Expedition 53 is fully staffed after two NASA astronauts and a Roscosmos cosmonaut completed a near six hour flight to the International Space Station overnight. Now the station residents will begin focusing their attention on the release of the SpaceX Dragon early Sunday.
Astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei and their Soyuz Commander Alexander Misurkin began a five-month mission aboard the station when their spacecraft hatch opened early Wednesday morning. The new trio joins Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.
The SpaceX Dragon is being packed with science experiments and station gear for analysis back on Earth. Dragon will be robotically detached from the Harmony module and released for a splashdown and retrieval in the Pacific Ocean Sunday morning. NASA TV will cover the release activities beginning Sunday at 4:30 a.m. EDT.
Three new crew members have arrived to the International Space Station. The hatches on the space station and Soyuz MS-06 opened at 1:08 a.m. EDT, marking the arrival to the orbiting laboratory for Expedition 53-54 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos.
Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the ESA (European Space Agency) welcomed the new crew members aboard their orbital home.
Momentarily, the crew will speak to their family and friends from Baikonur in a welcoming ceremony that will air live on NASA TV.
The crew will support more than 250 experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.
Bresnik, Ryazanskiy and Nespoli are scheduled to remain aboard the station until December and Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin are scheduled to return in February 2018.
You can follow the crew’s activities and experiences in space on social media:
The Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station at 10:55 p.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying 252 statute miles over the Pacific Ocean off to the west of Chile.
Aboard the space station, Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) will welcome Soyuz crew members Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.
Watch the hatch opening targeted for 12:40 a.m. and welcome ceremony live on NASA TV beginning at 12 a.m. on the agency’s website.
The Soyuz MS-06 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 12 (3:17 a.m. Baikonur time on Sept. 13). About five minutes prior to launch, the space station flew over the launch site and was flying about 250 miles above southern Russia, just north of the northeast border with Mongolia, at the time of launch. Expedition 53-54 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos are now safely in orbit.
The crew will orbit Earth four times en route to the spacecraft’s arrival and docking to the space station, at 10:57 p.m. Tune in at 10:15 p.m. to NASA Television or the agency’s website to watch the docking live.
Below is the docking timeline in EDT:
10:15 p.m. NASA TV: Docking coverage begins
10:57 p.m. Scheduled time for docking
12 a.m. NASA TV: Hatch opening coverage begins
12:40 a.m. Hatches scheduled to open
This crew marks the first long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the International Space Station. Highlights of upcoming investigations include demonstrating the benefits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in a microgravity environment, a new study looking to slow or reverse muscle atrophy in astronauts during spaceflight and exploring the ability of a synthetic bone material capable of adhering bone to metal within minutes to accelerate bone repair.
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 53-54 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-06. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 12 (3:17 a.m. Baikonur time on Sept. 13). Live launch coverage will begin at 4:15 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The three will join Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the ESA (European Space Agency). The Expedition 53 crew members will contribute to more than 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:
12:47:02pm 4:30 Crew suit up
1:12:02pm 4:05 Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
1:47:02pm 3:30 Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
2:12:02pm 3:05 First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
2:17:02pm 3:00 Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
2:22:02pm 2:55 Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
2:42:02pm 2:35 Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
2:52:02pm 2:25 Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
3:42:02pm 1:35 Descent module hardware tested
3:57:02pm 1:20 Hatch closed; leak checks begin 4:15:00pm 1:02:02 NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
4:17:02pm 1:00 Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation 4:30:00pm :47:02 NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
4:32:02pm :45 Pad service structure components lowered
4:33:02pm :44 Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
4:40:02pm :37 Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
4:43:02pm :34 Emergency escape system armed
5:02:02pm :15 Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
5:07:02pm :10 Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
5:10:02pm :07 Pre-launch operations complete
5:11:02pm :06 Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready 5:11:54pm :05:08 The ISS flies directly over the Baikonur Cosmodrome
5:12:02pm :05 Commander’s controls activated
5:13:02pm :04 Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
5:14:02pm :03 Propellant drainback
5:14:17pm :02:45 Booster propellant tank pressurization
5:15:32pm :01:30 Ground propellant feed terminated
5:16:02pm :01:00 Vehicle to internal power
5:16:27pm :00:35 First umbilical tower separates Auto sequence start
5:16:32pm :00:30 Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
5:16:47pm :00:15 Second umbilical tower separates
5:16:50pm :00:12 Launch command issued Engine Start Sequence Begins
5:16:52pm :00:10 Engine turbopumps at flight speed
5:16:57pm :00:05 Engines at maximum thrust 5:17:02pm :00:00 LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-05 TO THE ISS 5:25:47pm +8:45 THIRD STAGE SHUTDOWN; ORBITAL INSERTION
The next update will be after the crew safely reaches orbit.
The three orbiting Expedition 53 crew members explored growing new lung tissue, foods that affect the immune system and microscopic particles suspended in liquids. Another trio of crew members is just a day away from launching to the International Space Station and beginning a five-and-a-half month stay in space.
Over the weekend, the crew wrapped up the Lung Tissue experiment. The study is using the latest bioengineering techniques to grow lung tissue in space and observe how microgravity affects the process.
Another study is looking at which foods can improve the gut environment and immune system while living in space. Scientists on Earth will take a look at microbe and metabolite samples taken from mice living aboard the station to determine the diet’s effectiveness.
A specialized microscope is being worked on inside the Fluids Integrated Rack. The advanced light imaging microscope facility will be used for the upcoming ACE-T6 study that is researching ways to improve the manufacturing process for consumer products. The microscope will be used to peer at tiny particles suspended in liquids, called colloids, which affect the way products separate, clump together and spoil.
Back on Earth, two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are a day away from beginning their Expedition 53-54 mission. Soyuz Commander Alexander Misurkin will lead the near six-hour flight from Kazakhstan to the station’s Poisk docking compartment with Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei.
Today’s science tasks included an inspection on an advanced microscope and readying a magnetic field experiment. The crew also worked on a failed electrical device that was robotically transferred to the Kibo laboratory module in early August.
Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli removed a failed Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU) from Kibo’s airlock today. The duo swapped out some electronics gear in the MBSU and tested the device while it was connected to a laptop computer.
Nespoli started his day setting up the Magvector magnetic field experiment for operations set to begin next week. The study investigates how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with an electrical conductor potentially improving electrical experiments in space.
As Bresnik was wrapping up his MBSU maintenance work, Nespoli began inspecting advanced microscope gear. The variety of new Light Microscopy Module gear had been recently launched and was being checked for shattered materials.
Three new Expedition 53 crew members are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome just five days away from their launch to the International Space Station. Two NASA astronauts and a Roscosmos cosmonaut are in final preparations checking their Sokol launch and entry suits and examining their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.
A new set of Expedition 53 crew members arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site today ahead of their Sept. 12 liftoff to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei along with cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin will take a near six-hour ride to their new home in space aboard the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.
The orbiting Expedition 53 trio is checking out new exercise gear today that takes up less space and is more reliable than current station equipment. The crew is also getting ready to explore DNA alterations that occur when living in space.
The new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED-2) is an order of magnitude lighter and smaller than existing equipment on the station. Commander Randy Bresnik worked out on the MED-2 today testing its ability provide motion and resistance workouts. Bresnik performed deadlifts and rows on the MED-2 to demonstrate the reliability of its small robotic actuators.
The commander also set up a work area for upcoming work with the student-designed Genes In Space-2 experiment. The experiment will explore ways to observe how microgravity alters DNA and weakens the immune system.
Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency checked out physics and life science equipment today. The veteran astronaut cleaned and installed handrails on the Electromagnetic Levitation device then swapped out gear inside the Space Automated Bioproduct Lab.
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who set multiple U.S. space records during her mission aboard the International Space Station, along with crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, safely landed on Earth Saturday at 9:21 p.m. EDT (7:21 a.m. Kazakhstan time, Sept. 3), southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.
While living and working aboard the world’s only orbiting laboratory, Whitson and Fischer contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, welcomed several cargo spacecraft delivering tons of supplies and research experiments, and conducted a combined six spacewalks to perform maintenance and upgrades to the station.
Among their scientific exploits, Whitson and Fischer supported research into the physical changes to astronaut’s eyes caused by prolonged exposure to a microgravity environment. They also conducted a new lung tissue study that explored how stem cells work in the unique microgravity environment of the space station, which may pave the way for future stem cell research in space.
Additional research included an antibody investigation that could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment, and the study of plant physiology and growth in space using an advanced plant habitat. NASA also attached the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation (ISS CREAM) on the outside of the space station in August, which is now observing cosmic rays coming from across the galaxy.
The crew members received a total of seven cargo deliveries during their mission. A Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle launched to the space station in December 2016 delivering new lithium-ion batteries that were installed using a combination of robotics and spacewalks. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the station in April on the company’s seventh commercial resupply mission. Three SpaceX Dragon spacecraft completed commercial resupply missions to the station in February, June and August. And, Russian ISS Progress cargo spacecraft docked to the station in February and June.
Whitson’s return marks the completion of a 288-day mission that began last November and spanned 122.2 million miles and 4,623 orbits of the Earth – her third long-duration mission on the station. During her latest mission, Whitson performed four spacewalks, bringing her career total to 10. With a total of 665 days in space, Whitson holds the U.S. record and places eighth on the all-time space endurance list.
Fischer, who launched in April, completed 136 days in space, during which he conducted the first and second spacewalks of his career. Yurchikhin, who launched with Fischer, now has a total of 673 days in space, putting him seventh place on the all-time endurance list.
Expedition 53 continues operating the station, with Randy Bresnik of NASA in command, and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) serving as flight engineers. The three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos. Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin are scheduled to launch Sept. 12 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
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Record-breaking NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and her Expedition 52 crewmates, Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth Saturday, Sept. 2. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide complete coverage of their departure and landing.
The trio will undock their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the space station at 5:58 p.m. EDT and land in Kazakhstan at 9:22 p.m. (7:22 a.m. Sept. 3, Kazakhstan time). NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik has taken over command of the station from Yurchikhin.
The complete schedule of return coverage is as follows (all times EDT):
2:15 p.m. – farewell and hatch closure (hatch closure at 2:40 p.m.)
5:30 p.m. – undocking (undocking at 5:58 p.m.)
8 p.m. – deorbit burn and landing (deorbit burn at 8:29 p.m. and landing at 9:22 p.m.)
11 p.m. – replay of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities
Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crew members, at: www.nasa.gov/station
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As a result of the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, NASA plans a modified return to Houston of Whitson and Fischer and the science samples landing in the Soyuz spacecraft. The crew will participate in standard post-flight medical evaluations. Working with our International Space Station partners, NASA secured the services of ESA (European Space Agency) to return the crew from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, to Cologne, Germany. NASA’s G-5 will depart Houston on Saturday to meet the crew and science samples in Cologne. They’re expected to return to Houston on Sunday night. All necessary facilities onsite at NASA’s Johnson Space Center necessary to support crew and science objectives are being checked out, and readied for the return to Houston.
While living and working aboard the space station, the Expedition 52 crew pursued hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.
Expedition 53 will begin when Whitson, Fischer and Yurchikhin depart with Randy Bresnik of NASA in command, and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency), on board. The three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members later this month.