More Leak Checks as Crew Spends Weekend in Russian Segment

More Leak Checks as Crew Spends Weekend in Russian Segment

The Expedition 63 crew will spend the weekend in the Russian segment’s Zvezda service module during a cabin air leak test.
The Expedition 63 crew will stay in the Russian segment’s Zvezda service module during a cabin air leak test this weekend.

As part of ongoing work to isolate the source of a slight increase above the standard cabin air leak rate, the Expedition 63 crew will once again spend the weekend inside the station’s Russian segment. All the space station hatches will be closed this weekend so mission controllers can again monitor the air pressure in each module with the goal of localizing the source of the increased rate. The test presents no safety concern for the crew. Commander Chris Cassidy and his crewmates Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin will stay in the Zvezda service module from Friday night into Monday morning.

The crew will spend Friday gathering items for the weekend isolation before closing hatches throughout the station at the conclusion of their crew work day.

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Mark Garcia

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Station Gearing Up for October Cargo and Crew Missions

Station Gearing Up for October Cargo and Crew Missions

Expedition 64 crew members, the next crew to launch to the station, (from left) Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, Sergey Ryzhikov and Kate Rubins are pictured during Soyuz qualification exams.
Expedition 64 crew members (from left) Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, Sergey Ryzhikov and Kate Rubins are pictured during Soyuz qualification exams are the next crew to launch to the station.

October is shaping up to be a busy traffic period as the International Space Station gears up for a space delivery, a crew exchange and a commercial crew mission. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew focused on science, eye exams and leak inspections today.

The next U.S. cargo mission to resupply the station is due to launch on Tuesday at 10:27 p.m. EDT from Virginia.  The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman will arrive on Saturday, Oct. 3, packed with nearly 8,000 pounds supplies and gear including an advanced space toilet and brand-new science experiments. Cygnus’ preflight events, launch, rendezvous and robotic capture will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Three new Expedition 64 crew members will then set their sights on their Oct. 14 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship to the orbiting lab. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride alongside cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov as they prepare for a 185-day mission in space.

One week later, the new station crew will say goodbye to the Expedition 63 trio that has been living in space since April. Commander Chris Cassidy with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft on Oct. 21 completing a 195-day station research mission.

SpaceX is targeting Oct. 23 for the launch of four astronauts on its first operational Crew Dragon mission. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins will command the commercial crew vehicle piloted by first-time space flyer Victor Glover. They will be supported by Mission Specialists and veteran astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi for the six-month stay at the orbital lab. The quartet will join the Expedition 64 crew one day after launch.

Back on the space station today, Cassidy looked at Ivanishin’s retinas using non-invasive light wave technology, or optical coherence tomography. The commander then prepared Astrobee robotic assistants for an upcoming student competition before servicing an incubator and a science freezer. Ivanishin and Vagner continued checking power and life support systems in the station’s Russian segment.

As part of ongoing work to isolate the source of a slight increase above the standard cabin air leak rate, the Expedition 63 crew used specialized detectors to inspect several windows, seals and valves across the space station. Results from their inspections will be analyzed on the ground.

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Mark Garcia

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Crew Readies for New Space Toilet and Continues Eye Exams

Crew Readies for New Space Toilet and Continues Eye Exams

NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy poses for a portrait in front of the Microgravity Science Glovebox.
NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy poses for a portrait in front of the Microgravity Science Glovebox.

The International Space Station is gearing up for an advanced bathroom set to arrive on a U.S. resupply ship early next month. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew continued this week’s eye checks and more space research and life support maintenance.

The orbital lab will get a new space toilet scheduled to be delivered inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft on Oct. 3. The upgraded restroom facility will be smaller, more comfortable and support a larger crew as NASA’s Commercial Crew Program sends more astronauts to the station.

Station crewmates Chris Cassidy and Ivan Vagner will be at the robotics workstation commanding the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus next Saturday. The duo began reviewing Cygnus’ mission profile today and are getting up to speed with the tasks necessary to support the upcoming space delivery.

The two crewmates then joined their colleague cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin for regularly scheduled eye checks in the afternoon. Wednesday’s tests looked at the retina using non-invasive light wave technology, or optical coherence tomography. The weeklong exams also consist of reading vision charts with one eye covered, as well as self-administered ultrasound eye scans with real-time support from ground doctors.

Cassidy’s science work today saw him activate the Astrobee robotic helpers and check out hardware for a perception and orientation in space study. The NASA astronaut then collected samples of the station’s U.S. segment drinking water for microbial analysis.

Working from the Russian side of the station, Ivanishin spent the morning replacing smoke detectors in the Zarya module. Vagner also gathered drinking water samples for later analysis both on the orbiting lab and back on Earth.

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Mark Garcia

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Crew Takes on Eye Doc and Plumber Roles as Station Avoids Debris

Crew Takes on Eye Doc and Plumber Roles as Station Avoids Debris

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy gives a thumbs up during set up of space station exercise equipment.
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy gives a thumbs up during set up of space station exercise equipment.

It was a busy day aboard the International Space Station as the Expedition 63 crew members traded roles as an eye doctor, orbital plumber and scientist. The station also boosted its orbit out of the way of an unknown piece of space debris today.

Once again, the U.S. commander and the two Russian flight engineers joined each other Tuesday afternoon for a series of eye checks planned for this week. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy took charge as the Crew Medical Officer and scanned the eyes of cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner using an ultrasound device. The scans look at the optic nerve, cornea and lens. The eye exams will continue through Thursday.

Cassidy is also readying the space station’s Tranquility module for a new toilet due to be delivered Oct. 3 on a Cygnus space freighter. The high-flying plumber installed a cable that will power the advanced toilet system, also called the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS). The new bathroom will support more personnel at the station and inform plumbing technologies for future deep space exploration missions.

The Combustion Integrated Rack’s fuel bottles were replaced today to support ongoing research into flames and fuels. Ivanishin serviced the science rack that provides insights helping scientists and engineers improve fire safety and fuel performance for both space and Earth systems.

Vagner set up Russian radiation detectors this morning and handed them off to Cassidy so he could deploy them in the U.S. segment’s seven-windowed cupola. The first-time cosmonaut also worked on plumbing tasks in the Russian side of the station transferring urine and collecting water samples from life support systems for analysis.

Using the ISS Progress 75 thrusters and with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem, the International Space Station conducted a 150-second reboost Tuesday afternoon to avoid a possible conjunction with an unknown piece of space debris.

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Mark Garcia

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Station Boosts Orbit to Avoid Space Debris

Station Boosts Orbit to Avoid Space Debris

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured orbiting Earth in October of 2018.

Using the ISS Progress 75 thrusters and with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem, the International Space Station conducted a 150-second reboost Tuesday afternoon at 5:19 p.m. EDT to avoid a possible conjunction with an unknown piece of space debris. Because of the late notification of the possible conjunction, the three Expedition 63 crew members were directed to move to the Russian segment of the station to be closer to their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft as part of the safe haven procedure out of an abundance of caution. At no time was the crew in any danger.

The maneuver raised the station’s orbit out of the predicted path of the debris, which was estimated to come within 1.39 kilometers of the station with a time of closest approach of 6:21 p.m. EDT.

Once the avoidance maneuver was completed, the crew reopened hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments and resumed their regular activities.

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Mark Garcia

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