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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Russia Launches a Two-Person Soyuz Crew to the ISS...

The Soyuz MS-04 rocket carrying two Expedition 51 space station crew members launches from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 20, 2017.
NASA

Two New Crew Members Arrive at International Space Station (Press Release)

After a six-hour flight, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos arrived at the International Space Station at 9:18 a.m. EDT Thursday where they will continue important scientific research.

The two launched aboard a Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:13 a.m. (1:13 p.m. Baikonur time), orbited Earth four times, and docked at the space station.

The arrival of Fischer and Yurchikhin increased the station's crew complement to five. The two join Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). The Expedition 51 crew members will spend more than four months conducting approximately 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Novitskiy and Pesquet will remain aboard the station until early June. Fischer and Yurchikhin are scheduled to remain aboard the station until September, along with Whitson, whose stay aboard the station was extended into Expedition 52 by an agreement recently signed between NASA and Roscosmos.

The expanded Expedition 51 crew soon will conduct new science investigations arriving on Orbital ATK’s seventh NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission Saturday, April 22. Investigations arriving will include an antibody investigation that could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment and an advanced plant habitat for studying plant physiology and growth of fresh food in space. Another new investigation bound for the U.S. National Laboratory will look at using magnetized cells and tools to make it easier to handle cells and cultures, and improve the reproducibility of experiments. Cygnus also is carrying 38 CubeSats, including many built by university students from around the world, as part of the QB50 program. The CubeSats are scheduled to deploy from either the spacecraft or space station in the coming months.

Fischer and Whitson are scheduled to take part in the fifth spacewalk of the year on May 12. The pair’s main task will be to replace an avionics box on the starboard truss called an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier, a storage platform. The box houses electrical, and command and data routing equipment for science experiments and replacement hardware stored outside the station. The new avionics box is arriving aboard Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft on Saturday, April 22.

The crew members also are scheduled to receive one Russian Progress resupply mission delivering several tons of food, fuel, supplies and research.

For more than 16 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 1,900 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The S.S. John Glenn Heads Up to the International Space Station...

The Atlas V rocket carrying Orbital ATK's Cygnus freighter, which has been dubbed the S.S. JOHN GLENN after the late American hero, launches towards the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida...on April 18, 2017.
NASA / KSC

NASA Space Station Cargo Launches aboard Orbital ATK Resupply Mission (Press Release)

The International Space Station will be capable of dozens of new scientific investigations from NASA and around the world when Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft delivers more than 7,600 pounds of cargo Saturday, April 22.

Orbital ATK’s seventh cargo delivery flight to the station launched at 11:11 a.m. EDT Tuesday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Expedition 51 astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Peggy Whitson of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to grapple Cygnus, about 6:05 a.m. Saturday. The spacecraft will remain at the space station until July before its destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of several thousand pounds of trash.

This is the fourth flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft, and the third using the Atlas V launch system. The spacecraft for this mission is named in honor of John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth. Glenn, who died in December at age 95, was one of NASA's original seven astronauts and a retired U.S. Senator from Ohio.

The mission, which is under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, will support dozens of new and existing investigations as Expeditions 51 and 52 contribute to approximately 250 science and research studies.

Highlights from the new experiments will include studies on cancer-fighting drugs, crystal growth and atmospheric reentry.

In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D, spheroid structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, enabling better tests for drug efficacy. The ADCs in Microgravity investigation tests drugs designed as targeted cancer therapies called antibody-drug conjugates, developed by Oncolinx. These conjugates combine an immune-activating drug with antibodies and target only cancer cells, which could potentially increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduce side-effects. Results from this investigation could help inform treatments for cancer patients and provide insight into how microgravity affects a drug’s performance.

The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation originally was operated successfully aboard the station in 2002. Updated software, data acquisition, high definition video and communication interfaces will help advance understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth. Investigations such as the CLYC Crystal Growth experiment will be conducted in the SUBSA Furnace and inserts. High-quality crystals are essential to a variety of applications, and a microgravity environment can produce better quality crystals. CLYC crystals grown aboard station can help researchers understand the exact conditions needed to produce the highest-quality, defect-free crystals.

The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation studies a new type of recording device that rides alongside a spacecraft as it reenters Earth’s atmosphere, recording data about the extreme conditions it encounters. Scientists, so far, have been unable to monitor those conditions on a large scale, and a better understanding could lead to more accurate spacecraft breakup predictions, better spacecraft designs, and materials capable of better resisting the extreme heat and pressure during the return to Earth.

For more than 16 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 1,900 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.

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