Year-End Cargo Shipments Prepped Amidst Space Research

International Space Station Configuration
As of Nov. 21, 2016, there are three spacecraft are docked at the station including the Soyuz MS-02 and MS-03 crew vehicles and the Progress 64 resupply ship. Two more spaceships will arrive in December. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready to receive a shipment of space supplies Saturday after Russia launches the Progress 65 cargo craft Thursday morning. The final space delivery of the year will be Dec. 13 when the Kounotori HTV-6 resupply ship arrives four days after its launch from Tanegashima, Japan.

Inside the International Space Station, Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson installed aerosol samplers to collect airborne particles for analysis on Earth. Scientists will study the samples using specialized techniques with powerful microscopes.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is setting up science gear inside Japan’s Kibo lab module to study the fundamental physics of surface tension where liquid and gas meet. The experiment known as Marangoni Ultrasonic Velocity Profiler-2 may improve industrial processes and products on Earth and in space.

New astronaut Thomas Pesquet, from the European Space Agency, strapped himself into the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System chair for a study of his calf muscle and Achilles tendon. On Earth, that area carries loads from the entire human body. He conducted a series of ankle exercises while attached to sensors to monitor any changes in that area caused by living in space.


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Crew Heads Into Thanksgiving With Human Research

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough
Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough pause for a portrait inside the space station.

Six International Space Station crew members are heading in to the Thanksgiving holiday with human research activities and orbital lab maintenance.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is the most experienced crew member in space right now getting ready to spend her third holiday season on orbit. Today, she stowed the tools used for space plumbing work done on Tuesday putting the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, the station’s toilet, back in service after a leak was discovered.

She and her new crewmates, Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency, are in their first week aboard the space station. They are getting used to their new home in space and familiarizing themselves with station emergency gear and procedures today. Whitson is beginning her third mission aboard the orbital complex while Novitskiy is starting his second mission. Pesquet is on his first mission and is France’s fourth astronaut to visit the space station.

The rest of the crew members, including Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, are beginning their second month in space.

Today’s science work included collecting breath samples to help doctors understand how living in space affects bone marrow and blood cells. A new device that indirectly measures an astronaut’s intracranial pressure is being checked out today while the crew is also conducting eye exams.

New Crew Begins First Week Aboard Station

The Soyuz MS-03 Spacecraft
The newly-docked Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is next to one of the Cygnus’ round Ultraflex solar arrays in the left foreground. The Cygnus cargo craft departed the station two days after the Soyuz arrived.

Three new crew members are in their first week aboard the International Space Station. They joined the Expedition 50 crew Saturday bringing the occupancy of the orbital lab to six humans.

The two U.S. astronauts, three cosmonauts and one French astronaut are getting ready for Thanksgiving in space. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is beginning her third station mission and will spend the traditional U.S. holiday orbiting above the Earth for the third time.

Meanwhile, new crew members Whitson, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and first time space-flyer Thomas Pesquet and are familiarizing themselves with their home on orbit where they will live for the next six months. Whitson was last onboard the station during Expedition 16 in 2008 before Japan’s Kibo lab module had been delivered and the final solar arrays had been installed.

Whitson spent several hours repairing the Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) today, one of two functional toilets aboard the station. She replaced several components after a leak was detected in the WHC on Monday.

Novitskiy’s previous mission was Expedition 34 which ended in 2013. Pesquet is on his first spaceflight and is the fourth astronaut from France to visit the space station.


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Soyuz Rocket Blessed Before Launch, Cygnus Prepped for Departure

Orthodox Priest Blesses Rocket and Media
An Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz rocket and members of the media Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Soyuz rocket that will launch three new Expedition 50 crew members to space Thursday was blessed at its launch pad today. Back in space, the Canadarm2 grappled the Cygnus cargo craft ahead of its release early next week.

An Orthodox priest performed the traditional blessing of the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft today before its launch to the International Space Station. Peggy Whitson of NASA, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA are in quarantine at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Kazakhstan and are scheduled to liftoff Thursday at 3:20 p.m. EST on a two-day trip to their new home in space.

The new trio will dock to the Rassvet module Saturday afternoon and join Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko who have been in space since Oct. 19. The new Soyuz crew ship will make four spacecraft docked at the orbital complex before the Cygnus resupply ship departs two days later.

Cygnus will end its month-long stay at the Unity module on Monday when Kimbrough commands the Canadarm2 to release the cargo craft at 8:20 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the release and departure of Cygnus beginning at 8 a.m. Before Cygnus begins its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere it will stay in space a few more days to release a set of ocean ship tracking CubeSats and conduct the Saffire-II spacecraft fire study.


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New Crews Announced Before Next Crew Launches

Expedition 50 Crew Members
Expedition 50 crew members (from left) Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet stand in front of the first stage engines of their Soyuz booster rocket.

NASA announced today the crew members chosen to launch on four upcoming missions to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, three Expedition 50 crew members are orbiting Earth today working on cargo operations, human research and awaiting the launch and docking of three new crew members this weekend.

New space station crews were officially announced today that will launch to the station in 2017. Four NASA astronauts, four Roscosmos cosmonauts and one astronaut each from the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to launch in March, May, September and October of next year.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is nearly complete with Cygnus cargo transfers and will close the hatch this weekend. The Cygnus space freighter from Orbital ATK is on track to be released early next week from the Unity module. NASA TV will cover the event live when the Canadarm2 grapples Cygnus and releases it for departure Monday at 8:20 a.m. EST.

Flight engineers Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov recorded their food and medicine consumption again today for the Morze hormone and immune experiment. Borisenko then moved on to transferring cargo from the Progress 64 resupply ship while Ryzhikov checked lights and cleaned vents and fans.

Back on Earth, two veteran station residents and a new space flyer are two days away from launching aboard a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to begin a five-month mission on the orbital complex. First-time European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who will be on her third mission, and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, who will be on his second mission, Nov. 17 when they lift off and take a two-day trip to their new home in space.


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Soyuz Rocket Rolls Out for Thursday Crew Launch

The Soyuz MS-03 Rocket
The Soyuz MS-03 rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The rocket that will launch the next crew to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad today at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On orbit, the three Expedition 50 crew members are conducting human research, measuring radiation levels and wrapping up Cygnus cargo operations.

Veteran space travelers Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos along with space newcomer Thomas Pesquet from ESA are in Kazakhstan getting ready for their mission in space. Their Soyuz MS-03 rocket stands at its launch pad counting down to a launch Thursday at 3:20 p.m. EST. The new crew members will take a two-day trip to the orbital complex where they will live and work until May.

Shane Kimbrough, NASA astronaut and Expedition 50 Commander, is nearing the end of Cygnus cargo transfers as he readies the resupply vehicle for its Nov. 21 release from the Unity module. Afterward, Cygnus will stay in space a few more days to release a set of tiny weather satellites and conduct the Saffire-II spacecraft fire study.

Cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko, who is on his second space station mission, logged his food and medicine intake today for the Morze hormone and immune experiment. Kimbrough handed Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov a collection of radiation detectors that only monitor neutrons and will be processed for the RaDI-N experiment.


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Oxygen Generator Back Online as Soyuz Nears Launch

At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 50-51 crew members Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (left), Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center) and Peggy Whitson of NASA (right) pose for pictures Nov. 10 during preflight activities. They will launch Nov. 18, Baikonur time, on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft for a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky
At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 50-51 crew members Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (left), Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center) and Peggy Whitson of NASA (right) pose for pictures Nov. 10 during preflight activities. They will launch Nov. 18, Baikonur time, on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft for a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

The three Expedition 50 crew members today are working to unload cargo and set up new computer servers onboard the station. In Kazakhstan, the next trio to launch to the International Space are continuing their final prelaunch preparations.

Commander Shane Kimbrough completed work on Wednesday on the Oxygen Generation System (OGS) in the U.S. side of the International Space Station. The OGS was down for maintenance as he and ground specialists troubleshot the device due to a low voltage signature. Teams in Mission control conducted checkouts of the system today and reactivated it successfully, enabling OGS to once more supply oxygen to the space station crew. Final checkouts on the system are on the plan for Friday.

Today, Kimbrough set up new laptop computers to allow ground specialist to load required software. He also unloaded additional cargo from the attached Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko performed routine maintenance on the ventilation system inside the Russian segment and took part in the Pilot-T experiment, which assesses the cosmonauts ability to perform complex tasks at different points during their spaceflight.

Three new station crew members are in Kazakhstan preparing for a Nov. 17 launch to the station. Veteran station residents Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, along with first-time space flyer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency will take a two-day, 34-orbit trip to the station after their liftoff and stay in space till May. The group reviewed flight plans and took part in traditional preflight events, including a media day and the ceremonial raising of flags and planting of trees.


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More Oxygen Generator Work as Soyuz Nears Launch

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft begins its rotation into position for its encapsulation into the upper stage of its Soyuz booster at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

The three Expedition 50 crew members today are working on an oxygen generator and setting up gear to photograph the Earth and meteors. In Kazakhstan, the Soyuz spacecraft that will launch the next trio to the International Space Station is being processed at its launch facility.

Commander Shane Kimbrough was back at work this morning on the Oxygen Generation System (OGS) in the U.S. side of the International Space Station. The OGS is down for maintenance as he and ground specialists troubleshoot the device due to a low voltage signature. In the meantime, Russia’s Elektron system is providing oxygen for the crew aboard space station.

Cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov changed camera lenses and rings on the Sally Ride EarthKAM. The student-operated Earth observation experiment enables middle school kids using the internet to program targets for the camera and download the imagery they have taken. The EarthKAM gear is installed in a window located in the Harmony module.

A hard drive was swapped out in the Meteor payload that looks outside a unique window known as the Window Observational Research Facility on the Destiny laboratory module. The visual spectroscopy study uses imagery to explore the physical and chemical properties of meteoroid dust to learn more about comets and asteroids.

Three new station crew members are in Kazakhstan preparing for a Nov. 17 launch to the station. The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft that will carry the new Expedition 50-51 trio to its new home in space was installed inside the third stage shroud of its rocket. Veteran station residents Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, along with first-time space flyer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency will take a two-day, 34-orbit trip to the station after their liftoff and stay in space till May.


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Crew Sets up for Earth and Radiation Studies Before Next Trio Launches

Western Libya
Middle school children programmed a space station camera to photograph this portion of the Sahara desert seen in western Libya in October. Credit: Sally Ride EarthKAM

The Expedition 50 trio orbiting on the International Space Station is conducting maintenance while getting ready for Earth observations and radiation exposure studies today. In Kazakhstan, three new crew members are waiting as their Soyuz rocket is prepared for launch.

Commander Shane Kimbrough started work on the U.S. segment’s Oxygen Generation System (OGS), which will undergo maintenance throughout the week. Today, Kimbrough tagged up with ground specialists and replaced a hydrogen sensor and will continue to work on OGS through Wednesday. The system is currently shut down due to a low voltage signature within the Hydrogen Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) that contains the electrolyzing cell stack. The Russian Elektron system is providing oxygen for the crew at this time.

The two flight engineers, new cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov and veteran station commander Andrey Borisenko, are handing over a set of radiation detectors to Kimbrough. The NASA astronaut, who is on his second trip in space, will install the Radi-N2 detectors in the Destiny laboratory for a week to help doctors understand the radiation risk to crew health and develop protective measures.

Ryzhikov is also setting up a camera that will allow middle school students to photograph targets on Earth and downlink the imagery. The Sally Ride EarthKAM gear will be set up in the Harmony module’s Earth-facing hatch window and use internet-based tools to promote the learning process.

Another trio of Expedition 50 members is counting down to its Nov. 17 launch and two-day trip to the space station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Veteran station residents Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, along with first-time space flyer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, are in final training before they liftoff aboard the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. This will be Whitson’s third station mission and Novitskiy’s second.


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New Trio Settles In Before Next Crew Launches

Expedition 50-51
Expedition 50-51 crew members (from left) Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet try on their spacesuits and check out the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

A new set of Expedition 50 crew members is in Kazakhstan just two weeks away from a launch to the International Space Station. The three orbiting station inhabitants are in the second week of their four-month stay in space.

Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson and Oleg Novitskiy have tried on their spacesuits and checked out the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft they will blast off in Nov. 17. After launch, the trio will take a two-day trip to their new home in space where they will live until May. Today, the new crew is participating in flag-raising and tree-planting ceremonies at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site.

The orbiting crew of Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko are conducting critical space science while maintaining station systems.

Kimbrough continued transferring cargo from the Cygnus resupply ship that is due to depart in mid-November. The station commander also collected blood and urine samples for stowage in a science freezer then worked on research and plumbing gear.

Ryzhikov researched how humans experience pain in space and unloaded cargo from the new Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. Borisenko, who is on his second station mission, checked out Russian life support systems and completed a questionnaire documenting the interactions of station crews and mission controllers on the ground.


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