Science Packed and Ready for Tonight’s Cygnus Launch

Cygnus Spacecraft at Launch Pad
The Cygnus spacecraft sits atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at its launch pad in Florida.

Officials in Florida are forecasting a 90% chance of favorable weather for tonight’s launch of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus space freighter to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the crew explored advanced space science today and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency aboard the station.

Cygnus is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:05 p.m. EDT/3:05 a.m. UTC. The cargo mission will deliver nearly 7,500 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and vehicle hardware Saturday morning to the Expedition 47 crew.

Among the science being delivered aboard Cygnus is a pair of unique experiments exploring different fields. The Gecko Gripper study will research systems that use grippers with unique properties of adhesion. The Meteor study will observe meteor shows from the space station and explore their chemistry.

The orbiting crew today looked at how living in space affects a crew member’s physiology and performance. They looked at brain function, bone marrow and red blood cells. The crew also explored the effects of medicine on orbit and the habitability factors of a spacecraft.

New Trio Adapts to Station, Cygnus Ready at Launch Pad

Atlas V Rocket and Cygnus Spacecraft
The Atlas V Rocket that is launching the Cygnus cargo spacecraft stands at the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 47 crew is at full strength after the arrival of three new crew members Friday night. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will be familiarizing themselves with station systems over the next few days and will be staying in space till September.

All six crew members, including Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and British astronaut Tim Peake, spread throughout the orbital laboratory to explore a wide array of advanced space science.

Kopra researched the impact of microbes on a crew member’s immune system and wrapped up a liquid crystal experiment. Peake participated in a secondary immune system study before getting gear ready for a combustion experiment. Malenchenko explored the changes in a crew member’s blood circulation in space, compared to their circulation on the ground.

Orbital ATK is getting ready to launch its Cygnus space freighter to the International Space Station Tuesday night from Florida. The crew is training for its arrival Saturday night when they will capture it and attach it to the Unity module. Cygnus will deliver almost 7,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew.

New Expedition 47 Crew Arrives at Station

Expedition 47-48 Crew Members
Expedition 47-48 Crew Members (from left) NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka.

The Soyuz TMA-20M vehicle docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module at 11:09 p.m. EDT approximately 250 miles above the Southern Pacific Ocean off the western coast of Peru.

Aboard the space station, 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, will welcome Soyuz crew members Jeff Williams of NASA and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, when the hatches between the two spacecraft are open.

Watch the hatch opening ceremony live on NASA Television at 12:30 a.m.: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. To join the online conversation about the International Space Station, follow @Space_Station.

Expedition 47 Trio Ready to Dock on NASA TV

Soyuz Rocket Launches
The Soyuz TMA-20M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Saturday, March 19, 2016 carrying Expedition 47 Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Jeff Williams of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos into orbit to begin their five and a half month mission on the International Space Station. (Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

A Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft carrying astronaut Jeff Williams of NASA and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station at 11:11 p.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage of the docking is now live:

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/

NASA TV will resume at 12:30 a.m. EDT to cover hatch opening between the two spacecraft as well as the welcoming ceremony. The incoming crew will join Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, which brings the crew to six aboard the station.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. To join the online conversation about the International Space Station, follow @Space_Station.

New Crew Launches and Heads to Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-20M Spacecraft Launches
The Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft launches on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz TMA-20M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 5:26 p.m. EDT Friday (3:26 a.m. on March 19 in Baikonur). Jeff Williams of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin are now safely in orbit. NASA Television coverage of the launch continues:

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/

Below is a schedule of the remainder of the trip to the orbiting laboratory:

6:12 p.m. DV1 (19.62 m/s)
6:56 p.m. DV2 (12.37 m/s)
6:57 p.m. Daily Orbit 2 RGS AOS
7:18 p.m. DV3 (4.630 m/s)
7:19 p.m. Daily Orbit 2 RGS LOS
8:02 p.m. DV4 (8.801 m/s)
8:27 p.m. Daily Orbit 3 RGS AOS
8:45 p.m. Daily Orbit 3 RGS LOS
9:02 p.m Automated Rendezvous start
9:05 p.m. USOS to RS MCS Handover: LVLH(177.0,357.1,0.7)
9:08 p.m. Impulse 1 (20.927 m/s)
9:10 p.m. ISS mnvr to dock attitude: LVLH(165.0,0.0,0.0)
9:31 p.m. Impulse 2 (0.056 m/s)
9:34 p.m. Soyuz Kurs-A activation
9:34 p.m. Ham radio deactivate NLT (VHF-2 voice activation)
9:34 p.m. Range = 200 km: Soyuz VHF-2 voice link
9:36 p.m. SM Kurs-P activation
9: 51 p.m. Sunrise at Launch Site
9:54 p.m. Impulse 3 (33.919 m/s)
10:00 p.m. Daily Orbit 4 RGS AOS
10:00 p.m. Range = 80 km: Valid Kurs-P range data
10:06 p.m. Sunrise
10:16 p.m. Daily Orbit 4 RGS LOS
10:21 p.m. Range = 15 km: Kurs-A & Kurs-P short test
10:28 p.m. Robonaut deactivate NLT (TV activation)
10:28 p.m. Range = 8 km: Soyuz TV activation
10:31 p.m. SCAN & Rapidscat inhibit NLT (range = 6 km)
10:36 p.m. Impulse 4 (7.196 m/s)
10:28 p.m. ICS inhibit NLT (range = 2 km)
10:30 p.m. NASA TV Docking Coverage Begins
10:38 p.m. Ballistic Targeting Point
10:41 p.m. Impulse 5 (6.048 m/s)
10:44 p.m. Impulse 6 (2.005 m/s)
10:47 p.m. Flyaround mode start
10:56 p.m. Stationkeeping start
11:00 p.m. Final Approach start
11:02 p.m. ISS inertial snap-and-hold window open
11:04 p.m. Ku-band mask enable NLT (range = 60 m)
11:04 p.m. Sunset
11:11 p.m. Docking
11:11 p.m. ISS to free drift at docking
11:12 p.m. ISS inertial snap-and-hold window close
11:25 p.m. Soyuz & MRM2 hooks closed: ISS mnvr to LVLH(177.0,358.4,0.7)
11:36 p.m. Daily Orbit 5 RGS AOS
11:39 p.m. Sunrise
11:54 p.m. Daily Orbit 5 RGS LOS
12:05 a.m. RS to USOS MCS Handover

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. To join the online conversation about the International Space Station, follow @Space_Station.

Crew Launches to Station Live on NASA TV Today

Soyuz Rocket Ready for Launch
The Soyuz rocket launching three new Expedition 47-48 crew members stands ready at its launch pad. Credit: RSC-Energia

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin are preparing for launch to the International Space Station. Their six-month journey will begin with a lift off in a Soyuz spacecraft today at 5:26 p.m. EDT.

NASA Television will broadcast launch coverage live beginning at 4:30 p.m. For the NASA TV schedule and where to watch live and replays, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/

The crew is scheduled to dock to the station at 11:11 p.m. EDT after a six-hour journey. The trio will join Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos. Together, they will bring the total to six crew aboard station, which will once again be fully staffed after operating with only three crew members following the departure of a separate trio on March 1.

During his six-month mission, Williams will become the new American record holder for cumulative days in space – 534 – surpassing Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly, who wrapped up his one-year mission on March 1. Williams will take command of the station on June 4 for Expedition 48. This will be his third space station expedition – another record.

The Expedition 47 crew members will continue several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science currently underway and scheduled to take place aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory. Williams, Ovchinin and Skripochka are scheduled to spend six months on the station, returning to Earth in early September 2016.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. To join the online conversation about the International Space Station, follow @Space_Station.

Watch NASA TV for Launch of Next Crew

Expedition 47-48 Crew Members
Expedition 47-48 crew members (from left) Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka pose for a portrait two days before their launch.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos are preparing for launch to the International Space Station. Their six-month journey will begin with a lift off in a Soyuz spacecraft at 5:26 p.m. EDT Friday, March 18 (3:26 a.m. on March 19 in Baikonur).

NASA Television will broadcast launch coverage live beginning tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. For the NASA TV schedule and where to watch live and replays, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/

The incoming crew will join Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos. A separate trio returned to Earth on March 1, including one-year mission crewmates NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos as well as cosmonaut Sergey Volkov. Kelly and Kornienko completed a historic 340-day mission aboard the station.

Below is the launch timeline for the crew in EDT:

March 18

11:26 a.m.    Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel (L-6)
11:41 a.m.    Batteries installed in booster
12:11 p.m.    Crew arrives at Site 254
12:26 p.m.    Tanking begins
12:56 p.m.    Crew suit up
12:21 p.m.    Booster loaded with liquid oxygen
1:56 p.m.      Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
2:21 p.m.      First and second stage Oxygen fueling complete
2:26 p.m.      Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad (L-3)
2:31 p.m.      Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
2:51 p.m.      Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
3:01 p.m.      Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
3:51 p.m.      Descent module hardware tested
4:06 p.m.      Hatch closed; leak checks begin
4:26 p.m.      Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation (L-1)
4:30 p.m.     NASA TV Launch Coverage Begins
4:40 p.m.     NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
4:41 p.m.      Pad service structure components lowered
4:42 p.m.      Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
4:49 p.m.      Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
4:52 p.m.      Emergency escape system armed
5:11 p.m.      Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
5:16 p.m.      Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
5:19 p.m.      Pre-launch operations complete
5:20 p.m.      Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
5:21 p.m.      Commander’s controls activated
5:22 p.m.      Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
5:23 p.m.      ISS FLIES OVER THE BAIKONUR COSMODROME
5:23 p.m.      Propellant drainback
5:23 p.m.      Booster propellant tank pressurization
5:25 p.m.      Ground propellant feed terminated
5:25 p.m.      Vehicle to internal power
5:26 p.m.      First umbilical tower separates
Auto sequence start
5:26 p.m.      Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
5:26 p.m.      Second umbilical tower separates
5:26 p.m.      Launch command issued
Engine Start Sequence Begins
5:26 p.m.      Engine turbopumps at flight speed
5:26 p.m.      Engines at maximum thrust
5:26 p.m.     Launch of SOYUZ TMA-20M to the ISS
10:30 p.m.   Docking Coverage Begins on NASA TV
11:11 p.m.   Docking to the ISS
MARCH 19
12:30 a.m.  Hatch opening coverage begins on NASA TV
12:55 a.m.  Hatch opens

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. To join the online conversation about the International Space Station, follow @Space_Station.

Soyuz Stands Ready at Launch Pad as Cargo Missions Line Up

Soyuz TMA-20M Rocket at the Launch Pad
The Soyuz TMA-20M rocket stands ready for lifoff at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket that will carry three new crew members to the International Space Station Friday evening stands ready for launch in Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio awaiting reinforcements is busy with medical science and preparations for upcoming cargo missions.

High winds at the Baikonur Cosmodrome delayed the raising of the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft into vertical position a few hours after its roll out Wednesday. Launch is scheduled for 5:26 p.m. EDT/9:26 p.m. UTC Friday. Expedition 47-48 crew members Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka will arrive at their new home in space less than six hours later.

The three current residents onboard the orbital laboratory, Commander Tim Kopra and Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko, continued their medical research to help scientists understand how living off the Earth affects the human body. The crew is also getting ready for a pair of cargo deliveries due soon from Orbital ATK and SpaceX.

Kopra and Peake were back at work today on the Ocular Health study scanning their eyes with an ultrasound and checking their blood pressure. Kopra also explored how microbes affect the human immune system in space and practiced the robotic capture of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. Peake is helping engineers validate the technology that will control rovers on another planet from a spacecraft. Malenchenko researched how the digestive system adapts to microgravity and packed trash into the 61P resupply ship due to undock at the end of the month.

Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus space freighter Tuesday at 11 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center on a four-day trip to the space station. Cygnus will deliver almost 7,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew.

Two Rockets Prep for Launch, Crew Busy with Research

Roll Out of Soyuz TMA-20M
The Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft is seen at the launch pad after being rolled out by train in the early hours of Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

A pair of spaceships is getting ready for launch to the International Space Station in less than a week. A Soyuz rocket will launch three new Expedition 47 crew members Friday evening from Kazakhstan. A few days later Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus cargo ship from Florida and deliver new science, spacewalk gear and crew supplies to the station crew.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin are counting down to their launch Friday at 5:26 p.m. EDT/9:26 p.m. UTC. They will arrive at their new home in space less than six hours later when they dock their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft to the Poisk mini-research module. Watch the launch and docking activities live on NASA Television.

Orbital ATK is preparing to launch its Cygnus space freighter Tuesday at 11 p.m. EDT/Wednesday 3 a.m. UTC for a four-day trip to replenish the Expedition 47 crew. Cygnus will launch atop a United Launch Alliance rocket from Kennedy Space Center on its sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA. The Cygnus launch and rendezvous will be covered live on NASA TV.

Back in space aboard the orbital laboratory, astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake participated in more eye checks for the Ocular Health study. The duo is also exploring how living in space affects the side effects and the dosage of medication on the human body. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko explored stresses on the station’s structure and researched how international crews and mission controllers inter-relate during missions.

Space Research on Station Advancing Society

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was photographed by an Expedition 47 crew member.

Much of the research taking place onboard the International Space Station helps doctors improve health for citizens on Earth and astronauts living in space. Other station experiments help engineers design smarter materials and better technologies to advance business and space industries.

At the beginning of the day, British astronaut Tim Peake joined Commander Tim Kopra for blood pressure checks. The duo also checked the fluid pressure in each other’s eyes using a tonometer with support from doctor’s on the ground. The medical checks are part of the ongoing Ocular Health study that seeks to understand vision problems some astronauts have reported after their long-term missions.

Kopra then started researching liquid crystals and their potential for better display screens on spacecraft systems. Afterward, he collected and stored samples for a study that explores how microbes influence the human immune system in space.

Peake spent the rest of the afternoon inspecting the COLBERT treadmill located in the Tranquility module. Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko studied radiation exposure before cleaning fans and air ducts inside a pair of Russian modules.