Astronaut Crew Studies Aging in Space, Harvests Edible Plants Before Cygnus Reboost

Cygnus Space Freighter From Northrop Grumman

The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman, with its prominent cymbal-shaped solar arrays, is pictured attached to the International Space Station’s Unity module as the orbiting lab flew 263 miles above the coast of Lisbon, Portugal. Credit: NASA

Human research and space botany were the main research activities aboard the International Space Station yesterday, with a goal of helping NASA and its international partners keep astronauts healthy on long-term missions. The seven Expedition 67 crew members also ensured the orbiting science lab continues operating in tip-top shape at the end of the workweek.

NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren continued investigating why microgravity speeds up aging-like symptoms in humans. He processed blood and urine samples then stowed them in a science freezer for the Phospho-Aging study. Living in space alters molecular pathways that accelerate the loss of bone and muscle mass. Results may inform countermeasures to keep astronauts healthier for longer in space and improve the lives of aging people on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins began harvesting radishes and mizuna greens growing without soil for the XROOTS space gardening study on Friday, June 24, 2022. The experiment uses hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow edible plants so future crews can sustain themselves on longer spaceflight missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

Sun’s Rays Burst Above Earth’s Horizon

The sun’s rays burst above Earth’s horizon as the International Space Station orbited 264 miles above Western Australia on the coast of Shark Bay. Credit: NASA

NASA Flight Engineer Bob Hines activated the Astrobee robotic free-flyers today to test their ability to autonomously navigate and maneuver inside the Kibo laboratory module using smartphone technology. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut spent her day servicing orbital plumbing components inside the Tranquility module.

In the station’s Russian segment, Commander Oleg Artemyev programmed a camera for an Earth observation study while Flight Engineer Denis Matveev transferred air and water from the Progress 81 cargo craft into the station. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov closed out test operations of the European robotic arm then moved on to ventilation system work.

On Saturday, June 25, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft will perform its first limited reboost of the International Space Station. Cygnus’ gimbaled delta velocity engine will be used to adjust the space station’s orbit through a reboost of the altitude of the space station. This Cygnus mission is the first to feature this enhanced capability as a standard service for NASA, following a test of the maneuver which was performed in 2018 during Cygnus’ ninth resupply mission. Cygnus arrived to the orbital outpost in February and is slated to depart from space station Tuesday, June 28, where it will burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA TV coverage for the unberthing will begin at 5:45 am EDT on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

This reboost follows an initial attempted reboost on June 20 which was terminated early as a conservative measure due to system parameters that differed from Cygnus flight operations. Investigation by engineers showed that these parameters were acceptable for the reboost and the limits were adjusted for Saturday’s attempt.

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