Crew Preps for Japanese Cargo, Studies Effects of Planetary Missions

Crew Preps for Japanese Cargo, Studies Effects of Planetary Missions

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm during Expedition 56.

Japan’s ninth mission to resupply the International Space Station has been given a “go” to launch on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The Expedition 63 crew continues prepare for its arrival and robotic capture on Memorial Day.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will be in the cupola on May 25 to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple the Japanese resupply ship at 8:15 a.m. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner is backing up Cassidy and will monitor the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) as it approaches the orbiting lab. The duo continued their HTV-9 mission training and practiced capture techniques on a computer during the afternoon

NASA TV will be live broadcasting the HTV-9 launch and capture activities. HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of crew supplies, station experiments and lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries will be installed during a spacewalk at a later date to continue upgrading station power systems.

Meanwhile, space research operations and lab maintenance activities are ongoing as the three-member crew orbits Earth.

The commander started the day on a study that could inform the fabrication of materials in space or on the Moon. He serviced samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory that enables safe research into a variety of materials such as metals, alloys, semiconductors, etc… At the end of the day, Cassidy also explored how different gravity conditions could affect planetary surfaces impacting future spacecraft designs.

Vagner joined veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and spent midday inventorying maintenance and repair equipment. Ivanishin was also on heart research duty today exploring how blood circulation adapts to the conditions of microgravity.

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Mark Garcia

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Japanese Cargo, SpaceX Crew Dragon Activities Ramping Up

Japanese Cargo, SpaceX Crew Dragon Activities Ramping Up

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley participate in a fully integrated test of SpaceX Crew Dragon flight hardware at the SpaceX processing facility in Florida on March 30.

The International Space Station is getting ready for a new Japanese cargo mission and the first Commercial Crew before the end of the month.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy joined Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner Friday afternoon to train for the arrival of a Japanese cargo craft after it launches on May 20 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The duo practiced the robotic capture techniques they will use when they command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-9) when it arrives on May 25 at 8:15 a.m.

The HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of food, fuel and supplies including new lithium-ion batteries to finish updating the station’s power systems. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.

Two days after the arrival of Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship, the first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will lift off from Florida to the orbiting lab aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are in preflight quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center counting down to their May 27 launch at 4:33 p.m.

The veteran astronauts, representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, will approach the station May 28 and dock to the Harmony Module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter at 11:39 a.m. They will open the hatch about two-and-a-half hours later to join the Expedition 63 crew and ramp up space science activities.

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Mark Garcia

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Station Trio Checks Eyes, Keeps Lab in Tip-Top Shape

Station Trio Checks Eyes, Keeps Lab in Tip-Top Shape

The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station
The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station with (from left) NASA astronaut and Commander Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

The Expedition 63 crew focused its attention today on maintaining International Space Station systems and keeping the orbiting lab in tip-top shape. More eye checks were also on the schedule as doctors seek to protect crew vision in microgravity.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA started his morning organizing science hardware inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency (ESA). He reconfigured radiation detection gear and adjusted research racks to install stowage bags and create more space inside Columbus. Afterward, Cassidy removed an atmosphere monitor from the U.S. Destiny laboratory module then reinstalled and activated it inside the Harmony module.

The veteran NASA astronaut also partnered once again with experienced Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for another eye exam, this time using optical coherence tomography gear. Crew members have reported vision issues and scientists are exploring why and seek to ensure healthy eyes while living in space.

Ivanishin, who is on his third station spaceflight, spent Thursday morning servicing power systems in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab. Before wrapping up his day with eye checks, he replaced Russian thermal sensors and updated the station’s inventory management system.

First time space-flyer Ivan Vagner participated in a variety public affairs events for Russian media. He had a live event in the morning where he discussed living aboard the space station. He also recorded messages celebrating Russian space achievements to be broadcast on Earth at later date. Vagner ended his day checking out spacecraft systems inside the Progress 75 cargo craft.

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Mark Garcia

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Flying Robots, Ultrasound Eye Scans Top Science Schedule

Flying Robots, Ultrasound Eye Scans Top Science Schedule

NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant
NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant, one of a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robots, for a test of its mobility and vision system inside the Kibo laboratory module.

Flying robots and ultrasound eye scans were the top science activities aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 63 crew also serviced a variety of lab hardware and tested a wearable health monitor.

Free-flying robotic assistants called AstroBees were checked out as Commander Chris Cassidy once again tested their ability to autonomously navigate the orbiting lab. The veteran astronaut then shut down and docked the small cube-shaped devices inside the Kibo laboratory module from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

Students on Earth will soon get a chance to “test-drive” the Astrobees in a competition for the best program to control the robotic devices. Researchers are also exploring the Astrobees’ potential to perform routine station duties so the crew has more time for critical science.

Cassidy also tackled more mundane tasks during the morning as he worked on space plumbing duties in the Kibo lab. The commander wiped leaking water and inspected plumbing connections in Kibo’s Water Recovery System.

In the afternoon, Cassidy had his eyes scanned by three-time station Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin using an ultrasound device. The ultrasound exam, with real-time inputs from doctors on the ground, looks at the health of the retina, cornea and optic nerve.

Ivanishin started his workday swapping fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack which enables safe studies of fuels, flames and soot in microgravity. First-time space flyer Ivan Vagner worked during the morning on Russian power supply systems before servicing water tanks in the Zvezda service module. Just after lunchtime, Vagner attached the Holter Monitor, a non-invasive medical device, to his chest that will measure his heart’s electrical activity.

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Norah Moran

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Japanese Resupply Ship, SpaceX Crew Dragon Nearing Launch Dates

Japanese Resupply Ship, SpaceX Crew Dragon Nearing Launch Dates

Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.

A Japanese cargo ship is poised to resupply the Expedition 63 crew just as a U.S. space freighter has completed its stay at the International Space Station. The three station residents are also getting ready to welcome two Commercial Crew members in just over two weeks.

Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo mission (HTV-9) is due to lift off on May 20 aboard an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center. The cargo craft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is delivering fresh food and supplies, new science experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems.

The HTV-9 will arrive at the station on May 25 where Commander Chris Cassidy, with Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner as back up, will capture the cargo craft with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Ground controllers will take over afterward and remotely install the HTV-9 to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port where it will stay for two months.

Just two days later, NASA will launch the first crew from the United States since 2011 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will take a 19-hour trip to the station while testing systems inside the Crew Dragon. It will automatically dock on May 28 to the International Docking Adapter located on the Harmony module’s forward port. After the hatches open, the duo will join the Expedition 63 crew to ramp up science and maintenance operations aboard the orbiting lab.

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Mark Garcia

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