Expedition 64 Trio Back On Earth After 185-Day Mission

The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft just before landing in Kazakhstan on April 17th, 2021. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos landed on Earth at 12:55 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 17 in Kazakhstan. The trio departed the International Space Station in their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at 9:34 p.m.

After post-landing medical checks, the crew will split up with Rubins returning to her home in Houston, while the cosmonauts fly back to their training base in Star City, Russia.

Remaining aboard the station is the seven-person crew of Expedition 65, with new station commander Shannon Walker of NASA, NASA astronauts Victor GloverMichael Hopkins, and Mark Vande Hei, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

Later this month, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 members – NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet – will join the Expedition 65 members aboard the station. Crew-2 will be the second long-duration mission to fly as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, continuing to provide the capability of regularly launching humans from American soil.

In November 2020, the International Space Station surpassed a 20-year milestone of continuous human presence, providing opportunities for unique technological demonstrations and research that help prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars while also improving life on Earth. To date, 243 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

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.

NASA TV is Live Covering the Return of Expedition 64

The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft is seen as it lands in Kazakhstan with Expedition 63 crew.
The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft is seen as it lands in Kazakhstan with Expedition 63 crew. Photo Credit: (NASA/GCTC/Denis Derevtsov)

NASA Television and the agency’s website are now broadcasting live coverage of the return to Earth of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft carrying the trio will make its deorbit burn to set the spaceship on its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in Kazakhstan at 12:56 a.m. (10:56 a.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday, April 17.

During the 185-day mission, Rubins spent hundreds of hours working on new space station experiments, building on investigations she conducted during her first mission, including heart research and multiple microbiology studies. She advanced her work in DNA sequencing, which could allow astronauts to diagnose an illness in space or identify microbes growing at the space station. Rubins collected hundreds of microbial samples at different locations within the space station for the 3DMM study to construct a 3D map of bacteria and bacterial products throughout the station. By advancing understanding of the orbiting laboratory’s microbiome, this work helps identify potential risks and supports developing countermeasures to mitigate those risks.

Rubins also worked on the Cardinal Heart experiment, which studies how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue levels. Results could provide new understanding of heart problems on Earth, help identify new treatments, and support development of screening measures to predict cardiovascular risk prior to spaceflight.

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.

Soyuz Crew Ship Docks to Station With Expedition 65 Trio

The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured on final approach to its docking port on the space station's Rassvet module.
The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured on final approach to its docking port on the space station’s Rassvet module.

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station at 7:05 a.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 262 miles above northern China.

When the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos will welcome the new crew members

Watch the hatch opening on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app beginning at 8:30 a.m. for hatch opening targeted for about 9 a.m.

For launch 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.

Three Crewmates Complete Short Station Trip in Soyuz Crew Ship

The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship, with three Expedition 64 crew members inside, is pictured after undocking from the Rassvet module beginning its short trip to the Poisk module. Credit: NASA TV
The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship, with three Expedition 64 crew members inside, is pictured after undocking from the Rassvet module beginning its short trip to the Poisk module. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 64 crew members who arrived to the International Space Station Oct. 14, 2020, have successfully relocated their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft. Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA and Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, undocked from the Earth-facing port of the station’s Rassvet module at 12:38 p.m. EDT, and Ryzhikov successfully piloted the spacecraft and docked again at the space-facing Poisk port at 1:12 p.m.

The relocation opens the Rassvet port for the arrival April 9 of another Soyuz, designated Soyuz MS-18, which will carry NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos’ Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov to join the space station crew after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Rubins, Ryzhikov, and Kud-Sverchkov will conclude their six-month science mission aboard the station and return to Earth April 17 in the Soyuz MS-17.

This was the 19th overall Soyuz port relocation and the first since August 2019.

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

After a Saturday Spacewalk, an Emergency Drill and Hardware Maintenance Fills the Crew’s Schedule

On March 13, 2021, NASA spacewalker and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Victor Glover works to route cables and complete tasks that were deferred from previous spacewalks during this year’s fifth spacewalk in support of space station maintenance. Credits: NASA
On March 13, 2021, NASA spacewalker and Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Victor Glover works to route cables and complete tasks that were deferred from previous spacewalks during this year’s fifth spacewalk in support of space station maintenance. Credits: NASA TV

After a weekend that included the 237th spacewalk in support of assembly and maintenance for the International Space Station, featuring spacewalkers and NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins, the Expedition 64 crew members got back to the business of science, switching out hardware and working around a comprehensive emergency drill on Monday.

Running through the emergency drill, the crewmates practiced their roles during various emergency scenarios, such as who would manage the procedures, gather equipment, and close hatches, all while maintaining constant communication with teams on the ground in Mission Control.

NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker performed post-spacewalk recharge maintenance to the Extravehicular Mobility Unit suits used in Saturday’s excursion, stowing them for later use.

Astronaut Kate Rubins worked to set up experiment hardware for Transparent Alloys, an ESA (European Space Agency) investigation focusing on microstructure evolution by comparing the effects of Earth’s gravity to microgravity, pinpointing the correlation in particle size, growth dynamics, and fluid flow.

Meanwhile, Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) spent time removing and replacing hardware — the Artificial Vision Unit — in the station’s cupola, where the crew often spends time observing natural Earth phenomena from their unique vantage approximately 250 miles above.

The crew wrapped up their workday with the Airborne Particulate Monitor (APM), installing instrument hardware and taking photo documentation. Air quality in crewed spacecraft is important for astronaut health and comfort, and the APM measures the concentration of both small and large particles in the air. Captured data will eventually be used to create a detailed mapping of the air quality aboard the space station, shedding light on the sources of different air particles and how they behave in this one-of-a-kind laboratory off the planet.

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.

NASA Astronauts Complete Year’s Fifth Spacewalk at Station

NASA astronauts (from left) Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will conduct their third spacewalk together on Saturday morning.
NASA astronauts (from left) Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins conducted their third spacewalk together on Saturday morning.

NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins concluded their spacewalk at 3:01 p.m. EST, after 6 hours and 47 minutes. In the fifth spacewalk of the year outside the International Space Station, the two astronauts successfully completed tasks to service the station’s cooling system and communications gear.

The duo began their work on the station’s port truss, or “backbone,” completing tasks that were deferred from previous spacewalks. The spacewalkers successfully vented the early ammonia system, relocated one of its jumper lines, and serviced the Columbus Bartolomeo payload platform, including routing three of four cables on the Payload Position (PAPOS) interface and configuring a cable for an amateur radio system. The astronauts deferred the task of installing clamps on Bartolomeo in order to route cables for high-definition cameras. The pair also replaced a wireless antenna assembly on the Unity module and installed hardware to provide additional structural integrity on the airlock.

This was the fourth career spacewalk for Glover and the fifth in Hopkins’s career. Glover has now spent a total of 26 hours and 7 minutes spacewalking. Hopkins now has spent a total of 32 hours and 1 minute spacewalking.

Space station crew members have conducted 237 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 62 days, 3 hours and 54 minutes working outside the station.

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.

Astronauts Power Up Suits, Spacewalk Begins

NASA astronauts (from left) Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will conduct their third spacewalk together on Saturday morning.
NASA astronauts (from left) Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will conduct their third spacewalk together on Saturday morning.

NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins have begun their spacewalk outside the International Space Station to service the station’s cooling system and communications gear.

The pair switched their spacesuits to battery power at 8:14 a.m. EST to begin the spacewalk, which is expected to last about six and a half hours.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV, the NASA app, and on the agency’s website.

Glover is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing a spacesuit bearing red stripes and using helmet camera #20. Hopkins is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the unmarked spacesuit and helmet camera #22.

Glover and Hopkins will traverse out the station’s backbone truss structure to vent the early ammonia system before relocating one of its jumper lines. Hopkins will then connect cables for the Columbus Bartolomeo payload platform, continuing work from a Jan. 27 spacewalk, and Glover will replace a wireless antenna assembly on the Unity module. The pair will then work together to install hardware on the airlock’s thermal cover and route cables to two high-definition cameras on the port truss.

This is the 237th spacewalk in support of space station assembly.

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., Japanese Astronauts Conclude Solar Array Mods Spacewalk

(From left) Astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi work to install a solar array modification kit during the fourth spacewalk of both of their careers. Credit: NASA
(From left) Astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Kate Rubins work to install a solar array modification kit during the fourth spacewalk of 2021. Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi concluded their spacewalk at 1:33 p.m. EST, after 6 hours and 56 minutes. In the fourth spacewalk of the year outside the International Space Station, the two astronauts successfully completed the installation of modification kits required for upcoming solar array upgrades.

The duo worked near the farthest set of existing solar arrays on the station’s left (port) side, known as P6, to install a modification kit on solar array 4B and reconfigure the modification kit on 2B, completing tasks that were started during the Feb. 28 spacewalk.

Due to time constraints, the secondary tasks of troubleshooting the Columbus Parking Position (PAPOS) Interface and removing and replacing a Wireless Video System External Transceivers Assembly (WETA) were deferred to a later spacewalk. The astronauts did, however, complete an additional task of relocating an Articulating Portable Foot Restraint (APFR).

NASA is augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays, which will be delivered on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission. The new solar arrays, a larger version of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology, will be positioned in front of six of the current arrays, ultimately increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts and ensuring sufficient power supply for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond. The current solar arrays are functioning well but have begun to show signs of degradation, as expected, as they were designed for a 15-year service life.

This was the fourth career spacewalk for both Rubins and Noguchi. Rubins has now spent a total of 26 hours and 46 minutes spacewalking. Noguchi now has spent a total of 27 hours and 1 minute spacewalking.

Space station crew members have conducted 236 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 61 days, 21 hours and 7 minutes working outside the station.

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.

Astronauts Begin Spacewalk for Solar Array Modifications

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi is pictured during a spacewalk that took place over 15 years ago during the STS-114 space shuttle mission to the space station on August 1, 2005.
Astronaut Soichi Noguchi is pictured during a spacewalk that took place over 15 years ago during the STS-114 space shuttle mission to the space station on August 1, 2005.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi have begun their spacewalk outside the International Space Station to complete the installation of modification kits in preparation for upcoming solar array upgrades.

The spacewalkers switched their spacesuits to battery power at 6:37 a.m. EST to begin the spacewalk, which is expected to last about six and a half hours.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV, the NASA app, and on the agency’s website.

Rubins is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing a spacesuit bearing red stripes and using helmet camera #22. Noguchi is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the spacesuit without stripes and helmet camera #20.

Rubins and Noguchi will traverse out the station’s backbone truss structure to the far left (port) side set of solar arrays, the first pair of solar arrays deployed in December 2000. The spacewalkers will work together to complete the installation and configuration of modification kits on solar arrays 4B and 2B, which will enable new solar arrays to be installed to augment the space station’s power supply. Rubins and fellow NASA astronaut Victor Glover began installing the modification kits during the Feb. 28 spacewalk.

Following solar array modification kit configuration, the Rubins will conduct cable routing for the Bartolomeo platform Parking Position Interface (PAPOS) on the Columbus module, Noguchi will replace a Wireless Video System External Transceivers Assembly (WETA), and the pair will perform other get-ahead work as time permits.

This is the 236th spacewalk in support of space station assembly.

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.

Spacewalkers Conclude Today’s Spacewalk

Spacewalkers Victor Glover and Kate Rubins are pictured at the mast canister, installing bracket support struts to the base of the solar array on Feb, 28th 2021.
Spacewalkers Victor Glover and Kate Rubins are pictured at the mast canister, installing bracket support struts to the base of the solar array on Feb, 28th 2021.

NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover concluded their spacewalk at 1:16 p.m. EST, after 7 hours and 4 minutes. In the third spacewalk of the year outside the International Space Station, the two NASA astronauts began work to install modification kits required for upcoming solar array upgrades.

The duo worked near the farthest set of existing solar arrays on the station’s left (port) side, known as P6. Glover built a bracket structure and worked with Rubins to attach the bracket and support struts to the mast canister, the base, of one of the P6 solar arrays, known as 2B. One of the bolts did not fully engage on the first attempt, so Rubins used a power drill to back it out and reseat it, then used a ratchet wrench to tighten the bolt, reaching a safe configuration. The bolt likely will need to be secured further before installing one of the new solar arrays that will be delivered to the space station later this year aboard SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission.

Rubins and Glover then moved to begin identical assembly work for the bracket for the second of the P6 solar array pair, known as 4B. They completed the construction of upper support hardware and secured it to the space station’s exterior structure until work can be completed on the next spacewalk on Friday, March 5.

To ensure a sufficient power supply is maintained for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond as well as utilization and commercialization, NASA is augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays. The new solar arrays, a larger version of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology, will be positioned in front of six of the current arrays, ultimately increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts. The current solar arrays are functioning well but have begun to show signs of degradation, as expected, as they were designed for a 15-year service life.

This was the third career spacewalk for both Rubins and Glover. Rubins has now spent a total of 19 hours and 50 minutes spacewalking. Glover now has spent a total of 19 hours and 20 minutes spacewalking.

Space station crew members have conducted 235 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 61 days, 14 hours, and 11 minutes working outside the station.

During the spacewalk March 5, Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will venture outside the orbiting outpost to complete the installation of the 4B array modification kit and are expected to tackle additional work, including the venting of ammonia from the Early Ammonia System.

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.