NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA, along with Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, undocked from the International Space Station at 5:58 p.m. EDT to begin their voyage home. Whitson spent 288 days in space on this mission, and Fischer and Yurchikhin each completed 136 days in space.
The deborbit burn is targeted for 8:29 p.m., and will lead to a landing at 9:22 p.m. NASA Television coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 8 p.m.
At 2:41 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. Expedition 52 crewmates Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 5:58 p.m. NASA Television will air live coverage of undocking beginning at 5:30 p.m.
A pair of Expedition 52 astronauts checked out new, smaller exercise gear today. The crew also worked on a variety of human research while a new cosmic ray detector has begun scanning outer space.
The space station’s two newest astronauts, Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik, joined forces today to measure the effectiveness of the new Mini-Exercise Device-2 (MED2). The MED2 is smaller and less bulky than other space exercise equipment providing more habitability room on a spacecraft. The duo worked out on MED2 and took photographs to demonstrate its ability to provide motion and resistance during an exercise session.
Flight Engineer Jack Fischer scanned his leg artery with an ultrasound device after a short exercise during the afternoon. The Vascular Echo study is examining how blood vessels and the heart adapt to microgravity. Astronaut Peggy Whitson spent her afternoon swapping cell cultures inside the Advanced Space Experiment Processor.
The Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation, or CREAM, is now observing cosmic rays coming from across the galaxy. CREAM was attached to the outside of the Kibo lab module on Tuesday after a handoff from the Canadian robotic arm to the Japanese robotic arm. CREAM was delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon and will help determine the origin of the cosmic rays and measure their features across the energy spectrum.
Overnight, robotics controllers extracted a new astrophysics experiment from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. The Canadarm2 will hand off the new astronomy gear to the Japanese robotic arm which will then install it outside the Kibo laboratory module.
Dubbed CREAM, short for Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation, it will observe a variety of cosmic rays and measure their charges. The experiment is an extension of what started as high-altitude, long-duration balloon flights over Antarctica. The orbital data is expected to be several orders of magnitude greater than that collected in Earth’s atmosphere.
The six Expedition 52 crew members had a once-in-a-lifetime experience Monday as they witnessed the solar eclipse from space. The orbiting crewmates employed a multitude of cameras to photograph the eclipse. They captured stunning views of the moon’s shadow against the Earth with a high definition camcorder as the eclipse darkened a coast-to-coast swath of the United States.
The Expedition 52 crew members pulled out their medical hardware today for a variety of eye checks and other biomedical research. The station residents are also making space and packing up gear for next week’s cargo delivery aboard the SpaceX Dragon.
The crew each participated in a series of eye exams throughout Thursday working with optical coherence tomography (OCT) gear. OCT is a medical imaging technique that captures imagery of the retina using light waves. A pair of cosmonauts then peered into a fundoscope for a more detailed look at the eye’s interior. The regularly scheduled eye checks were conducted with real-time input from doctors on the ground.
SpaceX completed a static fire test of its Falcon 9 rocket today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon cargo craft will be perched atop the Falcon 9 for a targeted launch Monday at 12:31 p.m. EDT.
Once in space, Dragon will conduct a series of orbital maneuvers navigating its way to the station Wednesday morning. Finally, Dragon will reach its capture point ten meters away from the complex. From there, astronauts Jack Fischer and Paolo Nespoli will command the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple Dragon. Next, ground controllers remotely guide Dragon still attached to the Canadarm2 and install it to the Harmony module.
The crew is clearing space on the International Space Station today and packing gear to stow on Dragon after it arrives next week. NASA TV begins its pre-launch coverage Sunday covering Dragon’s science payloads. Monday’s launch coverage begins at noon. NASA TV will also broadcast Dragon’s arrival Wednesday beginning at 5:30 a.m.
The fully staffed International Space Station stepped up its life science research today studying a host of space phenomena. Two cosmonauts are also preparing for the 202nd spacewalk at the station late next week.
Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer checked out a variety of rodent research gear today. Whitson is getting a biology facility ready for a new experiment to be delivered next week on the SpaceX Dragon. Fischer looked at mice to help researchers determine the effectiveness of a new drug that may slow or reverse muscle and bone loss in space.
The next spacewalk is targeted for Aug. 17. Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy are reviewing their external tasks and work areas for a spacewalk expected to last a little over six hours. They’ll perform science and maintenance tasks and deploy tiny satellites during their orbital excursion.
From leg muscle scans to observing materials burning at high temperatures, the Expedition 52 crew continued researching what happens when you live in space. The space residents also upgraded electronics gear and installed new science racks.
Astronauts Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli are barely a week into their 4-1/2 month long mission and are already exploring what space is doing to their bodies. The astronauts took ultrasound scans of their legs today to assess the changes their leg muscles and tendons are undergoing. The data will later be compared to the condition of their muscles before and after their spaceflight mission.
Jack Fischer of NASA installed new electronics gear in a science rack to speed up the communications rate at which data is uploaded and downloaded from the research facility. Station veteran Peggy Whitson swapped out samples exposed to high temperatures inside a specialized furnace. She later installed a pair of NanoRacks research platforms in the Kibo laboratory module. The commercial science devices will support upcoming experiments being delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon mission.
Three new crew members have arrived to the International Space Station. The hatches on the space station and Soyuz MS-05 opened at 7:57 p.m. EDT, marking the arrival to the orbiting laboratory for NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency).
Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA welcomed the new crew members aboard their orbital home.
Momentarily, the crew will speak to their family and friends from Baikonur in a welcoming ceremony that will air live on NASA TV.
The crew will support more than 250 experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.
The Expedition 52/53 crew will spend more than four months together aboard the orbital complex before returning to Earth in December.
You can follow the crew’s activities and experiences in space on social media:
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station. Their journey to the station will begin with a lift off at 11:41 a.m. EDT Friday (9:41 p.m. in Baikonur). Live launch coverage will begin at 10:45 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The three will join Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer of NASA. The Expedition 52 crew members will contribute to more than 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:
7:11:12am 4:30 Crew suit up
7:36:12am 4:05 Booster loaded with liquid Oxygen
8:11:12am 3:30 Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
8:36:12am 3:05 First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
8:41:12am 3:00 Crew walkout from 254 and boards bus for the launch pad
8:46:12am 2:55 Crew departs for launch pad (Site 1)
9:06:12am 2:35 Crew arrives at launch pad (Site 1)
9:16:12am 2:25 Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
10:06:12am 1:35 Descent module hardware tested
10:21:12am 1:20 Hatch closed; leak checks begin
10:41:12am 1:00 Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation 10:45:00am :56:12 NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
10:56:12am :45 Pad service structure components lowered
10:57:14am :44 Clamshell gantry service towers retracted 11:00:00am :41:12 NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
11:04:12am :37 Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
11:07:12am :34 Emergency escape system armed
11:26:12am :15 Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
11:31:12am :10 Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
11:34:12am :07 Pre-launch operations complete
11:35:12am :06 Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
11:36:12am :05 Commander’s controls activated 11:37:07am :04:05 The ISS flies directly over the Baikonur Cosmodrome
11:37:12am :04 Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
11:38:12am :03 Propellant drainback
11:38:27am :02:45 Booster propellant tank pressurization
11:39:42am :01:30 Ground propellant feed terminated
11:40:12am :01:00 Vehicle to internal power
11:40:37am :00:35 First umbilical tower separates Auto sequence start
11:40:42am :00:30 Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
11:40:57am :00:15 Second umbilical tower separates
11:41:00am :00:12 Launch command issued Engine Start Sequence Begins
11:41:02am :00:10 Engine turbopumps at flight speed
11:41:07am :00:05 Engines at maximum thrust 11:41:12am :00:00 LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-05 TO THE ISS 11:49:57am +8:45 THIRD STAGE SHUTDOWN; ORBITAL INSERTION
The next update will be after the crew safely reaches orbit.
It is less than one day before three new International Space Station crew members start a 4-1/2 month mission in space. The trio from Russia, United States and Italy will launch aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft Friday at 11:41 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
All three crew members orbiting Earth today once again explored a lower body suit that has the potential to reverse the headward flow of body fluids in space. Whitson then studied new methods to manage liquid and gas mixtures on spacecraft life support systems. Fischer began setting up gear for an upcoming Japanese plant experiment.