Muscle and Heart Research as Dragon Targets Sunday Arrival

Kibo and the Milky Way
Japan’s Kibo lab module and the Earth’s limb frames the Milky Way. Credit: @Astro_Tim

The six station residents researched advanced space science today inside the orbital laboratory. The crew is also training for the automated arrival and robotic installment of the SpaceX Dragon.

The crew members are exploring how living in space affects the human muscular system and heart function. The crew also preparing a high quality protein crystal experiment that may enable advanced drug treatments for a variety of diseases on Earth.

The SpaceX Dragon is the next cargo craft set deliver more science and crew supplies. It will launch Friday afternoon for a rendezvous and capture Sunday morning at the space station. The new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will also be shipped to the Expedition 47 crew aboard the SpaceX. BEAM will be installed to the Tranquility module about a week after its arrival at the station for two years of habitability tests.

A Russian Progress 63 (63P) cargo craft completed a two-day delivery mission to the International Space Station Saturday afternoon. The crew opened the hatches to the 63P shortly afterward and began unloading nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies.

Robotic Arm Grabs Space Delivery After Three Day Mission

Cygnus Capture
A computer overlay with engineering data provides video of the Canadarm2 robotic arm maneuvering to capture the Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter. Credit: NASA TV

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra successfully captured Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo vehicle at 6:51 a.m. EDT. The space station crew and the robotics officer in mission control in Houston will position Cygnus for installation to the orbiting laboratory’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module.

NASA TV coverage of the installation will begin at 9:15 a.m. Installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station is expected to be completed by 9:25 a.m.

Among the more than 7,700 pounds of supplies aboard Cygnus are numerous science and research investigations and technology demonstrations, including Saffire-I, which will provide a new way to study a large fire on an exploration craft. Such studies have not been possible in the past because the risks for performing such studies on spacecraft with astronauts aboard are too high.

Saffire-1 will remain on the spacecraft once all the other supplies are unloaded, and the vehicle will be attached to the space station for about two months. Once it departs and the spacecraft is a safe distance from the space station, engineers will remotely conduct the first Saffire experiment before the Cygnus’ destructive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Before detaching from the station, Cygnus will also be filled with about 3,000 pounds of trash, which will be burned up over the Pacific Ocean.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via @Space_Station and the hashtag #Cygnus.

Cygnus Lifts Off on Three Day Mission to Station

Cygnus Launch
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida. Credit: NASA TV

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifted off at 11:05 p.m. EDT/3:05 a.m. UTC, and Cygnus has begun its journey to the International Space Station with an arrival on March 26. Cygnus will separate from the upper stage of the Atlas rocket 21 minutes after launch.

An hour and half after launch, commands will be given to deploy the spacecraft’s UltraFlex solar arrays.

This is the second Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system and the second flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. In addition to the new solar arrays, the cargo freighter features a greater payload capacity and new fuel tanks. Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft’s interior volume capacity by 25 percent, allowing more cargo to be delivered with each mission.

Launch coverage will continue on NASA TV at until shortly after spacecraft separation then resume at about 12:35 a.m. in advance of solar array deployment at about 12:41 a.m.

A post-launch news conference is scheduled to begin on NASA TV at approximately 1:30 a.m.

Join the online conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Historic Crew Finishes Mission as Orbiting Trio Relaxes

Astronaut Scott Kelly
Astronaut Scott Kelly steps off a NASA jet in Stavanger, Norway, during a refueling stop. He is en route to Houston after landing inside a Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan a few hours earlier.

With three crew members back on Earth after a historic mission, another trio is still orbiting Earth on the International Space Station until their mission ends in June.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly floated to a landing in Kazakhstan last night alongside his crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov inside the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft. Kelly and Kornienko were in space for a record-setting 340 days encompassing Expeditions 43 through 46. Volkov lived in space for 182 days across Expeditions 45 and 46.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra and Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko are continuing their mission on the orbital lab conducting science and maintenance. The orbiting crew is relaxing today after yesterday’s departure activities and waiting for the next set of station residents to arrive. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will join Expedition 47 when they launch March 18.

Spaceship Takes Out Trash Before One-Year Crew Goes Home

Space Station Configuration
There are now four spacecraft docked to the International Space Station after the Cygnus left Friday morning. The next spacecraft to leave will be the Soyuz TMA-18M docked to the Poisk module on March 1.

The Expedition 46 crew took out the trash today when it released the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft from the grips of the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. In less than two weeks, another spacecraft will leave returning three crew members back to Earth.

The Cygnus was filled with trash and discarded gear over the last few days before the hatches were closed Thursday. Ground controllers then remotely guided the Canadarm2 to grapple Cygnus and detach it from the Unity module.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra commanded the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus today at 7:26 a.m. EST when it began gracefully departing the vicinity of the station. Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will guide Cygnus into the Earth’s atmosphere Saturday morning where it will safely burn up high over the Pacific Ocean.

Kelly and a pair of cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov now turn their attention to their March 1 homecoming. They will be packing the Soyuz TMA-18M with science experiments and personal items for the ride home. Kelly and Kornienko will be completing 340 consecutive days in space, while Volkov will be wrapping up 182 days in orbit.

Spacewalkers Clean Up as Crew Works on Life Support Gear

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly
Astronauts Tim Kopra (foreground) and Scott Kelly work on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly inside the Tranquility module. Credit: NASA TV

Two cosmonauts are cleaning up today after a successful spacewalk on Wednesday. The other crew members are working on life support gear and taking out the trash.

Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov completed the third spacewalk of Expedition 46 after installing hardware and science gear and conducting experiments. Today the duo are cleaning and recharging their Orlan spacesuits and stowing their tools.

British astronaut Tim Peake helped Malenchenko and Volkov as he stowed the U.S. gear used on the suits. Peake later videotaped himself reading a children’s storybook and performing science demonstrations for students.

Commander Scott Kelly and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra partnered together to swap parts inside the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). Kelly then packed trash inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft due to leave the International Space Station on Feb. 19. Kopra later wrapped up the CDRA maintenance work.

More Spacewalk Preps as Crew Researches Effects of Space on Life

Cygnus and Soyuz
Two docked spacecraft, the Cygnus with its circular solar arrays (left) and the Soyuz, are seen with the Earth below.

Two astronauts are counting down to a spacewalk planned for next Friday to replace a failed voltage regulator. While those preparations are under way, the crew is also exploring human research, life science and advanced physics.

Next week’s spacewalkers are NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake. They will replace a voltage regulator to restore power to one of eight power channels and take care of other maintenance tasks. The duo worked on their spacesuit batteries then joined Commander Scott Kelly to review procedures for their Jan. 15 spacewalk.

Kelly also worked on exercise research to improve fitness in space. Kopra studied heart function and Fine Motor Skills while Peake looked at arteries and how they stiffen in space.

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko explored magnetic fields and coulomb crystals and transferred cargo from the newest Progress 62 cargo craft. His fellow flight engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov reported on the station’s scientific achievements for a Russian educational research program.

Unscheduled Spacewalk Likely on Monday

STS-119 Spacewalk March 2009
NASA Astronaut Joe Acaba, in the broken red striped spacesuit, and Astronaut Ricky Arnold, in the white striped suit, work to relocate Crew and Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) near the Mobile Transporter (MT) during an STS-119 spacewalk in March 2009.

The International Space Station’s mission managers are preparing for a likely unplanned spacewalk by Astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra no earlier than Monday, Dec. 21.

Late Wednesday, the Mobile Transporter rail car on the station’s truss was being moved by robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, to a different worksite near the center of the truss for payload operations when it stopped moving. The cause of the stall is being evaluated, but experts believe it may be related to a stuck brake handle, said ISS Mission Integration and Operations Manager Kenny Todd. Flight controllers had planned to move the transporter away from the center of the truss to worksite 2. The cause of the stall that halted its movement just four inches (10 centimeters) away from where it began is still being evaluated. Progress 62 is scheduled to launch at 3:44 a.m. EST Monday, and dock on Wednesday to the Pirs docking compartment at 5:31 a.m. Wednesday.

The ISS Mission Management Team met Friday morning and is targeting Monday for the spacewalk, but will meet again in a readiness review Sunday morning. Managers could elect to press ahead for Monday, or take an extra day and conduct the spacewalk Tuesday.

ISS Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA will conduct the spacewalk. It will be the 191st spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the third in Kelly’s career and the second for Kopra. Kelly will be designated Extravehicular Activity crew member 1 (EV1) wearing the suit bearing the red stripes, and Kopra will be Extravehicular Activity crew member 2 (EV2) wearing the suit with no stripes.

A start time for the spacewalk either Monday or Tuesday has not yet been set, but NASA TV coverage will begin 90 minutes prior to the start of the spacewalk.


Exp 45. – Soyuz Landing Coverage Starts at 1 a.m. EST Friday

The Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 42 commander Barry Wilmore of NASA, Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Elena Serova of Roscosmos near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 (Thursday, March 12, Kazakh time).
The Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 42 commander Barry Wilmore of NASA, Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Elena Serova of Roscosmos near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 (Thursday, March 12, Kazakh time).

Three International Space Station crew members are preparing to return to Earth early Friday after 141 days in space. Expedition 45 Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will land in their Soyuz spacecraft at 8:12 a.m. EST, northeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

NASA Television coverage begins at 1 a.m. Friday as they bid the station farewell, enter the Soyuz, and close the hatches. So far, the crew’s return is on track, and the space station is in good shape.

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, along with crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, will operate the station for four days until the arrival of three new crew members.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Dec. 15 and arrive at the station about 6 hours later.

Kelly and Kornienko are on the first joint U.S.-Russian one-year mission, an important stepping stone on NASA’s journey to Mars.

NASA Television coverage times for Soyuz activities are listed below. These activities also will stream online at:

Here is a timeline of the Expedition 45 undocking and landing.

1:00 a.m. NASA TV: Expedition 45 farewell & hatch closure coverage
1:25 a.m. Soyuz TMA-17M/space station hatch closure
4:30 a.m. NASA TV: Expedition 45 Soyuz TMA-17M undocking coverage
4:48 a.m. Soyuz undock command sent
4:49 a.m. Soyuz TMA-17M undocks from space station
4:52 a.m. Soyuz manual separation burn
7:00 a.m. NASA TV: Expedition 45 Soyuz TMA-17M deorbit burn and landing coverage
7:19 a.m. Soyuz TMA-17M deorbit burn (4 minutes, 41 seconds duration)
7:46 a.m. Soyuz module separation (altitude 87 miles)
7:49 a.m. Soyuz atmospheric entry (altitude 62 miles)
7:57 a.m. Command to open parachute (6.7 miles)
8:12 a.m. Expedition 45 Soyuz TMA-17M landing northeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

Join the conversation on Twitter @space_station.

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First Christmas Delivery Set to Arrive Wednesday

Cygnus Approaches Station
The Cygnus spacecraft approaches the International Space Station in January of 2014.

The first of two Christmas space deliveries is set to arrive early Wednesday morning. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft is on its way to the International Space Station where it will be captured and berthed to the Unity module around 6:10 a.m. EST/11:10 a.m. UTC. The next holiday shipment will be delivered Dec. 23 aboard Russia’s Progress 62 resupply ship.

Meanwhile, three Expedition 45 crew members are packing their Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft and getting ready for the ride back to Earth Dec. 11. Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko will pilot astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui to the landing site in Kazakhstan after 141 days in space.

Four days later, three new Expedition 46 crew members will launch to the orbital laboratory to join One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko with cosmonaut Sergey Volkov. First-time British astronaut Tim Peake will lift off Dec. 15 aboard the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft with Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for a six-month mission in space.