Station Readied for Crops, Crew Runs Biomedical Studies

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei jogs on a treadmill inside the space station.

The International Space Station is once again providing a platform to test the growth of cabbage and lettuce for future human consumption in space. Aside from today’s botany set up, the Expedition 53 crew also explored how living in space affects the human physiology.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba began setting up hardware for the Veggie-3 experiment Tuesday morning to grow a variety of lettuce and cabbage. Scientists are studying how plants grow in space to learn how to sustain future crews as NASA plans longer missions farther out in space.

Acaba also joined European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli collecting blood and urine samples for a pair of biomedical experiments. The long-running Biochemical Profile and Repository studies are documenting the various changes the human body experiences during a long-term space mission.

Commander Randy Bresnik continued gathering spacewalk equipment with Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei ahead of an Oct. 5 spacewalk. The pair also checked out their emergency jet packs and sized their spacesuits. This will be the first of three spacewalks in October to replace a latching end effector on the tip of the Canadarm2 and replace a pair of external cameras.


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Astronauts Research Adapting to Space and Plan for Spacewalks

NASA Astronaut Joe Acaba
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba works inside the cupola as the space station orbits above the Indian Ocean near Australia.

The Expedition 53 crew members continued testing a new exercise device today while also exploring how their bodies are adapting to living in space. The station residents are also gearing up for three spacewalks planned in October.

Commander Randy Bresnik joined Paolo Nespoli for a workout session on the new Miniature Exercise Device-2 (MED-2). The duo tested the MED-2 for its ability to provide motion and resistance during crew workouts. The device is significantly smaller than previous space exercise systems potentially providing more room on future spacecraft.

Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei installed new lights on his crew quarters to test their ability to improve circadian rhythms, sleep, and cognitive performance. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba collected and stowed his blood and urine samples for a pair of experiments observing the physiological changes taking place in space.

Bresnik and Vande Hei are moving ahead with preparations for the first of three spacewalks set to begin Oct. 5. The spacewalkers inspected the tethers that will keep them attached to the station and began setting up their tools. The duo will remove and replace a leading end effector on the tip of the Canadarm2 during the first spacewalk scheduled to last about 6.5 hours.


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Spacewalk VR Training, Muscle and Bone Research Today

Spacewalker Joe Acaba
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba is seen during a spacewalk in March 2009. He was working on the Starboard-1 truss structure while space shuttle Discovery was docked to the station during STS-119.

The Expedition 53 crew is getting ready for a trio of spacewalks next month while helping scientists understand what living in space does to the human body.

NASA astronauts Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei trained for a spacewalk emergency today wearing virtual reality gear. The spacewalkers practiced maneuvering specialized jet packs attached to their spacesuits in the unlikely event they become untethered from the station.

The duo will go on a pair of spacewalks on Oct. 5 and 10. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba will join Bresnik Oct. 18 for the third and final spacewalk. The three spacewalkers will replace and lubricate one of two end effectors on the tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. They will also replace a pair of cameras located on the station’s truss structure.

More muscle and bone research continued today as cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy joined Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli for the Sarcolab-3 study. The research observes leg muscle and tendon changes caused by microgravity using an ultrasound scan and other sensors during an exercise session. Bresnik collected his breath sample to help document any bone marrow and blood cell changes his body may be experiencing in space.


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Astronomy Gear Work and Muscle Scans on Tuesday’s Schedule

The Spectacular Aurora Borealis, or the "Northern Lights"
The spectacular aurora borealis, or the “northern lights,” over Canada is sighted from the space station near the highest point of its orbital path. The station’s main solar arrays are seen in the left foreground.

The Expedition 53 crew worked on a variety of astronomy gear today that looks at meteors in Earth orbit and harmful radiation from deep space. The crew also explored how microgravity affects human bones and muscles.

Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei worked on a camera for the Meteor experiment, ongoing since March 2016, which peers out of a specialized window in the Destiny laboratory module. The camera observes meteors and meteor showers and analyzes the imagery to determine their physical and chemical composition.

Flight Engineer Joe Acaba installed the Fast Neutron Spectrometer in the Unity module today to explore a new technique that measures deep space radiation. The new technology may be used to provide a more accurate assessment of the mixed radiation future crews and spacecraft may be exposed to.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy strapped himself into the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) chair today for a look at his calf muscle and tendons. Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli assisted Ryazanskiy into the MARES chair and Commander Randy Bresnik collected ultrasound imagery of his leg. The data is being collected for the Sarcolab-3 experiment that is observing space-induced chemical and structural changes in muscle fibers.


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Three Spacewalks Scheduled, Crew Researches Life Science

Night Time View of Southern Europe
This night time view of southern Europe prominently features the “boot” of Italy, the home of current Expedition 53 crew member Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.

Expedition 53 is gearing up for three maintenance spacewalks set to take place in October over a period of two weeks. Meanwhile, the six-member crew continued researching today how their long-term missions in space affect their bodies.

Commander Randy Bresnik began unpacking spacewalking gear today ahead of the first of three spacewalks set to begin Oct. 5. He will lead all three spacewalks with NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba. Vande Hei will join him on the first two and Acaba will participate in the final spacewalk. The trio will replace one of the two end effectors on the Canadarm2 robotic arm, lubricate the new component and replace cameras at two locations on the station’s truss.

Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli and Sergey Ryazanskiy are exploring how living in space impacts their bone marrow. The study takes a look at blood and breath samples with the blood being processed in a centrifuge. Bresnik is also collecting his blood and urine samples that scientists will later analyze for any physiological changes caused by microgravity.


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Dragon Released Carrying Science and Gear Back to Earth

SpaceX Dragon Release
The SpaceX Dragon (far right) begins its departure from the International Space Station after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

At 4:40 a.m. EDT, Expedition 53 Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and International Space Station Commander Randy Bresnik used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the SpaceX Dragon after it was detached from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.

Dragon’s thrusters will be fired to move the spacecraft a safe distance from the station before SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, command its deorbit burn. The capsule will splash down at about 10:14 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean, where recovery forces will retrieve the capsule and its more than 3,800 pounds of cargo and research. A variety of technological and biological studies are returning in Dragon. Splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.

Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched to the space station Aug. 14 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and arrived at the station Aug. 16 carrying more than 6,400 pounds of supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s twelfth commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

Get breaking news, images, videos and features from the station on social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/ISS
http://instagram.com/iss
http://www.twitter.com/Space_Station


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New Trio Begins Five-Month Mission, Station Crew Expands to Six

Expedition 53 Crew Members
The space station’s Expedition 53 crew members are (from left) Joe Acaba, Alexander Misurkin, Mark Vande Hei, Sergey Ryazanskiy, Commander Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli. Credit: NASA

Three new crew members have arrived to the International Space Station. The hatches on the space station and Soyuz MS-06 opened at 1:08 a.m. EDT, marking the arrival to the orbiting laboratory for Expedition 53-54 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos.

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the ESA (European Space Agency) welcomed the new crew members aboard their orbital home.

Momentarily, the crew will speak to their family and friends from Baikonur in a welcoming ceremony that will air live on NASA TV.

The crew will support more than 250 experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

Bresnik, Ryazanskiy and Nespoli are scheduled to remain aboard the station until December and Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin are scheduled to return in February 2018.

You can follow the crew’s activities and experiences in space on social media:

Follow space station activities via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and research via @ISS_Research.

Follow Mark Vande Hei on Twitter via @astro_sabot.

Follow Joe Acaba on Twitter via @astroacaba.

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik is posting to Twitter via @astrokomrade, Facebook, and Instagram.

Follow Paolo Nespoli of ESA on Twitter and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos is on Twitter and Facebook.


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Lung Tissue, Immune System Research Ahead of New Crew Launch

Astronaut Randy Bresnik
Astronaut Randy Bresnik works on an experiment inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox located in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The three orbiting Expedition 53 crew members explored growing new lung tissue, foods that affect the immune system and microscopic particles suspended in liquids. Another trio of crew members is just a day away from launching to the International Space Station and beginning a five-and-a-half month stay in space.

Over the weekend, the crew wrapped up the Lung Tissue experiment. The study is using the latest bioengineering techniques to grow lung tissue in space and observe how microgravity affects the process.

Another study is looking at which foods can improve the gut environment and immune system while living in space. Scientists on Earth will take a look at microbe and metabolite samples taken from mice living aboard the station to determine the diet’s effectiveness.

A specialized microscope is being worked on inside the Fluids Integrated Rack. The advanced light imaging microscope facility will be used for the upcoming ACE-T6 study that is researching ways to improve the manufacturing process for consumer products. The microscope will be used to peer at tiny particles suspended in liquids, called colloids, which affect the way products separate, clump together and spoil.

Back on Earth, two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are a day away from beginning their Expedition 53-54 mission. Soyuz Commander Alexander Misurkin will lead the near six-hour flight from Kazakhstan to the station’s Poisk docking compartment with Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei.


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New Exercise Tech, DNA Studies on Station as New Crew Preps for Launch

Expedition 53-54 Crew Members
The Expedition 53-54 crew members (from left) Joe Acaba, Alexander Misurkin and Mark Vande Hei. Misurkin is a Roscosmos cosmonaut making his second trip to the station. Acaba and Vande Hei are both NASA astronauts. Acaba is making his third trip to space. Vande Hei is about to embark on his first space mission.

A new set of Expedition 53 crew members arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site today ahead of their Sept. 12 liftoff to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei along with cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will take a near six-hour ride to their new home in space aboard the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.

The orbiting Expedition 53 trio is checking out new exercise gear today that takes up less space and is more reliable than current station equipment. The crew is also getting ready to explore DNA alterations that occur when living in space.

The new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) is an order of magnitude lighter and smaller than existing equipment on the station. Commander Randy Bresnik worked out on the MED-2 today testing its ability provide motion and resistance workouts. Bresnik performed deadlifts and rows on the MED-2 to demonstrate the reliability of its small robotic actuators.

The commander also set up a work area for upcoming work with the student-designed Genes In Space-2 experiment. The experiment will explore ways to observe how microgravity alters DNA and weakens the immune system.

Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency checked out physics and life science equipment today. The veteran astronaut cleaned and installed handrails on the Electromagnetic Levitation device then swapped out gear inside the Space Automated Bioproduct Lab.


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Dragon Installed to Station for Month of Cargo Swaps

Space Station Configuration
Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, the Progress 67 resupply ship and two Soyuz crew ships.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was berthed to the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 9:07 a.m. EDT. The hatch between the newly arrived spacecraft and the Harmony module of the space station is scheduled to be opened as soon as later today.

CRS-12 is scheduled to deliver more than 6,400 pounds of supplies and payloads to the station, including a sweet treat for the astronauts: ice cream. The small cups of chocolate, vanilla and birthday cake-flavored ice cream are arriving in freezers that will be reloaded with research samples for return to Earth when the Dragon spacecraft departs the station mid-September.

For more information about the SpaceX CRS-12 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/spacex. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station.


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