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ISS/Kibo Monthly News (First issue)

Last Updated: May 19, 2016

ISS/Kibo Monthly News introduces events on the Japanese Experiment Module ("Kibo") and the International Space Station (ISS) and activities of JAXA Astronauts.

Topic of the Month

The Philippines' 50-kg-class microsatellite "DIWATA-1" deployed from Kibo

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Deployment of DIWATA-1 (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

On April 27 at 8:45 pm, a 50-kg-class microsatellite called "DIWATA-1" (meaning "fairy" in Filipino) was released from the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) of the Japanese Experiment Module ("Kibo"). This satellite was co-developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) of the Republic of Philippines, University of the Philippines, Hokkaido University, and Tohoku University.

This marks the fifth deployment (13th microsatellite) using the J-SSOD, and the first time that a 50-kg-class microsatellite has been released.

DIWATA-1 arrived at the ISS aboard the Cygnus spacecraft (OA-6) on March 26. On April 18, the Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) that interfaces with the airlock and Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS) was attached to Kibo's airlock, and then on April 21 a satellite install case containing DIWATA-1 was installed on the MPEP. On the next day, the airlock was depressurized in preparation for the deployment.

On the day of the deployment, the slide table was pulled outside of Kibo by the onboard crew's operation. The ground control team at the Tsukuba Space Center then remotely controlled the SSRMS and grappled the MPEP, positioned it to the release point, and finally released DIWATA-1 into orbit.

The personnel concerned and the press had gathered in the Mission Control Room (MCR) at the TKSC to monitor the deployment.

DIWATA-1 is equipped with four types of cameras with different resolutions and wavelengths, including a high-resolution telescope with a ground resolution of three meters and a wide-view camera with an angle of 180º x 134º.

During the duration of its mission scheduled for one year, DIWATA-1 will provide remote sensing capability for monitoring typhoons and floods, as well as farming, fishing, forest and environmental conditions in the Philippines.

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Personnel concerned applauding the successful deployment

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The JAXA Flight Control Team also applauding the personnel concerned

JAXA Astronauts this Month

Astronaut Takuya Onishi's training for his long-duration mission


Onishi practices using the ESA's glove box (Photo courtesy of Takuya Onishi)

Astronaut Takuya Onishi, flight engineer for Expedition 48/49, underwent training for a long-duration mission at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) in Germany.

At the JSC, he underwent training regarding the U.S. experiments and ISS system maintenance operations. For an experiment called Muscle Biospy that investigates how microgravity affects human muscles, Onishi had muscle cells taken from his calf and thigh as pre-flight samples.

At the ESA, he practiced operating the Doppler velocimeter to be used for Vascular Echo, an experiment intended to clarify how microgravity affects the cardiovascular system of human beings. In microgravity, the arteries of astronauts are known to harden as if aging faster. Onishi learned how to use a Doppler velocimeter to measure his blood stream.

Other training covered how to use the radiation detector on the ISS and operations for an experiment that tests the water clarification method in microgravity, which may be used for the Water Supply System on the ISS, etc.

He completed all the series of training conducted in the U.S. and Europe. In late April, Onishi went to Russia to prepare for final exams regarding the Soyuz spacecraft.

Kibo this Month

JAXA PCG experiment (fourth session of the second series) begins

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Protein Crystallization Research Facility (PCRF) (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

A lot of ongoing experiments are being conducted simultaneously in the Japanese Experiment Module ("Kibo"), including many that have been conducted repeatedly or for a long time. While a few experiments are only conducted once, most experiments require a long-term collection of data or must be repeated by changing the test conditions.

The fourth session of the second series of the Protein Crystal Growth (JAXA PCG), Japan's specialty experiment, began this month.

The protein samples will be grown under controlled temperature for about two months. Then the samples will be returned to the ground aboard the Soyuz spacecraft in June. There are 16 investigators for the fourth session of the second series; two are from private organizations and the other 14 are mostly from universities intending to conduct basic research.

A new website has been launched for JAXA PCG:

ISS this Month

BEAM installed on the ISS

After the arrival of the Dragon spacecraft (SpX-8), a U.S. commercial cargo ship, on April 9, a total of six spacecraft including two commercial resupply vehicles had been docked to the International Space Station (ISS) in April.

In its exposed trunk, Dragon SpX-8 carried the folded Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) -- an inflatable habitat module built by Bigelow Aerospace, a U.S. startup company.

BEAM was taken out of the trunk by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) and then attached to Tranquility (Node 3) on April 16.

BEAM is a test module intended to launch space hotels in the future, for which an official contract was concluded with NASA in 2013. The module is scheduled to be inflated in late May. Once the BEAM is inflated, its dimensions will become 16 m3; nearly 4.5 times larger than its original size of 3.6 m3.

Because the BEAM is a test module, astronauts won't live there. Astronauts will enter the module several times to obtain various data such as temperature and radiation level, and check the internal conditions during two years of testing.

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BEAM being loaded into the trunk of the Dragon spacecraft (Credit: SpaceX)

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BEAM being transferred by the SSRMS (Credit: JAXA/NASA)

BEAM Installation Animation(NASA YouTube)

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