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.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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).


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Astronauts Review Plans, Ready Gear for Tuesday Spacewalk

The International Space Station
The International Space Station with its prominent solar arrays and radiators attached to the truss structure was pictured May 2010 from space shuttle Atlantis.

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer are getting ready for a contingency spacewalk Tuesday morning. Whitson and Fischer are set to begin the spacewalk at 8 a.m. Tuesday for about two hours of maintenance work. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

The spacewalkers are gathering their tools and checking their spacesuits today with assistance from Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet. The trio are also reviewing the contingency spacewalk procedures.

The spacewalk’s primary task is the removal and replacement of a data relay box, known as a Multiplexer-Demultiplexer (MDM), which failed Saturday morning. The MDM controls the functionality of station components such as the solar arrays, radiators, cooling loops and other systems.

Whitson will replace the failed MDM with a spare unit on the Starboard Zero truss. The truss is attached to the space-facing side of the U.S. Destiny lab module and is the centerpiece of the station’s truss structure which houses the solar arrays, radiators and cooling loops. Fischer will install a pair of wireless communications antennas on the Destiny Lab, a task that was postponed during the May 12 spacewalk.

Tuesday’s spacewalk will be the 201st in support of station assembly and maintenance. This will be Commander Whitson’s 10th spacewalk likely moving her to third place all-time in cumulative spacewalking time. Flight Engineer Fischer will be embarking on his 2nd spacewalk.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Station Managers Give Go for Tuesday Spacewalk

The International Space Station
This picture of the International Space Station was photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis as the orbiting complex and the shuttle performed their relative separation in the early hours of July 19, 2011.

International Space Station Program managers have given the green light for a contingency spacewalk on Tuesday by two Expedition 51 crewmembers to change out a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay box on the S0 truss that failed on Saturday morning. The cause of the MDM failure is not known. After a review of spacewalk preparations and crew readiness throughout the day Sunday, the decision was made to press ahead with the spacewalk on Tuesday. It will be conducted by Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA.

The data relay box is one of two fully redundant systems housed in the truss that control the functionality of radiators, solar arrays, cooling loops and other station hardware. The other MDM in the truss is functioning perfectly, providing uninterrupted telemetry routing to the station’s systems. The crew has never been in any danger, and the MDM failure, believed to be internal to the box itself, has had no impact on station activities.

On Sunday morning, Whitson prepared a spare data relay box and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported that the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit. Back on March 30, Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA conducted a spacewalk to install the same MDM with upgraded software tat failed Saturday.

A similar MDM replacement spacewalk was conducted in April 2014 by Expedition 39 crewmembers Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio of NASA.

Tuesday’s spacewalk will last about two hours in duration to replace the failed box. An additional task was added for Fischer to install a pair of wireless communications antennas on the Destiny Lab while Whitson replaces the failed data relay box. The antenna installation task was originally planned for the last spacewalk on May 12.

The contingency spacewalk will be the 201st in support of space station assembly and maintenance and the sixth conducted from the Quest airlock this year.

This will be the 10th spacewalk in Whitson’s career and the second for Fischer. Whitson will be designated as extravehicular crewmember 1 (EV 1) and will wear the suit with the red stripes. Fischer will be extravehicular crewmember 2 (EV 2) and will wear the suit with no stripes.

Tuesday’s spacewalk is expected to begin around 8 a.m. EDT, or earlier, if the crew is running ahead of schedule with its spacewalking preparations. NASA Television coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Spacewalk Planned to Change Out Failed Relay Box

Astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whitson is pictured with the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship behind her during a spacewalk on May 12, 2017.

International Space Station Program managers met Sunday and gave approval for a contingency spacewalk no earlier than Tuesday by two Expedition 51 crewmembers to change out a multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay box on the S0 truss that failed on Saturday morning. The cause of the MDM failure is not known. A final decision on a firm date for the spacewalk and who will conduct the spacewalk will be made later in the day Sunday.

The data relay box is one of two fully redundant systems housed in the truss that control the functionality of radiators, solar arrays, cooling loops and other station hardware. The other MDM in the truss is functioning perfectly, providing uninterrupted telemetry routing to the station’s systems. The crew has never been in any danger and the MDM failure, believed to be internal to the box itself, has had no impact on station activities.

On Sunday, shortly before managers met to discuss the forward plan for dealing with the failed MDM, station commander Peggy Whitson of NASA prepared a spare data relay box and tested components installed in the replacement. She reported that the spare MDM was ready to be brought outside to replace the failed unit. Back on March 30, Whitson and Expedition 50 commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA conducted a spacewalk to install the MDM with upgraded software that failed Saturday.

A similar MDM replacement spacewalk was conducted in April 2014 by Expedition 39 crewmembers Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio.

The spacewalk will last about two hours in duration to replace the failed box. No other tasks are planned for the excursion. It will be the sixth spacewalk conducted from the Quest airlock this year.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Station Managers Work Plan as Controllers Troubleshoot Data Relay Box

Docked Soyuz and Progress Vehicles
The Soyuz MS-03 crew ship (foreground) and the Progress 66 cargo craft are pictured as the International Space Station orbits about 250 miles above Earth.

International Space Station managers will meet Sunday morning to discuss a forward plan for dealing with the apparent failure of one of two fully redundant multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) data relay boxes on the S0 truss of the complex.

External MDM-1 apparently failed at 1:13 p.m. Central time Saturday. Multiple attempts by flight controllers to restore power to the relay box have not been successful. Troubleshooting efforts are continuing. The Expedition 51 crew was informed of the apparent failure and is not in any danger. The MDMs on the truss control the functionality of the station’s solar arrays and radiators among other equipment, and provide power to a variety of other station components.

Because the two MDMs have full redundancy, the apparent loss of MDM-1 has had no impact on station operations.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/