Next Crew Arrives at Launch Site as Station Preps for First SpaceX Crew Dragon

Expedition 59 crew members
Expedition 59 crew members (from left) Christina Koch, Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague are pictured before departing for their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Expedition 59-60 crew arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan today. Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are final training before their March 14 liftoff aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft. They will take a six-hour ride to their new orbital home where they will live and work until October.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 58 crew is back at today aboard the International Space Station after taking the day off Monday. The orbital lab is also flying at higher altitude to get ready for the arrival Russian crew and cargo ships starting next month.

The space station is orbiting two miles higher at its perigee after the docked Progress 71 resupply ship fired its engines for seven minutes and 31 seconds Monday night. This places the station at the correct altitude for the March 14 arrival of the Expedition 59-60 crew and the Progress 72 cargo craft docking on April 4.

The station astronauts are training all week for the arrival of the first SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship this weekend. The uncrewed SpaceX DM-1, or Demonstration Mission-1, will launch Saturday at 2:49 a.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon will arrive at the station on Sunday and dock around 6 a.m. to the International Docking Adapter (IDA) on the Harmony module.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will monitor the Crew Dragon’s approach and rendezvous on Sunday. The vehicle is targeting a 6 a.m. EST docking to the IDA where the hatches will swing open about two-and-a-half hours later. It will undock on March 8 and return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean ending its mission.

Virtual Reality Filming, Spacesuit Work Highlight Day on Station

A pair of U.S. spacesuits
A pair of U.S. spacesuits are pictured during servicing work inside the Quest airlock where U.S. spacewalks are staged.

Virtual Reality Film, Spacesuit Work Highlight Day on Station

Virtual reality filming and spacesuit cleaning highlighted the day aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 58 crew also configured a diverse array of life science and physics hardware.

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.

McClain started the day installing mouse habitat gear inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility. The research device, located in Japan’s Kibo lab module, will house mice for an upcoming accelerated aging and disease study.

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.

In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, Commander Oleg Kononenko worked on ventilation systems and collected air samples from the Zarya and Zvezda service modules. The veteran cosmonaut also photographed hardware for a blood pressure study and tested Earth observation techniques using a camera equipped with small ultrasound emitters.

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.

Astronauts Focus on Spacesuits, High-Temp Physics and Storm Photography

Lake Superior and Lake Michigan surrounded by the cloudy and frozen terrain
Lake Superior and Lake Michigan is surrounded by the cloudy and frozen terrain of the North American continent.

Spacesuit servicing and high-temperature physics kept the crew busy today aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 58 astronauts also researched meteorology from the station and explored more Earth phenomena from space.

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques is returning a U.S. spacesuit to service today inside the U.S. Quest airlock. He verified successful installation of suit components and checked for water leaks in the suit at full operational pressure. NASA is planning a set of maintenance spacewalks at the station planned for March 22, 29, and April 8.

In the Kibo lab module from Japan, astronaut Anne McClain cleaned sample cartridges in a specialized thermo-physical research device called the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. The high-temperature facility levitates, solidifies and melts samples that may contribute to the synthesis of new materials difficult to achieve on Earth.

She later set up camera hardware for the Tropical Cyclone experiment to demonstrate storm predictions from the station. McClain targeted a moonlit Typhoon Oma today off the coast of Queensland, Australia from inside the cupola.

Commander Oleg Kononenko worked on a suite of science experiments Wednesday in the Russian segment of the station. The veteran cosmonaut photographed terrestrial landmarks to document forest conditions and the effects of natural and man-made disasters. He also studied how space impacts the cardiovascular system and the piloting skills of a cosmonaut.

Back on Earth, three Expedition 59 crew members are preparing for their March 14 launch to the orbital lab aboard the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship. Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are in Star City, Russia for final training before heading to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan on Feb. 26.

Experimental Fuel Hardware, Astrophysics and Life Science Fill Crew Day

Expedition 58 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA
Expedition 58 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA is pictured in the cupola holding biomedical gear for the Marrow experiment.

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.

McClain also replaced a laptop computer hard drive dedicated to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 experiment. The experiment is housed on the station’s truss structure and searches for antimatter and dark matter in addition to measuring cosmic rays. She later cleaned up gear supporting gaseous flame studies inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

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.

NASA Astronaut Nick Hague Set for New Space Station Mission

NASA astronauts (from left) Nick Hague and Christina Hammock Koch and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin
NASA astronauts (from left) Nick Hague and Christina Hammock Koch and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will launch aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft Feb. 28, 2019, from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the post-launch news conference for the Expedition 58 crew, Roscosmos and NASA officials announced that NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, who were forced to abort their recent mission Oct. 11 to the International Space Station, are now scheduled to launch again Feb. 28, 2019, from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Hague, Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch will launch aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft and join NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Konenenko of Roscosmos as station’s Expedition 59 crew.

Hague and Koch will serve as flight engineers for Expeditions 59 and 60. Ovchinin will serve as a flight engineer on Expedition 59 and the commander of Expedition 60. The trio will return to Earth in October 2019 as members of Expedition 60.

All three crew members will participate in a news conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston that will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

This will be Koch’s first spaceflight. Flight dynamics specialists determined Hague and Ovchinin achieved enough altitude on their aborted climb to orbit to qualify for previous spaceflight status, making this Hague’s second spaceflight and Ovchinin’s third.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/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.

Expedition 57 Crew Aboard Station Expands to Six

The six-member Expedition 57 crew
The six-member Expedition 57 crew (from left) Serena Auñón-Chancellor, David Saint-Jacques, Alexander Gerst, Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and Sergey Prokopyev gather for a portrait.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos joined Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 2:37 p.m. EST.

The arrival briefly restores the station’s crew complement to six until Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev return to Earth Dec. 20. Expedition 58 officially begins once the three departing spacefarers undock from the space station.

McClain, Saint-Jacques and Konenenko will spend more than six months conducting hundreds of science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars. Some of the investigations they will conduct are 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. Highlights of upcoming investigations include experiments in forest observation, robotic refueling, and satellite deployment.

The crew is scheduled to be onboard during the first test flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil.

In March, the station will again return to a full complement of six crew members when they are joined for Expedition 59 by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.

This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/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.