New Trio Adapts to Station, Cygnus Ready at Launch Pad

Atlas V Rocket and Cygnus Spacecraft
The Atlas V Rocket that is launching the Cygnus cargo spacecraft stands at the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA TV

The Expedition 47 crew is at full strength after the arrival of three new crew members Friday night. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will be familiarizing themselves with station systems over the next few days and will be staying in space till September.

All six crew members, including Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and British astronaut Tim Peake, spread throughout the orbital laboratory to explore a wide array of advanced space science.

Kopra researched the impact of microbes on a crew member’s immune system and wrapped up a liquid crystal experiment. Peake participated in a secondary immune system study before getting gear ready for a combustion experiment. Malenchenko explored the changes in a crew member’s blood circulation in space, compared to their circulation on the ground.

Orbital ATK is getting ready to launch its Cygnus space freighter to the International Space Station Tuesday night from Florida. The crew is training for its arrival Saturday night when they will capture it and attach it to the Unity module. Cygnus will deliver almost 7,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew.

Soyuz Stands Ready at Launch Pad as Cargo Missions Line Up

Soyuz TMA-20M Rocket at the Launch Pad
The Soyuz TMA-20M rocket stands ready for lifoff at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket that will carry three new crew members to the International Space Station Friday evening stands ready for launch in Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio awaiting reinforcements is busy with medical science and preparations for upcoming cargo missions.

High winds at the Baikonur Cosmodrome delayed the raising of the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft into vertical position a few hours after its roll out Wednesday. Launch is scheduled for 5:26 p.m. EDT/9:26 p.m. UTC Friday. Expedition 47-48 crew members Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka will arrive at their new home in space less than six hours later.

The three current residents onboard the orbital laboratory, Commander Tim Kopra and Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko, continued their medical research to help scientists understand how living off the Earth affects the human body. The crew is also getting ready for a pair of cargo deliveries due soon from Orbital ATK and SpaceX.

Kopra and Peake were back at work today on the Ocular Health study scanning their eyes with an ultrasound and checking their blood pressure. Kopra also explored how microbes affect the human immune system in space and practiced the robotic capture of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft. Peake is helping engineers validate the technology that will control rovers on another planet from a spacecraft. Malenchenko researched how the digestive system adapts to microgravity and packed trash into the 61P resupply ship due to undock at the end of the month.

Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus space freighter Tuesday at 11 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center on a four-day trip to the space station. Cygnus will deliver almost 7,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew.

Cygnus Departs Station after Robotic Release

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is released from the International Space Station’s Canadarm2. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 46 astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 7:26 a.m. EST while the space station was flying above Bolivia. Earlier, ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center had maneuvered Cygnus into place for its departure.

Once the spacecraft is a safe distance from the station, its engines will fire twice, pushing it into Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. The deorbit burn and re-entry of Cygnus will not air on NASA TV.

The Cygnus resupply craft arrived to the space station on Dec. 9, following Dec. 6 launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s fourth NASA-contracted commercial station resupply mission.

Experiments delivered on Cygnus supported NASA and other research investigations during Expeditions 45 and 46, in areas such as biology, biotechnology, and physical and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

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

Watch Live Coverage of the Cygnus Release from Station

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured just after being released from the space station in August 2014.

NASA Television is providing live coverage now of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station. Release from the space station’s Unity module is scheduled for 7:25 a.m. EST / 12:25 p.m. UTC.

Watch the departure live on NASA TV or at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

The Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station Dec. 9, delivering more than 7,000 pounds of cargo to support dozens of science experiments from around the world.

For more information about Orbital ATK’s mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. For more information about the International Space Station, and its research and crews, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station.

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

Cargo Ship and Crew Departure Preps Underway

Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft
Astronaut Tim Peake photographed the Cygnus cargo spacecraft with its umbrella-like solar arrays. The Soyuz TMA-19M crew spaceship is seen to the left. Credit: https://twitter.com/astro_timpeake/status/698517572405354496

The crew aboard the International Space Station is set to say farewell to a pair of spaceships over the next several days. The first spaceship, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft, is being readied for its release Friday morning. After that, the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft will return to Earth March 1 bringing home three crew members.

Mission controllers in Houston are finalizing preparations before the 57.7 foot Canadarm2 robotic arm detaches Cygnus from the Unity module. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra will command the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus at 7:25 a.m. EDT Friday. Finally, Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will command Cygnus to move away from the station and head towards Earth to burn up high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Kelly, along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, is in his final days of a mission that began in March of last year. The pair will take a ride home with three-time station resident Sergey Volkov who has been aboard the orbital lab since September. When the trio lands in Kazakhstan March 1, Kelly and Kornienko will have lived in space continuously for 340 days. Volkov’s mission will have lasted 182 days.

While the crew is busy with spacecraft departure activities, British astronaut Tim Peake worked on a variety of experiments today. He partnered with Kopra on a pair of experiments, one looking at how astronauts work on detailed interactive tasks and another researching cognitive performance. Peake also studied the thermophyscial properties of different metals inside Japan’s Electrostatic Levitation Furnace.

Station Boosts Orbit before Heavy Spacecraft Traffic Period

Solar Arrays and Earth's Limb
The International Space Station’s solar arrays and the Earth’s limb were photographed during a Jan. 15, 2016, spacewalk.

The International Space Station raised its orbit again today as three crew members prepare for a March 1 landing while another trio gets ready for a March 18 launch. Meanwhile, advanced research continued inside the orbital laboratory to improve life on Earth and for future space residents.

Today’s orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for the March 1 undocking of Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko. Their undocking will leave the Poisk module’s docking port vacant where a trio of Expedition 47 crew members will dock two-and-a-half weeks later inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.

Today, the Expedition 46 crew participated in a variety of human research exploring how the heart adapts to life in space, the risk of atherosclerosis in astronauts and how microgravity affects an astronaut’s vision. The crew also sampled the station’s air and surfaces for microbes to learn how to prevent contamination in future spacecraft.

Another spacecraft is being prepared for departure Friday morning when it will be released from the grips of the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm. The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is being loaded with trash before NASA astronauts Kelly and Tim Kopra release Cygnus using the robotics controls inside the seven-window cupola. NASA Television will cover the activities live Friday beginning at 7 a.m. EST.

Spacesuit Work Wraps Up as Robotic Arm Preps for Cygnus Release

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly works on a spacesuit inside the Quest airlock.

Two astronauts are wrapping up spacesuit maintenance today while a variety of human research takes place inside the International Space Station. Outside the station, the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm is being prepared for the upcoming release of a space freighter.

Commander Scott Kelly and astronaut Time Peake from the European Space Agency are finalizing gear replacement work on a U.S. spacesuit today. The spacesuit will be inspected Monday before it is certified for return to service.

On the life science front, Kelly joined cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for eye and heart scans with an ultrasound. The scans are part of the ongoing Ocular Health study seeking to understand visual impairment some astronauts have experienced during their space missions.

Kopra earlier attached sensors to himself for the Sprint study which seeks to reduce muscle and bone loss with new exercise techniques while living in space. Peake collected his own breath sample for the Marrow experiment that observes how microgravity affects bone marrow and blood cells.

Ground controllers are maneuvering the Canadarm2 in position for the Feb. 19 grapple and release of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. The Cygnus will be released for a fiery destruction high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean after being attached to the Unity module for over two months.

 

Crew Starts Week with Spacesuit Work and Vision Checks

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly
Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly received a call from former President George H. W. Bush on Friday. Watch the video… https://youtu.be/ww3ueFwqnWs

The Expedition 46 crew members kicked off their work week today with a series of physics experiments and life science studies. The crew also worked on U.S. and Russian spacesuits and continued packing trash inside the Orbital ATK resupply ship.

British astronaut Tim Peake wrapped up maintenance work on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace which will study the thermophysical properties of various materials. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra tested the flammability of different textiles inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the BASS-M experiment.

Peake also explored crew immunology to potentially improve astronaut health and life on Earth. Kopra continued taking out the trash today loading the Cygnus spacecraft before its release on Feb. 19 for disposal over the Pacific Ocean.

Peake then joined Commander Scott Kelly in the Quest airlock to get a U.S. spacesuit ready for gear replacement work on Wednesday. Kelly also partnered up with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko for vision tests and blood pressure checks for the Ocular Health study.

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko is recharging Russian Orlan spacesuit batteries after completing a spacewalk last week. His fellow cosmonaut Sergey Volkov also helped stow spacewalk tools.

Spacewalkers Clean Up as Crew Works on Life Support Gear

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly
Astronauts Tim Kopra (foreground) and Scott Kelly work on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly inside the Tranquility module. Credit: NASA TV

Two cosmonauts are cleaning up today after a successful spacewalk on Wednesday. The other crew members are working on life support gear and taking out the trash.

Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov completed the third spacewalk of Expedition 46 after installing hardware and science gear and conducting experiments. Today the duo are cleaning and recharging their Orlan spacesuits and stowing their tools.

British astronaut Tim Peake helped Malenchenko and Volkov as he stowed the U.S. gear used on the suits. Peake later videotaped himself reading a children’s storybook and performing science demonstrations for students.

Commander Scott Kelly and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra partnered together to swap parts inside the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). Kelly then packed trash inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft due to leave the International Space Station on Feb. 19. Kopra later wrapped up the CDRA maintenance work.

Cosmonauts Finalize Preps Before Wednesday Spacewalk

Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov
Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov is pictured during a spacewalk in August 2011 when he was a Flight Engineer for Expedition 28.

Two cosmonauts are getting ready for a spacewalk to install hardware and science experiments outside the International Space Station’s Russian segment. Meanwhile, the other four crew members are working on research hardware, water testing and trash stowage.

Veteran flight engineers and spacewalkers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov are finalizing their reviews and preparations for the second Expedition 46 spacewalk in less than a month. NASA Television will provide live coverage of the Russian spacewalk set to begin tomorrow at 8:10 a.m. EST. They are scheduled to work outside in their Russian Orlan spacesuits for about 5 hours and 30 minutes on scheduled maintenance tasks.

Commander Scott Kelly set up a portable 3D printer today inside the Destiny laboratory module. The test fabrications on the device may precede the installation of a full-sized 3D printer in the future. Kelly also replaced fuel gear inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.

European astronaut Tim Peake collected and tested samples from water dispensers in the U.S. and Russian segments of the orbital lab. The samples will also be returned to Earth inside a Soyuz spacecraft for further analysis. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra continued stowing trash inside the Orbital ATK cargo craft while also checking the status of pistol grip tools used during spacewalks.