Crews Change Command on Tuesday; Leak Temporarily Sealed

The sun's first rays burst over the Earth's horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.
The sun’s first rays burst over the Earth’s horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.

Two veteran International Space Station residents will have a Change of Command ceremony on Tuesday before the Expedition 63 crew returns to Earth the following day. Meanwhile, the Russian portion of the crew has temporarily sealed a leak on the orbiting lab.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will hand over control of the space station to cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov on Tuesday. The duo will be joined by the rest of their crewmates for the traditional event live on NASA TV starting at 4:15 p.m. EDT.

Cassidy will spend one more night in space with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner before departing the station on Wednesday inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. They will undock from the Poisk module at 7:32 p.m., re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere just over three hours later and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:55 p.m. (Oct. 22, 7:55 a.m. Baikonur time). All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Expedition 64 officially begins when Cassidy undocks with his two Russian crewmates. New station Commander Ryzhikov will stay in space until April with Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos.

Russian crew members were able to temporarily seal the air leak teams have been investigating aboard the station. The leak, which has been investigated for several months, continues to pose no immediate danger to the crew at the current leak rate. Roscosmos engineers are working with the station crew to develop a forward plan to permanently seal the suspected leak location.

Space Science Picking Up Before Trio Departs for Earth

Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.
Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.

Science is doubling up on the International Space Station with the addition of three new space residents. However, they will split up on Oct. 21 before four more astronauts launch to join the Expedition 64 crew in November.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second station mission, is stepping into her role as space scientist today while getting up to speed with life on orbit. She wore virtual reality goggles to explore how her sense of perception is adapting to microgravity. Rubins later serviced a biology research device that can produce up to 2g of artificial gravity.

Rubins’ fellow crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will stay with her in space until April. Ryzhikov, on his second stay aboard the orbiting lab, unpacked cargo from the new Soyuz MS-17 crew ship today. First-time space-flyer Kud-Sverchkov checked out Russian science hardware.

Station Commander Chris Cassidy is nearing the end of his stay onboard the station with crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio have been packing cargo and personal items inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that will parachute the crew back to Earth on Oct. 21. Cassidy will hand over command of the station to Ryzhikov on Oct. 20.

All six station residents got together in the middle of the day and reviewed their emergency roles and responsibilities.

Meanwhile, four astronauts are planning to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The company’s first operational crew mission is targeted to launch no sooner than early-to-mid November. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi and stay in space until the Spring.

New Space Residents Adjust to Life on Station

The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft, with the Expedition 64 crew inside, approaches the space station for a docking on Oct. 14.
The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft, with the Expedition 64 crew inside, approaches the space station for a docking on Oct. 14.

Six International Space Station residents will spend a week working together in low-Earth orbit before splitting up on Oct. 21. As the new Expedition 64 trio gets used to life in space, four more astronauts are planning to join them in November.

Three new station crew members are adapting to living and working in space after a short trip to the orbiting lab in their Soyuz MS-17 crew ship on Wednesday. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov are each beginning their second mission in microgravity. The experienced pair, including fellow crewmate and new space-flyer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov from Roscosmos, will conduct their space research mission until April of next year.

Meanwhile, Rubins got right to work today and assisted station Commander Chris Cassidy servicing hardware inside the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov unpacked gear from their Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian duo also joined Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner for handover activities to get up to speed with lab systems.

Cassidy and Vagner are also getting ready to return to Earth on Oct. 21 with Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin. The trio has begun packing station gear and personal items inside their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft. They are also in the process of handing over station responsibilities to the new Expedition 64 trio.

Back on Earth, four astronauts are getting ready to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle for the company’s first operational crew mission targeted to launch no sooner than early-to-mid November. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi and stay in space until the Spring.

Cancer, Bone Loss Studies on Station Promote Earth and Space Health

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy unpacks fresh fruit and other food items shipped aboard the Northrop Grumman Cygnus.

Cancer therapy was the main focus of Friday’s research aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 63 crew is also getting ready to return to Earth while still finding time for more science work.

Microgravity research on the station has enabled pharmaceutical innovations with real benefits for patients on Earth. Biology experiments in space also provide insights into how the human body adapts to weightlessness. This helps doctors keep astronauts healthy as NASA plans missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The Onco-Selectors study taking place today inside the space station’s Life Sciences Glovebox, installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module, seeks to develop drugs that could improve the survival rate of cancer patients. Commander Chris Cassidy spent most of Friday mixing and applying a treatment to healthy and cancerous cell samples being observed for the new cancer investigation.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again exploring ways to reverse the loss of bone mass that occurs during a long-term space mission. The Russian duo worked throughout the day setting up hardware and logging meals and drinks to monitor and understand the mechanisms of bone loss caused by weightlessness.

The two cosmonauts are also gearing up for their return to Earth with Cassidy in less than two weeks. They have been gathering station hardware and personal items that will soon be stowed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All three crew members will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz spacecraft ending their 196-day space research mission on Oct. 21.

Crew Missions Ramping Up During Robotics, Biology Research

The Expedition 64 crew poses in front of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft that will launch the trio to the space station on Oct. 14. Credit: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin
The Expedition 64 crew poses in front of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft that will launch the trio to the space station on Oct. 14. Credit: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

The Expedition 63 crew is readying gear and suits today as they prepare to return to Earth in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, Thursday’s research aboard the International Space Station looked at robotics and biology.

Two crews will launch to the station and another one will complete its mission this month. First, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The Expedition 64 trio crew will blast off from Kazakhstan on Oct. 14 to begin a 185-day mission aboard the orbiting lab.

Expedition 64 Commander Chris Cassidy will hand over the station “keys” to Ryzhikov the day before he completes his mission with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The three crew members will enter the Soyuz MS-16, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 21.

Cassidy joined Ivanishin and Vagner during the afternoon and checked for leaks inside the Sokol flight suits they will wear when they depart the station. Ivanishin and Vagner also continued gathering station gear and personal items they will soon pack inside their Soyuz crew ship.

As usual, science experiments are ongoing on the station whether with inputs from the crew or by remote operations from students and scientists on the ground. Robotics is a prime space research subject and Cassidy set up the AstroBee free-flying satellites today that students are learning to program to understand spacecraft maneuvers. The veteran NASA astronaut later installed new hardware on the Life Sciences Glovebox to support prolonged crew operations in the research device.

Ivanishin and Vagner were back on biology studies today exploring ways to prevent the loss of bone mass due to extended missions in space.

Crew Packs for Landing While Studying Space Tech and Biology

The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station's Poisk module.
The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module.

The Expedition 63 trio is packing up and getting ready for its return to Earth as the International Space Station is orbiting slightly lower today. Meanwhile, advanced space science continues full speed ahead aboard the orbiting lab.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA is about to wrap up a 196-day mission in space with Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The Russian duo has begun gathering hardware and other items that will be packed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship for return to Earth. The three-member crew will enter the Soyuz, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 21.

Cassidy spent a busy Wednesday operating a range of science experiments investigating space technology, microbiology and botany. He started the day setting up the Avatar-X camera that seeks to demonstrate remote robotics that may inform the future of telemedicine. Next, he transferred microbe samples, shipped in a Cygnus cargo craft science freezer, that will be observed to learn how to control bacterial growth in space. Finally, Cassidy set up the Spectrum-001 hardware that will enable fluorescent imaging of protein markers and stress signaling in plants grown on the space station.

As the crew counts down to departure, Ivanishin worked on Russian power supply systems and checked radiation measurements. Vagner assisted Cassidy with the Cygnus science freezer work and checked on a pair of Russian studies looking at bone loss and space piloting techniques.

The space station is orbiting slightly lower after the docked Progress 75 spacecraft fired its engines for nearly seven minutes this morning. The “deboost” puts the station in the correct phasing for the  docking on Oct. 14 of the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship carrying the Expedition 64 crew aboard.

New Experiments Installed as U.S. and Russian Crew Ships Near Launch

The tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm which grapples hardware, science experiments and approaching spaceships, is pictured as the station soared over the South Pacific Ocean.
The tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm which grapples hardware, science experiments and approaching spaceships is pictured as the station soared into an orbital sunrise.

Four spaceships are parked at the International Space Station today as two new crews are due to launch by the end of October. In the meantime, the Expedition 63 crew has begun unpacking the nearly four tons of science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware from the newly arrived Cygnus cargo craft.

Commander Chris Cassidy has begun configuring brand new science experiments and research gear delivered on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter. He started removing a variety of time-sensitive investigations from Cygnus’ science freezers on Monday and quickly transferred them into space station research racks. The new experiments will explore cancer treatments, space botany and life support systems among other important subjects benefitting humans living on Earth and in space.

Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again testing a unique suit today designed to offset a common space symptom that sees blood pool toward a crewmember’s upper torso and head. The Lower Body Negative Pressure suit attempts to normalize blood flow to counteract some adverse effects of long-duration spaceflight and prepare the astronauts for the return to Earth’s gravity.

October will be a busy month at the orbiting lab bringing a crew swap and four new Commercial Crew members. First, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov when they lift off Oct. 14 from Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship. The Expedition 64 trio will take a three-hour trip to their new home in space where they will stay until April of next year.

Just one week later, Cassidy will hand control of the station over to Ryzhikov and return to Earth with Ivanishin and Vagner. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft ending a 195-day research mission on the station.

Next, four more astronauts are scheduled to join Expedition 64 just one day after they launch aboard the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon mission from Florida on Oct. 31. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi during the 25-hour ride to the space station. The quartet will stay in space until the Spring.

Cygnus Hatch Open as Crew Works Medical Tests

The Cygnus is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the space station orbited above the Mediterranean Sea near the Middle East. Credit: @Ivan_MKS63/Twitter
The Cygnus is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm as the space station orbited above north Africa. Credit: @Ivan_MKS63/Twitter

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is open for business just five hours after it was attached to the International Space Station today. The Expedition 63 crew will now begin unloading almost four tons of crew supplies, new science experiments and an advanced space toilet.

After standard depressurization and configuration activities, Commander Chris Cassidy opened the hatch to Cygnus. He entered the cargo craft wearing goggles and a mask to protect against potential dust and debris which is normal procedure when entering a docked cargo ship for the first time. The U.S. resupply ship will stay attached to the Unity module until mid-December when its cargo mission ends.

Cassidy and Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner spent Monday morning monitoring Cygnus approach and rendezvous following its Friday night launch. Cassidy gave the command for the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at 5:32 a.m. EDT today. Mission controllers then took over the Canadarm2 and remotely installed Cygnus to Unity about an hour-and-a-half later.

Vagner later joined his fellow cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for medical tests while wearing the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit. The specialized suit prevents blood from pooling toward a crew member’s head, a common space symptom called “puffy face,” that may cause head pressure and vision issues. The duo also worked on a variety of Russian science and maintenance tasks today.

Astronaut Commands Robotic Arm to Reach Out and Capture Cygnus Cargo Craft

The Canadarm2 operated by astronaut Chris Cassidy moves toward the Cygnus resupply ship for its capture. Credit: NASA TV

At 5:32 a.m. EDT, Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Kalpana Chawla, on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The Cygnus spacecraft for this resupply mission is named in honor of Kalpana Chawla, who made history at NASA as the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Chawla, who dedicated her life to understanding flight dynamics, lost her life during the STS-107 mission when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7:30 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning. Cygnus will remain at the orbiting laboratory for a three-month stay.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

U.S. Cargo Poised for Launch; Robotics, Health Checks for Crew

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket, with the Cygnus space feighter atop, stands at its launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility ion Virginia.
Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, with the Cygnus space freighter atop, stands at its launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

A U.S. rocket stands at its launch pad ready to launch an advanced space toilet and new science experiments toward the International Space Station tonight. Back on orbit, the Expedition 63 trio worked on robotics, health checks and housecleaning today.

NASA and its commercial partner Northrop Grumman are counting down to tonight’s liftoff of the Cygnus space freighter atop an Antares rocket at 9:38 p.m. EDT from Virginia. Cygnus is packed with nearly 8,000 pounds of crew supplies and station gear due for a robotic capture on Sunday at 6:10 a.m.

Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will be at the robotics workstation Sunday morning monitoring the approach and rendezvous of Cygnus. Cassidy will then command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Cygnus when it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station. Afterward, engineers on the ground will take over the Canadarm2 and remotely install Cygnus to the Unity module where it will stay until mid-December.

During Thursday morning, Cassidy installed a new robotic 4K camera that looks outside a Kibo laboratory module window at the Earth below. Called Avatar-X, the camera demonstrates how users on the ground can remotely control the camera to view Earth or practice telemedicine in remote locations.

Next, Cassidy strapped himself into an exercise bike with assistance from Vagner for a periodic health check. Vagner spent the rest of the day on photography inspections and plumbing tasks. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin took the morning off before spending the afternoon cleaning the ventilation system and researching how multi-cultural crews communicate.