Biology and Physics on Station Today Promote Moon Mission Success in 2024

A moonrise from 2016
A moonrise from 2016 is photographed from the space station with the Earth’s limb, the atmospheric glow and the aurora below.

The six residents aboard the International Space Station kicked off the workweek today exploring microgravity’s long-term impacts on biology and physics. The Expedition 59 crew is also ramping up for a fourth spacewalk at the orbital lab this year.

NASA is planning to send men and women to the Moon in 2024 and life science on the station will help flight surgeons keep lunar astronauts healthy. The space physics research will also provide critical insights to engineers designing future spacecraft and habitats for exploration missions.

Several dozen mice and their immune systems, which are similar to humans, are being continuously observed in specialized habitats. Flight Engineer Anne McClain tended to the mice today cleaning cages and restocking food in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Doctors are testing the hypothesis the immune response decreases in space and exploring advanced vaccines and therapies benefiting both astronauts and Earthlings.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague also researched a variety of space biological phenomena. Koch wrapped up a pathogen study today seeking to understand why virulence increases in microgravity. Hague cleaned up Veggie Ponds botany hardware in Europe’s Columbus laboratory module where small crops of edible plants are grown. He then photographed protein crystal samples in the afternoon for a student-designed investigation as Koch assisted him.

David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency recorded a video demonstrating Isaac Newton’s Second and Third Laws. The video will help young students understand how force and acceleration influence air and space missions. He also transferred data captured from tiny internal satellites exploring space debris cleanup technology.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin are getting ready for a spacewalk planned for May 29. The cosmonauts are resizing their spacesuits, inspecting the components and checking for leaks today. The duo will remove experiments, sample station surfaces and jettison obsolete hardware during their six-hour excursion.

Multitude of Space Biology Research as Crew Looks to Next Spacewalk

The Canadarm2 robotic arm with its robotic hand also known as Dextre
The Canadarm2 robotic arm with its robotic hand, also known as Dextre, attached for fine-tuned robotics work extends across the frame as the International Space Station orbited 256 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured at right berthed to the Harmony module.

Four Expedition 59 astronauts spent Friday investigating a multitude of space biology phenomena while two cosmonauts continued preparing for an upcoming spacewalk. International Space Station hardware is also ready for return to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

The crew is exploring how space impacts a variety of microscopic physiological processes today to get humans ready to go to the Moon in 2024. DNA, pathogens and microalgae as well as their benefits and risks to astronauts are just some of the microbiological systems scientists are studying in space.

The Bio-Analyzer is a new device from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) being tested aboard the space station for its ability to process and analyze biological samples quickly. CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques added his blood samples to the biomedical device today so doctors could check his biomarkers from the ground.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch studied a pair of yeast strains today using the miniPCR hardware for the Genes In Space-6 study. The experiment is exploring how space radiation damages DNA and how the cell repair mechanism works in microgravity. Koch later tended to plants grown inside the Veggie PONDS botany facility.

More research into why pathogens become more virulent in space continued today as Flight Engineer Nick Hague processed culture samples for the microbiology study. Hague also checked on microalgae sample packs that may serve as a dietary supplement for future astronauts.

Hague also configured a variety of space biology hardware, both large and small, ensuring critical research operations continue successfully on the orbital lab. He first worked on a pair of refrigerator-sized Human Research Facility racks before checking out the shoebox-sized TangoLab-1 facility that enables a variety of tissue, cell and botany investigations.

Anne McClain of NASA turned her attention Friday to old hardware disconnected during a spacewalk earlier this year. She will retrieve a failed Battery Charge Discharge Unit (BCDU) resting outside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock and bring it inside the station. The Canadarm2’s robotic hand, known as Dextre, removed the BCDU early Thursday from a truss structure logistics carrier and placed it outside Kibo. The BCDU will be packed aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for analysis after it returns to Earth June 3.

Two cosmonauts are getting ready for the fourth station spacewalk this year scheduled to take place May 29. Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin tagged up with Russian spacewalk specialists on the ground today for assistance setting up their Orlan spacesuits. The duo will remove experiments, sample station surfaces and jettison obsolete hardware during their six-hour excursion.

Immunology Research for Crew Health and Computer Spacewalk Training Today

NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducts research operations
NASA astronaut Nick Hague conducts research operations in the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox exploring why pathogens become more virulent in outer space.

Critical life science continues apace aboard the International Space Station today helping NASA support human missions to the Moon and beyond. The Expedition 59 crew is also gearing up for another maintenance spacewalk at the end of May.

Two NASA astronauts and one Canadian Space Agency astronaut kept up their busy science schedule today with more immunology research in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The three flight engineers, Christina Koch, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques, have been observing how the rodent immune system, which are similar to that in humans, respond to microgravity. Doctors plan to use the results to help keep astronauts healthier in space and treat people on the ground with Earth-bound ailments.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague continued his weeklong research to understand why pathogens become more virulent in the weightless environment of outer space. Doctors want to boost an astronaut’s space-exposed immune system to prevent further impacts by opportunistic pathogens. Hague also swapped protein crystal samples in a specialized microscope for a biophysics experiment exploring cancer treatment and radiation protection.

Two cosmonauts are preparing for the next spacewalk at the orbital lab scheduled for May 29. Commander Oleg Kononenko joined Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin for a computer training session today reviewing their spacewalk activities and worksites on the Russian side of the orbital lab. The duo will spend about six hours removing experiments, sampling station surfaces and jettisoning obsolete hardware.

Immune System and Microbiology Studies as Spacewalk Preps Gear Up

Russian spacewalker Oleg Kononenko
Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko inspects the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft during a spacewalk on Dec. 11, 2018.

The Expedition 59 crew spent the day exploring what happens to the immune system when exposed to the microgravity environment. The space residents are also gearing up for another spacewalk at the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain were back inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module today studying how a rodent’s immune system changes in space. Canadian Space Agency David Saint-Jacques partnered up with the duo during the research activities throughout Wednesday. The Rodent Research-12 study is helping doctors understand how weightlessness changes an astronaut’s immune system, which is similar to mice.

Flight Engineer Nick Hague worked solo during the morning exploring the benefits and risks of microorganisms living in a spacecraft. Hague first photographed samples of microalgae that may supplement the diet of future astronauts going to the Moon and beyond. Next, the NASA astronaut continued investigating why pathogens become more virulent in space posing a flight risk to astronauts.

Hague also joined Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin during the afternoon helping the cosmonauts with spacewalk preparations. The trio gathered and inspected tethers, tools and a variety of other gear in advance of the Russian spacewalk planned for May 29. The cosmonauts are scheduled to work outside the station’s Russian segment for six hours collecting experiments, cleaning windows and sampling module surfaces.

Microbiology Research and Spacewalk Preps on Orbit Today

NASA astronaut Nick Hague
NASA astronaut Nick Hague works with the miniPCR hardware for the Genes In Space-6 experiment that is exploring how space radiation damages DNA and the how cell repair mechanism works in microgravity.

The Expedition 59 astronauts are moving full speed ahead today with continuous space biology research. Two cosmonauts are also pressing forward with plans to conduct the fourth spacewalk this year at the International Space Station.

NASA Flight Engineers Anne McClain and Christina Koch joined fellow astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency checking on mice throughout the day Tuesday. Scientists are monitoring the rodents’ immune systems, which are similar to humans, for changes that take place due to microgravity.

Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Nick Hague also explored how weightlessness affects different microbiological phenomena. Hague inoculated culture bags inside the Life Sciences Glovebox for research operations to understand why pathogens become more virulent in space. Saint-Jacques checked DNA samples for the Genes In Space-6 experiment that explores how space radiation damages DNA and how the cell repair mechanism works.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin are both collecting spacesuit parts and tools, as they get ready for a spacewalk planned for May 29. The duo will spend about six hours outside the station’s Russian segment collecting experiments, cleaning windows and sampling module surfaces. This will be Kononenko’s fifth spacewalk and Ovchinin’s first.

Robotics and Space Biology Today as Cosmonauts Look to Next Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Anne McClain checks out new Astrobee hardware
NASA astronaut Anne McClain works inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module checking out the new Astrobee hardware. The cube-shaped, free-flying robotic assistant could save the crew time performing routine maintenance duties and providing additional lab monitoring capabilities.

A pair of robotic arms from Canada and Japan continued swapping experiment hardware on the International Space Station over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Expedition 59 crew started the week exploring robotics and biology today while a pair of cosmonauts look to the next spacewalk.

The 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm started removing a pair of external investigations last week from the SpaceX Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. The remotely controlled Canadarm2 first grabbed the new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) then handed it off to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) robotic arm for installation on the Kibo lab module’s external pallet.

The Canadarm2 next removed the Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6) experiment from Dragon and installed it on the station’s truss structure. STP-H6 provides a platform for studying space physics to improve spacecraft navigation and communication techniques. The Canadian robotic arm then removed the completed SCAN radio communications study from the truss and placed it inside Dragon’s trunk.

JAXA’s robotic arm also retrieved the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) experiment from the station and handed it off to the Canadarm2 for installation inside Dragon’s trunk. CATS successfully began demonstrating atmospheric monitoring after its delivery aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo craft in January 2015. CATS and SCAN will now burn up in the atmosphere when Dragon’s trunk separates from the resupply ship before it returns to Earth at the end of May.

Back inside the orbital lab today, NASA astronaut Anne McClain calibrated the Astrobee and mapped the Kibo lab module with the free-flying robotic assistant. Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch continued exploring how space changes the immune system, pathogens and kidney cells.

Two cosmonauts, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin, are planning for the fourth spacewalk at the station this year on May 29. The duo is timelined for about six hours of experiment retrieval work, window cleaning and sample collecting on the station’s Russian segment.

Human Research as Canadian, Japanese Robot Arms Swap Experiments

Four Expedition 59 astronauts
Four Expedition 59 astronauts pose for a playful portrait inside the Harmony module. Clockwise from left are astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Anne McClain and Nick Hague.

The Expedition 59 crew focused intensely on human research today to improve the health of people on Earth and in space. The residents aboard the International Space Station are busy exploring how the human body and other organisms adapt to space helping NASA prepare to go to the moon by 2024.

Astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain split Friday checking on the Kidney Cells experiment seeking innovative treatments for kidney stones, osteoporosis and toxic chemical exposures. Counteracting the space-exacerbated symptoms is critical to the success of a long-term spaceflight to the moon and Mars.

McClain started her day with Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin researching space-caused head and eye pressure. The quartet tested a specialized suit, the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit, that reverses the upward flow of blood and other fluids toward an astronaut’s head. The crewmates also participated in ultrasound scans of their eyes and veins for the long-running Fluid Shifts study.

In addition, a pair of Canadian and Japanese robotic arms on the station are coordinating to swap external payloads over the weekend. Two Earth and space research facilities inside the SpaceX Dragon’s trunk are being removed for installation on the station. An older atmospheric experiment that has completed its mission will be placed back in Dragon’s trunk.

The Canadarm2 robotic arm removed the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) from the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk. It handed off the OCO-3, a global carbon detection device, to Japan’s smaller robotic arm for installation on the Kibo lab module’s external pallet. Next, the Canadarm2 will extract and install the Space Test Program-Houston 6 hardware for space physics research on the station’s truss structure.

Finally, Japan’s robotic arm attached to Kibo will hand off the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) to the Canadarm2 for installation in Dragon’s trunk. Before Dragon splashes down in the Pacific at the end of May, its trunk with CATS inside will separate during reentry and burn up over Earth’s atmosphere.

A SpaceX Dragon resupply ship delivered CATS in January of 2015 for robotic installation on Kibo’s external pallet. CATS successfully demonstrated low cost atmospheric monitoring techniques from the station.

Crew Relaxes as Two Robotic Arms Prepare for Payload Handoffs

The three crewmates who rode the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft
The three crewmates who rode the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft to the International Space Station gather inside the Rassvet module after conducting a periodic routine emergency drill. From left are, Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch.

The Expedition 59 crew has a light duty day today with some science work on the schedule. Meanwhile, robotics controllers are preparing to swap external payloads in the unpressurized trunk of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch checked samples today as she continued exploring why pathogens become more virulent in space. Later, she set up hardware for the Kidney Cells experiment that seeks innovative treatments for humans on Earth and in space.

Astronaut Nick Hague of NASA retrieved sample trays from a materials exposure experiment brought back inside the Kibo lab module. Fellow NASA astronaut Anne McClain checked on mice being observed for changes to their immune systems in microgravity.

Two new experiments are ready for robotic extraction from the SpaceX Dragon and installation on the International Space Station starting Thursday night and into the weekend. An older experiment will be removed from the station and placed back in Dragon.

The remotely controlled Canadarm2 robotic arm will first extract the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) from Dragon’s trunk. Japan’s robotic arm will then take hold of the OCO-3 and install the global carbon detection device on Kibo’s external pallet. The Canadarm2 will then extract and install the Space Test Program-Houston 6 hardware for space physics research on the station’s truss structure.

Finally, the Japanese robotic arm will hand off the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) to the Canadarm2 for installation in Dragon’s trunk. CATS will burn up over Earth’s atmosphere when Dragon’s trunk separates during its reentry at the end of May. A SpaceX Dragon resupply ship delivered CATS in January of 2015 for robotic installation outside Kibo. CATS successfully demonstrated low cost atmospheric monitoring techniques from the station.

Science Aboard Station Today Impacts Astronaut Health Long-Term

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers (from left) Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques and Christina Koch
Expedition 59 Flight Engineers (from left) Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques and Christina Koch are gathered inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory.

The International Space Station has all but one of its seven ports occupied by two crew ships and four cargo ships today. With plenty of food, fuel and supplies, the Expedition 59 crew is busy conducting new science experiments delivered to the orbital lab.

The crew researched an array of space biology today including pathogen virulence, immune system changes and upper body pressure that can affect mission success. Human research and life science is key in microgravity as NASA learns to support healthy astronauts for longer missions farther into space.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch continued studying why pathogens increase in virulence due to the weightless environment of space. She performed inoculation procedures on cell cultures to help scientists understand critical cellular and molecular changes that occur on the absence of gravity.

Koch then joined fellow astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques in the afternoon exploring how the immune system responds during a long-term space mission. The crew is observing dozens of mice on the orbital lab to characterize the response changes since the mouse immune system closely parallels that of humans.

McClain also participated on more Fluid Shifts research with Flight Engineers Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineer Nick Hague. The trio worked with a variety of biomedical hardware today observing the impacts of increased head and eye pressure caused by microgravity. The long-running human research experiment seeks to reverse the upward flow of fluids and alleviate the symptoms reported by astronauts.

New Science Being Unpacked and Worked Aboard Orbital Lab

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is installed to the Harmony module
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is installed to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port a few hours after it was captured by astronauts David Saint-Jacques and Nick Hague with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on May 6, 2019.

Six spaceships are now parked at the International Space Station and the Expedition 59 crew is working on the newest science delivered Monday. Astronauts will continue to live and work in space longer and scientists want to know how humans and a variety of other organisms adapt to support these missions.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain tended to several dozen mice delivered to the orbital lab Monday on the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. The rodents’ immune systems are similar to humans and scientists are monitoring them to detect any changes caused microgravity.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch set up the Microgravity Science Glovebox today to begin operations with the new Micro-14 pathogen study. Microgravity can increase the virulence of pathogens and doctors are seeking to understand the process to keep space crews safe and healthy.

Koch and McClain both started Tuesday unpacking frozen biological samples from Dragon. The duo stowed the samples into different science freezers aboard the station for later analysis and experimental work.

McClain, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Nick Hague also explored head and eye pressure caused by upward fluid shifts due to the effects of microgravity. The long-running human research experiment seeks to reverse the upward flow and alleviate the symptoms reported by astronauts.