Traveling about 250 miles over the Philippine Sea, the unpiloted ISS Progress 67 Russian cargo ship docked at 7:37 a.m. EDT to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station.
Russia’s Progress 67 (67P) cargo craft is orbiting Earth and on its way to the International Space Station Friday morning carrying over three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Meanwhile, the three member Expedition 52 crew researched a variety of space science on Thursday while preparing for the arrival of the 67P.
Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will monitor the automated docking of the 67P to the Zvezda service module Friday at 7:42 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast live the resupply ship’s approach and rendezvous beginning at 7 a.m. The 67P’s docking will mark four spaceships attached to the space station.
Fischer spent the morning photographing mold and bacteria samples on petri dishes as part of six student-led biology experiments that are taking place inside a NanoRacks module. In the afternoon, he removed protein crystal samples from a science freezer, let them thaw and observed the samples using a specialized microscope.
Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson tended to rodents Thursday morning cleaning their habitat facilities and restocking their food. In the afternoon, she moved to human research swapping out samples for the Cardiac Stem Cells study that is exploring why living in space may accelerate the aging process.
Two external experiments have been extracted from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship and attached to the outside of the International Space Station. Ground controllers commanded the Canadarm2 to reach inside Dragon, grapple both experiments and install them on EXPRESS logistics carriers.
The first experiment, MUSES, or Multiple User System for Earth Sensing, was removed June 6 the day after Dragon’s arrival. It was installed two days later on the starboard side of the station’s truss structure. MUSES is an Earth-imaging platform that may improve navigation, agriculture and benefit emergency responders and the petroleum industry.
NICER, or Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, was extracted Sunday afternoon and will be installed this evening. It will search for new insights into the physics of neutron stars and help scientists develop a pulsar-based, space navigation system.
A third experiment will be extracted June 17 to test a new advanced solar array. The roll-out solar array, or ROSA, rolls out like a tape measure with solar cells on a flexible blanket. The ROSA, which could power future NASA spaceships and communication satellites, will be stowed back inside Dragon’s trunk after seven days of data collection while attached to the station’s robotic arm.
A little over two hours after it was captured by Expedition 52 Flight Engineers Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, the unpiloted SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was attached to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module of the International Space Station. Ground controllers at Mission Control, Houston reported that Dragon was bolted into place at 12:07 p.m. EDT as the station flew 258 statute miles over central Kazakhstan.
Earlier, the Dragon was grappled by Fischer and Whitson using the Canadarm2 robotic arm at 9:52 a.m. EDT at the completion of a flawless two-day journey for the resupply vehicle following its launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Saturday.
The station crew expects to open Dragon’s hatch later today to begin transferring time-critical scientific experiments. Dragon will remain attached to the complex until July 2, when it will be detached from Harmony and robotically released for its deorbit back into the Earth’s atmosphere and a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 8:39 a.m. EDT. Crew will ingress the spacecraft later today. The spacecraft will spend about three months on station before it is released in July for a destructive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of several thousand pounds of trash.
The spacecraft’s arrival brings more than 7,600 pounds of research and supplies to support Expedition 51 and 52. Some of the research on board includes:
In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D, spheroid structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, enabling better tests for drug the efficacy. The ADCs in Microgravity investigation tests drugs designed as targeted cancer therapies called antibody-drug conjugates, developed by Oncolinx.
The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation originally was operated successfully aboard the station in 2002. Updated software, data acquisition, high definition video and communication interfaces will help advance understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth. Investigations such as the CLYC Crystal Growth experiment will be conducted in the SUBSA Furnace and inserts. High-quality crystals are essential to a variety of applications, and a microgravity environment can produce better quality crystals.
The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation studies a new type of recording device that rides alongside a spacecraft as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere, recording data about the extreme conditions it encounters. Scientists, so far, have been unable to monitor those conditions on a large scale, and a better understanding could lead to more accurate spacecraft breakup predictions, better spacecraft designs, and materials capable of better resisting the extreme heat and pressure during the return to Earth.
Prior to re-entry in late July, the Cygnus spacecraft will also host the third Spacecraft Fire Experiment, or SAFFIRE, to study how fire burns in microgravity. Data from these experiments will help inform the development of future crew spacecraft.
The unpiloted Russian Progress 66 launched at 12:58 a.m. Wednesday (11:58 a.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is now orbiting the planet on course for the International Space Station
The vehicle will deliver almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the Expedition 50 crew.
The spacecraft is set to dock to the Pirs docking compartment at 3:34 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 2:45 a.m. Progress 66 will remain docked at the station for almost four months before departing in June for its deorbit into Earth’s atmosphere.
This was the first launch of a Progress cargo ship from Baikonur since the Progress 65 supply craft was lost Dec. 1, 2016.
Two cargo craft are scheduled to deliver several tons of supplies and experiment hardware to the station this week.
SpaceX’s tenth commercial resupply mission lifted off at 9:39 a.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 19. The rocket launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the first commercial launch from Kennedy’s historic pad.
Astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Shane Kimbrough of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Dragon when it arrives at the station. Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will begin at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 on NASA TV and the agency’s website, with installation coverage set to begin at 8:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, the unpiloted Russian Progress 66 is scheduled for 12:58 a.m. Wednesday (11:58 a.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft is set to dock to the Pirs docking compartment at 3:34 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24.
Aboard the station, the crew continued preparations for the arrival of the vehicles and set up several scientific experiments and technology demonstrations.
The Miniature Exercise Device (MED-2) was installed for a technical evaluation. MED-2 aims to demonstrate if small robotic actuators can provide motion and resistance for crew workout sessions, reducing the size and weight of exercise equipment for long-duration space missions.
The Expedition 50 crew is gearing up for three different spaceships in two months to resupply the International Space Station. The crew also worked today on a variety of research hardware and practiced an emergency drill.
Two U.S. companies are getting their rockets ready to deliver food, fuel, supplies and new science gear to the crew. SpaceX is first in line with a plan to launch their Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Feb. 18. Next, Orbital ATK is targeting March 19 to launch their Cygnus spacecraft on its seventh resupply mission to the station. Both spaceships will be captured by the Canadarm2 robotic. The Dragon will be installed to the Harmony module and the Cygnus will be attached to the Unity module.
Russia is preparing its Progress 66 (66P) cargo craft for a Feb. 22 launch from Kazakhstan. The 66P will take a two-day trip to the orbital laboratory before automatically docking to the Pirs Docking Compartment.
Onboard the station, Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet spent the day in Japan’s Kibo lab module working on science gear maintenance. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson installed a leak locator in Kibo’s airlock that will be used to locate the source of an ammonia leak outside the Japanese lab.
Commander Shane Kimbrough and his Soyuz crewmates cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov got together in the afternoon an emergency descent drill. The trio practiced the procedures necessary to evacuate the station quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency and return to Earth inside their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.
The Russian 64 Progress cargo vehicle undocked from the Pirs docking compartment at 9:25 a.m. EST. The Russian Progress 64 arrived at the space station July 18, after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan July 17. After more than six months at the station, the spacecraft is scheduled to deorbit at 12:34 p.m. where it will burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.