Health Checks, Science as Spacewalk Season Kicks Off on Station

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan conducts a spacewalk
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan conducts a spacewalk on Oct. 6, 2019, to begin the latest round of upgrading the station’s large nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries.

Two NASA spacewalkers are conducting routine post-spacewalk activities today after a 7 hour, 1 minute spacewalk Sunday prior to another excursion outside the International Space Station this Friday.

Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan underwent a routine series of post-spacewalk health checks today with Commander Luca Parmitano assisting the astronauts.

Koch and Morgan will venture outside in their U.S. spacesuits again Friday for more battery replacement work on the P-6 truss structure. This time Morgan will lead the duo during the 6.5-hour spacewalk that will start at 7:50 a.m. EDT. NASA TV coverage begins at 6:30 a.m.

Parmitano and NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir joined the spacewalking duo during the afternoon to review the results and lessons learned from Sunday’s excursion. They will be back in the Quest airlock on Friday to help Morgan and Koch in and out of their spacesuits.

Three more spacewalks are planned before the month is out to complete the power upgrade work. The dates and astronauts for the upcoming spacewalks are…

  • Oct. 16: Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir
  • Oct. 21: Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
  • Oct. 25: Jessica Meir and Luca Parmitano

On the Russian side of the station, cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka, who are scheduled to conduct their own spacewalk Oct. 31, continued the upkeep of life support systems while conducting microgravity research.

Skvortsov, who has been on the station since July, explored how enzymes in the human body are impacted by weightlessness. Skripochka researched how ultraviolet waves affect Earth’s atmosphere.

First of Five Power Upgrade Spacewalks This Month Wraps Up

Astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan
Astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are pictured in their U.S. spacesuits during another spacewalk earlier this year.

Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:40 p.m. EDT. During the seven-hour and one minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts began the replacement of nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries on the far end of the station’s port truss.

Astronauts also were able to accomplish get-ahead tasks, including the removal of an additional nickel-hydrogen battery, originally scheduled for the second spacewalk.

These new batteries provide an improved power capacity for operations with a lighter mass and a smaller volume than the nickel-hydrogen batteries. On Oct. 11, Morgan and Koch are scheduled to venture outside again for another spacewalk to continue the battery replacements on the first of the two power channels for the station’s far port truss. The next spacewalks dedicated to the battery upgrades are scheduled on Oct. 16, 21 and 25.

After completion of the battery spacewalks, the second half of this sequence of spacewalks will focus on repairs to the space station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Dates for those spacewalks still are being discussed, but they are expected to begin in November.

Space station crew members have conducted 219 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 57 days 6 hours and 27 minutes working outside the station.

Keep up with the crew aboard the International Space Station on the agency’s blog, follow @ISS on Instagram, and @space_station on Twitter.

NASA Astronauts Kick Off First of Five Spacewalks for Power Upgrades

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are today’s spacewalkers.

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:39 a.m. EDT. Expedition 61 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan  of NASA are kicking off the first in a series of five spacewalks dedicated to replacing batteries on the far end of the station’s port truss.

The existing nickel-hydrogen batteries will be upgraded with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries transported to the station aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, which arrived Saturday, Sept. 28. Koch is designated extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes, and with the helmet camera labeled #11. Morgan is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes, and with helmet camera #18.

The batteries store power generated by the station’s solar arrays to provide power to the station when the station is not in the sunlight, as it orbits the Earth during orbital night.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates online. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.

Station Focuses on Busy Spacewalk Period After Trio Returns Home

The official Expedition 61 crew portrait
The official Expedition 61 crew portrait with (from left) NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, astronaut Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency), Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, and NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch.

The six-member Expedition 61 crew officially began Thursday morning after the departure of two Expedition 60 crewmates and a visiting astronaut. The current residents aboard the International Space Station now turn their attention to a series of spacewalks that begins Sunday.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague is returning to Houston after completing a 203-day mission aboard the orbiting lab with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The duo parachuted to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and landed in Kazakhstan early Thursday with visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates. Ovchinin and Almansoori both returned to Star City, Russia.

Two NASA astronauts will exit the station’s Quest airlock in their U.S. spacesuits on Sunday at 7:50 a.m. EDT for a six-and-half hour spacewalk. Veteran spacewalkers Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan will begin the work to install new lithium-ion batteries on the Port-6 truss structure. This will be the first of five spacewalks in October to upgrade station power systems. Televised spacewalk coverage begins Sunday at 6:30 a.m.

Watch the spacewalk preview briefing that was broadcast Friday on NASA TV.

Upcoming spacewalk assignments:

Five more spacewalks are planned in November and December aimed at repairing the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Touchdown! Three Multinational Crewmates Return to Earth

NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from the International Space Station Thursday, alongside station commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The crew landed safely in Kazakhstan at 6:59 a.m. EDT (4:59 p.m. local time).

 Hague and Ovchinin launched on March 14, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch, and arrived at the space station just six hours later to begin their 203-day mission, during which they orbited Earth 3,248 times, traveling 86.1 million miles. Koch remains aboard the orbiting laboratory for an extended mission that will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman in preparation for human missions to the Moon and Mars.

For Almansoori this landing completed an eight-day stay on board the station that covered 128 orbits of Earth and 3.1 million miles since launching Sept. 25 with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos. Almansoori made history as he became the first person from the UAE to fly in space his mission as the first astronaut from the UAE.

After post-landing medical checks, Hague will return to Houston, and Ovchinin and Almansoori will return to Star City, Russia.

 The Expedition 60 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into devices that mimic the structure and function of human organs, free-flying robots, and an instrument to measure Earth’s distribution of carbon dioxide.

Hague conducted three spacewalks during his mission, totaling 19 hours and 56 minutes. Ovchinin conducted one spacewalk lasting 6 hours and 1 minute during his mission.

Hague’s first two spacewalks in March continued the overall upgrade of the station’s power system with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. During his third spacewalk, he and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan successfully installed the second of two international docking adapters that Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft will use to connect to the space station.

Hague completes his second flight in space totaling 203 days, while Ovchinin has now spent 375 days in space during three flights. Hague and Ovchinin flew together on an abbreviated mission in October 2018, cut short by a technical problem that triggered an ascent abort minutes after launch and a safe landing back on 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.

Multinational Trio Undocks from Station, Heads Home to Earth

The Soyuz MS-12 crew ship with three crewmembers inside
The Soyuz MS-12 crew ship with three multinational crewmembers inside is pictured before undocking from the station’s Rassvet module. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying three people back to Earth from space undocked as scheduled from the International Space Station at 3:37 a.m. EDT.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Nick Hague, Expedition 60 and Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates are expected to land in their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan on the Kazakhstan steppe about 7 a.m.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 61 began aboard the space station under the command of ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano. The crew consisting of NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan as well as cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos will continue work aboard the orbiting laboratory on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

NASA will resume coverage of Hague, Ovchinin and Almansoori’s landing back on Earth on TV and online at 5:30 a.m., with the deorbit burn scheduled at 6:06 a.m.

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.

Homebound Crew Boards Soyuz Crew Ship, Closes Hatch

The homecoming crew waves farewell
The homecoming crew waves farewell before boarding their Soyuz MS-12 crew ship. From left are, NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emriates.

At 12:20 a.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking scheduled for 3:37 a.m.

Two members of Expedition 60 – NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer Nick Hague and Expedition 60 and Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos – and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates are expected to land back on Earth at 7 a.m.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 3 a.m.

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.

Station Swaps Commanders Before Crew Departure and Spacewalks

The nine International Space Station residents pose for a portrait
The nine International Space Station residents pose for a portrait inside the Zvezda service module. At the bottom row from left are, station cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, astronauts Luca Parmitano and Nick Hague, visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, astronaut Jessica Meir and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka. At the top are, astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan with cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.

Two Expedition 60 crewmates and a visiting astronaut are returning to Earth on Thursday. The orbiting Expedition 61 residents staying on the International Space Station will then turn their attention to a series of spacewalks set to begin this weekend.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin handed over control of the orbiting complex today to astronaut Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) during the change of command ceremony. The Expedition 61 mission will officially begin when the three Expedition 60 crewmates depart the station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague is returning to Earth with Ovchinin and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates. The trio will board the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and undock from the station’s Rassvet module on Thursday at 3:36 a.m. EDT. They will parachute to landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Kazakh time).

There was still time for research today as NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan took turns with Parmitano exploring cognition and motion in space. Morgan also installed the Small Optical Communication System, or SOLISS, that is testing the real-time downlink of large amounts of data from the station.

The first of five spacewalks to upgrade power systems on the orbital complex starts Sunday at 7:50 a.m. NASA astronaut Christina Koch will join Morgan and exit the station’s Quest airlock in their U.S. spacesuits to begin installing new lithium-ion batteries on the Port-6 truss structure. The duo will work outside in the vacuum of space for about six hours and 30 minutes.

Station Gears Up for Spacewalks as Christina Koch Hits 200 Days

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA
Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA works on a U.S. spacesuit in the Quest airlock where U.S. spacewalks are staged aboard the International Space Station.

The International Space Station is gearing up for a record pace of spacewalks this year. The Expedition 61 spacewalkers will upgrade the orbiting lab’s power systems and repair a cosmic particles detector. NASA TV will preview the upcoming spacewalks during a live briefing on Friday at 2 p.m. EDT.

The first spacewalk is set for Sunday, Oct. 6, with NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan. The duo will begin installing new lithium-ion batteries delivered last week aboard Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft. There will be four more spacewalks in October to continue the activation of the new batteries on the station’s Port-6 truss structure.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits as well as guide them during their spacewalk. He and Flight Engineer Jessica Meir joined Koch and Morgan on Tuesday for a procedures review and conference with specialists on the ground.

Another set of spacewalks will see the installation of an upgraded thermal control system on the Alpha-Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) that has been in service since May 2011. The automobile-sized astrophysics device, attached to the Starboard-3 truss structure, is seeking evidence of antimatter and dark matter. The AMS uses a magnetic field to detect and identify the sign of electrically charged cosmic ray particles.

Koch has reached the 200-day milestone today in her extended mission aboard the space station. She will stay in space for more than 300 days and set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, eclipsing the record of 289 days set by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17.

Crew Departure Preps, Biochemistry Research Start Workweek

Four Expedition 60 crewmembers and a spaceflight participant
Four Expedition 60 crewmembers and a spaceflight participant gather inside the Unity module for a meal. Pictured from left are, astronauts Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Christina Koch of NASA, spaceflight participant and United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori and NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague.

The nine-member crew aboard the International Space Station will split up Thursday and see three humans return to Earth. Meanwhile, there is still a multitude of space research to conduct as well as a new Japanese space freighter to unload.

Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague are in their final week aboard the orbiting lab. The homebound residents are packing up their Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and handing over their duties to the crewmates staying in space.

They will undock Thursday from the Rassvet module at 3:36 a.m. EDT along with spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Kazakhstan time). All three returning crewmates reviewed their undocking and landing procedures today.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan took turns today exploring how astronauts grip and manipulate objects in microgravity. Observations may inform the design of intelligent, haptic interfaces for future crews on deep space missions.

Morgan then explored increasing the purity of protein crystals in space to improve pharmaceutical and biochemistry research. Veteran cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov conducted his own biochemistry research in the Russian segment of the space lab studying how the microgravity environment impacts enzymes in the human body.

New Expedition 61 crewmates Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos continue settling in for their 189-day mission inside the orbiting lab. Meir reviewed Canadarm2 robotics procedures today to support upcoming spacewalks. She wrapped up the day observing protein crystals to support cancer research. Skripochka tested a specialized suit that counteracts the headward flow of fluids in astronauts due to microgravity. He finally checked out the Magnetic 3D Printer that explores the benefits of printing organic tissue in space.

Japan’s eighth station resupply ship, also known as the Kounotori, is open for business and Parmitano and NASA astronaut Christina Koch are unloading its cargo and new science hardware today. Kounotori is due for a month-long stay attached to the Harmony module for internal and external cargo operations. Ground controllers will be commanding the Canadarm2 to remove new lithium-ion batteries delivered on Kounotori’s external pallets. The robotics work will be setting up a series of power upgrade spacewalks planned for October.