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ISS/Kibo Monthly News

ISS/Kibo Monthly News: May, 2016

Last Updated: August 2, 2016

Topic of the Month

The Launch of Astronaut Takuya Onishi Ticks Down

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47S crew begins final qualification exams for the Soyuz spacecraft
(May 26) (Credit: JAXA/NASA/Stephanie Stoll)

Astronaut Takuya Onishi, a crew member for the ISS Expedition 48/49 mission, underwent a series of final training and exams at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) for his upcoming launch. Onishi refreshed his knowledge about the Kurs automated docking navigation system, underwent oral tests on the Russian segment and Soyuz spacecraft, and repeated simulations of manual docking to the ISS and descent to Earth. At last on May 26 and 27, Onishi and the 47S crew underwent final qualification examinations.

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Final training on the Soyuz spacecraft (Photo courtesy of Takuya Onishi)

Final training on the Soyuz spacecraft (Photo courtesy of Takuya Onishi)

The final examination for the Russian segment focused on executing daily operations according to a schedule (as repeated in past training), including responses to trouble.

In the case of trouble posed by fire, they quickly donned oxygen masks, and then identified and extinguished the fire based on information provided by the detector.

On the next day, they underwent the final examination for the Soyuz spacecraft. Aboard the Soyuz spacecraft simulator, they underwent a series of operations from rendezvous and docking to the ISS, and then to deorbiting after undocking from the ISS, while responding to six defects that included communication, automated docking system, engine, and false alarm failures. The crew passed both final qualification examinations.

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Onishi responding to a file in the Russian segment (Photo courtesy of Takuya Onishi)

Press conference right before the final examinations (Photo courtesy of Takuya Onishi)

HTV6 delivers the water of Tanegashima island to the ISS


The container filled with the water of Tanegashima island being loaded into HTV6 (May 18)(Photo credit:JAXA)

Water is one of the most precious resources on the ISS. The Water Recovery System (WRS) on the ISS produces potable water from the crew's urine and discharged water; however, the supply of water from the ground is also crucial.

Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI6" is scheduled to fly this year and will deliver potable water.

From May 17-18, a slight amount of iodine was added to the water of Tanegashima island for sterilization. A total of 600 liters of water were then packed in 30 dedicated water bags and loaded into the Pressurized Logistics Carrier (PLC) of KOUNOTORI6.

Japan's water supports astronauts' activities on the ISS.

Kibo this Month

Samples of JAXA PCG experiments return to Earth


Samples packed for delivery to Japan (Photo credit:JAXA)

The samples of protein crystals for the Protein Crystal Growth experiment (JAXA PCG) launched aboard the Progress resupply vehicle (63P) on April 1 have completed growth in space and were returned to Earth on May 12 aboard the Dragon spacecraft (SpX-8). Then the samples arrived in Japan on May 20.

The samples were originally planned to be collected aboard the Soyuz spacecraft (45S); however, as the return was postponed from June 5 to June 18, the samples were carried aboard the Dragon spacecraft as a result of impromptu international coordination efforts. These obtained samples will be handed over to researchers for analysis using synchrotron radiation facilities (such as SPring-8 in Japan).


Crystals of kinase grown under 4℃ environment (Credit: Osaka Prefecture University/JAXA)

Here we introduce some microscopic images of the JAXA-sponsored protein crystals.

Although past protein crystallization experiments have been conducted at 20℃, this time the crystals were grown at 4℃ for the first time as a demonstration of technology. Growth at 4℃ became possible as a result of technological efforts to regulate the temperature through a series of transport stages from launch and in-orbit growth to return, and then delivery to Japan.

This service realizes the crystallization of candidate drugs in high demand, such as unstable hydrosoluble proteins and membrane proteins.


Crystals of protein molecules related to the progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and their inhibitors (Credit: University of Tsukuba/JAXA)


Crystals of peptide-degrading enzymes that are important for the growth of multidrug-resistant bacteria (Credit: Iwate Medical University/JAXA)


Crystals of cellulose-degrading enzymes (Credit: University of Tokyo/JAXA)

ISS this Month

The ISS completes its 100,000th orbit around Earth


A photo of the Expedition 47 crew, the three millionth photo taken on the ISS (May 1)(Photo credit:JAXA/NASA)

On May 16, the ISS completed its 100,000th orbit since its first component, the Zarya module (also known as the Functional Cargo Block or FGB), was launched on Nov. 20, 1998. The ISS has traveled over 4.2 billion kilometers--equivalent to the distance of ten round-trips from Earth to Mars. Since October 2000 when the first crew began living and working on the ISS, many people including eight Japanese astronauts have visited the ISS.

U.S. CubeSats have been released


Deployment of the U.S. CubeSats (May 16)(Photo credit:JAXA/NASA)

A total of 16 microsatellites (called CubeSats) were released from the Kibo module, eight each in the periods of May 16-18 and May 30-June 1. These CubeSats were deployed into orbit using the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) developed by a U.S. space development company.

BEAM update

The inflation of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), an inflatable test module launched and attached to the ISS in April, was completed. Following the unsuccessful attempt at inflation on May 26, BEAM was expanded to its full size on May 28 after seven hours of operations, with sizes ranging from 2 to 4 meters in length and 2.4 to 3.2 meters in diameter.

Expansion of BEAM (Photo credit:JAXA/NASA)


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