A Russian cargo ship departed the International Space Station Wednesday night as another resupply mission from Japan is planned in September. The Expedition 56 crew members also observed protein crystals, studied an ancient navigation technique and researched time perception in space.
Two Soyuz crew ships and a Progress resupply ship remain docked at the orbital lab after the Progress 69 (69P) cargo craft undocked from the Zvezda service module Wednesday at 10:16 p.m. EDT. It will orbit Earth until Aug. 29 for engineering tests monitored by Roscosmos mission controllers before deorbiting over the Pacific Ocean.
The next resupply mission is coming from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s “Kounotori” H-II Transfer Vehicle. It is targeted for launch Sept. 10 to deliver science, supplies and batteries for installation during a pair of spacewalks next month. Russia’s next resupply mission, the Progress 71, is targeted for a two-day trip to the station at the end of October.
Commander Drew Feustel continued working on a pair of similar protein crystal experiments today. The BioServe Protein Crystalography-1 and Protein Crystal Growth-13 studies allow astronauts to observe crystal growth in space and analyze the results. This saves researchers time without having to wait for samples to be returned to Earth for analysis.
Gerst then switched his attention to a European Space Agency study exploring how astronauts perceive time in space. Researchers seek to quantify subjective changes in time perception to understand how astronauts navigate, move and hear in space.
The six-member Expedition 56 crew was busy Tuesday juggling science hardware maintenance and a variety of research work. The orbital residents are also helping students contribute to space research and testing an ancient navigation technique.
A cancer study wrapped up last week and astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor stowed the life science gear today used during operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The AngieX Cancer Therapy experiment looked at endothelial cells as a potential test model for developing safer and more effective vascular-targeted drugs. The research samples were sent back to Earth Friday inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for scientific analysis.
Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold are getting a pair of tiny satellites, known as SPHERES, ready for a student competition. Middle school students in the United States are competing to write the best algorithms that will operate the SPHERES simulating a mission on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) explored using a sextant with star maps as an emergency form of navigation in space. The study will provide insights that mission planners will use on future Orion spaceflight missions farther away from Earth.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev will put on their Orlan spacesuits and work outside the station’s Russian segment for about seven hours on Aug. 15. The duo will toss tiny satellites into Earth orbit, install antennas and cables on the Zvezda service module and retrieve experiments that analyzed external station surfaces and observed plasma waves.
They spent Monday installing batteries that will power their spacesuits next week for the duration of their spacewalk. Artemyev and Prokopyev also ensured their suits were sized properly and conducted leak checks. Finally, they reviewed the procedures they will use next week when they exit and enter the airlock inside the Pirs docking compartment.
The rest of the crew is relaxing today after an intense week of completing crucial space science and loading the time-sensitive research samples inside the Dragon cargo craft for its return to Earth. Dragon splashed down in the Pacific Ocean Friday and was quickly retrieved so scientists and engineers could begin analyzing the science and refurbishing the station hardware.
The next spacecraft due to leave the station is Russia’s Progress 69 (69P) resupply ship on Aug. 22 packed with trash and discarded gear. It launched Feb. 13 and arrived two days later loaded with over three tons of food, fuel and supplies. The 69P will deorbit on Aug. 29 after a week of engineering tests for a fiery but safe disposal over the Pacific Ocean.
Dragon’s thrusters will be fired to move the spacecraft a safe distance from the station before SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, command its deorbit burn about 5:23 p.m. The capsule will splashdown about 6:17 p.m. in the Pacific Ocean, where the SpaceX recovery team will retrieve the capsule and its more than 3,800 pounds of cargo, including a variety of technological and biological studies.
NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. National Laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.
Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft currently capable of returning cargo to Earth, and this was the second trip to the orbiting laboratory for this spacecraft. SpaceX launched its 15th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station June 29 from Space Launch Complex 40 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket that also previously launched NASA’s TESS mission to study exoplanets.
The Expedition 56 crew has finished loading Dragon with sensitive research results and station gear for analysis and refurbishment back on Earth. Space station officials from around the world gave the “go” on Thursday for Dragon’s release from the orbital complex.
Mission controllers, with astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor monitoring, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Dragon at 12:37 p.m. EDT Friday. Splashdown in the Pacific Ocean will occur less than six hours later under a trio of huge parachutes off the coast of Baja California.
NASA will introduce Friday at 11 a.m. on NASA TV new astronauts assigned to spaceflights launching from the United States for the first time since July 8, 2011. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to launch humans on U.S.-built spaceships from Kennedy Space Center on test flights to the space station.
The International Space Station Partners and mission managers polled “go” for tomorrow’s release of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for its deorbit and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean to wrap up the CRS-15 mission.
With favorable weather conditions forecast in the splashdown zone, Dragon’s hatch will be closed early Friday around 3 a.m. Central time. Robotic ground controllers will then use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Dragon from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module around 5:30 a.m. Central time and will maneuver Dragon into the release position.
With Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA monitoring Dragon’s systems, the ground controllers will release Dragon from Canadarm2 at 11:37 a.m. Central time. After its release, Dragon will conduct a series of “departure” burns to move to a safe distance away from the station.
Several hours later, at 4:23 p.m. Central time, SpaceX flight controllers at Hawthorne, California will command Dragon’s engine to fire for 12 minutes and 53 seconds in the deorbit burn that will enable Dragon to slip out of orbit for its descent back to Earth.
Dragon’s parachute-assisted splashdown is scheduled at 5:17 p.m. Central time, 3:17 p.m. Pacific time, about 410 miles southwest of Long Beach, California. It will take about two days for Dragon to be brought back to port for its cache of cargo and scientific experiments to be unloaded.
The Expedition 56 crew has nearly completed loading the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship with cargo for retrieval back on Earth this Friday. The orbital residents are also busy with an intense day of space research and Russian spacewalk preparations.
Dragon is due to be released Friday at 12:37 p.m. EDT from the International Space Station carrying several tons of experiment results and orbital lab hardware. The crew has been packing the crucial research samples this week inside specialized, portable freezers onboard the commercial space freighter.
SpaceX technicians will pick up Dragon with its precious cargo after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean and return to shore in southern California. Scientists and engineers will then begin the process of analyzing the critical space science and refurbishing station hardware.
Astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst spent Wednesday morning helping doctors understand how living in space impacts the human eye. They are exploring the hypothesis that upward fluid shifts in the body caused by microgravity increases pressure on the brain possibly pushing against the eyes. This may affect the shape of the eye and permanently affect vision.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev are getting ready for a spacewalk on Aug. 15. The duo reviewed the translation paths to their work sites on the outside of the station’s Russian segment. During the near seven-hour excursion, the spacewalkers will hand-deploy four tiny satellites, install antennas and cables on the Zvezda service module and collect exposed science experiments.
A host of life science studies being returned aboard Dragon looked at cancer therapies, gut microbes, and a variety of other biological phenomena. Samples collected from those studies, including the experiment hardware housing the research, are being transferred from the station and stowed inside the Dragon.
The AngieX Cancer Therapy investigation is completing its run today with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor finalizing research operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The experiment tested a treatment that targets tumors and the resulting samples are being stowed inside Dragon science freezers.
Rodents studied for the Rodent Research-7 experiment to understand how microbes interact with the gut in space are being returned Friday. Biological samples observed in July for the Micro-11 human reproduction study are also being cold stowed aboard Dragon.
SpaceX technicians will retrieve Dragon loaded with the Earth-bound cargo when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean Friday afternoon. Once the cargo craft reaches port, personnel from NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) will collect the research and hardware and distribute it to scientists and engineers for analysis.
A new cancer therapy study is wrapping up aboard the International Space Station this week as an American cargo craft is packed for return to Earth. The Expedition 56 crew also researched how astronauts perceive time and distance in space and back on Earth.
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor has been contributing to pharmaceutical research since the arrival of the AngieX Cancer Therapy experiment July 2 inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Today, she is examining endothelial cells in space to help determine if they make a good model for targeting the vasculature of tumor cells. Results may improve the design of safer, more effective therapies targeting cancer tumors.
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold has been loading Dragon with hardware and science samples today ahead of its return to Earth on Friday. Results from the AngieX cancer investigation will also be stowed in Dragon this week for retrieval and analysis on Earth. Robotics controllers will release Dragon from the grips of the Canadarm2 Friday at 12:37 p.m. EDT as Auñón-Chancellor monitors from the Cupola. Less than six hours later, the commercial space freighter will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.
Another U.S. cargo craft, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship, released from the space station on July 15 is getting ready to end its stay in space today. The Cygnus was detached from the station’s Harmony module in mid-July and has been orbiting Earth for engineering research. It is due to burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean at 5:07 p.m. today.
A trio of studies taking place today aboard the International Space Station explored a potential cancer therapy, researched human reproduction and observed protein crystals. Eye exams were also on the schedule to understand how microgravity impacts vision.
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor started her morning peering at endothelial cells through a microscope for the AngieX Cancer Therapy study. Afterward, she moved on to the Micro-11 investigation examining more biological samples in a microscope to gain fundamental data about successful reproduction in space.
Gerst first started his day scanning NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold’s for eyes using Optical Coherence Tomography, a light imaging technique analogous to ultrasound. The data helps doctors understand how the weightless environment of microgravity impacts vision so mission controllers can plan safer spaceflight missions.
Finally, the SpaceX Dragon space freighter is being packed for its return to Earth on Aug. 3. Arnold and Commander Drew Feustel took turns today loading Dragon with station hardware and research samples for retrieval and analysis on Earth.