International Space Station Status

Expedition 56 Crew Members
International Space Station Status
6 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 30. 2018

About 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, International Space Station flight controllers in Houston and Moscow began seeing signs of a minute pressure leak in the complex.

As flight controllers monitored their data, the decision was made to allow the Expedition 56 crew to sleep since they were in no danger. When the crew was awakened at its normal hour this morning, flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow began working procedures to try to determine the location of the leak.

The six crew members, station Commander Drew Feustel, Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, gathered in the Russian segment of the station and, after extensive checks, reported that the leak appears to be on the Russian side of the orbital outpost.

Program officials and flight controllers are continuing to monitor the situation as the crew works through its troubleshooting procedures.

Orbital Residents Supporting Human Research and Life Support Maintenance

Expedition 56/57 crew members
Expedition 56/57 crew members (clockwise from top) Alexander Gerst, Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev pose for a portrait inside the Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module (BEAM).

The six residents aboard the International Space Station today continued exploring how living in space impacts their bodies. The Expedition 56 crew also worked on science hardware and life support gear to ensure the orbital complex is in tip-top shape.

Three astronauts helped doctors understand what is happening to their eyes in the weightless environment of microgravity. One crew member has also worked all week on a pair of European experiments researching what happens during exercise and cognition on long-term missions in space.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor joined ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst for more regularly scheduled eye checks today. Arnold led the morning’s retina scans using optical coherence tomography on the other two crewmates. Later in the afternoon, Auñón-Chancellor and Gerst swapped medical roles and peered into each other’s eyes looking out the optic disc and macula with a fundoscope.

Gerst continued working out today in a custom t-shirt in a specialized fabric testing its comfort and thermal relief for the SpaceTex-2 study. He then moved on to the GRIP study exploring how microgravity impacts an astronaut’s cognition when working with tools and interfaces aboard spacecraft.

Commander Drew Feustel worked on the Materials Science Research Rack today replacing gear inside the refrigerator-sized device that can heat research samples to a temperature of 2500° F. Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev spent the afternoon checking the Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal device for leaks in the Russian segment of the station.

Station Gears Up for Japan Cargo Mission and US Spacewalks

NASA astronaut Drew Feustel
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel is pictured June 14, 2018, during a spacewalk to install high-definition cameras to provide enhanced views of SpaceX and Boeing commercial crew spacecraft approaching the International Space Station.

September is scheduled to be a busy month for the Expedition 56 crew aboard the International Space Station. Japan is preparing to launch its seventh resupply mission and three astronauts are gearing up for two spacewalks next month.

Today, a pair of astronauts familiarized themselves with the robotics maneuvers they will use when they capture Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) on Sept. 14. The HTV-7, also called the Kounotori, will launch Sept. 10 from the Tanegashima Space Center loaded with crew supplies, new science hardware and critical spacewalk gear.

Commander Drew Feustel will be supported by Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor inside the Cupola as he controls the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple the HTV-7. Robotics controllers on the ground will then take over and install Kounotori on the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port. NASA TV will broadcast live all of Kounotori’s launch, rendezvous and capture activities.

A pair of spacewalks will take place soon after the Kounotori arrives when robotics controllers begin removing new batteries from the Japanese resupply ship. The six lithium-ion batteries, replacing 12 older nickel-hydrogen batteries, will be installed on the space station’s Port 4 truss structure power channels during the two spacewalks on Sept 20 and 26.

Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst will participate in both spacewalks. Commander Drew Feustel will join him on the first spacewalk. Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold will go out on the second spacewalk. Gerst and Feustel began inspecting and resizing their U.S. spacesuits this morning. Feustel then moved on checking spacesuit gloves and helmets before finally collecting spacewalk tools.

Crew Week Starts With Biomedical Studies and Human Research

Expedition 56 Crew Members
The entire six-member Expedition 56 crew gathers in the Cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world,” for a team portrait. In the front row, from left, are NASA astronauts Serena Auñon-Chancellor, Commander Drew Fuestel and Ricky Arnold. Behind them, from left, are Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Artemyev. At the top of the group is astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency).

The Expedition 56 crew members started off the work week with biomedical studies and human research to understand how living in space impacts their bodies. The crew conducted eye and vision tests, tried on a specialized exercise t-shirt and researched gene expression and protein crystals.

Five of the six International Space Station residents participated in a series of regularly scheduled eye exams and vision checks today. Each crew member covered an eye and read a standard eye chart to test their visual acuity. Next, Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Commander Drew Feustel scanned their eyes with an ultrasound device to look at the optical nerve and retina. Finally, Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Alexander Gerst used a Tonometer to measure eye pressure.

Arnold started his morning extracting RNA to help researchers decipher the changes in gene expression that take place in microgravity. Feustel photographed protein crystal samples with a microscope to help doctors develop more effective disease-treating drugs on Earth.

Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) worked out today in a custom SpaceTex-2 t-shirt for an exercise study testing its comfort and thermal relief while working out in space. He then moved on to the GRIP study exploring how an astronaut’s cognitive ability adapts when gripping and manipulating objects in space.

Astronauts Busy With Exercise Study, Satellite and Astronomy Work

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel
Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel is inside the Harmony module working on the Protein Crystal Growth-13 experiment which is seeking to fine-tune the research process in space and help public and private organizations deliver results and benefits sooner..

Ongoing exercise research and gym maintenance took place aboard the International Space Station to ensure astronaut health and mission success. The Expedition 56 crew members also worked on autonomous satellite operations and botany and astronomy gear.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst has been participating in an exercise study all week developed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). He has been working out in a custom t-shirt with a specialized fabric for the SpaceTex-2 experiment that may improve an astronaut’s comfort and thermal relief while working out in space.

A treadmill is getting its twice-yearly checkup today in the Tranquility module. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA spent Friday morning checking the treadmill’s belt tension, greasing axles and replacing parts. Engineers on the ground will review its condition before the crew gets back on the treadmill for daily runs.

Commander Drew Feustel set up a pair of tiny internal satellites today, known as SPHERES, and tested the autonomous operation of the free-floating devices.  The SmoothNav experiment is researching using algorithms that spacecraft may use to operate and communicate with each other when conducting space-based tasks.

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold worked on botany and astronomy gear inside the orbital lab. The former teacher reinstalled the Plant Habitat during the morning after some maintenance work on the Japan Kibo lab module’s EXPRESS rack.

In the afternoon, Arnold switched to the METEOR experiment installing new computer software and positioning a camera in the U.S. Destiny lab module’s Window Observational Research Facility. METEOR observes and takes spectral measurements of the chemical composition of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere.

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.

Global Science, Cargo and Spacewalk Duties Take Place on Station Today

Four Expedition 56 crew members gather inside the Cupola
Four Expedition 56 crew members gather inside the Cupola and share a fun portrait while gazing at the Earth below. From left are Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Ricky Arnold.

A pair of German experiments took place aboard the International Space Station today including a space exercise study and the installation of an Earth spectral sensor. The Expedition 56 crew members are also looking ahead to Wednesday’s Russian cargo ship departure and a pair of U.S. spacewalks in September.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) exercised today in a t-shirt designed with a specialized fabric for the SpaceTex-2 study. The research, sponsored by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), is evaluating whether the custom t-shirt provides comfort, efficient thermal control and sweat evaporation during a workout in microgravity.

Commander Drew Feustel worked on another DLR experiment that will provide hyperspectral imagery of the Earth. Feustel is readying the German-built Earth spectrometer for its installation outside of the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. It will monitor urban and agricultural development, the health of vegetation and water areas as well as the environmental effects of natural and manmade disasters.

Russia’s Progress 69 (69P) cargo craft loaded with trash is poised for its undocking Wednesday at 10:16 p.m. EDT from the aft port of the Zvezda service module. The 69P will orbit the Earth for seven more days of engineering tests before it deorbits over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe disposal.

Two U.S. spacewalks are planned for Sept. 20 and 26 to replace batteries on the space station’s Port 4 truss structure power channels. Gerst will join Feustel on the first spacewalk then go out again on the second spacewalk with NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold. The batteries are targeted for delivery on Sept. 14 aboard Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV resupply ship.

Robot Science, Spacewalk Preps Ahead of Japanese Cargo Mission

Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev
Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev lays cable for the installation of the Icarus animal-tracking experiment on the Zvezda service module during a spacewalk that lasted seven hours and 46 minutes.

The Expedition 56 crew members explored using algorithms to remotely control a robot on the ground and satellites from the International Space Station today. The orbital residents are also cleaning up after a Russian spacewalk while preparing for a pair of upcoming U.S. spacewalks and a Japanese cargo mission.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency is testing the ability to control a robot on a planetary surface from an orbiting spacecraft. The study seeks to bolster the success and safety of future space missions with astronauts and robots sharing decision-making responsibilities.

Commander Drew Feustel joined Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold in the Japanese Kibo lab module monitoring a pair of tiny internal satellites, also known as SPHERES. They are evaluating an algorithm that controls the operation of the SPHERES in formation using six degrees of freedom.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev are cleaning up after Wednesday’s spacewalk enabling new science outside of the space station. The two dried out their Russian Orlan spacesuits and water feed lines then began stowing spacewalk tools and gear.

At the end of the day, Gerst started charging U.S. spacesuit batteries ahead of two maintenance spacewalks planned for Sept. 20 and 26. Gerst and fellow spacewalkers Feustel and Arnold will replace batteries on the Port 4 truss structure’s power channels. The Japanese “Kounotori” HTV-7 cargo ship is targeted to deliver the new batteries ahead of the two spacewalks on Sept. 14.


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