The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev inside undocked from the forward-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:05 a.m. EDT to complete a six-month science mission.
NASA coverage of Crew-6’s return will continue with audio only, and full coverage will resume at the start of the splashdown broadcast. Real-time audio between Crew-6 and flight controllers at NASA’s Mission Audio stream will remain available and includes conversations with astronauts aboard the space station and a live video feed from the orbiting laboratory.
NASA TV coverage will resume at 11 p.m. Sunday until Endeavour splashes down at approximately 12:17 a.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 4, near Jacksonville off the coast of Florida and Crew-6 members are recovered.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission launched March 2, 2023, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station the next day.
The Expedition 69 crew is expected to split up soon when four flight engineers return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft. Meanwhile, all crew members on the International Space Station spent Friday keeping up their orbital research and maintenance tasks.
Unfavorable weather conditions off the coast of Florida have pushed back Saturday’s planned undocking and splashdown of four station crew members at least 24 hours. Mission managers from SpaceX and NASA are now targeting the undocking of Endeavour with four crewmates inside for no earlier than 7:05 a.m. EDT on Sunday.
Endeavour, commanded by Stephen Bowen and piloted by Woody Hoburg, both NASA astronauts, is targeted to splash down in the waters off Florida’s coast at 12:07 a.m. on Monday. Flanking the NASA duo during the 19-hour ride back to Earth will be UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. The quartet will be completing a six-month space research mission that began with a launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on March 2.
New station flight engineers Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency), Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Konstantin Borisov of Roscosmos have been familiarizing themselves with station systems all week. They are turning their attention now to full-time science, cargo, and health activities having been living on the space station since Aug. 27.
Moghbeli transferred research samples to science freezers that will be returned to Earth inside the Endeavour spacecraft with the departing crewmates. Mogensen set up a pair of Kubik research incubators that support studies of seeds, cells, and small mammals inside the Columbus laboratory module. Furukawa worked in the Kibo laboratory module removing a microbiology experiment from a research incubator that can generate artificial gravity. Finally, Borisov unpacked cargo from the Roscosmos Progress 85 cargo craft and tested ways future crews might pilot spacecraft and robots on planetary missions.
The space station’s other three crewmates are due to leave the orbital lab at the end of September completing just over one year orbiting Earth. In the meantime, the trio from NASA and Roscosmos has continued its research and lab upkeep tasks. Astronaut and Flight Engineer Frank Rubio configured and stowed emergency masks and had his eyes scanned by Mogensen using standard medical imaging hardware. Cosmonaut and Commander Sergey Prokopyev partnered with Borisov for the Progress 85 cargo unpacking duties. Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin also participated in the futuristic piloting study, then inspected windows in the Zvezda service module, and inventoried cargo in the Poisk module.
Aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday, four new crew members are adjusting to their first week orbiting Earth. Meanwhile, another quartet of Expedition 69 flight engineers is preparing to end their six-month stay in space.
Eleven crew members from five countries are living and working together on the orbital outpost as two of its crews are in the middle of swapping places. New station flight engineers Jasmin Moghbeli and Andreas Mogensen, of NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) respectively, continued unpacking the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft throughout the day. In the afternoon, the duo joined NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio, who has been aboard the station for nearly a year, and reviewed station operations, systems, and procedures.
The other two new flight engineers, Satoshi Furukawa of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Konstantin Borisov of Roscosmos, also continued familiarizing themselves with life in weightlessness. The pair is learning how to make meals, exercise on the workout facilities, sleep in the crew quarters, and use the station’s bathroom, also known as the waste and hygiene compartment.
The station crew will fall back to seven members no earlier than Sept. 2 when the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour is due to return four flight engineers, who have been in space since March, back to Earth. NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen will command Endeavour leading NASA Pilot Woody Hoburg and Mission Specialists Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos to a splashdown off the coast of Florida.
The Earth-bound foursome has been handing over its responsibilities to the newly arrived crew while preparing for the return to Earth’s gravity environment. The four crew mates this week have been packing Endeavour, reviewing deorbit and splashdown procedures, and talking to NASA and SpaceX ground support personnel.
Bowen and Hoburg still had time on Wednesday for ongoing research activities. Bowen rounded up science hardware for an upcoming space biology experiment. Hoburg inspected and activated an Astrobee free-flying robotic helper as engineers on the ground monitored its performance.
The longest-serving crew aboard the station has been orbiting Earth since Sept. 21, 2022. Rubio along with Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin are assisting with the crew swap activities. The trio from NASA and Roscosmos has also worked on cargo activities, space science, and standard health checks this week.
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.
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.
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.