Last Week on the International Space Station

On Feb. 10, a Cygnus spacecraft carried a fresh supply of 8,300 pounds of scientific investigations and cargo to the orbiting laboratory.

Three NASA astronauts, Mark Vande HeiThomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, along with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer spent time last week unpacking research samples stowed in science freezers aboard the U.S. Cygnus space freighter. The quartet then loaded the frozen samples into research racks throughout the space station. Some of the new science samples delivered on Monday include skin cells and cancer cells being studied in the microgravity environment to improve human health on Earth and in space.

Two new biology experiments were also delivered by Cygnus. NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn set up the Microgravity Science Glovebox and began exploring the cellular and molecular alterations taking place in samples of skin cells. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is observing tumor cells in the Life Science Glovebox to better understand the onset and progression of cancer. Both investigations have the potential to inform space research techniques and improve therapies on Earth.

Astronauts Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) worked throughout Wednesday continuing to offload the 8,300 pounds of cargo delivered Monday inside Cygnus. NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron deactivated space botany hardware then photographed cotton cell samples being harvested for the Plant Habitat-05 space agriculture study.

Astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari harvest cotton cell samples
Astronauts Kayla Barron and Raja Chari harvest cotton cell samples

The crew is also revving up for a pair of spacewalks in mid-March to continue modifying the orbiting lab’s power systems. Maurer and NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn worked on U.S. spacesuit jet packs that an astronaut could use to maneuver to safety in the unlikely event of becoming untethered from the station. Marshburn also reviewed plans to assist spacewalkers from inside the space station including suit up procedures, hardware checks and a communications gear overview.

Week Begins on Station with Science Hardware Work

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer swaps samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory, a physics research device.
ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer swaps samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory, a physics research device.

The seven-member Expedition 66 crew started the last day of January working on a wide variety of research gear supporting biology, physics, and Earth science. Spacewalk tool work and vision tests were also on Monday’s schedule aboard the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn kicked off Monday servicing science components, flight hardware and life support gear. Barron started the morning inside the Kibo laboratory module installing a small satellite orbital deployer onto an experiment platform that will soon be placed into the vacuum of space. Marshburn also worked inside Kibo installing ice bricks to condition science freezers. Barron later replaced a robotic hand controller while Marshburn worked on water transfer tasks.

ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer once again wore the Metabolic Space medical monitoring device measuring his heart rate and breathing function while riding the station’s exercise bike. The astronaut from Germany also worked on the Mochii electron-scanning microscope then reloaded firmware supporting an array of wireless instrumentation.

NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari worked on pistol grip tools that spacewalkers use when removing or attaching bolts on the outside of the space station. He also joined Barron and Marshburn participating in vision tests checking for visual acuity using a standard eye chart. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei took Monday morning off before spending the afternoon checking cable connections and assisting the cosmonauts with Russian hardware.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos started the day studying ways to pilot future spacecraft and robots on planetary missions. He then joined Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov for a technology study exploring advanced methods to locate landmarks for Earth photography. Dubrov also swapped fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack that supports safe research into flames and fuels in microgravity.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Underway as Endurance Journeys to Station

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon atop, soars upward after liftoff from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021. Aboard the Crew Dragon are SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts Raja Chari, commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist; along with Matthias Maurer, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and mission specialist. Launch time was at 9:03 p.m. EST. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer are on their way to the International Space Station, following the picture-perfect launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance by the crew, launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida at 9:03 p.m. EST.

“What a beautiful evening for a launch. It was another great experience seeing those four guys take off into space on top of that Falcon 9 on that Dragon,” said NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana. “It is a huge challenge to safely get humans to and from low-Earth orbit, and the partnerships that we have with our international partners and our commercial crew partners has enabled this space economy that we have right now. What a great time to be part of America’s space program.”

Upon their arrival at the space station, the Crew-3 astronauts will be greeted by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov – the Expedition 66 crew already on board. During their six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer will join the Expedition 66 crew in conducting a number of science and research investigations.

Some of these include a food physiology experiment that will study the impacts of an enhanced spaceflight diet on astronaut health, a sensor that will test a set of LED beacons with which Astrobee free-flying robots will interact during formation flight maneuvers, and a Human Research Program project that will collect a set of core measurements related to human spaceflight risks from astronauts before, during, and after long-duration missions.

The SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts wave to family and friends after walking out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on launch day, Nov. 10, 2021.
The SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts wave to family and friends after walking out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on launch day, Nov. 10, 2021. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Crew-3 is the third of six crew rotation missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This is the first flight for Chari, Barron, and Maurer, and the third for Marshburn, who flew on STS-127 and Expedition 34/35.

Crew-3 astronauts are slated to arrive at the space station tomorrow, Nov. 11, with docking targeted for 7:10 p.m. EST. Following docking and hatch opening, a welcoming ceremony is planned for 9:20 p.m. EST. Participants will include:

  • The Expedition 66 crew aboard the station
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA
  • David Parker, director, Human and Robotic Exploration, ESA

Coverage of Crew-3’s arrival to the station will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, beginning with docking at 7:10 p.m. EST.

For mission updates, visit the station blog at https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following @Commercial_Crew@space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew-3 Postlaunch News Teleconference Set for 10 p.m.

NASA's SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts are seen inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft before lifting off on the agency's SpaceX Crew-3 mission.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts are seen inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft before lifting off on the agency’s Crew-3 mission on Nov. 10, 2021, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. From left are ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron. Photo credit: SpaceX

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer on their way to the International Space Station has safely reached orbit, and the nosecone has been opened.

At 10 p.m., NASA will host a postlaunch news teleconference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Participants in the briefing will be:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
  • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
  • Frank de Winne, program manager, International Space Station, ESA

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following  @space_station  and @ISS_Research  on Twitter as well as the  ISS Facebook  and  ISS Instagram  accounts.

Separation Confirmed, Crew Dragon Now Flying Solo

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft separates from the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage for the agency's SpaceX Crew-3 mission on Nov. 10, 2021.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully separates from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, sending the Crew-3 astronauts on their solo journey to the International Space Station on Nov. 10, 2021. Photo credit: NASA

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance by the Crew-3 astronauts, has successfully separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and is now flying on its own.

The spacecraft has safely reached orbit, and its nosecone has been opened. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, along with ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer are slated to arrive at the International Space Station about 22 hours from now, around 7:10 p.m. EST on Nov. 11.

First Stage Sticks the Landing!

The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket successfully lands on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean following launch of the agency's SpaceX Crew-3 mission.
The first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lands on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean following launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission on Nov. 10, 2021. Photo credit: NASA

The first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has successfully landed on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket used for today’s mission previously flew on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station in June 2021.

Next up, Crew Dragon will separate from the rocket’s second stage to continue its journey to the International Space Station.

Falcon 9 Second Stage Engine Shuts Down

Shutdown of the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage engines occurs right on time, and Crew Dragon is now in orbit. In just a moment, the rocket’s first stage will attempt to land on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Crew-3 Confirms Trajectory is Nominal

The call came in from Crew-3 Commander Raja Chari that trajectory is nominal, and the first stage has started its descent. The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage will continue to burn for the next few minutes before intentionally shutting down.

Main Engine Cutoff; Falcon 9’s First Stage Separates

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage has reached main engine cutoff, known as MECO, and the first and second stages have separated. As the second stage continues carrying Crew Dragon on its flight, the rocket’s first stage will attempt a targeted landing on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

LIFTOFF! Crew-3 Astronauts Begin Their Journey to the Space Station

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021. Photo credit: NASA

We have liftoff! At 9:03 p.m. EST, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft lit up the night sky at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending Crew-3 astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer on the start of a 22-hour journey to the International Space Station.

Coming up in just one minute, the rocket will pass through Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket. Following this, the Falcon 9’s first and second stages will separate.