Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific On Time

SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule
ISS043E190604 (05/13/2015) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule is seen here docked to the Earth facing port of the Harmony module.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m. EDT, about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is returning more than 3,100 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from the International Space Station. A boat will take the Dragon spacecraft to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA within 48 hours. Dragon will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.

The mission was the sixth of 15 cargo resupply trips SpaceX will make to the space station through 2016 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Dragon Headed for Splashdown as Crew Gets Back to Work

NASA mission controllers
NASA mission controllers monitor the release and departure of the SpaceX Dragon from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

Scott Kelly, NASA’s One-Year crew member, flawlessly released the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the grips of the Canadarm2 at 7:04 a.m. EDT this morning. Mission Control in Houston had earlier commanded the station’s 57.7 foot long robotic arm to remove Dragon from the Harmony module and place it in its release position.

After its release, SpaceX controllers in California took control of the cargo craft guiding it beyond the vicinity of the International Space Station with a trio of departure burns. The commercial space freighter is planned to parachute to a Pacific Ocean splashdown at 12:42 p.m. Engineers will be off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., to retrieve the spacecraft, which is filled with more than 3,100 pounds of science and other cargo.

Back inside the space station it’s business as usual as the six-member Expedition 43 crew worked ongoing microgravity science and maintenance of the world’s most advanced orbital laboratory. Commander Terry Virts, who is due to return home in early June, took a refresher course in Crew Medical Officer training and also participated in a hearing assessment. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti conducted fluid physics work that could benefit commercial products on Earth. The cosmonaut trio, including One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, were in the station’s Russian segment working on their to-do list of advanced science and technical tasks.

SpaceX is now gearing up for its seventh Commercial Resupply Services mission, scheduled for launch June 26. A Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Dragon spacecraft to orbit, allowing the vehicle to deliver the first of two International Docking Adapters to the space station. This mission, SpaceX CRS-7, will begin the process of readying the orbital lab for future Commercial Crew spacecraft.

Dragon Released for Pacific Splashdown

Dragon is released
Dragon is released and begins its departure while the station is in orbital night. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 7:04 a.m. EDT. The capsule will begin a series of departure burns and maneuvers to move beyond the 656-foot (200-meter) “keep out sphere” around the station and begin its return trip to Earth. The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m., about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California.

NASA TV Provides Live Coverage of SpaceX Dragon Departure

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft
ISS043E122200 (04/17/2015) — The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft approaches the International Space Station Apr. 17th, 2015 after launching three days earlier from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. It carries some 2 tons of science experiments, equipment, and supplies for the Expedition 43 team onboard the station.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station beginning at 6:45 a.m. EDT. Dragon was detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module earlier this morning. Mission control will maneuver Dragon into place then turn it over to Expedition 43 robotic arm operator Scott Kelly of NASA for release, scheduled for approximately 7:04 a.m.

The Dragon arrived to the space station April 17 after an April 14 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying over 4,300 pounds of supplies and elements to support about 40 of more than 250 scientific investigations the crew members of Expeditions 43 and 44 will conduct.

Release of the spacecraft by the station’s robotic arm will begin the Dragon’s return to Earth carrying more than 3,100 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the nonprofit organization responsible for managing research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station.

The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean about 12:42 p.m., approximately 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California.

Station to Raise Orbit before June Expedition 43 Undocking

Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly
Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly were inside the Quest airlock Friday morning talking to reporters from The Weather Channel and Time Magazine . Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 43 crew ends its work week with a wide variety of science exploring life in space benefiting both crews in space and humans on Earth. Meanwhile, one space freighter is preparing to fire its thrusters to lift the station’s orbit as another is being packed and readied for splashdown.

One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko participated in the Fine Motor Skills experiment which monitors different phases of a crew member’s microgravity adaptation and recovery back on Earth. Commander Terry Virts took samples of air and surface microbes for the Microbial Observatory-1 study which will be analyzed by scientists on the ground.

Samantha Cristoforetti studied the physics of where fluids and gases meet in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka worked on video gear and tested magnetometers in the station’s Russian segment. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov studied chemical reactions in the Earth’s atmosphere, checked Russian docking systems and photographed windows in the Pirs and Poisk modules.

The ISS Progress 58 resupply ship docked to the Zvezda service module will fire its engines Friday night. The orbital boost will place the International Space Station at the correct altitude for the undocking of Expedition 43 in early June. The SpaceX Dragon loaded with science and gear will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 May 21 at 7:05 a.m. EDT for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later.

Visiting Vehicle Activities and Maintenance Keep Crew Busy

Astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts
ISS043E181459 (05/07/2015) — NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (left) and Terry Virts (right) work on a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) inside the station’s Japanese Experiment Module.

Expedition 43 is packing the SpaceX Dragon space freighter readying the vehicle for its return home and splashdown May 21. The docked ISS Progress 58 resupply ship will fire its thrusters Friday night placing the International Space Station at the correct orbit for next month’s Soyuz undocking.

The six-member crew also worked a variety of onboard maintenance ensuring crew safety and the upkeep of station hardware. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly worked on science gear in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Commander Terry Virts worked on replacing a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly blower fan. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti routed cables and configured valves to prepare the Permanent Multipurpose Module for its relocation later this month.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov photographed the condition of the Zvezda service module windows. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka partnered up with One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko to study acoustic techniques for immediately locating micrometeoroid impacts on the station’s exterior. The trio also continued the maintenance of the Russian station systems.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Landing Delayed, Life Science and Dragon Packing for Expedition 43

Samantha Cristoforetti
ISS043E160082 (05/03/2015) — ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti enjoys her first drink from the new ISSpresso machine. The espresso device allows crews to make tea, coffee, broth, or other hot beverages they might enjoy.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Full Release

The six-member Expedition 43 crew worked Tuesday on a wide variety of tasks. The International Space Station residents explored life sciences, trained for a robotics experiment, conducted maintenance and prepared for next week’s departure of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

Astronaut Scott Kelly worked on an experiment which observes how a crew member’s fine motor skills adapt over a six-month and a year-long mission in space. He then moved on to training for the Robotics Refueling Mission.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked on the Rodent Research experiment during the afternoon. Commander Terry Virts worked on cargo transfers to the Dragon space freighter which is getting ready for its May 21 departure and splashdown.

The three cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, worked in the Russian segment. The trio cleaned dust filters, changed out a smoke detector and downloaded results from a microbial air sampling.

Experiment Work Inside and Outside Station Wednesday

Canadarm2 and Dextre
ISS041-E-049099 (30 Sept. 2014) — The International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and Dextre is seen outside the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship.

The Expedition 43 lab assistants conducted biomedical science in the International Space Station on Wednesday. Meanwhile, controllers on the ground will remotely maneuver the Canadarm2 outside the station to experiment with the possibility of servicing satellites on orbit for longer missions.

The crew participated in a wide variety of life science studies. The Myco experiment, which analyzes nose, throat and skin samples, examines how microorganisms on the space station can affect a crew member’s allergies and illnesses. Another study, Interactions, explores how crews from different cultures learn to work with each other. More Rodent Research work took place, as the astronauts readied samples for return to Earth and checked out the rodents’ habitat.

Crew members also underwent medical exams, checking vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure. Later there were crew eye checks as doctors on the ground explore how microgravity affects vision.

The Robotics Refueling Mission, a joint study between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, investigates satellite repair and servicing techniques in space. Operators on the ground use the station’s special purpose dexterous manipulator, better known as Dextre, on the end of the Canadarm2, for fine robotics manipulation. Engineers are looking to determine whether it’s possible to refuel satellites and test electrical connections robotically.

Cargo Craft Prepped for Departure as Crew Works New Science

Rainbow Double Aurora
ISS043E108129 (04/11/2015) — “Rainbow double Aurora” greets the astronauts and cosmonauts on board the International Space Station on Apr. 11, 2015.

As Expedition 43 unloads crew supplies from the SpaceX Dragon, another cargo craft is being readied for its undocking. Meanwhile, new research is underway with some of the science gear hauled into space aboard Dragon.

Russia’s ISS Progress 57 space freighter is being packed with trash and discarded gear. It will undock from the Pirs docking compartment early Saturday morning for a fiery descent into the Pacific Ocean.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts studied the effects of microgravity on living organisms for the Rodent Research experiment. They are looking at mice and how their body systems change in space. The results may promote the development of new drugs tackling the effects of aging and disease on Earth.

Dragon Opens for Business with New Science

April 17, 2015 Space Station Configuration
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was berthed to the Harmony module after arriving April 17, 2015.

NASA astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly opened the hatches and floated into the new SpaceX Dragon space freighter Saturday morning, beginning five weeks of cargo transfers. The sixth Dragon cargo mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract delivered a wide variety of crew supplies and science gear to support dozens of new and ongoing microgravity experiments.

The crew unloaded new Rodent Research gear that will allow scientists to study the effects of microgravity on biological mechanisms in mice. Results may promote the development of new drugs tackling the effects of aging and disease on Earth.

A pair of new POLAR science freezers were unloaded from Dragon. The freezers store science samples at -80° C and allow the transport of those samples back to Earth.

Blood pressure checks and vision testing were on the schedule Monday as part of the Ocular Health study which observes the effects of long-term spaceflight on crew members. A trio of cosmonauts looked at cardiac activity in space and studied the radiation emitted from Russian spacecraft propulsion systems.