October Starts With Crew Swap Then Spacewalks

Expedition 56 crew members Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev
(From left) Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA and Soyuz MS-08 Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos practice on a computer the Soyuz descent procedures they will use when they return to Earth on Oct. 4.

October will be a busy month as a pair of crews get ready to swap places on the International Space Station followed by a pair of spacewalks. Also, Japan’s HTV-7 resupply ship is open for business and the Expedition 56 crew has begun unloading its science and supplies.

Station commander Drew Feustel is preparing to return to Earth Thursday with two of his crewmates despite a busy schedule of science and maintenance aboard the orbital lab. Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev is packing the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft today that he will pilot back to Earth flanked by Feustel and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold. The trio is due to land in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. after 197 days in space.

Expedition 57 starts when the Soyuz MS-08 crew ship undocks Thursday at 3:57 a.m. EDT. Staying behind are Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) who will command the station with Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev until a new pair of crewmates join the following week.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin will blast off Oct. 11 at 4:40 a.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship and take a six hour ride to their new home in space. The duo is in Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site making final preparations for their 187 day mission.

The station is being replenished today as the crew begins offloading cargo from the HTV-7 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Robotics controllers will soon unload new lithion-ion batteries packed inside HTV-7 and install them on the truss structure to upgrade the station’s power systems. A pair of spacewalks are planned before the end of the month to complete the battery connections.