Expanded Crew Syncs Schedule and Steps Up Space Research

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of JAXA is pictured inside the cupola with the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle visible behind his left shoulder. Credits: NASA
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of JAXA is pictured inside the cupola with the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle visible behind his left shoulder. Credits: NASA

The seven-member Expedition 64 crew has synched up its schedule following a busy week that saw the arrival of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission and a Russian spacewalk.

The International Space Station’s four newest crew members are fitting in a variety of space research today. The quartet also continues to get up to speed with station systems and procedures.

Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover, the SpaceX Crew Dragon commander and pilot, respectively, researched how their dexterous manipulation is affected by microgravity. The Grip study may influence the development of future space systems and interfaces as NASA plans missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, now on his third space mission, set up the Avatar-X robotic camera experiment then worked on a specialized incubator that can generate artificial gravity. NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, who last served aboard the station in 2010, installed an air-particle monitor in the Tranquility module and later continued her ceramic manufacturing research.

The two Expedition 64 cosmonauts, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, cleaned their Russian Orlan spacesuits today following Wednesday’s spacewalk. The duo spent six hours and 48 minutes readying the station’s Russian segment for the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins collected radish leaf samples being grown inside the Advanced Plant Habitat. Rubins then switched over to lab maintenance, checking water tanks and filters in the Destiny laboratory module’s life support rack.

Station Gets Ready to Welcome Commercial Crew

The insignias of the Expedition 64 and SpaceX Crew-1 missions.
The insignias of the Expedition 64 and SpaceX Crew-1 missions.

The Expedition 64 crew is getting ready to welcome four new crew members to the International Space Station this weekend. The orbiting trio is also gearing up for a Russian spacewalk that will take place soon afterward.

The SpaceX Crew-1 mission, with Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi, is scheduled to launch to the station on Saturday at 7:49 p.m. EST. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, with the U.S. and Japanese quartet aboard, will dock to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter on Sunday at 4:20 a.m.

The four Commercial Crew astronauts suited up today and practiced their countdown procedures inside the Crew Dragon at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

Meanwhile, on the station, NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins configured a laptop computer for operations with the Crew Dragon vehicle after it arrives on Sunday. Rubins also cleaned up inside the Harmony module, stowing cargo to accommodate the new crew.

The two cosmonauts aboard the station, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, are getting ready for their first spacewalk scheduled for Nov. 18 at 9:30 a.m. The Roscosmos duo took turns exercising on a treadmill today for a cardiovascular assessment as part of their spacewalk preparations. Afterward, the pair installed lights, cameras, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on their Orlan spacesuits.

Crew Dragon Rolls Out, Station Crew Works Research and Comm Gear

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft atop is seen at its launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft atop is seen at its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft on top rolled out to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center overnight. Meanwhile aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition 64 crew was busy setting up a variety of research and communications gear today.

Four Commercial Crew astronauts from the United States and Japan are in Florida in quarantine and getting ready for their launch to the space station. Their Dragon crew ship is standing vertical at Launch Complex 39A counting down to a Nov. 14 lift off.

Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi will blast off on Saturday at 7:49 p.m. EST. Eight hours and 30 minutes later the quartet will dock to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter. They are scheduled for a five-and-a-half-month research mission aboard the station.

Back in space, NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins spent Tuesday morning setting up a specialized microscope that uses fluorescence to study biological processes in microgravity. During the afternoon, she installed wireless instrumentation gear in the Zvezda service module and handed over radiation detectors to cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov checked out communications systems and biomedical sensors inside a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits this morning with assistance from Kud-Sverchkov. The cosmonaut duo then spent the rest of the day servicing life support hardware and re-pressurizing the station’s atmosphere with air from the Progress 76 resupply ship.

Physics, Biology and Spacewalk Preps as SpaceX Crew-1 Ramps Up

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Rubins works in Japan's Kibo laboratory module to set up a small satellite deployer.
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Rubins works in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module to set up a small satellite deployer.

Space physics and biomedical research kicked off the work week as the Expedition 64 crew continued its spacewalk preparations. Back on Earth, four Commercial Crew astronauts are in Florida counting down to their launch to the International Space Station.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins started Monday morning checking out samples exposed to extreme temperatures inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. The advanced research facility provides insights into the thermophysical properties and the synthesis of new materials.

Rubins then serviced components on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device that helps astronauts maintain muscle strength and mass in microgravity. The two-time station resident wrapped up her science work today collecting and stowing saliva samples for the Standard Measures study. The human research experiment collects biological data from astronauts before, during and after missions to understand how humans adapt to living in space.

A spacewalk is scheduled for Nov. 18 for maintenance and science tasks outside the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Commander Sergey Ryzhikov joined Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and conducted leak checks and valve tests inside their Orlan spacesuits today. The duo then partnered up with Rubins to review tasks and procedures planned for the six-hour spacewalk.

The next crew to visit the space station arrived at the Kennedy Space Center from Houston on Sunday getting ready for a launch on Nov. 14 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. The quartet from the United States and Japan is planned to dock about eight-and-a-half hours later the following day to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter.

Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi are in quarantine in Florida conducting final mission preparations. They are scheduled for a five-and-a-half-month research mission aboard the station.

Busy Period on Station as Crew Ramps up For Spacewalk and Visitors

The Sun's glint beams off the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay as the space station orbited off the coast of California.
The Sun’s glint beams off the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay as the space station orbited off the coast of California.

Science, robotics training and lab maintenance took precedence Friday alongside ongoing spacewalk preparations aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 64 crew is also getting ready to expand with the addition of four Commercial Crew astronauts.

It is a busy period for NASA and its international partners as SpaceX gets ready to launch its next Crew Dragon vehicle with three U.S. astronauts and one Japanese astronaut on Nov. 14. Two Russian cosmonauts aboard the orbiting lab are also gearing up for their first spacewalk on Nov. 18.

Meanwhile, NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins stayed busy this week on a technology study that explores how water evaporation can keep spacesuits cool. Today, she collected and stowed water samples for analysis that could help engineers improve heat rejection and temperature controls in spacesuits.

Rubins started the day practicing her robotics skills on a computer before installing student-controlled camera gear that photographs Earth landmarks. The two-time station visitor also put on her technician cap today and serviced life support gear that removes carbon dioxide from the station’s atmosphere.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov has been gearing up for his first spacewalk with Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The duo from Roscosmos spent Friday activating and inspecting their Orlan spacesuits and checking control panels in the Poisk module. They will exit Poisk into the vacuum of space for a six-hour spacewalk for maintenance and science work on the Russian segment of the station.

Back on Earth, four astronauts are preparing to launch Saturday, Nov. 14, to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The quartet, with Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi, are in quarantine as part of routine “flight crew health stabilization.” They will head to Florida from Houston on Sunday for final mission preparations. For a launch on time, the first operational crew mission from SpaceX would dock about eight-and-half-hours later to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter.

Space Agriculture and Spacesuit Studies During Spacewalk Preps

The Earth's limb, or horizon, is pictured as the space station orbited above the north Pacific near Alaska's Aleutian Islands.
The Earth’s limb, or horizon, is pictured as the space station orbited above the north Pacific near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Space botany and spacesuit studies were back on the research schedule aboard the International Space Station today. Meanwhile, the Expedition 64 crew is staying focused on an upcoming spacewalk while the SpaceX commercial crew begins its quarantine period.

NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins started her day on a space agriculture study that explores how microbes and fungi can improve soil health and crop production. She serviced samples for the experiment that seeks to improve food production in space and increase crop yields on Earth.

In the afternoon, Rubins moved on to a spacesuit study installing research components in an EXPRESS science rack. The experiment looks at water evaporation as means to cool spacesuits and prevent contamination and corrosion of parts inside the suits.

Two cosmonauts continue gearing up for their mission’s first spacewalk. Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov were gathering and organizing a variety of spacewalk gear today for staging inside the orbiting lab’s Poisk module. They are due to exit Poisk in their Orlan spacesuits on Nov. 18 and spend about six hours during the spacewalk working on maintenance and science tasks.

Following the spacewalk preps, Ryzhikov worked on a Russian oxygen generator then wrapped up the day with a hearing test. Kud-Sverchkov configured communications gear and cleaned smoke detectors.

Commander Michael Hopkins with Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi are in Florida for final training before they launch on Nov. 14 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the station. The four commercial crew astronauts began their official quarantine period on Saturday which is a routine “flight crew health stabilization” before missions to the orbiting lab.

International, Commercial Partners Gear Up for Cargo and Crew Missions

The Canadarm2 robotic arm is poised to grapple and remove Japan's HTV-9 resupply ship from the Harmony module.
The Canadarm2 robotic arm is poised to grapple and remove Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship from the Harmony module.

Canada’s robotic arm is poised to remove Japan’s ninth and final H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-9) from the International Space Station on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Russia are preparing for the launch of their respective crew ships to the orbiting lab in October.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will be at the robotics workstation on Tuesday and direct the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 to release the HTV-9 from its grip at 1:35 p.m. EDT. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the release of the HTV-9 as it completes its 85-day cargo mission. NASA TV will cover the activities live starting at 1:15 p.m.

The HTV-9 will spend two more days orbiting Earth before a fiery, atmospheric demise over the South Pacific. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is developing an upgraded fleet of HTV-X space station suppliers, replacing the HTV series of spaceships, targeted for their first launch in 2022.

The Expedition 63 and 64 crews are due to trade places at the orbiting lab beginning in mid-October. The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship is slated to blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 14 and dock to the station’s Rassvet module. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will then begin a six-month space research mission.

One week later on Oct. 21, Cassidy will wrap up his mission with crewmates Vagner and Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin. The trio will enter the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan ending a 195-day expedition in space.

NASA and SpaceX have announced the launch of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the station for no earlier than Oct. 23. Mike Hopkins of NASA will command the first operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft piloted by first-time NASA astronaut Victor Glover. They will be joined by Mission Specialists Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA, both previous station residents.