Eye Research, Treadmill Servicing Keeps Crew Busy Tuesday

NASA astronaut Raja Chari works on a biotechnology study that may advance technologies for use in space and in extreme environments on Earth.
NASA astronaut Raja Chari works on a biotechnology study that may advance technologies for use in space and in extreme environments on Earth.

A full day of eye research and treadmill maintenance kept the Expedition 66 crew members busy on Tuesday. Two crew mates also had a light duty day aboard the International Space Station ahead of their return to Earth at the end of the month.

Three astronauts worked throughout the day continuing to research how living in space affects eye structure and visual function. NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron were assisted by ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer in the Kibo laboratory module to help doctors understand why some astronauts have reported vision issues in microgravity and after returning to Earth. Results may help doctors develop treatments for eye conditions experienced by astronauts and Earthlings.

NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn spent Tuesday working in the Tranquility module servicing the COLBERT treadmill. He started with a visual inspection before aligning components on the exercise device to ensure it remained centered inside Tranquility. COLBERT was delivered to the orbital lab over 12 years ago aboard space shuttle Discovery.

Two crew members had minimal duties on Tuesday as they near the end of their 355-day mission. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov are due to return to Earth on March 30 just 10 days short of a one-year stay on the space station. Vande Hei set up a camera for an ongoing archaeological experiment aboard the station while Dubrov conducted inspections in the Russian segment. The duo will ride alongside Commander Anton Shkaplerov, who has been aboard the station since October, inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship.

Shkaplerov will be completing his fourth space station mission, while Vande Hei will land with the NASA single spaceflight record surpassing astronaut Scott Kelly’s record of 340 days set back in 2016. Dubrov will be completing his first spaceflight.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Crew Works Robotics, Spacesuits as Station Orbits Higher for Crew Swap

The aurora australis streams above the Indian Ocean in this picture from the space station as it orbited 270 miles above the Earth.
The aurora australis streams above the Indian Ocean in this picture from the space station as it orbited 270 miles above the Earth.

The Expedition 66 crew kicked off the week working on robotics, spacesuits, and advanced research equipment. The International Space Station is also orbiting higher to get ready for a crew swap at the end of March.

Flight Engineers Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) started Monday collecting their blood samples then stowing them for future analysis. The duo then split up, as Chari spent the afternoon studying robotics mobility using the cube-shaped, toaster-sized Astrobee free-flyer. The Astrobatics investigation explores using hopping maneuvers to minimize propellant to inform future robotic missions. Maurer set up the Fluid Science Laboratory for the PASTA experiment that has implications for commercial applications such as pharmaceuticals, oil and fuels, paints and coatings, and more.

The crew is also revving up for a pair of spacewalks in mid-March to continue modifying the orbiting lab’s power systems. Maurer and NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn worked on U.S. spacesuit jet packs that an astronaut could use to maneuver to safety in the unlikely event of becoming untethered from the station. Marshburn also reviewed plans to assist spacewalkers from inside the space station including suit up procedures, hardware checks and a communications gear overview.

Orbital maintenance is key in space ensuring the station’s multitude of systems, including research and life support, operate safely and continuously. Astronaut Kayla Barron of NASA worked on payload components that support science experiments outside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module on its exposed facility unit. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei spent some time unpacking cargo from the Cygnus space freighter before swapping out gear inside the U.S. oxygen generation assembly.

The space station is orbiting slightly higher after Russia’s ISS Progress 79 cargo craft fired its engines for eight minutes on Friday evening. The orbital reboost maneuver puts the station at the proper altitude for the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship launch on March 18 and Vande Hei’s return to Earth on March 30 with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship.

Crew Unpacks Cargo Dragon and Starts New Space Research

The Prichal, pictured still attached to the Progress delivery vehicle, is docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module as the station orbited into a sunrise.
The Prichal, pictured still attached to the Progress delivery vehicle, is docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module as the station orbited into a sunrise.

The Expedition 66 crew members continue unpacking the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle and initiating brand new microgravity investigations. Some of the new science taking place aboard the International Space Station today is looking at plant genetics, human cellular function, and even space laundry techniques.

The four NASA astronauts living on the orbital lab took turns on Tuesday offloading some of the 6,500 pounds of new crew supplies, station hardware, and science experiments. Flight Engineer Kayla Barron began her morning working inside the Cargo Dragon. She then serviced samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace, a research device that observes the thermophysical properties of high temperature materials.

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Thomas Marshburn and Raja Chari got together on Tuesday afternoon to unpack the Cargo Dragon as well. Vande Hei and Marshburn have also begun work on a pair of new experiments exploring how to improve life in space. Vande Hei is testing detergent samples to learn how to keep clothes clean in a variety of gravity environments during long-term space missions. Marshburn set up the Veggie botany research facility for observing plant growth at the genetic level to promote space agriculture. Chari collected and spun his blood samples in a centrifuge then stowed them for later analysis. Afterward, Chari entered the Columbus laboratory module and began organizing cargo packed inside.

Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) collected research hardware from inside Columbus for a space biology investigation. He then began assembling that gear and thawing culture chambers inside the Kibo laboratory module. The work is for the new Cytoskeleton biology study, taking place in the Life Science Glovebox, and will explore how the machinery of the human cell is impacted by weightlessness.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, along with Vande Hei, started their day practicing emergency evacuation procedures. The trio trained on a computer for the procedures they would use in the unlikely event they would have to quickly board the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, undock and return to Earth. Shkaplerov then unpacked Russian spacewalk gear delivered recently aboard the Prichal docking module. Dubrov focused on electronics and hardware maintenance for the rest of the day.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Last Week of 2021 Sees New Space Research Kick Off

The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module as the International Space Station orbited 260 miles above southeast Asia.
The Soyuz MS-19 crew ship is pictured docked to the Rassvet module as the International Space Station orbited 260 miles above southeast Asia.

The seven-member Expedition 66 crew is going into the final week of 2021 with a host of science experiments exploring numerous space phenomena benefitting astronauts in space and humans on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron worked on a pair of space farming studies during Monday afternoon exploring a variety of plant characteristics. Vande Hei set up components for the MVP (Multi Variable Platform) Plant-01 experiment inside the Harmony module. That study is investigating how a plant’s molecular mechanisms and regulatory networks adapt to weightlessness. Barron worked inside the Kibo laboratory module and configured the Plant Habitat-05 investigation which will observe the regenerative capacity of a variety of cotton genotypes.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn started Monday morning transferring research samples to science freezers in the Kibo lab. Chari then moved on and updated emergency checklists while also collecting and stowing his blood and urine samples for later analysis. Marshburn serviced the station’s oxygen generation system then unpacked medical gear from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle.

Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) spent his day working throughout the orbiting lab on a variety of research gear. Maurer first swapped science freezers inside the Unity module. Next, he installed the BioSentinel radiation exposure study in the Kibo lab. Finally, the astronaut from Germany worked in the Columbus laboratory module thawing research samples for the Cytoskeleton experiment before uninstalling the Kubik incubator.

The station’s commander, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, recharged computer tablets inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship while also working on Russian life support maintenance throughout the day. Russian Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov checked out electronics gear in the morning before joining Shkaplerov in the afternoon and replacing components on the Zvezda service module’s treadmill.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Crew Gets Ready for Cargo Dragon after Visitors Leave Station

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon (top) and Crew Dragon vehicles are pictured in September docked to the station's Harmony module.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon (top) and Crew Dragon vehicles are pictured in September docked to the station’s Harmony module.

SpaceX has rolled out its Falcon 9 rocket with the Cargo Dragon vehicle attached to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon 9 is due to lift off at 5:06 a.m. EST on Tuesday placing the Cargo Dragon into orbit for a docking at the International Space Station at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Expedition 66 Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn of NASA will be on duty monitoring the Cargo Dragon’s automated docking to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Dragon is delivering about 6,500 pounds crew supplies and new science experiments including a cancer treatment study and a handheld bioprinter. Live launch coverage begins at 4:45 a.m. on Tuesday on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The orbiting lab has returned to its occupancy rate of seven crew members after three visitors departed and returned to Earth on Sunday. Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin led spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano inside the Soyuz MS-20 crew ship when they undocked from the Poisk module at 6:50 p.m. EST. The trio aboard the Soyuz parachuted to landing in Kazakhstan less than three-and-a-half hours later completing an 11-day station mission.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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NASA TV Covers Soyuz Crew Ship Trio Landing Soon on Earth

Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano are pictured aboard the station on Dec. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA TV
Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano are pictured aboard the station on Dec. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA TV

NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app are now broadcasting live coverage of the return to Earth of a veteran Russian cosmonaut and two Japanese private citizens.

The Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft carrying Russian  cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will join spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano will make its deorbit burn at 9:18 p.m. EST to set the spaceship on its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:13 p.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 19. (9:13 a.m. Monday, Dec. 20, Kazakhstan time).


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Crew Ramps Up for Visitors’ Departure and U.S. Cargo Mission

The three-person Soyuz MS-20 crew (front row) participates in a group portrait with the seven-member Expedition 66 crew.
The three-person Soyuz MS-20 crew (front row) participates in a group portrait with the seven-member Expedition 66 crew.

Next week will see a U.S. resupply ship launch toward the International Space Station following Sunday’s departure of three orbiting lab visitors. Meanwhile, the seven Expedition 66 crewmates continued their space biology and physics research while maintaining station systems.

SpaceX is due to launch its Cargo Dragon spacecraft from Florida on Tuesday at 5:06 a.m. EST to replenish the station crew. It will automatically dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. delivering about 6,500 pounds of new science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware. NASA TV will cover both events live on the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn are training for the U.S. cargo mission. The duo reviewed Cargo Dragon’s approach and rendezvous profile and got familiarized with docked operations. Both flight engineers will be on duty Wednesday morning monitoring the commercial craft’s automated arrival and docking.

Three space travelers are nearing the end of their 11-day mission as they prepare to return to Earth this weekend. Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin has been staging gear to be packed inside the Soyuz MS-20 crew ship and checking components inside the Russian spacecraft. He’ll lead Japanese spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano back home when the spacecraft undocks on Sunday at 6:50 p.m. and parachutes to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:18 p.m. NASA TV coverage begins at 3 p.m. when the departing trio says farewell to the station crew and closes the Soyuz vehicle’s hatch.

Human research is ongoing in space as Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer began Friday with blood and saliva collections and stowed the samples in a science freezer for future analysis. Barron of NASA then spent the afternoon inspecting personal protective equipment. Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) swapped samples for a wet foams study then configured components that support the EasyMotion space exercise suit.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei continued more runs today of the InSPACE-4 manufacturing study learning how to manipulate nanoparticles in weightlessness. Vande Hei then wrapped up his day early following a busy week of space physics research taking place inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox .

The two Expedition 66 cosmonauts, Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, started the day attaching sensors to their hands for a muscle study. Shkaplerov then analyzed the Zvezda service module’s atmosphere and checked Russian life support and electronics hardware. Dubrov worked on communications gear and downloaded data collected from radiation detectors.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Science and Exercise Hardware Work as Trio Nears Departure

A waxing crescent Moon during is pictured from the station during an orbital sunset as it flew above the Pacific Ocean.
A waxing crescent Moon during is pictured from the station during an orbital sunset as it flew above the Pacific Ocean.

The seven-member Expedition 66 crew spent Thursday servicing physics research gear and exercise hardware aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the orbiting lab’s three visitors are preparing for their departure on Sunday.

The coldest temperatures in the Universe can be found inside the space station’s Cold Atom Lab (CAL). Atoms are chilled to temperatures near absolute zero allowing scientists to observe fundamental behaviors and quantum characteristics not possible on Earth. NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari opened the CAL today and replaced computer hardware inside the space physics device.

Human research is always ongoing aboard the station helping scientists understand how microgravity affects humans as NASA prepares to go to the Moon, Mars and beyond. NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn scanned his right leg’s femoral artery with an ultrasound device to observe accelerated aging-like characteristics in the cardiovascular system that take place in weightlessness.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov replaced a motor inside the Zvezda service module’s treadmill during the afternoon. Flight surgeons regularly monitor space exercise ensuring crew members maintain muscle and bone health during long term space missions.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei took a robotics test for the Behavioral Core Measures space psychology study and continued researching how to manipulate nanoparticles. Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) spent his day maintaining science and computer systems inside the Columbus laboratory module.

Three station visitors are nearing the end of their mission and getting ready to return to Earth on Sunday. Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin led Japanese spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano on a review of the descent procedures they will use as they soar into the atmosphere aboard the Soyuz MS-20 crew ship. The trio will undock from the Poisk module on Sunday at 6:50 p.m. EST and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:13 p.m.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Research Focusing on Muscles, Botany during Russian Spaceship Work

Astronaut Kayla Barron is pictured inside the seven-windowed cupola, the space station's "window to the world."
Astronaut Kayla Barron is pictured inside the seven-windowed cupola, the space station’s “window to the world.”

Wednesday’s research schedule aboard the International Space Station highlighted the human muscular and circulatory systems as well as botany. The Expedition 66 crew also continued its space physics studies while working on docked Russian spacecraft.

The lack of gravity affects the human body and station crew members exercise about two hours a day to counteract the loss of bone and muscle. Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) focused their science work today on how weightlessness affects the biochemical properties of muscles. Maurer scanned Marshburn’s arm, leg, back and neck muscles with an ultrasound device before and after the NASA astronaut worked out on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED). Observations may help doctors increase muscle health in space and on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari is setting up the Advanced Plant Habitat in the Kibo laboratory module which will house a space botany experiment launching on the next SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission. Over in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module, NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Mark Vande Hei took turns researching how to manipulate nanoparticles for the InSPACE-4 space manufacturing study.

In the station’s Russian segment, Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov unpacked cargo from the ISS Progress 79 cargo craft and inspected the Rassvet, Poisk and Nauka modules. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov focused on electronics work and cable connections.

Visiting Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin from Roscosmos loaded gear and readied the Soyuz MS-20 crew ship for its return on Sunday. Japanese spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano spent the day videotaping and photographing the Earth and continued more research into how the circulatory system behaves in space.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Ten Residents Aboard Station Wrap Up Week with Space Biology

NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron are pictured in front of the International Space Station's Advanced Plant Habitat.
NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron are pictured in front of the International Space Station’s Advanced Plant Habitat.

Space biology led the research schedule for the seven-member Expedition 66 crew aboard the International Space Station on Friday. The orbiting lab’s three guests also spent their day on a variety of Russian space experiments.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron partnered up throughout the day replacing components inside the Advanced Plant Habitat. Three-time station resident Thomas Marshburn of NASA prepared the Mouse Habitat Unit for upcoming rodent research.

Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) collected his blood sample and analyzed it using the Bio-Analyzer. At the end of the day, he joined Marshburn for retina scans conducted by NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari using specialized imaging hardware with support from doctors on the ground.

Station commander and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov worked on a pair of studies exploring how weightlessness affects the cardiovascular system and microbes then charged batteries inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov continued servicing and photographing bacteria samples for the Microvir space virus investigation.

Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, commander of the 11-day Soyuz MS-20 mission, serviced samples for a Russian microbiology study and had an Earth photography session. The two spaceflight participants from Japan, Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano, contributed to a study that explores how space affects the circulatory system.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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

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