Crew Trains to Capture U.S. Spaceship and Studies the Brain and Breathing

NASA astronaut Anne McClain
NASA astronaut Anne McClain is suited up in the U.S. Quest airlock preparing to begin what would be a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk on April 8, 2019.

The Expedition 59 crew is now training to capture a U.S. cargo ship when it arrives at the International Space Station next week. The orbital lab residents are also busy researching how living in space affects the human mind and body.

Fresh off their spacewalk Monday, astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are now practicing to capture Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. McClain will be at the robotics workstation in the cupola April 19 and command the Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus around 5:30 a.m. EDT. Saint-Jacques will back her up while Flight Engineer Nick Hague monitors Cygnus’ systems during its approach and rendezvous. The commercial cargo craft is due to launch April 17 at 4:46 p.m. from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Hague started his day with more brain research in the Japanese Kibo lab module. The NASA astronaut used a Doppler device to record his arterial blood flow waveforms. The data will help doctors understand how the brain regulates blood flow in microgravity.

The astronauts also researched how the station’s atmosphere affects breathing. The experiment studies how dust, particles and exhaled breath inflames a crewmember’s airways. Observations may reveal conditions that exacerbate or alleviate airway inflammation influencing future space missions.

SpaceX has announced April 26 as the launch date for its next Dragon cargo mission. The private space freighter will blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida arriving at the station April 28. This time Saint-Jacques will lead the robotics capture activities while Hague backs him up.

Post-Spacewalk Checkups and Space Research Before U.S. Cargo Deliveries

Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency
Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency takes a quick self portrait during a spacewalk while working outside the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew has switched focus from Monday’s spacewalk to microgravity science aboard the International Space Station. Soon, the orbital residents will be unpacking a pair of U.S. space freighters.

Astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are conducting their post-spacewalk medical checkups today. The astronauts measured their temperature, blood pressure, respiration and ear condition. After the checkups, the spacewalkers had their eyes scanned with an ultrasound device by Flight Engineer Nick Hague.

The spacewalking duo along with NASA astronaut Christina Koch also had an hour-long video debrief session with specialists on the ground. The crew and mission controllers discussed lessons they learned that could inform the planning of future spacewalks.

Koch spent most of her day on maintenance replacing science hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. The research device enables safe investigations of microgravity’s impacts on solid and gaseous fuel combustion aboard the orbital lab. Hague explored how blood flows to the brain for the Cerebral Autoregulation study. The brain research uses Doppler technology that measures blood flow waveforms to help doctors understand and treat space-caused lightheadedness.

With the recent series of spacewalks now complete, the crew will soon be turning its attention to the arrival of two resupply ships. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft and the SpaceX Dragon will each deliver science and supplies before the end of the month to replenish the space station crew. Cygnus is due to blast off for a three-month mission attached to the station’s Unity module April 17. Dragon is targeted to liftoff at the end of April for a month-long stay at the Harmony module.

U.S. and Canadian Astronauts Wrap Up Power Upgrades Spacewalk

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques
Astronauts Anne McClain (left) and David Saint-Jacques work outside the International Space Station during their spacewalk on April 8, 2019.

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency concluded their spacewalk at 2 p.m. EDT. During the six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully established a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, and installed cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability. The duo also relocated an adapter plate from the first spacewalk in preparation for future battery upgrade operations.

This was the third spacewalk in just under a month on the space station. The first two spacewalks installed powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station’s solar arrays. On March 22, the first spacewalk was completed by McClain and fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague. On March 28, the second spacewalk was completed by Hague and NASA astronaut Christina Koch.

  • March 22 was the first spacewalk for NASA astronauts Hague and McClain. McClain became the 13th female spacewalker in history.
  • March 29 also was the first spacewalk for NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who became the 14th female to complete a spacewalk.
  • Saint-Jacques became the first Canadian Expedition astronaut to walk in space and the fourth Canadian astronaut to spacewalk overall.
  • Space station crew members have conducted 216 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 56 days 10 hours and 53 minutes working outside the station.

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.

Astronauts Conducting Third Spacewalk to Upgrade Station Power Systems

NASA astronaut Anne McClain
NASA astronaut Anne McClain works outside the U.S. Quest airlock during a March 22, 2019, spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power storage capacity.

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques have begun the third spacewalk in under a month on the exterior of the International Space Station. Today’s spacewalk will work to establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, and install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

The spacewalkers set their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:31 a.m. EDT then exited the Quest airlock into the vacuum of space. The team will spend about six-and-a-half hours installing truss jumpers to provide a redundant power source for the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

This is the 216th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. McClain will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes. Saint-Jacques will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.

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

Monday’s Spacewalk Will Be Broadcast Live on NASA TV

NASA astronaut Anne McClain takes a "space-selfie"
NASA astronaut Anne McClain takes a “space-selfie” with her helmet visor up 260 miles above the Earth’s surface during a spacewalk on March 22, 2019.

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to conduct another spacewalk Monday, April 8, to establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, and install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website. Live coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 6:30 a.m., and is expected to last about 6.5 hours. The spacewalk is set to start at 8:05 a.m.

This will be the 216th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. McClain will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes. Saint-Jacques will be designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes.

This is the third spacewalk in under a month on the space station. The first two spacewalks installed powerful lithium-ion batteries for one pair of the station’s solar arrays. On March 22, the first spacewalk in the series was completed by McClain and fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague. On March 29, the second spacewalk was completed by Hague and NASA astronaut Christina Koch.

The spacewalking work continues the overall upgrade of the station’s power system that began with similar battery replacement during spacewalks in January 2017.

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

Spacewalk This Monday Ahead of Two U.S. Cargo Missions This Month

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency
Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency works on a pair of U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock ahead of a trio of spacewalks to upgrade power systems on the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew is going into the weekend preparing for another spacewalk on Monday. The International Space Station residents also continue microgravity research as they wait for two U.S. cargo ships to arrive before the end of the month.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are getting their tools ready for another power upgrades spacewalk and will wrap up their final procedures review on Sunday. The spacewalkers will set their spacesuits to battery power around 8:05 a.m. EDT Monday signifying the start of their spacewalk and exit the space station’s Quest airlock.

The duo will work outside for about six-and-a-half hours installing truss jumpers to provide a redundant power source to the Canadarm2 robotic arm. McClain and Saint-Jacques will also install cables to update the station’s External Wireless Communications system. NASA TV starts its live coverage at 6:30 a.m. Monday.

Russia’s Progress 72 (72P) resupply ship delivered over 3.7 tons of food, fuel and supplies after docking to the Pirs docking compartment Thursday morning. Next up is Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter when it launches from Virginia on April 17 on a two-day ride to the station’s Unity module. SpaceX follows in late April when its Dragon cargo craft blasts off from Florida on a two-day trip to the orbital lab’s Harmony module.

Virtual reality filming and space research continued full pace inside the orbital lab today. Flight Engineer Christina Koch first strapped herself into an exercise bike to measure her aerobic capacity then set up a virtual reality camera inside the Unity module today. Nick Hague of NASA then recorded himself describing his space experiences for a short immersive, cinematic film.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin unloaded the new 72P and worked on an array of life science experiments in the orbital lab’s Russian segment. The duo photographed red blood samples and microbes to help doctors keep long-term crews healthy in space.

Crew Waits for Express Delivery, Works Human Research and Next Spacewalk

Greece, the boot of Italy and the island of Sicily
The International Space Station orbits 256 miles above the Aegean Sea. This view looks from east to west, from Greece to the boot of Italy and the island of Sicily. The sun’s glint radiates off the Ionian Sea in between the two nations.

Human research and spacewalk preparations are underway aboard the International Space Station today. A Russian cargo rocket is also preparing to blast off Thursday morning and resupply the Expedition 59 crew.

Astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch took turns this morning testing their vision. They tested their visual acuity and contrast sensitivity using an eye chart in the Destiny lab module.

The station residents also collected more blood and urine samples today aboard the orbital lab. They spun the samples in a centrifuge and stored them in a science freezer. Scientists will later analyze the samples on the ground to understand how living in space affects human physiology.

Upcoming spacewalkers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques reviewed next week’s spacewalk and tagged up with specialists on the ground. Both astronauts also checked out their spacesuit batteries and glove heaters.

They will set their spacesuits to battery power Monday at 8:05 a.m. EDT then exit the Quest airlock into the vacuum of space. The spacewalkers will spend about six-and-a-half hours installing truss jumpers to provide a redundant power source for the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Watch a 3-D animation depicting Monday’s spacewalk activities

In Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a Russian Progress 72 (72P) resupply ship stands ready to launch on a two-orbit trip to the station. The 72P will liftoff Thursday 7:01 a.m. and dock to the Pirs docking compartment at 10:25 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and docking of the spaceship carrying more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies.

April Brings Three New Spaceships and a Third Spacewalk at the Station

NASA astronaut Christina Koch participates in her first spacewalk
NASA astronaut Christina Koch participates in her first spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station’s power storage capacity. She and fellow spacewalker Nick Hague (out of frame) of NASA worked outside in the vacuum of space for six hours and 45 minutes to continue swapping batteries and install adapter plates on the station’s Port-4 truss structure.

April is shaping up to be a busy month bringing three new spaceships and another spacewalk to the International Space Station. The Expedition 59 crew has already wrapped up two spacewalks this year and welcomed the first SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and the latest Soyuz MS-12 crew ship in March.

Roscosmos, SpaceX and Northrop Grumman are all readying their resupply ships to blast off this month and replenish the six orbital residents. A pair of astronauts will also go on another spacewalk, this time to provide secondary power for the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russia’s Progress 72 cargo ship, loaded with more than 3 ½ tons of food, fuel and supplies, rolled to its launch pad Monday for final preparations for launch Thursday, April 4 at 7:01 a.m. EDT. The launch will send the unpiloted Progress on a 2-orbit rendezvous trajectory — the second ever — for an automated docking to the Pirs docking compartment three hours later. NASA TV will broadcast live the express cargo delivery to the orbital complex.

On Monday April 8, two astronauts will go on the third spacewalk of 2019. Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will set their spacesuits to battery power around 8:05 a.m. and exit the Quest airlock. The duo will install truss jumpers on the Unity module and the Starboard truss structure to ensure the Canadarm2 stays powered in the event one of its other power units fail.

Finally, two U.S. spaceships will blast off toward the station this month from two different launch pads on the U.S. east coast. The orbital lab will be host to six different spacecraft, including two Russian Progress space freighters and two Russian Soyuz crew ships, by April 28.

Northrop Grumman will launch its 11th Cygnus cargo craft atop an Antares rocket April 17 from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and take a two-day trip to the station. SpaceX is readying its 17th Dragon cargo mission for an April lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida and a three-day ride to the orbital lab.

NASA Astronauts Complete 215th Spacewalk at Station

Spacewalker Nick Hague
Spacewalker Nick Hague works to upgrade the International Space Station ‘s power storage capacity during today’s six hour and 45-minute spacewalk.

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:27 p.m. EDT. During the six hour and 45-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully connected three newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries to replace the previous six nickel-hydrogen batteries that provide power for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.

The astronauts also did work to enable robotic specialists to remove one of the three new lithium ion batteries connected during last Friday’s spacewalk that is not charging properly and replace it with the two older nickel hydrogen batteries. The swap will restore a full power supply to that solar array power channel.

In addition, the astronauts also completed several tasks to prepare the worksite for future spacewalkers who will complete similar operations to upgrade the batteries for the set of solar arrays at the end of the port side of the station’s backbone structure known as the truss. Hague inspected the worksite interfaces for a portable foot restraint a spacewalker uses to anchor themselves during the battery upgrade work while Koch installed fabric handrails to help future spacewalkers move across the worksite.

This was the second spacewalk for Hague, who now has spent a total of 13 hours and 24 minutes spacewalking. It was the first spacewalk for Koch, who became the 14th female spacewalker.

Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency are scheduled to conduct another spacewalk April 8 to establish a redundant path of power to the Canadian-built robotic arm, known as Canadarm2, and install cables to provide for more expansive wireless communications coverage outside the orbital complex, as well as for enhanced hardwired computer network capability.

Experts will discuss the work to be performed on the April 8 spacewalk during a news conference at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 2, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Live coverage of the briefing and spacewalks will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants in the briefing are Kenny Todd, International Space Station manager for Operations and Integration, Rick Henfling, spacewalk flight director, and John Mularski, lead spacewalk officer.

Space station crew members have conducted 215 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 56 days 4 hours and 24 minutes working outside the station.

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.

Second Spacewalk for Power Upgrades at Station Begins

NASA astronaut Nick Hague
NASA astronaut Nick Hague is contrasted by the blackness of space during his first spacewalk on March 22, 2019.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch have begun the second spacewalk in a week to complete the installation of new batteries to upgrade the International Space Station’s  power capability.

The duo from the Expedition 59 crew switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:42 a.m. EDT to begin the estimated six-and-a-half hour spacewalk.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

This is the 215th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Hague is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit with red stripes and helmet camera #20. Koch is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit without stripes and helmet camera #18.

This is the second battery replacement spacewalk in the past week, continuing work Hague and Anne McClain performed March 22 to install adapter plates and complete electrical connections for three of six new lithium-ion batteries for the station’s port truss. The batteries store power generated by the station’s solar arrays to provide power to the microgravity laboratory when the station is not in sunlight as it circles Earth during orbital night.

One of those new lithium ion batteries has not been successfully holding a charge, so as part of today’s spacewalk, Hague will begin preparations for robotic operators to replace the new battery that is not working with the two old batteries, ensuring optimal power supply at the space station. Meanwhile, Koch will prepare the worksite for the delivery of the next six new lithium ion batteries that will arrive to the station aboard a Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle later this year to upgrade a third set of the solar arrays.

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