NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy and Crewmates Return Safely to Earth

The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft is seen as it lands in Kazakhstan with Expedition 63 crew. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos landed on Earth at 10:54 p.m. EDT in Kazakhstan. The trio departed the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft at 7:32 p.m.

Cassidy now has spent a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest among U.S. astronauts.

After post-landing medical checks, the crew will split up to return home; Cassidy will board a NASA plane back to Houston, and Vagner and Ivanishin will fly home to Star City, Russia.

Remaining aboard the station is the three-person crew of Expedition 64 with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, and station commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos. Upon the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission targeted to launch in November, the station’s long-duration crew will expand to seven people for the first time with the addition of NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

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

Watch NASA TV for Crew Return to Earth

The Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 62 crew.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are now broadcasting live coverage of the return to Earth of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft carrying the trio is expected to make its deorbit burn at 10 p.m. to set the spaceship on its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:55 p.m.

While on station, Cassidy contributed to hundreds of experiments, including a study of the influence of gravity on electrolytic gas evolution, a complex electrochemical process with multiple applications on Earth and in space. Electrolysis generates bubbles that can be used to create pressure differentials in microfluidic devices, such as skin patches, used to deliver medications. Microgravity makes it possible to single out bubble growth and study its effect on the process.

During this latest mission, Cassidy served as commander of Expedition 63, contributed to hundreds of experiments, and welcomed SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley of NASA– the first astronauts to launch to the space station on an American spacecraft from American soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

Cassidy and Behnken completed four spacewalks, totaling 23 hours and 37 minutes, to upgrade station batteries. The final spacewalk was the 10th for both astronauts, making them two of only four only U.S. astronauts to complete 10 spacewalks. Cassidy now has spent a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest among U.S. astronauts.

Cassidy also worked with Astrobee, cube-shaped, free-flying robots that may one day assist astronauts with routine duties, and conducted research for the Onco-Selectors experiment, which leverages microgravity to identify targeted cancer therapies.

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

Soyuz Departs Space Station

The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship with the Expedition 63 crew inside is pictured just after undocking from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station at 7:32 p.m. EDT, carrying three people back to Earth. NASA Television will air live coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. for the deorbit burn at 10 p.m. and the spacecraft’s parachute-assisted landing.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are expected to land in their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft at 10:55 p.m. on the steppe of Kazakhstan southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan (8:55 a.m. Oct. 22 Kazakhstan time).

Cassidy’s mission was filled with milestones for space exploration as well as numerous science experiments helping benefit life back on Earth. Take a look at his time as a space scientist in this video: https://youtu.be/u8L66TSXSxY

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

Watch NASA TV Now for Soyuz Undocking

(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

NASA is providing live coverage on NASA TV and its website of the undocking and departure from the International Space Station of the Soyuz spacecraft that will return NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos to Earth later this evening.

The three crew members are concluding a 196-day mission spanning 3,136 orbits of Earth and 83 million miles. Cassidy is completing his third flight for a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest total among U.S. astronauts. Ivanishin is completing his third flight into space, totaling 476 days. This was Vagner’s first spaceflight.

During this latest mission, Cassidy served as commander of Expedition 63, contributed to hundreds of experiments, and welcomed SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley of NASA– the first astronauts to launch to the space station on an American spacecraft from American soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

Cassidy and Behnken completed four spacewalks, totaling 23 hours and 37 minutes, to upgrade station batteries. The final spacewalk was the 10th for both astronauts, making them two of only four only U.S. astronauts to complete 10 spacewalks. Cassidy now has spent a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest among U.S. astronauts.

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

Hatches Between Soyuz and Station Closed

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 63 crewmembers Ivan Vagner (left) and Anatoly Ivanishin (center) of Roscosmos and Chris Cassidy of NASA (right) pose for pictures March 25 in front of their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft as part of pre-launch training activities.

At 4:24 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft at 7:32 p.m.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 7 p.m.; their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 10:55 p.m.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 64 will begin aboard the station, with Kate Rubins of NASA, new station commander Sergey Ryzhikov and cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos comprising a three-person station crew until the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission targeted to launch in November. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will launch on the first long-duration commercial crew mission to the station.

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

NASA TV live for Crew Farewell and Hatch Closure

(Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy inside the space station's Zvezda service module.
(Front row from left) Expedition 64 crewmembers Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy inside the space station’s Zvezda service module.

NASA is providing live coverage on NASA TV and its website beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT as NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos prepare to conclude their six-month mission aboard the International Space Station and return to Earth.

The trio will say goodbye to NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, new station commander Sergey Ryzhikov and cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos and close the hatch to their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft at 4:10 p.m. EDT in preparation for their departure. They will conduct a series of leak checks before undocking at 7:32 p.m. from the Poisk module’s space-facing port. A parachute-assisted landing is set for 10:55 p.m. EDT (8:55 a.m. Oct. 22 Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

Follow along with landing activities and get more information at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Cancer, Bone Loss Studies on Station Promote Earth and Space Health

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy unpacks fresh fruit and other food items shipped aboard the Northrop Grumman Cygnus.

Cancer therapy was the main focus of Friday’s research aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 63 crew is also getting ready to return to Earth while still finding time for more science work.

Microgravity research on the station has enabled pharmaceutical innovations with real benefits for patients on Earth. Biology experiments in space also provide insights into how the human body adapts to weightlessness. This helps doctors keep astronauts healthy as NASA plans missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The Onco-Selectors study taking place today inside the space station’s Life Sciences Glovebox, installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module, seeks to develop drugs that could improve the survival rate of cancer patients. Commander Chris Cassidy spent most of Friday mixing and applying a treatment to healthy and cancerous cell samples being observed for the new cancer investigation.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again exploring ways to reverse the loss of bone mass that occurs during a long-term space mission. The Russian duo worked throughout the day setting up hardware and logging meals and drinks to monitor and understand the mechanisms of bone loss caused by weightlessness.

The two cosmonauts are also gearing up for their return to Earth with Cassidy in less than two weeks. They have been gathering station hardware and personal items that will soon be stowed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All three crew members will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz spacecraft ending their 196-day space research mission on Oct. 21.

Cygnus Resupply Ship Attached to Station Unity Module

Oct. 5, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked to the space station including Russia’s Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship and Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus-14 resupply ship.

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 8:01 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying about 261 miles above the South Pacific Ocean. Cygnus will remain at the space station until its departure in mid-December. Following departure, the Saffire-V experiment will be conducted prior to Cygnus deorbit and disposing of several tons of trash during a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere approximately two weeks later.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations, technology demonstrations, commercial products, and other cargo. Highlights of the items aboard Cygnus include:

Improving how we ‘go’ in space

A new toilet is headed to the space station. Its features improve on current space toilet operations and help NASA prepare for future missions, including those to the Moon and Mars. The Universal Waste Management System (UWMS) demonstrates a compact toilet and the Urine Transfer System that further automates waste management and storage. The smaller footprint of the UWMS supports a possible increase in the number of crew members aboard the space station, as well as planning for future exploration missions.

Energy and water from waste

The investigation Elucidating the Ammonia Electrochemical Oxidation Mechanism via Electrochemical Techniques at the ISS (Ammonia Electrooxidation) examines a process for ammonia oxidation in microgravity. An electrochemical ammonia removal system could serve as an innovative water recovery system on long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars and provide vital drinkable water in remote and arid areas on Earth.

Adding radishes to the space salad

A new crop of vegetables is headed to the space station. While previous experiments have grown different types of lettuces and greens aboard the orbiting laboratory, the Assessment of Nutritional Value and Growth Parameters of Space-grown Plants (Plant Habitat-02) investigation adds radishes to the mix, cultivating seeds to see how different light and soil conditions affect growth. Findings could help optimize growth of the plants in space, as well as provide an assessment of their nutrition and taste.

Identifying targeted cancer treatments

The Leveraging Microgravity to Screen Onco-selective Messenger RNAs for Cancer Immunotherapy (Onco-Selectors) investigation tests drugs based on messenger ribonucleic acids (mRNA) for treating leukemia. In normal gravity, the drugs to be tested are onco-selective, meaning they can distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones. Researchers expect any drugs that also demonstrate this trait in microgravity could make good candidates for safer, more effective, and affordable medicines to treat leukemia and other cancers. This could improve survival rates for thousands of people every year.

Spacewalks in virtual reality

The International Space Station Experience (ISS Experience) is creating an immersive virtual reality series documenting life and research aboard the space station. Partnering with the ISS National Lab and TIME, a team from Felix and Paul Studios launched a customized 360-degree camera to the space station in December 2018 that crew members have used to record a few hours inside the station every week. Felix and Paul and partner NanoRacks further modified an additional camera to withstand the extreme conditions of space and are launching for use in filming a spacewalk. The new camera will be mounted to the Canadarm2 to capture a spacewalk from start to finish as well as footage of Earth and the exterior of the space station.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through NASA’s Artemis program.

In addition to science and research, this launch will also support commercial space endeavors. Estée Lauder’s New Advanced Night Repair serum will be photographed in the space station’s iconic cupola window as part of NASA’s efforts to enable commercial activities at the space station and develop a robust low-Earth orbit economy. The imagery will be used on the brand’s social media platforms. These opportunities can help catalyze and expand space exploration markets for many businesses.

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

Astronaut Commands Robotic Arm to Reach Out and Capture Cygnus Cargo Craft

The Canadarm2 operated by astronaut Chris Cassidy moves toward the Cygnus resupply ship for its capture. Credit: NASA TV

At 5:32 a.m. EDT, Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA used the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to grapple the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft as Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos monitored Cygnus systems during its approach. Next, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Kalpana Chawla, on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

The Cygnus spacecraft for this resupply mission is named in honor of Kalpana Chawla, who made history at NASA as the first female astronaut of Indian descent. Chawla, who dedicated her life to understanding flight dynamics, lost her life during the STS-107 mission when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere

NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7:30 a.m., and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed later this morning. Cygnus will remain at the orbiting laboratory for a three-month stay.

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

NASA TV Coverage Begins of Cygnus Arrival at Station

The Northrop Grumman (NG)-13 Cygnus vehicle cargo craft is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm shortly before its departure from the International Space Station (ISS)

A Northrop Grumman cargo ship carrying almost 8,000 pounds of scientific investigations, technology demonstrations, commercial products, and other cargo is set to arrive to the International Space Station. The uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft launched at 9:16 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 2 on an Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will capture the spacecraft assisted by Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, who will monitor Cygnus systems during its approach for capture. They will use the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Kalpana Chawla. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.

NASA Television coverage of capture has begun. Watch live online at www.nasa.gov/live

A timeline of remaining Cygnus and space station activities for the earliest capture attempt is below:

Time (EDT)   Event

4:09 a.m.      Cygnus within 300m of Space Station

4:14 a.m.      250m Hold Point Arrival

4:24 a.m.      250m Hold Point Departure

4:35 a.m.      Cygnus within 100m of Space Station

4:51 a.m.      30m Hold Point Arrival

4:58 a.m.      Earliest “Go” for Capture

5:10 a.m.      Capture Point Arrival

5:14 a.m.      “Go” or “No-Go” for Capture

5:20 a.m.      Capture

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