Dragon Attached to Station for Month of Cargo Transfers

Dec. 17, 2017: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 17, 2017: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Progress 67 and 68 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-06 crew ship.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 8:26 a.m. EST.

The 13th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-13) delivered more than 4,800 pounds of supplies and payloads to the station. Among the research materials flying inside Dragon’s pressurized area, one investigation will demonstrate the benefits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in a microgravity environment. Designed by the company Made in Space, and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the investigation will attempt to pull fiber optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fiber optic glass. Results from this investigation could lead to the production of higher-quality fiber optic products for use in space and on Earth.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2018 and return to Earth with more than 3,600 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.

Expedition 54-55 Flight Engineers Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are on their way to the space station after a launch earlier today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:21 a.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 17 (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time). The trio will orbit the Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module, at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

For more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.

Astronauts Capture Dragon Loaded With New Science

Dragon Capture
The Dragon resupply ship is pictured just 10 meters away from the space station’s Canadarm2.

While the International Space Station was traveling overhead between  Australia and Papua New Guinea, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba captured the Dragon spacecraft at 5:57 a.m. EST using the space station’s robotic arm. Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation the spacecraft on the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7:30 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

Dragon is carrying a Space Debris Sensor (SDS) that will measure the orbital debris environment around the space station for two to three years. Once mounted on the exterior of the station, this one-square-meter sensor will provide near-real-time debris impact detection and recording. Research from this investigation could help lower the risks posed by orbital debris to human life and critical hardware.

Also on board is NASA’s Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor, or TSIS-1, that will measure the Sun’s energy input to Earth. TSIS-1 measurements will be three times more accurate than previous capabilities, enabling scientists to study the Sun’s natural influence on Earth’s ozone, atmospheric circulation, clouds and ecosystems. These observations are essential for a scientific understanding of the effects of solar variability on the Earth system.

For more information about the SpaceX CRS-13 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/spacex.

Dragon Resupply Mission Now Targeted for Friday Launch

Dragon Delivers BEAM
The Dragon resupply ship is pictured April 10, 2016, after it had been captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Inside Dragon was about 7,000 pounds of cargo including BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module.

NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than 10:35 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 15th, for the company’s 13th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX is taking additional time for the team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in 2nd stage fuel system. Next launch opportunity would be no earlier than late December.

A Dragon spacecraft will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon is now scheduled to arrive at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 17th.

On Sunday, Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are also scheduled to launch at 2:21 a.m. (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

NASA Television coverage for launch and arrival activities are as follows:

Friday, Dec. 15

  • 10 a.m. – Launch commentary coverage begins
  • 12 p.m. – Post-launch news conference with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program and SpaceX

Sunday, Dec. 17

  • 1:15 a.m. – Soyuz MS-07 launch coverage begins
  • 4:30 a.m. – Dragon rendezvous at the space station and capture coverage begins
  • 7:30 a.m. – Installation coverage begins

Watch live on NASA Television and the agency’s website: www.nasa.gov/live.

Join the conversation online by following @space_station.

NASA TV to Broadcast Briefings Before SpaceX Dragon Launch

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches atop a Falcon 9 rocket
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches atop a Falcon 9 rocket Aug. 14, 2017, from Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Sandra Joseph

NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting its 13th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station no earlier than 11:46 a.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Mission coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Monday, Dec. 11 with two news briefings.

Packed with about 4,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA TV Coverage Schedule:

Monday, Dec. 11

Tuesday, Dec. 12

  • 11:15 a.m. – Launch commentary coverage begins
  • 1:15 p.m. – Post-launch news conference with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program and SpaceX

L-2 Weather Update

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing are predicting 90 percent chance of favorable weather for liftoff on Tuesday. The primary weather concern is liftoff winds.

Join the conversation online by following @space_station and #askNASA. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this list, please email heo-pao@lists.nasa.gov.

Station Being Configured for Cargo and Crew Missions

Northeast Coast of the United States
This nighttime shot shows the northeast coast of the United States from New Jersey up to Maine and the well-lit urban metropolitan areas of New York City and Boston along with parts of southern Canada including Montreal.

The Expedition 53 crew is configuring the orbital complex for a pair of cargo missions and a crew swap in December. Two colorful soccer ball-sized satellites were also floating around inside the International Space Station being tested today.

SpaceX has announced it is now targeting Dec. 8 for the launch of its Dragon cargo craft to the space station’s Harmony module. Among the variety of crew supplies and research gear Dragon will deliver are mice to be observed for the Rodent Research-6 muscle drug study. 20 mice will be housed in a rodent habitat that Vande Hei is configuring today in the U.S. Destiny laboratory.

Orbital ATK pushed back the release of its Cygnus resupply ship from the Unity module to Dec. 6 after the SpaceX announcement. Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei are preparing for the departure this week loading Cygnus with trash and training for its robotic release.

Finally, the station is set to slightly raise its orbit Wednesday enabling a crew swap set to begin Dec. 14 when Expedition 52-53 crew members Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Paolo Nespoli return to Earth. They will be replaced Dec. 19 when Expedition 54-55 crew members Anton Shkaplerov, Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai dock to the Rassvet module two days after their launch from Kazakhstan.

Acaba and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin were inside the Kibo laboratory module today testing a pair of tiny satellites better known as SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). The SPHERES can be pre-programmed on Earth using algorithms to conduct a series of maneuvers demonstrating formation flying or rendezvous and docking techniques. Teams of high school students will be competing in January to see who can design the best maneuvering algorithms for the SPHERES on the station.

Cygnus Departure Preps as Muscle Study and CubeSat Ops Wrap Up

New York City and New Jersey Area
New York City and part of the state of New Jersey are pictured in this photograph taken during a night pass on Nov. 23, 2017.

The Cygnus resupply ship is in its final week at the International Space Station and two astronauts are training for its departure on Monday. Meanwhile, a leg muscle study and CubeSat deployment operations are wrapping up today.

Cygnus is now being filled with trash after delivering close to 7,400 pounds of research and supplies to the Expedition 53 crew on Nov. 14. NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba are training to release Cygnus from the Canadarm2 next week following a 20-day stay at the Unity module.

The duo will be inside the cupola commanding the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus back into Earth orbit on Dec. 4. Following its departure from the station, Cygnus will stay in orbit until Dec. 18 before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery demise over the Pacific Ocean.

Commander Randy Bresnik and cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy are completing a final run of the Sarcolab-3 experiment today. That research is observing how leg muscles adapt to microgravity using magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound devices.

Finally, a satellite deployer that ejected a set of CubeSats last week, has been brought back inside the Kibo lab module. One of the CubeSats deployed, the EcAMSat that was delivered aboard Cygnus, is now orbiting Earth researching how the E. coli pathogen reacts to antibiotics in space.

BEAM Work and Vision Checks for Crew Today

Astronaut Randy Bresnik
Astronaut Randy Bresnik enters the Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module in July 31, 2017, when he was a Flight Engineer for Expedition 52.

More CubeSats were ejected from the International Space Station today to demonstrate and validate new technologies. Back inside the orbital lab, the Expedition 53 crew continued outfitting an experimental module and studying life science.

Two more tiny satellites were deployed from the Kibo laboratory module into Earth orbit today to research a variety of new technologies and space weather. One of the nanosatellites, known as TechEdSat, seeks to develop and demonstrate spacecraft and payload deorbit techniques. The OSIRIS-3U CubeSat will measure the Earth’s ionosphere in coordination with the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Commander Randy Bresnik was back inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) today with Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli and Joe Acaba. The astronauts are converting the experimental habitat into a cargo platform by replacing old BEAM hardware with new electronics and stowage gear.

Eye exams are on the schedule this week as two cosmonauts and two astronauts took turns playing eye doctor and patient today. Alex Misurkin and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos started first with the optical coherence tomography hardware using a laptop computer. Next, Nespoli and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei took their turn to help doctors on the ground understand the vision changes that take place in space.

Cygnus Open for Business; Crew Unloading New Bacteria, Plant and Tech Studies

Cygnus Grappled with Canadarm2
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured after it had been grappled with the Canadarm2 robotic arm by astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik on Nov. 14, 2017.

The Expedition 53 astronauts are continuing to unload several thousand pounds of space cargo from the new Cygnus resupply ship that arrived Tuesday morning. Some of the new science cargo contains a bacteria that curiously loses its harmful properties in microgravity and CubeSats that will be deployed in Earth orbit.

The Cygnus is now installed on the Unity module and open for business. The astronauts entered the cargo craft Tuesday and started replenishing the station with almost 7,400 pounds of crew supplies, science experiments, spacewalk gear, station hardware and computer parts.

Some of the new research payloads will be looking at the space impacts on microbiology and botany. The advanced space research will explore the effectiveness of antibiotics on astronauts and observe how plants absorb nutrients in microgravity. Some pathogens for the STaARS Bioscience-5 study delivered aboard Cygnus have also been safely transferred to the NEXUS facility for later observation.

A couple of the newest technology experiments will deploy CubeSats to explore laser communications and hybrid solar panels. Scientists will study the ability of small satellites to communicate with each other using lasers and also explore if a combination of antenna and solar cells can speed up communication rates.

Cygnus Installed on Station With New Science Experiments

Nov. 14, 2017: International Space Station Configuration
Nov. 14, 2017: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the Orbital ATK Cygnus, the Progress 67 and 68 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-05 and MS-06 crew ships.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:15 a.m. EST. The spacecraft will spend about three weeks attached to the space station before departing in early December. After it leaves the station, the uncrewed spacecraft will deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as it disposes of several tons of trash.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 7,400 pounds of research and supplies to support Expedition 53 and 54. Highlights include:

  • The coli AntiMicrobial Satellite (EcAMSat) mission, which will investigate the effect of microgravity on the antibiotic resistance of E. coli, a bacterial pathogen responsible for urinary tract infection in humans and animals. Antibiotic resistance could pose a danger to astronauts, especially since microgravity has been shown to weaken human immune response. The experiment will expose two strains of E. coli to three different doses of antibiotics; one of these strains is deficient in the gene responsible for the increased antibiotic resistance in microgravity. Results from this investigation could help determine appropriate antibiotic dosages to protect astronaut health during long-duration missions and help us understand how antibiotic effectiveness may be increased in microgravity, as well as on Earth.
  • The Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) project, which will study high-speed optical transmission of data and small spacecraft proximity operations. It will test functionality of laser-based communications using CubeSats that provide a compact version of the technology. Results from OCSD could lead to significantly enhanced communication speeds between space and Earth and a better understanding of laser communication between small satellites in low-Earth orbit.
  • The Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Microgravity via Rhizobium-Legume Symbiosis (Biological Nitrogen Fixation) investigation, which will examine how low-gravity conditions affect the nitrogen fixation process of Microclover, a resilient and drought tolerant legume. The nitrogen fixation process, a process by which nitrogen in the atmosphere is converted into a usable form for living organisms, is a crucial element of any ecosystem necessary for most types of plant growth. This investigation could provide information on the space viability of the legume’s ability to use and recycle nutrients and give researchers a better understanding of this plant’s potential uses on Earth.
  • The Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA), a hybrid solar power panel and communication solar antenna that can send and receive messages, will test the use of this technology in CubeSat-based environmental monitoring. ISARA may provide a solution for sending and receiving information to and from faraway destinations, both on Earth and in space.

Learn more about the Orbital ATK CRS-8 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station.

Cygnus Races To Station as Crew Studies Life Science and Space Crops

Cygnus Launches Aboard Antares Rocket
The Cygnus resupply ship launches aboard the Antares rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK is less than 24 hours away from a rendezvous and capture at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the Expedition 53 crew members are conducting human research and exploring growing crops in space.

Cygnus is in Earth orbit today conducting a series of orbital maneuvers refining its path to the space station Tuesday morning. Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik will be in the cupola early tomorrow waiting to capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2 at 4:50 a.m. EST. NASA TV will broadcast the capture and installation of Cygnus to the Unity module beginning at 3:15 a.m.

Bresnik and fellow NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba also worked on some biomedical experiments today helping doctors understand how humans adapt to microgravity. Bresnik collected his blood and urine samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. Vande Hei and Acaba measured and recorded their body mass to observe bone and muscle impacts of living in space.

Acaba is also harvesting and eating cabbage, lettuce and mizuna today to learn how plants grow in space. Results may help astronauts grow their own food helping NASA plan longer missions in outer space.