Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 July 2019 – Dragon Captured

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
July 29, 2019
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 28 July 2019 – Dragon Captured
July 27, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter, the Progress 72 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-12 and MS-13 crew ships. Credit: NASA.

Two days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 12:01 p.m. EDT.
The 18th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-18) delivers more than 5,000 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

A key item in Dragon’s unpressurized cargo section is International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3). Flight controllers at mission control in Houston will use the robotic arm to extract IDA-3 from Dragon and position it over Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, on the space-facing side of the Harmony module. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan, who arrived at the station Saturday, July 20, will conduct a spacewalk in mid-August to install the docking port, connect power and data cables, and set up a high-definition camera on a boom arm.

Robotics flight control teams from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency will move the docking port into position remotely before the astronauts perform the final installation steps. IDA-3 and IDA-2, which was installed in the summer of 2016, provide a new standardized and automated docking system for future spacecraft, including upcoming commercial spacecraft that will transport astronauts through contracts with NASA.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Effects of Microgravity on Microglia 3D Models

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) – adult cells genetically programmed to return to an embryonic stem cell-like state – have the ability to develop into any cell type in the human body, potentially providing an unlimited source of human cells for therapeutic purposes. Space Tango-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells examines how specialized white blood cells derived from iPSCs of patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis grow and move in 3D cultures, and any changes in gene expression that occur as a result of exposure to a microgravity environment. Results could lead to the development of potential therapies.

Mechanisms of Moss in Microgravity

Space Moss compares mosses grown aboard the space station with those grown on Earth to determine how microgravity affects its growth, development, and other characteristics. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars. This investigation also could yield information that aids in engineering other plants to grow better on the Moon and Mars, as well as on Earth.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

On-Orbit Status Report

SpX-18 Capture, Berthing and Ingress: The Dragon vehicle was successfully captured at 8:12 AM CT yesterday. The robotic ground controllers then maneuvered the SSRMS to inspect the Dragon Passive CBM sealing surface and installed/berthed Dragon on the Node 2 Nadir CBM at 11:23 AM CT. The crew also completed vestibule pressurization, leak check and vestibule outfitting yesterday. Today, the crew finished ingress and began cargo transfers. Dragon will remain berthed to the ISS until August 27, 2019.

BioFabrication Facility (BFF): The BioFabrication Facility was installed and checked out. Techshot’s BioFabrication Facility (BFF) will print organ-like tissues in microgravity, acting as a stepping stone in a long-term plan to manufacture whole human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques. Using 3D biological printers to produce usable human organs has long been a dream of scientists and doctors around the globe. However, printing the tiny, complex structures found inside human organs, such as capillary structures, has proven difficult to accomplish in Earth’s gravity environment.

Space Tango MultiLab: Four experiment cubes were installed into the two Space Tango MultiLab Lockers (TangoLab-1 and TangoLab-2).

– The Effects of Microgravity on Microglia 3-Dimensional Models of Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis: Examines derivatives of human stem cells affected with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, specifically focusing on neuronal differentiation, maturation, and genomic stability.

– Brain Organoids: Observes the effects of microgravity on the survival, metabolic integrity, cellular function, and epigenetic regulation of neurons.

– The Effects of Microgravity on Microbial Nitrogen Fixation: Aims to study the effects of microgravity on microbial nitrogen fixation by utilizing a colorimetric assay where the fixation of nitrogen induces a color change within the medium.

– Quest Institute NextGen Units: Student investigations on the control of ferrofluid, observation of magnetic flux lines, space radiation, and heat transfer.

TangoLabs are reconfigurable general research facilities designed for microgravity research and development and pilot manufacturing aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

GRIP: The GRIP hardware was setup in support of experiments starting tomorrow (7/29/19). The GRIP experiment studies the long-duration spaceflight effects on the abilities of human subjects to regulate grip force and upper limbs trajectories when manipulating objects during different kind of movements: oscillatory movements, rapid discrete movements and tapping gestures.

Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) Transfers from the Dragon Vehicle: Multiple Protein Crystal Growth experiments were transferred from the CSR-18 vehicle to the ISS to begin their science runs:

– Microgravity Crystallization of Glycogen Synthase-Glycogenin Protein Complex (CASIS PCG 10) crystallizes human glycogen synthase proteins on the space station. These include enzymes critical for glycogen synthesis in the liver and those present in muscle. The lack of convection in microgravity can result in higher quality crystals that contribute to better understanding of a protein’s structure and support development of more effective medications with fewer side effects.

– Microgravity Crystal Growth for Improvement in Neutron Diffraction and the Analysis of Protein Complexes (CASIS PCG 15) seeks a better understanding of enzyme catalysis by examining crystals from two model Pyridoxal phosphate (PLP) dependent enzymes and from a bacteriophage transient deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) repair complex. Analysis of the crystals may reveal catalyst mechanisms and structures and visualize the interaction between the repair proteins. Results could contribute to identification of biomarkers for diagnosis of disease and to development of better antimicrobials.

– Monoclonal Antibody Stability in Microgravity-Formulation Study (CASIS PCG 19) examines the stability of monoclonal antibody formulations in microgravity. These formulations degrade over time and sometimes must be discarded, increasing cost and limiting the parts of the world where patients can benefit from them. Storing formulations in microgravity may reveal processes that lead to degradation and, ultimately, to methods for slowing it down.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Moderate Temperature Protein Crystallization Growth investigation (JAXA Moderate Temp PCG #13) will grow high quality protein crystals in microgravity. The crystals are returned to Earth to determine protein structures in detail; the structures are used to develop pharmaceutical drugs, and to explore the mystery of our lives.

Cell Science-02 (CS-02): The ADvanced Space Experiment Processor (ADSEP) and Bioculture System facilities were set up in support of Cell Science-02 operations later this week. The Cell Science-02 (CS-02) investigation, uses osteoblast progenitor cells isolated from mouse bones to investigate the effects of microgravity on osteoblast cellular processes at the molecular and biochemical level. CS-02 uses a computational biology omics approach to investigate how osteoblasts respond to treatment with two known osteo-inductive factors.

Space Moss: The Space Moss experiment chamber was installed and samples were transferred. Environmental Response and Utilization of Mosses in Space – Space Moss (Space Moss) grows mosses aboard the space station, and on Earth, to determine how microgravity affects their growth, development, gene expression, photosynthetic activity, and other features. Tiny plants without roots, mosses need only a small area for growth, an advantage for their potential use in space and future bases on the Moon or Mars.

NanoRacks Module-9: NanoRacks Module-9 was installed. The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) Science in Space Competition (MBRSC-Mod9), an initiative of the United Arab Emirates Astronaut Program in coordination with NanoRacks LLC, encourages student interest in space science. The experiments are part of the scientific mission of the first Emirati astronaut on the ISS later this year.

Rodent Research-17 (RR-17): The final rodent habitats were installed and prepared for Rodent Research-17 animal transfers tomorrow (7/29/19). Rodent Research-17 (RR-17) uses younger and older mice as model organisms to evaluate the physiological, cellular and molecular effects of the spaceflight environment. Some responses to spaceflight in humans and model organisms such as mice resemble accelerated aging. This investigation provides a better understanding of aging-related immune, bone, and muscle disease processes, which may lead to new therapies for use in space and on Earth.

Completed Task List Activities:

Ground Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

SPS RPCM Firmware Update

Look Ahead:
Monday, 7/29 (GMT 210)

RR-17 animal transfers
BioFabrication Facility
Cell Science-02
TReK Demonstration Video Setup

72P undock
PWD Water Sample/CFM Process

Tuesday, 7/30 (GMT 211)

Cell Science-02
LSG Crew Restraint S/U
BioFabrication Facility
CIR Manifold Bottle Replace
NanoRacks Platform-2 R&R
NanoRacks Module-9 Operations
ISS Experience

Today’s Planned Activities:
All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

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SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.