Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will be at the robotics workstation on Tuesday and direct the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 to release the HTV-9 from its grip at 1:35 p.m. EDT. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the release of the HTV-9 as it completes its 85-day cargo mission. NASA TV will cover the activities live starting at 1:15 p.m.
The HTV-9 will spend two more days orbiting Earth before a fiery, atmospheric demise over the South Pacific. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is developing an upgraded fleet of HTV-X space station suppliers, replacing the HTV series of spaceships, targeted for their first launch in 2022.
The Expedition 63 and 64 crews are due to trade places at the orbiting lab beginning in mid-October. The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship is slated to blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 14 and dock to the station’s Rassvet module. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will then begin a six-month space research mission.
One week later on Oct. 21, Cassidy will wrap up his mission with crewmates Vagner and Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin. The trio will enter the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan ending a 195-day expedition in space.
NASA and SpaceX have announced the launch of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the station for no earlier than Oct. 23. Mike Hopkins of NASA will command the first operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft piloted by first-time NASA astronaut Victor Glover. They will be joined by Mission Specialists Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA, both previous station residents.
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.
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.
NASA and SpaceX mission managers met Thursday night and are proceeding, weather permitting, with the return to Earth of two astronauts. Meanwhile, space research to improve life for humans on and off the planet kept the Expedition 63 crew busy today.
Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are packing up to end a two-month mission aboard the International Space Station. They are scheduled to board the Crew Dragon spacecraft and undock on Saturday evening from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. The duo would splashdown on Sunday wrapping up NASA’s first crewed mission since 2011. NASA TV will provide continuous coverage of the departure and Earth return activities.
Hurley serviced science freezers that preserve biological samples for later analysis. He finally powered down the Astrobee free-flying robots that will soon see students competing to create the best algorithms to control the devices. Behnken finalized his work observing microgravity’s effects on water droplets to improve conservation and pressure techniques.
The orbiting lab’s two cosmonauts from Roscosmos, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, continued their schedule of science and maintenance today. Ivanishin worked on a variety of communications gear during the morning before activating Russian radiation detectors in the afternoon. Vagner once again photographed Earth landmarks today then sampled the station’s air and surfaces to analyze and identify microbes.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine today announced August 2 as the target splashdown date for DM-2 crew members Behnken and Hurley, with additional details on the return of this historic mission to come.
The International Space Station is getting ready for a new Japanese cargo mission and the first Commercial Crew before the end of the month.
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy joined Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner Friday afternoon to train for the arrival of a Japanese cargo craft after it launches on May 20 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The duo practiced the robotic capture techniques they will use when they command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-9) when it arrives on May 25 at 8:15 a.m.
The HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of food, fuel and supplies including new lithium-ion batteries to finish updating the station’s power systems. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.
Two days after the arrival of Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship, the first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will lift off from Florida to the orbiting lab aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are in preflight quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center counting down to their May 27 launch at 4:33 p.m.
The veteran astronauts, representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, will approach the station May 28 and dock to the Harmony Module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter at 11:39 a.m. They will open the hatch about two-and-a-half hours later to join the Expedition 63 crew and ramp up space science activities.
A Japanese cargo ship is poised to resupply the Expedition 63 crew just as a U.S. space freighter has completed its stay at the International Space Station. The three station residents are also getting ready to welcome two Commercial Crew members in just over two weeks.
Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo mission (HTV-9) is due to lift off on May 20 aboard an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center. The cargo craft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is delivering fresh food and supplies, new science experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems.
The HTV-9 will arrive at the station on May 25 where Commander Chris Cassidy, with Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner as back up, will capture the cargo craft with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Ground controllers will take over afterward and remotely install the HTV-9 to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port where it will stay for two months.
Just two days later, NASA will launch the first crew from the United States since 2011 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will take a 19-hour trip to the station while testing systems inside the Crew Dragon. It will automatically dock on May 28 to the International Docking Adapter located on the Harmony module’s forward port. After the hatches open, the duo will join the Expedition 63 crew to ramp up science and maintenance operations aboard the orbiting lab.
To ensure the agency keeps its commitment for safe operations via a continuous U.S. presence aboard the International Space Station until commercial crew capabilities are routinely available, NASA has completed negotiations with the State Space Corporation Roscosmos to purchase one additional Soyuz seat for a launch this fall.
The agency received no responses from U.S. suppliers to a synopsis issued in the fall of 2019 for crew transportation in 2020. Boeing and SpaceX are in the final stages of development and testing of new human space transportation systems that will launch astronauts from American soil, including NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission scheduled for launch no earlier than May 27.