Touchdown! Three Multinational Crewmates Return to Earth

NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from the International Space Station Thursday, alongside station commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The crew landed safely in Kazakhstan at 6:59 a.m. EDT (4:59 p.m. local time).

 Hague and Ovchinin launched on March 14, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch, and arrived at the space station just six hours later to begin their 203-day mission, during which they orbited Earth 3,248 times, traveling 86.1 million miles. Koch remains aboard the orbiting laboratory for an extended mission that will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman in preparation for human missions to the Moon and Mars.

For Almansoori this landing completed an eight-day stay on board the station that covered 128 orbits of Earth and 3.1 million miles since launching Sept. 25 with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos. Almansoori made history as he became the first person from the UAE to fly in space his mission as the first astronaut from the UAE.

After post-landing medical checks, Hague will return to Houston, and Ovchinin and Almansoori will return to Star City, Russia.

 The Expedition 60 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into devices that mimic the structure and function of human organs, free-flying robots, and an instrument to measure Earth’s distribution of carbon dioxide.

Hague conducted three spacewalks during his mission, totaling 19 hours and 56 minutes. Ovchinin conducted one spacewalk lasting 6 hours and 1 minute during his mission.

Hague’s first two spacewalks in March continued the overall upgrade of the station’s power system with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. During his third spacewalk, he and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan successfully installed the second of two international docking adapters that Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft will use to connect to the space station.

Hague completes his second flight in space totaling 203 days, while Ovchinin has now spent 375 days in space during three flights. Hague and Ovchinin flew together on an abbreviated mission in October 2018, cut short by a technical problem that triggered an ascent abort minutes after launch and a safe landing back on Earth.

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.

U.S. Astronauts Captured Japanese Cargo Spacecraft at 7:12 a.m. EDT

The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle captured by the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm at 7:12 am EDT on Saturday Sept. 28, 2019.

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, operated the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approached from below. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) monitored HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Next, robotic ground controllers will install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. NASA TV coverage of the berthing will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Japanese Space Freighter Blasts Off To Resupply Station Crew

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft launches on time
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft launches on time from the Tanegashima Space Center atop the H-IIB rocket.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-IIB rocket launched at 12:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 24 (1:05 a.m. Sept. 25 in Japan) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. At the time of launch, the space station was flying 258 statute miles over Mali in southwest Africa.

A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket and began its four-day rendezvous with the International Space Station.

 The spacecraft will arrive at the station Saturday, Sept. 28. Live coverage of the spacecraft rendezvous and capture will begin at 5:45 a.m. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approaches from below. Robotics flight controllers will then take over the operation of the arm to install HTV-8 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it will spend a month attached to the orbiting laboratory. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Capture of the HTV-8 is scheduled around 7:15 a.m. Coverage will resume at 9:30 a.m. for the final installation of the resupply craft to Harmony by robotic ground controllers. If the installation operations are running ahead of schedule, coverage would begin earlier.

Named Kounotori, meaning white stork in Japanese, the craft will deliver six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks by the station’s crew members later this year.

Additional experiments on board HTV-8 include an upgrade to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF-L), a small-sized satellite optical communication system (SOLISS), and a payload for testing the effects of gravity on powder and granular material (Hourglass).

HTV-8 Launch Scrubbed for Tonight

The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-6 cargo vehicle is seen during final approach to the International Space Station. Like HTV-8, HTV-6 was loaded with more than 4 tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiment hardware. Credit: NASA

Mission Control in Houston informed the crew aboard the International Space Station that tonight’s launch of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) cargo spacecraft was scrubbed due to a fire on or near the launch pad at Tanegashima Space Center. The astronauts are safe aboard the station and well supplied.

 

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Soyuz MS-14 Bearing Russian Cargo Safely Back on Earth

Soyuz MS-14 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft on it’s way back to Earth after departing from the International Space Station on Friday, September 6, 2019.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft bearing Russian gear and supplies is safely back on Earth after parachuting to a landing in south-central Kazakhstan at 5:32 p.m. EDT (3:32am Kazakhstan time on Saturday, Sept. 7).  Landing occurred about 87 miles southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan. Roscosmos personnel are on-site and have recovered the vehicle for postflight analysis.

Earlier, at 2:14 p.m., while flying about 260 miles above the border between northeastern China and southeastern Russia, the unpiloted vehicle undocked and departed from the International Space Station’s aft-facing port of the Zvezda service module for the short voyage home.

The uncrewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Aug. 21, carrying 1,450 pounds of cargo to replenish the Expedition 60 crew residing at the orbital outpost. Part of its payload included a humanoid robot that was tested aboard the space station before being loaded back for its return trip. The MS-14’s flight also helped to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility for a revamped Soyuz booster rocket, which will be used to transport crews beginning spring 2020.

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.

SpaceX Dragon Released from Station for Earth Return

The SpaceX Dragon above the Nile River Delta
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module on Aug. 13, 2019, as the orbital complex flew 260 miles above the Nile River Delta in Egypt.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft released from the International Space Station at 10:59 a.m. EDT after flight controllers in Houston delivered remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA monitored Dragon’s systems as it departed the microgravity laboratory.

Next up, Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the station and execute a deorbit burn around 3:22 p.m. to leave orbit. Splashdown down is targeted for 4:21 p.m. EDT (1:21 p.m. PDT).

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.

Russian Spacecraft Second Docking Attempt Successful

The Soyuz MS-14 and Soyuz MS-13 Spacecrafts
The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is pictured during it’s approach. The Soyuz MS-13 is seen in the forground.

While the spacecraft were flying about 250 miles above Eastern Mongolia, an uncrewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft arrived and docked to the International Space Station at 11:08 p.m. EDT.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft attached to the station’s aft-facing Zvezda module for a two-week stay as part of its test flight. The Soyuz delivers 1,450 pounds of cargo, including a Skybot F-850 humanoid robot, to the Expedition 60 crew currently residing on the orbital outpost.

The docking of the unpiloted Soyuz sets the stage for the robotic release of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Tuesday morning after a four-week stay at the station. The Dragon is filled with almost 2,700 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 10:15 a.m. EDT.

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.

Crew Relocates Russian Soyuz Spacecraft to Different Port

The Soyuz MS-13 crew ship
The Soyuz MS-13 crew ship is pictured docked the International Space Station’s Poisk module after successfully completing its relocation maneuver.

At 11:59 p.m. EDT, the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft with three Expedition 60 members inside successfully docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module. The crew of Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Andrew Morgan of NASA began the relocation maneuver when they undocked from the aft port of the station’s Zvezda module at 11:35 p.m.

Skvortsov flew the spacecraft, backing about 124 feet (38 meters) away from the space station before completing a roll maneuver to take them to the Poisk module for the manual docking.

The move frees the port for an uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 that currently is on a safe trajectory above and behind the space station to execute a second docking attempt Monday night to the Zvezda port. The so-called KURS automated rendezvous system has been tested and is in perfect working order. NASA TV coverage of the docking Monday night will begin at 10:30 p.m. with docking scheduled at 11:12 p.m.

The uncrewed Soyuz launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21 on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket. The spacecraft will deliver 1,450 pounds of cargo to the Expedition 60 crew.

The last relocation of a Soyuz was in August 2015 when Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos and NASA’s Scott Kelly conducted a similar operation, but in reverse, flying their Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from Poisk to Zvezda.

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.

Second Docking Attempt for Russian Spacecraft Planned for Monday Night

The Soyuz MS-14 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is pictured during its first docking attempt early Saturday.

International Space Station managers and the international partners met on Saturday and approved a plan to allow a second rendezvous and docking attempt for the unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft to occur on Monday night. The Soyuz’ initial docking attempt early Saturday was aborted after what Russian officials said was a suspected problem with a component associated with the Kurs automated rendezvous system for the Poisk module docking port.

The Soyuz was commanded to back away from the station after approaching to within 100 meters of Poisk when the vehicle could not achieve a solid telemetry lock to that docking port through the automated rendezvous system. The unpiloted Soyuz is currently orbiting a safe distance from the ISS with all of its systems functioning normally. The six crewmembers on board the station were never in any danger during the initial rendezvous attempt.

Plans now call for the unpiloted Soyuz to execute a second docking attempt Monday night at 10:12 p.m. Central time, 11:12 p.m. Eastern time, but this time to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module. The Kurs system on Zvezda has been checked out and is in perfect working order. NASA TV coverage of the docking Monday night will begin at 9:30 p.m. Central time, 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

To accommodate the new plan, Expedition 60 crewmembers Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Drew Morgan of NASA will don their Russian Sokol launch and entry suits Sunday night, climb aboard their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft which docked to Zvezda on July 20 and undock for a 25-minute Soyuz relocation maneuver and a manual docking by Soyuz commander Skvortsov to the Poisk module. The suspect Kurs rendezvous unit component for Poisk is not a factor for the relocation maneuver by Skvortsov and his Soyuz crewmates.

NASA TV coverage of the relocation will begin Sunday night at 10 p.m. Central time, 11 p.m. Eastern time. Undocking of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft from Zvezda is scheduled at 10:34 p.m. Central time, 11:34 p.m. Eastern time with redocking to Poisk scheduled at 10:59 p.m. Central time, 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

It would be the first Soyuz relocation since August 2015 when Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos and NASA’s Scott Kelly conducted a similar operation, but in reverse, flying their Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from Poisk to Zvezda.

The docking of the unpiloted Soyuz Monday night will preserve the robotic release of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Tuesday morning after a four-week stay at the station. Dragon will be deorbited for a parachute-assisted splashdown several hours later in the Pacific Ocean, bringing home cargo and valuable scientific experiments from the orbital laboratory.

Russian Spacecraft Docking Attempt No Earlier Than Monday

International Space Station Configuration
International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12 and MS-13 crew ships.

An uncrewed Russian Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is now a safe distance away from the International Space Station following an abort during its final approach for a docking to the Poisk module.

After the cosmonauts on the station aborted an automated docking attempt early Saturday, Russian flight controllers told the crew on the station that early data indicates the issue that prevented its automated docking resides on the station’s side of the so-called KURS automated rendezvous system, not on the Soyuz itself.

The Soyuz is on a safe trajectory above and behind the space station that will bring it in the vicinity of the orbital complex again in 24 hours and 48 hours. Russian flight controllers have indicated the next earliest docking attempt could be Monday morning.

In the meantime, Russian controllers informed Expedition 60 commander Alexey Ovchinin and flight engineer Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos they will send instructions to swap the signal amplifier of the station’s KURS docking system and test it before proceeding with another docking attempt.

The Soyuz launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 11:38 p.m. EDT (8:38 a.m. Aug. 22 Baikonur time) on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket.

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.