Expedition 64 Leaving Station as New SpaceX Crew Preps for Launch

(From left) The Expedition 64 crew is returning to Earth today as the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts prepare for an April 22 launch to the station from Florida.
(From left) The Expedition 64 crew is returning to Earth today as the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts prepare for an April 22 launch to the station from Florida.

Three Expedition 64 crew members are preparing to return to Earth today completing a 185-day research mission on the International Space Station. Meanwhile, four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center preparing for a launch next week to the orbiting lab.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will say goodbye to their station crewmates today. They will enter the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and close the hatch for the final time at 6:10 p.m. EDT. The trio will then undock from the Poisk module at 9:34 p.m. and parachute to Earth about three-and-a-half hours later inside the Soyuz crew ship. NASA TV will broadcast all the homecoming activities live beginning at 5:45 p.m. today.

Four Commercial Crew astronauts left Houston today and arrived in Florida to prepare for an April 22 liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center to the space station. The quartet will take a near 24-hour ride inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour before docking to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter.

Endeavour will be commanded by Shane Kimbrough and piloted by Megan McArthur, both NASA astronauts. They will be accompanied by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency. All four astronauts have previously flown on space shuttles or Soyuz vehicles.

They will be greeted by station Commander and Houston native Shannon Walker of NASA and her SpaceX Crew-1 crewmates Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA. The foursome, having been aboard the station since November, will then turn its attention to an April 28 return to Earth aboard the Crew Dragon Resilience.

Staying behind at the station with the Crew-2 astronauts will be NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. They arrived on April 9 docking their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft to the Rassvet module less than three-and-a-half hours after launching from Kazakhstan.

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