Cygnus Leaves Station Tuesday Morning

Cygnus Arrives at Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured arriving at the station March 26. The tip of the Canadarm2 that captured Cygnus moments later is at top right.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station beginning at 9 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 14. Release from the space station’s Canadarm2 is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

About five hours after departure, the Saffire-I experiment will take place onboard the uncrewed cargo craft. Saffire-I provides a new way to study a realistic fire on a spacecraft. This hasn’t been possible in the past because the risks for performing such studies on crewed spacecraft are too high. Instruments on the returning Cygnus will measure flame growth, oxygen use and more. Results could determine microgravity flammability limits for several spacecraft materials, help to validate NASA’s material selection criteria, and help scientists understand how microgravity and limited oxygen affect flame size. The investigation is crucial for the safety of current and future space missions.

Watch the departure live on NASA TV or at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

For more information about Orbital ATK’s mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk.

For more information about the International Space Station, and its research and crews, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

More Cubesats Deployed as Crew Studies Bones and Muscles

Commander Tim Kopra
Commander Tim Kopra, from Austin, Texas, poses inside the cupola as the station orbits over the Earth below.

A new wave of Cubesats was shot into space today for a wide variety of Earth observations and communications research. The crew also explored life science and worked on high-flying plumbing tasks.

Today’s set of Cubesat deployments from the Kibo lab module’s airlock was the second of three consecutive days of deployment operations. The Dove Satellites deployed today are built and operated by Planet Labs Inc. and take images of Earth for several humanitarian and environmental applications.

Back inside the International Space Station, the crew took bone density measurements in mice in the Microgravity Science Glovebox to learn how living in space affects muscles and bones. The Rodent Research-3 experiment is testing an antibody used on Earth that may prevent muscle and bone wasting in space possibly improving the health of astronauts and humans on the ground.

The Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC), one of the orbital lab’s restrooms, experienced a problem last week requiring some part replacement work. That maintenance work coincided with the installation of a new Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly in support of transition to new pre-treat formula which aims to increase the amount of urine that is recycled into potable water.

Station Reaches 100,000 Orbits, Deploys Cubesats

Milky Way and Lightning
This image taken from a time lapse sequence aboard the space station shows the Milky Way and a lightning strike on Earth.

The International Space Station completed its 100,000th orbit early this morning after its first component, the Zarya cargo module, launched Nov. 20, 1998. That is over 2.6 billion miles traveled, nearly the distance from Earth to Neptune (2.9 billion miles), or ten round trips from Mars to Earth.

A few hours after the station reached this morning’s orbital benchmark, a several types of Cubesats were deployed from the Kibo lab module’s airlock. More Cubesats will deployed through Wednesday contributing to a wide variety of research designed by students and scientists.

The crew is measuring the grip strength of mice today for the Rodent Research experiment. That study is exploring an antibody used on Earth that may prevent the weakening of muscles and bones in space.

A laptop computer is being readied ahead of next week’s expansion of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). The computer will monitor sensors and prepare for upcoming BEAM operations.

Robotic Arm Inspects Dragon Today amid Advanced Science

South Africa and Cape Town
The very bottom tip of Africa is imaged here as captured by the crew of the International Space Station on April 3rd, 2016. South Africa’s capitol Cape Town is located at the bottom left of this beautiful Earth picture captured on a sunny day.

Expedition 47 continues exploring how the lack of gravity affects astronauts and technology to help NASA plan longer missions farther out into space. Meanwhile, the Canadian Space Agency’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, has been maneuvered into position before it releases the SpaceX Dragon on Wednesday.

The crew set up the Fluid Shifts experiment again today utilizing a specialized body suit. The suit measures fluid movements between the upper and lower body. These fluid shifts have been known to increase head pressure potentially affecting a crew member’s eyesight.

Surface and air samples were taken today inside the International Space Station to study the diversity of microbes on the orbital lab. Hardware was also set up to download imagery taken for the Strata-1 study which is exploring how soil from other planetary bodies might behave. That research may help scientists design future spacesuits and space gear.

SpaceX is getting ready for the release and splashdown of its Dragon cargo craft on May 11. The 57.7-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm is inspecting Dragon’s thermal protection system and will grapple the spacecraft later today.

Fluid Pressure Research and Robotic Preps for Dragon Release

Bahama Island Chain
Oblique south-looking view of the main Bahama island chain as seen from the International Space Station.

The astronauts onboard the International Space Station are researching how microgravity affects fluid shifts in a crew member’s body. Ground controllers are also guiding Canada’s robotic arm into position before next week’s grapple and release of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

The Fluid Shifts experiment will wrap up operations this week with the crew wearing specialized body suits. The suits, known as Chibis Lower Body Negative Pressure devices, measure how fluids move from the lower body to the upper body while living in space. The research also observes fluid shifts in and out of cells and blood vessels which may impact head pressure potentially affecting vision.

Robotics controllers are remotely guiding the Canadarm2 to the Harmony module where it will grapple Dragon ahead of the spacecraft’s May 11 release and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Yesterday, the controllers surveyed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s condition with the Canadarm2 and its cameras.

Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka is on his second mission aboard the space station. His first mission during Expedition 25/26 lasted 159 days. Currently, he is Expedition 47 Flight Engineer and today is his 47th day aboard the orbital lab since his March arrival with fellow crew members Jeff Williams and Alexey Ovchinin.

Crew Looks at Plants and Mice for Health Insights

Astronaut Tim Peake
Astronaut Tim Peake from the European Space Agency talks to science and space journalists gathered at The Royal Institution in London, England. Credit: NASA TV

Today, the crew is observing how the lack of gravity affects plants and rodents. NASA is using the observations to improve the health of astronauts in space and humans on Earth.

The crew is stowing plant samples harvested for the Plant Gravity Sensing botany study to understand how roots sense gravity. The samples are being inserted into a science freezer for return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon next week. Results may help astronauts grow their own food while living in space.

Rodents are also being observed in a habitat designed to house them in space. The Rodent Research-3 experiment is studying how space changes the musculoskeletal system and if an antibody that prevents muscle weakening on Earth works in space.

Dragon is still being loaded with gear and science for analysis on the ground. The private space freighter will be removed from the Harmony module and released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean May 11.

This Week’s Research Improving Health as Dragon Preps for Departure

SpaceX Dragon
Morning breaks for astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft sits on the left side of the frame, attached to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.

The International Space Station crew is wrapping up the week after working on a series of ongoing life science and robotics studies. The SpaceX Dragon is also nearing the end of its stay and preparing for a return to Earth.

The astronauts have been helping scientists gather data on what happens to the human body when exposed to microgravity to help NASA plan longer missions farther out into space. Observations from the human research studies help doctors design exercise techniques, diets and other countermeasures to keep astronauts healthy.

British astronaut Tim Peake collected tap water and body samples for the Energy experiment today. That study is aiding doctors’ efforts to determine an astronaut’s energy requirements to improve crew health and performance. He also tested the ability of controlling a rover on Earth, or any planetary surface, from a computer on a spacecraft. The METERON experiment may benefit future missions to Mars or hazardous tasks on Earth.

Experiment samples, gear and other hardware is being packed inside the Dragon space freighter attached to the Harmony module. Dragon will be released from Harmony May 11 ending a month-long stay. After its departure it will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later where the spacecraft and its cargo will be retrieved by SpaceX engineers.

Filipino Satellite Deployed from Japanese Lab

Filipino Satellite and Japanese Lab
The Filipino DIWATA-1 satellite is deployed (left) from the Japanese Kibo lab module (right). Credit: NASA TV

A microsatellite designed in the Philippines was deployed outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module this morning for climate research. Inside the International Space Station, the crew continued more human research to improve the health of astronauts in space and citizens on Earth.

DIWATA-1, Filipino for “fairy”, is orbiting Earth after being released today from a satellite deployer mechanism outside the Kibo module’s airlock. The 50-kilogram-class microsatellite will observe the Earth’s climate to improve weather forecasting and natural disaster response.

The Expedition 47 crew is continuing its research today into how the lack of gravity affects the fluid shifts and pressure inside a crew member’s head. Scientists are also looking at how astronauts work with detailed, interactive tasks for the Fine Motor Skills study using a touchscreen tablet.

The space station regularly experiences stresses on its structure when spaceships dock, during spacewalks and crew exercise sessions. Researchers will look at some of the vibration data sent down by the crew today for the long-running Identification study.

Bone and Muscle Research, Future Spacecraft Preps Today

Astronauts Jeff Williams and Tim Peake
Astronauts Jeff Williams and Tim Peake talk to students in Dallas, Texas for an educational event. Credit: NASA TV

The six Expedition 47 crew members were back at work Tuesday exploring life science and other fields to advance humanity on and off Earth. The International Space Station residents also checked out new spacecraft communications gear.

Scientists are researching how the lack of gravity weakens bones and muscles. They are testing an antibody used on Earth that prevents this weakening in mice. The facility that houses the mice on the station for this study was inspected today then restocked with food.

Hardware was set up today that will measure fluid pressure in an astronaut’s head for the Fluid Shifts experiment. That study observes how living in space impacts cells and blood vessels and researches the possibility that it may affect vision.

The crew continues to document its living conditions on the space station to help engineers design future spacecraft with habitable accommodations. New radios that were installed in March are also being tested that will communicate with future spacecraft to visit the station.

Astronaut Completes London Marathon, Station Trio Relaxes

Astronaut Tim Peake
Astronaut Tim Peake, from the European Space Agency, checks science hardware inside the Columbus lab module.

Three Expedition 47 crew members are relaxing today after several weeks of supporting the arrival and departure of numerous cargo vehicles. The other three Russian crew members continued their science and maintenance duties.

British astronaut Tim Peake strapped himself into the Tranquility module’s treadmill Sunday and ran the 26.2 mile London Marathon. The last time an astronaut ran a marathon in space was April 16, 2007, when Expedition 14 Flight Engineer Suni Williams completed the Boston Marathon on a treadmill in the Zvezda service module.

Some of the science taking place onboard the orbital laboratory looked at an astronaut’s energy requirements necessary to sustain a long-term mission beyond low-Earth orbit. The crew also looked at cardiovascular performance, the forces the space station experiences during dynamic mission events and observed the health of forests on Earth.