Expedition 57 Trio Back on Earth After 197-Day Space Mission

Expedition 57 crew members (from left) Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos are pictured shortly after landing in the snow-covered steppe of Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Three members of the International Space Station’s Expedition 57 crew, including NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, returned to Earth Thursday, safely landing at 12:02 a.m. EST (11:02 a.m. local time) in Kazakhstan.

Auñón-Chancellor and her crewmates, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev, launched June 6 and arrived at the space station two days later to begin their mission.

The Expedition 57 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the world-class orbiting laboratory. Highlights included investigations into new cancer treatment methods and algae growth in space. The crew also installed a new Life Sciences Glovebox, a sealed work area for life science and technology investigations that can accommodate two astronauts.

During the 197 days, they circled the globe 3,152 times, covering 83.3 million miles. This was the first flight for Auñón-Chancellor and Prokopyev and the second for Gerst, who – with a total of 362 days in orbit – now holds the flight duration record among ESA astronauts.

For the last 16 days of her mission, Auñón-Chancellor was joined by fellow NASA astronaut Anne McClain, marking the first time in which the only two U.S. astronauts on a mission were both women.

Prokopyev completed two spacewalks totaling 15 hours and 31 minutes. He and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos launched four small technology satellites and installed an experiment during a spacewalk Aug. 15. Then during a 7 hour, 45 minute spacewalk Dec. 11, he and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos retrieved patch samples and took digital images of a repair made to the habitation module of the Soyuz MS-09 in which the Expedition 57 trio rode home. The space station crew located and, within hours of its detection, repaired a small hole inside the Soyuz in August. The spacecraft was thoroughly checked and deemed safe for return to Earth.

Auñón-Chancellor will return home to Houston, Gerst will return to Cologne, Germany, and Prokopyev will return to Star City, Russia, following post-landing medical checks and research activities.

The Expedition 58 crew continues operating the station, with Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos in command. Along with his crewmates Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, the three-person crew will operate the station for a little more than two months until three additional crew members launch Feb. 28, 2019 to join them.

For news and more information about the mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/station and https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Exp 58 Trio Docks to Station Six Hours After Launch Today

Soyuz Spacecraft Socks
The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying the Expedition 58 crew is pictured less than 20 meters from its docking port at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station at 12:33 p.m. EST while both spacecraft were flying about 251 miles over the Atlantic Ocean.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

Watch the hatch opening targeted for 2:35 p.m. and welcome ceremony to follow live on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 1:45 p.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Canadian Robotic Arm Installs U.S. Cygnus Cargo Ship to Station

The International Space Station heads into an orbital sunset
The International Space Station heads into an orbital sunset as the Canadarm2 robotic arm guides the Cygnus space freighter to its installation point on the Unity module. Credit: NASA TV

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 7:31 a.m. EST. The spacecraft will spend about three months attached to the space station before departing in February 2019. After it leaves the station, the uncrewed spacecraft will deploy several CubeSats before its fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as it disposes of several tons of trash.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings close to 7,400 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of NASA-sponsored research to advance exploration goals and enable future missions to the Moon and Mars include:

Sensory input in microgravity

Changes in sensory input in microgravity may be misinterpreted and cause a person to make errors in estimation of velocity, distance or orientation. VECTION examines this effect as well as whether people adapt to altered sensory input on long-duration missions and how that adaptation changes upon return to Earth. Using a virtual reality display, astronauts estimate the distance to an object, length of an object and orientation of their bodies in space. Tests are conducted before, during and after flight. The investigation is named for a visual illusion of self-movement, called vection, which occurs when an individual is still but sees the world moving past, according to principal investigator Laurence Harris. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) sponsors the investigation.

Solidifying cement in space

The MVP-Cell 05 investigation uses a centrifuge to provide a variable gravity environment to study the complex process of cement solidification, a step toward eventually making and using concrete on extraterrestrial bodies. These tests are a follow-on to the previous studies known as Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS), which studied cement solidification in microgravity.  Together, these tests will help engineers better understand the microstructure and material properties of cement, leading to design of safer, lightweight space habitats and improving cement processing techniques on Earth. This investigation is sponsored by NASA.

Investigations sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory on the space station, which Congress designated in 2005 to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth, include:

From stardust to solar systems

Much of the universe was created when dust from star-based processes clumped into intermediate-sized particles and eventually became planets, moons and other objects. Many questions remain as to just how this worked, though. The EXCISS investigation seeks answers by simulating the high-energy, low gravity conditions that were present during formation of the early solar system. Scientists plan to zap a specially formulated dust with an electrical current, then study the shape and texture of pellets formed.

Principal investigator Tamara Koch explains that the dust is made up of particles of forsterite (Mg2SiO4), the main mineral in many meteorites and related to olivine, also known as the gemstone peridot. The particles are about the diameter of a human hair.

Growing crystals to fight Parkinson’s disease

The CASIS PCG-16 investigation grows large crystals of an important protein, Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2, or LRRK2, in microgravity for analysis back on Earth. This protein is implicated in development of Parkinson’s disease, and improving our knowledge of its structure may help scientists better understand the pathology of the disease and develop therapies to treat it. Crystals of LRRK2 grown in gravity are too small and too compact to study, making microgravity an essential part of this research.

Better gas separation membranes

Membranes represent one of the most energy-efficient and cost-effective technologies for separating and removing carbon dioxide from waste gases, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. CEMSICA tests membranes made from particles of calcium-silicate (C-S) with pores 100 nanometers or smaller. Producing these membranes in microgravity may resolve some of the challenges of their manufacture on Earth and lead to development of lower-cost, more durable membranes that use less energy. The technology ultimately may help reduce the harmful effects of CO2 emissions on the planet.

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

Russian Cargo Craft Docks to Station and Delivers Goods

Nov. 18, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
Nov. 18, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the Progress 70 and Progress 71 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-09 crew ship.

Traveling about 252 miles over Algeria, the unpiloted Russian Progress 71 cargo ship docked at 2:28 p.m. EST to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module on the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

In addition to the arrival of Progress today, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the space station with about 7,400 pounds of cargo after launching at 4:01 a.m. Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the orbital laboratory Monday, Nov. 19. Expedition 57 astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the space station’s robotic arm to grapple Cygnus about 5:20 a.m. Watch installation coverage beginning at 4 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

U.S. Spaceship Lifts Off for Station Delivery Mission

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft blasted off at 4:01 a.m. EST today
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft blasted off at 4:01 a.m. EST today loaded with about 7,400 pounds of science, supplies and goodies for the station crew. Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft lifted off at 4:01 a.m. EST and is on its way to the International Space Station.

At about 5:45 a.m., commands will be given to deploy the spacecraft’s solar arrays. Coverage will continue on NASA TV at  http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv at 5 a.m. for solar array deployment, which is expected to last about 30 minutes.

A post-launch news conference will follow and is scheduled to begin on NASA TV at approximately 6:30 a.m.

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

Russia’s Cargo Craft Blasts Off to Station for Sunday Delivery

Russia's Cargo Craft Blasts Off to Station for Sunday Delivery
Russia’s Progress 71 cargo craft blasts off on time to the International Space Station for a Sunday delivery.

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 71 cargo spacecraft launched at 1:14 p.m. EST (12:14 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 252 statute miles over southern Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Russian cargo craft will make 34 orbits of Earth before docking to the orbiting laboratory at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18. NASA Television coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 1:45 p.m.

Progress 71 will remain docked at the station for more than four months before departing in March for its deorbit in Earth’s atmosphere.

Crew aboard the space station are scheduled to receive two cargo resupply missions in the coming days. Tomorrow, launch of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket with Cygnus cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station is targeted for 4:01 a.m. from Pad 0A of Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. NASA TV will provide launch broadcast coverage online beginning at 3:30 a.m. A Cygnus launch Saturday would result in capture and berthing on Monday, Nov. 19.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Release Japanese Spaceship

Japanese Cargo Ship Released

Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is pictured moments after it was released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), with back-up support from NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, used the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release a Japanese cargo spacecraft at 11:51 a.m. EST. At the time of release, the space station was flying 254 miles over the northern Pacific Ocean. Earlier, ground controllers used the robotic arm to unberth the cargo craft.

After release, a new, small reentry capsule will be deployed from the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Designed by JAXA and assembled by the station crew, the conically shaped capsule measures 2 feet in height and 2.7 feet in width. The project is a technology demonstration designed to test JAXA’s ability to return small payloads from the station for expedited delivery to researchers.

HTV-7 will be a safe distance away from the space station after the last of several deorbit maneuvers. The return capsule will be ejected from a hatchway after the deorbit burn. The experimental capsule will perform a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Japan, where a JAXA ship will be standing by for its recovery.

The HTV-7 spacecraft is scheduled to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the South Pacific Ocean Nov. 10.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Expedition 57 Space Station Status Briefing

NASA held a news conference at noon EDT, Oct. 11, from Johnson Space Center in Houston, to provide a status update on the International Space Station following this morning’s Soyuz spacecraft abort during launch that ended with the safe landing of two Expedition 57 crew members. Participants are Kenny Todd, International Space Station Operations Integration Manager and Reid Wiseman, Deputy Chief Astronaut.

Crew in Good Condition After Booster Failure

Astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin
Astronaut Nick Hague (left) and Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin

.@AstroHague NASA Astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are seen in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. They are in good condition following their safe landing on Earth after a Soyuz booster failure after launch earlier. Latest updates: nasa.gov/live

Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin
Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin
NASA astronaut Nick Hague
NASA astronaut Nick Hague

Statement on Soyuz MS-10 Launch Abort

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has shared the following statement on Twitter @JimBridenstine.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in good condition following today’s aborted launch. I’m grateful that everyone is safe. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted. Full statement below:

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 11 (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur) carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft.

Search and rescue teams were deployed to the landing site. Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and are reported to be in good condition. They will be transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia outside of Moscow.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully. NASA is working closely with Roscosmos to ensure the safe return of the crew. Safety of the crew is the utmost priority for NASA. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.