Crew Unpacks Dragon and Activates New Science

The upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station as both vehicles were orbiting above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico.
The upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station as both vehicles were orbiting above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico.

Six spaceships, three U.S. and three Russian, are parked at the International Space Station after Monday’s arrival of the upgraded SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle. The Expedition 64 crew will spend the rest of December focusing on science as 2021 shapes up to be a busy year on the orbital lab.

Two Dragon spaceships, one cargo craft and one crew ship, are docked to the station’s Harmony module for the first time ever. The Cargo Dragon docked Monday afternoon to Harmony’s space-facing port where it will stay for one month. The Crew Dragon has been docked to Harmony’s forward port since Nov. 16 and will return four astronauts back to Earth in the spring.

Cargo Dragon’s hatch was opened shortly after its automated docking and the crew soon began unpacking and activating the first of 2,100 pounds of new science investigations. The U.S. resupply ship’s main payload, the NanoRacks Bishop science airlock, will be installed with the Canadarm2 robotic arm to the Tranquility module later this month.

NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins began Tuesday offloading the Dragon-transported critical research samples and stowing them in science freezers to be examined later. Their crewmates Kate Rubins installed new science freezers in the station, while Victor Glover set up newly delivered habitats carrying rodents for analysis.

A new human stem cell experiment, Space Organogenesis, got underway today after JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi collected biological samples and research hardware from Dragon. Microgravity will give scientists insight into growing organs and observing genetic changes which could impact regenerative medicine.

In the Russian segment of the station, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov explored advanced space photography techniques before working on cargo operations with the docked Progress 76 resupply ship. His fellow cosmonaut, Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, worked on Earth observation hardware then serviced repair tools.

New SpaceX Cargo Dragon Docks to Station

Dec. 7, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon vehicles, Northrop Grumman's Cygnus-14 resupply ship, all three from the United States, and Russia's Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.
Dec. 7, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon vehicles, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus-14 resupply ship, all three from the United States, and Russia’s Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.

While the International Space Station was traveling 268 miles over the southern Indian Ocean, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the space-facing side of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module for the first time at 1:40 p.m. EST, Monday, Dec. 7. NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover monitored docking operations for Dragon.

Some of the science being delivered on this mission includes a study aimed at better understanding heart disease to support development of treatments for patients on Earth, research into how microbes can be used for biomining on asteroids, and a tool being tested for quick and accurate blood analysis in microgravity. The first commercially owned and operated airlock on the space station, the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, arrives in the unpressurized trunk of the Dragon cargo spacecraft. Bishop will provide a variety of capabilities to the orbiting laboratory, including CubeSat deployment, and support of external payloads.

The Dragon launched on SpaceX’s 21st contracted commercial resupply mission at 11:17 a.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 6 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

New Dragon Spaceship Arriving at Station Today

The upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply ship lifts off atop the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 6 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply ship lifts off atop the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 6 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station, with an expected docking of the cargo spacecraft around 1:30 p.m. EST. NASA Television coverage will begin at 11:30 a.m. Watch live at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will automatically dock to the space-facing side (zenith) of the station’s Harmony module with NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover monitoring operations. Dragon lifted off Sunday, Dec. 6 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The cargo spacecraft with more than 6,400 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory. It will be the first time a cargo Dragon autonomously docks to the station and will join the Dragon Resilience that brought the Crew-1 astronauts to orbit as the second Dragon spacecraft parked at the space station.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Relax Friday Before Weekend Filled with Cargo and Science

Expedition 64 Flight Engineers (clockwise from top left) Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi pose together for a playful portrait inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
Expedition 64 Flight Engineers (clockwise from top left) Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi pose together for a playful portrait inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

Five Expedition 64 astronauts are relaxing aboard the International Space Station today as they get ready for the arrival of the next-generation SpaceX Dragon resupply ship. The two cosmonauts stayed focused on their contingent of Russian space science and lab maintenance.

The Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the Cargo Dragon spacecraft into Earth orbit stands at its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Currently, there is a 50% chance of favorable weather conditions for a launch on Saturday at 11:39 a.m. EST to the orbiting lab.

Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Victor Glover will be on duty early Sunday to monitor the Cargo Dragon’s approach and rendezvous. Its automated docking is planned for 11 a.m. to the Harmony module’s space-facing port adjacent to the Crew Dragon vehicle. The duo will also be readying the Tranquility module for Dragon’s primary payload, the NanoRacks Bishop science airlock.

The other three astronauts, Shannon Walker, Soichi Noguchi and Michael Hopkins, will be working on Sunday servicing a variety of research gear. They will be checking out advanced hardware like the Kubik incubator, the Hermes planetary science facility, the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace and a specialized science freezer nicknamed FRIDGE.

The station’s two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, spent Friday day on research and maintenance tasks.  The Russian duo explored ways to improve the effectiveness of space exercise and also worked on lab computers and life support gear.

Crew Immersed in Space Science as Cargo Dragon Nears Launch

The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft is seen before it rolls out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The upgraded version of SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft is seen before it rolls out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Expedition 64 is getting ready for over 6,400 pounds of cargo due to arrive this weekend aboard the next-generation SpaceX Dragon space freighter. All seven International Space Station residents also were immersed in microgravity research throughout Thursday.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo spacecraft has rolled out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is counting down to a Saturday lift off at 11:39 a.m. EST. Weather permitting, Dragon would automatically dock just under 24 hours later to the Harmony module’s space-facing port adjacent to the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle.

The Cargo Dragon’s main payload is the NanoRacks Bishop airlock that will be robotically attached to the Tranquility module. Bishop will increase the capacity for external space research at the space station benefitting public and private organizations.

The orbiting lab was humming today with a host of advanced space science looking at a variety of microgravity phenomena to enhance life for humans on and off the Earth.

Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov swapped fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that enables safe investigations of flames and fuels on the station. Eye exams were on the slate this afternoon for astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi who also serviced botany and cell biology research gear.

NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker serviced samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory before setting up the Fiber Optic Production study inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. Her crewmate, Flight Engineer Victor Glover collected and stowed biological samples for the Food Physiology study exploring how diet affects the immune system in space.

Finally, station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos wrapped up a 24-hour session that monitored his heart activity. The two-time station resident also explored ways to improve the workspace inside the station.

Next-Generation Airlock Prepped for SpaceX CRS-21 Launch

The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is launching on SpaceX’s 21st commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

The first commercially funded airlock for the International Space Station is ready for its journey to space. On Saturday, Oct. 10, teams moved the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock to SpaceX’s processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Two days later, it was packed in the Dragon spacecraft’s trunk for its ride to the orbiting laboratory.

CRS-21
The airlock will provide payload hosting, robotics testing, and satellite deployment, while also serving as an outside toolbox for astronauts conducting spacewalks. Photo credit: SpaceX

The airlock will provide payload hosting, robotics testing, and satellite deployment, and also will serve as an outside toolbox for crew members conducting spacewalks.

The Bishop Airlock is launching on SpaceX’s 21st commercial resupply services (CRS-21) mission to the space station. This will be the first flight of SpaceX’s upgraded cargo version of Dragon, which can carry more science payloads to and from the space station.

The pressurized capsule will carry a variety of research including studies on the effects of microgravity on cardiovascular cells, how space conditions affect the interaction between microbes and minerals, and a technology demonstration of a blood analysis tool in space.

CRS-21 is scheduled to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. Teams are targeting late November or early December for liftoff.