The International Space Station and Dragon flight control teams are proceeding toward rendezvous and grapple at 6:12 a.m. EST on Monday, Jan. 12.
SpaceX reported all spacecraft systems are ready for the final stages of rendezvous, and space station flight controllers reported the orbiting outpost is ready for the commercial spacecraft’s arrival.
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The Expedition 42 crew is getting ready for a delivery aboard the Dragon commercial cargo craft as well as next month’s departure of Europe’s fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5).
The weather looks favorable for Saturday’s planned launch of Dragon aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:47 a.m. EST. Dragon will arrive at the International Space Station Monday morning carrying more than 5,000 pounds of supplies, payloads and critical research.
Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts worked on readying the ATV-5 resupply craft for it’s undocking from the Zvezda service module and departure Feb. 27. It will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere loaded with trash and discarded gear for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX engineers swapped out a suspect thrust vector control actuator in the second stage of their Falcon 9 rocket that halted Tuesday’ s launch of its Dragon commercial cargo craft. Dragon’s launch atop the Falcon 9 is now set for Saturday at 4:47 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m.
Thursday’s Expedition 42 science highlights included a pair of advanced remote control experiments inside the International Space Station. One experiment is studying the feasibility of controlling robots on the ground from space with a crew member using an advanced joystick that provides haptic feedback. The other uses bowling ball sized satellites, known as SPHERES, programmed by competing teams of high school students to accomplish tasks relevant to future space missions.
Another experiment is researching acoustic methods for locating punctures on the outside of the space station caused by human activity or micrometeoroid impacts. Crew members also studied the plasma environment in the station and photographed the ongoing man-made and natural changes to the Earth’s surface.
The six-member Expedition 42 crew had the day off and relaxed Wednesday for the Russian Christmas holiday. Meanwhile, SpaceX engineers in Florida worked to troubleshoot an issue in the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that halted Tuesday’ s launch of its Dragon commercial cargo craft.
Dragon’s launch atop the Falcon 9 rocket is now set for Saturday at 4:47 a.m. EST with live NASA Television coverage scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m. SpaceX’s fifth cargo mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract will arrive at the International Space Station on Monday culminating in the robotic capture of Dragon around 6 a.m. Live NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m.
Expedition 42 will wait a few more days for a delivery from the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft. Its launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket was aborted Tuesday morning with one minute, 21 seconds left on the countdown clock. SpaceX is evaluating the issue and will determine the next opportunity to launch the company’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The next available opportunity to launch to the station would be Friday, Jan. 9.
Meanwhile, the six member crew stuck to its task list of science benefiting life on Earth and in space as well as advanced maintenance of the orbital laboratory.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti participated in a study observing the aging of skin and tested an X-ray device that measures bone density in space. Flight Engineer Terry Virts opened the Fluids Integrated Rack to prepare samples for the Advanced Colloids Experiment-Microscopy-3 study. Commander Barry Wilmore conducted plumbing and ventilation fan cleaning tasks.
Cosmonaut Elena Serova deployed dosimeters for a radiation detection study and downloaded data collected from an earthquake experiment. Alexander Samokutyaev took photographs and recorded video documenting life on the station before an afternoon of maintenance in the Russian segment. Anton Shkaplerov disinfected the area behind panels in the Zvezda service module.
The first full work week of 2015 for Expedition 42 includes advanced science, high-flying plumbing and preparations for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon. The Dragon commercial craft is due to launch Tuesday at 6:20 a.m. and be captured at the International Space Station about 48 hours later.
Commander Barry Wilmore worked on the European Space Agency experiment Haptics-1 testing the remote control of robots on the ground from orbit using a joystick. He later joined Flight Engineer Terry Virts gathering tools for a trio of spacewalks tentatively planned for February that will ready the station for future commercial crew and cargo vehicles.
Virts started Monday with a periodic fitness evaluation as he and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took turns on an exercise cycle. Virts then moved on to plumbing work replacing a dose pump in the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. Cristoforetti then participated in an educational experiment that explores the possibility of using plants to produce food and oxygen on the station.
In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova studied ways to detect micrometeoroid impacts at the station, worked on maintenance and photographed windows for a contamination inspection.
It’s beginning to look like Christmas on the International Space Station. The stockings are out, the tree is up and the station residents continue advanced space research to benefit life on Earth and in space.
A wide array of research work took place Tuesday with scientists on the ground, working in conjunction with the astronaut lab assistants, exploring different fields.
Behavioral testing was scheduled Tuesday for the Neuromapping study to assess changes in a crew member’s perception, motor control, memory and attention during a six-month space mission. Results will help physicians understand brain structure and function changes in space, how a crew member adapts to returning to Earth and develop effective countermeasures.
Another study is observing why human skin ages at a quicker rate in space than on Earth. The Skin B experiment will provide scientists a model to study the aging of other human organs and help future crew members prepare for long-term missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
The six Expedition 42 crew members started Christmas week with a replanned schedule after SpaceX postponed its Dragon launch until Jan. 6. The crew would have been unloading new science and cargo from Dragon had it arrived Sunday but instead turned its attention to ongoing science and maintenance.
Commander Barry Wilmore worked on the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test experiment that will help scientists design higher quality consumer products that will last longer. Wilmore also joined NASA astronaut Terry Virts for an interview with CBS Morning News and WBAL Radio in Baltimore, Md.
Virts meanwhile continued preparing for the arrival of Dragon as he collected gear to be stowed on the commercial cargo craft for return to Earth. He also packed trash in Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, which will undock in February for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti spent a few minutes Monday talking to Giorgio Napolitano, the president of Italy, who was addressing the nation’s military forces. Later, Samantha collected biological samples for stowage in a science freezer and worked inside the Materials Science Laboratory.
NASA and SpaceX announced Thursday the launch of the Dragon commercial cargo craft is now scheduled for no earlier than Jan. 6. The six-member Expedition 42 crew postponed its Dragon mission preparations and focused on eye exams and station maintenance.
Veteran astronaut Terry Virts, who previously piloted space shuttle Endeavour in 2010, worked on the Sabatier system which produces water on the International Space Station. He also joined Commander Barry Wilmore and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti for a series of eye exams during the morning and afternoon.
Wilmore and Cristoforetti also partnered up for work on the Columbus lab module’s BioLab facility, which allows experiments on microorganisms, cells, tissue cultures, small plants, and small invertebrates.
The three cosmonauts – Alexander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov and Elena Serova – were back at work on more maintenance inside the Zarya cargo module and ongoing Russian science in their segment of the orbital laboratory.
The International Space Station crew has been working on a variety of robotics activities this week. On Wednesday, they tested a humanoid robot and explored how bowling ball-sized satellites, known as SPHERES, can navigate around objects. Crew members trained earlier in the week for the planned Sunday capture of the Dragon spacecraft using the 57.7 foot Canadarm2.
NASA astronaut Terry Virts unpacked Robonaut 2 so that payload controllers from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama could power up its new legs for the first time. Robonaut’s legs, which arrived on a previous SpaceX mission, were installed in August. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti downloaded SPHERES data demonstrating how the small free-floating satellites build 3D maps of objects and interact and navigate using those 3D models.
Cristoforetti also joined Commander Barry Wilmore removing a small satellite deployer, nicknamed CYCLOPS, from Japan’s Kibo lab module for troubleshooting. Afterward, Wilmore conducted a vision test and set up a multipurpose experiment platform in Kibo.
Veteran cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov installed more overlay sheets inside the Zarya cargo module. New cosmonaut Elena Serova conducted a photographic inspection of the interior panels of the Zvezda service module. The trio also worked a wide variety of science including studies of bioelectric cardiac activity and the effects that earthquakes and human activities have on Earth’s ionosphere.