Space Station Sunday: New Hearts And Spare Parts

Good afternoon, space fans!  It’s been another wonderful week aboard our favorite orbital observatory!  Here’s what was up!

It's not like there's any rest stops up there!
The Progress 64 is loaded with goodies for a special space delivery
before departing Kazahkstan.
(Image courtesy

Yesterday at 3:41 AM Baikonur time, the Progress 64 cargo craft launched to the station, bearing more than three tons of food, fuel, and supplies.  Although achieving preliminary orbit about ten minutes post-launch, the Progress will “chase” the ISS over the next two days before the astronauts connect it with the Pirs Docking Compartment aboard the station.  The Progress 64 will remain at the station for six months until it undergoes a deorbit burn in Earth’s atmosphere in January.

Meanwhile, at Cape Canaversal,
a repeat performance of this will occur...
(Image courtesy

SpaceX is currently preparing for tomorrow’s projected launch to the station.  An umanned Dragon resupply craft will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, blasting off from a launch window commencing at 12:45 AM ET.  Conditions are said to be 90% favorable for launch!  The Dragon will be snatched from space and attached to the station by Commander Jeff Williams and newbie ISS residents Kate Williams and Takuya Onishi, who have been undergoing robotics training with the commander.  They will snag the Dragon using the station’s onboard Canadarm-2 robotic grappling arm.

Astronaut Kate Rubins has only been in space for just over a week, but she has adapted to the flying life just fine!  In addition to her robotics training, she commenced setting up an experiment on heart cells inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox, and also obtained samples for various human research investigations that the station continually carries out.

She's so good, she can sequence DNA
(Image courtesy

Rubins and her fellow crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi also underwent an “ISS 101” tour led by Commander Williams, wherein they reacquainted themselves with all of the aspects of the station and got their “space legs” (space wings?)  The trio arrived at the station last Saturday morning after a flawless flight up.

Here is a list of all of the Earthlings to visit the ISS.
Many more to hopefully follow!
(Image courtesy

Ivanishin and fellow cosmonaut Alexey Ovechenin also practiced manual docking techniques were any issues to arise with capture of the delivery rockets.  The Dragon delivery will include a new type of docking adapter that will fit with many modern types of spacecraft.

Think of it as a sort of all-purpose Lego piece
to attach spaceships to the ISS.
Here's how it works!
(Image courtesy

In addition to the hardware and heart cell experiment, the Dragon will bear equipment and supplies for an experiment concerning bone loss, as well as one that focuses on the sequencing of DNA.  An experiment dealing with the efficacy of medicine in space is also underway.

Speaking of underway, here's how pretty we looked from above during this week!  Take it away, Commander Williams!

The Grand Canyon
(partially on fire.)

A farm-friendly delta near Thessaloniki, Greece.

"Finally! We got a great view of those rarely seen noctilucent or “night-shining” clouds over the northern Pacific looking north just prior to a sunrise. Mysteriously amazing! They occur over the polar regions, are well above all other visible weather in the coldest layers of the atmosphere, and are thought to be made of extremely small ice crystals."

More information on noctilucent clouds can be found here."
(-via Commander Jeff Williams' facebook post.)

"Ending the day with reflection and appreciation.
 Good night from the International Space Station."
-Commander Jeff Williams

That's all for this week, space fans!  Tune in next week to see what's afloat in orbit!  Watch this space!

Here comes Progress!
The rocket plume of the spacecraft entering orbit
was captured with a 500mm lens.
After capturing the image, Commander Williams noted,
"No matter how long you spend here, there is always something new to see."

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