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.


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

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.


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

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.


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

Expedition 52 Awaits Wednesday Dragon Arrival, Thursday Spacewalk

Expedition 52 Crew Portrait
The Expedition 52 crew poses for a unique portrait. Pictured clockwise from top right are, Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli, Jack Fischer, Peggy Whitson, Sergey Ryazanskiy, Randy Bresnik and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin.

The SpaceX Dragon is hauling advanced space research for delivery Wednesday morning to the International Space Station. Two cosmonauts are also gearing up for the seventh station spacewalk this year set to begin Thursday morning.

Dragon is less than 24 hours from its approach and rendezvous with the space station for SpaceX’s third resupply mission this year. Astronauts Jack Fischer and Paolo Nespoli will be in the Cupola commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Dragon at 7 a.m. EDT Wednesday. NASA TV will begin live coverage of Dragon’s arrival at 5:30 a.m.

Dragon will stay open at the station’s Harmony module for a month of cargo swaps. The astronauts will offload new life science studies to improve therapies against Parkinson’s disease and explore ways to grow lung tissue as well as other research. A new pair of external experiments will also be deployed including a cosmic ray study to be installed outside of the Kibo lab module and a nanosatellite technology demonstration.

Two cosmonauts are trying on their Orlan spacesuits today to ensure they are ready for Thursday morning’s spacewalk. Veteran spacewalkers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy will exit the Pirs airlock at 10:45 a.m. for about six hours of science and maintenance work. Thursday’s spacewalk highlight will be when Ryazanskiy manually deploys five nanosatellites, including the first 3D printed CubeSat, into Earth orbit.


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

Astronauts Work Muscle Scans and Science Gear Upgrades

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer
Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer work on station systems inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

From leg muscle scans to observing materials burning at high temperatures, the Expedition 52 crew continued researching what happens when you live in space. The space residents also upgraded electronics gear and installed new science racks.

Astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli are barely a week into their 4-1/2 month long mission and are already exploring what space is doing to their bodies. The astronauts took ultrasound scans of their legs today to assess the changes their leg muscles and tendons are undergoing. The data will later be compared to the condition of their muscles before and after their spaceflight mission.

Jack Fischer of NASA installed new electronics gear in a science rack to speed up the communications rate at which data is uploaded and downloaded from the research facility. Station veteran Peggy Whitson swapped out samples exposed to high temperatures inside a specialized furnace. She later installed a pair of NanoRacks research platforms in the Kibo laboratory module. The commercial science devices will support upcoming experiments being delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon mission.


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

Astronauts Look at Ways to Prevent Space Headaches and Bone Loss

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli
Astronaut Paolo Nespoli checks out a science freezer inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

The crew today researched ways to alleviate headaches and reverse bone loss in space to improve mission performance. Meanwhile, the station’s three newest residents also checked out station emergency gear and systems.

Common ailments that afflict people on Earth such as headaches also affect astronauts in space impacting their mission activities. Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik are jotting down their experiences this week to help doctors understand space headaches. Observations may reduce their effects and improve performance during spaceflight and on Earth.

NASA astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson are studying a new drug for its potential to slow or reverse bone loss in space. They looked at bones in mice today to help determine the efficacy of the new drug.  The lack of gravity causes osteoporosis-like symptoms weakening bones in space possibly impacting crews returning to Earth and experiencing gravity for the first time in months.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy joined his crewmates Nespoli and Bresnik this afternoon familiarizing themselves with the station’s emergency equipment. The new trio explored their new home in space taking note of safety gear locations and escape paths.


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

Experienced Trio Brings Station Crew up to Full Speed

Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik
Astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik are at work in their new home in space where they will live until mid-December.

Expedition 52 is now up to full speed with six crew members. The latest trio from the United States, Italy and Russia arrived Friday afternoon beginning a 4-1/2 month mission in space.

The new crew is familiarizing itself with International Space Station systems and getting used to life 250 miles above Earth’s surface. NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik is starting his second space mission and spent time on Tuesday replacing networking hardware in the Japanese Experiment Module.

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency is on his third spaceflight. Nespoli took part in the Sarcolab-3 study using the Muscle Atrophy Research & Exercise System (MARES) chair in the Columbus module. The data collected for Sarcolab-3 will be used to assess microgravity’s impact on muscle loss in astronauts, focusing specifically on the calf muscle in the leg.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy begins his second mission aboard the station as a flight engineer. He last visited the orbital complex in 2013 with his Expedition 37-38 crewmates. Ryazanskiy conducted routine maintenance across the station’s Russian segment and assisted Nespoli during the Sarcolab-3 experiment session.


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

Trio Ready to Begin Space Mission Lasting till Mid-December

Soyuz MS-05 Rocket
The Soyuz MS-05 rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

It is less than one day before three new International Space Station crew members start a 4-1/2 month mission in space. The trio from Russia, United States and Italy will launch aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft Friday at 11:41 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli will dock to the Rassvet module having left Earth just six hours and 19 minutes earlier. After pressure checks the hatches will open and the crew will fly into their new home. They will join their Expedition 52 crewmates Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer.

Meanwhile, space research continues apace as scientists on the ground and the crew observe microgravity’s effects on humans, plants and animals. Research on the station also runs the gamut of physics, technology, earth observations and more, benefitting life on Earth and future crews in space.

All three crew members orbiting Earth today once again explored a lower body suit that has the potential to reverse the headward flow of body fluids in space. Whitson then studied new methods to manage liquid and gas mixtures on spacecraft life support systems. Fischer began setting up gear for an upcoming Japanese plant experiment.


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

Crew Tests Lower Body Suit to Protect Vision; Soyuz Rocket Rolls Out Wednesday

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson looks at the Earth below from inside the seven-windowed cupola.

One of the effects of living in space is the tendency of fluids to shift upward towards an astronaut’s head. This results in the common “puffy face” appearance astronauts experience when they escape Earth’s gravity. However, the more serious effects observed on orbit could include eye and vision damage.

The three Expedition 52 crew members are exploring a unique device that reverses some of these headward fluid shifts and could counter changes to vision in space. Peggy Whitson of NASA tried on the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit today with assistance from Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer joined the commander and conducted brain/ear fluid pressure tests and eye exams on Whitson.

Back on Earth, three new Expedition 52-53 crew members will see their Soyuz MS-05 rocket roll out to its launch pad Wednesday. The trio from the United States, Russia and Italy will blast off inside the Soyuz rocket Friday at 11:41 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Randy Bresnik of NASA, Sergey Ryazanskiy from Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency will live on the orbital complex until mid-December.


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

Crew Conducts Research to Mitigate the Human Body’s Response to Spaceflight

Sprint investigation
Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer assess spaceflight-induced changes in muscle volume with the Sprint study.

The crew of Expedition 52 wrapped up an intensive week of research on Friday, concentrating on studies in the field of human health and performance.

On Thursday, the crew conducted their second ultrasound for the Sprint investigation, which studies the use of high-intensity, low-volume exercise training to minimize the loss of muscle, bone and cardiovascular fitness during long-duration space excursions. Using meticulous thigh and calf scans through remote guidance from the ground team, these results will help determine what changes astronauts are experiencing in microgravity and how best to manage those fluctuations for future missions.

Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer today will gather and transfer Fluid Shifts hardware to the station’s Russian segment in preparation for Fluid Shifts Chibis (Lower Body Negative Pressure) operations that begin on Monday. Fluid Shifts investigates the causes for lasting physical changes to astronaut’s eyes—a side effect of human space exploration in a microgravity environment. It’s theorized that the headward fluid shift in space-faring explorers contributes to these changes. In response, a lower body negative pressure device is being evaluated to see if it can perhaps reverse this fluid shift. As an added bonus, what investigators glean from this study may contribute to the development of countermeasures against lasting changes in vision and prevention of eye damage.

The Expedition 52-53 crew that will lift off to the International Space Station within a week is finalizing preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, along with astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli, are slated to launch July 28 at 11:41 a.m. EDT for a six-hour journey to the orbiting laboratory. NASA TV will cover all the activities, so tune in.


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