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.

Japan’s Resupply Ship Installed on Station’s Harmony Module

May 25, 2020: International Space Station Configuration
May 25, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the HTV-9 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Russia’s Progress 74 and 75 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.

The unpiloted Japanese cargo spacecraft was installed this morning at 10:46 a.m. EDT to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module, where it will remain for two months. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA, with assistance from Russian Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, operated the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola and grappled the 12-ton spacecraft.

Among the four tons of cargo aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) were investigations testing a new livestreaming educational tool, microscope and telescope. Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.

For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 239 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries.

For arrival coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Canadian Robotic Arm Captures Japanese Space Freighter

Japan's HTV-9 resupply ship is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm
Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm after it was captured at 8:13 a.m. EDT on May 25, 2020.

After a five-day journey, the H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) was captured by Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA using the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to grapple the 12-ton spacecraft.

Coverage of HTV-9’s final installation will begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT when flight controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will take over robotic arm operations and berth HTV-9 to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, where it will remain for two months.

For arrival coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

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.

Japanese Cargo Vehicle Lifts Off To Resupply Station Crew

Japan's HTV-9 cargo craft moments after liftoff
Japan’s HTV-9 cargo craft moments after liftoff from the at the Tanegashima Space Center

Carrying four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station, HTV-9 launched from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Wednesday, May 20 at 1:31 p.m. EDT (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time).

The cargo vehicle will arrive at the station Monday, May 25. Live coverage of rendezvous and grapple will begin at 6:45 a.m. and capture of HTV-9 is scheduled to occur around 8:15 a.m. and coverage of HTV-9’s final installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.

HTV-9 will approach the station from below and slowly make its way toward the orbital outpost. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA, with assistance from Russian Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola and grapple the 12-ton spacecraft.

The cargo includes six new lithium-ion batteries needed to complete an overall update of the station’s electrical system. The batteries and corresponding adapter plates will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far starboard truss segment (S6) through a series of spacewalks by the station’s crew members planned for later this year. This is the final set of new batteries to be launched to the station as part of an overall upgrade of its power system that began in January 2017. Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying about 256 statute miles over the Atlantic Ocean just off the southern coast of Brazil.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Japanese Space Freighter Launch to Station Live on NASA TV

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center

NASA has begun live launch coverage of the Japanese cargo spacecraft carrying more than four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) spacecraft is scheduled to launch on a Japanese H-IIB rocket at 1:31 p.m. (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

This will be the final flight of this class of resupply spacecraft, named “Kounotori” – the Japanese word for white stork. The cargo craft launched on its maiden mission to the orbiting laboratory in September 2009. JAXA is developing a new class of HTV vehicles that will provide a reusable pressurized cargo section and the ability to carry more cargo due to its lighter weight. The new HTV-X vehicles will dock automatically to the station’s International Docking Adapters with the first flight scheduled in 2022.

Learn more about the science experiments and technology heading to station here.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA TV Broadcasts Japanese Launch to Station Live on Wednesday

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft sits atop the HII-B rocket at the Tanegashima Space Center in September of 2019. Credit: JAXA

NASA Television will provide live launch coverage of a Japanese cargo spacecraft carrying more than four tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware for the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are scheduled to launch the unpiloted H-II Transport Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) on a Japanese H-IIB rocket at 1:31 p.m. (2:31 a.m. Thursday, May 21, Japan time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The spacecraft will arrive at the station Monday, May 25 and live coverage of the rendezvous and grapple will begin at 6:45 a.m. Capture of HTV-9 is scheduled to occur around 8:15 a.m. and coverage of HTV-9’s final installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For departure coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

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.