Crew Readying Station for Future Commercial Crew Vehicles

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake
Astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake perform medical work in the Columbus laboratory module.

The three orbiting residents on the International Space Station worked on commercial crew vehicle equipment and lab maintenance today. The crew members also worked on life science and physics research to improve life for citizens on Earth and future space crews.

British astronaut Tim Peake started installing and routing cables that will enable communications with future commercial crew vehicles. The Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles, or C2V2, consists of both radio frequency and hardline connections that will be used during rendezvous, docking and mated activities at the space station.

Commander Tim Kopra installed and tested acoustic equipment in the U.S. Destiny lab module that will listen for air and pressure leaks. The tests will contribute to the development of a system that can differentiate between harmless background noise and potential leaks. Kopra also checked out gear that will support research on biological samples such as small plants, animal cells and microorganisms.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko explored methods to detect and locate micrometeoroid impacts outside the station. The veteran cosmonaut also photographed areas on Earth impacted by natural or man-made disasters for the long-running Uragan experiment.

Station Lifts Orbit Before New Crew Launches

Expedition 47-48 Crew Members
Expedition 47-48 crew members (from left) Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka are pictured before leaving to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan.

The Expedition 47 crew onboard the International Space Station is getting ready to welcome three new crew members when they launch in two weeks. The station will raise its orbit tonight to the correct altitude to receive the new crew that will launch inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin are counting down to their March 18 launch scheduled for 5:26 p.m. EST/10:26 p.m. UTC. They are in Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site checking out their Soyuz spacecraft today. This will be Williams’ fourth trip to the orbital lab, Skripochka’s second and Ovchinin’s first.

The three current space station residents are NASA astronaut and Commander Tim Kopra, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko. The orbiting trio worked today on high-flying plumbing tasks, participated in a variety of space research and exercised to stay healthy and in shape during their long-term mission.

U.S., Russian and British Crew Continuing Station Operations

British Astronaut Tim Peake
British astronaut Tim Peake works on an experiment that explores the risk of breathing in toxic dust during a future crewed mission to Mars.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has returned to Houston and his Expedition 46 crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov have returned to Russia. Their historic mission is over but there are three crew members who are still orbiting Earth on the International Space Station.

The new station commander of Expedition 47, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, worked on the Water Recovery System that converts urine into pure drinking water. After that, he took a look at the humanoid robot, also known as Robonaut2, for some troubleshooting activities.

British astronaut Tim Peake was inside the Columbus lab module today checking out science hardware for a magnetic field experiment and a payload transfer rack. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who has visited the orbital lab five times, worked on Russian life support gear.

A new set of space station crew members is getting ready to join Expedition 47 when they launch March 18 U.S. time. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will ride the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft for a six-hour trip to their new home in space.

Veteran Station Crew Returns to Earth after Historic Mission

Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly
Year in Space crew members Mikhail Kornienko (left) and Scott Kelly work with tiny free-floating satellites known as SPHERES back in January.

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, and Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos landed their Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. EST. Russian recovery teams will help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after their stay in space.

Kelly and Kornienko launched to the space station on March 27, 2015, for their one-year mission. The pair’s return on March 1 marks the end of 340 days aboard the space station and almost 143 million miles during their time in space, roughly the same average distance between Earth and Mars.

With Kelly, Kornienko and Volkov landing in Kazakhstan, Kelly has logged 520 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on space shuttle mission STS-103 in 1998. Kornienko has spent 516 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on Expedition 23/24 in 2010. Volkov arrived at the station on September 4 and has spent 548 days in space on three flights, the first of which was in 2008.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) remain aboard the station to continue research and maintenance. The remainder of the Expedition 47 crew, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin, is scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on March 18.

The one-year mission will provide new insights into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation and stress of long-duration spaceflight. The science will continue for months and years as the data are collected and analyzed, an important step in the first phase of NASA’s efforts to prepare humanity for the journey to Mars. Such Earth-reliant exploration will lead to more complex operations in orbit around the moon where NASA will demonstrate, advance, and validate the capabilities and technologies we will need to send humans to Mars.

Expedition 46 Trio Leaves Station for Ride to Earth

Soyuz TMA-18M Undocks
The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft undocks carrying Expedition 46 crew members Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. Credit: NASA TV

Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov undocked from the station at 8:02 p.m. EST to begin their voyage home. Volkov, the Soyuz commander, is at the controls of the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft.

They will perform a separation burn to increase the distance from the station before executing a 4-minute, 49-second deorbit burn at 10:32 p.m. The crew is scheduled to land at 11:25 p.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

All three crew will participate in Field Tests immediately after landing. Scott Kelly will conduct Functional Task Tests once he is back at NASA’s Johnson Space Center which will assess how the human body responds to living in microgravity for such a long time. Understanding how astronauts recover after long-duration spaceflight is a critical piece in planning for missions to deep space.

The Expedition 47 crew members, Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will continue research and maintenance aboard the station and will be joined March 18 by three additional crew members, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn and landing beginning at 10:15 p.m.

Here is the timeline for Expedition 46’s landing:

Tuesday, March 1

EST                            EVENT

10:15 p.m.                 NASA TV: Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn and landing coverage

10:32 p.m.                  Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn (4 minutes, 49 seconds duration)

10:37 p.m.                  Soyuz deorbit burn complete

10:59 p.m.                  Soyuz module separation (altitude 87 miles)

11:02 p.m.                  Soyuz atmospheric entry (altitude 62 miles)

11:10 p.m.                  Command to open parachute (6.6 miles)

11:25 p.m.                 Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M landing southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

Scott Kelly Hands Over Station Command to Tim Kopra

Expedition 46 Crew Members
Astronaut Scott Kelly (right foreground) hands over command of the International Space Station to astronaut Tim Kopra (left foreground) with their crewmates in the background. Credit: NASA TV

At 3:15 p.m. EST, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra assumed command of the International Space Station from astronaut Scott Kelly of NASA in a traditional Change of Command ceremony. Expedition 47 will officially begin under Kopra’s command when the Soyuz spacecraft carrying Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov undocks from the space station on March 1.

Watch video of the moment of change of command.

Kelly and Kornienko launched to the space station on March 27, 2015, for their one-year mission. The pair’s return on March 1 will mark the end of 340 days aboard the space station. Volkov arrived at the station on September 4.

Join the online conversation about the one-year mission using #YearInSpace.

Follow space station activities on social media via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Final Full Day in Orbit for Volkov and Year In Space Crew

Orbiting Earth at Night
Day 325. Set your sails for the #stars! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace. Credit: https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/699380052312477696

International Space Station Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko, who have been living in space since March of last year, are spending their last full day in orbit today. The duo are returning home Tuesday evening with Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov who will lead the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft back to Earth.

Kelly will hand over command of the orbital laboratory to NASA astronaut Tim Kopra in a ceremony today at 3:10 p.m. EST/8:10 p.m. UTC live on NASA Television. When the Soyuz spacecraft undocks Tuesday, Expedition 47 will officially begin with Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko staying behind with Kopra.

While the homebound trio is wrapping up its mission, the three remaining crewmates will stay in orbit till June and continue their science and maintenance activities. Today, Peake worked inside Japan’s Kibo lab module preparing to increase its stowage capacity. Kopra explored new space exercise techniques to minimize bone and muscle loss during long-term missions. Malenchenko checked on Soyuz communications and worked on several Russian science experiments.

Tune in to NASA TV Tuesday beginning at 4:15 p.m. to watch the live Soyuz crew departure and landing activities. Kelly and Kornienko will have accumulated 340 days in space while Volkov will have been orbiting 182 days when they land Tuesday at 11:25 p.m.