Astronauts Capture Dragon Loaded With New Science

Dragon Capture
The Dragon resupply ship is pictured just 10 meters away from the space station’s Canadarm2.

While the International Space Station was traveling overhead between  Australia and Papua New Guinea, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba captured the Dragon spacecraft at 5:57 a.m. EST using the space station’s robotic arm. Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation the spacecraft on the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7:30 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

Dragon is carrying a Space Debris Sensor (SDS) that will measure the orbital debris environment around the space station for two to three years. Once mounted on the exterior of the station, this one-square-meter sensor will provide near-real-time debris impact detection and recording. Research from this investigation could help lower the risks posed by orbital debris to human life and critical hardware.

Also on board is NASA’s Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor, or TSIS-1, that will measure the Sun’s energy input to Earth. TSIS-1 measurements will be three times more accurate than previous capabilities, enabling scientists to study the Sun’s natural influence on Earth’s ozone, atmospheric circulation, clouds and ecosystems. These observations are essential for a scientific understanding of the effects of solar variability on the Earth system.

For more information about the SpaceX CRS-13 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/spacex.

Dragon Resupply Mission Now Targeted for Friday Launch

Dragon Delivers BEAM
The Dragon resupply ship is pictured April 10, 2016, after it had been captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Inside Dragon was about 7,000 pounds of cargo including BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module.

NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than 10:35 a.m. EST Friday, Dec. 15th, for the company’s 13th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX is taking additional time for the team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in 2nd stage fuel system. Next launch opportunity would be no earlier than late December.

A Dragon spacecraft will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon is now scheduled to arrive at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 17th.

On Sunday, Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are also scheduled to launch at 2:21 a.m. (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

NASA Television coverage for launch and arrival activities are as follows:

Friday, Dec. 15

  • 10 a.m. – Launch commentary coverage begins
  • 12 p.m. – Post-launch news conference with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program and SpaceX

Sunday, Dec. 17

  • 1:15 a.m. – Soyuz MS-07 launch coverage begins
  • 4:30 a.m. – Dragon rendezvous at the space station and capture coverage begins
  • 7:30 a.m. – Installation coverage begins

Watch live on NASA Television and the agency’s website: www.nasa.gov/live.

Join the conversation online by following @space_station.

NASA and SpaceX Now Target Wednesday for Dragon Launch

Spacex CRS-12 Launch
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches atop a Falcon 9 rocket Aug. 14, 2017, from Kennedy Space Center.

NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than 11:24 a.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 13th, for the company’s 13th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX requested additional time for prelaunch ground systems checks.

A media pad photo opportunity scheduled for 11:30 p.m., Dec. 11 has been canceled.

A Dragon spacecraft will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon is now scheduled to arrive at the space station on Saturday, Dec. 16.

NASA Television coverage for launch is as follows:

Wednesday, Dec. 13

  • 10:45 a.m. – Launch commentary coverage begins
  • 12:30 p.m. – Post-launch news conference with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program and SpaceX

Saturday, Dec. 16

  • 4:30 a.m. – Dragon rendezvous at the space station and capture
  • 7:30 a.m. – Installation coverage

Watch live on NASA Television and the agency’s website: www.nasa.gov/live.

Join the conversation online by following @space_station.

Dragon Prepares to Launch, Crew Prepares to Land This Week

Near-Full Moon
A near-full moon is seen Dec. 2, 2017, as the space station orbited above north Africa.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida counting down to its launch to the International Space Station Tuesday at 11:46 a.m. EST. Meanwhile, the six-member Expedition 53 crew is preparing to split up this week.

Today, Dragon sits atop a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station filled with nearly 4,800 pounds of crew supplies, station hardware and new research gear. After liftoff Tuesday morning, it will take a near three-day trip to the space station.

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba will be inside the cupola at the robotics controls Friday morning watching Dragon’s approach and rendezvous. When Dragon reaches a point 10 meters away from the orbital lab, the duo will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon at about 6 a.m. Afterward, ground controllers will take over Canadarm2 and install the commercial cargo craft to the Harmony module where it will stay until Jan. 13.

In between Dragon’s launch and capture, three space station crew members will be going home. Crew mates Randy Bresnik of NASA, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency are packing up the Soyuz MS-05 spaceship for a return to Earth Thursday at 3:38 a.m. The trio will have accumulated 139 days in space and traveled almost 59 million statute miles when it parachutes to a landing in Kazakhstan. NASA TV will broadcast all the space action this week.

NASA TV to Broadcast Briefings Before SpaceX Dragon Launch

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches atop a Falcon 9 rocket
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship launches atop a Falcon 9 rocket Aug. 14, 2017, from Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Sandra Joseph

NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting its 13th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station no earlier than 11:46 a.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Mission coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Monday, Dec. 11 with two news briefings.

Packed with about 4,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA TV Coverage Schedule:

Monday, Dec. 11

Tuesday, Dec. 12

  • 11:15 a.m. – Launch commentary coverage begins
  • 1:15 p.m. – Post-launch news conference with representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program and SpaceX

L-2 Weather Update

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing are predicting 90 percent chance of favorable weather for liftoff on Tuesday. The primary weather concern is liftoff winds.

Join the conversation online by following @space_station and #askNASA. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this list, please email heo-pao@lists.nasa.gov.

SpaceX Launch Slips, Cygnus Leaving and BEAM Stay Extended

SpaceX Dragon capsule as it reentered Earth's atmosphere
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer photographed the SpaceX Dragon capsule as it reentered Earth’s atmosphere (bright streak at lower left) before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California in July  2017. Read more about the SpaceX missions to the space station.

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its next Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station to no earlier than Dec. 12. Back on orbit, the Cygnus cargo craft is getting ready to leave the orbital lab and an experimental module has its stay in space extended for at least another three years.

NASA and our commercial cargo provider SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Dec. 12 at 11:46 a.m. EST for their 13th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. This new launch date takes into account pad readiness, requirements for science payloads, space station crew availability, and orbital mechanics. Carrying about 4,800 pounds of cargo including critical science and research, the Dragon spacecraft will spend a month attached to the space station.

The Cygnus cargo craft from Orbital ATK is leaving the station tomorrow after 22 days at the orbital lab. Astronauts Randy Bresnik, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba closed its hatches today and disconnected its station power systems.

Ground controllers uninstalled Cygnus from the Unity module Tuesday morning with the Canadarm2 and are conducting a series of communications tests to assist NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Next, Vande Hei and Acaba will command the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus back into Earth orbit tomorrow at 8:10 a.m. EST where it will stay until Dec. 18.

BEAM, formally known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is staying attached to the station for another three years with a potential to stay an extra year after that. While BEAM transitions to its new role as a cargo hold, engineers will continue studying its ability to resist radiation, space debris and microbes. Bigelow Aerospace and NASA signed the contract extension in November to continue demonstrating the reliability of expandable habitat technologies in space.

Next Crew in Russia as Station Preps for Cargo Missions

Expedition 54-55
Expedition 54-55 is the next crew to launch to the space station. They are (from left) Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Scott Tingle of NASA.

The next crew to launch to the International Space Station is in Russia today for traditional ceremonies before heading to the launch site in Kazakhstan. Back in space, the Expedition 53 crew is preparing for the departure and arrival of a pair of cargo ships next week.

Three new crew members from Russia, the United States and Japan are getting ready for their Dec. 14 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft to the space station’s Rassvet module. The Expedition 54-55 crew consists of Soyuz Commander and veteran station resident Anton Shkaplerov and first-time Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai.

The trio was in Star City today talking to journalists before heading to Moscow to tour Red Square and lay flowers at the Kremlin Wall where famed cosmonauts are interred. Next, the crew will head to the launch site Dec. 4 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where they will stay for final launch preparations at the Cosmonaut Hotel.

Meanwhile, the orbiting Expedition 53 crew is packing the Cygnus cargo craft with trash before it ends its mission next week. First, ground controllers will remotely detach Cygnus from the Unity module with the Canadarm2 on Dec. 5. Cygnus will then be maneuvered over the Harmony module for a GPS test to assist NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Next, astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba will take over the robotics controls and release Cygnus back into space on Dec. 6. It will orbit Earth until Dec. 18 then enter the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe demise.

SpaceX is getting ready to replenish the station with its Dragon cargo craft scheduled to deliver about 4,800 pounds of crew supplies and science gear. Dragon is targeted to launch Dec. 8 from Florida atop a Falcon 9 rocket and take a two-day trip to the station. Vande Hei and Acaba are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 when it reaches a point 10 meters from the station. Ground controllers will them remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module where it will stay until Jan. 6.

Station Being Configured for Cargo and Crew Missions

Northeast Coast of the United States
This nighttime shot shows the northeast coast of the United States from New Jersey up to Maine and the well-lit urban metropolitan areas of New York City and Boston along with parts of southern Canada including Montreal.

The Expedition 53 crew is configuring the orbital complex for a pair of cargo missions and a crew swap in December. Two colorful soccer ball-sized satellites were also floating around inside the International Space Station being tested today.

SpaceX has announced it is now targeting Dec. 8 for the launch of its Dragon cargo craft to the space station’s Harmony module. Among the variety of crew supplies and research gear Dragon will deliver are mice to be observed for the Rodent Research-6 muscle drug study. 20 mice will be housed in a rodent habitat that Vande Hei is configuring today in the U.S. Destiny laboratory.

Orbital ATK pushed back the release of its Cygnus resupply ship from the Unity module to Dec. 6 after the SpaceX announcement. Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei are preparing for the departure this week loading Cygnus with trash and training for its robotic release.

Finally, the station is set to slightly raise its orbit Wednesday enabling a crew swap set to begin Dec. 14 when Expedition 52-53 crew members Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Paolo Nespoli return to Earth. They will be replaced Dec. 19 when Expedition 54-55 crew members Anton Shkaplerov, Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai dock to the Rassvet module two days after their launch from Kazakhstan.

Acaba and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin were inside the Kibo laboratory module today testing a pair of tiny satellites better known as SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). The SPHERES can be pre-programmed on Earth using algorithms to conduct a series of maneuvers demonstrating formation flying or rendezvous and docking techniques. Teams of high school students will be competing in January to see who can design the best maneuvering algorithms for the SPHERES on the station.

Muscle Research and Science Cargo Work Ahead of Thanksgiving

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei swaps out a payload card from the TangoLab-1 facility and places it into the TangoLab-2 facility.

The six-member Expedition 53 crew heads into Thanksgiving observing how living in space affects the human body and packing the Cygnus cargo craft. The orbital crewmates are also preparing for next month’s arrival of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

Veteran space station residents Paolo Nespoli and Sergey Ryazanskiy were back inside the Columbus lab module today examining what microgravity is doing to their leg muscles. The duo took turns strapping themselves in a unique exercise chair and attaching electrodes to their knees. Next, the pair used magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound devices to observe the changes taking place in their legs in space.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba transferred the TangoLab-1 multi-use science facility into the Cygnus space freighter for a demonstration today. TangoLab-1 is being tested inside Cygnus to determine the viability of using a cargo craft as a laboratory while docked at the International Space Station.

The next cargo craft to visit the station will be the SpaceX Dragon when it launches Dec. 4 aboard the Falcon 9 rocket from Florida. Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei trained today for the rendezvous and capture of Dragon when it arrives two days after its launch. Dragon will carry new science experiments to explore the Sun’s impact on Earth and improve the accuracy of a new diabetes implant device.

Eye Checks and Cargo Ops Ahead of Thursday Spacewalk

Astronaut Joe Acaba
Astronaut Joe Acaba calculates his mass inside the Columbus laboratory module using the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD). The device generates a known force against a crew member mounted on an extension arm with the resulting acceleration used to calculate the subject’s mass.

Three Expedition 53 astronauts conducted eye exams Tuesday morning two days ahead of a spacewalk. The crew is also preparing for a pair of upcoming commercial cargo missions.

Commander Randy Bresnik, who is leading all three spacewalks this month, joined his fellow spacewalkers for a periodic eye exam. Bresnik and Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba scanned their eyes using an ultrasound device with guidance from doctors on the ground monitoring the crew’s health.

Paolo Nespoli, from the European Space Agency, did some rearranging inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module today. He is preparing Kibo for new science gear arriving on a pair of private space freighters in November. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus resupply ship is due to launch mid-November and the SpaceX Dragon is planned to launch at the end of November.


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