NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, as the SpaceX Dragon, named Endeavour, docked to the complex at 1:40 a.m. EST while the station was 260 statute miles over the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Somalia.
Docking was delayed slightly as mission teams completed troubleshooting of a faulty docking hook sensor on Dragon. The NASA and SpaceX teams verified that all of the docking hooks were in the proper configuration, and SpaceX developed a software override for the faulty sensor that allowed the docking process to successfully continue.
Following Dragon’s link up to the Harmony module, the astronauts aboard the Dragon and the space station will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for 3:18 a.m.
NASA Television and the agency’s website are providing live continuous coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission carrying NASA astronauts, Mission Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev on their way to the International Space Station.
The Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, began the final phase of its approach to the station at 12:15 a.m. EST on Friday, March 3, and is scheduled to dock at 12:43 a.m. Dragon is designed to dock autonomously, but the crew aboard the spacecraft and the space station will monitor the performance of the spacecraft as it approaches and docks to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module.
Four Expedition 68 astronauts took the afternoon off on Tuesday at the International Space Station while three cosmonauts focused on cargo transfers and lab maintenance. Meanwhile, the SpaceX Crew-6 mission is counting down to its launch at 12:34 a.m. EST on Thursday.
NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio handled the orbital plumbing duties inside the Tranquility module. Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) spent the day preparing urine samples to be stored in cold stowage for later use in research.
Wakata also assisted Nicole Mann in successfully removing and replacing the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue, or SAFER, battery adapter in preparation for spacewalk activities. The SAFER is essentially a “life jacket” for spacewalks. The self-contained maneuvering unit is worn like a backpack and relies on small jet thrusters to let an astronaut move around in space.
NASA Flight engineers Josh Cassada and Mann are busy preparing with cosmonaut Anna Kikina to return to Earth for the upcoming crew swap. The trio, along with Wakata, are due to return to Earth several days after the SpaceX Crew-6 mission arrives at the end of the week.
The Crew-6 members scheduled for arrival to the space station are mission commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, both from NASA, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, who will join as mission specialists. The quartet is targeted to automatically dock to the space-facing port of the Harmony module at 1:17 a.m. on Friday. The four Crew-6 members will conduct advanced space research aboard the orbital outpost for the next six months.
The space station’s four astronauts and three cosmonauts will soon welcome four SpaceX Crew-6 members who are counting down to a launch at 12:34 a.m. EST on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The quartet was due to lift off on Monday at 1:45 a.m. aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour before launch controllers detected an issue preventing data from confirming a full load of the ignition source for the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage Merlin engines.
Back aboard the orbital outpost, Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) spent about an hour readying food and sleeping bags for the visiting crew. Mann also relocated computers to the cupola to prepare for the upcoming rendezvous and docking monitoring operations. Wakata configured research hardware that will house a new space biology investigation being delivered aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour.
Mann began her day with NASA Flight Engineer Josh Cassada performing blood draws, spinning the samples in a centrifuge, then stowing the samples in a science freezer for later analysis. Cassada would later gather cargo to be stowed aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour after its arrival. NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio started his day on orbital plumbing work before finally watering tomato plants growing for the Veg-05 space botany study.
Roscosmos Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin spent Monday unpacking cargo recently delivered aboard the ISS Progress 83 resupply ship. Petelin then joined Flight Engineer Anna Kikina and tested a specialized suit that offsets the affects of microgravity potentially helping crew members adjust quicker to gravity after returning to Earth.
Four Expedition 68 crew members are preparing for their return to Earth next month while also working on space physics and household maintenance tasks. Meanwhile, a two crew ships, one from Roscosmos and one from SpaceX, are nearing their launch to the International Space Station.
NASA Flight Engineers Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada reviewed their upcoming departure procedures today ahead of next month’s planned return to Earth inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance. The duo were joined by Flight Engineers Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos as they looked over the steps they will take during their homebound flight.
The quartet trained on a computer to undock Endurance from the Harmony module, reenter Earth’s atmosphere, and parachute to a safe splashdown in the waters off the coast of Florida. Mann will command Crew Dragon Endurance with Cassada piloting the vehicle as Wakata and Kikina remain seated to either side of the astronauts. The quartet launched to the station on the SpaceX Crew-5 mission on Oct. 5, 2022.
Their replacements will arrive as the Crew-6 mission after it launches on Monday at 1:45 a.m. EST from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg will be the respective commander and pilot of Crew Dragon Endeavour. They will be flanked inside the vehicle by astronaut Sultan Alneyadi of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos. The foursome will dock to the space-facing port of Harmony module at 2:29 a.m. on Tuesday and live and work aboard the orbital outpost for six months conducting critical space research.
NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live Crew-6 launch broadcast on Sunday at 9 p.m. Once the launch broadcast is over, live mission audio will stream until NASA TV resumes with its docking coverage set to begin at 12:45 a.m. on Tuesday.
A passengerless Soyuz MS-23 crew ship is also being readied for lift off at 7:24 p.m. on Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a two-day trek to the space station. Besides delivering provisions for the crew, the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft will return NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin back to Earth later this year.
The orbital residents also have been continuing their science and lab upkeep tasks during the busy visiting vehicle preparations. Rubio, with support from Wakata, installed an ultra-high temperature furnace inside the Kibo laboratory module. The specialized furnace enables safe observations of thermophysical properties of super-heated samples. Mann and Cassada took turns cleaning crew quarters in the overhead and deck portions of the Harmony module.
Prokopyev worked in the Roscosmos segment of the station checking the performance of a 3-D printer. Petelin worked on a pair of different experiments including a fluid physics study and space biology investigation. Kikina wrapped up operations for an Earth observation study and a carbon dioxide monitoring session.
The Expedition 68 crew members began the week exploring what microgravity is doing to their bodies and ways to offset those effects. The International Space Station’s residents also inspected BEAM as a pair of crew ships prepare to blast off to the orbital outpost.
Flight Engineers Nicole Mann of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) kicked off Monday with muscle scans in the Kibo laboratory module. The pair took turns marking each other’s back, neck, leg, and arm muscles and measuring their biochemical properties. They used both the Myotones device and an Ultrasound scanner to study microgravity’s effect on muscle tone, elasticity, and stiffness. The human research study may inform advanced treatments for muscle conditions on Earth and in space.
NASA Flight Engineers Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada spent their Monday partnering on a variety of maintenance activities. Rubio opened up BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, and entered it performing inspections and organizing cargo inside the seven-year-old module. Cassada also worked inside BEAM collecting atmospheric and surface microbe samples for incubating and analysis.
In the Roscosmos segment of the orbiting lab, cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Anna Kikina tested the lower body negative pressure suit. Doctors are exploring the suit’s ability to counteract the upward flow of body fluids causing head and eye pressure in crew members. Prokopyev also had time for cardiac research before checking the performance of a 3-D printer. Kikina spent the rest of her day on life support maintenance. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin assisted Prokopyev with the cardiac study then collected samples from a science freezer and serviced them for a space biology study.
Two crew ships are poised to launch to the orbiting lab before the end of the month. Teams are assessing the launch date of the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, which will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It will dock automatically to the Poisk module. The MS-23 will arrive uncrewed but will return home crewmates Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin on a future date.
The SpaceX Crew-6 mission is targeted to launch on Monday at 1:45 a.m. from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon Endeavour will carry Commander Stephen Bowen and Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg along with Mission Specialists Sultan Alneyadi and Andrey Fedyaev to the station where they will dock to the Harmony module’s space-facing port beginning a six-month space research mission. Bowen and Hoburg are both NASA astronauts and Alneyadi is an astronaut representing the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and Fedyaev is a cosmonaut representing Roscosmos.