Crew Works Variety of Space Science as Launch Day Nears

Soyuz TMA-16M Spacecraft
The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen after it was rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

A variety of science experiments is taking up the Expedition 43 trio’s schedule today. Back on Earth, a new set of International Space Station crew members is a day away from launching to join the orbiting residents.

Commander Terry Virts opened up the Combustion Integrated Rack and replaced components to get ready for upcoming work with the Flame Extinguishment Experiment-2. Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, from the European Space Agency, researched the accelerated aging of skin that occurs in space for the Skin-B experiment. Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov studied crew mobility in space which may help improve and advance training methods for future crews.

Read more about the FLEX-2 study
Read more about Skin-B
Read more about Motocard

Virts and Cristoforetti also worked to install the Robotics Refueling Mission (RRM)-2 payload inside the Japanese Experiment Module airlock. The RRM-2 investigation is exploring how robotics could be used to fix satellites not designed to be serviced in orbit.

Read more about RRM-2

Soyuz TMA-16M Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year Crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are one day away from joining the Expedition 43 crew. They will launch Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m. EDT and dock less than six hours later to the Poisk module.

Read more about live NASA TV launch and docking coverage of the One-Year Crew

Crew Continues Life Science; Soyuz Rolls Out for Friday Launch

Soyuz TMA-16M Spacecraft
The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is at its pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Photo Credit (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The orbiting Expedition 43 trio worked ongoing life science Wednesday to improve life on Earth and in space. On the ground at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft rolled out to its launch pad counting down to a Friday launch to the International Space Station.

In space, Commander Terry Virts scanned his eyes using an Ultrasound as part of the Ocular Health vision checkouts this week. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti continued working with the TripleLux-B cellular mechanisms experiment. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov wrapped up the Cosmocard investigation that observes the vegetative regulation of cardiac rhythm on long-term spaceflight.

› Read more about the Ocular Health study
› Read more about the TripleLux-B experiment

› Read more about the Cosmocard investigation

Back on Earth, Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka and One Year Crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are getting ready for their mission to join Expedition 43. They will launch Friday at 3:42 p.m. EDT for a six-hour, four orbit flight to the station. Padalka will end his stay in space in September. Kelly and Kornienko will return home March 2016.

› Read more about the One-Year Crew

SpaceX is targeting April 10 for the launch of its Dragon private space freighter. Virts and Cristoforetti are packing NanoRacks Cubesat deployers, which were used in Japan’s Kibo lab module, for return to Earth on Dragon when it completes its sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission a month later.

› View NASA’s SpaceX mission page

Orbital Lab Busy as Pair of Spaceships Prepare for Launch

New Expedition 43 Crew Members
Expedition 43 NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, left, and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, center, and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos take in the view from an overlook during media day, Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

The three Expedition 43 crew members were back at work Tuesday on ongoing advanced microgravity science benefiting life on Earth and future crew members on long-term space missions. The International Space Station team is also getting ready to greet a new set of crew members and a private space freighter.

Commander Terry Virts participated in a second day of vision checks for the Ocular Health study. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti continued more runs of the TripleLux-B experiment studying cellular mechanisms that cause impairment of immune functions in microgravity. Finally, veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov worked on a pair of Russian investigations studying the effects of Earth’s magnetism on the space station and radiation exposure on a simulated crew member, or mannequin.

› Read more about the Ocular Health study
› Read more about the TripleLux-B experiment

Meanwhile, Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year Crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are in the final stages of their preparations before launching Friday afternoon to join Expedition 43. Kelly and Kornienko will return home March 2016. Padalka will end his stay in space in September.

› Read more about the One-Year Crew

The sixth SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission is targeting an April 10 launch and an arrival at the space station April 12.

› View NASA’s SpaceX mission page

Medical Checks on Station While New Trio Preps for Launch

Expedition 43 Crew Members
ISS043E001029 (03/13/2015) — Expedition 43 crewmembers prepare for another interview with Earthbound media on Mar 13, 2015 onboard the International Space Station. Commander Terry Virts (center) is joined by ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and flight engineer Samantha Cristoforetti (left) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, flight engineer (right) in handling the questions that are asked about life in space.

The orbiting Expedition 43 trio focused on science work Monday as another crew counts down to its launch Friday afternoon to the International Space Station.

Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineers Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov have been in space for 120 days. Virts and Cristoforetti participated in their 120 day medical tests. The commander conducted a vision test and measurements for the Ocular Health experiment. Cristoforetti collected blood and urine samples for her Biochemical Profile and Bone and Muscle Check. Shkaplerov worked on his set of Russian science experiments.

› Read more about the Ocular Health study

Back on Earth, One-Year Crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are in Kazakhstan getting ready to join Expedition 43. The duo will launch Friday at 3:42 p.m. EDT with Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka. Kelly and Kornienko will return home March 2016. Padalka will end his stay in space in September.

› Read more about the One-Year Crew

Orbiting Trio Busy With Station Upkeep and Science Work

March 20 Solar Eclipse
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti photographed the March 20 solar eclipse from a window on the International Space Station. View more solar eclipse imagery… https://flic.kr/s/aHsk8QNu7h

Commander Terry Virts was the maintenance man Friday as he inspected windows and checked for dust buildup in vents inside the Destiny lab module. Virts also conducted more plumbing work, replacing a recycle tank in the Water Recovery System.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was in Europe’s Columbus lab module continuing her week-long science activities in the BioLab. She ran the TripleLux-B experiment using the BioLab’s glovebox for the second time this week to study cellular mechanisms that cause impairment of immune functions in microgravity.

› Read more about the TripleLux-B experiment

Back on Earth, three new crew members are at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, waiting to join Expedition 43. Soyuz TMA-16M Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are preparing for launch on March 27. Kelly and Kornienko will stay in space until March 2016. Padalka will return to Earth on Sept. 11.

› Read more about the One-Year Crew

Station Boosts Orbit as New Soyuz Crew Awaits Launch

Soyuz TMA-16M Crew Members
201503150001hq (03/15/2015) — Taking a moment on Mar. 15, 2015 during their Soyuz spacecraft training to pose for a photograph in Kazakhstan is Expedition 43 NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, left, and Russian Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, center, and Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The International Space Station raised its orbit on Wednesday evening, placing it in the correct orientation for the docking of a new Soyuz spacecraft and crew next week. Inside the station the multinational Expedition 43 crew stayed focused on long-term microgravity studies and the upkeep of their orbital laboratory.

The ISS Progress 58 spacecraft, docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module, fired its engines Wednesday afternoon for four minutes, 18 seconds. The orbital boost readies the station for the arrival next Friday of the Soyuz TMA-16M, which will carry to the station Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko.

› Read more about the upcoming Soyuz launch

Meanwhile, Commander Terry Virts put on his high-flying plumber’s cap and replaced hardware on the Waste and Hygiene Compartment. He also participated in the Astro Palate study investigating how food affects the mood of crew members during a spaceflight.

› Read more about the Astro Palate study

After troubleshooting the BioLab earlier in week, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti began the first of two runs of the TripleLux-B experiment inside the BioLab glovebox. TripleLux-B studies cellular mechanisms that cause impairment of immune functions in microgravity.

› Read more about the TripleLux-B experiment

Evacuation Drills, Science Work and New Crew Launch Preps

Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti
ISS042E136074 (01/15/2015) — US astronaut Terry Virts and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are ready to select a fruit snack during a brief break from work aboard the International Space Station on Jan. 15, 2015. The apples, suspended in microgravity are easy targets. Both astronauts are flight engineers with Expedition 42.

Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineers Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov practiced emergency procedures Tuesday, preparing the three crew members for the actions they would take in the unlikely event that they must evacuate the International Space Station.

Cristoforetti went back to work on the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES). She will be setting up MARES hardware inside the European Columbus lab module over the next two days. Virts assisted her with the MARES deployment just before lunchtime.

› Read more about the MARES

Virts later moved to the U.S. Destiny lab module to pack up a physics experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The commander stowed the Coarsening in Solid Mixtures-4 (CSLM-4) experiment, an investigation studying solid-liquid mixtures, which will be returned on a future SpaceX Dragon mission.

› Read more about Coarsening in Solid Mixtures-4

Meanwhile, Soyuz TMA-16M Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are preparing for launch on March 27, when they will join Expedition 43 at the orbital laboratory. Kelly and Kornienko will stay in space until March 2016. Padalka will return to Earth Sept. 11.

Module Relocation Work on Station as New Crew Preps for Launch

Commander Terry Virts
Commander Terry Virts conducts an interview with WBFF-TV in Baltimore, Md. Credit: NASA TV

The three-person Expedition 43 crew with Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineers Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov are the sole occupants of the International Space Station right now. They are getting ready for upcoming module relocation work and preparing for upcoming science work.

Virts installed a connector cap and a power cable to get the station ready for the Permanent Multipurpose Module relocation this summer from the Unity module to the Tranquility module. A new exercise device, the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES), will be commissioned Tuesday for which Cristoforetti reviewed MARES overview materials. She was also troubleshooting the BioLab for work with the TripleLux-B experiment which studies cellular mechanisms in microgravity.

› Read more about the MARES
› Read more about the BioLab
› Read more about the TripleLux-B experiment

Soyuz TMA-16M Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko have left Star City, Russia, and are heading to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. There the trio will launch March 27 to join Expedition 43 at the orbital laboratory. Kelly and Kornienko will stay in space until March 2016. Padalka with return to Earth Sept. 11.

› Read more about the One-Year Crew