Crew Preps for New Dragon, Harvests Radishes and Studies Time Perception

Earth's limb, or horizon, is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile.
Earth’s limb, or horizon, is pictured from the space station as it orbited above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile.

The International Space Station is gearing up for the next-generation SpaceX Dragon cargo craft due to lift off this weekend. Meanwhile, the seven-member Expedition 64 crew kicked off the work week on space botany and human research.

The newest Dragon resupply ship from SpaceX is due to launch to the station on Saturday at 11:39 a.m. EST with over 6,500 pounds of crew supplies and station hardware, including the NanoRacks Bishop airlock. The upgraded vehicle will dock on its own for the first time to the space-facing port of the Harmony module adjacent to the recently arrived Crew Dragon spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover reviewed approach, rendezvous and hatch opening procedures today. They will be monitoring its arrival and docking set for Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Cargo Dragon vehicles were previously captured and installed using the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Rubins later spent the rest of the afternoon harvesting radish plants that have been growing for four weeks inside the Columbus laboratory module. Glover also joined Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi for a study that is exploring how astronauts perceive time in microgravity which can impact physical and cognitive performance.

Exercise in space is critical so that astronauts remain fit and healthy and able to withstand the rigors of physically demanding tasks such as spacewalks and returning to Earth’s gravity. Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker attached sensors to themselves today and took turns on an exercise bike to measure their cardiopulmonary function. Observations from today’s exercise study may help improve physical stamina to sustain crews on longer term missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos worked throughout the day on life support maintenance and communication tests. His fellow cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov also checked out communications gear and worked on a pair of Russian experiments exploring the Earth’s upper atmosphere and advanced space photography techniques.

Crew Off-Duty for Thanksgiving and Preps for Dragon Cargo Mission

A bright blue, South Atlantic Ocean is pictured as the International Space Station soared nearly 270 miles above, just off the coast of Argentina.
A bright blue, South Atlantic Ocean is pictured as the International Space Station soared nearly 270 miles above, just off the coast of Argentina.

The seven-member Expedition 64 crew from the United States, Russia and Japan will take the day off on Thanksgiving before ending the week with a day full of microgravity research. In the meantime, the crew spent Wednesday on a wide array of space science while getting the International Space Station ready for an upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

NASA Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Shannon Walker worked throughout Wednesday readying the station’s Tranquility module for a new commercial airlock from NanoRacks. Dubbed Bishop, the airlock will be delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission targeted to launch on Dec. 5. The Bishop airlock will enable private industries to increase research opportunities in the vacuum of space.

Planned for Dec. 6, this will be the first automated docking of the Cargo Dragon to the space-facing port on the Harmony module. Previous Cargo Dragon vehicles were captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm maneuvered by astronauts. Robotics controllers then took over and remotely installed Dragon to Harmony’s Earth-facing port.

The GRASP human research experiment, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), was back on the science schedule Wednesday. Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover wore virtual reality goggles and responded to virtual stimuli to help doctors understand how the central nervous system, specifically hand-eye coordination, adapts to weightlessness.

JAXA astronaut and Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi started his day servicing the Kibo laboratory module’s Cell Biology Experiment Facility, a specialized incubator that can generate artificial gravity. Later, he joined Kate Rubins and examined her eyes using optical coherence tomography.

The orbiting lab’s two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, continued studying ways to make space workouts more effective. The duo later joined Rubins and practiced chest compressions, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, in the event of a medical emergency aboard the space station.

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. 

 

Crew Dragon Go For Splashdown, Station Science Continues

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.

The veteran astronauts also completed their science assignments today that saw studies into unique fluids, biomedicine, autonomous robotics and more. However, Commander Chris Cassidy, who is staying in space until October, was busy all-day researching water droplets, observing extreme temperatures and sequencing microbial DNA.

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.

Astronauts Talk to Press on Friday Before Crew Dragon Departure

NASA astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Chris Cassidy are the U.S. members of the Expedition 63 crew.
NASA astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Chris Cassidy are the U.S. members of the Expedition 63 crew.

Two Flight Engineers and the Expedition 63 Commander, all from NASA, will talk to journalists Friday morning before the SpaceX Crew Dragon completes its stay at the International Space Station.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, NASA’s first commercial crew, have been aboard the orbiting lab since May 31. They have been packing the Crew Dragon spacecraft and testing its systems to get ready for this weekend’s scheduled undocking and return to Earth. NASA TV will provide continuous live coverage of their departure and splashdown activities.

The NASA station trio, including Commander Chris Cassidy, will answer questions Friday morning from a variety of reporters calling up to space. NASA TV will broadcast the Crew News Conference live beginning at 10:45 a.m. EDT.

Orbital science is still ongoing today amidst Hurley and Behnken’s departure preparations. Cassidy was observing how microgravity shapes water droplets possibly improving water conservation and water pressure techniques on Earth. Even the homebound duo put in some research time studying light-manipulating materials and starting up an experimental radiation detector.

Earth observations are part of the critical research program taking place onboard the station. First-time cosmonaut Ivan Vagner photographed Earth landmarks today to understand and forecast the effects of natural and man-made catastrophes. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin continued unloading the new Progress 76 cargo craft while updating the station’s inventory system.

NASA, SpaceX Preparing For Crew Return

NASA's first commercial crew astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are preparing for their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
NASA’s first commercial crew astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are preparing for their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

NASA and SpaceX teams remain “Go” for the return of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from the International Space Station following the Return Flight Readiness Review, with the primary factor being weather.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 1, for undocking of the Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft from the space station and 2:42 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, for splashdown, which will be the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station.

NASA and SpaceX will hold the Return Flight Readiness Review briefing at 3:30 p.m. EDT on NASA TV and the agency’s website from the Johnson Space Center to talk the details of the return of the end-to-end test flight. Participants are:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Benji Reed, director, crew mission management, SpaceX

The test flight also is helping 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, which would occur following NASA certification.

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.

Crew Dragon Suit Checks as Station Begins Orbital Reboosts

This long-exposure photograph from the space station reveals the Milky Way glittering above a bright but exaggerated atmospheric glow blanketing the Earth's horizon.
This long-exposure photograph from the space station reveals the Milky Way glittering above a bright but exaggerated atmospheric glow blanketing the Earth’s horizon.

The Expedition 63 crew checked out SpaceX Crew Dragon suits today and stayed busy with a full slate of space research. The International Space Station also completed the first of three orbital reboosts to get ready for the next crew mission in October.

Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken inspected the suits they will wear when they return to Earth aboard the Crew Dragon spaceship. The duo tried on their suits for a fit check and ensured the components are in good condition. They are scheduled to depart the station on Saturday and splashdown the following day. NASA TV will cover all the departure activities live.

The homebound-duo started the day replacing environmental control system (ECS) hardware aboard the orbiting lab. That work required temporarily removing a plant habitat from the Unity module to access the ECS.

Commander Chris Cassidy had his hands full as he worked on specialized hardware that enables research into disordered solids, or glass, and materials heated to extreme temperatures. He first set up a Light Microscopy Module that will look at the microscopic transition of glass-forming materials. Next, he worked on the Electromagnetic Levitator that observes the thermophysical properties of liquid metallic alloys.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner stayed busy today as they checked out Orlan spacesuits, serviced life support gear and analyzed station air samples for impurities.

The docked Progress 75 resupply ship fired its engines this morning for five-and-a-half minutes slightly lifting the station’s orbit. There will be two more station reboosts before the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship launches in October with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. They will dock to the Rassvet module a few hours after launch to begin a six-month mission as the Expedition 64 crew.