On July 7, three crew members launched from Earth; headed to their new home on the International Space Station

Crewmembers Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will spend approximately four months on the orbital complex, returning to Earth in October. 

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:

Five Things to Know About NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins

Among the newest crew on the International Space Station is U.S. astronaut Kate Rubins, who will assume the role of Flight Engineer for Expeditions 48 and 49. Here are five things you should know about her:

1. She was chosen from a pool of over 3,500 applicants to receive a spot on our 2009 astronaut training class.

After being selected, Rubins spent years training at Johnson Space Center to become an astronaut. She learned how to use the complex station systems, perform spacewalks, exercise in space and more. Some training even utilized virtual reality.

2. She has a degree in cancer biology.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1999, Rubins went on to receive a doctorate in Cancer Biology from Stanford University Medical School Biochemistry Department and Microbiology and Immunology Department in 2005. In other words, she’s extremely smart.

3. Her research has benefited humanity.

Rubins helped to create therapies for Ebola and Lassa viruses by conducting research collaboratively with the U.S. Army. She also aided development of the first smallpox infection model with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NBD. It will be exciting to see the research come out of a mission with a world-class scientist using a world-class, out-of-this-world laboratory!

4. She is scheduled to be the first person to sequence DNA in space.

During her time at the space station, Rubins will participate in several science experiments. Along with physical science, Earth and space science and technology development work, she will conduct biological and human research investigations. Research into sequencing the first genome in microgravity and how the human body’s bone mass and cardiovascular systems are changed by living in space are just two examples of the many experiments in which Rubins may take part.

5. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving and triathlons…among other things.

Rubins was on the Stanford Triathlon team, and also races sprint and Olympic distance. She is involved with health care/medical supply delivery to Africa and started a non-profit organization to bring supplies to Congo. Her recent pursuits involve flying airplanes and jumping out of them – not simultaneously. 

Rubins is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station at 12:12 a.m. Saturday, July 9. After her launch on Wednesday, July 6, the three crew members traveled 2 days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module. 

Watch live coverage of docking and their welcoming starting at 11:30 p.m. EDT Friday, July 8 on NASA Television.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:

Watch a Launch From Your Own Backyard

On Monday, Oct. 17, we’re launching cargo to the International Space Station, and if you live on the east coast, there’s a chance you can catch a glimpse! 

The above map shows the areas on the east coast where launch may be visible, depending on cloud conditions.

Liftoff is currently scheduled for 7:40 p.m. EDT from our Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. 

The launch of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft will carry around 5,100 pounds of supplies and research materials to the crew on the space station. 

Not in the launch viewing area? No worries! Full launch coverage will be available starting at 6:45 p.m. EDT HERE

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:

What Cargo is Launching in October to the International Space Station?

On Monday, Oct. 17, Orbital ATK is scheduled to send new science experiments to the International Space Station

The Cygnus spacecraft will blast off from our Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 7:40 p.m. EDT carrying more than 5,100 pounds of science, supplies and equipment.

Let’s take a look at a few of these experiments:

Cool Flames

Low-temperature fires with no visible flames are known as cool flames. The Cool flames experiment examines these low-temperature combustion of droplets of a variety of fuels and additives in low gravity.

Why are we studying this? Data from this experiment could help scientists develop more efficient advanced engines and new fuels for use in space and on Earth.

Lighting Effects

Light plays a powerful role in our daily, or circadian, rhythms. Astronauts aboard the space station experience multiple cycles of light and dark every 24 hours, which, along with night shifts and the stresses of spaceflight, can affect their sleep quantity and quality.

The Lighting Effects investigation tests a new lighting system aboard the station designed to enhance crew health and keep their body clocks in proper sync with a more regular working and resting schedule.

Why are we studying this? Lighting manipulation has potential as a safe, non-pharmacological way to optimize sleep and circadian regulation on space missions. People on Earth, especially those who work night shifts, could also improve alertness and sleep by adjusting lighting for intensity and wavelength.


A user-friendly tablet app provides astronauts with a new and faster way to collect a wide variety of personal data. The EveryWear experiment tests use of this French-designed technology to record and transmit data on nutrition, sleep, exercise and medications. Astronauts use the app to complete questionnaires and keep medical and clinical logs. They wear a Smartshirt during exercise that records heart activity and body positions and transmits these data to the app. Finally, rather than manually recording everything that they eat, crew members scan barcodes on food packets to collect real-time nutritional data.

Why are we studying this? EveryWear has the potential for use in science experiments, biomedical support and technology demonstrations.

Fast Neturon Spectrometer

Outside the Earth’s magnetic field, astronauts are exposed to space radiation that can reduce immune response, increase cancer risk and interfere with electronics.

The Fast Neutron Spectrometer (FNS) experiment will help scientists understand high-energy neutrons, part of the radiation exposure experienced by crews during spaceflight, by studying a new technique to measure electrically neutral neutron particles.

Why are we studying this? This improved measurement will help protect crews on future exploration missions, like our journey to Mars.

Watch Launch

Ahead of launch, there will be various opportunities to learn more about the mission:

What’s on Board Science Briefing
Saturday, Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. EDT
Scientists and researchers will discuss some of the experiments being delivered to the station.
Watch HERE.

Prelaunch News Briefing
Saturday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. EDT
Mission managers will provide an overview and status of launch operations.
Watch HERE.

Monday, Oct. 17 coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. EDT
Watch live coverage and liftoff! Launch is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. EDT.
Watch HERE.

Facebook Live
Starting at 7:25 p.m. EDT you can stream live coverage of the launch on NASA’s Facebook page.
Watch HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: