Three Expedition 62 crewmembers are getting ready to head home before U.S., Russian and Japanese spaceship traffic ramps up. Meanwhile, human research activities continue full speed ahead aboard the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy will assume command and control of the orbiting lab today at 4:55 p.m. EDT during the Change of Command ceremony live on NASA TV. Commander Oleg Skripochka will turn the keys over to Cassidy before leaving the station on Thursday at 9:53 p.m. EDT when Expedition 63 officially begins.
Cassidy will stay onboard the station until October with Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. This is third station mission for Cassidy and Ivanishin while Vagner is beginning his first.
Skripochka is returning to Earth with NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan inside the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship. The trio will parachute to landing in Kazakhstan on Friday at 1:16 a.m. (11:16 a.m. Kazakh time). Morgan will have lived in space for 272 days while Meir and Skripochka will have orbited Earth for 205 days.
The crew collected blood, saliva and urine samples today before stowing them in a science freezer. Scientists on the ground will analyze the samples for markers indicating the effects of microgravity on humans. The orbital residents also contributed to nutrition studies today to understand the crew’s appetite for the station’s food menu and the health impacts of their space diet.
The next spaceship to visit the station is planned for April 24 when Russia’s Progress 75 space freighter launches for a docking to the station’s Zvezda service module. The U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft will finish its station cargo mission on May 11 when the Canadarm2 robotic arm removes it from the Unity module and releases it back into space. Japan is targeting May 20 for the launch of its HTV-9 Kounotori resupply ship when it will begin a five-day trip to the orbital lab.