The Expedition 50 crew is gearing up for three different spaceships in two months to resupply the International Space Station. The crew also worked today on a variety of research hardware and practiced an emergency drill.
Two U.S. companies are getting their rockets and spaceships ready to deliver food, fuel, supplies and new science gear to the crew. SpaceX is first in line with a plan to launch their Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Feb. 18. Next, Orbital ATK is targeting March 19 to launch their Cygnus spacecraft on its seventh resupply mission to the station. Both spaceships will be captured by the Canadarm2 robotic. The Dragon will be installed to the Harmony module and the Cygnus will be attached to the Unity module.
Russia is preparing its Progress 66 (66P) cargo craft, one of three spaceships, for a Feb. 22 launch from Kazakhstan. The 66P will take a two-day trip to the orbital laboratory before automatically docking to the Pirs Docking Compartment.
Onboard the station, Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet spent the day in Japan’s Kibo lab module working on science gear maintenance. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson installed a leak locator in Kibo’s airlock that will be used to locate the source of an ammonia leak outside the Japanese lab.
Commander Shane Kimbrough and his Soyuz crewmates cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov got together in the afternoon an emergency descent drill. The trio practiced the procedures necessary to evacuate the station quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency and return to Earth inside their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.
SpaceX has announced no earlier than Feb. 18 for the launch of its tenth commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Dragon will be loaded with advanced space science and will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet will command the Canadarm2 to capture Dragon when it arrives about two days later. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will assist the duo and monitor Dragon as it approaches the station for a month-long stay.
The crew took a break from SpaceX preparations today and focused on a wide variety of science work. Kimbrough set up a pair of tiny internal satellites known as SPHERES and tested their ability to perform automated docking maneuvers. The tests will assist in the development of computer vision tracking algorithms possibly helping in the recovery of space debris.
Pesquet and Whitson worked in the afternoon to swap a gas bottle inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. The rack, located in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module, enables safe research into how fuels and other materials burn in space.
Please note, further research and activity aboard the space station in the last three days. This includes practice in case of an emergency:
The Expedition 50 crew trained today for the robotic capture of the SpaceX Dragon and studied how the brain adapts to living in space. Three crew members also conducted an emergency drill aboard the International Space Station.
Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet joined Commander Shane Kimbrough to study the robotics maneuvers they will use when the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship arrives later this month. Dragon is targeted to liftoff mid-February atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The tenth commercial resupply mission from SpaceX will deliver advanced space research to improve disease-fighting drugs, observe Earth’s climate and automate spacecraft navigation.
Whitson also set up magnetic resonance brain imaging hardware for the NeuroMapping experiment. The study, which has been ongoing since 2014, is exploring changes in the brain and how an astronaut’s cognition, perception and motion are affected by long-term space missions.
Veteran station residents Oleg Novitskiy and Whitson along with first-time space flyer Pesquet practiced an emergency Soyuz descent today. The trio entered their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft and simulated a scenario in the unlikely event the crew would have to evacuate the station quickly and return to Earth.
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Written By: Mark Garcia NASA
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