Astronauts Swap Station Command Before Cargo and Crew Ships Depart

The SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi are pictured shortly after commenting on their mission before returning to Earth this weekend. Credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi are pictured shortly after commenting on their mission before returning to Earth this weekend. Credit: NASA TV

The International Space Station has a new commander today as four astronauts prepare for their return to Earth this Saturday. The orbital residents will also send off a Russian cargo craft on Tuesday evening, completing its year-long stay at the orbital lab.

The four SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts have a new splashdown date after mission managers waved off Wednesday’s planned departure due to weather conditions at the landing site. The quartet of Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi, is now targeting a splashdown off the coast of Florida for Saturday at 11:36 a.m. EDT.

NASA TV will begin its continuous live coverage at 3:30 p.m. Friday starting with hatch closure of the Crew Dragon Resilience set for 3:50 p.m. Resilience with its four-person crew will then autonomously undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter at 5:55 p.m. completing a 164-day station research mission.

Walker handed over station command to today Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during the traditional change of command ceremony. Hoshide, Japan’s second station commander, will now lead Expedition 65 until October of this year.

Hoshide arrived at the orbital lab on April 24 aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour with SpaceX Crew-2. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough commanded Endeavour riding alongside Pilot Megan McArthur and Mission Specialists Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet during the near 24-hour trip that began with a launch from Kennedy Space Center.

Staying on the orbiting lab with the four Crew-2 astronauts are NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. The trio docked to the station’s Rassvet module inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship on April 9 and will stay on orbit until October.

Russia’s ISS Progress 75 cargo craft has been packed with trash and discarded gear and its hatch closed for an undocking today at 7:11 p.m. It will leave the Zvezda service module’s aft port and spend another day orbiting Earth on its own before reentering Earth’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe destruction.

Busy Week on Station Ahead of Crew and Cargo Departures

The Space Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor GLover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi, gathered for a news conference on Monday ahead their planned homecoming this week. Credit: NASA TV
The Space Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi, gathered for a news conference on Monday ahead their planned homecoming this week. Credit: NASA TV

Four astronauts aboard the International Space Station are preparing to return to Earth in a few days. The Expedition 65 orbital residents are also conducting space science while preparing to send off a Russian cargo craft.

There are two four-member SpaceX crews aboard the station today including a three-member Soyuz crew. The four SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts are turning their attention to returning to Earth this week after being in space since Nov. 16.

Crew-1 commander Michael Hopkins joined Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi for a conference with mission managers on the ground today. The quartet is working on the proper time to undock the Crew Dragon Resilience from the station and splashdown off the coast of Florida this week.

The station’s newest Crew-2 astronauts are in their first week aboard the station and getting used to life on orbit. Crew Dragon Endeavour commander Shane Kimbrough along with Pilot Megan McArthur and Mission Specialists Thomas Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide docked to the station on Saturday at 5:08 a.m. EDT to begin a six-month space research mission.

As the Crew-2 Dragon was heading for the space station about 1 p.m. Friday, the NASA/SpaceX team was informed that a piece of unidentified space debris might pass close to the Dragon spacecraft. U.S. Space Command, which tracks orbital debris (or space junk), informed the team that the closest approach to dragon would be at 1:43 p.m. Since there wasn’t time to compute and execute a debris avoidance maneuver with confidence, the SpaceX team elected to have the crew put on their pressure suits as part of standard safety protocols. Upon further analysis, the command’s 18th Space Control Squadron determined the object was a false report, and there was never a collision threat to the Crew-Dragon. The crew successfully docked to the station and is continuing its mission in orbit.

Station Commander Walker will hand over station control to Hoshide on Tuesday at 1:25 p.m. Hoshide will assume command of Expedition 65 during the change of command ceremony live on NASA TV.

Staying aboard with Crew-2 are three crewmates who rocketed to the orbiting lab aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship on April 9. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is on his second station mission having served previously as an Expedition 53/54 flight engineer. This is the third station visit for cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy who was last aboard the station in 2013 and 2016. Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is on his first space flight.

There was time for science in space today with the crew servicing combustion research gear and transferring frozen biological samples into science freezers. Hardware for an experiment supporting pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries is also being packed for return to Earth soon.

A Russian cargo craft, the ISS Progress 75, is due to depart from the Zvezda service module on Tuesday at 7:11 p.m. This will complete a year-long stay on the station’s Russian segment one day before it reenters Earth’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe destruction.

SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Join Station Crew

The four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts joined the Expedition 65 crew today bringing the station population to 11. Credit: NASA TV
The four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts joined the Expedition 65 crew today bringing the station population to 11. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet  aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon have arrived at the International Space Station.

Crew-2 joins Expedition 65 crew of crew of Shannon WalkerMichael Hopkins,  Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and the pressurized mating adapter at 7:05 a.m. EDT then opened the hatch to Crew Dragon.

NASA TV will continue to provide live coverage through the welcoming ceremony with leadership from NASA, ESA and JAXA to greet the crew on station. The welcome ceremony is targeted to begin about 7:45 a.m. with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Yamakawa, president, JAXA
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA

Follow along and get more information about the mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/crew-2.  Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew Dragon Docks to Station Day After Launch

The SpaceX Crew Dragon approaches its space station docking port with the Kibo laboratory module in the foreground. Credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Crew Dragon approaches its space station docking port with the Kibo laboratory module in the foreground. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet arrived at the International Space Station Saturday, as the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour docked to the complex at 5:08 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying 264 miles above the Indian Ocean.

Following Crew Dragon’s link up to the Harmony module, the astronauts aboard the Endeavour and the space station will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for 7:15 a.m.

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet will join the Expedition 65 crew of Shannon Walker, Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. For a short time, the number of crew on the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-1 astronauts Walker, Hopkins, Glover, and Noguchi return a few days later.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are continuing to provide live continuous coverage of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.

Follow along and get more information about the mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/crew-2.  Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Station Astronauts Relax Before SpaceX Crew Launches

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket during a sunset at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket during a sunset at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Five Expedition 65 astronauts are off-duty today relaxing one day before four Commercial Crew astronauts launch toward the International Space Station. The orbiting lab’s two cosmonauts focused on Russian science and life support maintenance tasks throughout Thursday.

NASA Commander Shannon Walker and Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Mark Vande Hei of NASA including Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) took it easy on the station today. The quintet is relaxing before gearing up for six days of crew swap activities. They will get back to work on Friday with more space research and preparations for the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts early Saturday.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed busy on Thursday in the station’s Russian segment. The duo partnered up for a study to maximize the effectiveness of space exercise. Novitskiy then checked out power systems while Dubrov worked on life support gear.

SpaceX Crew-2 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Pilot Megan McArthur will launch Friday at 5:49 a.m. to the station aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour. The NASA duo will be flanked by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency. The veteran foursome will dock on Saturday at 5:10 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. NASA TV begins its continuous launch and docking coverage on Friday at 1:30 a.m.

The new quartet’s arrival will set in motion the next crew swap as the SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts turn their attention toward returning to Earth on April 28. Hopkins will lead his crewmates Glover, Walker and Noguchi as they undock from the station then parachute inside the Crew Dragon Resilience to a splashdown off the coast of Florida just a few hours later.

Vande Hei will stay behind with Novitskiy, Dubrov and the four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts. They will remain at the station as the Expedition 65 crew until the next series of crew swaps planned for later this year begins.

Orbital Science Continues as Crew-2 Launch Slips a Day

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endeavour atop stands at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endeavour atop stands at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The seven Expedition 65 crew members will wait an extra day to greet the four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts after their launch slipped due to high winds. The International Space Station residents will stay focused on their human research activities to improve life on Earth and in space.

NASA and SpaceX managers pushed back the launch of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to Friday at 5:49 a.m. EDT. Unfavorable weather conditions were predicted along the flight path after Thursday’s launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet, are now due to arrive at the orbital lab on Saturday at 5:10 a.m. The quartet will dock the Crew Dragon Endeavour to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. NASA TV begins its continuous coverage of the launch and docking activities on Friday at 1:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, space research continues full speed ahead as the station residents help scientists understand how their bodies are adapting to living in microgravity. Four of the station astronauts are also preparing to return to Earth next week in the midst of the science and maintenance work on orbit.

Commander Shannon Walker began her day scanning the leg muscles of Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins using an ultrasound device to observe muscle tone, stiffness and elasticity. The duo then partnered up in the afternoon observing microscopic worms to study how space affects the genetic expression of muscles.

Flight Engineers Victor Glover and Soichi Noguchi took turns wearing virtual reality goggles and clicking a trackball today for a study exploring how astronauts perceive time when living off the Earth. The duo, along Walker and Hopkins, is also getting ready to complete its station mission on April 28. The foursome will parachute to Earth inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience and splashdown off the coast of Florida ending a 162-day space research mission.

Nearly two weeks into their mission, three new Expedition 65 crewmates have stepped into their roles as orbital researchers and troubleshooters. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei collected and stowed his blood, urine and fecal samples for a pair of space biology studies today. Veteran cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy worked on Russian power and plumbing systems. First time cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov checked computer electronics and studied Earth photography techniques and optimal space exercises.

Station Science in Full Swing as SpaceX Crew-2 Nears Launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endeavour atop stands at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endeavour atop stands at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida.

Science is in full swing aboard the International Space Station today as the Expedition 65 crew studies how microgravity affects the human body. Back on Earth, four Commercial Crew astronauts are less than two days away from launching to the orbiting lab from Florida.

Blood samples, muscle scans and exercise were the subjects of Tuesday’s space research to learn how the human body adapts to weightlessness. To start the day, Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi collected their blood samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. Hopkins then joined Flight Engineer Victor Glover for muscle scans using an ultrasound device to understand how space impacts muscle tone, stiffness and elasticity.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who is in his second week aboard the station, attached sensors to his chest and worked out on a stationary bike for another human research experiment during the day. The exercise study measures an astronaut’s aerobic capacity and the effort required to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks.

Another muscle study is observing changes in the genetic expression of muscles that take place in microgravity. Station Commander Shannon Walker of NASA peered at tiny worms in a microscope and recorded video as they wriggled through a specialized device that measures muscle strength. Muscle proteins change in space affecting muscle mass and strength and scientists are exploring therapies to offset this loss.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov juggled a variety of science and maintenance tasks in the station’s Russian segment today. Novitskiy powered down an atmospheric study then configured communications and ventilation gear. Dubrov inspected areas in the Russian modules and studied ways to maximize a workout in space.

NASA and SpaceX mission managers are “go” for Thursday’s launch at 6:11 a.m. EDT of four Crew-2 astronauts to the space station. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will occupy the commander and pilot seats respectively inside the Crew Dragon Endeavour during the ride to their new home in space. They will be flanked by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet when they dock on Friday at 5:30 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. NASA TV will broadcast the Crew-2 mission continuously from launch to docking beginning Thursday at 2 a.m.

Station Crew Busy Ahead of Thursday SpaceX Crew Launch

The four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are pictured during a dress rehearsal at Kennedy Space Center. The Crew Dragon vehicle is atop the Falcon 9 rocket at the launchpad.
The four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are pictured during a dress rehearsal at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon vehicle is atop the Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad.

The next crew to launch to the International Space Station is counting down to liftoff this Thursday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They will be greeted less than 24 hours later by the seven Expedition 65 crew members residing aboard the orbiting lab.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad ready to carry four Commercial Crew astronauts to the space station. The SpaceX Crew-2 quartet is comprised of Commander Shane Kimbrough and Pilot Megan McArthur, both NASA astronauts, and Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.

They are set to launch on Thursday at 6:11 a.m. EDT and dock to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter at 5:30 a.m. on Friday. NASA TV will broadcast the Crew-2 mission continuously from launch to docking beginning Thursday at 2 a.m.

Waiting for the Crew-2 astronauts is station Commander Shannon Walker of NASA along with her Crew-1 crewmates Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA. The orbiting lab’s newest trio, with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, will also be onboard the station to greet the SpaceX Crew-2 foursome.

There is still plenty of research and maintenance occurring on the station as NASA and SpaceX gear up for this Thursday’s launch. Walker serviced the Human Research Facility rack and updated software on the KERMIT microscope that can be operated by station astronauts or scientists on the ground. Hopkins swapped fuel canisters inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

Vande Hei and Glover worked throughout Monday cleaning ventilation systems and crew quarters. Noguchi transferred oxygen to tanks inside the U.S. Quest airlock. Novitskiy and Dubrov, the two cosmonauts, worked on Soyuz crew ship cargo transfers and lab familiarization activities.

Expedition 64 Leaving Station as New SpaceX Crew Preps for Launch

(From left) The Expedition 64 crew is returning to Earth today as the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts prepare for an April 22 launch to the station from Florida.
(From left) The Expedition 64 crew is returning to Earth today as the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts prepare for an April 22 launch to the station from Florida.

Three Expedition 64 crew members are preparing to return to Earth today completing a 185-day research mission on the International Space Station. Meanwhile, four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center preparing for a launch next week to the orbiting lab.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will say goodbye to their station crewmates today. They will enter the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and close the hatch for the final time at 6:10 p.m. EDT. The trio will then undock from the Poisk module at 9:34 p.m. and parachute to Earth about three-and-a-half hours later inside the Soyuz crew ship. NASA TV will broadcast all the homecoming activities live beginning at 5:45 p.m. today.

Four Commercial Crew astronauts left Houston today and arrived in Florida to prepare for an April 22 liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center to the space station. The quartet will take a near 24-hour ride inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour before docking to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter.

Endeavour will be commanded by Shane Kimbrough and piloted by Megan McArthur, both NASA astronauts. They will be accompanied by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency. All four astronauts have previously flown on space shuttles or Soyuz vehicles.

They will be greeted by station Commander and Houston native Shannon Walker of NASA and her SpaceX Crew-1 crewmates Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA. The foursome, having been aboard the station since November, will then turn its attention to an April 28 return to Earth aboard the Crew Dragon Resilience.

Staying behind at the station with the Crew-2 astronauts will be NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. They arrived on April 9 docking their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft to the Rassvet module less than three-and-a-half hours after launching from Kazakhstan.

SpaceX Crew Ship Moves to New Station Port

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. Credit: NASA TV

Crew Dragon Resilience with NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have re-docked to the International Space Station, another first for a commercial crew spacecraft.

Crew Dragon autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:30 a.m. and relocated to the space-facing port at 7:08 a.m.

This is the start of a process that will enable extraction of new solar arrays from the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission’s trunk when it arrives to dock at the Node 2 zenith port following Crew-1 departure.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to launch to the station Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Following a short handover, Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, plan to return home off the coast of Florida about five days after the Crew-2 arrival to the space station as long as mission priorities and weather cooperate.