Expedition 51 Crew Back on Earth After 196 Days

Soyuz MS-03 Landing
The Expedition 51 crew descends to a parachuted landing inside the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. Credit: European Space Agency

After spending 196 days in space, Expedition 51 crew members Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) landed their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft in Kazakhstan at approximately 10:10 a.m. EDT. Russian recovery teams are helping the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after their stay in space.

The duo arrived at the International Space Station on Nov.19, 2016, along with NASA’s Peggy Whitson, who will remain on the space station and return home with NASA’s Jack Fischer and Roscosmos’ Fyodor Yurchikhin. That landing is targeted for September.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 52 began aboard the station under Yurchikhin’s command. Along with Whitson and Fischer of NASA, the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members. Randy Bresnik of NASA, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli of ESA are scheduled to launch July 28 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.

You can follow the crew’s activities in space on social media. Follow space station activities via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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Expedition 51 Duo Undocks and Heads to Earth

Soyuz MS-03 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft (foreground) is seen docked to the Rassvet module at the International Space Station.

After spending 194 days aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 51 crew members Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) undocked from the station at 6:47 a.m. EDT to begin their voyage home. The undocking marked the official start of Expedition 52 aboard the space station.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the Soyuz deorbit burn and landing beginning at 8:45 a.m.

The duo is set to land in Kazakhstan at 10:10 a.m. (8:20 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Together, the Expedition 51 crew members pursued hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory. Their return will wrap up 196 days in space, since their launch on Nov. 17, 2016.


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Dragon Launch Slips to Saturday, Cygnus Departs Sunday

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon at Launch Pad
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon cargo craft was scrubbed today because of lightning in the vicinity of the launch pad. The next launch opportunity for SpaceX is on Saturday, June 3 at 4:07pm Central time, 5:07pm Eastern time. NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:30pm CT, 4:30pm ET.

This clears the way for the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft to be unberthed from the nadir port of Unity on Sunday, June 4. NASA TV coverage on Sunday of Cygnus’ departure will begin at 0730 CT. Release of Cygnus is scheduled at 0810 CT. Cygnus will remain in orbit for a week in support of scientific experiments and will deorbit on Sunday, June 11.

A launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Saturday will result in its arrival at the ISS on Monday, June 5 for a capture at 0900 CT. NASA TV coverage will begin at 0730 CT. There will be no installation coverage.


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Station Changes Command Before Friday Crew Return

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson (front row, center) hands over station command to cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin (front row, right). To Whitson’s right is astronaut Jack Fischer. Behind the trio are (from left) Expedition 51 crew members Thomas Pesquet and Oleg Novitskiy who return to Earth on Friday. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson handed over command of the International Space Station to Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin in a traditional Change of Command ceremony, which began at 11:50 a.m. EDT. Expedition 52 will officially begin under Yurchikhin’s command when the Soyuz spacecraft carrying Expedition 51 Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) undocks from the space station early Friday morning.

Their return will wrap up 196 days in space, since their launch on Nov. 17, 2016.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.

You can follow the crew’s activities in space on social media. Follow space station activities via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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Station Ramps Up for Cardiac Research Loaded on Dragon

Liftoff of the SpaceX Dragon
The liftoff of the SpaceX Dragon atop its Falcon 9 rocket is pictured Feb. 19, 2017, from the Kennedy Space Center. More info… https://www.nasa.gov/feature/spacex-dragon-launches-arrivals-and-departures

The Expedition 51 crew members are awaiting a new space shipment and getting ready for new science experiments. The crew is also preparing for the departure of a pair of International Space Station flight engineers.

The Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft to space is resting at its launch pad today at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon will lift off Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EDT on a three-day trip to the station’s Harmony module.

Inside the commercial space freighter is nearly 6,000 pounds of crew supplies, station hardware and science experiments. One of those experiments, Cardiac Stem Cells, will research how stem cells affect cardiac biology and tissue regeneration in space. The station’s Microgravity Science Glovebox is being readied for the study which may provide insight into accelerated aging due to living in microgravity.

On Friday, cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy will command the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to return him and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet back to Earth after 196 days in space. The two crew members are packing their spacecraft with research samples, hardware and personal items for the near 3.5 hour ride home. The duo will undock from the Rassvet module at 6:47 a.m. EDT. They will then parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:10 a.m. (8:10 p.m. Kazakh time).


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Station Duo Ready to Depart Station Before Dragon’s Arrival

NASA Astronaut Jack Fischer
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works inside the cupola with the Soyuz and Cygnus spaceships right outside the windows.

The International Space Station is preparing this week for the departure of two Expedition 51 crew members and the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon.

Expedition 52 will begin Friday morning when two Expedition 51 crew members depart the station inside the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and astronaut Thomas Pesquet will return to Earth and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan after a 196-day mission in space.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer along with cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin will continue their stay aboard the orbital complex. Whitson will hand over station command to Yurchikhin the day before the Expedition 51 crew leaves.

Dragon is due to launch Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EDT atop a Falcon 9 rocket for a three-day trip to the space station. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer will command the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon when it arrives Sunday morning. Afterward, robotics controllers on the ground will remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module.

Dragon is hauling nearly 6,000 pounds of cargo to the station including new science payloads, crew supplies, vehicle hardware, spacewalk equipment and computer gear. Three new experiments are being delivered for installation on the station’s exterior. The external research gear will study flexible solar arrays, the physics of neutron stars and new ways to assist with navigation, agriculture, emergency response and petroleum exploration.


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CubeSats Deployed Before Upcoming Crew and Cargo Missions

Trio of CubeSats
A trio of CubeSats, with Earth’s limb and thin atmosphere in the background, is seen shortly after being ejected from a small satellite deployer outside Japan’s Kibo lab module.

More CubeSats were ejected from the International Space Station this week to explore the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Meanwhile, the Expedition 51 crew trained for a crew departure and cargo craft arrival.

NanoRacks, a private company with facilities on the space station, deployed a total of 17 CubeSats over two days this week from a satellite deployer outside the Japanese Kibo lab module. The tiny satellites will orbit Earth for up to two years observing Earth’s thermosphere and studying space weather.

Two Expedition 51 crew members are returning to Earth June 2 completing a 196 day mission in space. Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet practiced their descent today in their Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. The duo are expected to land in Kazakhstan next Friday at 10:10 a.m. EDT.

The Dragon resupply ship, from SpaceX and loaded with brand new science experiments, will launch June 1 and arrive at the station June 4. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer will be at the robotics controls commanding the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Dragon. He and station Commander Peggy Whitson familiarized themselves today with the Dragon capture procedures and lighting conditions inside the cupola.


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Dragon Training and Body Measurements on Station Today

SpaceX Dragon
SpaceX is celebrating five years of commercial resupply missions to the space station. The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is seen Feb. 23, 2017, moments before being captured with Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The Expedition 51 crew trained today for the next SpaceX Dragon mission due early next month. The five crew members also explored how microgravity affects their bodies to help scientists keep astronauts healthy in space.

The next Dragon mission, SpaceX CRS-11, is scheduled to launch June 1 to deliver new space science gear to the International Space Station. The commercial cargo craft will arrive three days later to begin its stay attached to the Harmony module for cargo operations.

NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer trained today to familiarize themselves with the robotic procedures during Dragon’s rendezvous and approach. Fischer, with Whitson’s assistance, will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Dragon when it reaches a point 10 meters away from the station. Ground controllers will then take over and remotely install Dragon to Harmony with the Canadarm2.

The crew began its day taking body size measurements studying how an astronaut’s shape changes during a spaceflight. Observations may result in new designs for space clothing and spacecraft work areas to improve mission effectiveness.


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Short Spacewalk Complete After Successful Installation Work

Astronaut Jack Fischer
Astronaut Jack Fischer waves while attached to the Destiny laboratory during a spacewalk to replace a failed data relay box and install a pair wireless antennas.

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 10:06 a.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, which lasted two hours and 46 minutes, the two astronauts successfully replaced a computer relay box, and installed a pair of antennas on station to enhance wireless communication for future spacewalks.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,250 hours and 41 minutes working outside the station during 201 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. This was the 10th spacewalk for Whitson, who moves into third place all-time for cumulative spacewalking time, and the second for Fischer.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.


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Two NASA Astronauts Begin Station Spacewalk

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured May 12, 2017, during the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station.

Two NASA astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:20 a.m., EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about 2.5 hours. Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will replace a critical computer relay box.

The relay box, known as a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM), is equipped with upgraded software installed in the truss March 30 during a spacewalk by Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough. Whitson prepared a spare data relay box on Sunday and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit.

While Whitson is replacing the MDM, Fischer will install a pair of antennas on the U.S. Destiny Laboratory module to enhance wireless communication capability for future spacewalks. That task was deferred from Whitson and Fischer’s May 12 spacewalk.

Whitson is wearing the suit with red stripes as extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1). Fischer, extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), is wearing the suit with no stripes.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.


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