Space Biology on Station Ahead of Cargo and Crew Ship Activities

Space Biology on Station Ahead of Cargo and Crew Ship Activities

Expedition 62 Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan are pictured in front of the hatch to the Space Dragon resupply ship shortly after it was attached to the Harmony module on March 9.

The Expedition 62 crew wrapped up the workweek with more space biology research to understand what living in space does to the human body. The International Space Station is also getting ready to send off a U.S. cargo craft and swap crews.

A 3D bioprinter inside the station’s Columbus laboratory module is being deactivated and stowed today after a week of test runs without using human cells. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir packed up the device that seeks to demonstrate manufacturing human organs to help patients on Earth. The Bio-Fabrication Facility may even lead to future crews printing their own food and medicines on missions farther away from Earth.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan checked out hardware for an experiment exploring how to create heart cells on the orbiting lab. The investigation may lead to advanced treatments for cardiac conditions on Earth and in space.

Morgan and Meir are also getting the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship ready for its departure on April 6. The duo gathered U.S. spacesuit components and packed them inside Dragon for engineering analysis on the ground.

During the morning, Commander Oleg Skripochka continued servicing a variety of laptop computers in the station’s Russian segment. After lunchtime, the veteran cosmonaut serviced hardware for a pair of experiments, one looking at the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the other to understand the degradation of station gear.

Back on Earth at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 63 crewmembers are in final preparations for their April 9 launch to the station. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner stepped out of the Cosmonaut Hotel today for pre-launch activities celebrating spaceflight heroes such as Yuri Gagarin.

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Mark Garcia

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Heart, Eye Studies in Space as Next Crew Nears Launch

Heart, Eye Studies in Space as Next Crew Nears Launch

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan retrieves gut microbe samples
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan retrieves gut microbe samples from a science freezer for an experiment to understand how microgravity affects microbes that impact astronaut health.

Cardiac research and 3D bioprinting aboard the International Space Station today are helping NASA improve health for humans in space and on Earth. The three Expedition 62 crewmembers also participated in eye exams and radiation checks.

Three new Expedition 63 crewmembers are in Kazakhstan just two weeks away from beginning a 195-day mission on the station. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy joined Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner for a traditional flag-raising ceremony today outside the Cosmonaut Hotel at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The trio is due to liftoff April 9 at 4:05 a.m. EDT and arrive at their new home in space about six-and-a-half hours later.

Back aboard the orbiting lab, the station crew spent the afternoon on eye checks. NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir started the optometry work and scanned her crewmates’ eyes using the Human Research Facility’s ultrasound device.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan then took over and imaged the eyes of Commander Oleg Skripochka using optical tomography (OCT) gear. The OCT uses lightwaves for non-invasive mapping and measurement of a subject’s retina.

Morgan started the day with ongoing tests of a 3D bioprinter without using human cells. The device, also known as the Bio-Fabrication Facility, seeks to manufacture human organs in space due to the detrimental effects of Earth’s gravity. Patients on the ground would benefits and future astronauts on planetary missions could print their own food or medicines.

Meir checked samples of cultured cardiac muscle tissue for the Engineered Heart Tissues experiment in the morning. The investigation is exploring cardiac function in weightlessness that may provide new drug developments for astronauts and Earthlings.

In the station’s Russian segment, Skripochka collected radiation measurements then serviced atmospheric purification gear. The commander also spent a few moments working on a specialized research furnace that levitates and observes metallic alloys at high temperatures.

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Mark Garcia

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Robotics Work, Space Biology Keep Station Humming

Robotics Work, Space Biology Keep Station Humming

The International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm
The Canadarm2 robotic arm is pictured as the International Space Station flew into an orbital sunrise above the Pacific Ocean.

Robotic controllers unloaded new research hardware off a U.S. cargo craft today for installation outside the International Space Station. Inside the orbital lab, the Expedition 62 crew continued exploring microgravity’s impact on a variety of life forms.

The reusable SpaceX Dragon resupply ship today offered the Bartolomeo science payload system for installation on Europe’s Columbus laboratory module. Robotics engineers on the ground commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to extract Bartolomeo from Dragon’s unpressurized trunk and stage it for installation later. The European research device will enable numerous external science experiments to be conducted and controlled outside the space station.

Botany, biology and physics were the focus of today’s research aboard the orbiting lab. The space science work is helping NASA keep astronauts safe and healthy as it plans missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Flight Engineer Jessica Meir of NASA spent a couple of hours on botany research learning how to cultivate vegetables and fruits in space. She also continued the Vascular Echo study attaching a sensor to her leg that monitored her arteries during a light exercise session.

Afterward, she joined fellow NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan servicing and photographing samples of gut microbes. The study seeks to understand how microgravity enriches and depletes the microbes that affect crew health

The duo also unpacked samples that were exposed to the harsh environment of space outside of the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. Scientists want to understand what happens to materials such as paint, metals and other substances that could make up future spacecraft and habitats experiencing long-term space radiation and differing gravity environments.

Commander Oleg Skripochka updated the station’s inventory system today after unloading and organizing cargo inside the Russian Progress 74 space freighter. The veteran cosmonaut also worked on computers and communications gear before some research on crew dynamics.

The next to crew to launch to the station, Expedition 63, is in Kazakhstan today getting fitted in their Sokol launch and entry and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship seats. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will lift off April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to begin a 195-day mission on the orbiting lab.

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Mark Garcia

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Artery Scans, Eye Checks on Station as Crews Prepare for April Swap

Artery Scans, Eye Checks on Station as Crews Prepare for April Swap

Expedition 63 crewmembers arrive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
(From left) Expedition 63 crewmembers Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy arrive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Andrey Shelepin/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center

Ultrasound scans and eye checks aboard the International Space Station today are helping doctors understand how the Expedition 62 crew is adapting to microgravity. Back on Earth, a new crew is in final preparations for its launch next month.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir spent Tuesday morning on biomedical duty and scanned her leg arteries with an ultrasound device. She also attached electrodes to her neck, thigh and heart for the Vascular Echo study. Flight surgeons on the ground monitor the scans real-time to glimpse a crewmember’s heart and blood vessel health in space.

In the afternoon, Meir joined fellow Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan for eye exams. The duo took turns imaging each other’s eyes using optical coherence tomography gear commonly found in an eye doctor’s office. Eye health in space is important, as some astronauts have reported experiencing vision problems after returning to Earth.

Morgan started the morning swapping out batteries in a device that analyzes the station’s atmosphere. Afterward, he tended to hardware for an experiment that seeks to improve the manufacturing process of metallic alloys on Earth.

All three crewmates, including Commander Oleg Skripochka, started the day readying their Soyuz MS-15 crew ship ready for departure on April 17. They performed a fit check of the Soyuz seats they will be sitting in for the three-and-a-half hour ride back to Earth.

Meanwhile, the crew that will replace them is nearing its launch scheduled for April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner arrived today at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final training. The Expedition 63 trio is due to live aboard the station for 195 days with Cassidy as commander.

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Mark Garcia

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Vision Tests, 3D Bioprinting on Station as New Crew Ramps up for Launch

Vision Tests, 3D Bioprinting on Station as New Crew Ramps up for Launch

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea
The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain on the European continent from Morocco on the African continent.

Vision tests and a variety of advanced biology research activities took place aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 62 crew also serviced several computers and life support gear as a new crew gets ready for launch next month.

Each crewmember had a vision acuity test today, with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan starting first just after lunchtime today. The crew set up a laptop computer with a vision chart and read the characters with one hand over each eye as ground doctors monitored in real-time.

Morgan started his morning tending to mice living in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. The rodents are being observed to understand how microgravity affects genetic expression. Results could inform how humans will adapt to longer missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

In the afternoon, Morgan explored how the space environment, including radiation, impacts microbes living in the human body. The study seeks to understand how gut bacteria is enriched or depleted in space and how it affects astronaut health.

Watch how NASA is learning to protect an astronaut’s microbiome… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOZFfUyOw8s

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Meir activated a 3-D bioprinter that is being tested for its ability to manufacture human organs in space. She tested the device without printing any cells today and checked its cleaning syringes. The station’s Bio-Fabrication Facility could help patients on Earth and enable future crews to produce food and medicines on long-term space missions.

In the Russian segment, station Commander Oleg Skripochka worked an experiment during the morning to help researchers understand the ergonomic conditions aboard the orbiting lab. The veteran cosmonaut then moved onto computer upgrades before collecting radiation readings in the afternoon.

The next crew to live and work on the space station is preparing to depart to its launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonaut Ivan Vagner will sit next to Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin when they launch April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-16 crew craft for the six-hour ride to their new home in space.

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Mark Garcia

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