Teams on the ground are assessing data from the initial introduction of air into the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). Operations will resume shortly. NASA Television coverage from Mission Control Center in Houston continues.
The International Space Station’s mission managers are preparing for a likely unplanned spacewalk by Astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra no earlier than Monday, Dec. 21.
Late Wednesday, the Mobile Transporter rail car on the station’s truss was being moved by robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, to a different worksite near the center of the truss for payload operations when it stopped moving. The cause of the stall is being evaluated, but experts believe it may be related to a stuck brake handle, said ISS Mission Integration and Operations Manager Kenny Todd. Flight controllers had planned to move the transporter away from the center of the truss to worksite 2. The cause of the stall that halted its movement just four inches (10 centimeters) away from where it began is still being evaluated. Progress 62 is scheduled to launch at 3:44 a.m. EST Monday, and dock on Wednesday to the Pirs docking compartment at 5:31 a.m. Wednesday.
The ISS Mission Management Team met Friday morning and is targeting Monday for the spacewalk, but will meet again in a readiness review Sunday morning. Managers could elect to press ahead for Monday, or take an extra day and conduct the spacewalk Tuesday.
ISS Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA will conduct the spacewalk. It will be the 191st spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the third in Kelly’s career and the second for Kopra. Kelly will be designated Extravehicular Activity crew member 1 (EV1) wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Kopra will be Extravehicular Activity crew member 2 (EV2) wearing the suit with no stripes.
A start time for the spacewalk either Monday or Tuesday has not yet been set, but NASA TV coverage will begin 90 minutes prior to the start of the spacewalk.
Three International Space Station crew members are preparing to return to Earth early Friday after 141 days in space. Expedition 45 Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will land in their Soyuz spacecraft at 8:12 a.m. EST, northeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
NASA Television coverage begins at 1 a.m. Friday as they bid the station farewell, enter the Soyuz, and close the hatches. So far, the crew’s return is on track, and the space station is in good shape.
Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, along with crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, will operate the station for four days until the arrival of three new crew members.
NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Dec. 15 and arrive at the station about 6 hours later.
Kelly and Kornienko are on the first joint U.S.-Russian one-year mission, an important stepping stone on NASA’s journey to Mars.
NASA Television coverage times for Soyuz activities are listed below. These activities also will stream online at:
UPDATE (4/29 9:50 a.m. EDT): Docking has been called off for the Progress 59 spacecraft. Russian flight controllers are continuing to assess the vehicle and what the plan going forward will be. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
UPDATE (4/28 11:00 p.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing attempts to communicate with and troubleshoot issues with the Russian Progress 59 cargo spacecraft as it makes additional passes tonight over Russian ground stations.
UPDATE (4/28 9:35 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers have continued to try and recover telemetry capability with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft this morning. The most recent ground pass started at 9:20 a.m. EDT and flight controllers reported no change in the issues with receiving telemetry data from the unmanned craft. The Russian flight control team attempted to command the vehicle over four orbits flying over Russian ground sites with no success. The next series of ground station passes is expected to resume late Tuesday evening. Teams are standing down on the Thursday docking attempt while Russian teams continue to analyze data and develop a troubleshooting plan going forward.
UPDATE (4/28 8:15 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing to troubleshoot issues with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft. The spacecraft made another pass over Russian ground stations and continued to experience telemetry problems regarding the deployment of navigational antennas and the pressurization of the manifolds in the propulsion system. Flight controllers also confirmed that the vehicle had entered into a slow spin and have issued commands to attempt to control it.
Carrying more than 6,000 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted ISS Progress 59 cargo craft launched at 3:09 a.m. EDT (1:09 p.m. local time in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
However, Russian flight controllers initially could not confirm the health of the spacecraft’s systems and deployment of Kurs rendezvous and other navigational antennas. They selected the backup rendezvous plan with a targeted arrival Thursday for the cargo ship and its supplies for the space station crew. The Progress spacecraft is in a safe preliminary orbit.
At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 257 miles over northeast Kazakhstan near the Russian border, having flown over the launch site two and a half minutes before lift off.
As Progress passed over Russian ground stations, the Russian flight control team issued commands through the telemetry system onboard the spacecraft in an attempt to receive confirmation that navigation and rendezvous systems had deployed. But, due to sporadic telemetry from Progress 59, inconclusive data, and trouble uplinking commands to the spacecraft, controllers were unable to confirm the status of the systems.
Flight controllers will continue to look at the telemetry system to determine the overall health of the spacecraft’s systems. Instead of a four-orbit, six-hour docking later this morning as originally planned, Progress now will make a two-day, 34-orbit rendezvous with the station. With the two-day rendezvous, the Russian cargo craft is scheduled to arrive at the space station at 5:03 a.m. Thursday. Russian flight controllers are continuing to work to establish a good link with the Progress as it approaches the space station.
Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and his five crew mates continue to conduct a variety of microgravity experiments on board the space station as they await the arrival of Progress 59.
The Expedition 42 crew orbiting Earth on the International Space Station gets the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve a whopping 16 times as it circles the globe at 17,500 miles an hour.
Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, say they plan to celebrate with fruit juice toasts. The year 2015 starts officially for the station crew at 7 p.m. EST Jan. 31, which is midnight by the Universal Time Clock (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in London. The crew is scheduled to be in its sleep shift, but may elect to stay up late since it has a day off planned for New Year’s Day.
The crew spent New Year’s Eve day working on a variety of experiments, ranging from those directed at better understanding changes that occur in the human eye during long-duration spaceflights, and with Earth observations aimed at helping with disaster aid on the Earth’s surface.
The crew also continued preparations for the arrival of the next cargo supply ship, the commercial resupply mission of SpaceX-5 and the Dragon spacecraft. Launch of Dragon on a Space-X Falcon 9 booster is planned for 6:20 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. NASA Television launch coverage begins at 5 a.m.
Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Thursday, Jan. 8, and Wilmore will use the 58-foot robotic arm to grab the Dragon by its tail and berth if to the station. Grapple is expected about 6 a.m. NASA Television coverage of the grapple starts at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and installation coverage will begin at 8:15 a.m. Dragon is loaded with more than 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations that will take place on the space station during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43.
A series of briefings outlining Dragon’s mission and the scientific research it will be carrying is planned Monday, Jan. 5.
Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency shared their plans for a New Year’s Eve celebration and some resolutions during an interview with CBS News and the BBC.
> Watch the Dec. 30 interview
The crew spent most of its day conducting a variety of experiments, ranging from human life sciences to physics and Earth observations, and threw in a good measure of routine maintenance on station systems.
Cristoforetti set up hardware for eye exams using ocular coherence tomography, which records a detailed 3-D image of the retina and the interior of the eyes, so doctors may look to better understand why some astronauts return to Earth with long-term vision problems. Wilmore then conducted the tests on both Cristoforetti and NASA Flight Engineer Terry Virts.
Wilmore also continued work setting up and conducting experiment runs with the European Space Agency Haptics-1 experiment, using a body-mounted force-feedback joystick and a tablet computer to help scientists learn how people in weightlessness might use such game-like hardware to someday control robots on another planet, moon or asteroid from an orbiting human spacecraft.
Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov spent their day performing station life support system maintenance, testing a procedure for detecting air leaks on the station and conducting a Russian physics experiment on the dynamics of charged particles in space.
Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore celebrated his 52nd birthday aboard the International Space Station today, and Mission Control gathered around a microphone to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.
Wilmore, who has been on the station since Sept. 25, was born Dec. 29, 1962, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Wilmore and his crew, which includes NASA’s Terry Virts, Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Anton Shkaplerov, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are resuming work on microgravity experiments and operational maintenance aboard the station after enjoying some time off for the holidays.
Wilmore donned a body-mounted high-tech force feedback computer joystick as part of the Haptics-1 experiment he’s scheduled to perform Tuesday. The test will look at how people in weightlessness experience touch-based feedback. Someday, astronauts may use such interfaces to guide planet or asteroid-exploring robots from orbiting human spacecraft.
What is now the Expedition 42 crew is enjoying a pure off duty day today following the departure of Maxim Suraev, Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst, who landed at 10:58 p.m. EST Sunday night in their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft northeast of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. The trio is returning to their respective homes.
The current crew on the International Space Station is Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA, and Flight Engineers Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).
The rest of the Expedition 42 crew — Flight Engineers Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency — is relaxing today at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and preparing to depart tomorrow for their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final pre-launch training for their liftoff in the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft on Nov. 23, U.S. time (Nov. 24, Baikonur time).
In other news, the high-resolution video of station astronauts putting a waterproof camera inside a floating ball of water is now available for easy download:
The new gallery includes a tour of the space station and astronauts exploring water surface tension in microgravity with both the 3-D camera and a miniature HD camera in a waterproof case inside a volleyball-sized water bubble. Standard two-dimensional versions of both the tour video and the water surface tension video are also available.
Meanwhile, the homebound Expedition 40/41 trio of Soyuz Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst spent Thursday morning reviewing their Soyuz undocking and descent activities ahead of their Nov. 9 landing in Kazakhstan. Their orbiting Expedition 41/42 crewmates Flight Engineers Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova practiced emergency communication and coordination tasks.
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, the Expedition 42/43 crew’s Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency are making final preparations for launch Nov. 23 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz spacecraft that will deliver them for a 5 ½ month mission on the International Space Station.
And for the latest roundup of information on the space station, watch the latest edition of Space to Ground.
Station Crew Readies for Busy Visiting Vehicle Traffic
The highway traffic to and from the International Space Station gets busy Saturday and the six crew members of Expedition 41 are working feverishly to manage the traffic flow.
Final packing of the commercial Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) Dragon was completed and the hatch closed ahead of Saturday’s unberthing and departure. Release is planned for 9:56 a.m. EDT and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California is scheduled for about 3:30 p.m.
While the crew completed packing of experiment samples and equipment aboard Dragon for return to Earth, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility off the coast of Virginia, another commercial rocket – Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares with its Cygnus cargo craft – was rolled to the launch pad for final preparations leading to launch at 6:45 p.m. Monday. Plans are for Cygnus arrival at the station Sunday, Nov. 2, with berthing to the same Harmony module docking port that will be vacated by Dragon.
Two Russian cargo vehicles also will be making moves when Progress 56 undocks early Monday at 1:38 a.m., completing more than three months of service at the station. It will undergo several weeks of engineering tests by Russian flight controllers before being deorbited over the Pacific on Wednesday, Nov. 19. That departure frees the Pirs Docking Compartment for arrival of the next Russian cargo vehicle, Progress 57, which is set for launch at 3:09 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, with docking to Pirs six hours later at 9:09 a.m.
Three of the crew members also are beginning preparations to return home after 165 days in space. Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alex Gerst will return home aboard their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 9.
That leaves the other three crew members to transition to Expedition 42, which will be led by Barry Wilmore. He will command the expedition that includes Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova until next March. They’ll enjoy a Thanksgiving delivery of three more crew members – Anton Shkaplerov, Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts – on Sunday, Nov. 23.