Station Gearing Up for October Cargo and Crew Missions

Expedition 64 crew members, the next crew to launch to the station, (from left) Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, Sergey Ryzhikov and Kate Rubins are pictured during Soyuz qualification exams.
Expedition 64 crew members (from left) Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, Sergey Ryzhikov and Kate Rubins are pictured during Soyuz qualification exams are the next crew to launch to the station.

October is shaping up to be a busy traffic period as the International Space Station gears up for a space delivery, a crew exchange and a commercial crew mission. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew focused on science, eye exams and leak inspections today.

The next U.S. cargo mission to resupply the station is due to launch on Tuesday at 10:27 p.m. EDT from Virginia.  The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman will arrive on Saturday, Oct. 3, packed with nearly 8,000 pounds supplies and gear including an advanced space toilet and brand-new science experiments. Cygnus’ preflight events, launch, rendezvous and robotic capture will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Three new Expedition 64 crew members will then set their sights on their Oct. 14 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship to the orbiting lab. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride alongside cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov as they prepare for a 185-day mission in space.

One week later, the new station crew will say goodbye to the Expedition 63 trio that has been living in space since April. Commander Chris Cassidy with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft on Oct. 21 completing a 195-day station research mission.

SpaceX is targeting Oct. 23 for the launch of four astronauts on its first operational Crew Dragon mission. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins will command the commercial crew vehicle piloted by first-time space flyer Victor Glover. They will be supported by Mission Specialists and veteran astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi for the six-month stay at the orbital lab. The quartet will join the Expedition 64 crew one day after launch.

Back on the space station today, Cassidy looked at Ivanishin’s retinas using non-invasive light wave technology, or optical coherence tomography. The commander then prepared Astrobee robotic assistants for an upcoming student competition before servicing an incubator and a science freezer. Ivanishin and Vagner continued checking power and life support systems in the station’s Russian segment.

As part of ongoing work to isolate the source of a slight increase above the standard cabin air leak rate, the Expedition 63 crew used specialized detectors to inspect several windows, seals and valves across the space station. Results from their inspections will be analyzed on the ground.

Crew Dragon Returns as SpaceX, Russia Prep Future Crew Missions

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Three humans are orbiting Earth today aboard the International Space Station following the return on Sunday of NASA’s first commercial crew.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will stay in space until October. The orbital trio are continuing critical space research benefitting humans on and off the Earth as well as maintaining the orbital lab.

Back on Earth, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are adapting to Earth’s gravity following a two-month mission on the station. Representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, duo is the first crew to launch to space and splashdown on Earth inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle.

SpaceX has completed its demonstration mission phase and has already booked two operational Crew Dragon missions. Crew-1 is planned for later this year and Crew-2 is targeted for Spring 2021. Both commercial crew missions will launch four astronauts each to the space station to continue microgravity science.

Russia will launch three Expedition 64 crew members to the station one week before the Expedition 63 crew returns to Earth in October. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will liftoff inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship to begin a six-month mission aboard the orbital lab.

Splashdown of Two Astronauts Aboard the Space Crew Dragon

A SpaceX fast boat races toward the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft moments before it splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. Credit: NASA TV
A SpaceX fast boat races toward the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft moments before it splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. Credit: NASA TV

Two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, splashed down safely in the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. It is the first time a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft has returned from the International Space Station to complete a test flight, beginning a new era in human spaceflight.

NASA is continuing live coverage of the recovery.

Teams on the Go Navigator recovery ship, including two fast boats, now are in the process of securing Crew Dragon and ensuring the spacecraft is safed for the recovery effort. As the fast boat teams complete their work, the recovery ship will move into position to hoist Crew Dragon onto the main deck of Go Navigator with Behnken and Hurley inside. Once on the main deck, the crew will be taken out of the spacecraft and receive medical checks before a helicopter ride to Pensacola to board a plane for Houston.

The duo arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 62 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware.

These activities are a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which has been working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data about the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown and recovery operations.

The test flight also will help NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission that will occur following NASA certification, which is expected to take about six weeks.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

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.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is “Go” for Deorbit Burn

Astronauts (front to back) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are suited up inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon preparing for splashdown.
Astronauts (front to back) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are suited up inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon preparing for splashdown.

Watch NASA’s live coverage as NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft are making their final orbit of Earth before splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48 p.m. EDT. Weather conditions remain within the splashdown weather criteria and are “Go” at the primary targeted site off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

Here are the upcoming milestones (all times Eastern):

1:51 p.m. – Crew Dragon performs claw separation. The claw is located on Crew Dragon’s trunk, connecting thermal control, power, and avionics system components located on the trunk to the capsule.

  • 1:51 p.m. – Trunk separation
  • 1:56 p.m. – Deorbit burn begins
  • 2:08 p.m. – Deorbit burn complete
  • 2:11 p.m. – Nosecone deploys
  • 2:32 p.m. – Crew Dragon maneuvers to attitude for re-entry
  • 2:44 p.m. – Drogue parachutes deploy at about 18,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour.
  • 2:45 p.m. – Main parachutes deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.
  • 2:48 p.m. – Splashdown

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.

Astronauts Target Splashdown off Coast of Pensacola, Florida

NASA's first commercial crew astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are pictured at Kennedy Space Center for tests aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. Credit: SpaceX
NASA’s first commercial crew astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are pictured at Kennedy Space Center for tests aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. Credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are just hours away from splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. Splashdown remains scheduled for 2:48 p.m. EDT following a nearly two-month test flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Pensacola, Florida remains the prime location with Go Navigator as the recovery vessel. The recovery boat departed its port at 9:20 a.m. to stage for recovery operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Go Navigator is operating with a fully functioning generator and is ready to support splashdown operations this afternoon. Earlier this morning, a backup generator failed on the recovery ship prior to leaving port, but that is not considered an impact for normal recovery operations. The recovery vessel still has full capability to safely recover the spacecraft and crew.

Return conditions remain “Go” at the primary and alternate targeted sites.

The duo arrived at the International Space Station on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 62 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet.

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.

Spacex Crew Dragon Is on Its Way Home

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley participate in a fully integrated test of SpaceX Crew Dragon flight hardware at the SpaceX processing facility in Florida on March 30.

Crew Dragon has completed all four planned departure burns to begin its journey back to Earth with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley 

With the spacecraft on its path home, the astronauts will settle in for an eight-hour sleep period. While they’re asleep, a six-minute departure phasing burn at 1:48 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 2 will set the Dragon Endeavour on the proper orbital path to a planned splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

NASA’s live coverage of the crew’s return home to Earth continues through the night.

Behnken and Hurley will begin their last day in space at 7:40 a.m. tomorrow.

The Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk and jettison it at 1:51 p.m., followed five minutes later at 1:56 p.m. with the start of the deorbit burn to commit the spacecraft to a trajectory to splashdown at 2:48 p.m.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet. 

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.

Endeavour Spacecraft Undocked from Station

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft moments after undocking from the International Space Station on NASA TV
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft moments after undocking from the International Space Station on NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley inside undocked from the forward end of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:35 p.m. EDT to complete a two-month mission.  

 

Two very small engine burns separated Crew Dragon from the station, and the spacecraft is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return the astronaut crew and its cargo safely to Earth. 

 

Once flying free, Dragon Endeavour will autonomously execute four departure burns to move the spaceship away from the space station and begin the flight home.  

 

The return timeline with approximate times in EDT is: 

 

August 1 

7:35 p.m.             Departure burn 0 

7:40 p.m.             Departure burn 1 

8:27 p.m.             Departure burn 2 

9:14 p.m.             Departure burn 3 

  

August 2 

1:51 p.m.             Trunk jettison 

1:56 p.m.             Deorbit burn 

2:48 p.m.             Crew Dragon splashdown 

 

NASA will continue to provide live coverage until astronaut Behnken and Hurley splashdown off the coast of Florida and are recovered from the Gulf of Mexico. 

 

The duo arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 63 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware. 

 

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. 

NASA Astronauts are Now Seated Inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley seated inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft on NASA TV before undocking
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley seated inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft on NASA TV before undocking

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are now seated inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft as fellow Expedition 63 astronauts Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner closed the hatch between Crew Dragon and the orbital laboratory at 5:37 p.m. EDT. 

 

Teams will conduct standard leak checks and depressurization of the space between the spacecraft and the station, called the vestibule, in preparation for Dragon Endeavour’s undocking and return to Earth. Undocking is scheduled for 7:34 p.m. EDT. After hooks holding Crew Dragon in place retract, two very small engine burns will fire to separate the spacecraft from the station. 

 

NASA is providing live uninterrupted coverage through the Dragon Endeavour’s return to Earth. 

 

Conditions remain “Go” at the primary targeted site, off the coast of Pensacola, and alternate site off the coast of Panama City in the Gulf of Mexico for splashdown and recovery on Sunday, Aug. 2. 

 

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. 

NASA TV Live Now as Dragon Crew Prepares for Undocking

NASA's first commercial crew astronauts (front to back) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are pictured in January during tests inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. Credit: SpaceX
NASA’s first commercial crew astronauts (front to back) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are pictured in January during tests inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. Credit: SpaceX

Watch live coverage now on NASA TV and the agency’s website as undocking preparations are underway for the return of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from the International Space Station 

 

SpaceX and NASA are targeting 7:34 p.m. EDT for Crew Dragon to autonomously undock from the space station, with Behnken and Hurley aboard the spacecraft, and return to Earth. Approximately 19 hours later, after jettisoning its trunk and re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, Crew Dragon will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida at 2:48 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 2. The primary splashdown target is Pensacola. 

 

Hurley and Behnken arrived at the orbiting laboratory in the Crew Dragon May 31 following a launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.  

 

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. 

 

Conditions Are “Go” at Splashdown Site

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley participate in a fully integrated test of SpaceX Crew Dragon flight hardware at the SpaceX processing facility in Florida on March 30.

Following a scheduled assessment of weather conditions for splashdown, teams from NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with preparations to bring NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft.

Conditions are “Go” at the primary targeted site, off the coast Pensacola, and alternate site off the coast of Panama City in the Gulf of Mexico for splashdown and recovery on Sunday, Aug. 2. Teams will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Isaias and evaluate impacts to the potential splashdown sites.

SpaceX will monitor changes to conditions until 2.5 hours prior to the scheduled undocking, when a determination to proceed with departure will be made. If conditions are marginal and exceed the accepted criteria, a joint recommendation by SpaceX and NASA will be made whether to proceed with undocking at 7:34 p.m. EDT. NASA and SpaceX will make the final decision to proceed after the astronauts are ready inside Crew Dragon just before undocking.

Live coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 return will begin at 5:15 p.m. and continue through the targeted splashdown at 2:41 p.m. on Sunday, the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station. It will wrap up NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight after more than two months at the International Space Station.

Hurley and Behnken arrived at the orbiting laboratory in the Crew Dragon May 31 following a launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return.

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.