Expedition 46 Trio Leaves Station for Ride to Earth

Soyuz TMA-18M Undocks
The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft undocks carrying Expedition 46 crew members Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. Credit: NASA TV

Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov undocked from the station at 8:02 p.m. EST to begin their voyage home. Volkov, the Soyuz commander, is at the controls of the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft.

They will perform a separation burn to increase the distance from the station before executing a 4-minute, 49-second deorbit burn at 10:32 p.m. The crew is scheduled to land at 11:25 p.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

All three crew will participate in Field Tests immediately after landing. Scott Kelly will conduct Functional Task Tests once he is back at NASA’s Johnson Space Center which will assess how the human body responds to living in microgravity for such a long time. Understanding how astronauts recover after long-duration spaceflight is a critical piece in planning for missions to deep space.

The Expedition 47 crew members, Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will continue research and maintenance aboard the station and will be joined March 18 by three additional crew members, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn and landing beginning at 10:15 p.m.

Here is the timeline for Expedition 46’s landing:

Tuesday, March 1

EST                            EVENT

10:15 p.m.                 NASA TV: Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn and landing coverage

10:32 p.m.                  Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn (4 minutes, 49 seconds duration)

10:37 p.m.                  Soyuz deorbit burn complete

10:59 p.m.                  Soyuz module separation (altitude 87 miles)

11:02 p.m.                  Soyuz atmospheric entry (altitude 62 miles)

11:10 p.m.                  Command to open parachute (6.6 miles)

11:25 p.m.                 Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M landing southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

Expedition 46 Undocking and Landing Timeline

Crew Farewell
The six Expedition 46 crew members gather one last time before saying farewell and closing the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station. From left are, Yuri Malenchenko, Tim Kopra, Mikhail Kornienko, Sergey Volkov, Scott Kelly and Tim Peake. Credit: NASA TV

Today is homecoming day for International Space Station Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos as they prepare for landing in their Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft at 11:25 p.m. EST tonight, southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

At this time, there are no concerns or issues being worked, and hatch closure is scheduled to occur at 4:40 p.m.

Kelly handed over command of the orbiting complex to NASA astronaut Tim Kopra in a ceremony on Monday, Feb. 29. When the Soyuz undocks, Expedition 47 formally will begin.

The landing of Expedition 46 marks the end of a year in space for Kelly and Kornienko. This is the first time that extensive research using exciting new techniques like genetic studies has been conducted on very long-duration crew members. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is the first American to complete a continuous, year-long mission in space and is now the American who has spent the most cumulative time in space.

NASA Television coverage times for Soyuz activities are listed below. These activities also will stream online at https://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

Here is a timeline of the Expedition 46 undocking and landing.

Tuesday, March 1

EST                            EVENT

4:15 p.m.                   NASA TV: Expedition 46 farewell & hatch closure      coverage
4:40 p.m.                    Soyuz TMA-18M/space station hatch closure

7:45 p.m.                   NASA TV: Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M undocking coverage
8:01 p.m.                    Soyuz undock command sent
8:02 p.m.                    Soyuz TMA-18M undocks from space station
8:05 p.m.                    Soyuz manual separation burn

10:15 p.m.                 NASA TV: Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn and landing coverage
10:32 p.m.                    Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn (4 minutes, 49 seconds duration)
10:37 p.m.                    Soyuz deorbit burn complete
10:59 p.m.                    Soyuz module separation (altitude 87 miles)
11:02 p.m.                    Soyuz atmospheric entry (altitude 62 miles)
11:10 p.m.                    Command to open parachute (6.6 miles)

11:25 p.m.                 Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M landing southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

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

Soyuz Spacecraft
Astronaut Scott Kelly photographed the Soyuz spacecraft he is riding home.

Today is Homecoming Day for a Record-Setting Crew

Sunrise
Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo taken from the International Space Station to Twitter on Feb. 27, 2016 with the caption, “Of all the sunrises I’ve seen on my #YearInSpace, this was one of the best! One of the last too. Headed home soon.” Credit: https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly

Three Expedition 46 crew members are finishing packing the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft for the ride home today, ending their record-setting mission. Three other space station residents will stay behind until June and wave farewell to their crewmates when they undock tonight.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are riding back to Earth with Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov. The trio will undock at 8:02 p.m. EST today/1:02 a.m. UTC Wednesday and land in Kazakhstan at 11:25 p.m. NASA TV will begin live coverage at 4:15 p.m. as the crew enters the Soyuz spacecraft and closes the hatches.

Kelly and Kornienko will have lived in space continuously for 340 days when they land tonight for an International Space Station program record. Volkov will have been in orbit for 182 days.

After the crew parachutes to a landing Kelly will be greeted by NASA personnel and checked out by doctors before flying back to the United States and landing in Houston 24 hours later. Kelly will be monitored over the next few weeks and months as scientists learn how living in space affects the human body before NASA sends astronauts to an asteroid or Mars.

Scott Kelly Hands Over Station Command to Tim Kopra

Expedition 46 Crew Members
Astronaut Scott Kelly (right foreground) hands over command of the International Space Station to astronaut Tim Kopra (left foreground) with their crewmates in the background. Credit: NASA TV

At 3:15 p.m. EST, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra assumed command of the International Space Station from astronaut Scott Kelly of NASA in a traditional Change of Command ceremony. Expedition 47 will officially begin under Kopra’s command when the Soyuz spacecraft carrying Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov undocks from the space station on March 1.

Watch video of the moment of change of command.

Kelly and Kornienko launched to the space station on March 27, 2015, for their one-year mission. The pair’s return on March 1 will mark the end of 340 days aboard the space station. Volkov arrived at the station on September 4.

Join the online conversation about the one-year mission using #YearInSpace.

Follow space station activities on social media via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Final Full Day in Orbit for Volkov and Year In Space Crew

Orbiting Earth at Night
Day 325. Set your sails for the #stars! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace. Credit: https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/699380052312477696

International Space Station Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko, who have been living in space since March of last year, are spending their last full day in orbit today. The duo are returning home Tuesday evening with Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov who will lead the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft back to Earth.

Kelly will hand over command of the orbital laboratory to NASA astronaut Tim Kopra in a ceremony today at 3:10 p.m. EST/8:10 p.m. UTC live on NASA Television. When the Soyuz spacecraft undocks Tuesday, Expedition 47 will officially begin with Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko staying behind with Kopra.

While the homebound trio is wrapping up its mission, the three remaining crewmates will stay in orbit till June and continue their science and maintenance activities. Today, Peake worked inside Japan’s Kibo lab module preparing to increase its stowage capacity. Kopra explored new space exercise techniques to minimize bone and muscle loss during long-term missions. Malenchenko checked on Soyuz communications and worked on several Russian science experiments.

Tune in to NASA TV Tuesday beginning at 4:15 p.m. to watch the live Soyuz crew departure and landing activities. Kelly and Kornienko will have accumulated 340 days in space while Volkov will have been orbiting 182 days when they land Tuesday at 11:25 p.m.

Crew Explores Breathing Risks of Long-Term Space Mission

Shanghai, China
Astronaut Scott Kelly shared this image of Shanghai, China on Instagram. Credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBjW1uEAXpJ/

A pair of astronauts is exploring breathing risks during long term space missions today while a trio of crew members is packing a Soyuz spacecraft for the return home.

NASA astronaut and two-time space station resident Tim Kopra joined first-time British astronaut for the Airway Monitoring experiment. That study explores the risk of breathing in toxic dust during future crewed missions to Mars which can possibly upset a crew member’s respiratory system.

Kopra and Peake will be staying in space until June with cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko. They will become the Expedition 47 crew when a pair of One-Year crew members and a veteran cosmonaut undock in their Soyuz spacecraft and return to Earth next week.

Station Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko are set to complete 340 days in space when they land in Kazakhstan on March 1 U.S. time. Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, who will lead the duo home inside the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft, will have lived in space for 182 days.

Crew Wrapping Up Year-Long Mission in Less than a Week

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (left) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko marked their 300th consecutive day aboard the International Space Station on Jan. 21, 2016.

Three International Space Station crew members, two of whom have been in orbit nearly a year, will complete their stay in space March 1. As they prepare for landing, the Expedition 46 crew is moving right along with human research, advanced space science and ongoing lab maintenance.

One-Year crew mates Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko will join Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov for a ride back to Earth Tuesday. They will undock inside the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft and land in Kazakhstan carrying personal items and science for analysis.

Kelly joined NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for some plumbing work throughout Wednesday. Kelly also participated in blood, urine and saliva sample collections to help doctors understand how living in space affects the human body.

British astronaut Tim Peake, who will be staying in space till June, began checking out new science gear that will support new biology research. Peake also set up hardware for an experiment that explores the risk of airway inflammation in astronauts.

Repair Tasks Dominate Tuesday for Expedition 46

Image shared by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly with the caption "#Countdown Let's take this 16 sunsets at a time. 8 days to go tomorrow! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace."
Image shared by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly with the caption “#Countdown Let’s take this 16 sunsets at a time. 8 days to go tomorrow! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace.”

The crew of Expedition 46 was engaged in a variety of repair tasks today across the orbiting laboratory. ESA astronaut Tim Peake replaced cables in the station’s Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, the primary tool for astronaut resistive exercise vital for maintaining bone and muscle mass while in microgravity. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra worked to replace key components in the station’s Water Processing Assembly.

Peake also set up units for the NASA Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL), which is capable of supporting life science research on microorganisms, small organisms, animal cells, tissue cultures and small plants.

Meanwhile, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are just one week away from the conclusion of their one-year mission. The pair are set to land in Kazakhstan at 11:27 p.m. EST March 1.

New Technology Debuts as Crew Begins Week

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly performing checkouts for NASA's Project Sidekick, which makes use of Microsoft's HoloLens device.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly performing checkouts for NASA’s Project Sidekick, which makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens device.

Over the weekend, Expedition 46 commander Scott Kelly worked with ground controllers to successfully checkout the Sidekick device and internet connectivity. The project, which makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens device, aims to enable station crews with assistance when and where they need it. This new capability could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space.

Also on Saturday, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus resupply vehicle successfully deorbited at approximately 10:53 a.m. EST.

The crew engaged in a variety of scientific experiments on Monday, including research into colloidal structures vital to the design of advanced materials, human research on astronaut heart health and overall body changes, and protecting human fitness during long-duration spaceflight.

Kelly and his fellow Expedition 46 crew mates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov are continuing to prepare for their landing on March 1, U.S. time. The landing will wrap up Kelly and Kornienko’s yearlong stay in space.

Spaceship Takes Out Trash Before One-Year Crew Goes Home

Space Station Configuration
There are now four spacecraft docked to the International Space Station after the Cygnus left Friday morning. The next spacecraft to leave will be the Soyuz TMA-18M docked to the Poisk module on March 1.

The Expedition 46 crew took out the trash today when it released the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft from the grips of the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. In less than two weeks, another spacecraft will leave returning three crew members back to Earth.

The Cygnus was filled with trash and discarded gear over the last few days before the hatches were closed Thursday. Ground controllers then remotely guided the Canadarm2 to grapple Cygnus and detach it from the Unity module.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra commanded the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus today at 7:26 a.m. EST when it began gracefully departing the vicinity of the station. Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will guide Cygnus into the Earth’s atmosphere Saturday morning where it will safely burn up high over the Pacific Ocean.

Kelly and a pair of cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov now turn their attention to their March 1 homecoming. They will be packing the Soyuz TMA-18M with science experiments and personal items for the ride home. Kelly and Kornienko will be completing 340 consecutive days in space, while Volkov will be wrapping up 182 days in orbit.