New Trio Getting to Work Before Next Crew Goes Home This Week

The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship that will return three Expedition 67 crew members to Earth this week is pictured docked to the Prichal module.
The Soyuz MS-21 crew ship that will return three Expedition 67 crew members to Earth this week is pictured docked to the Prichal module.

The orbiting lab’s three newest residents are beginning their science and maintenance tasks after several days of International Space Station orientation and familiarization activities. In the meantime, three Expedition 67 crew members are less than a week away from ending their mission and returning to Earth after living and working in space for six months.

NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio kicked off his first full week on the station with a physics study that uses artificial intelligence to adapt materials manufacturing to the vacuum of space. He began Monday morning setting up the Microgravity Science Glovebox and servicing components inside the research device. Rubio then spent the afternoon preparing complex glass samples inside the glovebox for future experiment runs. The Intelligent Glass Optics investigation may help advance Earth and space-based industries including communications, aerospace, medicine, and astronomy.

Rubio’s cosmonaut crewmates, Flight Engineers Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, who rode with him to the station last week began their week with a variety of research and maintenance activities. Prokopyev started his day on water transfer activities before helping pack a Soyuz crew ship for its return to Earth on Thursday. Petelin also worked on water transfers throughout the day and explored how spaceflight affects the human immune system.

The station’s population will go back to seven crew members on Thursday after three cosmonauts undock in their Soyuz MS-21 crew vehicle and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan. Station Commander Oleg Artemyev will board the Soyuz crew ship with Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov and undock from the Prichal module at 3:34 a.m. EDT on Thursday. The trio will parachute to a landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan less than three-and-a-half hours later. NASA TV will broadcast the undocking and landing activities live on the agency’s app and website beginning at 3:15 a.m.

Artemyev will hand over station leadership responsibilities to ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti the day before he departs. The traditional Change of Command ceremony will be seen live on NASA TV starting at 9:35 a.m. on Wednesday.

The space station’s four other flight engineers stayed busy throughout Monday on a host of research activities including biology, botany, and combustion. NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins wore a specialized vest and headband beginning a two-day session to record her health functions for the Bio-Monitor study. NASA astronaut Bob Hines nourished and inspected plants growing for the XROOTS space agriculture study. Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren of NASA set up the Confocal space microscope to study how microgravity affects the nervous system. Finally, Cristoforetti rerouted cables for a combustion research device to ensure its igniter can move correctly.

Crew Studies Life Science, Botany and Prepares for Spacewalk

Cosmonauts (from left) Denis Matveev and Oleg Artemyev configure the European robotic arm on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module during a spacewalk on April 18, 2022.
Cosmonauts (from left) Denis Matveev and Oleg Artemyev configure the European robotic arm on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module during a spacewalk on April 18, 2022.

Healing wounds in space and growing crops in low-Earth orbit and beyond were the main research topics aboard the International Space Station on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Expedition 67 crew is also packing a U.S. cargo craft and preparing for a Russian spacewalk next week.

Two-time space station resident Kjell Lindgren of NASA set up hardware during the morning inside the Life Science Glovebox for a biology experiment studying how skin heals in weightlessness. He was joined in the afternoon by fellow astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, both from NASA, and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) for an experiment procedures review and a conference with the payload developer on the ground. Observations may provide insights improving wound healing techniques for astronauts and Earthlings.

Hines and Watkins began their day drawing their blood samples, spinning them in a centrifuge, then stowing them in a science freezer for later analysis. Hines then inspected seeds and recirculated fluids for the XROOTS botany study growing mizuna greens and radishes to explore agricultural techniques in space. Watkins later worked on orbital plumbing duties inside the Unity module.

Cristoforetti began her day servicing research gear as she downloaded Acoustic Monitor data to a laptop computer then swapped components on a fluorescence imaging microscope. At the end of the day, she continued stowing cargo inside the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship readying it for its return to Earth later this month.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev are gearing up for another spacewalk on Aug. 17 to prepare the European robotic arm (ERA) for operations on the station’s Russian segment. The duo has been readying their Russian Orlan spacesuits, spacewalking tools, and the Poisk module’s airlock for next week’s planned six-and-half-hour spacewalk. Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov, who will assist the spacewalkers next week, is also configuring the ERA for the upcoming excursion, which would be this year’s seventh spacewalk.

Crew Readies Cygnus for Departure, Studies Botany and Cardiac Research

An aurora streams above a cloudy Earth as the International Space Station orbited 268 miles above the south Pacific.
An aurora streams above a cloudy Earth as the International Space Station orbited 268 miles above the south Pacific.

A U.S. resupply ship is being prepared for its departure from the International Space Station on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, the Expedition 67 crew continued its space gardening and human research activities today to promote mission success and improve health on Earth.

NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins spent Monday wrapping up cargo operations inside the Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti joined the pair disconnecting power and ventilation systems and finally closing the vehicle’s hatch.

Cygnus will be detached from the Unity module overnight by the Canadarm2 robotic arm remotely controlled by engineers on the ground.  The Canadarm2 will maneuver Cygnus away from the station and release the cargo craft at 6:05 a.m. EDT completing a four-month stay at the orbital lab. NASA TV starts its live Cygnus release coverage at 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday on the agency’s app and its website.

Hines finished his work day servicing oxygen components on a U.S. spacesuit. Watkins and Cristoforetti also partnered together and filmed station operations to train future crews preparing for upcoming missions to the orbiting complex. Watkins later setup camera gear that students on Earth can operate remotely and photograph landmarks on the ground. Finally, Cristoforetti swapped batteries inside the Astrobee robotic free-flyers and worked on NanoRacks Bishop airlock maintenance.

Advanced space research is always ongoing amidst the constant array of visiting vehicles and other mission activities taking place at the orbital lab. Monday’s science experiments mainly focused on growing plants without soil, cardiac research, and Earth observations.

NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren kicked off another plant growing session for the XROOTS space botany study. He set up seed cartridges and root modules for the experiment to demonstrate using hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow edible plants in microgravity. Growing crops in space can reduce costly cargo missions and help sustain crews as NASA and its international partners plan missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov worked on cardiac research today exploring how the human circulatory system adapts to weightlessness. Matveev later worked on nanosatellites to be deployed on an upcoming Russian spacewalk. Korsakov also conducted ear, nose, and throat research. Commander Oleg Artemyev worked on Russian maintenance activities and later filmed station operations for audiences on Earth.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Dragon Endeavour Departs Station With Axiom Space Astronauts

April 26, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon Endurance; the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter; and Russia's Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.
April 26, 2022: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon Endurance; the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships.

The SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft undocked from the space-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 9:10 p.m. EDT to complete the first all-private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory. Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1).

The Crew Dragon is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return the astronaut crew and its cargo safely to Earth, targeting a splashdown off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, targeted for 1:06 p.m. EDT Monday, April 25.

Ax-1 Commander Michael López-Alegría, Pilot Larry Connor, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe and Mark Pathy will complete 17 days in space at the conclusion of their mission. SpaceX Dragon Endeavour, the Ax-1 spacecraft, will return to Earth with more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware.

Joint operations with the Axiom and SpaceX mission teams end and NASA coverage of the mission concludes when the spacecraft exits the area of the space station, approximately 30 minutes after undocking.

Axiom Space leads independent mission operations for Ax-1 and will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown beginning about an hour before splashdown at 12 p.m. Monday, April 25, on the company’s website.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Crew Works Robotics, Spacesuits as Station Orbits Higher for Crew Swap

The aurora australis streams above the Indian Ocean in this picture from the space station as it orbited 270 miles above the Earth.
The aurora australis streams above the Indian Ocean in this picture from the space station as it orbited 270 miles above the Earth.

The Expedition 66 crew kicked off the week working on robotics, spacesuits, and advanced research equipment. The International Space Station is also orbiting higher to get ready for a crew swap at the end of March.

Flight Engineers Raja Chari of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) started Monday collecting their blood samples then stowing them for future analysis. The duo then split up, as Chari spent the afternoon studying robotics mobility using the cube-shaped, toaster-sized Astrobee free-flyer. The Astrobatics investigation explores using hopping maneuvers to minimize propellant to inform future robotic missions. Maurer set up the Fluid Science Laboratory for the PASTA experiment that has implications for commercial applications such as pharmaceuticals, oil and fuels, paints and coatings, and more.

The crew is also revving up for a pair of spacewalks in mid-March to continue modifying the orbiting lab’s power systems. Maurer and NASA Flight Engineer Thomas Marshburn worked on U.S. spacesuit jet packs that an astronaut could use to maneuver to safety in the unlikely event of becoming untethered from the station. Marshburn also reviewed plans to assist spacewalkers from inside the space station including suit up procedures, hardware checks and a communications gear overview.

Orbital maintenance is key in space ensuring the station’s multitude of systems, including research and life support, operate safely and continuously. Astronaut Kayla Barron of NASA worked on payload components that support science experiments outside the space station’s Kibo laboratory module on its exposed facility unit. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei spent some time unpacking cargo from the Cygnus space freighter before swapping out gear inside the U.S. oxygen generation assembly.

The space station is orbiting slightly higher after Russia’s ISS Progress 79 cargo craft fired its engines for eight minutes on Friday evening. The orbital reboost maneuver puts the station at the proper altitude for the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship launch on March 18 and Vande Hei’s return to Earth on March 30 with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship.

Crew Starts Week with Space Agriculture, Human Cells and Spacesuits

Pictured from left, are the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module with the Prichal docking module attached.
Pictured from left, are the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module with the Prichal docking module attached.

The Expedition 66 crew kicked off Monday promoting space agriculture and observing how the human cell adapts to weightlessness. Two cosmonauts are also gearing up for the first spacewalk of 2022 set to begin next week at the International Space Station.

Growing plants in space is critical to keeping crews healthy as NASA and its international partners plan human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Just like humans living in space, microgravity affects plants and scientists want to learn how to successfully grow crops in space to sustain crews with less support from Earth.

Today, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei harvested the shoots and roots of Arabidopsis plants grown on petri plates inside the Veggie facility. Fellow NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari collected the harvested samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis. The APEX-07, or Advanced Plant Experiment-07, study is looking at how microgravity affects genetic expression in plants.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer worked throughout Monday on the Cytoskeleton space biology study. That study takes place in the Kibo laboratory module and uses the Life Science Glovebox to explore how the internal machinery of the human cell is impacted by long-term space missions.

NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron also worked in Kibo and set up the new Mochii electron-scanning microscope to identify trace particles aboard the station. NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn worked on life sciences experiments throughout Monday before inspecting and cleaning hatch seals in the station’s U.S. segment.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov partnered together during the morning on a pair of Russian studies looking at how space affects heart activity and arm muscles. The duo later spent the rest of the day setting up Russian Orlan spacesuits for a spacewalk set to begin on Jan. 19. The two cosmonauts will spend about seven hours in the vacuum of space outfitting the station’s newest modules, Nauka and Prichal.


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.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Biden-Harris Administration Extends Space Station Operations Through 2030

The space station is viewed from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon during its automated approach before docking. Credit: NASA TV
The space station is viewed from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon during its automated approach before docking. Credit: NASA TV

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced today the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to extend International Space Station (ISS) operations through 2030, and to work with our international partners in Europe (ESA, European Space Agency)Japan (JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), Canada (CSA, Canadian Space Agency), and Russia (State Space Corporation Roscosmos) to enable continuation of the groundbreaking research being conducted in this unique orbiting laboratory through the rest of this decade.

“The International Space Station is a beacon of peaceful international scientific collaboration and for more than 20 years has returned enormous scientific, educational, and technological developments to benefit humanity. I’m pleased that the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to continuing station operations through 2030,” Nelson said. “The United States’ continued participation on the ISS will enhance innovation and competitiveness, as well as advance the research and technology necessary to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program and pave the way for sending the first humans to Mars. As more and more nations are active in space, it’s more important than ever that the United States continues to lead the world in growing international alliances and modeling rules and norms for the peaceful and responsible use of space.”

Over the past two decades, the United States has maintained a continuous human presence in orbit around the Earth to test technologies, conduct scientific research, and develop skills needed to explore farther than ever before. The unique microgravity laboratory has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from over 4,200 researchers across the world and is returning enormous scientific, educational, and technological developments to benefit people on Earth. Nearly 110 countries and areas have participated in activities aboard the station, including more than 1,500,000 students per year in STEM activities.

Instruments aboard the ISS, used in concert with free-flying instruments in other orbits, help us measure the stresses of drought and the health of forests to enable improved understanding of the interaction of carbon and climate at different time scales. Operating these and other climate-related instruments through the end of the decade will greatly increase our understanding of the climate cycle.

Extending operations through 2030 will continue another productive decade of research advancement and enable a seamless transition of capabilities in low-Earth orbit to one or more commercially owned and operated destinations in the late 2020s. The decision to extend operations and NASA’s recent awards to develop commercial space stations together ensure uninterrupted, continuous human presence and capabilities; both are critical facets of NASA’s International Space Station transition plan.

NASA, SpaceX Continue Crew-2 Space Station Undocking

Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide talk to journalists on Earth before their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour.
Astronauts (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide talk to journalists on Earth before their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission continues to target a return to Earth no earlier than 7:14 a.m. EST Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 12:04 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, to begin the journey home. Mission teams completed an undocking weather review on Saturday and are ‘go’ to proceed to the next weather review about six hours prior to the scheduled undocking time. Winds remain the main watch item for the return of the mission.

NASA will provide coverage of the mission on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will complete 199 days in space at the conclusion of their mission. The spacecraft also will return to Earth with about 530 pounds of hardware and scientific investigations.

Endeavour now will forego a fly around maneuver to photograph the exterior of the International Space Station to allow for additional alternate splashdown locations off the coast of Florida.

NASA and SpaceX also have a backup undocking and splashdown opportunity available Monday, Nov. 8, if weather conditions are not favorable for the primary opportunity.

The NASA and SpaceX teams will determine a primary and alternate splashdown location from the seven possible landing locations prior to return, factoring in weather, crew rescue, and recovery operations. Additional decision milestones take place prior to undocking, during free flight, and before Crew Dragon performs the deorbit burn.

NASA and SpaceX closely coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard to establish a safety zone around the expected splashdown location to ensure safety for the public and for those involved in the recovery operations, as well as the crew aboard the returning spacecraft.

With Crew-2 splashdown Monday, Nov. 8, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission is targeting launch no earlier than 9:03 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For this launch opportunity, the Crew Dragon Endurance is scheduled to dock to the space station around 7:10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 return coverage is as follows:

Sunday, Nov. 7
9:45 a.m. EST– Coverage begins for 10:15 a.m. hatch closure

11:45 a.m. EST– Coverage begins for 12:04 p.m. undocking (NASA will provide continuous coverage from undocking to splashdown)

Monday, Nov. 8
7:14 a.m. EST– Splashdown

Crew-2 is the second of six NASA and SpaceX crewed missions to fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has delivered on its goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the U.S. through a partnership with American private industry. This partnership is changing the arc of human spaceflight history by opening access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, more science, and more commercial opportunities. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars.

SpaceX Cargo Dragon Undocked From Station

Sept. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.
Sept. 30, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

With NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough monitoring aboard the International Space Station, a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked from the station’s forward port of the Harmony module at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Cargo Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station prior to a deorbit burn later in the day that will begin its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will make parachute-assisted splashdown around 11 p.m. off the coast of Florida. NASA Television will not broadcast the splashdown live, but will provide updates on the space station blog..

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.

Dragon launched Aug. 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station the following day. The spacecraft delivered more than 4,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost.

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

Safety Training, Spacewalk Preps and Eye Checks Keep Crew Busy

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins is pictured during a spacewalk in December of 2013 when he was a flight engineer during Expedition 38.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins is pictured during a spacewalk in December of 2013 when he was a flight engineer during Expedition 38.

Emergency training took precedence aboard the International Space Station today with the Expedition 64 crew reviewing safety procedures and equipment. The orbital residents also had eye checks while gearing up for a busy period of spacewalks.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined her two crewmates from Roscosmos, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, at midday and practiced emergency escape procedures. The trio trained on a computer for the unlikely event they would have to evacuate the station and quickly undock inside their Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.

During the morning, NASA Flight Engineer Victor Glover inspected fire extinguishers and a variety of personal protective equipment including breathing gear components. The first-time space flyer then spent the rest of Tuesday afternoon servicing life support components inside U.S. spacesuits.

Glover is getting ready for a pair of spacewalks he and Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins of NASA will be conducting on Jan. 27 and Feb. 1. The duo will be setting up European science and communications hardware on the first spacewalk and configuring battery gear and high definition cameras on the second. NASA TV will preview the upcoming spacewalks on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. EST.

Two more spacewalks are planned for February with Rubins and Glover slated for the third spacewalk of 2021 to install new solar arrays. For the fourth spacewalk, Rubins will pair up with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi for more upgrade work on the orbital lab.

Finally at the end of the day, Rubins joined fellow NASA astronaut Shannon Walker for eye checks. The veteran station residents used optical coherence tomography with Walker leading the effort to image Rubins’ retinas to understand microgravity’s impact on eyes and vision.