Station Gearing Up for Science Delivery and Crew Swap

Expedition 46-47 Crew Members
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, the Expedition 46-47 crew poses for pictures following a news conference Nov. 23. (From left) European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra.Credit: NASA/Seth Marcantel

The International Space Station residents are gearing up to host the Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter when it arrives Dec. 6. On the ground, a new trio of Expedition 46-47 crew members headed to their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan before their mid-December mission.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren trained for the rendezvous and robotic capture of Cygnus after its Dec. 3 launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The Cygnus will deliver supplies for the crew and new science experiments Dec. 6 when it is captured and berthed to the Unity module.

Three new station crew members are in the final stage of their mission training before beginning a six-month mission to the orbital laboratory. First-time British astronaut Timothy Peake will join veteran station residents Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Kopra inside the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft for a six-hour ride to the space station set for Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, advanced space science continued today as the crew explored radiation, blood circulation and microbes living on crew members. Scientists hope to use the results from the many experiments on the station to benefit people on Earth and future crews.

Finally, the crew is packing the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft before its undocking Dec. 11. The Soyuz will bring home Expedition 45-46 crew members Lindgren, Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui.

Station Crew Getting Ready for Heavy Traffic Before Christmas

International Current Space Station Configuration
The current space station configuration has two Soyuz crew spacecraft and two Progress resupply ships docked at the orbital laboratory. View the station overview page.

Crews and cargo shipments will be coming and going at the International Space Station during a busy December in space. Two resupply ships will arrive, one cargo craft will leave and an Expedition 45 trio will head home before an Expedition 46 trio replaces it.

Commander Scott Kelly teamed up with Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren for more robotics training before the Dec. 3 launch and Dec. 6 arrival of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. When Cygnus arrives it will be captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm and berthed to the Unity module.

Meanwhile, Lindgren along with Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko are preparing for their Dec. 11 landing. On the ground in Russia, their Expedition 46 replacements Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineers Timothy Kopra and Timothy Peake are counting down to their Dec. 15 launch. A docked Progress 61 resupply ship will fire its engines Wednesday raising the station’s orbit to accommodate the mid-December crew swap.

The Cygnus cargo craft is in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center being processed before its early December launch atop an Atlas V rocket. Russia’s Progress 60 (60P) cargo craft will undock from the Pirs docking compartment Dec. 19. A new Progress 62 resupply ship will replace the 60P when it arrives at Pirs Dec. 23.

Crew Prepares for Spacewalks and December Cygnus Mission

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, wearing an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit. Photo credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

In two weeks, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren will step outside the U.S. Quest airlock for the first of two maintenance spacewalks. The International Space Station is also being readied to host the next Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo mission set for early December.

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui has been servicing the two spacesuits Kelly and Lindgren will wear on the two six-hour spacewalks scheduled for Oct. 28 and Nov. 6. The spacewalkers will lubricate the tip of the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. He and Lindgren started their day, though, with eye checks for the ongoing Ocular Health study.

Kelly and Lindgren have also been preparing the Unity module where the Cygnus commercial cargo craft will be attached when it arrives in December after a 14-month hiatus. Kelly installed a Unity power adapter in the Destiny lab module then joined Lindgren to adjust power connectors inside Unity.

The three cosmonauts continued their routine maintenance tasks and science experiments in the station’s Russian segment. Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov explored crystal magnetism, while Oleg Kononenko and Mikhail Kornienko studied how a crew member adapts to motion during a spaceflight.

 

Cygnus Launch Countdown Progressing

Antares Orbital-3 Mission
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A after the launch attempt was scrubbed because of a boat down range in the trajectory Antares would have flown had it lifted off, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The countdown is progressing smoothly today for the launch of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on top. There are no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked. The weather for this evening’s launch is predicted to be 97 percent favorable.

Liftoff is scheduled for 6:22 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport’s Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Live coverage of the launch on NASA TV will begin at 5:30 p.m. at: https://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Cygnus is loaded with about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.

A launch this evening will result in Cygnus catching up to the space station on Sunday, Nov. 2. Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 4:58 a.m. by NASA crew members Reid Wiseman and Barry “Butch” Wilmore. Cygnus will be attached to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node and will remain in place approximately one month. It is scheduled depart the space station on Dec. 3.

This is Orbital’s third mission to the International Space Station under its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.

Crew Focusing on Science While Cargo is Poised for Delivery

The Expedition 41 crew is working advanced microgravity science while a pair of space freighters await launch. Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus is set for a 6:22 p.m. EDT launch today while Russia’s ISS Progress 57 will begin a six-hour trip to the station at 3:09 a.m. Wednesday.

› View upcoming missions to the space station

NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore reviewed operations for the Rodent Research study. German astronaut Alexander Gerst, from the European Space Agency, had a medical exam and worked a variety of science experiments.

› Read more about the Rodent Research study

The cosmonauts worked on their complement of Russian science and maintenance. Alexander Samokutyaev collected his blood and saliva samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis on the ground. Commander Max Suraev began preparing for his Nov. 9 departure while finishing cleanup work after an Oct. 22 spacewalk. Elena Serova assisted her fellow cosmonauts with science and departure work.

Russian Spacewalker
A Russian spacewalker is photographed outside the International Space Station during a spacewalk Oct. 22.

Busy Period for Station Deliveries This Week

Space Station as Oct. 27
This is the configuration of the International Space Station as of Oct. 27. There are three spacecraft docked including two Soyuz spacecraft and Europe’s ATV-5.

The International Space Station saw a pair of space freighters leave while two more resupply ships were moved to their launch site waiting for liftoff this week. Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 fired its engines this afternoon to move the station away from a possible conjunction with some satellite debris.

View upcoming launches to the station

Meanwhile, the six member Expedition 41 crew is moving right along with station housekeeping and an array of advanced science to improve life on Earth and in space.

Astronauts Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst drew their blood samples Monday. Barry Wilmore stowed a pair of U.S. spacesuits. Elena Serova, Russia’s first female cosmonaut aboard the station, sampled surfaces in the Russian segment for microbes and worked on a physics experiment.

Cosmonauts Max Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev trained on rendezvous gear in advance of Wednesday’s arrival of the ISS Progress 57 resupply ship.

Cygnus Prepares for Liftoff After Russian Cargo Craft Departs

Orb3 Antares at Sunrise
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A during sunrise, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Antares will launch with the Cygnus spacecraft filled with over 5,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. The Orbital-3 mission is Orbital Sciences’ third contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. Launch is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 27 at 6:45 p.m. EDT. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

At a Launch Readiness Review Sunday, managers for Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, and NASA gave a “go” to proceed toward the Monday, Oct. 27 launch of the Orbital CRS-3 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Orbital is targeting a 6:45 p.m. EDT launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 5:45 p.m.

There is a 98 percent chance of favorable weather at the time of launch.

For more information about the mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbital and https://www.nasa.gov/station.

Progress Departs in 2010
ISS023-E-026925 (22 April 2010) — The unpiloted ISS Progress 35 supply vehicle departs from the International Space Station’s Pirs Docking Compartment on April 22, 2010. Filled with trash and discarded items, the Progress will be used for scientific experiments until it is deorbited and burned up in Earth’s atmosphere. Its departure clears the way for the ISS Progress 37 cargo ship that is scheduled to launch to the station April 28.

The Russian Progress 56 cargo spacecraft separated from the International Space Station at 1:38 a.m. EDT Monday. The cargo ship has successfully completed its first engine fire to move away from the space station.

Once it is further away, the cargo ship will undergo three weeks of engineering tests by Russian flight controllers before its scheduled deorbiting Nov. 19 to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The departure of 56P clears the Pirs docking compartment for the arrival of the new Progress 57 resupply spacecraft. It is scheduled to launch at 3:09 a.m. (1:09 p.m. Kazakhstan time) Wednesday, Oct. 29, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage of the launch begins at 2:45 a.m. The Progress will carry with it almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies the station and the Expedition 41 crew. Progress 57 will make its four-orbit, six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory and dock at 9:09 a.m.

Expedition 41 Update: Oct. 24, 2014

Station Crew Readies for Busy Visiting Vehicle Traffic

The highway traffic to and from the International Space Station gets busy Saturday and the six crew members of Expedition 41 are working feverishly to manage the traffic flow.

Final packing of the commercial Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) Dragon was completed and the hatch closed ahead of Saturday’s unberthing and departure. Release is planned for 9:56 a.m. EDT and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California is scheduled for about 3:30 p.m.

While the crew completed packing of experiment samples and equipment aboard Dragon for return to Earth, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility off the coast of Virginia, another commercial rocket – Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares with its Cygnus cargo craft – was rolled to the launch pad for final preparations leading to launch at 6:45 p.m. Monday. Plans are for Cygnus arrival at the station Sunday, Nov. 2, with berthing to the same Harmony module docking port that will be vacated by Dragon.

Two Russian cargo vehicles also will be making moves when Progress 56 undocks early Monday at 1:38 a.m., completing more than three months of service at the station. It will undergo several weeks of engineering tests by Russian flight controllers before being deorbited over the Pacific on Wednesday, Nov. 19. That departure frees the Pirs Docking Compartment for arrival of the next Russian cargo vehicle, Progress 57, which is set for launch at 3:09 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, with docking to Pirs six hours later at 9:09 a.m.

Three of the crew members also are beginning preparations to return home after 165 days in space. Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alex Gerst will return home aboard their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 9.

That leaves the other three crew members to transition to Expedition 42, which will be led by Barry Wilmore. He will command the expedition that includes Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova until next March. They’ll enjoy a Thanksgiving delivery of three more crew members – Anton Shkaplerov, Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts – on Sunday, Nov. 23.

› Read this week’s overview from the lead station increment scientist
› Read more about Cygnus’s upcoming launch
› Read more about the Expedition 41 crew

http://io.jsc.nasa.gov/photos/11328/lores/iss041e071451.jpgFlight Engineer Barry Wilmore unpacks cargo Oct. 11 from the SpaceX CRS-4 Dragon commercial space freighter.

Photo Credit: NASA