New Crew Preps for Launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Expedition 49-50 Crew Members
Expedition 49-50 crew members (from left) Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko arrive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: RSC Energia

As one crew gets used to Earth’s gravity after 172 days in space, another crew is preparing to launch to the International Space Station in just over two weeks.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams arrived in the United States just 24 hours after landing Tuesday evening in Kazakhstan and completing his mission. His Expedition 48 crewmates Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, who were seated next to each other in the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft, have returned to their home space agency Roscosmos in Russia. Williams has completed one shuttle mission and his third station mission accumulating 534 days in space – a NASA astronaut record.

They will soon be replaced by another trio of Expedition 49-50 crew members who have arrived at their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will launch Sept. 23 on a two-day trip to the space station. They are in final preparations for a mission scheduled to last until Feb. 25, 2017.

Back in space, the Expedition 48-49 crew consisting of Commander Anatoly Ivanishin and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are continuing science operations and maintenance of the orbital laboratory. Rubins continued more DNA sequencing work today and inspected emergency equipment. Onishi cleaned ventilation fans and measured air flow. Ivanishin worked on the Pilot-T experiment exploring how a crew member adapts to the working conditions of a long-term space mission.


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Expedition 48 Lands With Most Experienced NASA Astronaut

NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams rests just minutes after landing in Kazakhstan with fellow crew members Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos landed their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 9:13 p.m. EDT. Russian recovery teams are helping the crew exit the Soyuz spacecraft and adjust to gravity after their stay in space. The trio will be transported by helicopter to Karaganda where they will split up, with Williams returning to Houston in a NASA jet, while Ovchinin and Skripochka are flown back to their training base at Star City, Russia.

Williams was instrumental in preparing the station for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. The first International Docking Adapter was installed during a spacewalk by Williams and fellow NASA astronaut Kate Rubins Aug. 19. Outfitted with a host of sensors and systems, the adapter’s main purpose is to connect spacecraft bringing astronauts to the station in the future. Its first users are expected to be Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, now in development in partnership with NASA.

During his time on the orbital complex, Williams ventured outside the confines of the space station for a second spacewalk with Rubins to retract a spare thermal control radiator and install two new high-definition cameras.

Together, the Expedition 48 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.

The crew members also welcomed five cargo spacecraft during their stay. Williams was involved in the grapple of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft in March, the company’s fourth commercial resupply mission, and SpaceX’s eighth Dragon spacecraft cargo delivery in April, and welcomed a second Dragon delivery in July. Two Russian ISS Progress cargo craft also docked to the station in April and July delivering tons of supplies.

The Expedition 48 trio launched to the space station in March 2016. With the conclusion of his fourth trip to the International Space Station, Williams has accrued 534 days in space, the most by any U.S. astronaut in history.

Expedition 49 continues operating the station with Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos in command. He, Rubins, and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will operate the station for more than two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch Sept. 23, U.S. time, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at:

www.nasa.gov/station

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Expedition 48 Undocks, Begins Journey to Earth

the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft
The Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft is seen slowly departing away from the International Space Station. NASA TV

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 5:51 p.m. EDT to begin their trip home. Ovchinin, the Soyuz commander, is at the controls of the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.

The crew is scheduled to land at 9:13 p.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

The Expedition 49 crew members, Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, and astronaut Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will operate the station for more than two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

NASA TV will air live coverage of the Soyuz TMA-20M deorbit burn and landing beginning at 8 p.m. Watch live at www.nasa.gov/ntv.

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Expedition 48 Trio Enters Soyuz and Closes Hatches

Expedition 48 Change of Command Ceremony
Astronaut Jeff Williams (front row left) handed command of the International Space Station to cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin (back row center) Monday Sept. 5. Credit: NASA TV

At 2:42 p.m. EDT, the Soyuz hatch closed between the International Space Station and the TMA-20M spacecraft. Expedition 48 crew members Jeff Williams of NASA and his Russian crewmates Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos are preparing to undock at 5:51 p.m. NASA Television will provide coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The deorbit burn is targeted for 8:21 p.m. and will lead to a landing at 9:13 p.m. southeast of Dzezkazgan in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 8 p.m. Watch live at https://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

The return of Expedition 48 will wrap up 172 days in space for the crew since their launch in March 2016. Williams will return to Earth having accrued 534 days in space on his four missions dating back to 2000, the most days by any U.S. astronaut in history.

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Live Coverage of Expedition 48 Departure Begins

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams
Today is homecoming day for NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (shown above) and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. The Expedition 48 trio has been in space since March 18.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and his Russian crewmates Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos are scheduled to return to Earth today at 9:13 p.m. EDT (7:13 a.m. Kazakhstan time, Sept. 7). The trio will land in their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

At this time, there are no concerns or issues being worked, and hatch closure is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. NASA Television will provide coverage beginning at 2:15 p.m.

Together, the Expedition 48 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.

During his time on station, Williams surpassed former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s U.S. record of time spent in space. He returns to Earth with 534 total days in space, passing Kelly’s record of 520 days by two weeks.

Williams handed over command of the space station to cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos on Monday, Sept. 5. When the spacecraft undocks from the station, Expedition 49 formally will begin.

NASA Television coverage for Soyuz activities Sept. 6 are listed below. Watch live online at www.nasa.gov/ntv.

Scheduled Exp. 48 Timeline and NASA TV Coverage

Time EDT     Event

2:15 p.m.       NASA TV Coverage of Exp. 48 Farewell and Hatch Closure Begins

2:30 p.m.        Soyuz TMA-20M/Space Station Hatch Closure

5:30 p.m.       NASA TV Coverage of Soyuz Undocking Begins

5:50 p.m.        Soyuz Undock Command Sent
5:51 p.m.        Soyuz Undocking From ISS
5:54 p.m.        Separation Burn 1
5:55 p.m.        Separation Burn 2

8 p.m.             NASA TV Coverage of Deorbit Burn and Landing

8:21 p.m.        Soyuz Deorbit Burn (4 minutes, 41 seconds duration)
8:48 p.m.        Soyuz Module Separation (altitude ~87 miles)
8:50 p.m.        Sunrise at the Landing Site in Kazakhstan
8:51 p.m.        Soyuz Atmospheric Entry (altitude ~62 miles)
8:59 p.m.        Command to Open Chutes (altitude 6.6 miles)
9:13 p.m.        Exp. 48 Soyuz TMA-20M Landing Southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at:

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Spacewalkers Cleaning Up Before Trio Returns Home Tuesday

Old Camera versus New Camera
The new high-definition video camera installed during Thursday’s spacewalk is now in service and providing better external views.

Two astronauts are cleaning up after a spacewalk while a pair of cosmonauts are getting a Soyuz spacecraft ready for departure after the Labor Day weekend. On the ground, three new crew members are preparing for a launch to the International Space Station at the end of the month.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins completed a spacewalk Thursday, retracting a thermal radiator and installing a pair of high definition cameras. Today, the astronauts are recharging spacesuits and tidying up the Quest airlock by stowing their tools and other spacewalk gear.

The Expedition 48 crew now turns its attention to a change of command on Monday, followed by three crew members returning to Earth on Tuesday. Williams will hand over station control to cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin before going home the following day with Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin.

The trio will undock Tuesday at 5:51 p.m. EDT inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft officially ending the Expedition 48 mission. After a few hours they will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan after 5-1/2 months in space.

Back on Earth, new station crew members Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko participated in traditional ceremonies and final qualification exams. They will join the Expedition 49 crew two days after their Sept. 23 launch inside the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.

Astronauts Conclude Second Spacewalk of Expedition 48

Spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins
Spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins completed the second spacewalk of the Expedition 48 mission.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins concluded their spacewalk at 2:41 p.m. EDT.  During the six-hour, 48-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully retracted a thermal radiator, installed two enhanced high definition cameras on the station’s truss and tightened bolts on a joint that enables one of the station’s solar arrays to rotate.

Space station crew members have conducted 195 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,217 hours and 34 minutes working outside the station.

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crews, at:

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Astronauts Begin Second Spacewalk of Expedition 48 Mission

Astronaut Jeff Williams
Astronaut Jeff Williams is pictured during the Aug. 19 spacewalk to install an international docking adapter.

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:53 a.m. EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last approximately six-and-a-half hours. Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins will retract a thermal radiator, install the first of several enhanced high definition cameras on the station’s truss and tighten bolts on a joint that enables one of the station’s solar arrays to rotate.

The spacewalk is the second for Williams and Rubins in just 13 days, the fifth of Williams’ career and the second for Rubins. It is the 195th spacewalk in support of station assembly and maintenance. They installed the first International Docking Adapter on the station during their previous spacewalk on Aug. 19. The adapter will allow new U.S. commercial crew vehicles to link up to the complex in the future.

Williams is EV1, his helmet camera is #17, and he is wearing the spacesuit with a red stripe. Rubins is EV2, her helmet camera is #20, and she is wearing the spacesuit with no stripes.

Watch live online at:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Watch NASA TV Thursday for Live Spacewalk Coverage

Astronaut Kate Rubins
Astronaut Kate Rubins is seen taking taking photographs with the Japanese Kibo lab module behind her during a spacewalk on Aug. 19.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA will begin a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station at about 8:10 a.m. EDT Thursday. NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

Williams and Rubins will retract a thermal radiator that is part of the station’s cooling system. The radiator is a backup that had been deployed previously as part of an effort to fix an ammonia coolant leak. They’ll also tighten struts on a solar array joint, and install the first of several enhanced high-definition television cameras that will be used to monitor activities outside the station, including the comings and goings of visiting cargo and crew vehicles.

Follow @space_station on Twitter and #spacewalk for updates online. For more information about the International Space Station, including current residents, visit:

www.nasa.gov/station

Astronauts Ready for Thursday Morning Spacewalk

Japanese Astronaut Takuya Onishi
Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi gets the U.S. spacesuits ready that NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will wear Thursday during a spacewalk. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins are ready for Thursday morning’s spacewalk scheduled to begin at 8:05 a.m. EDT and last 6.5 hours. The duo will retract and cover an out-of-service thermal control radiator, tighten struts on a solar array rotary joint and install a high-definition camera.

The spacewalkers finished collecting their tools and reviewing their timeline this morning. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi will assist the pair today getting the Quest airlock ready and tomorrow helping them in and out of their spacesuits.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Anatoly Ivanishin were back at work today exploring how bones and the immune system are impacted by living in space. Oleg Skripochka researched how the digestive system adapts and how humans experience pain during a long-term space mission.

After the completion of Thursday’s spacewalk, the crew will turn its attention to the Sept. 6 departure of Expedition 48 crew members Williams, Skripochka and Ovchinin. The trio continue loading the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft and getting their launch and entry suits ready. They will undock from the Poisk module and land in Kazakhstan after 5-1/2 months on orbit.