After a Russian cargo ship departed the International Space Station Thursday, the Expedition 54 crew is wrapping up the final work week of 2017 orbiting Earth and conducting science. The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking New Year’s Day off.
The Progress 67 (67P) resupply ship finished its stay six-and-a-half month at the station’s Zvezda service Thursday at 8:03 a.m. EDT. Cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov packed the 67P full of trash the closed its hatches before it automatically undocked. It will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and safely burn up over the south Pacific Ocean.
Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai took his turn on the exercise bike today for a study researching physical exertion in space. Doctors measure the astronauts breathing and other parameters during exercise to ensure they have the strength to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks and even emergency procedures.
Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA was harvesting plants for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05 (APEX) and stowing the botany samples in a science freezer for further analysis. Scientists are exploring how plants respond to microgravity and observing molecular and genetic changes.
The life science studies help mission doctors keep astronauts healthier and stronger while living in outer space. Also, NASA is planning longer human missions beyond low-Earth orbit and learning how to keep crews self-sustainable.
Finally, three U.S. astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and a Japanese astronaut on the orbital laboratory will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times as they orbit Earth once every 90 minutes. That is 16 sunrise and sunsets 250 miles above Earth. The crew will take the day off, share a meal and reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead.
Filled with trash, the unpiloted ISS Progress 67 Russian cargo ship undocked from the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station at 8:03 p.m. EST. Just after 11 p.m., Russian flight controllers will send commands to fire the Progress’ engines and deorbit the space freighter, sending it to a destructive entry over the unpopulated south Pacific Ocean.
The International Space Station’s three newest crew members are beginning their second week familiarizing themselves with the orbital lab’s operations and systems. They and the other three Expedition 54 crew mates are also busy today with cargo operations, space science and station maintenance.
Also, a Russian cargo craft is departing the station tonight after a six-and-a-half month stay docked to the Zvezda service module. The Progress 67 cargo craft will undock from Zvezda tonight at 8:03 p.m. EST then re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to burn up over the south Pacific Ocean.
Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and first-time astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of JAXA are in their second week in Earth orbit and getting used to life in space. The new space residents, who arrived Dec. 19, have time set aside in their schedules to adjust to life and work in weightlessness.
Two-time station resident Joe Acaba from NASA worked throughout Wednesday gathering items for stowage inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship. Kanai assisted Acaba with the pre-packing duties readying the cargo for return to Earth inside Dragon on Jan. 13.
Tingle strapped himself into an exercise bike this morning breathing into a tube for a study measuring physical exertion in microgravity. In this long-running experiment, doctors are researching ways to ensure astronauts stay fit and healthy in space to maintain mission success.
Six Expedition 54 crew members will spend Christmas orbiting Earth sharing a traditional meal and opening goodies delivered on recent cargo missions to the International Space Station. Veteran crew member Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos is spending his third holiday season in space.
Meanwhile, advanced space science is taking place seven days a week on the orbital lab as the astronauts explore a variety of phenomena that can only be revealed in the microgravity environment. Human research is especially important as doctors learn how to keep space travelers healthy and strong during spaceflight.
The station’s newest Flight Engineers, Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of JAXA, collected and stored their blood samples this morning for the Cell-Free Epigenome experiment. The samples will be analyzed later on the ground for cellular changes that take place in crew members while living in space.
Astronaut Joe Acaba of NASA is testing new research hardware today for its ability to maintain cell cultures and enable cellular experiment work. Acaba swapped out gear inside the Bioculture System that is being validated as a long-term biological research facility.
NASA’s Scott Tingle, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency joined Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and crewmates Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 5:55 a.m. EST. The welcoming ceremony will begin shortly.
The crew members will spend about six months conducting approximately 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development — research that impacts life on Earth.
Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin are scheduled to remain aboard the station until February 2018, and Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai are scheduled to return to Earth next June.
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA’s Scott Tingle, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency docked to the International Space Station at 3:39 a.m. EST while both spacecraft were flying about 250 miles over the southern coast of Italy commonly referred to as the “boot.”
Aboard the space station, Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and his crewmates, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.
Watch the hatch opening targeted for 5:35 a.m. and welcome ceremony to follow live on NASA TV beginning at 5 a.m. on the agency’s website.
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA’s Scott Tingle, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station’s Rassvet module at 3:43 a.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 19. Coverage of docking will begin at 3 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed at 5 a.m. for coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station, expected to occur at approximately 6:35 a.m.
The arrival of Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai will restore the station’s crew complement to six. They will joinExpedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and his crewmates, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA. The crew members will spend more than four months conducting approximately 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 8:26 a.m. EST.
The 13th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-13) delivered more than 4,800 pounds of supplies and payloads to the station. Among the research materials flying inside Dragon’s pressurized area, one investigation will demonstrate the benefits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in a microgravity environment. Designed by the company Made in Space, and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the investigation will attempt to pull fiber optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fiber optic glass. Results from this investigation could lead to the production of higher-quality fiber optic products for use in space and on Earth.
Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2018 and return to Earth with more than 3,600 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.
Expedition 54-55 Flight Engineers Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are on their way to the space station after a launch earlier today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:21 a.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 17 (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time). The trio will orbit the Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module, at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 3 a.m. Tuesday.
While the International Space Station was traveling overhead between Australia and Papua New Guinea, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba captured the Dragon spacecraft at 5:57 a.m. EST using the space station’s robotic arm. Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation the spacecraft on the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7:30 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.
Dragon is carrying a Space Debris Sensor (SDS) that will measure the orbital debris environment around the space station for two to three years. Once mounted on the exterior of the station, this one-square-meter sensor will provide near-real-time debris impact detection and recording. Research from this investigation could help lower the risks posed by orbital debris to human life and critical hardware.
Also on board is NASA’s Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor, or TSIS-1, that will measure the Sun’s energy input to Earth. TSIS-1 measurements will be three times more accurate than previous capabilities, enabling scientists to study the Sun’s natural influence on Earth’s ozone, atmospheric circulation, clouds and ecosystems. These observations are essential for a scientific understanding of the effects of solar variability on the Earth system.
The Soyuz MS-07 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 2:21 a.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 17 (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time). At the time of launch, the space station flew over south central Kazakhstan, northeast of Baikonur at an altitude of about 260 statute miles. Expedition 54-55 Flight Engineers Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are now safely in orbit.
The trio will orbit the Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module, at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 3 a.m. Tuesday.
While the crew continue on their journey, flight control teams for the space station and SpaceX Dragon are proceeding toward rendezvous and grapple of the Dragon cargo spacecraft this morning. NASA Television coverage will resume at 4:30 a.m. for Dragon arrival. Capture is expected around 6 a.m. Installation of the Dragon to the Harmony module will begin a couple hours later. NASA TV coverage of installation is set to begin at 7:30 a.m.
The Dragon launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Dec. 15, carrying more than 4,800 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the space station.