Light Day for Orbiting Crew Ahead of New Crew Launch

Expedition 46 Crew Members
Expedition 46 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), left, Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), center, and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA pose for a picture at the conclusion of a press conference held at the Cosmonaut Hotel, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The three Expedition 46 crew members on board the International Space Station have a light duty day today before they welcome a new trio to the station on Tuesday. Commander Scott Kelly enjoyed a day off while cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov spent some time on microgravity science and vision checks.

Back on the ground in Kazakhstan, a new Soyuz rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome after being rolled out Sunday morning. The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft will liftoff Tuesday at 6:03 a.m. EST/11:03 a.m. UTC (5:03 p.m. Kazakh time) carrying three new crew members on a six-hour trip to the International Space Station.

Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will command the Soyuz vehicle alongside NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and British astronaut Tim Peake. The crew will be living and working in space for the next six months on advanced science benefitting life on Earth and future crews in space.

Malenchenko is the most experienced member of this trio with 641 days in space. He is embarking on his fourth space station mission.  He also lived on Russia’s last space station Mir and flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis. This will be Kopra’s second station residency, having spent 58 days in space as an Expedition 20 Flight Engineer. Peake will be Britain’s first astronaut to go to the International Space Station and this will be his first mission.

Soyuz With Expedition 45 Trio Lands After 141 Days in Space

Soyuz Undocks
The Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft undocks carrying crew members Oleg Kononenko, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui back to Earth. Credit: @StationCDRKelly

Three crew members from the International Space Station returned to Earth on Friday. The landing in Kazakhstan wrapped up a space mission that lasted 141 days and returned samples from several NASA human research experiments aboard the station.

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) touched down at approximately 8:12 a.m. EST (7:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time) northeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. It was the first time a crew has landed after sunset and only the sixth nighttime Soyuz return from the space station.

As they adjust to gravity after their stay in space, Russian recovery teams will help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and load them into waiting helicopters for return flights home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, northeast of Moscow.

Astronaut Kjell Lindgren
Astronaut Kjell Lindgren is tended by doctors and bundled up shortly after landing in below freezing conditions in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

The trio arrived at the station July 23 and orbited Earth 2,256 times, traveling a total of 59.6 million miles. It was the first mission for Lindgren and Yui and the third for Kononenko, who has now spent 533 days in space.

While aboard the orbiting laboratory, the crew members participated in Earth observations and conducted research in the areas of physical, biological and molecular science to advance knowledge and demonstrate new technologies. Such investigations enable research breakthroughs and drive technology innovations that provide benefits on Earth, and will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration missions into deep space.

The space station is a test bed to demonstrate new technologies, and Lindgren and Yui took part in the Veggie plant growth experiment that yielded fresh lettuce for crew consumption in August. NASA is maturing Veggie technology aboard the space station to provide future pioneers with a sustainable food supplement — a critical part of NASA’s journey to Mars.

The crew members welcomed three cargo spacecraft during the mission: the fifth Japanese HTV in August, a Russian ISS Progress in October, and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus, which arrived at the station Wednesday.

During his time on the orbiting complex, Lindgren ventured outside the confines of the space station for two planned spacewalks. The first included a variety of station upgrade and maintenance tasks, including routing cables to prepare for new docking ports for U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. The second spacewalk resulted in the successful reconfiguration of a space station ammonia cooling system.

The Expedition 46 crew members remaining aboard to continue research and maintenance are Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. The three-person crew 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.

Soyuz Fires Engines for Return to Earth

Soyuz De-orbit and Entry Profile

Following a deorbit burn completed at 7:23 a.m. EST, the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft carrying 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) is on a trajectory to return to Earth and land northeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 8:12 a.m. (7:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

NASA TV coverage continues and can also be viewed online at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

Weather has deteriorated at the landing site, so the search and recovery forces will expedite the crew’s removal from the landing site. Rather than setting up and tending to the crew members in a medical tent at the landing site, the teams will quickly load them into waiting helicopters for a flight to Dzhezkazgan instead of Karaganda. From Dzhezkazgan, Lindgren and Yui will depart for a return to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston while Kononenko returns to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, northeast of Moscow.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using @space_station.

Expedition 45 Heading Home After Undocking from Station

Expedition 45 Crew Members
The Expedition 45 crew members are seen in their Sokol landing and entry spacesuits in front of the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft during a training session in July 2015.

The Soyuz TMA-17M carrying 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) undocked from the station at 4:49 a.m. EST.

Kononenko is the commander at the controls of the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft. They will perform a separation burn to increase the distance from the station before executing a 4-minute, 41-second deorbit burn at 7:19 a.m. The crew is scheduled to land at 8:12 a.m. northeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the Soyuz TMA-17M deorbit burn and landing beginning at 7 a.m.

The departure marks the end of Expedition 45. Having completed his third mission, Kononenko now has spent 533 days in space. Lindgren and Yui spent 141 days on their first flight.

The Expedition 46 crew members remaining aboard to continue research and maintenance are Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. The three-person crew 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.

Here is the timeline for Expedition 45’s landing:

EST                             EVENT

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

For live updates, follow @space_station on Twitter.

Dec. 11, 2015: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 11, 2015: International Space Station Configuration. (Clockwise from top) The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft is docked to the Poisk mini-research module. The ISS Progress 61 spacecraft is docked to the Zvezda service module. The ISS Progress 60 spacecraft is docked to the Pirs docking compartment. The Cygnus-4 cargo craft is berthed to the Unity module.

Crew Enters Soyuz and Closes Hatch Before Undocking

Soyuz Spacecraft
The Soyuz spacecraft returning the Expedition 45 trio to Earth is in between the new Cygnus cargo craft and the Progress 60 resupply craft. Credit: NASA TV

At 1:32 a.m. EST, the Soyuz hatch closed between the International Space Station and the TMA-17M spacecraft. 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) are preparing to undock at 4:49 a.m. NASA Television will air live coverage of undocking beginning at 4:30 a.m. Watch live at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

The deorbit burn is targeted for 7:19 a.m. and will lead to a landing at 8:12 a.m. northeast of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 7 a.m.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using @Space_Station.

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:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

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

EST EVENT
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.

To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Cygnus Attached to Station Ready for Business

Dec. 9, 2015: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 9, 2015: International Space Station Configuration. (Clockwise from top) The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft is docked to the Poisk mini-research module. The ISS Progress 61 spacecraft is docked to the Zvezda service module. The ISS Progress 60 spacecraft is docked to the Pirs docking compartment. The Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft is docked to the Rassvet mini-research module. The Cygnus-4 cargo craft is berthed to the Unity module.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 9:26 a.m. EST. Cygnus will be the first cargo ship to be berthed to the Earth-facing port on the Unity module.

The spacecraft’s arrival will support the crew members’ research off the Earth to benefit the Earth. The Cygnus is delivering more than 7,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory to support dozens of approximately 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 45 and 46. Science payloads aboard Cygnus will offer a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms; a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station; and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids, clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel, and evaluate flame-resistant textiles.

Cygnus also will deliver replacement cargo items including a set of Microsoft HoloLens devices for use in NASA’s Sidekick project, a safety jet pack astronauts wear during spacewalks known as SAFER, and high pressure nitrogen and oxygen tanks to plug into the station’s air supply network.

The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere in January 2016, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @Space_Station and the hashtag #Cygnus. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect

Astronaut Kjell Lindgren Captures Cygnus Spacecraft

Cygnus Captured
This rendering from a real-time computer animation shows the Cygnus spacecraft at the time of its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA TV

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren successfully captured Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo vehicle at 6:19 a.m. EST. 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 8:00 a.m. Installation of the Cygnus spacecraft to the space station will occur at about 9:45 a.m.

Among the more than 7,000 pounds of supplies aboard Cygnus are numerous science and research investigations and technology demonstrations, including a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms; a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station; several other educational and technology demonstration CubeSats; and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids, clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel, and evaluate flame-resistant textiles.

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

Crew Gets Ready for Cygnus Arrival Today

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren takes images of the Earth on Dec. 1, 2015 from the Cupola. Lindgren will operate the Canadarm2 from inside the Cupola to capture Cygnus.

Aboard the International Space Station, NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren is making final preparations for the arrival of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo vehicle. NASA Television is providing live coverage, which also can be seen online at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

Lindgren will command the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, to reach out and capture the Cygnus. Capture is scheduled for approximately 6:10 a.m. EST. The Cygnus launched aboard an Atlas V rocket at 4:44 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Since then, the spacecraft has performed a series of engine burns to fine-tune its course for arrival at the station.

The unpiloted cargo craft, named S.S. Deke Slayton II, in honor of the late NASA astronaut, Donald “Deke” K. Slayton, is loaded with more than 7,000 pounds of research and supplies, including water, spare parts and experiment hardware, for the six-person International Space Station crew.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via @Space_Station and the hashtag #Cygnus. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect

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.