alexander Gerst. The three-person crew was gathered for dinner in the Zvezda Service Module, part of the International Space Station’s Russian segment.

Three humans will spend Thanksgiving orbiting about 260 miles above Earth. Another three individuals are spending the holiday in Kazakhstan preparing to launch to the International Space Station on Dec. 3.

The Expedition 57 trio from the U.S., Russia and Germany will share a traditional Thanksgiving meal together with fresh ingredients delivered over the weekend on a pair of new cargo ships. Commander Alexander Gerst from ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor will take the day off in space. Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev will work a normal day of Russian science and maintenance then join his crewmates for the holiday feast.

Gerst called down to European mission controllers today for a weekly tag up then answered a questionnaire about his experiences living in space. Afterward, he continued unpacking inventory from the new Cygnus cargo craft.

Auñón-Chancellor spent most of her day in Japan’s Kibo lab module working on life support gear. Toward the end of the day, she stowed research samples in a science freezer then debriefed ground controllers with Gerst about Cygnus cargo operations.

Prokopyev focused his attention on the Russian side of the orbital lab working on life support gear and unloading the new Progress 71 cargo craft.

Back on Earth, three Expedition 58 crew members from the U.S., Russia and Canada are in final training ahead of their six-and-a-half month mission on the orbital lab. Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko will lead the six-hour flight aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft flanked by NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques.

This will be Kononenko’s fourth mission to the space station and his second as station commander. McClain and Saint-Jacques are both beginning their first missions to space.

Crew Unpacking New U.S., Russian Cargo Ships on Station’s 20th Anniversary

Zarya Module
The International Space Station’s first element, the Zarya module, is pictured in December 1998 as space shuttle Endeavour approached.

The International Space Station turned 20 years old today with the launch of the first element, the Zarya module, occurring on Nov. 20, 1998. The three-person Expedition 57 crew commemorated the beginning of the orbital lab’s construction during a Facebook Live event today and answered questions submitted via social media.

The crew also continues to unpack the newest U.S. and Russian cargo ships to visit the International Space Station today.

The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman arrived Monday delivering almost 7,400 pounds of crew supplies and new science experiments. The Progress 71 (71P) resupply from Russia docked Sunday packed with almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies

Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst opened Cygnus’s hatch a few hours after it was captured and attached to the Unity module. Today they are installing new science freezers, transferring the new cargo and replenishing the orbital laboratory. Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev opened the 71P hatch after its automated docking Sunday and began unloading the new gear.

In between all the cargo work today, the three-person crew had time to conduct science and maintain station systems.

Gerst photographed samples for a physics study that is observing how quartz/clay particles interact in microgravity. Results could benefit future planetary studies and the petroleum industry. Auñón-Chancellor measured light levels in the Columbus lab module for a study researching how new station lights impact crew wellness. Prokopyev worked primarily in the station’s Russian segment maintaining life support systems.

Russian Cargo Craft Docks to Station and Delivers Goods

Nov. 18, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
Nov. 18, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the Progress 70 and Progress 71 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship.

Traveling about 252 miles over Algeria, the unpiloted Russian Progress 71 cargo ship docked at 2:28 p.m. EST to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

In addition to the arrival of Progress today, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the space station with about 7,400 pounds of cargo after launching at 4:01 a.m. Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the orbital laboratory Monday, Nov. 19. Expedition 57 astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the space station’s robotic arm to grapple Cygnus about 5:20 a.m. Watch installation coverage beginning at 4 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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 Cargo Craft Blasts Off to Station for Sunday Delivery

Russia's Cargo Craft Blasts Off to Station for Sunday Delivery
Russia’s Progress 71 cargo craft blasts off on time to the International Space Station for a Sunday delivery.

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 71 cargo spacecraft launched at 1:14 p.m. EST (12:14 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 252 statute miles over southern Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Russian cargo craft will make 34 orbits of Earth before docking to the orbiting laboratory at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18. NASA Television coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 1:45 p.m.

Progress 71 will remain docked at the station for more than four months before departing in March for its deorbit in Earth’s atmosphere.

Crew aboard the space station are scheduled to receive two cargo resupply missions in the coming days. Tomorrow, launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket with Cygnus cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station is targeted for 4:01 a.m. from Pad 0A of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. NASA TV will provide launch broadcast coverage online beginning at 3:30 a.m. A Cygnus launch Saturday would result in capture and berthing on Monday, Nov. 19.

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

US Cargo Mission Slips a Day; Station Tests Free-Flying AI Assistant

Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor practices on a computer the maneuvers she will use with Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the U.S. Cygnus space freighter on Monday.

The launch of the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman has slipped another day due to inclement weather at the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Atlantic coast. Cygnus is now scheduled to launch atop the Antares rocket Saturday at 4:01 a.m. EST with a much improved weather forecast.

The U.S. resupply ship will deliver approximately 7,400 pounds of food, fuel and supplies to the station two days later. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus Monday at 5:20 a.m. Commander Alexander Gerst will back her up and monitor telemetry from the vehicle during its approach and rendezvous.

The Progress 71 (71P) cargo craft from Russia is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan ready to blast off Friday at 1:14 p.m. EST. Prokopyev will be monitoring the Russian resupply ship when it arrives Sunday for an automated docking to the rear port of the Zvezda service module at 2:30 p.m.

The International Space Station Program is testing the use of artificial intelligence today to contribute to mission success aboard the orbital laboratory. Meanwhile, the space residents from the U.S., Germany and Russia continued more human research and prepared for the upcoming U.S. and Russian space deliveries.

CIMON, or Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN, is a free-flying robotic assistant based on artificial intelligence currently being tested on the station. The astronaut support device from ESA (European Space Agency) was powered up and commissioned today by the station commander inside the Columbus lab module. The CIMON technology seeks to demonstrate astronaut-robot interaction by answering crew questions, assisting with science experiments and navigating autonomously in the lab.

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and fellow crewmates Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor started Thursday with ongoing eye checks. Gerst and Serena swapped roles as Crew Medical Officer scanning each other’s eyes including Prokopyev’s using an ultrasound device with guidance from a doctor on the ground. The data is downlinked to Earth real-time and helps scientists understand how microgravity affects astronaut vision as well as the components and shape of the eye.

U.S., Russian Rockets Preparing to Resupply Station This Weekend

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is seen on Pad-0A after being raised into a vertical position, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

A U.S. rocket stands at its launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia counting down to a Thursday morning launch. On the other side of the world in Kazakhstan, a Russian rocket is being processed for its launch Friday afternoon. Both spaceships are hauling several tons of food, fuel, supplies and new science to resupply the Expedition 57 crew aboard the International Space Station.

First, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is set to blastoff atop the Antares rocket Thursday at 4:49 a.m. EST from Virginia’s Atlantic coast. Next, Russia will roll out its Progress 71 (71P) cargo craft for a launch Friday at 1:14 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Cygnus will then lead the 71P on a dual journey to the orbital laboratory where the two spaceships will arrive on Sunday just hours apart. Cygnus will get there first when Commander Alexander Gerst assisted by Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor captures the private cargo carrier at 4:35 a.m. with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. After some rest, cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev will monitor the automated docking of the 71P to the Zvezda service module’s rear port at 2:30 p.m.

Gerst and Serena trained today for the robotic capture of Cygnus on Sunday reviewing approach and rendezvous procedures. Gerst first started his day reviewing details about a new free-flying robotic assistant that uses artificial intelligence before moving on to protein crystal research. Serena worked on the Life Sciences Glovebox then moved on to orbital plumbing tasks.

The duo also joined Prokopyev for ongoing eye checks in conjunction with doctors on the ground. Prokopyev primarily worked in the Russian segment throughout Tuesday on life support maintenance and science experiments.

Global Cargo Missions Planned as Critical Research Proceeds

The Soyuz MS-09 crew ship and the Progress 70 resupply ship
Russia’s two docked spacecraft, the Soyuz MS-09 (left) crew ship and the Progress 70 resupply ship, are pictured as the International Space Station orbited nearly 254 miles above northern Kazakhstan.

A Russian cargo ship departed the International Space Station Wednesday night as another resupply mission from Japan is planned in September. The Expedition 56 crew members also observed protein crystals, studied an ancient navigation technique and researched time perception in space.

Two Soyuz crew ships and a Progress resupply ship remain docked at the orbital lab after the Progress 69 (69P) cargo craft undocked from the Zvezda service module Wednesday at 10:16 p.m. EDT. It will orbit Earth until Aug. 29 for engineering tests monitored by Roscosmos mission controllers before deorbiting over the Pacific Ocean.

The next resupply mission is coming from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s “Kounotori” H-II Transfer Vehicle. It is targeted for launch Sept. 10 to deliver science, supplies and batteries for installation during a pair of spacewalks next month. Russia’s next resupply mission, the Progress 71, is targeted for a two-day trip to the station at the end of October.

Commander Drew Feustel continued working on a pair of similar protein crystal experiments today. The BioServe Protein Crystalography-1 and Protein Crystal Growth-13 studies allow astronauts to observe crystal growth in space and analyze the results. This saves researchers time without having to wait for samples to be returned to Earth for analysis.

Alexander Gerst of ESA assisted Serena Auñón-Chancellor from NASA and tested using a sextant in space for celestial navigation during an emergency. The duo worked inside the Cupola today and tested stability, positioning and sighting with the device using a star map.

Gerst then switched his attention to a European Space Agency study exploring how astronauts perceive time in space. Researchers seek to quantify subjective changes in time perception to understand how astronauts navigate, move and hear in space.

Russian Cargo Ship Leaves Station After Six-Month Stay

The Russian Progress 69 resupply ship approaches the aft end of the Zvezda service module
The Russian Progress 69 (69P) resupply ship approaches the aft end of the Zvezda service module where it docked Feb. 15, 2018.

Loaded with trash, the Russian Progress 69 cargo craft undocked from the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at 9:16 p.m. CDT, 10:16 p.m. EDT, completing a six-month delivery run to the International Space Station.

The unpiloted Progress will move to a safe distance from the orbital laboratory for a week’s worth of engineering tests by Russian flight controllers before it is commanded to deorbit next Wednesday night. It will then burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

The next Progress cargo ship to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Progress 71, is scheduled in late October.

Russian Ship Taking Out Trash After Day of Biology Studies

Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold and Commander Drew Feustel
(From left) Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold and Commander Drew Feustel, both NASA astronauts, peer out from windows inside the Cupola, also known as the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

A Russian cargo ship is packed and ready for departure tonight from the International Space Station after a six-month stay. Meanwhile, the Expedition 56 crew members explored a variety of biological phenomena impacted by the weightless environment of space.

Russia’s Progress 69 (69P) cargo craft will undock from the Zvezda service module tonight at 10:16 p.m. EDT packed with trash and discarded hardware. It will orbit Earth for seven more days of engineering tests before finally reentering Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe destruction. The 69P arrived in February delivering over three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 54 crew.

Three astronauts worked three different life science experiments today to understand how living in space affects biology. The results could potentially increase the efficiency of orbital research and improve the lives of humans on Earth and in space.

Commander Drew Feustel, who leads the six-member station crew, looked at protein crystals through a microscope today for the BioServe Protein Crystalography study. The experiment is helping scientists on Earth analyze the samples in space real time, possibly saving critical research time and improving the development of disease-treating drugs.

Educator astronaut Ricky Arnold of NASA took part in another similar protein crystal study today peering through a microscope and photographing research samples. The main objective of the Protein Crystal Growth-13 experiment is to fine-tune the research process in space and help public and private organizations deliver results and benefits sooner.

Exercise is critically important in space so astronauts can stay healthy while living off the Earth for long periods of time. Researchers from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) are observing a new type of t-shirt with a specialized fabric that can help astronauts dispel heat and sweat efficiently during a space workout. Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) exercised today in the custom t-shirt for the SpaceTex-2 study to report on its comfort and effectiveness.

Station Gears Up for Spacewalk During Advanced Science Work

Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold
Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold inspects U.S. spacesuits and tethers in the Quest airlock ahead of a pair of U.S. spacewalks currently planned for September.

Two Expedition 56 cosmonauts packed a Russian resupply ship today before preparing for Wednesday’s spacewalk. The other four International Space Station crew members worked on a variety of space science experiments and lab maintenance duties.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev are loading a Progress 69 (69P) cargo craft with trash ahead of its departure next week. The 69P delivered over three tons of food, fuel and supplies in February. The spacecraft will undock on Aug. 22 for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean one week later after a series of engineering tests.

The cosmonauts then turned their attention to Wednesday’s spacewalk when they will hand-deploy four tiny satellites, install antennas and cables and collect exposed science experiments. They continued setting up their spacewalking gear inside the Pirs airlock today. They will exit Pirs Wednesday at 11:58 a.m. EDT for about six hours of work outside the station’s Russian segment inside their Orlan spacesuits. NASA TV’s live coverage of the spacewalk begins at 11:15 a.m.

Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor performed the majority of the science work today onboard the orbital complex. Feustel explored how proteins crystallize and grow in microgravity to help scientists develop safer, more advanced drug therapies on Earth. Auñón-Chancellor started her day with a blood draw before researching radio spectrum usage in space which may benefit satellite communications. Finally, she studied the sedimentation of quartz and clay particles possibly assisting future planetary exploration missions and the petroleum industry on Earth.

Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold spent some time inspecting U.S. spacesuit lights and replacing fan filters before assisting Feustel with the protein crystal growth experiment. Alexander Gerst of ESA checked out U.S. spacesuit batteries then moved on to verifying the functionality of fire extinguishers and breathing masks.


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