NASA, SpaceX Continue Crew-2 Space Station Undocking

Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide talk to journalists on Earth before their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour.
Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide talk to journalists on Earth before their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission continues to target a return to Earth no earlier than 7:14 a.m. EST Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 12:04 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, to begin the journey home. Mission teams completed an undocking weather review on Saturday and are ‘go’ to proceed to the next weather review about six hours prior to the scheduled undocking time. Winds remain the main watch item for the return of the mission.

NASA will provide coverage of the mission on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will complete 199 days in space at the conclusion of their mission. The spacecraft also will return to Earth with about 530 pounds of hardware and scientific investigations.

Endeavour now will forego a fly around maneuver to photograph the exterior of the International Space Station to allow for additional alternate splashdown locations off the coast of Florida.

NASA and SpaceX also have a backup undocking and splashdown opportunity available Monday, Nov. 8, if weather conditions are not favorable for the primary opportunity.

The NASA and SpaceX teams will determine a primary and alternate splashdown location from the seven possible landing locations prior to return, factoring in weather, crew rescue, and recovery operations. Additional decision milestones take place prior to undocking, during free flight, and before Crew Dragon performs the deorbit burn.

NASA and SpaceX closely coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard to establish a safety zone around the expected splashdown location to ensure safety for the public and for those involved in the recovery operations, as well as the crew aboard the returning spacecraft.

With Crew-2 splashdown Monday, Nov. 8, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission is targeting launch no earlier than 9:03 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For this launch opportunity, the Crew Dragon Endurance is scheduled to dock to the space station around 7:10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 return coverage is as follows:

Sunday, Nov. 7
9:45 a.m. EST– Coverage begins for 10:15 a.m. hatch closure

11:45 a.m. EST– Coverage begins for 12:04 p.m. undocking (NASA will provide continuous coverage from undocking to splashdown)

Monday, Nov. 8
7:14 a.m. EST– Splashdown

Crew-2 is the second of six NASA and SpaceX crewed missions to fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has delivered on its goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the U.S. through a partnership with American private industry. This partnership is changing the arc of human spaceflight history by opening access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, more science, and more commercial opportunities. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars.

VR, Space Biology Studies as Crew Nears Departure

Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide talk to journalists on Earth before their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour.
Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide talk to journalists on Earth before their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour.

A pair of astronauts aboard the International Space Station studied advanced piloting controls using virtual reality today. In the meantime, four Expedition 66 crewmates are turning their attention to returning to Earth this month.

An experiment sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) is using virtual reality in the space environment to help engineers optimize workstations and interfaces for controlling future space robots and spacecraft. Commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA set up the Pilote experiment this morning for NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur who wore the virtual reality headset. She worked in the Columbus laboratory module wearing the VR goggles using a haptic controller to pilot and capture simulated spacecraft in a video game-like environment.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked throughout Friday on a variety of station hardware. Kimbrough worked in the in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module servicing thermal gear as Hoshide checked out lights and orbital plumbing systems in the Kibo laboratory module.

Kimbrough will also lead McArthur, Pesquet and Hoshide back to Earth inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour. The quartet have been packing Endeavour with personal items and station hardware, as well as training on a computer for the ride back home. The four commercial crew astronauts will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing port and splashdown off the coast of Florida ending a station mission that began in April.

The orbiting lab’s other three crewmates, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov, will continue their stay in space until spring next year.

Vande Hei trained throughout Friday for his role when he will be monitoring the Crew Dragon’s upcoming undocking and departure. He also checked U.S. toilet sensors before ending his day setting up hardware to collect biological samples. Shkaplerov continued cargo transfers inside the ISS Progress 79 resupply ship then photographed the Photobioreactor hybrid life support system experiment for inspection. Dubrov explored ways to maintain safe, sterile conditions when conducting microgravity biology research for the Aseptic study.

Station Residents Work Science, Get Ready for Crew Swap

The waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth's horizon as the International Space Station orbited 262 miles above eastern China.
The waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth’s horizon as the International Space Station orbited 262 miles above eastern China.

The seven Expedition 66 crew members living and working aboard the International Space Station focused on a variety of microgravity research today while preparing to split up this month. Back on Earth, four commercial crew astronauts are preparing for their launch to the orbiting lab from Kennedy Space Center.

NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur have been packing the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. The duo will return to Earth later this month inside Endeavour with Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet. They will complete their mission in space which began in April when they splashdown off the coast of Florida.

Hoshide, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), worked inside the Kibo laboratory module relocating a microbe sensor before checking out the console that controls the Japanese robotic arm. Station Commander Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) put on a virtual reality headset for the Pilote technology demonstration and explored the ergonomics of robotic and spacecraft interfaces. The international duo also spent some time Monday packing personal items inside Endeavour for the ride back home.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, who is staying on the station until April for a near yearlong mission, spent most of Monday working on the Fluids Integrated Rack. He set up components inside the physics research device to support operations for the new Fluids Boiling and Condensation Experiment.

The two cosmonauts working in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment spent their day on cargo transfers and science module connections. Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov packed and unpacked cargo today in the ISS Progress 78 and 79 resupply ships. The duo also checked and measured circuit connections between the new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module and the Zvezda service module.

Down in Florida, three NASA astronauts and one ESA astronaut of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission are now targeting their launch to the space station inside the Crew Dragon Endurance for no earlier than Nov. 6. Commander Raja Chari, with Pilot Thomas Marshburn, will lead Mission Specialists Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer inside Endurance when it lifts off carrying the foursome to their new home in space where they will stay for six months.

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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