Station Readies for Crew Departure Amid Science and Cargo Work

The city lights of southern India and the island nation of Sri Lanka, beneath the Earth's airglow, are pictured from the station as it orbited above the Indian Ocean.
The city lights of southern India and the island nation of Sri Lanka, beneath the Earth’s airglow, are pictured from the station as it orbited above the Indian Ocean.

Four International Space Station astronauts continue packing their U.S. spacecraft as they plan for a return to Earth this month. Meanwhile, the Expedition 66 crew continued its ongoing space research and maintenance aboard the orbital lab.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, who are also the commander and pilot of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission respectively, have been loading and readying the Crew Dragon Endeavour for its upcoming undocking and splashdown. The duo may undock for the ride back to Earth as early as Sunday, Nov. 7, with astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) ending a mission that began in April. NASA and SpaceX are continuing to review launch and return opportunities for Crew-3 and Crew-2, respectively.

Kimbrough also spent the day uninstalling incubator components before inspecting portable emergency gear. McArthur photographed a variety of space station tools for a survey. Hoshide replaced air filters as Pesquet organized cables and checked camera sensors.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, who is over halfway through his near yearlong mission, opened up the Microgravity Science Glovebox on Thursday morning and began setting up a semiconductor crystal experiment. The study takes advantage of microgravity and lessons from previous studies to produce higher-quality semiconductor crystals potentially resulting in smaller, more powerful electronic devices.

The station’s two cosmonauts, Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov from Roscosmos, focused their activities today on the docked ISS Progress 78 and 79 resupply ships. The duo checked docking components on the both cargo craft while also unpacking science gear from the Progress 79 spacecraft.

Crew-3 FRR Concludes; NASA, SpaceX ‘Go’ for Oct. 31 Launch


The Flight Readiness Review for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a 2:21 a.m. liftoff on Sunday, Oct. 31, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. NASA will hold a media conference at approximately 7:15 p.m. to discuss the outcome of the review. Listen live on the agency’s website.

Participants in the teleconference are:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Holly Ridings, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • William Gerstenmaier, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station, European Space Agency (ESA)

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, along with ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance, for the third crew rotation flight under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

More details about the mission and the Commercial Crew Program can be found in the online press kit, or by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew, and commercial crew on Facebook.