Major One-Year Mission Experiment Begins This Week

Terry Virts Working in Quest
Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts gathers tools inside of the Quest airlock for upcoming spacesuit maintenance work. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly gathered hardware today for the start of the Fluid Shifts experiment. For the experiment on Tuesday, both Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will don the Russian Lower Body Negative Pressure (Chibis) suit and undergo ultrasound measurements. Fluid Shifts is a joint NASA-Russian experiment that investigates the causes for physical changes to astronaut’s eyes. Results from this study may help to develop preventative measures against lasting changes in vision and eye damage.

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Terry Virts worked today to prepare the Multi-Purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) and Thermal Container to enable the ground to perform additional data collection in advance of the Cell Mechanosensing-3 experiment, launching on SpaceX-7. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took samples for the Microbiome experiment which investigates the impact of space travel on both the human immune system and an individual’s microbiome, the collection of microbes that live in and on the human body at any given time.

Virts and Cristoforetti also gathered tools inside the station’s Quest airlock for upcoming work on one of the U.S. segment’s spacesuits.

Today, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced they will provide an updated vehicle launch and landing schedule by June 9.

Robotic Refueling and More Today on Station

Canadarm2 and Dextre
ISS041-E-049091 (30 Sept. 2014) — The International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM)

Station astronauts continued preparing for the next round of robotic refueling demonstrations while conducting various biomedical experiments and checkouts.

Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts worked with ground teams to prepare the airlock in the Japanese Experiment Module and extend the slide table carrying the new Robotic Refueling Mission-2 (RRM-2) hardware. Robotics controllers on the ground then used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to install the new task boards that will be used for the experiment. The objective of RRM-2 is to develop new technologies, tools and techniques that could eventually give satellite owners resources to diagnose problems on orbit and keep certain spacecraft instruments performing longer in space.

The crew is also engaging in the Cardio Ox experiment, the Space Aging study and the Body Measures experiment. More Rodent Research work took place, as the astronauts readied samples for return to Earth and checked out the rodents’ habitat.

Meanwhile, Russian ballistics specialists continue to work calculations to identify the most likely period for Progress 59’s entry back into the Earth’s atmosphere. The unmanned cargo craft experienced an unspecified problem shortly after separating from the third launch stage on April 28, resulting in the vehicle’s docking to the station being called off.

Crew Begins New Week With Focus on Biological Studies

Nepal seen from the space station
Astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted this picture over the weekend as the station passed over Nepal which was struck by a major earthquake. Credit: @StationCDRKelly

The Expedition 43 crew kicked off a new week by focusing on a number of biological experiments.

The crew participated in the Sprint study which evaluates the use of high intensity, low volume exercise training to minimize loss of muscle, bone, and cardiovascular function in crew members during long-duration missions.

Crew members also took part in Ocular Health checkouts as scientists search to better understand the vision changes some astronauts experience during spaceflight. They also collected samples for the Microbiome experiment which investigates the impact of space travel on both the human immune system and an individual’s microbiome.

Station commander Terry Virts did some troubleshooting on the Japanese airlock in preparation for the upcoming Robotics Refueling Mission-2 (RRM-2) operations. RRM-2, a joint study between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, investigates satellite repair and servicing techniques in space. Operators on the ground use the station’s special purpose dexterous manipulator, better known as Dextre, on the end of the Canadarm2, for fine robotics manipulation. Engineers are looking to determine whether it’s possible to refuel satellites and test electrical connections robotically.

Happy New Year 16 Times on Space Station

Virts-Robonaut-'Action-Figure'
Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) tweets: Unwrapping an early Christmas gift last week. @AstroRobonaut is my favorite action figure. #SpaceVine

The Expedition 42 crew orbiting Earth on the International Space Station gets the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve a whopping 16 times as it circles the globe at 17,500 miles an hour.

Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, say they plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts. The year 2015 starts officially for the station crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in London. The crew is scheduled to be in its sleep shift, but may elect to stay up late since it has a day off planned for New Year’s Day.

Watch the Happy New Year message

The crew spent New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments, ranging from those directed at better understanding changes that occur in the human eye during long-duration spaceflights, and with Earth observations aimed at helping with disaster aid on the Earth’s surface.

Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Read more about the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV)

The crew also continued preparations for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship, the commercial resupply mission of SpaceX-5 and the Dragon spacecraft. Launch of Dragon on a Space-X Falcon 9 booster is planned for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 5 a.m.

Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Thursday, Jan. 8, and Wilmore will use the 58-foot robotic arm to grab the Dragon by its tail and berth if to the station. Grapple is expected about 6 a.m. NASA Television coverage of the grapple starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and installation coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. Dragon is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.

A series of briefings outlining Dragon’s mission and the scientific research it will be carrying is planned Monday, Jan. 5.

Read full schedule of SpaceX-5 and ISS Research briefings

Watch Terry Virts’ #SpaceVine of Robonaut:

Crew Shares New Year’s Wishes, Research Continues

Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti answer questions posed by CBS and BBC reporters on Dec. 30, 2014.
Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti answer questions posed by CBS and BBC reporters on Dec. 30, 2014.

As the crew of the International Space Station prepares to ring in the new year with a fruit juice toast, NASA today released a pre-recorded  New Year’s greeting from space for everyone on Earth.

> Watch the Happy New Year message

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore  of NASA and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency shared their plans for a New Year’s Eve celebration and some resolutions during an interview with CBS News and the BBC.

> Watch the Dec. 30 interview

The crew spent most of its day conducting a variety of experiments, ranging from human life sciences to physics and Earth observations, and threw in a good measure of routine maintenance on station systems.

Cristoforetti set up hardware for eye exams using ocular coherence tomography, which records a detailed 3-D image of the retina and the interior of the eyes, so doctors may look to better understand why some astronauts return to Earth with long-term vision problems. Wilmore then conducted the tests on both Cristoforetti and NASA Flight Engineer Terry Virts.

> Read more about the Ocular Health experiment

Wilmore also continued work setting up and conducting experiment runs with the European Space Agency Haptics-1 experiment, using a body-mounted force-feedback joystick and a tablet computer to help scientists learn how people in weightlessness might use such game-like hardware to someday control robots on another planet, moon or asteroid from an orbiting human spacecraft.

> Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov spent their day performing station life support system maintenance, testing a procedure for detecting air leaks on the station and conducting a Russian physics experiment on the dynamics of charged particles in space.

Station Commander Celebrates Birthday in Orbit

 

Happy Birthday Barry Wilmore
Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrates his birthday on the International Space Station.

Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrated his 52nd birthday aboard the International Space Station today, and Mission Control gathered around a microphone to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.

Wilmore, who has been on the station since Sept. 25, was born Dec. 29, 1962, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

> Listen to Mission Control singing “Happy Birthday”

Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are resuming work on microgravity experiments and operational maintenance aboard the station after enjoying some time off for the holidays.

Wilmore donned a body-mounted high-tech force feedback computer joystick as part of the Haptics-1 experiment he’s scheduled to perform Tuesday. The test will look at how people in weightlessness experience touch-based feedback. Someday, astronauts may use such interfaces to guide planet or asteroid-exploring robots from orbiting human spacecraft.

> Read more about the Haptics-1 experiment

His crew mates took readings on each other for eye health research, looking into why some astronauts are coming home from long-duration missions with diminished vision.

On Tuesday, Wilmore and Cristoforetti will be interviewed by the CBS Radio Network and BBC Radio at 9:55 a.m. EST on NASA Television.

Expedition 41 Update: Oct. 24, 2014

Station Crew Readies for Busy Visiting Vehicle Traffic

The highway traffic to and from the International Space Station gets busy Saturday and the six crew members of Expedition 41 are working feverishly to manage the traffic flow.

Final packing of the commercial Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) Dragon was completed and the hatch closed ahead of Saturday’s unberthing and departure. Release is planned for 9:56 a.m. EDT and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California is scheduled for about 3:30 p.m.

While the crew completed packing of experiment samples and equipment aboard Dragon for return to Earth, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility off the coast of Virginia, another commercial rocket – Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares with its Cygnus cargo craft – was rolled to the launch pad for final preparations leading to launch at 6:45 p.m. Monday. Plans are for Cygnus arrival at the station Sunday, Nov. 2, with berthing to the same Harmony module docking port that will be vacated by Dragon.

Two Russian cargo vehicles also will be making moves when Progress 56 undocks early Monday at 1:38 a.m., completing more than three months of service at the station. It will undergo several weeks of engineering tests by Russian flight controllers before being deorbited over the Pacific on Wednesday, Nov. 19. That departure frees the Pirs Docking Compartment for arrival of the next Russian cargo vehicle, Progress 57, which is set for launch at 3:09 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, with docking to Pirs six hours later at 9:09 a.m.

Three of the crew members also are beginning preparations to return home after 165 days in space. Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alex Gerst will return home aboard their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 9.

That leaves the other three crew members to transition to Expedition 42, which will be led by Barry Wilmore. He will command the expedition that includes Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova until next March. They’ll enjoy a Thanksgiving delivery of three more crew members – Anton Shkaplerov, Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts – on Sunday, Nov. 23.

› Read this week’s overview from the lead station increment scientist
› Read more about Cygnus’s upcoming launch
› Read more about the Expedition 41 crew

http://io.jsc.nasa.gov/photos/11328/lores/iss041e071451.jpgFlight Engineer Barry Wilmore unpacks cargo Oct. 11 from the SpaceX CRS-4 Dragon commercial space freighter.

Photo Credit: NASA