The Crew Dragon is being packed and readied for its return to Earth on Friday. In the midst of NASA’s first Commercial Crew mission, the crew members continued more space research and practiced an emergency drill today.
Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency transferred cargo in and out of the Crew Dragon today. Over 300 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and station hardware will be retrieved from Dragon after it returns to Earth.
The Crew Dragon will undock Friday at 2:31 a.m. EST from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. It will parachute to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. EST. NASA TV will cover all the activities live.
Both astronauts then joined Commander Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos to practice an emergency evacuation of the International Space Station. The trio wore breathing masks, entered the docked Soyuz spacecraft and prepared for a return to Earth in the unlikely event of a critical emergency aboard the orbital complex.
The three Expedition 58 crew members are back to normal operations today with the newest SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship integrated to the International Space Station. Dragon will leave the station Friday as the next crew prepares to launch on March 14.
Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques called down to mission controllers today to discuss Crew Dragon operations. The duo also linked up with SpaceX personnel throughout the United States describing life on orbit and their impressions of the new crew vehicle.
McClain started today resizing U.S. spacesuits ahead of a set of spacewalks planned for March and April. She later worked on life support systems and plumbing maintenance in the Unity and Tranquility modules.
Saint-Jacques collected station water samples for microbial analysis. He then inspected tethers the astronauts will use to stay attached to the station during the upcoming spacewalks.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon undocks Friday at 2:31 a.m. EST. Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is scheduled around 8:45 a.m. EST. NASA TV will cover all the activities live after closing the hatch Thursday.
On the other side of the world in Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 59 crew members are in final training awaiting their launch to the station. Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are set to blastoff March 14 at 3:14 p.m. and dock less than six hours later to their new home in space.
Expedition 58 capped off its busy weekend with additional outfitting for the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which had only completed its hard dock to the International Space Station yesterday morning as part of the Demo-1 uncrewed flight test.
After opening the hatch between the two spacecraft, the crewmates configured Crew Dragon for its stay at the orbiting laboratory. This work included installation of the intramodule ventilation system, which helps cycle air from Crew Dragon to station. The crew members ticked off additional items from their checklist, also installing window covers and checking valves before taking part in a welcoming ceremony for the visiting vehicle at 10:45 a.m. EST Sunday, which aired on NASA Television.
Today, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 Commander Oleg Kononenko went over emergency procedures specific to Crew Dragon’s stay in orbit. While Crew Dragon is designed to remain docked to the space station for up to 210 days, this test of the spacecraft will be much shorter, ending early Friday morning. Crew Dragon is expected to return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m. on Friday, March 8—a little more than six hours after its separation from station.
While Kononenko was focused on the Plasma Kristall-4 experiment, which investigates the liquid phase and flow phenomena of complex plasmas, for this week’s runs, McClain and Saint-Jacques spent most of the day in the Quest airlock. The pair worked on their EMU [Extravehicular Mobility Unit] spacesuits, making sure their suits fit in advance of a series of spacewalks currently slated for late March and early April.
Saint-Jacques also made time in the day to connect with junior high school and college students in Hallifax, Nova Scotia, through a space-to-ground downlink where he shared his perspective of living and working aboard the world’s only microgravity laboratory.
Aboard the space station, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko opened the hatch between the Crew Dragon and the orbital laboratory at 8:07 a.m. EST.
The crew members opened the hatch to Crew Dragon following standard leak checks and pressurization since the spacecraft completed its hard dock to the station at 6:02 a.m., the first autonomous docking of any U.S. spacecraft to the International Space Station.
In addition to carrying Ripley, an anthropomorphic test device outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on future astronauts who will travel in the Crew Dragon. NASA also sent more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station, including bulk overwrap bags containing more than 1,000 food and drink packages for the crew.
For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, enabling the expansion of the inhabitants of the space station, increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, and returning more science back to Earth.
The Expedition 58 crew members will host a welcoming ceremony for the Crew Dragon that will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 10:45 a.m.
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.
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.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain logged into specialized software for a test session with the Behavioral Core Measures study. The neuropsychological test measures cognition as an astronaut conducts simulated robotic activities on a laptop computer.
Afterward, she joined Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut David Saint-Jacques for eye checks in the Harmony module at the end of the day. The two swapped Crew Medical Officer roles and scanned each other’s eyes using optical tomography coherence gear. Both astronauts started the day with a standard vision test in the Destiny lab module reading characters from an eye chart.
Saint-Jacques then set up a virtual reality camera in the cupola, the station’s “window to the world.” The high-tech space footage will be used to create a short cinematic, immersive film for audiences on Earth. The CSA astronaut also activated a camera to capture imagery for the Meteor space-based observation study.
The astronauts are also counting down to Sunday’s arrival of the first U.S. commercial crew vehicle on the SpaceX DM-1 mission. The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon will launch from Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday. McClain and Saint-Jacques will greet the Crew Dragon after it docks to the Harmony module’s International Docking Adapter Sunday around 6 a.m.
The Expedition 58 crew explored how living in space impacts perception and psychology today. The trio also studied satellite navigation and continued reviewing this weekend’s arrival of the first SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques partnered up this morning inside Europe’s Columbus lab module for the Vection space perception experiment. The duo wore virtual reality goggles, earplugs and a neck brace to study microgravity’s effect on the vestibular system. They took turns performing a series of tasks documenting perception of motion, orientation, height and depth. Results may improve astronaut training and the design of future space habitats.
McClain then spent the rest of the day in the Japanese Kibo lab module operating a pair of tiny internal satellites for the SmoothNav study. The experiment is researching how autonomous satellites may benefit future public and private space exploration.
Saint-Jacques went in to the afternoon reviewing rendezvous and docking operations when the uncrewed SpaceX DM-1 spacecraft arrives Sunday at 6 a.m. EST. He wrapped up his workday helping psychologists understand the adverse effects of living in space on an astronaut’s cognition and behavior.
Commander Oleg Kononenko participated in a Russian cardiopulmonary study before installing communications gear in the Zvezda service module. In the afternoon, two-time station commander collected radiation readings and ensured the upkeep of Russian life support systems.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain set up a virtual reality camera inside the Tranquility module after lunch today. She has been filming hours of footage this month depicting a first-person’s view of life throughout the station. The final film will be an immersive, cinematic experience to educate audiences on Earth about life in space.
Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques was back on spacesuit duty today scrubbing cooling loops and checking the conductivity of water samples. The astronaut from the Canadian Space Agency also tested cables inside the Materials Science Research Rack. The refrigerator-sized rack explores chemical and thermal properties of materials such as metals, alloys and polymers to create new and improved elements and applications.
Back on Earth in Star City, Russia, three Expedition 59 crew members have wrapped up two days of classes and tests qualifying for their March 14 launch to the orbital lab. Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch will end their stay at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center on Feb. 26 and fly to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan. The trio will lift off inside the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and take a six-hour ride to their new home in space.
The International Space Station is hosting a robotic experiment that may help enable and refuel future missions to the moon and Mars. The Expedition 58 crew installed that hardware today then worked on a variety of life science, astrophysics and combustion science gear.
The Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM3) experiment will demonstrate transferring and storing fuels and coolants such as liquid methane and a cryogenic fluid in space. Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques installed the RRM3 hardware today inside Japan’s Kibo lab module airlock. The gear will be deployed outside Kibo then transferred to an external logistics carrier. Once there, the Dextre “robotic hand” will begin operations demonstrating fluid transfers with a set of specialized tools.
The two astronauts also split their time conducting maintenance on a pair of space incubators. McClain worked on a mouse habitat replacing filters inside Kibo’s Cell Biology Experiment Facility. Saint-Jacques swapped a carbon dioxide controller in the Space Automated Bioproduct Lab (SABL). SABL supports research into microorganisms, small animals, animal cells, tissue cultures and small plants.
Back on Earth, three Expedition 59 crew members are a month away from joining the three orbital residents aboard the space station. Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are in Star City, Russia in final training before their March 14 launch to the orbital lab.