More Space Physics and Human Research Aboard Station Today

The Canadarm2 robotic arm is extended near the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship with its prominent cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays.
The Canadarm2 robotic arm is extended near the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship with its prominent cymbal-shaped UltraFlex solar arrays.

The Expedition 64 crew continued this week’s run of space physics and human research aboard the International Space Station today. The orbital trio also spent the day servicing laptop computers and life support systems.

During Wednesday morning, Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA installed material samples inside the Handhold Experiment Platform (HXP) that will soon be exposed to the harsh environment of space. She then placed the Japanese external experiment platform inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock. From there the Japanese robotic arm will grapple the HXP with the samples inside and install it outside Kibo. Scientists observe the materials over time to understand how space radiation and extreme temperatures affect a variety of samples, impacting the design of future spacecraft and advanced materials.

Rubins then moved onto fluid physics during the afternoon, setting up hardware for the Drop Vibration experiment. Engineers may be able to take advantage of the results to design advanced fuel, water, and air systems on spacecraft.

Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos began wrapping up operations for a Russian immune system study. After collecting his saliva samples, he stowed the experiment’s hardware and transferred science data for later analysis. He also participated in a space exercise study to maintain a crew member’s health during long-term missions.

During the morning, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov took part in the same exercise study as his fellow cosmonaut. The veteran cosmonaut then explored ways to improve interactions among international crews and mission control teams. Ryzhikov also upgraded software on a variety of laptop computers and checked airflow sensors throughout orbiting lab’s Russian segment.

Physics, Biology Research Fill Station Schedule

NASA astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins poses for a photograph with a variety of space research gear and science racks behind her.
NASA astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins poses for a photograph with a variety of space research gear and science racks behind her.

Physics and biology research filled the majority of the science schedule aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 64 crew also put on their technician caps and worked hardware, including life support gear and air conditioning systems.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins swapped out sample containers Tuesday morning on an experiment platform that can be placed outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Scientists use experiments installed on the outside of the station to understand how space radiation and extreme temperatures affect a variety of materials. Results may improve the design of future spacecraft and the production of stronger, safer materials on Earth.

Rubins then spent the afternoon working on hardware maintenance servicing life support hardware and science gear. She first swapped batteries and chips inside ammonia measurement kits, then installed a pair of portable science freezers inside the Kibo and U.S. Destiny lab modules.

Immune system studies continued throughout Tuesday in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab. Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov processed their own blood and saliva samples in the morning and evening to understand how spaceflight stresses the immunity of a crew member.

Ryzhikov, the station commander on his second space mission, also refilled freon bottles to maintain the orbiting lab’s air conditioning system. Kud-Sverchkov cleaned ventilation fans and filters before checking radiation readings and smoke detectors.

Crew Studies Life Science Ahead of 20 Years Milestone

NASA astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins points to the International Space Station's "voting booth" where she cast her vote from space this month.
NASA astronaut and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins points to the International Space Station’s “voting booth” where she cast her vote from space this month.

The Expedition 64 trio is nearing its second full week aboard the International Space Station and is beginning the work week with a host of biomedical studies today. The three station crew members will also bring in the 20th year of continuous human habitation of the orbital lab on Nov. 2.

Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov with Commander Sergey Ryzhikov started Monday collecting mass measurements before splitting up for the rest of the day. After waking up, they attached themselves to a device that applies a known force to a crew member and uses the resulting acceleration to calculate an astronaut’s mass in microgravity.

Rubins spent part of the day on lab maintenance tasks replacing water filters and collecting microbe samples from station surfaces for analysis. She then serviced and inspected an array of science hardware including a Japanese external experiment platform, fluid physics research gear and finally the Advanced Plant Habitat.

Ryzhikov then joined Kud-Sverchkov for a variety of studies exploring how their bodies are adapting to microgravity. The Russian duo logged their meals and drinks throughout the day for an investigation that seeks to understand bone loss in space. The pair also worked on an experiment to improve exercise techniques to sustain long-term space exploration missions. Kud-Sverchkov later collected and stowed his saliva samples for a study looking at how the human immune system adapts to microgravity.

On Nov. 2, Rubins with fellow crewmates Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will be part of 20 years of humans continuously orbiting Earth aboard the station. They are the 64th long-term crew to live and work on the orbiting lab. The first crew to board the station was Expedition 1 on Nov. 2, 2000, with Commander William Shepherd of NASA with Roscosmos Flight Engineers Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko.

Back to Work for Expedition 64 Trio

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins works on research hardware inside the Kibo laboratory module.
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins works on research hardware inside the Kibo laboratory module.

It is back to work for three Expedition 64 crewmates today following a day of rest on Thursday. The trio is ramping up space research while continuing the upkeep of the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins began her day replacing batteries in devices that detect smoke and compounds in the station’s atmosphere. She then serviced a variety of research hardware including Spectrum which images proteins in fluorescent light. Rubins then worked on a device that applies a known force to a crew member and uses the resulting acceleration to calculate an astronaut’s mass in microgravity.

Station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov had a light duty day Friday. The two-time resident of the orbiting lab spent some time dusting and cleaning crew quarters before replacing components in the Russian toilet.

First-time space flyer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov inspected Russian hardware today including a food warmer and an onboard control system. The cosmonaut Flight Engineer also configured a pair of laptop computers with assistance from mission specialists on the ground.

Veteran Space Residents Swap Command Today

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (left) will hand over command of the station to Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov (right) today.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (left) will hand over command of the station to Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov (right) today.

Two veteran International Space Station crew members will swap command of the orbiting lab during the traditional Change of Command Ceremony this afternoon.

The six-member space station crew will gather together at 4:15 p.m. EDT when Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA ceremonially hands control of the station to Expedition 64 cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos. Ryzhikov will officially begin his command on Wednesday when Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner undock from the station at 7:32 p.m. inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Meanwhile, science and maintenance activities are moving right along inside the space station. Cassidy and NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins both had time set aside today collecting blood, saliva and urine for stowage and later analysis. Rubins then checked out research hardware and plumbing gear before familiarizing herself with station systems.

Ryzhikov and Vagner spent a couple of hours swabbing surfaces in the Russian segment of the station collecting microbial samples and placing them in petri dishes for incubation and analysis. Vagner also joined Ivanishin to test the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit for its ability counteract some adverse effects of long-duration spaceflight and prepare the duo for the return to Earth’s gravity.

New space flyer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov synchronized cameras with clocks on station laptop computers and worked on Russian plumbing tasks. The cosmonaut also is getting used to living and working in space for the first time.

Space Science Picking Up Before Trio Departs for Earth

Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.
Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.

Science is doubling up on the International Space Station with the addition of three new space residents. However, they will split up on Oct. 21 before four more astronauts launch to join the Expedition 64 crew in November.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second station mission, is stepping into her role as space scientist today while getting up to speed with life on orbit. She wore virtual reality goggles to explore how her sense of perception is adapting to microgravity. Rubins later serviced a biology research device that can produce up to 2g of artificial gravity.

Rubins’ fellow crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will stay with her in space until April. Ryzhikov, on his second stay aboard the orbiting lab, unpacked cargo from the new Soyuz MS-17 crew ship today. First-time space-flyer Kud-Sverchkov checked out Russian science hardware.

Station Commander Chris Cassidy is nearing the end of his stay onboard the station with crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio have been packing cargo and personal items inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that will parachute the crew back to Earth on Oct. 21. Cassidy will hand over command of the station to Ryzhikov on Oct. 20.

All six station residents got together in the middle of the day and reviewed their emergency roles and responsibilities.

Meanwhile, four astronauts are planning to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The company’s first operational crew mission is targeted to launch no sooner than early-to-mid November. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi and stay in space until the Spring.

Cancer, Bone Loss Studies on Station Promote Earth and Space Health

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy unpacks fresh fruit and other food items shipped aboard the Northrop Grumman Cygnus.

Cancer therapy was the main focus of Friday’s research aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 63 crew is also getting ready to return to Earth while still finding time for more science work.

Microgravity research on the station has enabled pharmaceutical innovations with real benefits for patients on Earth. Biology experiments in space also provide insights into how the human body adapts to weightlessness. This helps doctors keep astronauts healthy as NASA plans missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The Onco-Selectors study taking place today inside the space station’s Life Sciences Glovebox, installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module, seeks to develop drugs that could improve the survival rate of cancer patients. Commander Chris Cassidy spent most of Friday mixing and applying a treatment to healthy and cancerous cell samples being observed for the new cancer investigation.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again exploring ways to reverse the loss of bone mass that occurs during a long-term space mission. The Russian duo worked throughout the day setting up hardware and logging meals and drinks to monitor and understand the mechanisms of bone loss caused by weightlessness.

The two cosmonauts are also gearing up for their return to Earth with Cassidy in less than two weeks. They have been gathering station hardware and personal items that will soon be stowed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All three crew members will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz spacecraft ending their 196-day space research mission on Oct. 21.

Crew Missions Ramping Up During Robotics, Biology Research

The Expedition 64 crew poses in front of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft that will launch the trio to the space station on Oct. 14. Credit: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin
The Expedition 64 crew poses in front of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft that will launch the trio to the space station on Oct. 14. Credit: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

The Expedition 63 crew is readying gear and suits today as they prepare to return to Earth in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, Thursday’s research aboard the International Space Station looked at robotics and biology.

Two crews will launch to the station and another one will complete its mission this month. First, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The Expedition 64 trio crew will blast off from Kazakhstan on Oct. 14 to begin a 185-day mission aboard the orbiting lab.

Expedition 64 Commander Chris Cassidy will hand over the station “keys” to Ryzhikov the day before he completes his mission with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The three crew members will enter the Soyuz MS-16, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 21.

Cassidy joined Ivanishin and Vagner during the afternoon and checked for leaks inside the Sokol flight suits they will wear when they depart the station. Ivanishin and Vagner also continued gathering station gear and personal items they will soon pack inside their Soyuz crew ship.

As usual, science experiments are ongoing on the station whether with inputs from the crew or by remote operations from students and scientists on the ground. Robotics is a prime space research subject and Cassidy set up the AstroBee free-flying satellites today that students are learning to program to understand spacecraft maneuvers. The veteran NASA astronaut later installed new hardware on the Life Sciences Glovebox to support prolonged crew operations in the research device.

Ivanishin and Vagner were back on biology studies today exploring ways to prevent the loss of bone mass due to extended missions in space.

Crew Packs for Landing While Studying Space Tech and Biology

The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station's Poisk module.
The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module.

The Expedition 63 trio is packing up and getting ready for its return to Earth as the International Space Station is orbiting slightly lower today. Meanwhile, advanced space science continues full speed ahead aboard the orbiting lab.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA is about to wrap up a 196-day mission in space with Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The Russian duo has begun gathering hardware and other items that will be packed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship for return to Earth. The three-member crew will enter the Soyuz, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 21.

Cassidy spent a busy Wednesday operating a range of science experiments investigating space technology, microbiology and botany. He started the day setting up the Avatar-X camera that seeks to demonstrate remote robotics that may inform the future of telemedicine. Next, he transferred microbe samples, shipped in a Cygnus cargo craft science freezer, that will be observed to learn how to control bacterial growth in space. Finally, Cassidy set up the Spectrum-001 hardware that will enable fluorescent imaging of protein markers and stress signaling in plants grown on the space station.

As the crew counts down to departure, Ivanishin worked on Russian power supply systems and checked radiation measurements. Vagner assisted Cassidy with the Cygnus science freezer work and checked on a pair of Russian studies looking at bone loss and space piloting techniques.

The space station is orbiting slightly lower after the docked Progress 75 spacecraft fired its engines for nearly seven minutes this morning. The “deboost” puts the station in the correct phasing for the  docking on Oct. 14 of the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship carrying the Expedition 64 crew aboard.

New Experiments Installed as U.S. and Russian Crew Ships Near Launch

The tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm which grapples hardware, science experiments and approaching spaceships, is pictured as the station soared over the South Pacific Ocean.
The tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm which grapples hardware, science experiments and approaching spaceships is pictured as the station soared into an orbital sunrise.

Four spaceships are parked at the International Space Station today as two new crews are due to launch by the end of October. In the meantime, the Expedition 63 crew has begun unpacking the nearly four tons of science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware from the newly arrived Cygnus cargo craft.

Commander Chris Cassidy has begun configuring brand new science experiments and research gear delivered on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter. He started removing a variety of time-sensitive investigations from Cygnus’ science freezers on Monday and quickly transferred them into space station research racks. The new experiments will explore cancer treatments, space botany and life support systems among other important subjects benefitting humans living on Earth and in space.

Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again testing a unique suit today designed to offset a common space symptom that sees blood pool toward a crewmember’s upper torso and head. The Lower Body Negative Pressure suit attempts to normalize blood flow to counteract some adverse effects of long-duration spaceflight and prepare the astronauts for the return to Earth’s gravity.

October will be a busy month at the orbiting lab bringing a crew swap and four new Commercial Crew members. First, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov when they lift off Oct. 14 from Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship. The Expedition 64 trio will take a three-hour trip to their new home in space where they will stay until April of next year.

Just one week later, Cassidy will hand control of the station over to Ryzhikov and return to Earth with Ivanishin and Vagner. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft ending a 195-day research mission on the station.

Next, four more astronauts are scheduled to join Expedition 64 just one day after they launch aboard the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon mission from Florida on Oct. 31. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi during the 25-hour ride to the space station. The quartet will stay in space until the Spring.