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.

Station Readies for Crew Departure Amid Science and Cargo Work

The city lights of southern India and the island nation of Sri Lanka, beneath the Earth's airglow, are pictured from the station as it orbited above the Indian Ocean.
The city lights of southern India and the island nation of Sri Lanka, beneath the Earth’s airglow, are pictured from the station as it orbited above the Indian Ocean.

Four International Space Station astronauts continue packing their U.S. spacecraft as they plan for a return to Earth this month. Meanwhile, the Expedition 66 crew continued its ongoing space research and maintenance aboard the orbital lab.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, who are also the commander and pilot of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission respectively, have been loading and readying the Crew Dragon Endeavour for its upcoming undocking and splashdown. The duo may undock for the ride back to Earth as early as Sunday, Nov. 7, with astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) ending a mission that began in April. NASA and SpaceX are continuing to review launch and return opportunities for Crew-3 and Crew-2, respectively.

Kimbrough also spent the day uninstalling incubator components before inspecting portable emergency gear. McArthur photographed a variety of space station tools for a survey. Hoshide replaced air filters as Pesquet organized cables and checked camera sensors.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, who is over halfway through his near yearlong mission, opened up the Microgravity Science Glovebox on Thursday morning and began setting up a semiconductor crystal experiment. The study takes advantage of microgravity and lessons from previous studies to produce higher-quality semiconductor crystals potentially resulting in smaller, more powerful electronic devices.

The station’s two cosmonauts, Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov from Roscosmos, focused their activities today on the docked ISS Progress 78 and 79 resupply ships. The duo checked docking components on the both cargo craft while also unpacking science gear from the Progress 79 spacecraft.

Crew Juggles Research and Upkeep as Astronaut Departure Nears

Astronauts (from left) Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough, Akihiko Hoshide and Megan McArthur, pose with chile peppers grown aboard the station.
Astronauts (from left) Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough, Akihiko Hoshide and Megan McArthur, pose with chile peppers grown aboard the station.

Space experiments filled the Expedition 66 crew’s day on Tuesday with a variety of physics research and science hardware maintenance on the schedule. Four astronauts on the International Space Station are also continuing to pack up as they prepare for a return to Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei partnered throughout the day with international crewmates Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet servicing research gear and managing cables. He started the morning supporting Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as he retrieved the multipurpose experiment platform from the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock.

Just after lunch, Vande Hei stowed old hardware uninstalled last week from the Fluids Integrated Rack. Finally, the NASA astronaut who is over midway through his near yearlong mission, wrapped up the day with Pesquet from ESA (European Space Agency) organizing and cleaning up cables throughout the station’s U.S. segment.

Hoshide and Pesquet are also getting ready for their return to Earth soon with NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur. The quartet have been packing personal items and other cargo inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour that has been docked since April to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Kimbrough will be in command and McArthur be Endeavour’s pilot alongside Hoshide and Pesquet when NASA and SpaceX finalize a November date for a splashdown off the coast of Florida.

In the meantime, Kimbrough and McArthur have still been busy maintaining orbital lab systems. Kimbrough spent most of Tuesday reconfiguring and replacing hardware inside the Combustion Integrated Rack, while McArthur checked personal carbon dioxide monitors and deployed USB chargers inside the Harmony and Tranquility modules.

The two cosmonauts from Roscosmos, Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov, spent their day on several space research activities. Dubrov explored ways to ensure safe and sterile lab gear when studying microbiology on the station. Shkaplerov installed EarthKAM imaging hardware in the Harmony module then stowed plasma physics hardware after several runs of the Plasma Crystal-4 experiment last week.

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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Touch Down at Florida Spaceport

Crew-2 astronauts arrive at Kennedy Space Center's Launch and Landing Facility on April 16, 2021.
From left to right, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, react to comments after arriving at the Launch and Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center ahead of SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Kimbrough, McArthur, Pesquet, and Hoshide are scheduled to launch at 6:11 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The astronauts that will soon launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission arrived today, April 16, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to start final preparations for liftoff.

Crew-2 mission astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, landed via Gulfstream jet aircraft at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy after departing earlier today from Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The astronauts were greeted by leaders from NASA, JAXA, and ESA. A media event began shortly after arrival with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Bob Cabana, center director, Kennedy
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, spacecraft commander
  • NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, pilot
  • JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, mission specialist
  • ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, mission specialist

The astronauts are scheduled to lift off at 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carried by a Falcon 9 rocket for a six-month science mission to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners. More details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.