Expedition 58 Crew Congratulates NASA and SpaceX after Crew Dragon Departure

Crew Dragon spacecraft on it's way back to Earth
Crew Dragon spacecraft on it’s way back to Earth after undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 am EST on March 8, 2019

On behalf of the Expedition 58 crew, NASA Astronaut Anne McClain takes time to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams immediately following the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8.

Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic Ending First Commercial Crew Mission

Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean after successful Demo-1 flight on March 8, 2019.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45 a.m. EST, completing an end-to-end flight test to demonstrate most of the capabilities of its crew transportation system to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.

Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.

Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.

NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic was almost 50 years after the return of Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969, the last human spacecraft to return to the waters off the East Coast.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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

SpaceX Crew Dragon Successfully Docks to Station

The SpaceX Crew Dragon
The SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked to the station’s international docking adapter which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module. Credit: NASA TV

After making 18 orbits of Earth since its launch early Saturday morning, the Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module forward port via “soft capture” at 5:51 a.m. EST while the station was traveling more than 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean, just north of New Zealand.

As the spacecraft approached the space station, it demonstrated its automated control and maneuvering capabilities by arriving in place at about 492 feet (150 meters) away from the orbital laboratory then reversing course and backing away from the station to 590 feet (180 meters) before the final docking sequence from about 65 feet (20 meters) away.

The Crew Dragon used the station’s new international docking adapter for the first time since astronauts installed it during a spacewalk in August 2016, following its delivery to the station in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on its ninth commercial resupply services mission.

For the Demo-1 mission, Crew Dragon is delivering more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station. A lifelike test device named Ripley also is aboard the spacecraft, outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

The Crew Dragon is designed to stay docked to station for up to 210 days, although the spacecraft used for this flight test will remain docked to the space station only five days, departing Friday, March 8.

Opening of the Crew Dragon hatch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 8:30 a.m.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @Commercial_Crew and Commercial Crew on Facebook.

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

Flowers Sent to Mission Control Celebrating SpaceX DM-1 Launch

Flowers Celebrating the SpaceX DM-1 Launch

The last time the Shelton family sent Mission Control Center (MCC) a bouquet of roses was July 9, 2011, the day after the last U.S. space shuttle launched. That was the 110th bouquet from the family and the last U.S. human spaceflight. The Shelton’s continued their tradition Saturday when they sent their 111th bouquet to MCC celebrating the launch of the first SpaceX Crew Dragon.

Ever since the Challenger accident, Mark and Terry Shelton have sent a vase of roses to Mission Control. The two live in the Dallas area and have no job connection to the space program. But they like to show their appreciation by including a rose for each crew member plus a single white one to represent astronauts who died in past accidents.

SpaceX DM-1 Launch
March 2, 2019 liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on its historic inaugural flight to the International Space Station.

Astronauts Release U.S. Spacecraft from Station

Cygnus Released from Canadarm2
The Cygnus is pictured moments after its release from the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft was released from the Canadarm2 at 11:16 a.m. EST and has departed the International Space Station. After an extended mission to deploy several CubeSats in multiple orbits, Cygnus is scheduled to be deorbited on Feb. 25 to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.

Expedition 58 Flight Engineers Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency used the station’s robotic arm to release the craft, dubbed the “SS John Young”, after ground controllers unbolted the cargo vehicle from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module earlier this morning.

This Commercial Resupply Services contract mission delivered dozens of new and existing investigations as Expedition 58 contributes to some hundreds of science and research studies. Highlights from the new experiments include a demonstration of 3D printing and recycling technology and simulating the creation of celestial bodies from stardust.

The Refabricator is the first-ever 3D printer and recycler integrated into one user-friendly machine. Once it’s installed in the space station, it will demonstrate recycling of waste plastic and previously 3D printed parts already on-board into high-quality filament, or 3D printer “ink.” This recycled filament will be fed into the printer as stock to make new tools and parts on-demand in space. This technology could enable closed-loop, sustainable fabrication, repair and recycling on long-duration space missions, and greatly reduce the need to continually launch large supplies of new material and parts for repairs and maintenance. The demonstration, which NASA’s Space Technology Mission and Human Exploration and Operations Directorates co-sponsored, is considered a key enabling technology for in-space manufacturing. NASA awarded a Small Business Innovation Research contract valued to Tethers Unlimited Inc. to build the recycling system.

The Experimental Chondrule Formation at the International Space Station (EXCISS) investigation will explore how planets, moons and other objects in space formed 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, and then study the shape and texture of the resulting pellets.

The Crystallization of LRRK2 Under Microgravity Conditions-2 (PCG-16) investigation grows large crystals of an important protein, leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (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. LRRK2 crystals grown in gravity are too small and too compact to study, making microgravity an essential part of this research.  This investigation is sponsored by the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, which Congress designated in 2005 to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth.

Cygnus launched Nov. 17, 2018, on an Antares 230 rocket from Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops, and arrived at the station Nov. 19 for the company’s 10th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station.

This was the seventh flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft, and the fourth using Northrop Grumman’s upgraded Antares 230 launch vehicle featuring new RD-181 engines that provide increased performance and flexibility.

Russian Cargo Ship Undocks; U.S. Cygnus Leaves in February

Russian ISS Progress 70 cargo craft
Russia’s Progress 70 cargo craft undocks on time today from the Pirs Docking Compartment .

A Russian Progress 70 (70P) cargo craft undocked from the International Space Station today at 7:55 a.m. EST loaded with trash and discarded gear. It will orbit Earth a few more hours before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe destruction.

The Progress delivered three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the station crew members on July 9. It was the first two-orbit rendezvous in International Space Station history.

Today’s departure leaves three spaceships attached to the orbital lab including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter and Russia’s Progress 71 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-11 crew ship. Cygnus is due to complete its mission when it departs from the station’s Unity module on Feb. 8.

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.

Dragon in the Grips of Robotic Arm, Installation Occurs Next

SpaceX Dragon Capture
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is moments way from being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

While the International Space Station was traveling about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean north of Papua New Guinea, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, captured the Dragon spacecraft at 7:21 a.m. EST using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

The Dragon lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Wednesday, Dec 5 with more than 5,600 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The International Space Station is an accessible space laboratory with unparalleled capability that is increasing knowledge of engineering and physical sciences, biology, the Earth, and the universe through research and technology demonstrations and providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA’s human research is closing the gaps in current scientific understanding of how best to predict, assess, and solve the problems that humans encounter while living and working in space, and extend that knowledge to protect the women and men who will go forward to the Moon and Mars.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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.

Dragon Released to Return Science and Supplies Back to Earth

SpaceX Dragon Release
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured moments after being released from the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft was released from the International Space Station today at 6:33 p.m. EST. Robotics controllers remotely commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to let go of the U.S. space freighter sending it on a solo trajectory back to Earth.

Astronaut Anne McClain monitored the activities from the cupola and watched Dragon perform a series of departure burns as it separated itself to a safe distance from the orbital lab. Integrated operations between mission controllers in Houston and SpaceX controllers in California stop when Dragon reaches a point about one kilometer away from the station.

SpaceX personnel will retrieve Dragon after it parachutes to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean Monday at 12:15 a.m. (9:15 p.m. Sunday Pacific time) then tow it to port in southern California. This will be the first nighttime splashdown and recovery for the Dragon with plenty of moonlight to track its entry.

The commercial cargo vessel is taking home a variety of critical space research that will immediately be picked up by NASA engineers and distributed to scientists across the nation. Station hardware will also be extracted for analysis, refurbishment or discarding.

Dragon completes a 36-day mission attached to the station’s Harmony module after delivering more than 5,600 pounds of science and supplies on Dec. 8. Today’s departure leaves four spacecraft, including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo craft, attached to the space station.

The next Dragon mission to the space station will be its first uncrewed demonstration mission designated SpaceX DM-1. The Commercial Crew Program’s first launch is currently targeted for February and will demonstrate ground systems, orbit to docking activities and landing operations.