Housekeeping and Maintenance Punctuate Last Full Day of Expedition 58

From left, Expedition 59 crew members Christina Koch, Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague show solidarity before their upcoming launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
From left, Expedition 59 crew members Christina Koch, Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague show solidarity before their upcoming launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Image Credit: NASA

The last full day of Expedition 58—before the launch, docking and consolidation of crews to become Expedition 59—was mostly spent on housekeeping items for the continued, successful operation of the International Space Station. 

NASA astronaut Anne McClain floated through the Tranquility and Zvezda service modules, deploying acoustic monitors. She paused in the U.S. lab at an EXPRESS rack to install communications gear and perform additional maintenance. David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency also worked with EXPRESS today, moving Space Automated Bioproduct Labs from rack-1 to rack-2. This miniature laboratory within the larger orbiting laboratory supports life science research, hosting microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, viruses, etc.), small organisms, animal cells, tissue cultures and small plants for evaluation in space.  

Expedition Commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos replaced fuel bottles on the Combustion Integrated Rack, which allows the crew members to conduct fluids and combustion studies in microgravity. 

Today in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, were certified for flight by the Russian state commission and held their final news conference.  

Tomorrow, the soon-to-be station residents will hitch a ride aboard a Soyuz MS-12 for blastoff at 3:14 p.m. EDT on, coincidentally, 3/14. After a relatively speedy six-hour flight, the Soyuz is expected to dock to station’s Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking. 

The events will unfold live on NASA TV, with launch coverage beginning at 2 p.m. and docking coverage at 8:15 p.m., respectively. After a brief break, tune in at 10:30 p.m. for the hatch opening and welcome, which will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six—including three NASA astronauts. And, just in time for Women’s History Month, this launch marks the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts.  

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

Before Launch and Spacewalks, Science Reigns Supreme Aboard Orbiting Lab

The Soyuz rocket is raised into vertical position on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
On March 12, 2019, the Soyuz rocket is raised into vertical position on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: NASA

As the Soyuz MS-12 that will carry the Expedition 59 crew to the International Space Station Thursday was erected on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 58 resumed research and routine maintenance after their off-duty day Monday. 

NASA astronaut Anne McClain conducted botany work with the VEG-03 experiment, which builds on what scientists have initially learned about harvesting vegetation in space with VEG-01. This time around, testing will demonstrate plant growth with a new batch of crops, including red romaine lettuce, extra dwarf Pak Choi, red Russian kale and wasabi mustard. McClain also spent time on life-support system upkeep in the Kibo lab module and maintenance in the U.S. lab on an EXPRESS rack—hardware integral to providing structural interfaces and support for science experiments with power, data, cooling, water and other items needed for successful operations. 

In the Quest airlock, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques completed additional prep work for upcoming spacewalks slated for March 22, 29 and April 8 by scrubbing cooling loops and performing leak checks on the spacesuits. After resupplying the Human Research Facility-2 rack, Saint Jacques added input to a questionnaire for Behavioral Core Measures, an investigation that seeks to create a standardized toolkit to rapidly and reliably assess the risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions and psychiatric disorders that could occur with longer space missions. 

Meanwhile, Commander Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos ticked off additional maintenance tasks by cleaning panels in the Zvezda service module and performing fluid transfers to the Progress 71 resupply ship. 

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

Station Crews Take a Breather in Anticipation of Launch on March 14

A view from the International Space Station taken Feb. 21, 2019.
A view from the International Space Station taken Feb. 21, 2019. Image Credit: NASA

This Monday, the Expedition 58 crew is taking a well-deserved break after a busy week prior wrapping up SpaceX’s inaugural flight of Crew Dragon to the International Space Station during Demonstration Mission-1, an uncrewed flight test. The vehicle departed station for a splashdown off the Florida Space Coast at 8:45 a.m. EST Friday, bringing NASA even closer to sending astronauts into space from American soil. 

The Expedition 59 crew, which will soon get their turn in orbit, is taking time to relax and review their launch day flight plan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On March 14, Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are set to blastoff at 3:14 p.m. EDT and dock less than six hours later to the Rassvet module at the orbiting laboratory. Research investigations will get a boost in productivity with their arrival, which will bring the full crew complement to six. All launch and docking events will be carried live on NASA TV. 

Tomorrow, the Soyuz MS-12 that will carry the new crew crawls to the launch pad at Baikonur as Expedition 58 resumes science studies. 

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

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.

Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic Ending First Commercial Crew Mission

Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean after successful Demo-1 flight on March 8, 2019.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45 a.m. EST, completing an end-to-end flight test to demonstrate most of the capabilities of its crew transportation system to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.

Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.

Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.

NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic was almost 50 years after the return of Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969, the last human spacecraft to return to the waters off the East Coast.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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

Watch NASA TV to See Crew Dragon’s Return to Earth

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

NASA is providing live coverage of the return to Earth of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon after five days docked to the International Space Station.

Known as Demo-1, SpaceX’s inaugural mission with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important uncrewed end-to-end flight test of the new system’s capabilities.

The spacecraft departed the space station at 2:32 a.m. EST and is on track for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the eastern shore of Florida.

At approximately 7:48 a.m., Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk containing its solar array and radiator. Four minutes later, the spacecraft’s thrusters will initiate the deorbit burn at 7:52 a.m. The 15-minute, 25-second burn will place the Crew Dragon on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. The nosecone will be closed before the spacecraft enters the atmosphere.

At about 8:41 a.m., drogue parachutes will deploy, and the four main chutes will begin to open less than a minute later to slow the Crew Dragon during its final descent prior to its water landing at about 8:45 a.m.

SpaceX’s two recovery ships are positioned nearby to recover Crew Dragon and return it to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, to conclude its mission.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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 Dragon Undocks from the International Space Station

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft just moments after undocking from the International Space Station

At 2:32 a.m. EST, Crew Dragon undocked from the International Space Station to begin the final phase of its uncrewed Demo-1 flight test. The spacecraft is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return it and its cargo safely to Earth.

NASA will continue to provide live coverage until Crew Dragon is out of the immediate area of the station and will resume at 7:30 a.m. for the reentry, splashdown, and recovery.

In about five hours, the Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk whose exterior contains a solar array that provided power to Dragon and a radiator to reject heat.

Following separation, Crew Dragon’s thrusters will initiate the spacecraft’s deorbit burn at about 7:52 a.m. The 15-minute, 25-second burn will place the Crew Dragon on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft is expected to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at about 8:45 a.m., its speed slowed by an enhanced parachute system in which drogue parachutes will deploy about four minutes before landing to unfurl four main chutes less than a minute later.

After Crew Dragon lands in the Atlantic Ocean, SpaceX’s recovery ship will recover it and return it to Port Canaveral, Florida to conclude its mission.

SpaceX’s inaugural mission with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important end-to-end to test of the new system’s capabilities.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit onlineand by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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 Dragon Set for Friday Splashdown Amid Space Physics Research

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is the first Commercial Crew vehicle to visit the International Space Station. Here it is pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the station’s Harmony module on March 3, 2019.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon’s hatch is closed and the stage is set for the Commercial Crew Program’s first undocking and return to Earth Friday. As NASA and SpaceX get ready for Friday’s splashdown, the Expedition 58 crew continued exploring a variety of space physics phenomena aboard the International Space Station.

The uncrewed SpaceX DM-1 mission has one final milestone and that is the safe return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. EST Friday. The Crew Dragon will undock Friday at 2:31 a.m. from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. NASA TV will broadcast the departure and return activities live.

The first commercial crew vehicle from SpaceX will be bringing back over 330 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and station hardware. It delivered almost 450 pounds of materials to resupply the station crew on March 3.

Science took precedence as usual aboard the orbital lab today as SpaceX prepares to welcome its Crew Dragon back on Earth.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain spent Thursday morning setting up hardware to explore ways to improve the production of higher-quality semiconductor crystals. Afterward, she relocated the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer laptop computer that researches cosmic rays and antimatter from the Destiny lab module to the Columbus lab module.

Commander Oleg Kononenko worked throughout the day on a Russian-European experiment researching plasma physics. The Plasma Krystal-4 study observes plasma crystal formation that could inform future research and spacecraft designs.

Vice President Calls Station, Crew Dragon Packed for Friday Return

Vice President Mike Pence and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
Vice President Mike Pence and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called up to the Expedition 58 crew today from NASA Headquarters Space Operations Center in Washington, D.C..

Vice President Mike Pence and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called up to the Expedition 58 crew today. Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques were on hand to talk about their mission success and the arrival of the first Commercial Crew vehicle, the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

The Crew Dragon is being packed and readied for its return to Earth on Friday. In the midst of NASA’s first Commercial Crew mission, the crew members continued more space research and practiced an emergency drill today.

Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency transferred cargo in and out of the Crew Dragon today. Over 300 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and station hardware will be retrieved from Dragon after it returns to Earth.

The Crew Dragon will undock Friday at 2:31 a.m. EST from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. It will parachute to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. EST. NASA TV will cover all the activities live.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques
Astronauts David Saint-Jacques (left) and Anne McClain talk to the Vice President and NASA Administrator about their mission success and the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

McClain from NASA worked in the Destiny laboratory module today stowing science hardware after working on the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox. She then began collecting and readying more experiment hardware that will test ways to improve the production of higher-quality semiconductor crystals.

Both astronauts then joined Commander Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos to practice an emergency evacuation of the International Space Station. The trio wore breathing masks, entered the docked Soyuz spacecraft and prepared for a return to Earth in the unlikely event of a critical emergency aboard the orbital complex.

Crew Resumes Normal Ops Before Crew Dragon Leaves Friday

Astronauts (from left) Anne McClain and David Saint Jacques
Astronauts (from left) Anne McClain and David Saint Jacques are pictured in between a pair of spacesuits that are stowed and serviced inside the Quest airlock where U.S. spacewalks are staged.

The three Expedition 58 crew members are back to normal operations today with the newest SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship integrated to the International Space Station. Dragon will leave the station Friday as the next crew prepares to launch on March 14.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques called down to mission controllers today to discuss Crew Dragon operations. The duo also linked up with SpaceX personnel throughout the United States describing life on orbit and their impressions of the new crew vehicle.

McClain started today resizing U.S. spacesuits ahead of a set of spacewalks planned for March and April. She later worked on life support systems and plumbing maintenance in the Unity and Tranquility modules.

Saint-Jacques collected station water samples for microbial analysis. He then inspected tethers the astronauts will use to stay attached to the station during the upcoming spacewalks.

Commander Oleg Kononenko replaced fuel bottles used during experiment operations inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. The veteran cosmonaut also explored low temperature gas mixtures for the Plasma Krysyall-4 experiment collaboration between Europe and Russia.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon undocks Friday at 2:31 a.m. EST. Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is scheduled around 8:45 a.m. EST. NASA TV will cover all the activities live after closing the hatch Thursday.

On the other side of the world in Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 59 crew members are in final training awaiting their launch to the station. Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are set to blastoff March 14 at 3:14 p.m. and dock less than six hours later to their new home in space.