The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA’s Scott Tingle, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station’s Rassvet module at 3:43 a.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 19. Coverage of docking will begin at 3 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed at 5 a.m. for coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station, expected to occur at approximately 6:35 a.m.
The arrival of Tingle, Shkaplerov and Kanai will restore the station’s crew complement to six. They will joinExpedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and his crewmates, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA. The crew members will spend more than four months conducting approximately 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Harmony module of the International Space Station at 8:26 a.m. EST.
The 13th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-13) delivered more than 4,800 pounds of supplies and payloads to the station. Among the research materials flying inside Dragon’s pressurized area, one investigation will demonstrate the benefits of manufacturing fiber optic filaments in a microgravity environment. Designed by the company Made in Space, and sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the investigation will attempt to pull fiber optic wire from ZBLAN, a heavy metal fluoride glass commonly used to make fiber optic glass. Results from this investigation could lead to the production of higher-quality fiber optic products for use in space and on Earth.
Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in January 2018 and return to Earth with more than 3,600 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.
Expedition 54-55 Flight Engineers Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are on their way to the space station after a launch earlier today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:21 a.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 17 (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time). The trio will orbit the Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module, at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 3 a.m. Tuesday.
While the International Space Station was traveling overhead between Australia and Papua New Guinea, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba captured the Dragon spacecraft at 5:57 a.m. EST using the space station’s robotic arm. Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation the spacecraft on the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation will begin at 7:30 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.
Dragon is carrying a Space Debris Sensor (SDS) that will measure the orbital debris environment around the space station for two to three years. Once mounted on the exterior of the station, this one-square-meter sensor will provide near-real-time debris impact detection and recording. Research from this investigation could help lower the risks posed by orbital debris to human life and critical hardware.
Also on board is NASA’s Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor, or TSIS-1, that will measure the Sun’s energy input to Earth. TSIS-1 measurements will be three times more accurate than previous capabilities, enabling scientists to study the Sun’s natural influence on Earth’s ozone, atmospheric circulation, clouds and ecosystems. These observations are essential for a scientific understanding of the effects of solar variability on the Earth system.