Japan Postpones Rocket Launch to Saturday

Japan's H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad
Japan’s H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center before it launched the HTV-6 cargo craft on Dec. 9, 2016. Credit: JAXA

As a result of inclement weather, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has postponed the launch of a cargo spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan one day to approximately 1:52 p.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time). Live coverage of the launch will begin at 1:30 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station.

NASA also will provide live coverage of the arrival and installation of HTV-7 at the space station Thursday, Sept. 27 beginning at 6:30 a.m. ET. Capture is scheduled for around 8 a.m. After a break, NASA TV coverage will resume at 10:30 a.m. for spacecraft installation to the space station’s Harmony module.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Physics, Human Research on Lab as Japan Announces Launch Date

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor poses with a U.S. spacesuit inside the U.S. Quest Airlock. The spacesuit helmet’s visor is coated with a thin layer of gold that filters out the sun’s harmful rays during spacewalks.

Physics science and human research continues unabated aboard the International Space Station as NASA and its partners seek to understand the impacts of living in space. Meanwhile, Japan announced a new launch date for its HTV-7 cargo mission to resupply the Expedition 56 crew.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) has been exploring for several weeks now whether a custom designed t-shirt can provide comfort and thermal efficiency during a space workout. He has also been testing a wearable device that measures cardio-pulmonary activity during exercise.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor worked on separate science gear today that enables research into flames, fuels and high temperatures in space. Arnold spent most of Wednesday replacing experiment hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. Auñón-Chancellor removed samples from inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace to observe changes in their thermo-physical properties.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) announced early today that it will attempt to launch its HTV-7 resupply ship, also known as the Kounotori, Friday at 2:15 p.m. EDT to the station. The Kounotori is due to arrive at the station Tuesday loaded with over five tons of cargo, including new science experiments and science hardware.

Commander Drew Feustel and will be in the cupola Tuesday, with Auñón-Chancellor as his backup, to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 8:05 a.m. The duo has been training for the Kounotori’s arrival for several weeks practicing on a computer rendezvous procedures and robotics maneuvers. NASA TV will broadcast the Kounotori launch and capture activities live.

Exercise and DNA Studies as Crew Checks Spacesuits

Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA
Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA works inside the seven-windowed Cupola as the International Space Station was about to fly over the coast of Chile in South America.

The Expedition 56 crew members started the work week exploring a variety of life science and ensuring the upkeep of advanced space research gear. U.S. spacesuits were also being looked at today ahead of a series of planned spacewalks.

All space station crew members exercise daily to maintain their health while living in space. Today, Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold strapped himself into an exercise bike and wore sensors to measure aerobic capacity, or how much physical exertion an astronaut can sustain in space. This helps doctors understand the fitness requirements necessary to successfully conduct spacewalks or respond to emergencies in the weightless environment of space.

Arnold then switched roles from subject to scientist as he extracted DNA from microbe samples swabbed from inside the International Space Station. The DNA undergoes further sample preparation and is sequenced using the Biomolecule Sequencer and Genes in Space hardware onboard the station. The research is helping scientists understand how life adapts to microgravity providing insights to improve crew health.

Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, both from NASA, worked on a variety of science gear Monday. Auñón-Chancellor restocked the Human Research Facility-2 with medical supplies and Feustel reconfigured a rack in the Kibo laboratory module for the new Life Sciences Glovebox.

The duo then joined astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) for spacesuit checks during the afternoon. The three astronauts verified the functionality of the suit jetpacks, ensured the correct sizing of the suits and cleaned the Quest airlock where U.S. spacewalks are staged. These suits will be used on a series of future spacewalks to upgrade batteries on the space station’s truss structure.

Station Preps For Japan Resupply Ship as Next Crew Readies for Mission

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor
Astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor train on a computer in the U.S. Destiny laboratory practicing rendezvous procedures and robotics maneuvers ahead of the arrival of Japan’s HTV-7 resupply ship.

Japan is poised to launch its HTV-7 resupply ship, nicknamed the Kounotori, loaded with over five tons of cargo to the International Space Station on Friday, U.S. time. Back on Earth, a new crew is preparing for its launch from Kazakhstan next month to the orbital lab.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) H-IIB rocket is set to blast off from the Tanegashima Space Center Friday at 4:59 p.m. EDT and send the Kounotori cargo craft on a four-day ride to the station. Commander Drew Feustel and will be in the Cupola Tuesday, with Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor as his backup, to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 7:30 a.m. The duo trained Thursday morning on a computer and practiced rendezvous procedures and robotics maneuvers.

More rodent research continued today as four astronauts teamed up to study how microgravity affects the gastroinstestinal systems of mice. In particular, scientists want to know how gut microbes react to the space environment and the impact it may have on astronaut health. Results will help doctors devise plans and treatments to keep astronauts healthy on long-term missions in outer space.

Two new Expedition 57 crew members are getting ready for their mission at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow. Alexey Ovchinin from Roscosmos and Nick Hague from NASA are in Russia for qualification exams ahead of their launch and six-hour ride aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship to the station on Oct. 11.


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HTV Launch Moves to Friday, Crew Looks at Life Science and Florence

Hurricane Florence
Cameras outside the International Space Station captured a view of Hurricane Florence the morning of Sept. 12 as it churned across the Atlantic in a west-northwesterly direction with winds of 130 miles an hour.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) launch of its HTV-7 resupply ship to the International Space Station has been rescheduled to Friday. U.S. time. Meanwhile, the Expedition 56 crew members focused on life science and sent down imagery and video of Hurricane Florence on Wednesday.

Mission controllers in Japan have rescheduled the HTV-7’s launch to Friday at 4:59 p.m. EDT (5:59 a.m. Sept. 15 Japan standard time) due to weather in the Pacific. The JAXA cargo craft is now planned to deliver over five tons of food, fuel, crew supplies and new science gear to the station Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 7:25 a.m.

In space, four Expedition 56 astronauts teamed up throughout Wednesday to study how living in space affects microbes living inside the gastrointestinal system of rodents. Results will help doctors devise plans and treatments to keep astronauts healthy on long-term missions in outer space.

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Florence is headed for the east coast of the United States and forecasted to gain strength before landfall early Friday. As the orbital lab flew 250 miles above the category four storm this morning, the crew took the opportunity to capture photo and video of Florence.

New HTV Launch Date Adjusts Spacewalk Dates as Science Continues

NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Drew Feustel work a pair of different experiments aboard the International Space Station.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) has rescheduled the launch of its HTV-7 resupply ship to the International Space Station to Thursday, U.S. time. As a result of the new launch and arrival dates for the HTV-7, the target dates for a pair of maintenance spacewalks have been adjusted as well.

More than five tons of food, fuel, crew supplies and new science gear is due to launch Thursday at 5:21 p.m. EDT from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The HTV-7 with the space cargo will take a 3-1/2 day ride to the orbital laboratory where it will be captured Monday with the Canadarm2 robotic arm around 6:50 a.m. It will then be installed on the station’s Harmony module around three hours later. NASA TV will broadcast all the activities live.

The HTV-7 is also delivering six new lithium-ion batteries to the station which will be the focus of the upcoming spacewalk activity. Robotics controllers will remove the new batteries from the HTV-7 and install them on the Port 4 truss structure. Then astronauts Alexander Gerst and Drew Feustel will begin the final battery hookup work on the first of two spacewalks on Sept. 23. Gerst will go outside a second time with spacewalker Ricky Arnold on Sept. 29 to complete the battery hookups.

Gerst, Feustel and Arnold spent a couple of hours today reviewing their upcoming spacewalk procedures and discussing their concerns with specialists on the ground. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor cleaned the trio’s spacesuits’ cooling loops and refilled the suits’ water tanks.

The entire Expedition 56 crew did manage to conduct a variety of science experiments exploring biology and physics in microgravity. The astronauts researched how mice adapt to space and swabbed their own bodies to collect microbe samples for analysis.  The crew also studied liquid atomization and the composition of meteorites entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Science and Suit Work as Storms Capture Attention

Hurricane Florence
Astronaut Ricky Arnold captured this view of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 10 as it churned in the Atlantic headed for the U.S. east coast. Credit: @Astro_Ricky

The six Expedition 56 crew members started the workweek today with life science and spacesuit maintenance. Meanwhile, a typhoon and a hurricane captured the attention of mission managers and the crew alike.

Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold examined mice onboard the International Space Station and them today for the Rodent Research-7 (RR-7) experiment. The duo checked the breathing and mass of the rodents before placing them back in their habitat and restocking their food. RR-7 is observing how microgravity impacts gut microbes and how it may affect astronaut health.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) wrapped up an experiment before finalizing spacesuit work in the U.S. Quest airlock. He stowed science gear in the morning that analyzed the exhaled air of astronauts to detect signs of airway inflammation. In the afternoon, Gerst completed the battery charging of the U.S. spacesuits then began regenerating metal oxide canisters in advance of a pair of spacewalks at the end of the month.

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) officials are tracking Typhoon Mangkhut in the Pacific while the station crew sent down imagery of Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic. Mangkhut was moving on a course near a tracking site in Guam which JAXA uses to follow the progress of the Japanese HTV cargo craft after its launch. That launch was postponed from today to a later date. On the other side of the world, the station flew over Hurricane Florence as it neared the U.S. east coast enabling the crew to capture imagery to share with the world.

Astronauts Swap Roles as Scientists, Spacewalkers and Robotics Controllers

NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold works on an experiment that extracts RNA from biological samples to help researchers decipher the changes in gene expression that take place in microgravity.

September is gearing up to be a very busy month aboard the International Space Station. The six Expedition 56 crew members are headlong in the first week of the month switching roles and juggling a wide variety of critical tasks.

Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA has been swapping roles today as space scientist and spacewalker. The educator-astronaut sequenced RNA today from microbes swabbed from inside the orbital lab’s surfaces. The research is helping scientists understand how life adapts to microgravity providing insights to improve crew health.

Arnold then joined his fellow crew mates, Commander Drew Feustel of NASA and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of ESA, at the end of the day for a review of two spacewalks scheduled for Sept. 20 and 26. The trio reviewed robotics maneuvers and other tasks required for the external battery maintenance work on the Port 4 truss structure at the end of the month.

Feustel also trained for his role as the prime robotics controller when he captures JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) HTV-7 cargo craft with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Sept. 14. JAXA’s seventh resupply ship to visit the space station is due to launch Monday at 6:32 p.m. EDT.

From inside the cupola, Feustel will command the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple the HTV-7 as Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor backs him up next Friday at 7:40 a.m. Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor both joined Feustel for the robotics training today during their afternoon.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Science Gear Work, Japan Spaceship Preps Ahead of Orbital Reboost

The Expedition 56 crew members pose for a fun portrait
The Expedition 56 crew members pose for a fun portrait in the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Clockwise from top are Expedition 56 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Prokopyev and Ricky Arnold. In the center, from left, are ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA.

The Expedition 56 crew members conducted maintenance work on a variety of advanced science gear today to ensure ongoing space research aboard the International Space Station. The crew also continued a pair of exercise studies and trained to capture a Japanese cargo craft before tonight’s orbital reboost of the station.

Commander Drew Feustel spent Wednesday afternoon inside ESA’s (European Space Agency) Columbus laboratory module working on the Electromagnetic Levitator (EML). He installed a new storage disc and a high speed camera controller inside the EML. The space furnace enables research and observations of the properties of materials exposed to extremely high temperatures.

Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold worked in JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Kibo laboratory module during the morning replacing valves inside the EXPRESS Rack-5. The science rack, which was delivered to the orbital lab in 2001, can host a variety of experiments operated by astronauts on the station or remotely by scientists on Earth.

Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA has been contributing to a pair of German exercise studies for a few weeks to help doctors maintain astronaut health. Today, he continued testing a custom-designed thermal t-shirt and researching a wearable device for real-time cardio-pulmonary diagnosis during a workout.

Gerst and Feustel wrapped up the day with Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor reviewing next week’s arrival of JAXA’s HTV-7 resupply ship. The HTV-7’s launch is planned for Monday at 6:32 p.m. EDT and its capture with the Canadarm2 set for Sept. 14 at 7:40 a.m. NASA TV will cover both activities live.

Finally, the orbital lab is due to raise its orbit tonight in the second of three planned maneuvers to prepare for a crew swap in October. The Zvezda service module will fire its engines for 13 seconds slightly boosting the station’s orbit in advance of a pair of Soyuz crew ships departing and arriving next month.

Astronauts Get Ready for Japan’s Seventh Cargo Mission and Two U.S. Spacewalks

Japan's last cargo craft, the HTV-6, is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2
Japan’s last cargo craft, the HTV-6, is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 moments before its release ending its stay Jan. 27, 2017, at the International Space Station.

A rocket carrying Japan’s seventh H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) is poised to launch next Monday on a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The Expedition 56 crew members trained for the HTV-7’s arrival, conducted eye checks and prepared for a pair of spacewalks.

On Sept. 10, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is launching a cargo craft, exactly nine years to the day JAXA launched its first HTV mission, to the space station. The HTV-7 will take a four-day trip before reaching a point just 10 meters away from the orbital lab. Commander Drew Feustel will then grapple it with the Canadarm2 robotic arm as Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor backs him up inside the cupola.

The duo practiced for next week’s approach and rendezvous of the HTV-7 then turned their attention to eye exams and ultrasound eye scans. Their cosmonaut crewmates, Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev, also participated in the eye exams using Optical Coherence Tomography for detailed views of their retinas.

After the HTV-7 arrives, robotics controllers will begin the work of removing six new lithium-ion batteries from the HTV-7’s External Pallet and storing them on the Port 4 (P4) truss structure. They will replace a dozen older nickel-hydrogen batteries on the station’s P4. Nine of the older batteries will be stowed inside the HTV-7 for disposal and the other three stored on the P4.

Three astronauts will then install and hookup the battery adapter plates over a pair of spacewalks planned for Sept. 20 and 26. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will participate in both spacewalks, with Feustel on the first and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold on the second.

NASA TV is broadcasting live the HTV-7 launch and rendezvous activities as well as both spacewalks.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/