Trio Packs for Homecoming and Whitson’s Mission Extended

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Expedition 50 Trio

Expedition 50 crew members (from left) Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will depart the station Monday April 10 ending their stay in space.

Three crew members aboard the International Space Station are packing up their gear for a homecoming on Monday. NASA also decided to extend the mission of an astronaut living aboard the station since November.

Two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut will take a ride back to Earth early Monday inside the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will have completed a 173-day mission in space when they land Monday at 7:21 a.m. EDT in Kazakhstan. NASA TV will broadcast the departure and landing activities live.

Kimbrough has accumulated six spacewalks over two missions, including the STS-126 mission aboard space shuttle Endeavour in 2008. Ryzhikov, who is on his first space mission, will be commanding the Soyuz spacecraft during its landing. Borisenko was last aboard the station in 2011 and is completing his second stint as a station crew member.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson has been granted a three-month extension to her already record-breaking career aboard the station. She will stay in space until September as a member of Expeditions 50, 51 and 52. NASA managers wanted to ensure the station maintained a six-person crew to maximize research while Russia temporarily reduces its crew to two cosmonauts.

Spacesuit Checks Ahead of Monday Crew Departure

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Astronaut Shane Kimbrough

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough is seen inside the Quest airlock at the end of a spacewalk on March 24, 2017.

The Expedition 50 crew is checking out U.S. spacesuits today and testing tiny internal satellites for research. Three crew members are also packing up for a ride back to Earth on Monday.

Commander Shane Kimbrough worked on a pair of spacesuits today following the completion of two spacewalks last month. He sampled and tested the cooling water that flows through the suits to keep astronauts cool in the extreme environment of outer space.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson conducted test runs of the SPHERES satellites today to demonstrate autonomous docking maneuvers. The bowling ball-sized miniature satellites (also known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) have been used for a variety of purposes including student algorithm competitions and fluid physics.

Kimbrough is winding down his stay in space with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko. The trio this week is packing the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft with science samples, personal items and other cargo for a landing in Kazakhstan after 173 days in space. NASA TV will broadcast the crew departure activities live with landing scheduled for Monday at 7:20 a.m. EDT.

Station Prepares for April Crew Swap

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Expedition 51 Crew Members

Expedition 51 crew members (from left) Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer pose for a portrait in front of the Soyuz spacecraft mockup in Star City, Russia. Credit: NASA/Rob Navias

Three Expedition 50 crew members are getting ready to end their stay aboard the International Space Station and return to Earth April 10. Two Expedition 51 crew members, who will replace them, are in Russia finalizing their mission preparations before they launch April 20.

Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko have been living in space since October 19. The trio will enter the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft on Monday and undock from the Poisk module at 4 a.m. EDT. They will land in Kazakhstan at 7:20 a.m. ending their mission after 173 days in space. The crew departure and Soyuz landing will be televised live on NASA TV.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson will take over command of the station the day before Kimbrough and his crewmates leave. Staying behind with Whitson will be European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos. This will be Whitson’s second stint as commander of the orbital laboratory having last led the Expedition 16 crew in 2008.

Back in Russia, two Expedition 51 crewmates, Jack Fischer of NASA and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, have completed their final qualification exams. They will fly to Kazakhstan on Wednesday for ceremonial duties, check out their Soyuz MS-04 rocket and wrap up mission training before launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Spacewalkers Successfully Connect Adapter for Commercial Crew Vehicles

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Spacewalk support personnel

Spacewalk support personnel quickly teamed up for a solution to cover the Tranquility module’s port after a thermal and micrometeoroid shield was inadvertently lost during today’s spacewalk. The team supporting EVA Officer John Mularski explored options in a room nearby Mission Control, and chose to install a cover that had been removed earlier from the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA concluded their spacewalk at 2:33 p.m. EDT. During the spacewalk, which lasted just over seven hours, the two astronauts successfully reconnected cables and electrical connections on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3. PMA-3 will provide the pressurized interface between the station and the second of two international docking adapters to be delivered to the complex to support the dockings of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft in the future.

The duo were also tasked with installing four thermal protection shields on the Tranquility module of the International Space Station. The shields were required to cover the port where the PMA-3 was removed earlier in the week and robotically installed on the Harmony module. During the spacewalk, one of the shields was inadvertently lost. The loss posed no immediate danger to the astronauts and Kimbrough and Whitson went on to successfully install the remaining shields on the common berthing mechanism port.

A team from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston devised a plan for the astronauts to finish covering the port with the PMA-3 cover Whitson removed earlier in the day. The plan worked, and the cover was successfully installed, providing thermal protection and micrometeoroid and orbital debris cover for the port.

To round out the spacewalk, Kimbrough and Whitson also installed a different shield around the base of the PMA-3 adapter for micrometeoroid protection. The shield was nicknamed a cummerbund as it fits around the adapter similar to a tuxedo’s cummerbund worn around the waist.

Having completed her eighth spacewalk, Whitson now holds the record for the most spacewalks and accumulated time spacewalking by a female astronaut.

Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,243 hours and 42 minutes outside the station during 199 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Peggy Whitson Breaks Spacewalking Record

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson signs her autograph near an Expedition 50 mission patch attached to the inside the International Space Station.

At 11:51 a.m. EDT, Peggy Whitson broke the record for cumulative spacewalking time by a female astronaut, previously held by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. This was Whitson’s eighth spacewalk.

So far, Whitson and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough have successfully installed an upgraded computer relay box and hooked up cables and electrical connections on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3. PMA-3 will provide the pressurized interface between the station and the second of two international docking adapters to be delivered to the complex to support the dockings of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft in the future.

The duo were also tasked with installing four thermal protection shields on the Tranquility module of the International Space Station. The shields were required to cover the port where the PMA-3 was removed earlier in the week and robotically installed on the Harmony module. During the spacewalk, one of the shields was inadvertently lost. The loss posed no immediate danger to the astronauts and Kimbrough and Whitson went on to successfully install the remaining shields on the common berthing mechanism port.

A team from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston devised a plan for the astronauts to finish covering the port with the PMA-3 cover Whitson removed earlier in the day. The plan worked, and the cover was successfully installed, providing thermal protection and micrometeoroid and orbital debris cover for the port.

The spacewalk is planned to last six and a half hours.

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

Two Astronauts Begin Spacewalk for Station Maintenance

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Astronaut Shane Kimbrough

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough is pictured during a spacewalk that took place Jan. 6, 2016.

Two astronauts switched their spacesuits to battery power this morning at 7:29 a.m. EDT aboard the International Space Station to begin a spacewalk planned to last about six-and-a-half hours. Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will further prepare the space station for commercial spacecraft dockings, as well as perform maintenance and inspection.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Kimbrough is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the suit bearing red stripes and helmet camera #18. Whitson is designated extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the suit with no stripes and helmet camera #17.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. Learn more about the International Space Station online, including additional information about the current crew members.

Watch Spacewalkers Live on NASA TV Thursday Morning

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Peggy Whitson, Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Shane Kimbrough participate in a pre-breathe session before starting a spacewalk Jan. 6, 2017. Astronaut Thomas Pesquet (foreground) assisted the duo.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA will venture outside the International Space Station for a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk Thursday, March 30. The spacewalk will begin at about 8 a.m. EDT, with complete coverage on NASA Television and the agency’s website starting at 6:30 a.m.

Kimbrough and Whitson will reconnect cables and electrical connections on the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3), which was robotically moved Sunday, March 26 from the Tranquility module to the Harmony module on station. The PMA-3 provides the pressurized interface between the station modules and the docking adapter. The duo will also install the second of the two upgraded computer relay boxes on the station’s truss and install shields and covers on PMA-3 and the now-vacant common berthing mechanism port on Tranquility.

This will be the 199th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Kimbrough will embark on the sixth spacewalk of his career. This will be the eighth spacewalk by Whitson, who will surpass NASA astronaut Suni Williams’ record for the most spacewalks by a female astronaut.

Follow @space_station on Twitter for updates. For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this list, please email heo-pao@lists.nasa.gov.

Astronaut Peggy Whitson Set to Break Spacewalk Record Thursday

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Astronaut Peggy Whitson

Astronaut Peggy Whitson was pictured during her seventh spacewalk which took place Jan. 6, 2017.

Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson is set to go on her eighth spacewalk Thursday morning and surpass astronaut Suni Williams’ record for the most spacewalks by a female astronaut. Whitson’s last spacewalk was on Jan. 6 with Commander Shane Kimbrough when she hooked up new lithium-ion batteries and inspected the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Read more about spacewalks at the International Space Station.

Thursday’s spacewalk will see Whitson and Kimbrough finish cable connections at the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 just recently attached to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. The PMA-3 relocation gets the station ready for the new International Docking Adapter-3 set to be delivered on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who conducted last week’s spacewalk with Kimbrough, will assist the duo in and out of their spacesuits and monitor the activities from inside the station. The spacewalkers are scheduled to exit the Quest airlock Thursday at 8 a.m. EST for 6.5 hours of station maintenance work. NASA TV will cover all the spacewalk activities beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Fluid Physics and Human Research Before Second Spacewalk

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PMA-3 Relocation

The Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 is in the grip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm during its relocation and attachment to the Harmony module on March 26,2017.

The crew researched the effects of living in space and set up a specialized microscope for a physics experiment today. Two astronauts are also getting ready for a Thursday spacewalk to continue setting up the International Space Station for commercial crew vehicles.

Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet used a tape measure this morning and measured their arms, legs, hips, waist and chest. Researchers are studying how microgravity impacts body size and shape and are comparing crew measurements before, during and after a space mission.

Whitson later began setting up gear for the ACE-T-1 (Advanced Colloids Experiment Temperature Control-1) physics study. She opened up the Fluids Integrated Rack and reconfigured the Light Microscopy Module to research tiny suspended particles designed by scientists and observe how they form organized structures within water.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is getting ready for another spacewalk on Thursday at 8 a.m. EDT. This time he’ll go outside with Whitson to finish cable connections at the Harmony module where the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) was robotically attached on Sunday. The PMA-3 relocation gets the adapter ready for the new International Docking Adapter-3 set to be delivered on a future cargo mission.

Weekend Robotics Work Sets Up Thursday Spacewalk

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Spacewalker Shane Kimbrough

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough takes an out-of-this-world selfie during a spacewalk on March 24, 2017.

The Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) was robotically removed Sunday from the Tranquility module and attached to the Harmony module after being prepared during a successful spacewalk Friday. A second spacewalk is scheduled for Thursday at 8 a.m. EDT to finalize the PMA-3 cable connections on Harmony.

Download hi-res video of briefing animations depicting the activities of all three spacewalks.

Commander Shane Kimbrough disconnected cables from PMA-3 while still attached to Tranquility during a spacewalk on Friday. That work allowed ground controllers to use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to remotely grapple and remove PMA-3 from Tranquility and attach it to Harmony.

The relocation readies the PMA-3 for the future installation of the new International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) set to be delivered on a future cargo mission. The IDA-3 will accommodate commercial crew vehicle dockings and provide the pressurized interface between the station and the adapter.

Thursday’s spacewalk will see Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson complete the PMA-3 attachment work on the Harmony’s space-facing port. The duo will also install computer relay boxes containing software upgrades to enable future commercial crew vehicle dockings at the International Space Station.

 

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