US Cargo Ship Preps to Depart as Crew Studies Bioprinting and Time Perception

Astronauts Luca Parmitano, Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague
Expedition 60 Flight Engineers (clockwise from top) Luca Parmitano, Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague work on life support maintenance inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

A U.S. resupply ship is packed and ready to depart the International Space Station on Tuesday. The Expedition 60 crew is also testing the viability of printing organ-like tissue and exploring the impact of microgravity on time perception today.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch finished loading and closed the hatches to the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman today. Hague will lead the robotics activities and command its release from the Canadarm2 on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. EDT. NASA TV begins its live broadcast of Cygnus’ departure at noon after 109 days at the station.

The crew outfitted Cygnus with the SlingShot Deployer that will eject a series of nanosatellites once the spacecraft reaches a safe distance and a higher altitude from the station. Cygnus will continue orbiting Earth for a few more months of systems tests before it reenters the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery demise.

3-D bioprinting has proven a challenge for scientists on Earth seeking to replicate complex cellular structures. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan is researching today whether the weightless environment of space may support the fabrication of human organs in space. He set up the station’s new BioFabrication Facility to begin test-printing tissues today. An incubator houses the tissue samples to promote cohesive cellular growth over several weeks.

Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency started Monday collecting his blood samples and stowing them in a science freezer for later analysis. Next, he wore virtual reality goggles for an experiment testing his ability to judge the duration of time. Results are collected before, during and after a spaceflight to understand how time perception is affected in space. The impacts could potentially affect space navigation and other mission-oriented tasks.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin tested Russian smoke detectors, conducted a fit check of the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship seats and worked on space biology gear. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov checked out video gear then studied how microgravity affects pain sensation.

3-D Bioprinting, Grip Studies on Station May Benefit Earth and Space Systems

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA
Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA works with the BioFabrication Facility that will soon be tested for its ability to print organ-like tissues.

The Expedition 60 crewmembers are busy conducting new and advanced science experiments today aboard the International Space Station. A U.S. space freighter will begin its secondary mission after it departs the station on Tuesday.

3-D bioprinting in space may become a viable platform in the future for fabricating human organs. NASA astronaut Christina Koch activated the new BioFabrication Facility in the morning testing its ability to print cells.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague is researching the thermophysical properties of ultra-heated materials in microgravity and installed samples into the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. He then fueled up the Bioculture System to support the Cell Science-02 bone healing and tissue regeneration study.

Hague and Koch are also training for next week’s robotic release of the Cygnus space freighter after 109 days in space. Cygnus will depart the station Tuesday and eject a set of CubeSats for space research after it reaches a safe distance from the station. The commercial cargo craft will orbit Earth for a few months of systems tests and nanosatellite deployments before its fiery, but safe atmospheric destruction above the Pacific Ocean.

Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano continued to explore how microgravity affects their ability to grip and manipulate objects. The GRIP study, from the European Space Agency, may inform the design of future spacecraft control devices and interfaces.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov continue configuring the new Progress 73 resupply ship and offloading its new cargo. The duo also took turns servicing Russian science hardware and life support systems.

August Brings More Spaceship Traffic and a Spacewalk

July 31, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
July 31, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter, and Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12 and MS-13 crew ships.

The International Space Station is hosting five spaceships today as August ramps up for more orbital traffic activity. Six Expedition 60 crewmembers are also unloading U.S. and Russian cargo, activating new science experiments and stocking the station’s galley.

Russia’s Progress 73 (73P) cargo craft completed a fast-track delivery mission early Wednesday docking to the Pirs Docking Compartment just three hours and nineteen minutes after launching from Kazakhstan. Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov opened the 73P hatch shortly afterward starting its four-month stay. He and station Commander Alexey Ovchinin then began unloading nearly three tons of new consumables, fuel and supplies.

Two U.S. space freighters occupy the station’s Earth-facing Harmony and Unity module ports. Harmony will open up Tuesday when Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship departs after 109 days in space. The Canadarm2 robotic arm installed the SpaceX Dragon to Unity on Saturday after its arrival and capture beginning a month of cargo operations.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague are tending to mice today shipped aboard Dragon for ongoing biological research. The reusable vehicle will return the mice back to Earth at the end of the month, including other cargo, so scientists can analyze a variety of changes that only occur in microgravity.

Dragon also delivered a new commercial crew vehicle port, the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3), in its unpressurized trunk. Robotics controllers will soon extract the IDA-3 before two spacewalkers install it to Unity’s space-facing port a few days later.

A few days before Dragon departs, Russia will launch an unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 crew ship to the orbiting lab for a test of its upgraded 2.1a Soyuz booster. It will dock to the Poisk module for a two-week stay before parachuting back to Earth in the vast steppe of Kazakhstan.

Russian Progress Cargo Ship Reaches Station in Just Two Orbits

Russia's Progress 73 resupply ship
This image from an external high definition video camera shows Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship nearing its docking port on the space station.

Traveling about 259 miles over northwest China, the unpiloted Russian Progress 73 cargo ship docked at 11:29 a.m. EDT to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex.

In addition to the arrival of Progress today, the six crewmembers aboard the space station welcomed SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft on July 27, two days after launching on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

On July 20, the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft arrived to the space station carrying NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Their arrival restored the station’s crew complement to six. They joined NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.

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 Progress Cargo Craft Racing Toward Space Station

Progress 73 cargo craft launch
Russsia’s Progress 73 cargo craft launches on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 73 cargo spacecraft launched at 8:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. Following a 2-orbit rendezvous, the Russian cargo spacecraft will dock to the orbiting laboratory at 11:35 a.m. NASA Television coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 10:45 a.m.

Progress 73 will remain docked at the station for five months before departing in December for its deorbit in Earth’s atmosphere.

The Progress is the second of two cargo resupply ships delivering supplies to the six crewmembers aboard the space station this month. SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft attached to station on Saturday, July 27, two days after launching on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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

Live Now on NASA TV: Launch Coverage of Russian Resupply Mission

Progress 73 rocket at the launch pad
Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship stands at the launch pad in Kazakhstan surrounded by support gantries during final processing before its liftoff to the space station. Credit: Roscosmos

NASA Television is live for the launch of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 60 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website now!

The Progress 73 spacecraft is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 p.m. Baikonur time).

The Progress will orbit Earth twice then rendezvous with the station, where it will dock to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex. Live coverage of its arrival and docking will begin at 10:45 a.m., with docking scheduled for 11:35 a.m.

The spacecraft will remain at the orbital outpost until mid-December.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 73 online, follow @space_station.

NASA TV Broadcasts Russian Rocket Launching To Resupply Station

Support gantries rise toward the Progress 73 resupply ship
Support gantries rise toward the Progress 73 resupply ship during final processing at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

NASA Television will provide live launch coverage of a Russian Progress cargo spacecraft carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 60 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website on Wednesday beginning at 7:45 a.m. EDT.

The Progress 73 spacecraft is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 p.m. Baikonur time).

The Progress will orbit Earth twice then rendezvous with the station, where it will dock to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex. Live coverage of its arrival and docking will begin at 10:45 a.m., with docking scheduled for 11:35 a.m.

The spacecraft will remain at the orbital outpost until mid-December.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 73 online, follow @space_station.

 New Space Research Kicks Off Ahead of Wednesday Cargo Launch

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are pictured working inside the Unity module which connects the International Space Station’s U.S. segment with the Russian segment.

Microgravity research is ramping up aboard the International Space Station with brand new science payloads and an expanded Expedition 60 crew. July will see one more mission going up to the orbiting lab as a Russian cargo craft counts down to a Wednesday launch and docking.

The Cell Science-02 experiment is underway on the station to explore bone-healing therapies. Astronauts Nick Hague and Luca Parmitano activated the Life Sciences Glovebox this morning to conduct the new bone research. Hague then retrieved bone cell samples to observe healing and tissue regeneration properties to promote human health on Earth and in space.

Parmitano then photographed samples inside the Kubik incubator for the new Biorock space-mining study. Harnessing the power of microbes could help future astronauts extract precious minerals from the surface of the Moon and Mars.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan completed setting up habitats housing mice shipped aboard the SpaceX Dragon space freighter. Scientists are comparing the space rodents to a sample of mice back on Earth to understand biological changes caused by microgravity.

Russia’s Progress 73 (73P) cargo craft is standing at its launch pad in Kazakhstan counting down to a liftoff Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. EDT. It will take a three-and-a-half-hour trip to the station’s Pirs Docking Compartment carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the crew. NASA TV is broadcasting the fast-track launch and docking activities live starting at 7:45 a.m.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov will be monitoring the 73P’s automated approach and rendezvous Wednesday. Today, the veteran station residents split their time between human research, computer maintenance and hardware inspections.

Crew Unloads Dragon as Russian Cargo Ships Depart, Prep for Launch

Russia's Progress 73 cargo craft stands at its launch pad
Russia’s Progress 73 cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan counting down to a Wednesday liftoff.

A new U.S. space freighter is open for business today after delivering its payload to the International Space Station on Saturday. Meanwhile, a Russian resupply rocket is processing for another space delivery mission on Wednesday that will take less than three and a half hours after launch.

NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague opened Dragon’s hatch early Sunday beginning a month of cargo operations. His fellow crewmates Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are unloading critical research samples and stowing them inside the station’s science freezers and incubators for analysis.

The new experiments will be exploring microgravity’s effect on a variety of biological and physical processes benefitting humans on Earth and in space. The crew will be researching 3-D bio-printing, silica manufacturing, botany and tissue regeneration and a host of other space phenomena.

Robotics controllers will remove the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3), a new commercial crew ship docking port, from Dragon’s unpressurized trunk in mid-August. A pair of spacewalkers will install the IDA-3 on the Harmony module’s space-facing Pressurized Mating Adapter a few days later.

Russia’s Pirs Docking Compartment port opened up today at 6:44 a.m. EDT when the Progress 72 (72P) cargo craft undocked completing a four-month stay at the orbiting lab. It will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere loaded with trash and discarded gear for a fiery, but safe disposal over the Pacific Ocean.

The new Progress 73 cargo ship will replace 72P after it launches Wednesday at 8:10 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It will dock to Pirs that same morning at 11:35 a.m. after just two Earth orbits packed with more food, fuel and supplies for the crew.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov are training today on the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit (TORU) for Wednesday’s arrival of the 73P. The duo will be in the Zvezda service module at the controls of the TORU monitoring the 73P’s approach ready to take over manual docking operations in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Dragon Captured With New Science Experiments

The SpaceX Dragon is in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm
The SpaceX Dragon is in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm shortly after it was captured over southern Chile.

While the International Space Station was traveling more than 260 miles over southern Chile, astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA grappled Dragon at 9:11 a.m. EDT using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

The Dragon lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Thursday, July 25 with more than 5,000 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the research arriving at station:

Bio-Mining in Microgravity

The Biorock investigation will provide insight into the physical interactions of liquid, rocks and microorganisms under microgravity conditions and improve the efficiency and understanding of mining materials in space. Bio-mining eventually could help explorers on the Moon or Mars acquire needed materials, lessening the need to use precious resources from Earth and reducing the amount of supplies that explorers must take with them.

Printing Biological Tissues in Space

Using 3D biological printers to produce usable human organs has long been a dream of scientists and doctors around the globe. However, printing the tiny, complex structures found inside human organs, such as capillary structures, has proven difficult to accomplish in Earth’s gravity. To overcome this challenge, Techshot designed their BioFabrication Facility to print organ-like tissues in microgravity – a stepping stone in a long-term plan to manufacture whole human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.

Improving Tire Manufacturing from Orbit

The Goodyear Tire investigation will use microgravity to push the limits of silica fillers for tire applications. A better understanding of silica morphology and the relationship between silica structure and its properties could improve the silica design process, silica rubber formulation and tire manufacturing and performance. Such improvements could include increased fuel efficiency, which would reduce transportation costs and help to protect Earth’s environment.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.