SpaceX Dragon Released from Station for Earth Return

The SpaceX Dragon above the Nile River Delta
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module on Aug. 13, 2019, as the orbital complex flew 260 miles above the Nile River Delta in Egypt.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft released from the International Space Station at 10:59 a.m. EDT after flight controllers in Houston delivered remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA monitored Dragon’s systems as it departed the microgravity laboratory.

Next up, Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the station and execute a deorbit burn around 3:22 p.m. to leave orbit. Splashdown down is targeted for 4:21 p.m. EDT (1:21 p.m. PDT).

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.

Russian Spacecraft Second Docking Attempt Successful

The Soyuz MS-14 and Soyuz MS-13 Spacecrafts
The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is pictured during it’s approach. The Soyuz MS-13 is seen in the forground.

While the spacecraft were flying about 250 miles above Eastern Mongolia, an uncrewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft arrived and docked to the International Space Station at 11:08 p.m. EDT.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft attached to the station’s aft-facing Zvezda module for a two-week stay as part of its test flight. The Soyuz delivers 1,450 pounds of cargo, including a Skybot F-850 humanoid robot, to the Expedition 60 crew currently residing on the orbital outpost.

The docking of the unpiloted Soyuz sets the stage for the robotic release of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Tuesday morning after a four-week stay at the station. The Dragon is filled with almost 2,700 pounds of valuable scientific experiments and other cargo. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 10:15 a.m. EDT.

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.

NASA TV Broadcasting Second Docking Attempt of Russian Spacecraft

The Soyuz MS-14 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is pictured during its first docking attempt early Saturday.

Beginning at 10:30 p.m. EDT Monday, NASA Television and the agency’s website will air the arrival and docking to the International Space Station of an uncrewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The Soyuz MS-14  is scheduled to dock to the station’s aft-facing Zvezda module at 11:12 p.m.

It is the spacecraft’s second attempt to dock to the station after cosmonauts aborted its first attempt Saturday at 1:36 a.m. because of a problem on the station’s side of the so-called KURS automated rendezvous system that prevented its automated docking. The Soyuz has been on a safe trajectory above and behind the space station.

To enable the second attempt, three Expedition 60 crew members boarded their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft Sunday night and relocated it from the Zvezda module to the Poisk module, making the Zvezda port available.

The uncrewed Soyuz launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21 on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket. The booster will be used to transport crews to the International Space Station beginning in spring 2020.

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.

Russian and U.S. Spaceship Activities Keep Crew Busy

Aug. 25, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
International Space Station Configuration: Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12 and MS-13 crew ships.

An unpiloted Russian spacecraft is ready to make a second docking attempt tonight as a U.S. resupply ship is preparing for its departure Tuesday. This follows Sunday night’s relocation of a Soyuz crew ship at the International Space Station.

Three Expedition 60 crewmembers swapped docking ports in their Soyuz MS-13 crew ship late Sunday. Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov, with Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano seated next to him, backed the Soyuz away from the Zvezda service module at 11:35 p.m. EDT on Sunday and pulled their vehicle into the Poisk module just before midnight.

The relocation opens up Zvezda’s docking port, with its fully operable Kurs automated rendezvous system, to receive the uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft today at 11:12 p.m. The MS-14 has been safely trailing the station by over 160 miles after its aborted docking attempt Saturday due to a faulty automated rendezvous component on Poisk.

Morgan and fellow NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague are getting the SpaceX Dragon space freighter ready for its release from the Harmony module on Tuesday morning. Ground controllers in Houston will remotely command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Dragon from its grips Tuesday at 10:42 a.m. It will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California a few hours later for retrieval by SpaceX personnel.

NASA TV is covering all of the spaceship docking and departure activities live. Soyuz MS-14 docking coverage begins tonight at 10:30 p.m. Dragon release coverage begins Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. Dragon splashdown will not be broadcast.

Crew Relocates Russian Soyuz Spacecraft to Different Port

The Soyuz MS-13 crew ship
The Soyuz MS-13 crew ship is pictured docked the International Space Station’s Poisk module after successfully completing its relocation maneuver.

At 11:59 p.m. EDT, the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft with three Expedition 60 members inside successfully docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module. The crew of Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Andrew Morgan of NASA began the relocation maneuver when they undocked from the aft port of the station’s Zvezda module at 11:35 p.m.

Skvortsov flew the spacecraft, backing about 124 feet (38 meters) away from the space station before completing a roll maneuver to take them to the Poisk module for the manual docking.

The move frees the port for an uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 that currently is on a safe trajectory above and behind the space station to execute a second docking attempt Monday night to the Zvezda port. The so-called KURS automated rendezvous system has been tested and is in perfect working order. NASA TV coverage of the docking Monday night will begin at 10:30 p.m. with docking scheduled at 11:12 p.m.

The uncrewed Soyuz launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21 on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket. The spacecraft will deliver 1,450 pounds of cargo to the Expedition 60 crew.

The last relocation of a Soyuz was in August 2015 when Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos and NASA’s Scott Kelly conducted a similar operation, but in reverse, flying their Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from Poisk to Zvezda.

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.

Crew Undocks in Russian Soyuz Spacecraft for Port Relocation

Three Expedition 60 crew members
The three Expedition 60 crew members riding inside the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft are (from left) Andrew Morgan of NASA, Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency).

At 11:35 p.m. EDT, the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft with three Expedition 60 members inside undocked from the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module. They are beginning a 25-minute journey to relocate their spacecraft to the to the Poisk module.

Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Andrew Morgan of NASA donned their Russian Sokol launch and entry suits before climbing aboard their Soyuz for the relocation maneuver.

The relocation will accommodate a second rendezvous and docking attempt for an uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft on Monday night. The uncrewed Soyuz launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 11:38 p.m. EDT (8:38 a.m. Aug. 22 Baikonur time) on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket. Cosmonauts aborted its first attempt to dock on Saturday at 1:36 a.m. because of a problem on the station’s side of the so-called KURS automated rendezvous system that prevented its automated docking.

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.

Second Docking Attempt for Russian Spacecraft Planned for Monday Night

The Soyuz MS-14 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is pictured during its first docking attempt early Saturday.

International Space Station managers and the international partners met on Saturday and approved a plan to allow a second rendezvous and docking attempt for the unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft to occur on Monday night. The Soyuz’ initial docking attempt early Saturday was aborted after what Russian officials said was a suspected problem with a component associated with the Kurs automated rendezvous system for the Poisk module docking port.

The Soyuz was commanded to back away from the station after approaching to within 100 meters of Poisk when the vehicle could not achieve a solid telemetry lock to that docking port through the automated rendezvous system. The unpiloted Soyuz is currently orbiting a safe distance from the ISS with all of its systems functioning normally. The six crewmembers on board the station were never in any danger during the initial rendezvous attempt.

Plans now call for the unpiloted Soyuz to execute a second docking attempt Monday night at 10:12 p.m. Central time, 11:12 p.m. Eastern time, but this time to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module. The Kurs system on Zvezda has been checked out and is in perfect working order. NASA TV coverage of the docking Monday night will begin at 9:30 p.m. Central time, 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

To accommodate the new plan, Expedition 60 crewmembers Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Drew Morgan of NASA will don their Russian Sokol launch and entry suits Sunday night, climb aboard their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft which docked to Zvezda on July 20 and undock for a 25-minute Soyuz relocation maneuver and a manual docking by Soyuz commander Skvortsov to the Poisk module. The suspect Kurs rendezvous unit component for Poisk is not a factor for the relocation maneuver by Skvortsov and his Soyuz crewmates.

NASA TV coverage of the relocation will begin Sunday night at 10 p.m. Central time, 11 p.m. Eastern time. Undocking of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft from Zvezda is scheduled at 10:34 p.m. Central time, 11:34 p.m. Eastern time with redocking to Poisk scheduled at 10:59 p.m. Central time, 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

It would be the first Soyuz relocation since August 2015 when Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos and NASA’s Scott Kelly conducted a similar operation, but in reverse, flying their Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from Poisk to Zvezda.

The docking of the unpiloted Soyuz Monday night will preserve the robotic release of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft Tuesday morning after a four-week stay at the station. Dragon will be deorbited for a parachute-assisted splashdown several hours later in the Pacific Ocean, bringing home cargo and valuable scientific experiments from the orbital laboratory.

Russian Spacecraft Docking Attempt No Earlier Than Monday

International Space Station Configuration
International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft and Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12 and MS-13 crew ships.

An uncrewed Russian Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is now a safe distance away from the International Space Station following an abort during its final approach for a docking to the Poisk module.

After the cosmonauts on the station aborted an automated docking attempt early Saturday, Russian flight controllers told the crew on the station that early data indicates the issue that prevented its automated docking resides on the station’s side of the so-called KURS automated rendezvous system, not on the Soyuz itself.

The Soyuz is on a safe trajectory above and behind the space station that will bring it in the vicinity of the orbital complex again in 24 hours and 48 hours. Russian flight controllers have indicated the next earliest docking attempt could be Monday morning.

In the meantime, Russian controllers informed Expedition 60 commander Alexey Ovchinin and flight engineer Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos they will send instructions to swap the signal amplifier of the station’s KURS docking system and test it before proceeding with another docking attempt.

The Soyuz launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 11:38 p.m. EDT (8:38 a.m. Aug. 22 Baikonur time) on a test flight to validate the spacecraft’s compatibility with a revamped Soyuz booster rocket.

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.

Uncrewed Russian Spacecraft Aborts Station Approach

The unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft
The unpiloted Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft is pictured near the International Space Station.

At 1:36 a.m. EDT, Russian cosmonauts issued a command to abort the automated approach of an uncrewed Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station after the craft was unable to lock onto its target at the station’s space-facing Poisk module.

The Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 11:38 p.m. EDT (8:38 a.m. Aug. 22 Baikonur time) on a test flight. It made 34 orbits of Earth en route to its anticipated docking to the station.

Following the abort, the spacecraft backed a safe distance away from the orbital complex while the Russian flight controllers assess the next steps.

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.

Life Science Today as Crew Readies for Spacecraft Arrivals and Departures

Expedition 60 crewmembers Alexey Ovchinin, Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan
Expedition 60 crewmembers (from left) Alexey Ovchinin, Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan pose for a portrait inside the vestibule between the Columbus laboratory module and the Harmony module.

The Expedition 60 crew is continuing ongoing space science today and packing a U.S. resupply ship for departure next week. Russia’s first unpiloted Soyuz spacecraft is also on its way to the International Space Station where it will dock early Saturday morning.

Four astronauts, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) with Christina Koch, Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague, all from NASA, are readying the SpaceX Dragon for its return to Earth. They will be packing Dragon with cargo and completed space experiments all weekend and into Monday.

Ground controllers will remotely command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Dragon from the Harmony module before releasing it into orbit on Tuesday at 10:42 a.m. EDT. SpaceX personnel will retrieve Dragon from the Pacific Ocean after its splashdown off the coast of southern California a few hours later. NASA TV begins its live broadcast of Dragon’s departure on Tuesday at 10:15 a.m.

A multitude of space experiments is continuing aboard the orbiting lab today. Hague explored how moss grows in microgravity to inform self-sustaining human missions to the Moon and Mars. Koch serviced 3D printed tissue samples for a study investigating printing human organs in space. Parmitano researched cell differentiation to help doctors design medical therapies for humans on Earth and in space. Finally, Morgan collected and spun his blood samples in a centrifuge before stowing them in a science freezer for analysis.

The two cosmonauts, Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov, will be up early Saturday several hours before the rest of their crewmates. They will be monitoring the automated arrival of the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft set to dock to the Poisk module at 1:31 a.m. EDT Saturday. It will stay there for two weeks before undocking and parachuting to a landing in Kazakhstan with no crew onboard Sept. 6.