European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli taking a breath sample for MARROW, a Canadian experiment being conducted on the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA.)
MARROW Marathon Week
On September 17, three astronauts aboard the International Space Station started on-orbit operations for Canadian science experiment MARROW. Over the next eight days, they will be collecting blood, breath and ambient air samples to better understand the impact of the microgravity on blood cell generation and function. Results from this experiment will provide additional insight into space anaemia but also help bedridden patients here on Earth. A total of 12 astronauts will participate in the study.
You got it? A computer-generated image of Canadarm2 passing CREAM to the Japanese arm. (Credit: CSA)
Pass the CREAM, please: Canadarm2 to handoff U.S. science experiment to Japanese robotic arm
After capturing Dragon on August 16, Canadarm2 will unload a U.S. science experiment called CREAM (The Cosmic-Ray Energetics and Mass investigation) from the spacecraft's cargo trunk and transfer it to the Japanese arm (the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System). This handoff marks the first time an American science experiment will be transferred from Canadarm2 to the Japanese arm.
CREAM is a cosmic ray instrument that will study how our galaxy, and perhaps the universe, is built and works. Led by a principal investigator from the United States with collaborators from South Korea, Mexico and France, CREAM is an example of the international cooperation within the space program.
Dragon will also be carrying canisters and breath sample collection kits used to support MARROW, a Canadian science experiment. Blood samples for a second Canadian experiment, Vascular Echo, will be brought back to Earth upon the spacecraft's return scheduled on September 10.
Dragon is scheduled for launch on August 14 at approximately 12:31 p.m. EDT (9:31 a.m. PDT). Canadarm2 will catch Dragon on August 16 at approximately 7 a.m. EDT. CREAM operations are slated for August 21. Watch live on UStream or NASA TV.
ROSA ("Roll-Out Solar Array") is jettisoned from Dextre and Canadarm2. (Credit: NASA)
ROSA jettisoned from International Space Station
After a week of valuable tests on ROSA (the Roll-Out Solar Array), attempts to reel the array back in were unsuccessful. As reloading the deployed solar array into Dragon's cargo trunk would not be possible, it was decided to execute the back-up plan to jettison ROSA from Dextre on the tip of Canadarm2. ROSA will burn up in the atmosphere and will not pose any dangers to the International Space Station (ISS) or interfere with any upcoming visiting spacecraft.
Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth on with blood and breath samples from two Canadian experiments, MARROW et Vascular Echo.
ROSA (Roll-Out Solar Array) technology demonstration
Robotics experts from the Canadian Space Agency and NASA operated Canadarm2 and Dextre over the weekend to unload ROSA, the Roll-Out Solar Array, from Dragon's cargo trunk. Over the next few days, the team will maneuver ROSA around to conduct a technology demonstration. To view the operations, which are expected to run until June 25, please consult NASA's UStream.
The CSA team is supporting real-time operations from The Payload Telescience Operations Centre. (Credit: CSA)
Four Canadian science experiments conducted on board the International Space Station
On May 29 and May 30, scientists and engineers from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) supported operations for the Canadian experiment, Vascular Echo, led by the University of Waterloo (UOW). Scientists from UOW guided two astronauts in real-time as they took ultrasound measurements and blood samples aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
During that period, three additional Canadian studies, MARROW, RaDI-N2, and At Home in Space, were also conducted in the orbiting laboratory. The CSA team provided operational support for these science sessions, which lasted approximately eight hours over the two-day period.
The findings from these Canadian science experiments will advance our knowledge in areas such as the health risks of radiation, the effects of a lack of physical activity on arteries, and on the production of blood cells. The results will not only help protect the health and safety of the astronauts, but also improve quality of life of Canadians on Earth.
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet explains how crews cope with living in space
Exploring space can be thrilling but adjusting to life in a big tin can travelling 28,000 km/h has its downsides, too. In this video, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet talks about Canada's first psychosocial experiment delving into this area. The study, "At Home in Space", assesses how astronauts from all over the world adapt to living together aboard the International Space Station (ISS). It also draws a parallel to the people on Earth who share similar living conditions, including:
people working in remote and isolated areas, or in extreme conditions
deployed military personnel
or the elderly who have relocated to retirement homes and are adjusting to the smaller spaces and sharing common areas.
After spending six months in his home-away-from-home aboard the ISS, Thomas Pesquet is scheduled to return to Earth after a thrilling ride aboard the Soyuz on Friday, June 2, 2017.
Thomas, all of your friends at the Canadian Space Agency wish you a safe and pleasant journey home!
ROBO team at work in the Canadian Space Agency's Mission Control Room. (Credit: CSA)
Canadian team plays key role in capturing and unloading Dragon and leads tests for innovative solar array panels in space
A team of robotic experts at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA)—known as ROBOs—will collaborate with their NASA counterparts to conduct a series of complex operations when SpaceX's Dragon reaches the International Space Station (ISS) on June 5.
Lasting 21 days, these operations begin with setting Canadarm2, the Station's robotic arm, in place for NASA astronaut Jack Fischer. He will use it to capture the free-flying spacecraft on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. ET. The CSA-NASA team will then resume control of the arm to attach Dragon to the ISS.
For the next 12 days, the ROBOs will carefully maneuver Canadarm2 and Dextre, the Canadian robotic repairman, to extract three science experiments from Dragon's trunk, two of which will be installed on the ISS.
The third experiment, ROSA (the Roll-Out Solar Array), is a technology demonstration. ROSA is lighter and stores more compactly than the existing solar array panels on the ISS, with state-of-the-art deployment technology. Over seven days, the CSA robotics team will perform multiple tests with ROSA attached to Dextre, in collaboration with members of the U.S. science team. After testing is complete, the ROBOs will use Canadarm2 and Dextre to load ROSA back in Dragon's trunk, which will take two additional days.
Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth in early July, and will bring back blood and breath samples for two Canadian science experiments, MARROW and Vascular Echo.
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer to make spacewalking debut with Canadarm2
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer will forever remember where he was on his very first spacewalk; fastened securely to Canadarm2. Jack Fischer's venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) happens to coincide with a milestone occasion in space; the 200th spacewalk in ISS history. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will join Jack Fischer for the 6.5-hour excursion in space, planned for Friday, May 12.
The two astronauts are tasked with replacing a large avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections to the science experiments, and hardware stored outside the ISS. In addition to installing a new high-definition camera and a pair of wireless antennas, they will also do some work on an adapter that will support a new international docking port for the arrival of commercial crew spacecraft.
Dextre repairs an electrical distribution box on the International Space Station
, Canada's robotic handyman, Dextre, will repair one of the International Space Station's four electrical distribution boxes. This critical task will ensure there is enough power for all Space Station systems to run smoothly. The intensive 30-hour operation took almost two weeks to plan and will be executed by the combined Canadian Space Agency-NASA Robotics Team.
Credit: Canadian Space Agency
Canada and Europe join together for a live concert with the International Space Station
The concert will be a compilation of music, interpreted for the organ by Mr. Kunz, a backdrop of inspiring images of space and the Earth captured from the International Space Station (ISS), with commentary by David Saint-Jacques.
During the event, David Saint-Jacques will connect with the ISS to speak with Thomas Pesquet live from space. Using a smart tablet, Pesquet will then play a few notes of "Highest Light," an original composition by Canadian artist Matthew Ricketts created specifically for this concert.
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer during a video conference with the President of the United States (Credit: NASA)
Canadarm2 gets a shout out from NASA astronaut Jack Fischer during a video conference with the President of the United States
While speaking with U.S. President Donald Trump during a space-to-Earth video conference, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer highlighted the important role Canadarm2 played in capturing and docking the Cygnus spacecraft after its launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 20th. Fischer also emphasized how the ISS is the best example of international cooperation.
During the 30 minute conversation, the President congratulated NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson for breaking the record for cumulative time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut.
Le CubeSat Ex-Alta 1 de l'Université de l'Alberta
An artist's rendering of the Experimental Albertan #1 (Ex-Alta 1) CubeSat, built and designed by a team of students from the University of Alberta. (Credit: Andy Kale, University of Alberta)
Le vaisseau-cargo Cygnus
In this image taken in March 2016, Canadarm2 prepares to capture the Cygnus spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)
A tiny satellite designed and built by Canadian students to fly to the ISS aboard Cygnus
When it launches on April 18, 2017, Cygnus will carry 28 square-shaped miniature satellites, known as CubeSats, including Alberta's first home-grown satellite—entirely designed and built by a team of students from the University of Alberta. Funded in part by the Canadian Space Agency, the team equipped their CubeSat, Experimental Albertan #1 (Ex-Alta 1), with a magnetic field instrument that will measure patterns of space weather.
These 28 CubeSats are part of the European QB50 mission, which challenges participating university students from around the world to create and operate their own CubeSat.
Arriving at the ISS on April 22, Cygnus will be captured by Canadarm2. The CubeSats will then be launched from the Station by a NanoRacks deployer in two cycles. Ex-Alta 1 will be deployed in the second cycle planned in May or June.
To watch the coverage of the launch live, please consult the schedule on NASA TV.
First space selfie of Thomas Pesquet taken during his initial spacewalk on January 13, 2017. (Credits: ESA/NASA)
Spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet to do a tune-up on Dextre, the Space Station's robotic handyman, on March 24
As expected, after nine years of intensive and flawless operations, the moving part that allows Dextre's to be anchored to the International Space Station is showing signs of wear and tear. To ensure Dextre's optimal performance for future robotic activities, astronauts Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) will lubricate this part during their spacewalk.
The astronauts will also lay the ground work for the installation of the second International Docking Adapter (IDA), the physical connecting point for spacecraft. The new IDA will serve as a gateway for future crews arriving on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, the first new human-rated spacecraft since the space shuttle.
Two additional spacewalks to continue the prep work for the future arrival of commercial crew spacecraft and to upgrade station hardware are scheduled on March 30 and April 6.
Canadarm2 releases Dragon from the International Space Station
Using Canadarm2, astronauts Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency and Shane Kimbrough of NASA released the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station just after 5:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, March 19.
Dragon's cargo included 1.2 million tomato seeds for the Tomatosphere™ educational project. Students in approximately 20,000 classrooms across Canada and the United States will receive the space-faring seeds that were launched to the ISS on board Dragon on February 19, 2017. They will then grow these tomato seeds, or others that remained on Earth, in a blind study that teaches students about plants, space, careers, nutrition and agriculture. Students will only find out which seeds went to space once they complete the experiment.
Dextre loading a completed science experiment inside Dragon's trunk. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)
Dextre packs Dragon for its return flight
Dextre is now equipped to provide tips to space travellers on how to pack efficiently (well, almost!).
On March 3, 2017, the space handyman performed a task never before attempted by robots or humans when he loaded the first of three completed experiments inside Dragon's trunk. For safety reasons astronauts do not have access to this area so having Dextre handle this task is tremendously helpful. The final two experiments will be loaded during the week of March 13th. Now that Dextre has proven he can handle this task, it will become a regular item on his 'to do' list.
Credit: Canadian Space Agency
Credit: Canadian Space Agency
Dextre performs first robotic handoff in space
Dextre will perform his very first handoff in space when he transfers nearly 440 kilograms of cargo known as STP-H5 (Space Test Program-Houston 5), a suite of 13 U.S. experiments, from one robotic hand to another.
The operation will begin with Dextre unloading STP-H5 from the newly arrived Dragon spacecraft using Arm 1. Dextre will then transfer STP-H5 to Arm 2 to provide power to heat the experiments. The operation is time critical because the experiments will be damaged by the cold and fail to work if they are not heated in time.
Prior to installing STP-H5 to its final site on the International Space Station, Dextre will perform a second transfer from Arm 2 to Arm 1 in order to fasten it in place.
Tune in to NASA TV or UStream to watch this operation live. The extraction of STP-H5 from the Dragon trunk starts at EST (1:30 p.m. PST) on Friday . The first handoff between the two arms is currently planned to start at EST ( PST).
Credit: NASA TV
SpaceX Dragon Rendezvous Second Attempt Planned for Thursday
Canadarm2 to capture Dragon
SpaceX's Dragon resupply spacecraft called off its rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) initially scheduled on Wednesday, at EST. Computers onboard Dragon activated the cancellation after identifying incorrect data about the ISS' location and automatically reset for a second attempt in 24 hours. The crew onboard the ISS is safe and the spacecraft is intact.
Astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Shane Kimbrough of NASA will capture the arriving spacecraft using Canadarm2. The robotics team comprised of experts from the Canadian Space Agency and NASA will then berth Dragon to the ISS. The spacecraft will spend about a month in orbit before returning to Earth in late .
Live coverage of the capture and berthing will begin at EST ( PST) on Thursday, , on NASA TV and UStream.
Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux
Tomato seeds for a Canadian student experiment to be launched to the International Space Station
Space's Dragon cargo spacecraft is slated for take-off on
In addition to supplies and equipment, Dragon will deliver 1.2 million tomato seeds as part of the Tomatosphere™ experiment. The tomato seeds will be sent back to Earth, along with samples from two Canadian experiments, Vascular Echo and Marrow, when Dragon returns to our planet on .
Dextre sets a new personal best in weightlifting
Dextre sets a new personal best in weightlifting: In this image, Dextre is hoisting three old batteries, one in each arm and one on his temporary stowage platform. As each battery weighs approximately 170 kg, roughly the weight of a refrigerator, Dextre is bearing the heaviest load to date, about 500 kg. (Credit: NASA)
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson at work during her spacewalk
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson at work during her spacewalk: During the six-hour and 32-minute spacewalk on , Whitson and Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough installed three new adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries on the ISS. (Credit: NASA)
Back at the ISS airlock
Back at the ISS airlock: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet waves after completing his very first spacewalk on . (Credit: NASA)
Dextre successfully completes the most extensive robotics operation ever conducted on the International Space Station
Harnessing the power of human ingenuity and complex robotics, ground controllers and astronauts teamed up with Dextre, the Canadian robotic handyman, to efficiently upgrade the International Space Station's (ISS's) power system. The intensive operation, which lasted a total of between and , consisted in replacing 12 old nickel-hydrogen batteries with six lighter, smaller and more efficient lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are vital to the ISS, as they store electrical energy generated by the Station's solar arrays.
Improving crew safety and increasing science opportunities
In a well-choreographed task split between robots and astronauts, Dextre carefully removed nine of the 12 batteries from the worksite and placed them on the exposed pallet of the Japanese cargo spacecraft HTV-6. The three other batteries were moved to their final stowage locations by two teams of astronauts during their respective spacewalks. Both teams also effectively installed new adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for the new batteries. The first tag team, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, carried out their spacewalk on , while the second one, European Space Agency's Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough, did theirs on .
Without the proven capabilities of Canadian robotics, the astronauts would have had to execute the entire operation during spacewalks, which are always risky and take a lot of time and resources to prepare. Entrusting Dextre to do most of the work reduced the number of spacewalks from six to two.
A shout out to the CSA from NASA astronauts during a spacewalk
In a message recorded during their spacewalk, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson expressed their appreciation to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for Dextre, also known as SPDM (the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator), and for the CSA's significant contributions to this important mission. (Credit: NASA)
"The ability to blend robotics with spacewalks to perform this battery upgrade saved us days of precious crew time. By swapping in these new batteries for the Station's power system, Dextre and Canadarm2 helped position us to continue powering the important research for the future, while saving crew time for the research of today."
- Kirk Shireman, NASA's International Space Station Program Manager
Planning this intricate mission took over one year and required more than 1,000 pages of robotics procedures (whereas a more routine operation would consist of 75 to 100 pages). Dextre was operated from the ground from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, by members of the CSA/NASA Combined Robotics Team.
Canadarm2 to release H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) from the International Space Station
At approximately 10:30 a.m. (ET) on January 27, robotics controllers at the Canadian Space Agency and NASA will position Canadarm2 for NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet to release the Japanese cargo spacecraft, HTV-6. Weighing in at over 15 metric tons, this is the heaviest HTV ever released by Canadarm2.