Human Research and Spacewalk Computer Training on Orbital Lab

NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Anne McClain and Christina Koch (right) work on U.S. spacesuit maintenance in the Quest airlock of the International Space Station.

The Expedition 59 crew continued gearing up for Friday’s spacewalk amid a variety of human research activities today. Meanwhile, the three newest International Space Station crewmembers found time to get up to speed on lab systems and life in space.

Friday’s spacewalkers will be NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague. The duo started the day getting tools ready and using 3-D computer software to review spacewalk procedures and robotics maneuvers. Flight Engineers David Saint-Jacques and Christina Koch joined McClain and Hague at the end of the day for an hour-long conference with spacewalk experts in Mission Control.

The spacewalkers will work for about six hours on the Port-4 truss structure swapping batteries and installing adapter plates. Friday’s spacewalk to upgrade the station’s power storage capacity begins at 8:05 a.m. EDT. NASA TV’s live spacewalk coverage begins at 6:30 a.m.

Life science continued full-speed ahead today despite the spacewalk preparations and a new crew getting used to microgravity. Hague, Koch and Saint-Jacques drew their blood samples throughout Tuesday and stowed them in science freezers for later analysis.

Koch also spent a couple of hours in the Columbus lab module on the Vection study exploring how microgravity affects her perception. Saint-Jacques prepared Marrow experiment gear for return on an upcoming SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.

Flight Engineers Alexey Ovchinin, Hague and Koch spent each about an hour familiarizing themselves with station facilities today. The new trio will orbit Earth for at least six-and-a-half months.

New Trio Gets Used to Station Life before First of Three Spacewalks

The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft that launched three new Expedition 59-60 crew members to the International Space Station is pictured docked to the Rassvet module. Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin from Roscosmos commanded the Soyuz crew ship flanked by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch during the five-hour, 47-minute trip that began at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Expedition 59 crew is getting ready for the first of three spacewalks just days after the arrival of three new crew members to the International Space Station last week. All six crewmates also reviewed emergency procedures today while the new trio becomes accustomed to life on the orbital lab.

NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague will exit the space station Friday for a six-hour spacewalk beginning at 8:05 a.m. EDT live on NASA TV. The duo will continue the ongoing work to upgrade the station’s power storage capacity. McClain and Hague will replace older nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion batteries and install new adapter plates on the space lab’s Port-4 truss structure.

The crew will be readying spacesuits and tools and reviewing spacewalk procedures all week long. This morning, Hague joined Flight Engineers David Saint-Jacques and Christina Koch and sized U.S. spacesuits in the Quest airlock. McClain verified the functionality of the spacesuit SAFER jet packs, also known as Simplified Aid For EVA Rescue.

At the end of the day, all six crew members gathered together to coordinate their actions in the unlikely event of an emergency aboard the station. The crew reviewed escape paths to their Soyuz lifeboats and safe havens for access to safety gear and a breathable atmosphere.

In the midst of the spacewalk preparations and the safety training, the three new flight engineers are also familiarizing themselves with station systems. Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin is beginning his second mission aboard the orbital lab since March 2016. Hague and Koch, both members of NASA’s 2013 class of astronauts, are each on their first mission aboard the space station.

Expedition 59 Welcomes Three New Crew Members

Expedition 59 Welcome Ceremony
Expedition 59 crew members Anne McClain, Oleg Konoenko, and David Saint-Jacques welcome their new crew members, Nick Hague, Christina Koch, and Alexey Ovchinin, who arrived to the International Space Station on March 14, 2019. Image Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos joined NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Expedition 59 commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 11:07 p.m. EDT.

The trio’s arrival returns the orbiting laboratory’s population to six, including three NASA astronauts. McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko are scheduled to remain aboard the station until June, while Hague, Koch and Ovchinin are set to return to Earth early this fall.

McClain, Saint-Jacques, Hague and Koch also are all scheduled for the first spacewalks of their careers to continue upgrades to the orbital laboratory. McClain and Hague are scheduled to begin work to upgrade the power system March 22, and McClain and Koch will complete the upgrades to two station power channels during a March 29 spacewalk. This will be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female spacewalkers. Hague and Saint-Jacques will install hardware for a future science platform during an April 8 spacewalk.

Three resupply spacecraft – a Russian Progress, Northrop Grumman Cygnus and SpaceX Dragon – are scheduled to arrive with additional supplies for the crew and various science investigations. The crew also is scheduled to be onboard during test flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will return human spaceflight launches for space station missions to U.S. soil.

For more than 18 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space, including the Moon and Mars. A global endeavor, 236 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,500 investigations from researchers in 106 countries. Investigations conducted on the International Space Station impact the daily lives of people on Earth and prepare the way for humans to venture farther into space.

For continued 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.

Soyuz Docked to Space Station

Soyuz MS-12 Contact and Captured
Soyuz MS-12 arrived at the International Space Station at 9:01 p.m. ET, 255 miles just west off the coast of Peru. Image Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station at 9:01 p.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean just west of Peru. Expedition 59 officially began at the time of docking.

Aboard the space station, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

The crew members will spend more than six months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development. Seventy-five of the investigations are new and have never been performed in space. Some of the investigations are sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory on the space station, which Congress designated in 2005 to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth.

Highlights of upcoming investigations the crew will support include devices that mimic the structure and function of human organs, free-flying robots, and an instrument to measure Earth’s distribution of carbon dioxide.

Watch the hatch opening and welcome ceremony to follow live on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 10:30 p.m.

For continued 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.

Crew Safely in Orbit After Successful Launch

Expedition 59 Launch
The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft is launched with Expedition 59 crewmembers Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA, along with Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, Friday March 15, 2019, Kazakh time (March 14 Eastern time) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Hague, Koch, and Ovchinin will spend six-and-a-half months living and working aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Soyuz MS-12 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) and has safely reached orbit.  At the time of launch, the station was flying about 250 miles over southern Russia, across the northeast border with Kazakhstan; more than 1,100 statute miles ahead of the Soyuz as it leaves the launch pad.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmoshave begun their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory where they will live and work for more than six months. The new crew members will dock to the Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.

About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open and the new residents will be greeted by NASA astronaut Anne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The current three-person crew just welcomed the first American commercial crew vehicle as it docked to the station on March 3, amidst a busy schedule of scientific research and operations since arriving in December.

Coverage of the Soyuz docking to the International Space Station will begin on NASA TV’s media channel and the agency’s website beginning at 8:45 p.m. with the spacecraft docking expected at 9:07 p.m.

Coverage of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the space station will begin at 10:30 p.m.

For continued 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.

Watch NASA TV Now to See New Crew Launch at 3:14pm ET

Expedition 59 Preflight
The Soyuz rocket is seen at dawn on launch site 1 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Thursday, March 14, 2019 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Expedition 59 astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA, along with Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will launch later in the day, U.S. time, on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Live launch coverage is underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website for the targeted lift off at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station.

The three will join NASA astronaut Anne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The crew members will continue important research experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

For launch 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 59 Prepares to Launch to Station

Expedition 59 Preflight
The Soyuz rocket is seen at dawn on launch site 1 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Thursday, March 14, 2019 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Expedition 59 astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA, along with Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will launch later in the day, U.S. time, on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, teams are making final preparations for the launch of NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, to the International Space Station. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time). Live launch coverage will begin at 2 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The trio’s arrival will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six, including three NASA astronauts. This launch will also mark the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts. The three will join station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The new crew members will dock to the Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.

Hague and Ovchinin are completing a journey that was cut short Oct. 11, when a booster separation problem with their Soyuz rocket’s first stage triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight. They landed safely a few minutes later, after reaching the fringes of space, and were reassigned to fly again after McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques launched in early December. This will be Ovchinin’s third flight into space, the second for Hague and the first for Koch. Hague, Koch, and McClain are from NASA’s 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women—the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class.

Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:

Thursday, March 14

EDT              L-Hr/M/Sec    Event

  • 6:14:09am    9:00                 Crew wakeup at Cosmonaut Hotel
  • 9:14:09am    6:00                 Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel
  • 9:29:09am    5:45                 Batteries installed in booster
  • 9:59:09am    5:15                  Crew arrives at Site 254
  • 10:14:09am   5:00                 Tanking begins
  • 10:44:09am  4:30                 Crew suit up
  • 11:09:09am   4:05                 Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
  • 11:44:09am   3:30                 Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
  • 12:09:09pm  3:05                First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
  • 12:14:09pm   3:00                Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
  • 12:19:09pm   2:55                Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
  • 12:39:09pm   2:35                Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
  • 12:49:09pm   2:25               Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
  • 1:39:09pm      1:35                Descent module hardware tested
  • 1:54:09pm      1:20                Hatch closed; leak checks begin
  • 2:00:00pm      1:14:09           NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
  • 2:14:09pm      1:00                Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
  • 2:15:00pm        :59:09             NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities B-roll played)
  • 2:29:09pm     :45:00            Pad service structure components lowered
  • 2:30:09pm     :44:00            Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
  • 2:37:09pm     :37:00             Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
  • 2:40:09pm     :34:00            Emergency escape system armed
  • 2:59:09pm     :15:00             Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
  • 3:04:09pm     :10:00             Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
  • 3:07:09pm     :07:00             Pre-launch operations complete
  • 3:08:09pm     :06:00            Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
  • 3:09:09pm     :05:00            Commander’s controls activated
  • 3:09:56pm       :04:13              ISS flies directly over the Baikonur Cosmodrome 
  • 3:10:09pm      :04:00            Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
  • 3:11:09pm       :03:00            Propellant drainback
  • 3:11:26pm       :02:43            Booster propellant tank pressurization
  • 3:12:39pm      :01:30             Ground propellant feed terminated
  • 3:13:09pm       01:00             Vehicle to internal power
  • 3:13:34pm      :00:35             First umbilical tower separates

Auto sequence start

  • 3:13:39pm     :00:30            Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
  • 3:13:54pm     :00:15             Second umbilical tower separates
  • 3:13:57pm     :00:12             Launch command issued

Engine Start Sequence Begins

  • 3:13:59pm      :00:10            Engine turbo pumps at flight speed
  • 3:14:04pm     :00:05            Engines at maximum thrust
  • 3:14:09pm       :00:00            LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-12 TO THE ISS
  • 3:22:54pm     +8:45               Third stage shutdown; Soyuz orbital insertion

For launch 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.

Housekeeping and Maintenance Punctuate Last Full Day of Expedition 58

From left, Expedition 59 crew members Christina Koch, Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague show solidarity before their upcoming launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
From left, Expedition 59 crew members Christina Koch, Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague show solidarity before their upcoming launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Image Credit: NASA

The last full day of Expedition 58—before the launch, docking and consolidation of crews to become Expedition 59—was mostly spent on housekeeping items for the continued, successful operation of the International Space Station. 

NASA astronaut Anne McClain floated through the Tranquility and Zvezda service modules, deploying acoustic monitors. She paused in the U.S. lab at an EXPRESS rack to install communications gear and perform additional maintenance. David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency also worked with EXPRESS today, moving Space Automated Bioproduct Labs from rack-1 to rack-2. This miniature laboratory within the larger orbiting laboratory supports life science research, hosting microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, viruses, etc.), small organisms, animal cells, tissue cultures and small plants for evaluation in space.  

Expedition Commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos replaced fuel bottles on the Combustion Integrated Rack, which allows the crew members to conduct fluids and combustion studies in microgravity. 

Today in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, were certified for flight by the Russian state commission and held their final news conference.  

Tomorrow, the soon-to-be station residents will hitch a ride aboard a Soyuz MS-12 for blastoff at 3:14 p.m. EDT on, coincidentally, 3/14. After a relatively speedy six-hour flight, the Soyuz is expected to dock to station’s Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking. 

The events will unfold live on NASA TV, with launch coverage beginning at 2 p.m. and docking coverage at 8:15 p.m., respectively. After a brief break, tune in at 10:30 p.m. for the hatch opening and welcome, which will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six—including three NASA astronauts. And, just in time for Women’s History Month, this launch marks the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts.  

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

Before Launch and Spacewalks, Science Reigns Supreme Aboard Orbiting Lab

The Soyuz rocket is raised into vertical position on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
On March 12, 2019, the Soyuz rocket is raised into vertical position on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: NASA

As the Soyuz MS-12 that will carry the Expedition 59 crew to the International Space Station Thursday was erected on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 58 resumed research and routine maintenance after their off-duty day Monday. 

NASA astronaut Anne McClain conducted botany work with the VEG-03 experiment, which builds on what scientists have initially learned about harvesting vegetation in space with VEG-01. This time around, testing will demonstrate plant growth with a new batch of crops, including red romaine lettuce, extra dwarf Pak Choi, red Russian kale and wasabi mustard. McClain also spent time on life-support system upkeep in the Kibo lab module and maintenance in the U.S. lab on an EXPRESS rack—hardware integral to providing structural interfaces and support for science experiments with power, data, cooling, water and other items needed for successful operations. 

In the Quest airlock, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques completed additional prep work for upcoming spacewalks slated for March 22, 29 and April 8 by scrubbing cooling loops and performing leak checks on the spacesuits. After resupplying the Human Research Facility-2 rack, Saint Jacques added input to a questionnaire for Behavioral Core Measures, an investigation that seeks to create a standardized toolkit to rapidly and reliably assess the risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions and psychiatric disorders that could occur with longer space missions. 

Meanwhile, Commander Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos ticked off additional maintenance tasks by cleaning panels in the Zvezda service module and performing fluid transfers to the Progress 71 resupply ship. 

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

Station Crews Take a Breather in Anticipation of Launch on March 14

A view from the International Space Station taken Feb. 21, 2019.
A view from the International Space Station taken Feb. 21, 2019. Image Credit: NASA

This Monday, the Expedition 58 crew is taking a well-deserved break after a busy week prior wrapping up SpaceX’s inaugural flight of Crew Dragon to the International Space Station during Demonstration Mission-1, an uncrewed flight test. The vehicle departed station for a splashdown off the Florida Space Coast at 8:45 a.m. EST Friday, bringing NASA even closer to sending astronauts into space from American soil. 

The Expedition 59 crew, which will soon get their turn in orbit, is taking time to relax and review their launch day flight plan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On March 14, Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are set to blastoff at 3:14 p.m. EDT and dock less than six hours later to the Rassvet module at the orbiting laboratory. Research investigations will get a boost in productivity with their arrival, which will bring the full crew complement to six. All launch and docking events will be carried live on NASA TV. 

Tomorrow, the Soyuz MS-12 that will carry the new crew crawls to the launch pad at Baikonur as Expedition 58 resumes science studies. 

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