The Expedition 56 crew aboard the International Space Station awaits the arrival of new science experiments and crew supplies Thursday morning. One week later, three crew members will return to Earth after 197 days in space.
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7), also known as the “Kounotori,” is nearing the station and headed for a Thursday morning capture at 8 a.m. EDT. The HTV-7 is loaded with over five tons of science and supplies, including the new Life Sciences Glovebox and a half dozen lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the capture activities Thursday at 6:30 a.m.
NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are finalizing several weeks of computer training today to capture the HTV-7. Feustel will be inside the cupola and command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori Thursday morning. Auñón-Chancellor will back up Feustel and monitor the Kounotori’s approach and rendezvous.
Meanwhile, Feustel and two other Expedition 56 crewmates are scheduled to depart the orbital laboratory on Oct. 4 just a week after the Kounotori arrives. Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev will lead the flight home inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft flanked by Feustel and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold.
The three departing crewmates have been packing up crew supplies, station hardware and science experiments to take back to Earth. The trio also practiced their Soyuz descent maneuvers and prepared themselves for the effects of returning to gravity. . Once the trio departs, Expedition 57 officially begins.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin will launch and arrive one week later. During Expedition 57, the crew will conduct a set of spacewalks to install the new lithium-ion batteries delivered to the station on HTV-7.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
September is scheduled to be a busy month for the Expedition 56 crew aboard the International Space Station. Japan is preparing to launch its seventh resupply mission and three astronauts are gearing up for two spacewalks next month.
Today, a pair of astronauts familiarized themselves with the robotics maneuvers they will use when they capture Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) on Sept. 14. The HTV-7, also called the Kounotori, will launch Sept. 10 from the Tanegashima Space Center loaded with crew supplies, new science hardware and critical spacewalk gear.
Commander Drew Feustel will be supported by Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor inside the Cupola as he controls the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple the HTV-7. Robotics controllers on the ground will then take over and install Kounotori on the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port. NASA TV will broadcast live all of Kounotori’s launch, rendezvous and capture activities.
A pair of spacewalks will take place soon after the Kounotori arrives when robotics controllers begin removing new batteries from the Japanese resupply ship. The six lithium-ion batteries, replacing 12 older nickel-hydrogen batteries, will be installed on the space station’s Port 4 truss structure power channels during the two spacewalks on Sept 20 and 26.
Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst will participate in both spacewalks. Commander Drew Feustel will join him on the first spacewalk. Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold will go out on the second spacewalk. Gerst and Feustel began inspecting and resizing their U.S. spacesuits this morning. Feustel then moved on checking spacesuit gloves and helmets before finally collecting spacewalk tools.
A pair of German experiments took place aboard the International Space Station today including a space exercise study and the installation of an Earth spectral sensor. The Expedition 56 crew members are also looking ahead to Wednesday’s Russian cargo ship departure and a pair of U.S. spacewalks in September.
Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) exercised today in a t-shirt designed with a specialized fabric for the SpaceTex-2 study. The research, sponsored by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), is evaluating whether the custom t-shirt provides comfort, efficient thermal control and sweat evaporation during a workout in microgravity.
Commander Drew Feustel worked on another DLR experiment that will provide hyperspectral imagery of the Earth. Feustel is readying the German-built Earth spectrometer for its installation outside of the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. It will monitor urban and agricultural development, the health of vegetation and water areas as well as the environmental effects of natural and manmade disasters.
Russia’s Progress 69 (69P) cargo craft loaded with trash is poised for its undocking Wednesday at 10:16 p.m. EDT from the aft port of the Zvezda service module. The 69P will orbit the Earth for seven more days of engineering tests before it deorbits over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe disposal.
Two U.S. spacewalks are planned for Sept. 20 and 26 to replace batteries on the space station’s Port 4 truss structure power channels. Gerst will join Feustel on the first spacewalk then go out again on the second spacewalk with NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold. The batteries are targeted for delivery on Sept. 14 aboard Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV resupply ship.
The Expedition 56 crew members explored using algorithms to remotely control a robot on the ground and satellites from the International Space Station today. The orbital residents are also cleaning up after a Russian spacewalk while preparing for a pair of upcoming U.S. spacewalks and a Japanese cargo mission.
Astronaut Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency is testing the ability to control a robot on a planetary surface from an orbiting spacecraft. The study seeks to bolster the success and safety of future space missions with astronauts and robots sharing decision-making responsibilities.
Commander Drew Feustel joined Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold in the Japanese Kibo lab module monitoring a pair of tiny internal satellites, also known as SPHERES. They are evaluating an algorithm that controls the operation of the SPHERES in formation using six degrees of freedom.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev are cleaning up after Wednesday’s spacewalk enabling new science outside of the space station. The two dried out their Russian Orlan spacesuits and water feed lines then began stowing spacewalk tools and gear.
At the end of the day, Gerst started charging U.S. spacesuit batteries ahead of two maintenance spacewalks planned for Sept. 20 and 26. Gerst and fellow spacewalkers Feustel and Arnold will replace batteries on the Port 4 truss structure’s power channels. The Japanese “Kounotori” HTV-7 cargo ship is targeted to deliver the new batteries ahead of the two spacewalks on Sept. 14.
Artemyev will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1) for the spacewalk wearing the Russian Orlan spacesuit with red stripes. Prokopyev will be extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2) wearing the Russian Orlan spacesuit with blue stripes.
Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Views from a camera on Artemyev’s helmet are designated with the number 20, and Prokopyev’s is labeled with the number 18.
The primary objectives during the spacewalk will be to manually launch four small technology satellites, retrieve material science samples from the hull of the Zvezda service module, and install an experiment called Icarus onto the Russian segment of the space station.
Icarus is a collaborative environmental experiment between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Roscosmos to study the migratory patterns of small animals on Earth. It consists of an antenna and GPS hardware to track the movements of animals that have been tagged with small GPS receivers. The experiment may provide data about how animals move from one location to another, how animal population density shifts over time, and how diseases spread.
Coverage of the spacewalk is now underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website.