Crew Preps for Next Spacewalk, Explores Space Biology and Physics

Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station's power generation system.
Astronaut Nicole Mann is pictured during a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023, upgrading the space station’s power generation system.

The Expedition 68 astronauts are cleaning up following three days of advanced bone repair studies while getting ready for an upcoming spacewalk. The International Space Station’s three cosmonauts continued their space physics and Earth imagery work, as well as maintained orbital lab systems.

NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio are cleaning up biology research hardware and finalizing sample processing after three full days of bone healing research. The duo worked inside the Kibo laboratory module servicing the samples then stowing them into science freezers. Those samples will be packed on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission for return then analyzed and compared to control samples in laboratories on Earth. The two astronauts also cleaned Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox and its components where the intensive bone investigation work took place this week.

Cassada also worked on space agriculture today collecting leaves from thale cress plants housed inside the Advanced Plant Habitat for stowage and analysis on Earth. He later tended to tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany facility for the Veg-05 experiment. Both studies are taking place inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata explored ways to enable on-demand production of nutrients for astronauts on long-term missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The technology demonstration uses engineered microbes, or yeast, to ensure a safe and simple food production environment in space and offset the degradation of nutrients stowed over long periods.

The next spacewalk to continue upgrading the orbiting lab’s power generation system is planned for Feb. 2. Two spacewalkers will exit the Quest airlock in their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to finish installing a modification kit on the starboard truss structure. The hardware installation job will ready the space station for its next roll-out solar array. Ahead of the upcoming spacewalk, spacesuit gloves and tethers were inspected.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev continued more space physics experiment runs on Thursday as he explored how clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, behave in microgravity. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos spent his day on life support maintenance before partnering with fellow cosmonaut Anna Kikina for ultrasound eye scans. Kikina resumed her Earth observations using ultraviolet imaging hardware to obtain a map of the nighttime glow of 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.

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Bone Healing Study Continues as SpaceX Crew-6 Mission Approaches

Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.
Astronauts (middle left to right) Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio pose with spacewalkers (far left and right) Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata following the completion of a spacewalk on Jan. 20, 2023.

Wednesday was the last full day of research operations aboard the International Space Station to learn how to improve bone healing therapies both on Earth and in space. The Expedition 68 crew members also studied the human heart and plasma physics and set up Earth imagery hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata wrapped up three days of continuous research into bone growth. The quartet spent the day inside the Kibo laboratory module studying research samples in the Life Science Glovebox to understand the bone healing process in microgravity. Cassada will work on Thursday and Friday cleaning up the space biology hardware and completing sample processing.

Weightlessness inhibits bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair, and the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive investigation seeks to reverse these effects on stem cells and bone tissue. Insights gained from the biology experiment may help doctors provide advanced treatments for bone injuries that occur in space and improve therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis.

Cardiac research in space is also very important as two cosmonauts joined each other on Wednesday morning learning how the circulatory system is impacted by long-term microgravity. Commander Sergey Prokopyev attached sensors to himself, with assistance from Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, for the cardiac study. The experiment seeks insights into how the heart adapts to microgravity and to prepare for the effects of returning to Earth’s gravity months later.

Prokopyev also continued this week’s space physics work studying the behavior of plasma crystals, or clouds of highly charged particles, inside a specialized chamber. Petelin studied kept up his observations of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. Both studies have the potential to advance space and Earth-bound industries as well as improve fundamental knowledge.

Flight Engineer Anna Kikina of Roscosmos began her day pointing a camera outside station windows and photographing the external condition of the Nauka, Zvezda, and Rassvet modules. She finished her shift installing and activating gear that will acquire ultraviolet imagery of Earth’s nighttime atmosphere.

The next SpaceX crewed mission to the space station is soon approaching. The Crew-6 crewmates are Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, both from NASA, and Mission Specialists Andrey Fedyaev from Roscosmos and Sultan Alnedayi from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The quartet will lift off aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour at 2:07 a.m. EST on Feb. 26 and dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port just over half-a-day later.


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 Kicks off Week With Bone Research, Physics Studies

The space station's solar arrays and a small satellite orbital deployer are pictured as the orbiting lab soared above the African nation of Namibia.
The space station’s solar arrays and a small satellite orbital deployer are pictured as the orbiting lab soared above the African nation of Namibia.

Space medicine was the top research priority aboard the International Space Station on Monday as four Expedition 68 astronauts explored healing bone conditions. The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts spent the day studying a variety of physics, packing a resupply ship, and servicing station hardware.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio joined Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for an all-day bone research session in the Kibo laboratory module. The quartet worked in Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox servicing research samples for the Osteopromotive Bone Adhesive study.

Living in microgravity may affect skeletal stem cells and bone tissue regeneration, or bone repair. Researchers are studying a bone graft adhesive on the space station with the potential to reverse the effects of weightlessness on stem cells and bone tissue. Results may also benefit therapies for conditions on Earth such as osteoporosis. The astronauts will stay focused on the bone research activities through Wednesday.

Two cosmonauts worked on a several different space physics experiments throughout Monday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev explored the behavior of clouds of highly charged particles, or plasma crystals, in a specialized chamber. Observations may lead to improved spacecraft designs, as well as a better understanding of plasmas on Earth. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin studied the physics of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity.

The cosmonauts also worked on cargo activities and lab maintenance. Prokopyev stowed items for disposal inside the ISS Progress 81 cargo craft ahead of its departure in February. Petelin removed navigation hardware from the inside the ISS Progress 82 resupply ship then photographed the internal area of the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to assess its potential stowage volume. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent her day servicing life support and electronics 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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NASA, Space Station Partners Approve Next Axiom Private Mission Crew

The NASA meatball logoNASA and its international partners have approved the crew for Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2).

Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight and former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will command the privately funded mission. Aviator John Shoffner of Knoxville, Tennessee, will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists will be announced later.


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Spacewalkers Wrap Up First Spacewalk of 2023

Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV
Spacewalkers (from left) Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured installing hardware on the space station preparing the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata concluded their spacewalk at 3:35 p.m. EST after 7 hours and 21 minutes.

Mann and Wakata completed work left over from a previous spacewalk for a platform on which a set of International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs) for the station’s 1B power channel will be installed later this year, as well as most of the work to install a similar mounting platform for a set of iROSAs for the 1A power channel. Due to time constraints, plans to bolt a final strut for the second platform were deferred until a future spacewalk. There is no impact to station operations.

The installation is part of a series of spacewalks to augment the International Space Station’s power channels with new iROSAs. Four iROSAs have been installed so far, and two more will be mounted to the platforms installed during this spacewalk in the future.

It was the 258th spacewalk in support of space station assembly, upgrades, and maintenance, the first spacewalk of 2023, and the first spacewalk for both astronauts.

Mann and Wakata are in the midst of a planned six-month science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.


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 Ready for Spacewalk and Conducts Biology, Physics Research

Astronaut Koichi Wakata wears virtual reality goggles aboard the space station while training for a spacewalk.
Astronaut Koichi Wakata wears virtual reality goggles aboard the space station while training for a spacewalk.

The first spacewalk of 2023 will begin on Friday to continue upgrading the International Space Station’s power generation system. The Expedition 68 crew members finalized preparations today for the excursion while continuing advanced space research and orbital lab maintenance.

Astronauts Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Nicole Mann of NASA are due to spend about six-and-a-half hours working outside the station during a spacewalk on Friday. The two flight engineers will turn the batteries on inside their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, at 8:15 a.m. EST signifying the start of a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk. The duo will work on the far end of the station’s starboard truss structure in their EMUs and install a modification kit enabling the future installation of a roll-out solar array. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live spacewalk coverage at 7 a.m.

Wakata and Mann were joined on Thursday by NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio for final spacewalk preparations. The two spacewalkers along with Rubio staged tools and hardware inside the Quest airlock during the morning. The trio then spent the afternoon reviewing spacewalk steps and procedures before readying the two spacesuits for operations.

NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada focused on science activities throughout Thursday conducting biology and physics research. Cassada began his day in the Kibo laboratory module setting up the Life Science Glovebox to observe biological samples and explore new ways to heal bone conditions on and off the Earth. In the afternoon, he moved over to the Destiny laboratory module exchanging samples inside the Materials Science Research Rack for a study exploring semiconductor crystal growth in space.

The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts kept up their schedule of ongoing microgravity research and lab upkeep on Thursday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev packed the ISS Progress 81 resupply ship with trash and discarded gear before more conducting more tests on a 3-D printer monitoring the device for excessive noise. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent all day Thursday servicing life support hardware and electronics gear. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina began her day with a hearing assessment then checked radiation detectors before finally studying future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques on a computer.


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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NASA Astronauts Complete Seat Liner Move

The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.
The Full Moon is pictured behind the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship while the space station was orbiting above southern Brazil.

On Jan. 17, NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada, with assistance from NASA Flight Engineer Nicole Mann, worked inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship collecting tools and readying the spacecraft for a seat liner move. The seat liner move, completed today, Jan. 18, ensures NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio will be able to return to Earth in the unlikely event of an emergency evacuation from the International Space Station. Rubio originally launched to the station with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin aboard the Soyuz MS-22 crew ship on Sept. 21, 2022. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for Prokopyev and Petelin in case of an emergency return to Earth.


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 on Spacewalk Preparations and Science Hardware

Astronaut Josh Cassada conducts research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a space physics study.
Astronaut Josh Cassada conducts research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for a space physics study.

Spacewalk preparations are continuing aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 68 crew ensures the operations of research hardware in microgravity.

Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are scheduled for their first spacewalk together at the end of the week. The astronauts spent a couple of hours on Tuesday morning reviewing procedures they will use to install power upgrades hardware that will ready the orbiting lab for its next roll-out solar array on a future spacewalk.

The duo will set their Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, to battery power at 8:15 a.m. EST on Friday signifying the beginning of their spacewalk. Mann and Wakata are expected to work outside in the vacuum of space for about six-and-a-half hours on the starboard side of the space station’s truss structure.

Mann wrapped up her day removing a small satellite deployer from inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock. Wakata began his day demonstrating simple space physics experiments for children on Earth before finally calibrating components inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio spent Tuesday morning tending to research samples and servicing a variety of science gear. Rubio started the day in the Destiny laboratory module nourishing samples and cleaning hardware for a study exploring ways to heal bone conditions on and off the Earth. Rubio then spent the afternoon inside the Columbus laboratory module connecting communications and networking hardware.

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada watered tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study. Cassada ended his day gathering hardware and setting up Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox for upcoming operations for the bone condition study.

Prokopyev and Petelin spent Tuesday working inside a pair Progress resupply ships on both cargo transfers and air and water tank maintenance. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Anna Kikina worked inside the Zarya module replacing electronics hardware.


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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Spacewalk Preps Continue as Soyuz Seat Move Planned as Precaution

Astronauts Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured inside the space station's Destiny laboratory module.
Astronauts Koichi Wakata and Nicole Mann are pictured inside the space station’s Destiny laboratory module.

Spacewalk preparations continue onboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 68 crew begins it weekend. The orbital residents also worked on space botany and robotics while maintaining orbital lab operations on Friday.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked throughout Friday familiarizing themselves with an upcoming spacewalk. The pair was joined by NASA Flight Engineers Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio for computerized spacewalk training and a conference with specialists on the ground. Two astronauts are scheduled exit the station and mount hardware on the truss structure readying the orbital lab for its next roll-out solar array.

Cassada also continued tending to tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study and worked on cargo transfers inside the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. Rubio inspected emergency hardware than took a computerized robotics test to remain proficient when operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Wakata repaired components on a multipurpose small payload rack in the Kibo laboratory module that supports a wide variety of research and educational activities in space. Mann spent some time tightening screws on the advanced resistive exercise device located in the Tranquility module.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos worked on a variety of maintenance tasks inside the Zvezda service module on Friday. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin transferred cargo from inside the ISS Progress 82 cargo craft and updated the station’s inventory management system. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina set up video equipment to record an exercise session then tested laptop computers inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the International Space Station mission management team polled “go” to move NASA astronaut Frank Rubio’s Soyuz seat liner from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft to Dragon Endurance to provide lifeboat capabilities in the event Rubio would need to return to Earth because of an emergency evacuation from the space station. The seat liner move is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 17, with installation and configuration continuing through most of the day Wednesday, Jan. 18. The change allows for increased crew protection by reducing the heat load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for cosmonauts Prokopyev and Petelin in the event of an emergency return to Earth.

Once the replacement Soyuz MS-23 arrives at the space station on Feb. 22, Rubio’s seat liner will be transferred to the new Soyuz and the seat liners for Prokopyev and Petelin will be moved from MS-22 to MS-23 ahead of their return in the Soyuz.


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 Splits Day on Spacesuits and Space Science

Astronaut Nicole Mann poses with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit, aboard the space station.
Astronaut Nicole Mann poses with an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), also known as a spacesuit, aboard the space station.

The seven Expedition 68 crew members split their day between spacesuits and space science. A spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power system is planned soon as advanced microgravity research is ongoing aboard the orbital lab.

Astronauts Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) partnered together inside the Quest airlock readying a pair of Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), or spacesuits, for an upcoming spacewalk. The pair were joined by NASA Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada checking EMU components and preparing Quest ahead of the next spacewalk to prepare the station for its next roll-out solar array.

Meanwhile, space research is continuously taking place aboard the space station whether the experiments are operated manually by the astronauts, remotely by scientists on Earth, or autonomously with little to no inputs from crew members or payload specialists.

Wakata started his day in the Kibo laboratory module working on video components and cables to support research observation activities. Mann swapped a hard drive and installed new software on a laptop computer providing scientific data and command capabilities for an EXPRESS rack.

Cassada worked on a pair of research facilities on Thursday swapping fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack then watering tomato plants growing inside the Veggie space botany system. Rubio serviced the Confocal space microscope that provides fluorescence imagery of biological samples providing fundamental insights into cellular and tissue characteristics.

Commander Sergey Prokopyev set up Earth observation hardware on Thursday morning before activating a 3-D printer and printing test samples. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin studied the physics of fluids exposed to magnetic and electric fields in microgravity. Flight Engineer Anna Kikina spent her day on electronics maintenance charging equipment and checking cable connections.


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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