Dragon Launches and Will Reach Station Sunday

Falcon 9 Rocket Launches With Dragon Spacecraft
The Falcon 9 Rocket launches with the Dragon cargo craft on time from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 4:43 p.m. EDT, and Dragon has begun its journey to the International Space Station. Dragon separated from its second stage and achieved its preliminary orbit. Dragon’s solar arrays have deployed and will provide 5 kilowatts of power to the spacecraft as it begins a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the International Space Station.

A post-launch news conference will air on NASA TV at 6 p.m. EDT.

The spacecraft will arrive at the station Sunday, April 10, at which time ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will use the station’s robotic arm to capture the Dragon spacecraft. Ground commands will be sent from Houston to the station’s arm to install Dragon on the bottom side of the Harmony module for its stay at the space station. Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will begin at 5:30 a.m. on NASA TV, with installation set to begin at 9:30 a.m.

To learn more about the dozens of science experiments headed to the space station, watch the science briefing “What’s on Board”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq_Kl0IGHH0

For more information on the SpaceX CRS-8 mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/spacex. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. To join the conversation online, use #Dragon.

Weather Favors Dragon Launch as Crew Preps New Science

The SpaceX Dragon and Falcon 9 Rocket
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Credit: SpaceX

Weather forecasters have predicted a 90% percent chance of favorable conditions for the Friday launch of the SpaceX CRS-8 mission to the International Space Station. Launch of the Dragon resupply ship atop the Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for 4:43 p.m. EDT/8:43 p.m. UTC from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television will cover the launch and rendezvous activities live.

British astronaut Tim Peake is training for the robotic capture of Dragon when it arrives Sunday morning carrying 6,900 pounds/3,130 kilograms of science, crew supplies and hardware. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will back up Peake during the rendezvous and capture activities. After Dragon is captured, ground controllers will take over the Canadarm2 robotic activities and remotely install the commercial space freighter to the Harmony module.

The Expedition 47 crew is still working advanced space science setting up new experiments delivered March 26 on the Orbital ATK private cargo craft. The crew is also preparing for even more science being delivered aboard Dragon. The new experiments will explore muscles and bones, fluids at nano-scales and protein crystals. The research has the potential to help scientists design newer, more advanced drugs to improve health.

Crew Explores Space Muscles Before Dragon Arrives Sunday

Astronaut Timothy Peake
Astronaut Timothy Peake explores muscle health in space using the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System.

The Expedition 47 crew conducted an emergency drill today in coordination with flight controllers. The station residents also continued human research and prepared to welcome a sixth spacecraft to the International Space Station

The crew periodically simulates emergencies at the space station to stay familiar with escape routes, safety hardware and communication protocols. Afterward, the astronauts and ground teams review the results to continuously improve space safety procedures.

Muscle research has been taking place this week on the orbital lab with astronauts using a specialized exercise device. The Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System (MARES) helps scientists understand the effects of living in space on the human body.

Another life science study today looked at how working in space affects a cosmonaut’s breathing rate. The crew also explored the stresses the space station experiences during events such as spacecraft dockings and engine firings.

SpaceX is getting ready for the launch of its Dragon resupply ship Friday at 4:43 p.m. EDT/8:43 p.m. UTC. The crew is packing gear and training for Dragon’s Sunday arrival and robotic capture. NASA Television will cover the launch and rendezvous activities live.

Dragon Will Deliver Rodents for Muscle Study

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon, on its CRS-5 mission, was captured January 12, 2015, during Expedition 42.

The SpaceX Dragon CRS-8 mission will deliver 6,900 pounds/3,130 kilograms of science, crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station. Payloads aboard Dragon will include rodents for a medical study and an expandable module that will be installed after Dragon completes its two-day trip to the station.

Dragon is scheduled for launch Friday at 4:43 p.m. EDT/8:43 p.m. UTC. It is scheduled to be captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm Sunday at 7 a.m. and will be installed to the Harmony module about two-and-a-half hours later.

The Expedition 47 crew is getting the Rodent Research hardware ready in the orbital lab so scientists can learn how to offset bone and muscle diseases on Earth. Researchers will be exploring how living in space affects bones and muscles by observing mice soon after Dragon arrives.

The largest payload in Dragon is the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). The BEAM will be attached to the Tranquility module a week after its arrival for a series of habitability tests over two years.

Astronaut Tim Peake continued more muscle research today using specialized exercise gear and attached electrodes to his right leg and ankle. Commander Tim Kopra is collected hardware for a combustion experiment that is studying more efficient ways to burn fuel on Earth and in space. Flight Engineer Jeff Williams is training for the new Meteor imaging experiment delivered aboard the Orbital ATK resupply ship.

Muscle and Heart Research as Dragon Targets Sunday Arrival

Kibo and the Milky Way
Japan’s Kibo lab module and the Earth’s limb frames the Milky Way. Credit: @Astro_Tim

The six station residents researched advanced space science today inside the orbital laboratory. The crew is also training for the automated arrival and robotic installment of the SpaceX Dragon.

The crew members are exploring how living in space affects the human muscular system and heart function. The crew also preparing a high quality protein crystal experiment that may enable advanced drug treatments for a variety of diseases on Earth.

The SpaceX Dragon is the next cargo craft set deliver more science and crew supplies. It will launch Friday afternoon for a rendezvous and capture Sunday morning at the space station. The new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will also be shipped to the Expedition 47 crew aboard the SpaceX. BEAM will be installed to the Tranquility module about a week after its arrival at the station for two years of habitability tests.

A Russian Progress 63 (63P) cargo craft completed a two-day delivery mission to the International Space Station Saturday afternoon. The crew opened the hatches to the 63P shortly afterward and began unloading nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies.

Russian Cargo Ship Arrives, SpaceX Dragon Due Next Sunday

International Space Station Configuration
Saturday’s arrival of the Progress 63 spacecraft marks five spacecraft parked at the Interntional Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

The Progress 63 cargo spacecraft docked successfully to the rear port of the Zvezda Service Module on the International Space Station at 1:58 p.m. EDT. The Kurs automated docking system enabled a smooth rendezvous as the cargo resupply craft and the International Space Station flew about 250 miles above Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

Progress 63 arrived with more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the space station crew, after its launch Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

The docking of the Progress 63 vehicle marked the second cargo ship in as many weeks to arrive at the station. Up next is the scheduled launch of the SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply vehicle on April 8 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The Dragon’s arrival at the complex on April 10 will be the third resupply vehicle for the station in three weeks, resulting in some 12 tons of cargo for the station’s residents from Progress, Dragon and the Orbital ATK Cygnus ship, which arrived at the station on March 26.

For more information about the space station, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/station.

Crew Ready for Pair of Space Shipments from Russia and U.S.

Cygnus Spacecraft Arrives at Station
The Cygnus cargo spacecraft is seen after it arrived at the space station and was captured by the Canadarm2 robotic arm March 28.

The Expedition 47 crew will receive a space delivery from Russia this weekend. SpaceX is counting down to the launch of another space shipment on its Dragon space freighter scheduled for April 8 from Florida.

Onboard the International Space Station, the crew checked out U.S. spacesuits and advanced science hardware. The station residents also explored life science and human research to benefit life on Earth and crews in space.

Commander Tim Kopra scrubbed cooling loops in U.S. spacesuits and installed new gear inside the Combustion Integrated Rack research facility. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams set up equipment for an experiment that is researching new exercise techniques for living in space. British astronaut Tim Peake swapped hard drives in a laptop computer that is recording data collected for a dark matter detection experiment.

Russia’s newest cargo craft, the Progress 63, is on its way to the station carrying over three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the crew and will dock Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. UTC. The following week, another delivery from the United States will liftoff aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying more science and gear inside the Dragon cargo craft. Both missions will be covered live on NASA TV.

Cargo Missions Lined Up for Space Deliveries

Progress 63 Spacecraft
The Progress 63 spacecraft is at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: RSC Energia

It will be rush hour at the International Space Station for the next two weeks as a pair of spaceships gets ready to launch new science, hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew. As the crew prepares for the new shipments, they are already working on the latest research delivered Saturday on the newest Cygnus space freighter from Orbital ATK.

The Progress 61 resupply ship has been packed and is ready to undock from the Zvezda service module taking out the trash Wednesday morning. It will be replaced Saturday afternoon when the Progress 63 cargo craft arrives at the same Zvezda port. The 63P will launch Thursday at 12:23 p.m. EDT/4:23 p.m. UTC from Kazakhstan and will be covered live on NASA TV.

SpaceX is getting its Falcon 9 rocket ready in Florida for the April 8 launch of the Dragon cargo craft. Dragon will arrive at the station two days later. Once it is captured and installed to the Harmony module, there will be six spacecraft attached to the space station for the first time since February 2011.

The newest spacecraft at the station, Cygnus, arrived Saturday loaded with new science including the Gecko Gripper experiment. The crew began work on the advanced adhesive study today that could enable new touch-to-stick methods and catch and release technologies such as robotic crawlers that walk and work on the outside of spacecraft.

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.

Cargo Mission Counting Down to Late Night Launch

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Over 3 tons of food, fuel, water, oxygen and supplies stands ready for a sky high delivery to the International Space Station late tonight. Meanwhile, the three-person Expedition 44 crew is at work on a variety of space science and orbital maintenance as they await the two-day space cargo mission.

Russia’s ISS Progress 60 spacecraft is poised atop its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome for a 12:55 a.m. EDT launch Friday from Kazakhstan. The resupply ship will arrive Sunday at 3:13 a.m. and dock automatically to the Pirs docking compartment. The space station is currently well-stocked through October and the crew is fine despite the loss of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Sunday morning.

Back on orbit, a pair of cosmonauts, Commander Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked on Russian science exploring cell cultivation in space and a crew member’s exposure to radiation.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly participated in the maintenance of science hardware. Kelly disconnected cables from an experiment that observes Earth’s magnetic field, he gathered hardware for upcoming research in the Combustion Integrated Rack and restocked the Human Research Facility-2 with new supplies.

Astronaut Scott Kelly
Astronaut Scott Kelly talks live with NASA Commentator Dan Huot about the loss of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the upcoming launch of the ISS Progress 60 resupply ship.