Expedition 61 Crew Servicing Spacesuits and Science Hardware Today

Astronaut Christina Koch works on orbital plumbing tasks
Astronaut Christina Koch works on orbital plumbing tasks as she replaces components inside the International Space Station’s bathroom.

The Expedition 61 crew serviced a variety of science and life support hardware today aboard the International Space Station. U.S. spacesuits are also being readied for a series upcoming cosmic repair spacewalks.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will enter the vacuum of space on Nov. 15 to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Christina Koch of NASA is preparing the U.S. spacesuits and cleaning the components ahead of at least four planned AMS repair spacewalks. The spacewalking duo will perform the complex repairs necessary to upgrade the dark matter and antimatter detector’s thermal control system.

In the meantime, Morgan focused on science hardware and set up experiment gear containing materials for exposure in the harsh environment of space. He installed three experiment carriers inside the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock before depressurizing it. Japan’s robotic arm will grapple the carriers and deploy them outside Kibo. The research is testing how cosmic radiation, extreme temperatures and other space phenomena affect a variety of samples.

Science freezers that preserve critical research samples for analysis had their systems checked today by NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir. She also replaced components on a 3-D bioprinter, also called the BioFabrication Facility. The device is testing the manufacturing of complex human organ tissue shapes in space.

Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov is packing trash and obsolete gear inside the Progress 73 (73P) resupply ship. The 73P will undock from the Pirs docking compartment on Nov. 29 for a fiery but safe disposal over the southern Pacific.

Blood Pressure, DNA Studies as Astronauts Prep for Complex Spacewalk Repairs

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir
Astronauts (from left) Christina Koch and Jessica Meir practice the Canadarm2 robotics techniques they would use to capture the Cygnus space freighter when it arrived Nov. 4.

The Expedition 61 crew explored how microgravity is affecting a variety of biological processes in humans and microbes today. Two astronauts are also gearing up for tentatively planned spacewalks to repair a cosmic particle detector.

Aging on Earth and living in space impacts an individual’s blood pressure with some astronauts experiencing stiffened arteries after returning to the ground. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir investigated the phenomena today attaching electrodes to her leg and scanning her veins with an ultrasound device. Doctors on Earth will review the downloaded data with results informing potential therapies for Earth-bound and space-caused ailments.

Microbes live everywhere including inside the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is sequencing DNA collected from microbial samples swabbed from inside the orbiting lab. Observations may provide insights into the genetic adaptations taking place to survive in weightlessness.

Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan are studying the complex spacewalk procedures required to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). At least four spacewalks are scheduled, the first of which will be on Friday, Nov. 15. The dates for the other spacewalks are under review and will be scheduled in the near future.

The duo have begun unpacking the AMS tools and hardware delivered aboard the Cygnus resupply ship on Monday. The eight-and-a-half year-old device, which searches for signs of dark matter and antimatter, will have its thermal control system upgraded over a series of soon-to-be scheduled spacewalks.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka explored their set of human research in the station’s Russian segment today. The duo researched the space-caused loss of bone mass and the interactions between international crews and mission controllers during long-duration missions.

Astronauts Unload U.S. Resupply Ship to Continue Advanced Space Research

The U.S. Cygnus space freighter
The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman.

A new U.S. resupply ship is open for business and the Expedition 61 crew has begun unloading over four tons of new science experiments and station hardware. Two astronauts are also studying advanced repair techniques for a cosmic particle detector attached the International Space Station.

The astronauts opened the hatches on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship after its arrival on Monday and immediately started unpacking and activating critical science payloads. Mice delivered aboard Cygnus are now living in station habitats to help scientists understand how microgravity impacts metabolic rates. The rodent study may provide therapeutic insights into Earth-bound ailments such as diabetes and liver disease.

Cygnus science freezers containing valuable research samples for observation are now operating inside station research racks. The crew will utilize the samples to study a variety of microgravity phenomena to benefit Earthlings and astronauts. New experiments will research how microbes affect space hardware and astronauts and explore how weightlessness affects muscle gene expression.

Cygnus also delivered hardware to enable the complex repair job required to upgrade the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) thermal control system. Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are preparing for several spacewalks to cut and reconnect fluid lines to ensure the AMS continues its search for dark matter and antimatter for years to come.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka logged their meals and medicine intake today to help researchers understand how space impacts bone tissue. The duo worked on a variety of Russian maintenance tasks then reviewed Cygnus emergency procedures with the rest of their Expedition 61 crewmates.

Cygnus Resupply Ship Attached to Unity for Cargo Operations

Nov. 4, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Nov. 4, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are attached to the space station including the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

After its capture this morning at 4:10 a.m. EST, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 6:21 a.m. At the time of installation, Cygnus was flying over the south Pacific.

This mission, designated NG CRS-12, will be in orbit at the same time as its predecessor, the NG CRS-11 Cygnus spacecraft, which launched in April on an extended duration flight. The NG CRS-12 Cygnus spacecraft will remain at the space station until January before it disposes of several thousand pounds of trash through its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. The ability to fly two vehicles at once further demonstrates the robustness of Cygnus to support the goals of NASA’s ambitious missions.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 8,200 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Here are some of the scientific investigations:

More Probing of Mysteries of the Universe

This mission carries components needed to prolong the operational life of Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 (AMS-02). In a series of spacewalks planned in the coming weeks, astronauts will cut and reconnect fluid lines on the instrument, a feat not done before in space, which could prove valuable for future missions at NASA’s upcoming lunar Gateway for the Artemis program or missions to Mars.

Testing Personal Protective Equipment for Astronauts

The AstroRad Vest tests a special garment designed to protect astronauts from radiation caused by unpredictable solar particle events. Astronauts will provide input on the garment as they wear it while performing daily tasks. Use of the vest could protect crew members on missions to the Moon and Mars.

Food Fresh from the Oven

The Zero-G Oven examines heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity. It uses an oven designed specifically for use aboard the space station, and may have application on future long-duration missions by offering a way to increase variety in flavor and nutrition of food for crew members.

3D Printing with Recycled Materials

The Made in Space Recycler will test systems needed to reprocess plastic into 3D printing filament that can then be transferred for use to the Made in Space Manufacturing Device, a 3D printer that has operated on the orbiting laboratory since 2016. This has implications for space conservation and deep space missions.

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

Astronaut Jessica Meir and Christina Koch Capture Cygnus with Station’s Robotic Arm

The Canadarm2 moves toward the Cygnus resupply ship
The Canadarm2 operated by astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch moves toward the Cygnus resupply ship for its capture. Credit: NASA TV

At 4:10 a.m. EST, Expedition 61 NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Alan Bean, on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The station was flying over Madagascar when it was captured.

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 6:30 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning. Cygnus will remain at the orbiting laboratory for a two-month stay.

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

U.S. Cygnus Cargo Ship Reaches Orbit for Monday Delivery

The Antares rocket lifts off on time
The Antares rocket lifts off on time from Virginia carrying the Cygnus cargo craft to orbit. Credit: NASA TV

On the anniversary of the arrival of the first crew members to live aboard the International Space Station, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply spacecraft is on its way to the station with nearly 8,200 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 9:59 a.m. EDT Saturday, Nov. 2 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At the time of lift off, the International Space Station was traveling over the south Atlantic southwest of Cape Town, South Africa, at an altitude of 257 statute miles.

The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops. Automated command to initiate solar array deploy will begin about 2 hours and 53 minutes after launch (about 12:53 p.m.). Solar array deployment will take about 30 minutes. Confirmation of solar deployment will be shared on the launch blog and social media at @NASA_Wallops and  @space_station.

Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory around 4:10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 2:45 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Expedition 61 astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus, while NASA’s Andrew Morgan monitors telemetry. The spacecraft is scheduled to stay at the space station until January.

The Cygnus spacecraft for this space station resupply mission is named in honor of NASA astronaut Alan Bean. The late Apollo 12 astronaut flew to the Moon on Apollo 12 and became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface. This is Northrop Grumman’s 12th cargo flight to the space station, and the first under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA, will support dozens of new and existing investigations.

Follow the Cygnus spacecraft’s arrival to the orbiting laboratory on the space station blog and by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as theISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV Broadcasts U.S. Cygnus Cargo Mission to Station

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket with the Cygnus cargo craft inside
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket with the Cygnus cargo craft inside stands at its at launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA coverage of the scheduled launch at 9:59 a.m. EDT of Northrop Grumman’s 12th mission to resupply the  International Space Station is underway on NASA TV and the agency’s website. The company’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft will lift off on an Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft is loaded with around 8,200 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, and hardware for the orbiting laboratory.

The spacecraft, dubbed the SS Alan Bean, is named after the late Apollo and Skylab astronaut who died on May 26, 2018, at the age of 86. This Cygnus will launch 50 years to the month after Bean, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon flew to the Moon on NASA’s Apollo 12 mission, during which Bean became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface. Bean was the lunar module pilot aboard Intrepid with mission commander Conrad when they landed on Moon at the Ocean of Storms on Nov. 19, 1969.

Follow launch activities at the launch blog and @NASA_Wallops and learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Japan Cargo Ship Departs, U.S. Resupply Rocket Preps for Launch

Japan's HTV-8 resupply ship before release from the Canadarm2
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the International Space Station flies into an orbital sunrise.

A U.S. cargo craft is poised to resupply the International Space Station just days after a Japanese space freighter departed the orbiting lab Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Expedition 61 crew today continued an array of microgravity research and spacewalk preparations.

Flight Engineer Christina Koch with back-up support from NASA astronaut Jessica Meir used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Japan’s HTV-8 cargo spacecraft at 1:21 p.m. EDT today. The cargo craft spent five weeks attached to the orbiting lab following a Sept. 24 launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.

HTV-8 delivered some five tons of supplies and experiments to the orbital complex as well as new lithium-ion batteries. The batteries were installed in the electronics system of the far port truss of the complex replacing older nickel-hydrogen batteries and upgrading the station’s power supply.

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship sits atop an Antares rocket loaded with 8,200 pounds of science experiments and station hardware. Liftoff will take place on Saturday at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Meir and Koch will be in the cupola Monday morning awaiting the arrival of Cygnus. Meir will command the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Cygnus at 4:10 a.m. EST. Koch will back up Meir as astronaut Andrew Morgan of NASA monitors Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous.

Morgan and Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) are also getting up to speed with repair techniques for an external cosmic particle detector.  The duo is reviewing procedures to replace the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) thermal control system during a series of spacewalks tentatively planned for this month. The AMS measures the charge, velocity and mass of cosmic rays in its search for evidence of dark matter and anti-matter.

Morgan also watered plants and set up biology hardware that will house rodents shipped aboard Cygnus. Parmitano monitored the free-flying Astrobee robotic assistant testing its autonomous ability to perform tasks inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka focused on Russian spacecraft work and science in their segment of the space station. The duo charged Soyuz crew ship batteries and packed a Progress cargo craft. Skvortsov then studied how pain adjusts to microgravity while Skripochka moved on to plumbing tasks.

Crop Harvest on Station After Robotics, Human Research Today

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir waters plant pillows where Mizuna mustard greens are raised as part of the Veg-04B experiment.

The Expedition 61 crew harvested a space-grown crop today aboard the International Space Station. The orbital lab residents also tested robotics systems before exploring blood pressure and time perception in microgravity.

Space agriculture aboard the orbiting laboratory has been ongoing for several years to learn how to provide fresh food to space crews. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan continued that research by cutting Mizuna leaves today for a taste test and stowing the leftovers in a science freezer for scientific analysis.

Morgan also took turns with Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) wearing virtual reality goggles and clicking a trackball for a time perception study. The investigation observes subjective time changes astronauts experience during space missions and back on Earth after missions.

The Astrobee free-flying robotic assistant had a test-run today as Parmitano calibrated the autonomous device’s systems. The ESA astronaut checked Astrobee’s abilities to navigate, dock and visually monitor activities inside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module.

The Cygnus resupply ship will launch Saturday at 9:59 a.m. EDT atop the Antares rocket from Virginia. Meir and NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch are practicing robotic techniques to capture Cygnus when it arrives two days later. Meir, with Koch backing her up in the cupola, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus Monday at 4:10 a.m. EST.

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka spent Wednesday morning exploring how blood pressure responds to the lack of gravity. The duo split up in the afternoon as Skvortsov checked Russian communication and spacecraft systems. Skripochka worked on life support systems and explored how orbiting Earth affects the station’s magnetic field.

Spacesuits, Human Research, Robotics Training Ahead of Cargo Missions

Astronaut Jessica Meir works on the Combustion Integrated Rack
NASA astronaut Jessica Meir works to swap out a failed computer hard drive that supports experiments inside the Combustion Integrated Rack aboard the International Space Station’s U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The six-member Expedition 61 crew juggled spacesuit maintenance and human research activities aboard the International Space Station today. The orbital residents are also getting ready to send off and receive resupply ships.

Two U.S. spacesuits are being serviced ahead of a series of spacewalks planned to repair a cosmic particle detector, also known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan are tentatively scheduled to venture outside the station in November and upgrade the AMS thermal control system.

Parmitano also tested a device that measures an astronaut’s mass using Newton’s Second Law of Motion. The device applies a known force to an attached astronaut and the resulting acceleration is used to accurately calculate an astronaut’s mass.

NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch shared maintenance duties on a human organ printer, the BioFabrication Facility. Scientists are testing the 3D biological printing facility for its ability to print more cohesive organ structures in microgravity than on Earth.

Koch and Meir will also be on Canadarm2 robotics duty on Friday and Monday to support a pair of cargo missions. Koch, with Meir backing her up, will command the robotic release of Japan’s HTV-8 resupply ship Friday at 1:20 p.m. EDT. The HTV-8 is wrapping up a 34-day mission attached to the Harmony module.

They will switch roles on Monday when Meir takes charge of the Canadarm2 robotic arm and captures Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft at 4:10 a.m. EST. Koch will back her up in the cupola while Morgan monitors the Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous. Cygnus will launch Saturday at 9:59 a.m. atop the Antares rocket from Virginia.