Crew Safely in Orbit After Successful Launch

Expedition 59 Launch
The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft is launched with Expedition 59 crewmembers Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA, along with Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, Friday March 15, 2019, Kazakh time (March 14 Eastern time) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Hague, Koch, and Ovchinin will spend six-and-a-half months living and working aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Soyuz MS-12 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) and has safely reached orbit.  At the time of launch, the station was flying about 250 miles over southern Russia, across the northeast border with Kazakhstan; more than 1,100 statute miles ahead of the Soyuz as it leaves the launch pad.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmoshave begun their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory where they will live and work for more than six months. The new crew members will dock to the Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.

About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open and the new residents will be greeted by NASA astronaut Anne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The current three-person crew just welcomed the first American commercial crew vehicle as it docked to the station on March 3, amidst a busy schedule of scientific research and operations since arriving in December.

Coverage of the Soyuz docking to the International Space Station will begin on NASA TV’s media channel and the agency’s website beginning at 8:45 p.m. with the spacecraft docking expected at 9:07 p.m.

Coverage of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the space station will begin at 10:30 p.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch NASA TV Now to See New Crew Launch at 3:14pm ET

Expedition 59 Preflight
The Soyuz rocket is seen at dawn on launch site 1 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Thursday, March 14, 2019 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Expedition 59 astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA, along with Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will launch later in the day, U.S. time, on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Live launch coverage is underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website for the targeted lift off at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station.

The three will join NASA astronaut Anne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The crew members will continue important research experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Expedition 59 Prepares to Launch to Station

Expedition 59 Preflight
The Soyuz rocket is seen at dawn on launch site 1 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Thursday, March 14, 2019 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Expedition 59 astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA, along with Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will launch later in the day, U.S. time, on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, teams are making final preparations for the launch of NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, to the International Space Station. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time). Live launch coverage will begin at 2 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The trio’s arrival will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six, including three NASA astronauts. This launch will also mark the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts. The three will join station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The new crew members will dock to the Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.

Hague and Ovchinin are completing a journey that was cut short Oct. 11, when a booster separation problem with their Soyuz rocket’s first stage triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight. They landed safely a few minutes later, after reaching the fringes of space, and were reassigned to fly again after McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques launched in early December. This will be Ovchinin’s third flight into space, the second for Hague and the first for Koch. Hague, Koch, and McClain are from NASA’s 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women—the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class.

Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:

Thursday, March 14

EDT              L-Hr/M/Sec    Event

  • 6:14:09am    9:00                 Crew wakeup at Cosmonaut Hotel
  • 9:14:09am    6:00                 Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel
  • 9:29:09am    5:45                 Batteries installed in booster
  • 9:59:09am    5:15                  Crew arrives at Site 254
  • 10:14:09am   5:00                 Tanking begins
  • 10:44:09am  4:30                 Crew suit up
  • 11:09:09am   4:05                 Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
  • 11:44:09am   3:30                 Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
  • 12:09:09pm  3:05                First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
  • 12:14:09pm   3:00                Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
  • 12:19:09pm   2:55                Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
  • 12:39:09pm   2:35                Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
  • 12:49:09pm   2:25               Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
  • 1:39:09pm      1:35                Descent module hardware tested
  • 1:54:09pm      1:20                Hatch closed; leak checks begin
  • 2:00:00pm      1:14:09           NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
  • 2:14:09pm      1:00                Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
  • 2:15:00pm        :59:09             NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities B-roll played)
  • 2:29:09pm     :45:00            Pad service structure components lowered
  • 2:30:09pm     :44:00            Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
  • 2:37:09pm     :37:00             Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
  • 2:40:09pm     :34:00            Emergency escape system armed
  • 2:59:09pm     :15:00             Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
  • 3:04:09pm     :10:00             Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
  • 3:07:09pm     :07:00             Pre-launch operations complete
  • 3:08:09pm     :06:00            Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
  • 3:09:09pm     :05:00            Commander’s controls activated
  • 3:09:56pm       :04:13              ISS flies directly over the Baikonur Cosmodrome 
  • 3:10:09pm      :04:00            Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
  • 3:11:09pm       :03:00            Propellant drainback
  • 3:11:26pm       :02:43            Booster propellant tank pressurization
  • 3:12:39pm      :01:30             Ground propellant feed terminated
  • 3:13:09pm       01:00             Vehicle to internal power
  • 3:13:34pm      :00:35             First umbilical tower separates

Auto sequence start

  • 3:13:39pm     :00:30            Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
  • 3:13:54pm     :00:15             Second umbilical tower separates
  • 3:13:57pm     :00:12             Launch command issued

Engine Start Sequence Begins

  • 3:13:59pm      :00:10            Engine turbo pumps at flight speed
  • 3:14:04pm     :00:05            Engines at maximum thrust
  • 3:14:09pm       :00:00            LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-12 TO THE ISS
  • 3:22:54pm     +8:45               Third stage shutdown; Soyuz orbital insertion

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Expedition 58 Crew Congratulates NASA and SpaceX after Crew Dragon Departure

Crew Dragon spacecraft on it's way back to Earth
Crew Dragon spacecraft on it’s way back to Earth after undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 am EST on March 8, 2019

On behalf of the Expedition 58 crew, NASA Astronaut Anne McClain takes time to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams immediately following the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8.

Astronauts Assembling Gear for Installation During Upcoming Spacewalk

Astronaut Ricky Arnold
Astronaut Ricky Arnold completes the scrubbing of water cooling loops inside a pair of U.S. spacesuits after the completion of spacewalk on March 29, 2018.

The Expedition 55 crew members are getting their U.S. spacesuits and equipment ready for a spacewalk in two weeks. The Dragon cargo craft from SpaceX is nearly loaded with NASA science and gear ahead of its Saturday return to Earth.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are assembling hardware today that will be installed on the International Space Station when they conduct a spacewalk on May 16. The duo were assisted throughout the day by fellow NASA astronaut Scott Tingle scrubbing U.S. spacesuit water cooling loops and testing water samples for conductivity.

The veteran spacewalkers were mating repaired components from an external television camera group (ETVCG) that will be attached to the starboard side of the Destiny laboratory module. Their primary spacewalking task however, will be the swap out of thermal control gear that circulates ammonia to keep station systems cool.

Final packing is taking place inside the Dragon space freighter today as Tingle loads critical time-sensitive research samples inside the Earth-bound resupply ship. Robotics controllers will detach Dragon from the Harmony module Friday before releasing it Saturday at 9:24 a.m. from the grips of the Canadarm2. NASA TV will begin its live broadcast of the departure at 9 a.m. but will not televise its 3 p.m. splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Three New Expedition 55 Crew Members Dock to the Station

Soyuz MS-08 Spacecraft Approaches Station
Space station cameras sight the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft just meters away from docking to the Poisk module. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft docked to Poisk module of the International Space Station at 3:40 p.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying over Serbia.

Following their two-day trip, NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station. Their arrival restores the station’s crew complement to six as they wait to join Scott Tingle of NASA, Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The hatches between the two spacecraft will open following standard pressurization and leak checks. Watch the hatch opening and welcome ceremony on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.

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

Crew Ready for Launch as Station Preps for Spacewalk and Dragon Mission

Expedition 55-56 crew members
Expedition 55-56 crew members (from left) Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev and Drew Feustel are seen in quarantine, behind glass, during a press conference at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

A Soyuz rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ready to blast off Wednesday with three Expedition 55-56 crew members to the International Space Station. In the following two weeks the expanded Expedition 55 crew will conduct a spacewalk and welcome a new SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

Today, NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev held a press conference while in quarantine at the Cosmonaut Hotel talking to journalists behind a glass partition. The trio will blast off inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft Wednesday at 1:44 p.m. EDT for a two-day ride to the station. The experienced space travelers will dock to the orbital laboratory’s Poisk module Friday at 3:41 p.m. NASA TV will begin its live launch coverage at 12:45 p.m.

Feustel and Arnold will then get busy preparing for a March 29 spacewalk while familiarizing themselves with space station operations. Both astronauts are experienced spacewalkers and will work to install wireless antennas on the Tranquility module and replace cameras on the Port-1 truss structure. The spacewalk will be broadcast live on NASA TV and is expected to start at 8:10 a.m. and last about six and a half hours.

SpaceX is ramping up for a launch no earlier than April 2 of its Dragon commercial cargo craft to resupply the Expedition 55 crew with new science gear and crew supplies. The crew onboard the station has been configuring the orbital lab to enable the new research such as the Wound Healing and Metabolic Tracking experiments.

While launch awaits, the science does not

Expedition 55 prime and backup crew
At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the Expedition 55 prime and backup crew members pose for pictures by a Soyuz model as part of their pre-launch activities. From left to right are prime crew members Ricky Arnold of NASA, Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Drew Feustel of NASA, and backup crew members Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and Nick Hague of NASA.

As the International Space Station orbits Earth with three occupants already onboard, on the ground below in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, three more crewmates are engaged in activities leading up to a March 21 liftoff on a Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft to join them. (You can watch this launch live on NASA TV, with coverage beginning at 12:45 p.m. EDT.)

Today the future Expedition 55-56 crew members, NASA Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, along with Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev, engaged with journalists for media day, sharing how they will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory. This crew will build on the trend of long-term increase in U.S. crew size from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated time for investigative research.

Meanwhile, off the Earth, the Expedition 55 crew reconfigured the JEM Airlock in support of an upcoming experiment: Materials on ISS Experiment – Flight Facility (MISSE-FF) payload operations. This study exposes sample plates containing a variety of surface materials to the harsh environs of space outside the station for varying durations. Data collected will inform satellite designers how different materials can degrade over time—a topic of great importance when it comes to designing and building spacecraft and structures to withstand a journey through the cosmos. 

On Friday, Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA will wrap up the week talking to science teachers—and lots of them—via an educational in-flight event with the National Science Teachers Association National Conference. During this downlink highlighting the Year of Education on Station, teachers from as far as the United Arab Emirates will pose their own burning questions for the astronaut and learn more about how to living—and working—is accomplished in microgravity.

Spacewalk and cargo preps punctuated with media outreach

Flight Engineers Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle
From left, Flight Engineers Norishige Kanai and Scott Tingle take part in an in-flight media event aboard the orbiting laboratory. Image Credit: NASA TV

It’s a new day in space aboard the International Space Station, and three Expedition 55 crew members are prepping for an upcoming spacewalk and cargo-transfer activities while also sharing the wonders of our orbiting laboratory.

March 29 is the target date of the next U.S. spacewalk. To begin preparations for the excursion, the crew swapped out Extravehicular Mobility Units, or EMUs, and began resizing the suits. Also on the task list: packing up suit parts intended for return to Earth with SpaceX CRS-14.

In addition, the crewmates spent time reconfiguring the European Physiology Module rack for the future installation of ESA’s ICE Cubes Facility (ICF). The ICF will provide commercial entities simplified, low-cost access to the space station with individual experiment cubes—small investigations that could make large impacts within the scientific community.

NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency shared how space station benefits humankind off the Earth, for the Earth, during two in-flight Public Affairs events live on NASA TV. The first interview was with KYW-TV in Philadelphia, while the second was with NPR’s 1A Broadcast on WAMU Radio in Washington, D.C.

Later, a reboost is planned using the Progress 69P spacecraft to lift station to the correct altitude for a Soyuz 53S undock and landing early this summer.

Investigations this week set the stage for longer missions in space

Veggie experiment
The crew continued work with Veggie-03, watering the lettuce plants, documenting growth and selecting some for consumption. Image Credit: NASA

Kicking off the new week, the Expedition 55 crew aboard the International Space Station continued studies evaluating crew health, performance and sustainability for long-duration space missions.

For one such investigation, a crewmate set up Neuromapping hardware to perform tests for Flight Day 90, conducting strapped in and free-floating body configurations. This experiment studies whether long missions can cause changes to brain structure and function, motor control and multitasking abilities, as well as how long it would take the brain and body to recover from the possible effects. Previous anecdotal evidence supplied by astronauts suggests that movement control and cognition can be affected in microgravity.

The crew also continued work with Veggie-03, watering the lettuce plants, documenting growth and selecting some for consumption. Veggie-03 supports the concept that for future long-duration space missions, a fresh food supply can be grown in space to supplement the crew while far from home.

On the ground, Expedition 55-56, consisting of Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev and NASA Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, checked off more reviews of launch day and rendezvous procedures in anticipation of a March 21 liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in a Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. They will join the crew already in orbit following a March 23 docking.