Crew Dragon Endeavour Has Re-Docked to Station

The SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon is pictured after maneuvering to the Harmony module's space-facing international docking adapter.
The SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon is pictured after maneuvering to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter. Credit: NASA TV

Crew Dragon Endeavour with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, have re-docked to the International Space Station.

Crew Dragon autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. and relocated to the space-facing port at 7:35 a.m. completing the second space station port change for the crewed spacecraft.

Next up for commercial crew, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station about one day following its launch at 2:53 p.m. Friday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed flight test, NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data about Boeing’s crew transportation system, and help NASA certify Starliner and the Atlas V rocket for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

Crew-2 astronauts are targeted to return to Earth in early-to-mid November following a short handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts targeted to launch on Sunday, Oct. 31.

Coverage Underway for Crew-2 Port Relocation

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour approaches the International Space Station
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour approaches the International Space Station on April 24, 2021

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage as four residents of the International Space Station prepare to take a spin around their orbital neighborhood in the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft, relocating it to prepare for the arrival of the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet boarded the Crew Dragon spacecraft about 4:30 a.m. and are scheduled to undock from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. The spacecraft will dock again at the station’s space-facing port at 7:32 a.m.

This will be the second port relocation of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission lifted off April 23 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station April 24. Crew-2, targeted to return in early-to-mid November, is the second of six certified crew missions NASA and SpaceX have planned as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA TV to Air Crew Dragon’s Port Relocation

The SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon maneuvers to another port on the International Space Station on April 5, 2021
The SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon maneuvers to another port on the International Space Station on April 5, 2021

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts on the International Space Station will relocate their Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft Wednesday, July 21, setting the stage for a historic first when two different U.S. commercial spacecraft built for crew will be docked to the microgravity laboratory at the same time.

Live coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will board the Crew Dragon spacecraft about 4:30 a.m. and undock from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. The spacecraft will dock again at the station’s space-facing port at 7:32 a.m.

The relocation will free up Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, scheduled for launch Friday, July 30, as part of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). The flight will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data about Boeing’s crew transportation system, and help NASA certify Starliner and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

This will be the second port relocation of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission lifted off April 23 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station April 24. Crew-2, targeted to return in early-to-mid November, is the second of six certified crew missions NASA and SpaceX have planned as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Nanoparticles and Robotics Research Amid Maintenance Today

Expedition 65 astronauts (from left) Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough talked to elementary school students from New York City on June 9.
Expedition 65 astronauts (from left) Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough talked to elementary school students from New York City on June 9.

The Expedition 65 crew members focused their Friday space research activities on nanoparticles and free-flying robotics. Their International Space Station maintenance activities included updating science communications hardware and replacing life support components.

State-of-the-art space manufacturing techniques being studied on the orbital lab have the potential to improve building technologies on Earth. The new InSPACE-4 study, delivered last month onboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship, seeks to harness nanoparticles and fabricate new and advanced materials. NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei were conducting more runs of the space physics experiment, that has been ongoing for several days, inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox today.

An AstroBee robotic free-flyer was powered up in the Kibo laboratory module Friday morning to demonstrate complex maneuvers in the orbital lab while using less propulsion. Commander Akihiko Hoshide configured the toaster-sized device Friday morning and ground scientists uplinked software commands to control the AstroBee. The Astrobatics robotic mobility study has implications for future space missions and technologies on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough spent the day installing new communications gear inside the Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) rack. Located in the Europe’s Columbus laboratory module, the HRF-2 enables studies of the physiological, behavioral and chemical changes that take place in the human body while living in space.

Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) joined Vande Hei and continued replacing aging components inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s carbon dioxide removal assembly. Pesquet later swapped a laptop computer battery and Vande Hei reviewed procedures to support next week’s port relocation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spaceship.

In the station’s Russian segment, first-time space flyer Pyotr Dubrov serviced communications hardware while veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy swapped out a variety of electronics gear.

Cargo Dragon Departs Station, Returns to Earth Friday

July 8, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia's Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.
July 8, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships.

With NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough  monitoring aboard the International Space Station, a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked from the International Docking Adapter on the station’s space-facing port of the Harmony module at 10:45 a.m. EDT.

Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the space station during the next 36 hours. On Friday, July 9, Dragon will conduct a deorbit burn to begin its re-entry sequence into Earth’s atmosphere. Dragon is expected to splash down at approximately 11:29 p.m. in the Gulf of Mexico near Tallahassee, Florida. The splashdown will not be broadcast.

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers as soon as four to nine hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects. The Dragon’s departure will be the second splashdown of a U.S. commercial cargo craft off the Florida coast. Previous cargo Dragon spacecraft returned to the Pacific Ocean, with quick-return science cargo processed at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, and delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dragon launched June 3 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station a little less than 16 hours later. The spacecraft delivered more than 7,300 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost. Dragon’s external cargo “trunk” carried six new ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), two of which Expedition 65 crew members Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet, an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut, installed during three spacewalks June 16, 20, and 25.

Some of the scientific investigations Dragon will return to Earth include:

  • Lyophilization-2 examines how gravity affects freeze-dried materials and could result in improved freeze-drying processes for pharmaceutical and other industries. Freeze-drying also has potential use for long-term storage of medications and other resources on future exploration missions.
  • Molecular Muscle Experiment-2 tests a series of drugs to see whether they can improve health in space, possibly leading to new therapeutic targets for examination on Earth.
  • Oral Biofilms in Space studies how gravity affects the structure, composition, and activity of oral bacteria in the presence of common oral care agents. Findings could support development of novel treatments to fight oral diseases such as cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@Space_Station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Instagram and ISS Facebook accounts.

Dragon Undocking Planned Thursday, Crew Focuses on Space Research

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the space station on June 5, 2021. At center right, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is also pictured docked to the Harmony module.

SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is planned for Thursday, July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with NASA TV coverage scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft. Additional opportunities are available on July 9 and 10. The space freighter’s departure had been scheduled for earlier this week but was postponed due to weather conditions off the coast of Florida.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew members stayed focused on a variety of science activities including human health, robotics and physics.

Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet took turns working out on an exercise cycle Wednesday for a fitness test. The veteran astronauts attached sensors to their chests and pedaled for an hour on the device more formally known as the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization, or CEVIS. The test took place in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module and measures how microgravity affects the duo’s physical exertion, or aerobic capacity.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur focused on electronics maintenance and robotics research throughout Wednesday. The two-time space visitor powered up a cube-shaped AstroBee robotic helper and tested new technology that monitors the acoustic environment of the station. SoundSee seeks to demonstrate that “listening” to station components can help detect anomalies in spacecraft systems that need servicing.

Space manufacturing using colloids is being investigated for the ability to harness nanoparticles to fabricate new and advanced materials. Station commander Akihiko Hoshide conducted three runs inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox of the InSPACE-4 study today that could improve the strength and safety of Earth and space systems.

The trio that launched to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship practiced an emergency evacuation drill during the morning. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei joined cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and reviewed procedures such as donning gas masks, quickly entering the Soyuz spacecraft, undocking and reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Vande Hei later assisted McArthur with cable management work inside the Tranquility module. Novitskiy and Dubrov wrapped up the day disconnecting antenna cables inside their Soyuz vehicle.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Wednesday, July 21, for Crew Dragon Endeavour’s International Space Station port relocation operation. Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide Pesquet will suit up in their launch and entry spacesuits for Crew Dragon’s automated relocation maneuver from the forward to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module. The maneuver frees up the forward port to prepare for the arrival of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission at the microgravity laboratory at the end of July.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@Space_Station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Instagram and ISS Facebook accounts.

Weather Delays Dragon Undocking, Crew Scans Veins for Health Checks

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur are pictured inside the cupola during the approach and rendezvous of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon on June 5, 2021.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur are pictured inside the cupola during the approach and rendezvous of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon on June 5, 2021.

Due to forecast extreme weather off the coast of Florida, SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is no longer planned for Wednesday, July 7. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations and are prepared to support undocking of the Dragon cargo spacecraft once conditions are safe to do so. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft.

The next opportunity for undocking is July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with NASA TV coverage scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Additional opportunities are available on July 9 and 10. NASA will provide an update Wednesday, July 7 on the date for undocking following a weather briefing.

NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Shane Kimbrough worked on cargo transfers inside the Dragon today. Kimbrough then joined Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet and Commander Akihiko Hoshide at the end of the day and reviewed cargo craft emergency departure procedures. Pesquet set up a pair of computers inside the cupola in support of Dragon’s undocking and monitoring.

Hoshide and Kimbrough swapped roles as Crew Medical Officer today taking charge of vein scans with the Ultrasound-2 device. The duo took turns scanning each other’s neck, shoulder and leg veins. Hoshide also scanned McArthur’s veins as part of standard health checks with doctors on the ground monitoring.

Pesquet also had time Tuesday to wear the specialized Sidekick headset and examine the Tranquility module’s treadmill using augmented reality. The two-time station resident then moved on inspecting and photographing hatch seals on the Kibo laboratory module.

Roscosmos Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov stayed focused on Russian cargo and station life support activities. Novitskiy updated computer data files associated with the recent docking of the ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. Dubrov worked on orbital plumbing and thermal systems hardware.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@Space_Station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Instagram and ISS Facebook accounts.

Weather Pushes Dragon Undocking to No Earlier than July 7

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station on June 5, 2021.
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station on June 5, 2021.

Due to forecasted extreme weather off the coast of Florida, SpaceX CRS-22 undocking is now planned for no earlier than July 7. NASA Television coverage will begin at 10:45 am EDT. NASA and SpaceX flight control teams continue to monitor the weather and splashdown locations. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@Space_Station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Instagram and ISS Facebook accounts.

Station Crew Busy with Cargo Ship Ops and Space Research

Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur works on a protein crystal experiment potentially benefitting pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies on Earth.
Expedition 65 Flight Engineer Megan McArthur works on a protein crystal experiment potentially benefitting pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies on Earth.

Cargo operations continue at the International Space Station as a Russian resupply ship gets ready for docking tonight and a U.S. spaceship prepares for undocking next week. The Expedition 65 crew is also staying focused today on life science and physics research.

Russia’s ISS Progress 78 cargo craft is orbiting Earth today fine-tuning its maneuvers as it heads toward the orbiting lab. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov will be monitoring Progress as it approaches the station’s Poisk module for an automated docking at 9:03 p.m. EDT. NASA TV begins its live broadcast at 8:15 p.m. on the agency’s website and the NASA app,.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei joined Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) on Thursday and continued readying the Cargo Dragon for its undocking on July 6 at 11:05 a.m. EDT. The quartet is packing and organizing Dragon before final loading of critical research samples begins on Monday for analysis back on Earth.

Microgravity research has been proceeding apace as always with the astronauts exploring an array of space phenomena today. Commander Akihiko Hoshide worked on the Plant Habitat Facility throughout the day preparing for upcoming botany research. McArthur peered at protein crystals through a microscope before investigating how microgravity affects bacteria.

Kimbrough conducted operations inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox exploring ways to harness nanoparticles to fabricate and manufacture new materials. Vande Hei serviced the Cold Atom Lab, a research device that explores the physics of temperatures near absolute zero, preparing some components for return to Earth aboard Dragon next week.

Russian Resupply Ship Arriving Thursday, Cargo Dragon Leaves Next Week

Russia's ISS Progress 78 resupply ship launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station. Credit: Roscosmos

A Russian resupply ship is racing toward the International Space Station as another U.S. cargo craft nears the end of its mission. Meanwhile, the Expedition 65 crew focused its research activities today on a variety of physics and biology studies.

Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship is orbiting Earth today following its Tuesday launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress will arrive on Thursday with over 3,600 pounds of food, fuel and supplies, for an automated approach and docking to the Poisk module at 9:03 p.m. NASA TV will broadcast its arrival beginning at 8:15 p.m. on the agency’s website and the NASA app,.

The next cargo craft to depart the station will leave on July 6 at 11:05 a.m. EDT. The SpaceX Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter and parachute to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida two days later.

NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei worked throughout Wednesday readying the Cargo Dragon for next week’s departure. Commander Akihiko Hoshide and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet joined the NASA trio packing and organizing Dragon before final loading of critical research samples begins for analysis back on Earth.

Hoshide also kicked off the InSpace-4 physics study that will explore advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. Pesquet collected and stowed his blood samples before charging a headband device that monitors an astronaut’s sleep patterns for the Dreams study.

McArthur and Vande Hei collected samples of microbes from station surfaces and air for incubation and analysis. Some of those samples will be returned to Earth next week inside the Cargo Dragon.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov concentrated on maintenance and science in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Novitskiy checked Orlan spacesuit gloves and analyzed the air in the Zvezda service module. Dubrov serviced a variety of life support hardware.