Expedition 51 Duo Launches on Express Trip to Station

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Soyuz MS-04 Launch

The Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft launches to the International Space Station carrying Expedition 51 crew members Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani/NASA TV

The Soyuz MS-04 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:13 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 20 (1:13 p.m. Baikonur time). At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 250 miles over northeast Kazakhstan near the southern Russian border. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikin of Roscosmos are now safely in orbit.

The pair will travel on a fast-track, six-hour course to the space station and dock to the Poisk module at 9:23 a.m. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 8:30 a.m. Once at the station, they will be welcomed by Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). Hatches between the Soyuz and space station will open at approximately 11:05 a.m. NASA TV coverage of hatch opening and welcome ceremonies will begin at 10:45 a.m.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/iss and on Twitter @Space_Station.

New Crew Ready for Launch as Cygnus Races to Station

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Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer

Expedition 51 crew members Fyodor Yurchikhin (left) and Jack Fischer give a “thumbs up” as they pose for pictures April 14 in front of their Soyuz booster rocket. Credit: NASA/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center/Andrey Shelepin

Two Expedition 51 crew members are in quarantine today at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, getting ready for their liftoff Thursday morning. Meanwhile, new science gear and crew supplies are on orbit right now and headed for the International Space Station this weekend.

Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin is getting ready for his fifth mission to the space station on Thursday. He will ride to space with NASA astronaut and first-time space flier Jack Fischer aboard the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft. The duo will launch at 3:13 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and take a six-hour, ten-minute ride to the Poisk module’s docking port.

Two days after Yurchikhin and Fischer dock and join their Expedition 51 crewmates, the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft will arrive to resupply the orbital laboratory. Cygnus will deliver experiments supporting research into cancer-fighting drugs, semiconductor crystal growth and atmospheric reentry conditions.

Station Commander Peggy Whitson along with Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet trained for the rendezvous and grapple of the Cygnus cargo ship Saturday morning. The duo practiced on a computer the robotic maneuvers they will use to capture Cygnus with the Canadarm2.

U.S., Russian Rockets Rollout for Cargo and Crew Deliveries

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Cygnus and Soyuz Spacecraft

The Cygnus spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket (left) and the Soyuz MS-04 rocket rolled out to their launch pads today.

Two rockets on opposite sides of the world rolled out to their launch pads today ready to blast off to the International Space Station. An American rocket rolled out to its pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A Russian rocket was carted by train and raised to its vertical position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is stacked atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance and ready for its Tuesday launch at 11:11 a.m. EDT from Florida. The seventh contracted Commercial Resupply Services mission for Orbital ATK will deliver over 7,600 pounds science gear and crew supplies to the Expedition 51 crew. Cygnus is due to arrive Saturday morning for a robotic capture and installation to the Unity module.

Two new Expedition 51 crew members will be seated in the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft when it lifts off from Kazakhstan Thursday at 3:13 a.m. Just six hours and 10 minutes later the duo will dock to the Poisk module to begin a mission expected to last about 4-1/2 months.

Meanwhile, the orbiting trio of Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Thomas Pesquet and Oleg Novitskiy are getting ready for the new arrivals and continuing space research. Whitson explored how the brain adapts to microgravity while Pesquet set up hardware to collect body fluid samples for later analysis. Novitskiy focused on systems maintenance in the station’s Russian segment.

NASA is Ready For Tuesday Cygnus Launch

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The Cygnus cargo spacecraft

The Cygnus cargo spacecraft was pictured after it was captured with the Canadarm2 on Oct. 23, 2016.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Orbital ATK’s Launch Readiness Review for the Atlas V rocket with the Cygnus cargo resupply module was held April 15 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch managers from ULA, Orbital ATK and NASA determined all is ready for a targeted launch to the International Space Station on Tuesday, April 18. The liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 is scheduled for 11:11 a.m. EDT and there is a 30-minute launch opportunity available.

NASA TV launch coverage will begin at 10 a.m. EDT on air and streaming at www.nasa.gov/live.

Ten minutes prior to liftoff, NASA TV’s YouTube channel will debut full, 360 coverage of the launch at http://youtube.com/nasatelevision. Learn more about the 360 video coverage at: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/watch-world-s-first-live-360-degree-video-of-rocket-launch-april-18.

Follow progress on Orbital ATK’s seventh commercial resupply services mission for NASA to the space station at www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this list, please email heo-pao@lists.nasa.gov.

Computer Upgrades Ahead of Crew and Cargo Arrivals

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Night Image from the Space Station

This night image from the space station captures sparkling cities and a sliver of daylight framing the northern hemisphere.

The three International Space Station residents upgraded computer hardware and software today. The crew is also heading into the weekend preparing for the arrival of a new crew and a new cargo shipment.

Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet replaced outdated routers this morning with new ones providing expanded capabilities in the station’s U.S. segment. Whitson was in the Destiny lab module swapping routers while Pesquet was inside the Harmony module performing the computer maintenance. The router swaps and software updates were done to get ready for the arrival of the next station crew.

Expedition 51 will expand by two crew members when a veteran Roscosmos cosmonaut and a first time NASA space-flier arrive on Thursday. Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer will launch aboard the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft and take a six-hour, four-orbit ride before docking to the Poisk module. The duo will begin a mission expected to last about 4-1/2 months.

Orbital ATK is getting ready to roll out its Cygnus spacecraft loaded with over 7,600 pounds science gear and crew supplies. Cygnus is scheduled to launch Tuesday at 11:11 a.m. and take a four-day delivery trip before being captured by the Canadarm2 and installed to the Unity module.

Station Trio Works High-Flying Science and Maintenance

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oleg Novitskiy and Peggy Whitson

Expedition 51 crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Peggy Whitson pause for a portrait during a busy day aboard the station.

Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Thomas Pesquet and Oleg Novitskiy juggled a wide variety of space science and human research Thursday. The Expedition 51 trio also switched roles from orbital scientists to high-flying technicians maintaining the systems of the International Space Station.

Whitson started the day testing her fine motor skills to help researchers understand space adaptation and potentially design future touch-based devices for astronauts. The commander then spent the afternoon on space plumbing and worked on the Water Recovery System that converts urine and sweat into clean drinking water.

Pesquet began his morning observing what happens to materials heated to extreme temperatures. The Electrostatic Levitation Furnace can reveal combustion properties and synthesize materials that are very difficult to produce on Earth. In the afternoon, he studied the different phases of metallic alloys in the Material Science Research Rack.

Novitskiy, who is on his second station mission, worked throughout the day on troubleshooting a computer issue in the Zarya cargo module. Towards the end of the day, he charged computer batteries inside the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft and flushed water tanks into the Progress 66 cargo craft.

Expedition 51 Ramps Up for New Crew and Cargo

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Expedition 51 Crew Members Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer

Expedition 51 crew members Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer pose in front of the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft they will launch in April 20. Credit: NASA/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center/Andrey Shelepin

The three Expedition 51 crew members aboard the International Space Station are waiting for a new cargo shipment and a new crew to arrive next week. The orbiting trio are also performing human research and working on U.S. spacesuits.

A pair of spaceships are due next week at the space station. The Orbital ATK Cygnus will launch April 18 on a four-day trip to deliver over 7,600 pounds science gear and crew supplies. On April 20, a pair of new Expedition 51 crew members will blast off in the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft on a six-hour ride to the station’s Poisk module.

Commander Peggy Whitson is continuing to explore how new lights installed in the station are affecting crew health and wellness. She is documenting her sleep patterns and participating in cognition and visual tests for the Lighting Effects study.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet started his day conducting a Fine Motor Skills test. The study is helping scientists understand how astronauts adapt to touch-based technologies that could influence the development of mobile devices and spacecraft piloting interfaces.

Pesquet turned his attention to spacesuit maintenance Wednesday afternoon. He dumped cooling water and purged gas buildup from the water tanks inside the suits. The work is being done ahead of a planned May 12 spacewalk to replace an avionics box to control science experiments installed outside the station.

Kimbrough Returns to Houston, Whitson Continues Stay in Space

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Astronaut Shane Kimbrough Arrives in Houston

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough (left) is greeted by Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa after his arrival in Houston just 24 hours after completing his 173-day mission in space.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough is back in Houston just 24 hours after landing in Kazakhstan completing a 173-day mission in space. He arrived home aboard a NASA aircraft Tuesday morning while his two Expedition 50 crewmates, cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, have returned to Moscow.

Three crew members are staying behind on the International Space Station beginning the Expedition 51 mission. They are waiting for a new pair of residents to arrive in less than two weeks. Commander Peggy Whitson is orbiting Earth and leading the station crew of Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

All three crew members are busy aboard the orbital laboratory today maintaining its systems and performing critical space research. Whitson explored how new lights on the station are affecting crew performance and reconfigured science hardware with help from Pesquet. Novitskiy worked on Russian life support systems and studied ways to improve piloting spacecraft on long-term missions.

Two new Expedition 51 crewmates, veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut and first-time space flyer Jack Fischer, will join their orbiting crewmates April 10. The duo will blast off from Kazakhstan and take a six-hour, four-orbit ride to their new home in space aboard the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft.

Expedition 50 Crew Members Back on Earth

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Soyuz MS-02 Spacecraft Lands

The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft carrying three Expedition 50 crew members is pictured they very moment it landed in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA is among three crew members from the International Space Station (ISS) who returned to Earth Monday, after 173 days in space, landing in Kazakhstan at approximately 7:20 a.m. EDT (5:20 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Also returning were Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The three touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Kimbrough now has spent 189 days in space on two flights. Borisenko now has 337 days in space on two flights. Ryzhikov logged 173 days in space on his first flight.

Expedition 51 continues operating the station, with NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in command. Along with her crewmates Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of two new crew members. NASA’s Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch Thursday, April 20 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Get the latest news, images and features from the station on Instagram and Twitter: http://instagram.com/iss and http://www.twitter.com/Space_Station.   

Soyuz Undocks To Carry Trio Back to Earth

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Soyuz MS-02 Undocks

The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft undocks on time and backs away from the International Space Station’s Poisk module. Credit: NASA TV

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 3:57 a.m. EDT to begin their journey home.

Ryzhikov, the Soyuz commander, is at the controls of the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. Borisenko is seated in the left seat of the Soyuz descent module and Kimbrough is in the right seat.

The crew is scheduled to land at 7:21 a.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

As the Soyuz MS-02 undocked, Expedition 51 officially began under the command of NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson. She and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), will operate the station until the arrival of two new crew members later this month.

NASA TV will air live coverage of the Soyuz MS-02 deorbit burn and landing beginning at 6 a.m. Watch live on NASA’s website.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

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