Expedition 63 Waits for Weekend Arrival of SpaceX Crew

The sun's rays glisten above the Atlantic Ocean
The sun’s rays glisten in this photograph from an external high definition camera as the International Space Station orbited over the Atlantic Ocean southwest of South Africa.

The Expedition 63 crew will wait a few more days to gain two new crewmembers after weather scrubbed the initial launch attempt of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio aboard the International Space Station continued focusing on lab operations.

Rain and lightning around Kennedy Space Center kept Commercial Crew members Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the ground Wednesday. The Florida weather violated launch rules and SpaceX scrubbed the liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket with the two NASA astronauts atop sitting inside the Crew Dragon vehicle.

NASA has rescheduled the Crew Dragon launch for Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT with a backup launch date on Sunday at 3 p.m. If Hurley and Behnken launch Saturday, they would dock Sunday at 10:29 a.m. to the Harmony module’s International Docking Adapter.

Back on orbit, NASA Commander Chris Cassidy was setting up Japanese network communications gear and science hardware during the morning. Afterward, the veteran astronaut spent the rest of Thursday exploring how planetary bodies might affect the density and dynamics of different materials.

The Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner started the day transferring cargo to and from the Soyuz crew ship and the two Progress space freighters. The duo then turned its attention to videotaping and photographing their station activities for an Earth audience.

Expedition 63 Awaits SpaceX Crew, Unpacks Japanese Cargo

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad in Florida during a brief static fire test on Friday, May 22, 2020.

The Expedition 63 crew is getting ready for the launch and arrival this week of two NASA astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade. This follows Monday morning’s arrival of a Japanese cargo craft that delivered over four tons of food, supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX managers completed their readiness reviews and have given the “go” for the launch of Commercial Crew astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The duo will liftoff atop the Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center in Florida toward the station.

They will dock on Thursday at 11:39 a.m. to the Harmony module’s International Docking Adapter on the space station’s forward section. Two-and-a-half hours later the hatches will open, Behnken and Hurley will enter the station and the Expedition 63 crew will expand to five members to bring space research up to full speed aboard the orbiting lab.

The Crew Dragon will be docked adjacent to the newly-arrived H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) from Japan. The HTV-9 was installed to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port a couple of hours after it was captured Monday at 8:13 a.m. with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy began unloading the HTV-9 with help from Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner shortly after its arrival on Memorial Day.

The final mission of Japan’s expendable resupply ship will stay at the station until late July. Japan’s next version of resupply ships (HTV-X) will be returnable and reusable providing more cargo capabilities.

Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin swapped out more fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack to maintain research operations inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The refrigerator-sized research rack enables fuel, flame and soot research in microgravity.

Expedition 63 Awaits Japanese Cargo and American Crew

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft and the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft (left) is pictured gripped by the Canadarm2 robotic arm on November of 2019. The SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle is pictured at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Three Expedition 63 crewmates are orbiting Earth getting ready to welcome a Japanese cargo ship and the first crew to launch from America in almost a decade.

NASA Commander Chris Cassidy will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Japan’s ninth space freighter to visit the station on Memorial Day at 8:15 a.m. EDT. The H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) is delivering over four tons of crew supplies, space experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade station power systems. NASA TV’s live coverage begins Monday at 6:45 a.m.

Cassidy spent Friday readying the Harmony module for the HTV-9’s installation while also working on plumbing tasks. He’ll spend Saturday and Sunday relaxing aboard the International Space Station before turning his attention to the Japanese and American spaceships.

In Florida, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are in final preparations for their launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. They will dock the next day at 11:39 a.m. to the station’s International Docking Adapter on the Harmony module’s forward port.

Cassidy with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will welcome the Commercial Crew astronauts aboard the station when the hatches open about two-and-a-half hours later. Behnken and Hurley will join the Expedition 63 crew as Flight Engineers and ramp up space science aboard the orbiting lab.

Back onboard the space station, cosmonauts Ivanishin and Vagner spent Friday servicing a variety of Russian communications and life support hardware. The duo also continued inventorying station maintenance and repair equipment.

SpaceX Crew Preps for Launch as Japanese Cargo Heads to Station

The crew of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission NASA astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
The crew of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission: NASA astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

The International Space Station will welcome a pair of different spaceships next week. Japan’s space freighter will arrive first on Monday followed by the first crewed mission from SpaceX on Thursday.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) is in space racing toward the orbiting lab following its launch from Japan on Wednesday. The HTV-9, nicknamed Kounotori, or “white stork”, will arrive at the station Monday packed with over four tons of crew supplies, space experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade station power systems.

Commander Chris Cassidy will be on deck Monday in the cupola to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 8:15 a.m. EDT. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the approach and rendezvous of the HTV-9. The duo has been training for a couple of weeks on a computer to get ready for Kounotori’s arrival. NASA TV’s live coverage of the robotic capture and installation will begin at 6:45 a.m. Monday.

The Expedition 63 crew is also preparing to welcome two NASA astronauts next week after they dock to the station inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The first Commercial Crew with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived in Florida Wednesday and is in final preparations for launch on May 27 at 4:33 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center. They will dock the following day at 11:39 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter.

Cassidy has been familiarizing himself this week with the Crew Dragon’s automated rendezvous and docking procedures. He set up a command and control device that will relay communications and telemetry back and forth with the Crew Dragon as it nears the space station next week.

Veteran Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin has been keeping up with his lab maintenance tasks while his crewmates get ready for the Kounotori’s arrival. The three-time station resident serviced computers and life support gear and updated station inventory systems today.

Japan Ready for Cargo Launch, Crew Works Science and Emergency Procedures

The city lights of Japan
The city lights of Japan, with Tokyo at bottom, seemingly trail off onto into an orbital sunrise as the space station orbited 260 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

Japan is less than a day from launching its ninth mission to resupply the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the three-member Expedition 63 crew continued space science operations and practiced for an emergency.

More than four tons of crew supplies, station experiments and lithium-ion batteries are ready to head to the station inside the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9). The spacecraft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will lift off from the Tanegashima Space Center on Wednesday at 12:31 p.m. EDT (1:31 a.m. May 21 Japanese time).

The HTV-9 will arrive at the orbiting lab on Monday, May 25 for a robotic capture with the Canadarm2 at 8:15 a.m. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy brushed up on his robotics skills today and will lead the capture activities from the cupola. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the HTV-9’s approach and rendezvous. NASA TV is covering all the HTV-9 launch and capture activities live.

Vagner started Tuesday checking out medical gear for ear, nose and throat exams and ended the day synchronizing cameras in the station’s Russian segment. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin continued servicing the Combustion Integrated Rack as he swapped out fuel bottles inside the device that enables fuel, flame and soot research in microgravity.

Finally, the crew gathered together during mid-afternoon and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the unlikely event of an emergency. The trio practiced communicating with Houston and Moscow mission controllers, checked out safety gear and reviewed evacuation paths and procedures.

Crew Preps for Japanese Cargo, Studies Effects of Planetary Missions

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm during Expedition 56.

Japan’s ninth mission to resupply the International Space Station has been given a “go” to launch on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The Expedition 63 crew continues prepare for its arrival and robotic capture on Memorial Day.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will be in the cupola on May 25 to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple the Japanese resupply ship at 8:15 a.m. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner is backing up Cassidy and will monitor the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) as it approaches the orbiting lab. The duo continued their HTV-9 mission training and practiced capture techniques on a computer during the afternoon

NASA TV will be live broadcasting the HTV-9 launch and capture activities. HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of crew supplies, station experiments and lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries will be installed during a spacewalk at a later date to continue upgrading station power systems.

Meanwhile, space research operations and lab maintenance activities are ongoing as the three-member crew orbits Earth.

The commander started the day on a study that could inform the fabrication of materials in space or on the Moon. He serviced samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory that enables safe research into a variety of materials such as metals, alloys, semiconductors, etc… At the end of the day, Cassidy also explored how different gravity conditions could affect planetary surfaces impacting future spacecraft designs.

Vagner joined veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and spent midday inventorying maintenance and repair equipment. Ivanishin was also on heart research duty today exploring how blood circulation adapts to the conditions of microgravity.

Japanese Cargo, SpaceX Crew Dragon Activities Ramping Up

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley participate in a fully integrated test of SpaceX Crew Dragon flight hardware at the SpaceX processing facility in Florida on March 30.

The International Space Station is getting ready for a new Japanese cargo mission and the first Commercial Crew before the end of the month.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy joined Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner Friday afternoon to train for the arrival of a Japanese cargo craft after it launches on May 20 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The duo practiced the robotic capture techniques they will use when they command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-9) when it arrives on May 25 at 8:15 a.m.

The HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of food, fuel and supplies including new lithium-ion batteries to finish updating the station’s power systems. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.

Two days after the arrival of Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship, the first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will lift off from Florida to the orbiting lab aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are in preflight quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center counting down to their May 27 launch at 4:33 p.m.

The veteran astronauts, representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, will approach the station May 28 and dock to the Harmony Module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter at 11:39 a.m. They will open the hatch about two-and-a-half hours later to join the Expedition 63 crew and ramp up space science activities.

Station Trio Checks Eyes, Keeps Lab in Tip-Top Shape

The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station
The three-member Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station with (from left) NASA astronaut and Commander Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

The Expedition 63 crew focused its attention today on maintaining International Space Station systems and keeping the orbiting lab in tip-top shape. More eye checks were also on the schedule as doctors seek to protect crew vision in microgravity.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA started his morning organizing science hardware inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency (ESA). He reconfigured radiation detection gear and adjusted research racks to install stowage bags and create more space inside Columbus. Afterward, Cassidy removed an atmosphere monitor from the U.S. Destiny laboratory module then reinstalled and activated it inside the Harmony module.

The veteran NASA astronaut also partnered once again with experienced Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for another eye exam, this time using optical coherence tomography gear. Crew members have reported vision issues and scientists are exploring why and seek to ensure healthy eyes while living in space.

Ivanishin, who is on his third station spaceflight, spent Thursday morning servicing power systems in the Russian segment of the orbiting lab. Before wrapping up his day with eye checks, he replaced Russian thermal sensors and updated the station’s inventory management system.

First time space-flyer Ivan Vagner participated in a variety public affairs events for Russian media. He had a live event in the morning where he discussed living aboard the space station. He also recorded messages celebrating Russian space achievements to be broadcast on Earth at later date. Vagner ended his day checking out spacecraft systems inside the Progress 75 cargo craft.

Flying Robots, Ultrasound Eye Scans Top Science Schedule

NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant
NASA astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy sets up an Astrobee robotic assistant, one of a trio of cube-shaped, free-flying robots, for a test of its mobility and vision system inside the Kibo laboratory module.

Flying robots and ultrasound eye scans were the top science activities aboard the International Space Station today. The Expedition 63 crew also serviced a variety of lab hardware and tested a wearable health monitor.

Free-flying robotic assistants called AstroBees were checked out as Commander Chris Cassidy once again tested their ability to autonomously navigate the orbiting lab. The veteran astronaut then shut down and docked the small cube-shaped devices inside the Kibo laboratory module from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

Students on Earth will soon get a chance to “test-drive” the Astrobees in a competition for the best program to control the robotic devices. Researchers are also exploring the Astrobees’ potential to perform routine station duties so the crew has more time for critical science.

Cassidy also tackled more mundane tasks during the morning as he worked on space plumbing duties in the Kibo lab. The commander wiped leaking water and inspected plumbing connections in Kibo’s Water Recovery System.

In the afternoon, Cassidy had his eyes scanned by three-time station Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin using an ultrasound device. The ultrasound exam, with real-time inputs from doctors on the ground, looks at the health of the retina, cornea and optic nerve.

Ivanishin started his workday swapping fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack which enables safe studies of fuels, flames and soot in microgravity. First-time space flyer Ivan Vagner worked during the morning on Russian power supply systems before servicing water tanks in the Zvezda service module. Just after lunchtime, Vagner attached the Holter Monitor, a non-invasive medical device, to his chest that will measure his heart’s electrical activity.

Japanese Resupply Ship, SpaceX Crew Dragon Nearing Launch Dates

Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.

A Japanese cargo ship is poised to resupply the Expedition 63 crew just as a U.S. space freighter has completed its stay at the International Space Station. The three station residents are also getting ready to welcome two Commercial Crew members in just over two weeks.

Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo mission (HTV-9) is due to lift off on May 20 aboard an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center. The cargo craft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is delivering fresh food and supplies, new science experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems.

The HTV-9 will arrive at the station on May 25 where Commander Chris Cassidy, with Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner as back up, will capture the cargo craft with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Ground controllers will take over afterward and remotely install the HTV-9 to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port where it will stay for two months.

Just two days later, NASA will launch the first crew from the United States since 2011 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will take a 19-hour trip to the station while testing systems inside the Crew Dragon. It will automatically dock on May 28 to the International Docking Adapter located on the Harmony module’s forward port. After the hatches open, the duo will join the Expedition 63 crew to ramp up science and maintenance operations aboard the orbiting lab.