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Cygnus Orbits Toward Space Station As Crews Conduct Biomedical Science and Physics Research

The Cygnus spacecraft, laden with scientific and crew supplies, is en route to the ISS. It will be received and installed by NASA engineers, followed by unloading and research activities. The Expedition 70 and Ax-3 crews are engaged in extensive research, health monitoring, and station maintenance, contributing to ongoing space exploration efforts. Credit: NASA

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is orbiting Earth today carrying science and supplies to the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft in orbit around the Earth that serves as a research laboratory and spaceport for international collaboration in space exploration. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world since 2000. The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles), and provides a unique platform for scientific research, technological development, and human space exploration.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>International Space Station (ISS) for delivery on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the Expedition 70 and Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) crews continued working together on Wednesday with a full schedule of biomedical science, physics research, and lab maintenance.

Arrival and Capture of Cygnus

More than 8,200 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and station hardware are headed for the orbital lab where NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>NASA Flight Engineers Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli will be on duty awaiting the arrival of Cygnus. O’Hara will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at 4:20 a.m. ESTEST is an abbreviation for Eastern Standard Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing standard time (autumn/winter). It is five hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>EST on Thursday as Moghbeli monitors the spacecraft’s automated approach and rendezvous. After Cygnus is captured, robotics controllers on the ground will take over command of the Canadarm2 and remotely install Cygnus on the Unity module’s Earth-facing port.

Cygnus Moments From Being Captured With the Canadarm2 Robotic Arm

The Cygnus space freighter is pictured moments away from being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm above northern Iraq on February 21, 2022. Credit: NASA

Unloading and Distribution of Supplies

Several hours later, O’Hara and Moghbeli will open Cygnus’ hatch beginning several months of cargo activities. Commander Andreas Mogensen from ESA (European Space AgencyThe European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration and study of space. ESA was established in 1975 and has 22 member states, with its headquarters located in Paris, France. ESA is responsible for the development and coordination of Europe's space activities, including the design, construction, and launch of spacecraft and satellites for scientific research and Earth observation. Some of ESA's flagship missions have included the Rosetta mission to study a comet, the Gaia mission to create a 3D map of the Milky Way, and the ExoMars mission to search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>European Space Agency) and Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa from JAXAFormed in 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was born through the merger of three institutions, namely the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). JAXA performs various activities related to aerospace, from basic research in the aerospace field to development and utilization and is responsible for research, technology development, and launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in advanced missions such as asteroid exploration and possible human exploration of the Moon.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will then enter and start unloading cargo. The duo will first remove frozen science samples from Cygnus and stow them inside science freezers aboard the station for later analysis.

Research and Maintenance Activities

Meanwhile, the four Expedition 70 astronauts continued ongoing research benefitting humans living on and off the Earth. The quartet also assisted the Ax-3 crewmates as they continued their science-packed agenda in their final week aboard the station.

O’Hara collected tools and set up the Life Science Glovebox for the GMETAL physics investigation that Ax-3 Commander Michael López-Alegría and Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravcı worked on. The Axiom Space duo used the glovebox to study two-phase mixing between solid particles and gasses under various gravity levels possibly impacting future spacecraft propulsion systems. O’Hara then joined Mogensen at the end of the day for eye exams using standard medical imaging gear found in a doctor’s office on Earth.

NASA Astronaut Loral O’Hara Treats Brain Cell-Like Samples

NASA astronaut and Expedition 70 Flight Engineer Loral O’Hara treats brain cell-like samples inside the Kibo laboratory module’s Life Science Glovebox aboard the International Space Station. She was processing the samples for the Cerebral Ageing space biology study that is exploring the degenerative processes of brain cells. Results may provide insights into accelerated aging symptoms seen in space and neurodegenerative diseases experienced on Earth. Credit: NASA

Health Monitoring and System Maintenance

Earlier in the day, López-Alegría partnered with Ax-3 Pilot Walter Villadei for blood pressure checks and ultrasound scans observing their blood flow. Ax-3 Mission Specialist Marcus Wandt had a busy day starting with servicing a life support rack in the Tranquility module and training to use the station’s virtual reality hardware and software. Next, he cleaned the Biolab research facility then documented his sleep patterns while wearing a sensor-packed helmet.

Mogensen had a couple of hours blocked off on Wednesday to assist the Ax-3 crew and help the private astronauts continue their familiarization with station systems and life in weightlessness. The two-time ESA astronaut also cleaned the Dragon hatch on the forward port of the Harmony module, tested using virtual reality gear to improve crew mental health, and then closed the windows on the cupola.

NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio ISS Cupola

NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Frank Rubio peers through one of the seven windows in the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.” Credit: NASA

Inspection and Laboratory Work

Moghbeli spent her day photographing and inspecting spacewalk gear and portable safety hardware. Furukawa joined RoscosmosRoscosmos, also known as the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, is the Russian government agency responsible for space activities, including the development and operation of spacecraft, launch vehicles, and space stations. It was formed in 2015 through the merger of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the United Rocket and Space Corporation. Roscosmos is responsible for Russia's space program and works closely with other international space agencies on joint projects, such as the International Space Station. The agency is also involved in a wide range of space-related activities, including scientific research, earth observation, telecommunications, and manned spaceflight.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov and swapped fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. The pair then split up as Furukawa set up the Mochii microscope for imaging metal samples while Borisov worked on an oxygen generator in the station’s Roscosmos segment.

Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko was back on inspection duty checking structures and photographing windows in the Zvezda and Nauka modules. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub began his day with a urine sample collection and then recorded his food, drink, and medicine intake. Next, he worked on radio communications gear and orbital plumbing hardware throughout the day.

Source: SciTechDaily