Astronauts Swap Station Command Before Cargo and Crew Ships Depart

The SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi are pictured shortly after commenting on their mission before returning to Earth this weekend. Credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi are pictured shortly after commenting on their mission before returning to Earth this weekend. Credit: NASA TV

The International Space Station has a new commander today as four astronauts prepare for their return to Earth this Saturday. The orbital residents will also send off a Russian cargo craft on Tuesday evening, completing its year-long stay at the orbital lab.

The four SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts have a new splashdown date after mission managers waved off Wednesday’s planned departure due to weather conditions at the landing site. The quartet of Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi, is now targeting a splashdown off the coast of Florida for Saturday at 11:36 a.m. EDT.

NASA TV will begin its continuous live coverage at 3:30 p.m. Friday starting with hatch closure of the Crew Dragon Resilience set for 3:50 p.m. Resilience with its four-person crew will then autonomously undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter at 5:55 p.m. completing a 164-day station research mission.

Walker handed over station command to today Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during the traditional change of command ceremony. Hoshide, Japan’s second station commander, will now lead Expedition 65 until October of this year.

Hoshide arrived at the orbital lab on April 24 aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour with SpaceX Crew-2. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough commanded Endeavour riding alongside Pilot Megan McArthur and Mission Specialists Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet during the near 24-hour trip that began with a launch from Kennedy Space Center.

Staying on the orbiting lab with the four Crew-2 astronauts are NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. The trio docked to the station’s Rassvet module inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship on April 9 and will stay on orbit until October.

Russia’s ISS Progress 75 cargo craft has been packed with trash and discarded gear and its hatch closed for an undocking today at 7:11 p.m. It will leave the Zvezda service module’s aft port and spend another day orbiting Earth on its own before reentering Earth’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe destruction.

Busy Week on Station Ahead of Crew and Cargo Departures

The Space Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor GLover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi, gathered for a news conference on Monday ahead their planned homecoming this week. Credit: NASA TV
The Space Crew-1 astronauts (from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi, gathered for a news conference on Monday ahead their planned homecoming this week. Credit: NASA TV

Four astronauts aboard the International Space Station are preparing to return to Earth in a few days. The Expedition 65 orbital residents are also conducting space science while preparing to send off a Russian cargo craft.

There are two four-member SpaceX crews aboard the station today including a three-member Soyuz crew. The four SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts are turning their attention to returning to Earth this week after being in space since Nov. 16.

Crew-1 commander Michael Hopkins joined Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi for a conference with mission managers on the ground today. The quartet is working on the proper time to undock the Crew Dragon Resilience from the station and splashdown off the coast of Florida this week.

The station’s newest Crew-2 astronauts are in their first week aboard the station and getting used to life on orbit. Crew Dragon Endeavour commander Shane Kimbrough along with Pilot Megan McArthur and Mission Specialists Thomas Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide docked to the station on Saturday at 5:08 a.m. EDT to begin a six-month space research mission.

As the Crew-2 Dragon was heading for the space station about 1 p.m. Friday, the NASA/SpaceX team was informed that a piece of unidentified space debris might pass close to the Dragon spacecraft. U.S. Space Command, which tracks orbital debris (or space junk), informed the team that the closest approach to dragon would be at 1:43 p.m. Since there wasn’t time to compute and execute a debris avoidance maneuver with confidence, the SpaceX team elected to have the crew put on their pressure suits as part of standard safety protocols. Upon further analysis, the command’s 18th Space Control Squadron determined the object was a false report, and there was never a collision threat to the Crew-Dragon. The crew successfully docked to the station and is continuing its mission in orbit.

Station Commander Walker will hand over station control to Hoshide on Tuesday at 1:25 p.m. Hoshide will assume command of Expedition 65 during the change of command ceremony live on NASA TV.

Staying aboard with Crew-2 are three crewmates who rocketed to the orbiting lab aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship on April 9. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is on his second station mission having served previously as an Expedition 53/54 flight engineer. This is the third station visit for cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy who was last aboard the station in 2013 and 2016. Cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov is on his first space flight.

There was time for science in space today with the crew servicing combustion research gear and transferring frozen biological samples into science freezers. Hardware for an experiment supporting pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries is also being packed for return to Earth soon.

A Russian cargo craft, the ISS Progress 75, is due to depart from the Zvezda service module on Tuesday at 7:11 p.m. This will complete a year-long stay on the station’s Russian segment one day before it reenters Earth’s atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe destruction.

SpaceX Crew Ship Moves to New Station Port

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module beginning its short trip to the space-facing port. Credit: NASA TV

Crew Dragon Resilience with NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have re-docked to the International Space Station, another first for a commercial crew spacecraft.

Crew Dragon autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:30 a.m. and relocated to the space-facing port at 7:08 a.m.

This is the start of a process that will enable extraction of new solar arrays from the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission’s trunk when it arrives to dock at the Node 2 zenith port following Crew-1 departure.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to launch to the station Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Following a short handover, Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, plan to return home off the coast of Florida about five days after the Crew-2 arrival to the space station as long as mission priorities and weather cooperate.

NASA TV is Live for SpaceX Crew Ship Relocation

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with its nose cone open, is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage as four residents of the International Space Station prepare to take a spin around their orbital neighborhood in the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, relocating it to prepare for the arrival of the next set of commercial crew astronauts and the delivery of new solar arrays this summer.

NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, are scheduled to undock Resilience from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:29 a.m. and dock to the space-facing (zenith) port at 7:15 a.m.

The relocation will free Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Crew Dragon Endeavour, set to carry four crew members to the station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to launch to the station Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This is the start of a process that will enable extraction of new solar arrays from the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission’s trunk when it arrives to dock at the Node 2 zenith port following Crew-1 departure.

This will be the first port relocation of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and another first for commercial spaceflight. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifted off Nov. 15, 2020, and docked to the space station Nov. 16.

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.