Repair Tasks Dominate Tuesday for Expedition 46

Image shared by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly with the caption "#Countdown Let's take this 16 sunsets at a time. 8 days to go tomorrow! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace."
Image shared by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly with the caption “#Countdown Let’s take this 16 sunsets at a time. 8 days to go tomorrow! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace.”

The crew of Expedition 46 was engaged in a variety of repair tasks today across the orbiting laboratory. ESA astronaut Tim Peake replaced cables in the station’s Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, the primary tool for astronaut resistive exercise vital for maintaining bone and muscle mass while in microgravity. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra worked to replace key components in the station’s Water Processing Assembly.

Peake also set up units for the NASA Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL), which is capable of supporting life science research on microorganisms, small organisms, animal cells, tissue cultures and small plants.

Meanwhile, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are just one week away from the conclusion of their one-year mission. The pair are set to land in Kazakhstan at 11:27 p.m. EST March 1.

New Technology Debuts as Crew Begins Week

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly performing checkouts for NASA's Project Sidekick, which makes use of Microsoft's HoloLens device.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly performing checkouts for NASA’s Project Sidekick, which makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens device.

Over the weekend, Expedition 46 commander Scott Kelly worked with ground controllers to successfully checkout the Sidekick device and internet connectivity. The project, which makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens device, aims to enable station crews with assistance when and where they need it. This new capability could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space.

Also on Saturday, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus resupply vehicle successfully deorbited at approximately 10:53 a.m. EST.

The crew engaged in a variety of scientific experiments on Monday, including research into colloidal structures vital to the design of advanced materials, human research on astronaut heart health and overall body changes, and protecting human fitness during long-duration spaceflight.

Kelly and his fellow Expedition 46 crew mates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov are continuing to prepare for their landing on March 1, U.S. time. The landing will wrap up Kelly and Kornienko’s yearlong stay in space.

Spaceship Takes Out Trash Before One-Year Crew Goes Home

Space Station Configuration
There are now four spacecraft docked to the International Space Station after the Cygnus left Friday morning. The next spacecraft to leave will be the Soyuz TMA-18M docked to the Poisk module on March 1.

The Expedition 46 crew took out the trash today when it released the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft from the grips of the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. In less than two weeks, another spacecraft will leave returning three crew members back to Earth.

The Cygnus was filled with trash and discarded gear over the last few days before the hatches were closed Thursday. Ground controllers then remotely guided the Canadarm2 to grapple Cygnus and detach it from the Unity module.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra commanded the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus today at 7:26 a.m. EST when it began gracefully departing the vicinity of the station. Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will guide Cygnus into the Earth’s atmosphere Saturday morning where it will safely burn up high over the Pacific Ocean.

Kelly and a pair of cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov now turn their attention to their March 1 homecoming. They will be packing the Soyuz TMA-18M with science experiments and personal items for the ride home. Kelly and Kornienko will be completing 340 consecutive days in space, while Volkov will be wrapping up 182 days in orbit.

Cygnus Departs Station after Robotic Release

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is released from the International Space Station’s Canadarm2. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 46 astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 7:26 a.m. EST while the space station was flying above Bolivia. Earlier, ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center had maneuvered Cygnus into place for its departure.

Once the spacecraft is a safe distance from the station, its engines will fire twice, pushing it into Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. The deorbit burn and re-entry of Cygnus will not air on NASA TV.

The Cygnus resupply craft arrived to the space station on Dec. 9, following Dec. 6 launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s fourth NASA-contracted commercial station resupply mission.

Experiments delivered on Cygnus supported NASA and other research investigations during Expeditions 45 and 46, in areas such as biology, biotechnology, and physical and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:

Watch Live Coverage of the Cygnus Release from Station

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured just after being released from the space station in August 2014.

NASA Television is providing live coverage now of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station. Release from the space station’s Unity module is scheduled for 7:25 a.m. EST / 12:25 p.m. UTC.

Watch the departure live on NASA TV or at:

The Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station Dec. 9, delivering more than 7,000 pounds of cargo to support dozens of science experiments from around the world.

For more information about Orbital ATK’s mission, visit: For more information about the International Space Station, and its research and crews, visit:

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit:

Cargo Ship and Crew Departure Preps Underway

Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft
Astronaut Tim Peake photographed the Cygnus cargo spacecraft with its umbrella-like solar arrays. The Soyuz TMA-19M crew spaceship is seen to the left. Credit:

The crew aboard the International Space Station is set to say farewell to a pair of spaceships over the next several days. The first spaceship, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft, is being readied for its release Friday morning. After that, the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft will return to Earth March 1 bringing home three crew members.

Mission controllers in Houston are finalizing preparations before the 57.7 foot Canadarm2 robotic arm detaches Cygnus from the Unity module. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra will command the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus at 7:25 a.m. EDT Friday. Finally, Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will command Cygnus to move away from the station and head towards Earth to burn up high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Kelly, along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, is in his final days of a mission that began in March of last year. The pair will take a ride home with three-time station resident Sergey Volkov who has been aboard the orbital lab since September. When the trio lands in Kazakhstan March 1, Kelly and Kornienko will have lived in space continuously for 340 days. Volkov’s mission will have lasted 182 days.

While the crew is busy with spacecraft departure activities, British astronaut Tim Peake worked on a variety of experiments today. He partnered with Kopra on a pair of experiments, one looking at how astronauts work on detailed interactive tasks and another researching cognitive performance. Peake also studied the thermophyscial properties of different metals inside Japan’s Electrostatic Levitation Furnace.

Station Boosts Orbit before Heavy Spacecraft Traffic Period

Solar Arrays and Earth's Limb
The International Space Station’s solar arrays and the Earth’s limb were photographed during a Jan. 15, 2016, spacewalk.

The International Space Station raised its orbit again today as three crew members prepare for a March 1 landing while another trio gets ready for a March 18 launch. Meanwhile, advanced research continued inside the orbital laboratory to improve life on Earth and for future space residents.

Today’s orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for the March 1 undocking of Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko. Their undocking will leave the Poisk module’s docking port vacant where a trio of Expedition 47 crew members will dock two-and-a-half weeks later inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.

Today, the Expedition 46 crew participated in a variety of human research exploring how the heart adapts to life in space, the risk of atherosclerosis in astronauts and how microgravity affects an astronaut’s vision. The crew also sampled the station’s air and surfaces for microbes to learn how to prevent contamination in future spacecraft.

Another spacecraft is being prepared for departure Friday morning when it will be released from the grips of the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm. The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is being loaded with trash before NASA astronauts Kelly and Tim Kopra release Cygnus using the robotics controls inside the seven-window cupola. NASA Television will cover the activities live Friday beginning at 7 a.m. EST.

Station Ramps Up for March Crew Swap

Aurora over Canada
Astronaut Scott Kelly photographed and tweeted this image of an aurora over Canada. Credit: @StationCDRKelly

The crew aboard the International Space Station is getting ready for a busy traffic month set to begin March 1. Meanwhile, advanced microgravity research and spacesuit work continues inside the orbital lab.

One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are preparing to come home March 1 after 340 days in space. Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov will return with them inside the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft. Then on March 18, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft and join Expedition 47.

Kelly harvested Zinnia plants Monday grown for the Veggie experiment as scientists validate the botany gear to determine the effectiveness of growing plants in space. The Expedition 46 commander also scrubbed spacesuit cooling loops today after inspecting another spacesuit for leaks Monday.

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake joined Kelly at the end of the work day for eye checks. Earlier in the day Kopra studied the flammability of different textiles in space while Peake participated in educational science activities.

Spacesuit Work Wraps Up as Robotic Arm Preps for Cygnus Release

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly works on a spacesuit inside the Quest airlock.

Two astronauts are wrapping up spacesuit maintenance today while a variety of human research takes place inside the International Space Station. Outside the station, the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm is being prepared for the upcoming release of a space freighter.

Commander Scott Kelly and astronaut Time Peake from the European Space Agency are finalizing gear replacement work on a U.S. spacesuit today. The spacesuit will be inspected Monday before it is certified for return to service.

On the life science front, Kelly joined cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for eye and heart scans with an ultrasound. The scans are part of the ongoing Ocular Health study seeking to understand visual impairment some astronauts have experienced during their space missions.

Kopra earlier attached sensors to himself for the Sprint study which seeks to reduce muscle and bone loss with new exercise techniques while living in space. Peake collected his own breath sample for the Marrow experiment that observes how microgravity affects bone marrow and blood cells.

Ground controllers are maneuvering the Canadarm2 in position for the Feb. 19 grapple and release of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. The Cygnus will be released for a fiery destruction high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean after being attached to the Unity module for over two months.


Crew Studies Space Exercise Techniques and Human Research

Grand Canyon Area of Arizona
A student on Earth programmed a space station camera, the Sally Ride EarthKAM, to capture this image of the Grand Canyon area of Arizona… View original image

The Expedition 46 crew continued studying how living off the Earth affects exercise, the biological clock and fire today. The orbiting space residents also worked on a spacesuit and other lab maintenance tasks.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra scanned his legs mid-morning with an ultrasound for the Sprint study exploring exercise techniques for crews working in space for long periods. Kopra then moved on to fire research observing how different materials burn in space potentially improving fire safety on Earth and in space.

Kelly then joined British astronaut Tim Peake for ongoing gear replacement work inside a U.S. spacesuit for the rest of the day. Peake ended his shift attaching sensors to himself so doctors can monitor how a crew member adapts to 16 sunrises and sunsets a day while in low-Earth orbit.

The three cosmonauts worked on their share of station science and upkeep today. Sergey Volkov looked at the human digestive system while Yuri Malenchenko explored interactive ways to train crews on orbit. Mikhail Kornienko changed a lens on camera that students can control to photograph Earth features.