Crew Unpacks Dragon and Gears Up for Spacewalks

Crew Unpacks Dragon and Gears Up for Spacewalks

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet works during a spacewalk on June 25 to install the second roll out solar array on the station's Port-6 truss structure.
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet works during a spacewalk on June 25 to install the second roll out solar array on the station’s Port-6 truss structure.

The Expedition 65 crew is unpacking brand new science experiments that arrived Monday when the SpaceX Cargo Dragon docked to the International Space Station. Two cosmonauts are also getting ready for the first of two spacewalks to power up Russia’s new science module.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur opened the Cargo Dragon’s hatch and entered the U.S. space freighter about two hours after it docked to the Harmony module’s forward 8port on Monday morning. Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) followed her shortly after and began unloading over 4,800 pounds of cargo including some of the 2,300 pounds of new science experiments.

NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei started transferring research gear and preserved samples Tuesday morning from Dragon into science freezers, incubators, and other locations. The new experiments will look at how microgravity affects plant genetics, robotic assistants, bone tissue and astronaut vision among other phenomena.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) also joined his crewmates and helped to unpack the new space shipment. The three-time station visitor is also preparing for another spacewalk set for Sept. 12 with Pesquet. He worked on a 360-degree virtual reality camera that will film and Pesquet during the spacewalk and began filling U.S. spacesuit water tanks. The duo will begin preparing the Port-4 (P4) truss structure for a new Roll-Out Solar Array.

Two cosmonauts are gearing up for the first pair of up to 11 spacewalks to outfit the Nauka multipurpose laboratory for science operations. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will exit the Poisk airlock on Friday at 10:35 a.m. EDT to route and mate power and ethernet cables on Nauka. The duo will go out again on Sept. 9 to install handrails and finish the cable work on the new module that docked to the Zvezda service module on July 29.

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Mark Garcia

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SpaceX Cargo Dragon Successfully Docks to Station

SpaceX Cargo Dragon Successfully Docks to Station

Aug. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragon vehicles; and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.
Aug. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragon vehicles; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

While the International Space Station was traveling about 260 miles over the Western Australia, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Monday, Aug. 30. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitored operations.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

Building bone with byproducts
REducing Arthritis Dependent Inflammation First Phase (READI FP) evaluates the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the growth of bone tissue and tests whether bioactive metabolites, which include substances such as antioxidants formed when food is broken down, might protect bones during spaceflight. The metabolites that will be tested come from plant extracts generated as waste products in wine production. Protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve scientists’ understanding of the physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women.

Keeping an eye on eyes
Retinal Diagnostics tests whether a small, light-based device can capture images of the retinas of astronauts to document progression of vision problems known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). The device uses a commercially available lens approved for routine clinical use and is lightweight, mobile, and noninvasive. The videos and images will be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. The investigation is sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) with the German Aerospace Center Institute of Space Medicine and European Astronaut Centre.

Robotic helpers
The Nanoracks-GITAI Robotic Arm will demonstrate the microgravity versatility and dexterity of a robot designed by GITAI Japan Inc. Results could support development of robotic labor to support crew activities and tasks, as well as inform servicing, assembly, and manufacturing tasks while in orbit. Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards. The technology also has applications in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. The experiment will be conducted inside the Nanoracks Bishop Airlockthe space station’s first commercial airlock.

Putting materials to the test
MISSE-15 NASA is one of a series of investigations on Alpha Space’s Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, which is testing how the space environment affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. These tests provide insights that support development of better materials needed for space exploration. Testing materials in space has the potential to significantly speed up their development. Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete.

Helping plants deal with stress
Plants grown under microgravity conditions typically display evidence of stress.  Advanced Plant EXperiment-08 (APEX-08) examines the role of compounds known as polyamines in the response of the small, flowering plant thale cress to microgravity stress. Because expression of the genes involved in polyamine metabolism remain the same in space as on the ground, plants do not appear to use polyamines to respond to stress in microgravity. APEX-08 attempts to engineer a way for them to do so. Results could help identify key targets for genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity.

Easier drug delivery
The Faraday Research Facility is a multipurpose unit that uses the space station’s EXPRESS payload rack systems, which enable quick, simple integration of multiple payloads . On this first flight, the facility hosts a Houston Methodist Research Institute experiment and two STEM collaborations, including “Making Space for Girls” with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando, Florida.

The Faraday Nanofluidic Implant Communication Experiment  (Faraday-NICE) tests an implantable, remote-controlled drug delivery system using sealed containers of saline solution as surrogate test subjects. The device could provide an alternative to bulky, cumbersome infusion pumps, a possible game changer for long-term management of chronic conditions on Earth. Remote-controlled drug delivery could simplify administration for people with limitations.

partnership between Faraday and Girls Scouts allows troops to play a role in conducting the control experiments, including providing them with images of the same experiments that are happening in space. The studies involve plant growth, ant colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through Artemis.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Norah Moran

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Cargo Dragon Docks to Station Monday Live on NASA TV

Cargo Dragon Docks to Station Monday Live on NASA TV

This long-duration photograph shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching the Cargo Dragon spacecraft from NASA's Kennedy Space Center into Earth orbit. Credit: SpaceX
This long-duration photograph shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching the Cargo Dragon spacecraft from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center into Earth orbit. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX Dragon is on track to arrive at the International Space Station Monday, Aug. 30, with an expected docking of the cargo spacecraft around 11:00 a.m. EDT. Live coverage will begin at 9:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

When it arrives to the space station, Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitoring operations. Dragon lifted off early on Sunday, Aug. 29, 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 4,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Mark Garcia

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Cargo Dragon Launches for Monday Docking to Station

Cargo Dragon Launches for Monday Docking to Station

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Cargo Dragon spacecraft toward the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Cargo Dragon spacecraft toward the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Dragon successfully launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:14 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying more than 4,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station. At the time of the launch, the station was flying south of Australia.

NASA Television and the agency’s website continue to provide live coverage of the ascent. About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begins a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station.

Learn more about station activities by following the mission blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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Mark Garcia

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