Japan Preps Next Cargo Mission

Japan's fifth HII-Transfer Vehicle
Japan’s fifth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-5) was pictured Sept. 23, 2015 during Expedition 45.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is getting the last cargo mission of 2016 ready for launch next week. It’s sixth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-6) nick-named “Kounotori” has been in processing for months and will lift off Dec. 9 from Tanegashima, Japan for a three-day trip to the station. The payload aboard HTV-6 will include potable water, fresh food, seven Cubesats, a second small satellite deployer, hardware for new experiments, high-definition video cameras and lithium-ion batteries that will replace older nickel-hydrogen batteries.

Onboard the station, the crew collected blood samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. The blood draws were for a set of experiments exploring how microgravity affects crew health and the long-term risk of plaque build-up in artery walls, or atherosclerosis, in astronauts.

The crew also checked out science hardware aimed at studying the effects of fire and heat in space. A gear replacement task in the Combustion Integrated Rack was put on hold due to an obstruction in the device and is currently being investigated. Samples were also removed from the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that were heated and observed to understand the thermophysical properties of materials heated to high temperatures.


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Anomaly During Third Stage Operation in Russian Cargo Craft

Progress Rocket at Launch Pad
The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: RSC Energia

Launch of the ISS Progress 65 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred at 9:51 a.m. EST (8:51 p.m. Baikonur time). An anomaly occurred sometime during the third stage operation. As we get updates from Roscosmos, we will provide them.

  • The Expedition 50 crew was informed of the Progress 65 mission’s status.
  • Read the statement from Roscosmos

The Expedition 50 crew is safe aboard the station. Consumables aboard the station are at good levels.

An H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch to the space station on Friday, Dec. 9.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Progress 65 on Twitter, follow @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Russian Cargo Craft Launches, Controllers Wait for Status

Progress Spaceship Launches
The Progress 65 cargo spaceship launched on time Thursday morning from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

Launch of the ISS Progress 65 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred at 9:51 a.m. EST (8:51 p.m. Baikonur time). Flight controllers are monitoring the spacecraft at this time and we are standing by for additional updates on Progress 65.

The Russian Progress spacecraft is carrying more than 2.6 tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 50 crew aboard the International Space Station.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Progress 65 on Twitter, follow @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Year-End Cargo Shipments Prepped Amidst Space Research

International Space Station Configuration
As of Nov. 21, 2016, there are three spacecraft are docked at the station including the Soyuz MS-02 and MS-03 crew vehicles and the Progress 64 resupply ship. Two more spaceships will arrive in December. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready to receive a shipment of space supplies Saturday after Russia launches the Progress 65 cargo craft Thursday morning. The final space delivery of the year will be Dec. 13 when the Kounotori HTV-6 resupply ship arrives four days after its launch from Tanegashima, Japan.

Inside the International Space Station, Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson installed aerosol samplers to collect airborne particles for analysis on Earth. Scientists will study the samples using specialized techniques with powerful microscopes.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is setting up science gear inside Japan’s Kibo lab module to study the fundamental physics of surface tension where liquid and gas meet. The experiment known as Marangoni Ultrasonic Velocity Profiler-2 may improve industrial processes and products on Earth and in space.

New astronaut Thomas Pesquet, from the European Space Agency, strapped himself into the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System chair for a study of his calf muscle and Achilles tendon. On Earth, that area carries loads from the entire human body. He conducted a series of ankle exercises while attached to sensors to monitor any changes in that area caused by living in space.


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New Crew Begins First Week Aboard Station

The Soyuz MS-03 Spacecraft
The newly-docked Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is next to one of the Cygnus’ round Ultraflex solar arrays in the left foreground. The Cygnus cargo craft departed the station two days after the Soyuz arrived.

Three new crew members are in their first week aboard the International Space Station. They joined the Expedition 50 crew Saturday bringing the occupancy of the orbital lab to six humans.

The two U.S. astronauts, three cosmonauts and one French astronaut are getting ready for Thanksgiving in space. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is beginning her third station mission and will spend the traditional U.S. holiday orbiting above the Earth for the third time.

Meanwhile, new crew members Whitson, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and first time space-flyer Thomas Pesquet and are familiarizing themselves with their home on orbit where they will live for the next six months. Whitson was last onboard the station during Expedition 16 in 2008 before Japan’s Kibo lab module had been delivered and the final solar arrays had been installed.

Whitson spent several hours repairing the Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) today, one of two functional toilets aboard the station. She replaced several components after a leak was detected in the WHC on Monday.

Novitskiy’s previous mission was Expedition 34 which ended in 2013. Pesquet is on his first spaceflight and is the fourth astronaut from France to visit the space station.


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New Trio Arrives to Join Expedition 50 Crew

Soyuz Approaches Station
A camera on the space station observes the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft moments before docking to the Rassvet module. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) have docked to the International Space Station. After orbiting the Earth for approximately two days, their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft docked with the space station’s Rassvet module at 4:58 p.m. EST.

When hatches between the Soyuz and space station open at 7:35 p.m., the three crew members will join Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, who have been aboard the complex since October. NASA TV coverage for hatch opening will begin at 6:45 p.m.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/spacestation/. To join the online conversation about the International Space Station, follow @Space_Station.

Soyuz Rocket Blessed Before Launch, Cygnus Prepped for Departure

Orthodox Priest Blesses Rocket and Media
An Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz rocket and members of the media Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Soyuz rocket that will launch three new Expedition 50 crew members to space Thursday was blessed at its launch pad today. Back in space, the Canadarm2 grappled the Cygnus cargo craft ahead of its release early next week.

An Orthodox priest performed the traditional blessing of the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft today before its launch to the International Space Station. Peggy Whitson of NASA, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA are in quarantine at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Kazakhstan and are scheduled to liftoff Thursday at 3:20 p.m. EST on a two-day trip to their new home in space.

The new trio will dock to the Rassvet module Saturday afternoon and join Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko who have been in space since Oct. 19. The new Soyuz crew ship will make four spacecraft docked at the orbital complex before the Cygnus resupply ship departs two days later.

Cygnus will end its month-long stay at the Unity module on Monday when Kimbrough commands the Canadarm2 to release the cargo craft at 8:20 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the release and departure of Cygnus beginning at 8 a.m. Before Cygnus begins its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere it will stay in space a few more days to release a set of ocean ship tracking CubeSats and conduct the Saffire-II spacecraft fire study.


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New Crews Announced Before Next Crew Launches

Expedition 50 Crew Members
Expedition 50 crew members (from left) Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet stand in front of the first stage engines of their Soyuz booster rocket.

NASA announced today the crew members chosen to launch on four upcoming missions to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, three Expedition 50 crew members are orbiting Earth today working on cargo operations, human research and awaiting the launch and docking of three new crew members this weekend.

New space station crews were officially announced today that will launch to the station in 2017. Four NASA astronauts, four Roscosmos cosmonauts and one astronaut each from the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to launch in March, May, September and October of next year.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is nearly complete with Cygnus cargo transfers and will close the hatch this weekend. The Cygnus space freighter from Orbital ATK is on track to be released early next week from the Unity module. NASA TV will cover the event live when the Canadarm2 grapples Cygnus and releases it for departure Monday at 8:20 a.m. EST.

Flight engineers Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov recorded their food and medicine consumption again today for the Morze hormone and immune experiment. Borisenko then moved on to transferring cargo from the Progress 64 resupply ship while Ryzhikov checked lights and cleaned vents and fans.

Back on Earth, two veteran station residents and a new space flyer are two days away from launching aboard a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to begin a five-month mission on the orbital complex. First-time European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who will be on her third mission, and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, who will be on his second mission, Nov. 17 when they lift off and take a two-day trip to their new home in space.


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Soyuz Rocket Rolls Out for Thursday Crew Launch

The Soyuz MS-03 Rocket
The Soyuz MS-03 rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The rocket that will launch the next crew to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad today at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On orbit, the three Expedition 50 crew members are conducting human research, measuring radiation levels and wrapping up Cygnus cargo operations.

Veteran space travelers Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos along with space newcomer Thomas Pesquet from ESA are in Kazakhstan getting ready for their mission in space. Their Soyuz MS-03 rocket stands at its launch pad counting down to a launch Thursday at 3:20 p.m. EST. The new crew members will take a two-day trip to the orbital complex where they will live and work until May.

Shane Kimbrough, NASA astronaut and Expedition 50 Commander, is nearing the end of Cygnus cargo transfers as he readies the resupply vehicle for its Nov. 21 release from the Unity module. Afterward, Cygnus will stay in space a few more days to release a set of tiny weather satellites and conduct the Saffire-II spacecraft fire study.

Cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko, who is on his second space station mission, logged his food and medicine intake today for the Morze hormone and immune experiment. Kimbrough handed Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov a collection of radiation detectors that only monitor neutrons and will be processed for the RaDI-N experiment.


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Oxygen Generator Back Online as Soyuz Nears Launch

At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 50-51 crew members Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (left), Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center) and Peggy Whitson of NASA (right) pose for pictures Nov. 10 during preflight activities. They will launch Nov. 18, Baikonur time, on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft for a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky
At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 50-51 crew members Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (left), Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center) and Peggy Whitson of NASA (right) pose for pictures Nov. 10 during preflight activities. They will launch Nov. 18, Baikonur time, on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft for a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

The three Expedition 50 crew members today are working to unload cargo and set up new computer servers onboard the station. In Kazakhstan, the next trio to launch to the International Space are continuing their final prelaunch preparations.

Commander Shane Kimbrough completed work on Wednesday on the Oxygen Generation System (OGS) in the U.S. side of the International Space Station. The OGS was down for maintenance as he and ground specialists troubleshot the device due to a low voltage signature. Teams in Mission control conducted checkouts of the system today and reactivated it successfully, enabling OGS to once more supply oxygen to the space station crew. Final checkouts on the system are on the plan for Friday.

Today, Kimbrough set up new laptop computers to allow ground specialist to load required software. He also unloaded additional cargo from the attached Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko performed routine maintenance on the ventilation system inside the Russian segment and took part in the Pilot-T experiment, which assesses the cosmonauts ability to perform complex tasks at different points during their spaceflight.

Three new station crew members are in Kazakhstan preparing for a Nov. 17 launch to the station. Veteran station residents Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, along with first-time space flyer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency will take a two-day, 34-orbit trip to the station after their liftoff and stay in space till May. The group reviewed flight plans and took part in traditional preflight events, including a media day and the ceremonial raising of flags and planting of trees.


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