Expedition 64 Trio Undocks, Ends Station Mission

The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft moments after undocking from the station on April 16th, 2021. Credit: NASA TV
The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft moments after undocking from the station on April 16th, 2021. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station at 9:34 p.m. EDT, carrying three people back to Earth. NASA Television will air live coverage beginning at 11:30 p.m. for the deorbit burn and the spacecraft’s parachute-assisted landing at 12:56 a.m. (10:56 a.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday, April 17.

Rubins, Ryzhikov, and Kud-Sverchkov’s mission began Oct. 14, 2020, when their spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their spacecraft docked to the Earth-facing port of the Rassvet module after a two-orbit, three-hour flight.

Expedition 65 officially began at the time of undocking with NASA astronaut Shannon Walker serving as station commander. Walker will lead the crew until the departure of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience on Wednesday, April 28, when command of the station will be handed over to JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

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

NASA TV Broadcasts Expedition 64 Crew Departing Station

The three-member Expedition 64 crew from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). From left are, Kate Rubins of NASA,Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos.
The three-member Expedition 64 crew from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). From left are, Kate Rubins of NASA,Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos.

NASA is providing live coverage on NASA TV and its website of the undocking and departure from the International Space Station of the Soyuz spacecraft that will return NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos to Earth.

The three crew members are concluding a 185-day mission spanning 2,960 orbits of Earth and 78.4 million miles. Rubins is completing her second flight, with 300 cumulative days in space. Ryzhikov is completing his second spaceflight, with 358 cumulative days. This was Kud-Sverchkov’s first spaceflight.

During their mission, Rubins and her crewmates welcomed NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts aboard the first long-duration commercial crew spaceflight. Rubins completed two spacewalks alongside NASA astronaut Victor Glover and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, bringing her career total to four spacewalks. She returns to Earth with a total of 300 days across her two flights, the fourth most days in space by a U.S. female astronaut.

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

Crew Says Farewell, Enters Soyuz and Prepares to Undock

The hatch closing between the Soyuz MS-17 and station in preparation for the undocking of Expedition 64 crew. Credit: NASA TV
The hatch closing between the Soyuz MS-17 and station in preparation for the undocking of Expedition 64 crew. Credit: NASA TV

At 6:24 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at 9:34 p.m.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 9:15 p.m., with coverage of the Soyuz deorbit burn and landing beginning at 11:30 p.m. Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 12:56 a.m. (10:56 a.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday, April 17.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 65 will formally begin aboard the station, with new station commander Shannon Walker of NASA, NASA astronauts Victor GloverMichael Hopkins, and Mark Vande Hei, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

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

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

NASA TV Begins Live Coverage of Station Crew Departure

Expedition 64 crew members (from left) NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov pose for a crew portrait.
Expedition 64 crew members (from left) NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov pose for a crew portrait.

NASA is providing live coverage on NASA TV and its website as NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos prepare to conclude their mission aboard the International Space Station and return to Earth.

The trio will and close the hatch to their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at 6:10 p.m. EDT to begin the journey back to Earth. They will undock from the space-facing port of the station’s Poisk module at 9:34 p.m., heading for a parachute-assisted landing at 12:56 a.m. (10:56 a.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday, April 17, on the steppe of Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.

Coverage of the farewells and hatch closure will be followed by undocking coverage at 9:15 p.m., with coverage of the Soyuz deorbit burn and landing beginning at 11:30 p.m.

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

Expedition 64 Leaving Station as New SpaceX Crew Preps for Launch

(From left) The Expedition 64 crew is returning to Earth today as the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts prepare for an April 22 launch to the station from Florida.
(From left) The Expedition 64 crew is returning to Earth today as the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts prepare for an April 22 launch to the station from Florida.

Three Expedition 64 crew members are preparing to return to Earth today completing a 185-day research mission on the International Space Station. Meanwhile, four new SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts have arrived at the Kennedy Space Center preparing for a launch next week to the orbiting lab.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will say goodbye to their station crewmates today. They will enter the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and close the hatch for the final time at 6:10 p.m. EDT. The trio will then undock from the Poisk module at 9:34 p.m. and parachute to Earth about three-and-a-half hours later inside the Soyuz crew ship. NASA TV will broadcast all the homecoming activities live beginning at 5:45 p.m. today.

Four Commercial Crew astronauts left Houston today and arrived in Florida to prepare for an April 22 liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center to the space station. The quartet will take a near 24-hour ride inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour before docking to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter.

Endeavour will be commanded by Shane Kimbrough and piloted by Megan McArthur, both NASA astronauts. They will be accompanied by Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency. All four astronauts have previously flown on space shuttles or Soyuz vehicles.

They will be greeted by station Commander and Houston native Shannon Walker of NASA and her SpaceX Crew-1 crewmates Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA. The foursome, having been aboard the station since November, will then turn its attention to an April 28 return to Earth aboard the Crew Dragon Resilience.

Staying behind at the station with the Crew-2 astronauts will be NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. They arrived on April 9 docking their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft to the Rassvet module less than three-and-a-half hours after launching from Kazakhstan.

Walker to Command Station Until Departure at End of April

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, seen here signing the Unity module's vestibule that leads to the Cygnus space freighter, will command the station till her departure at the end of April.
NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, seen here signing the Unity module’s vestibule that leads to the Cygnus space freighter, will command the station till her departure at the end of April.

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker of Houston will assume command of the International Space Station today from Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov. Walker will lead the Expedition 65 crew for almost two weeks until she returns to Earth with her crewmates aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

NASA TV is broadcasting the traditional change of command ceremony beginning at 3:45 p.m. EDT today.

Ryzhikov will depart the orbiting lab on Friday with his Expedition 64 crewmates Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos. The trio will undock from the Poisk module inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship at 9:34 p.m. and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan about three-and-a-half hours later.

The seven-member Expedition 65 crew will be waiting for the arrival of four new Commercial Crew members due to launch to the station on April 22 at 6:11 a.m. SpaceX Crew-2 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Pilot Megan McArthur will be guiding the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle toward the station with Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet. The new quartet will dock to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter a little less than 24 hours later.

11 people will occupy the orbiting lab until April 28 when the four members of SpaceX Crew-1 end their 162-day space research mission. Michael Hopkins will be in charge of the Crew Dragon as Victor Glover pilots the vehicle, with Walker and Soichi Noguchi inside, when it undocks from Harmony’s space-facing port at 7:04 a.m. They will parachute to a splashdown off the coast of Florida about five-and-a-half hours later.

The day before the Crew-1 departure Walker will hand over station command to Hoshide who will lead the Expedition 65 crew. Hoshide will be the second astronaut overall from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to lead a station crew since Koichi Wakata commanded Expedition 39 in 2014.

Walker Takes Command Thursday Ahead of Two Departures and Next SpaceX Crew

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker will assume command of the station from Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov on Thursday afternoon.
NASA astronaut Shannon Walker will assume command of the station from Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov on Thursday afternoon.

Ten people occupy the International Space Station today but that will change on Friday when three Expedition 64 crew members return to Earth. Soon after that, four new Commercial Crew members will launch to the orbital lab when it will temporarily host 11 crew members.

Houston native and NASA astronaut Shannon Walker is preparing to take command of the space station on Thursday when Commander Sergey Ryzhikov hands over control before departing the next day. NASA TV will broadcast the traditional change of command ceremony from Expedition 64 to Expedition 65 live beginning at 3:45 p.m. EDT.

Expedition 65 officially begins when Ryzhikov undocks inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship with Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos. The automated undocking command will come at 9:34 p.m. on Friday when the Soyuz spacecraft will slowly back away from the Poisk module. Less than three-and-a-half hours later the three space travelers will parachute to Earth inside their spacecraft after a 185-day space research mission.

The second operational crew mission from SpaceX is gearing up for launch on April 22 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Two NASA astronauts, one Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut and one ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut will ride inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the station to complete the Expedition 65 crew. NASA TV will be on air live broadcasting the 6:11 a.m. launch next Thursday. NASA TV’s continuous coverage will also show the docking taking place the following day at 5:30 a.m.

The four SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are all veteran astronauts having previously launched to space on space shuttles and Soyuz crew ships. Crew-2 Commander Shane Kimbrough rode to the station twice on space shuttle Endeavour in 2008 and the Soyuz MS-02 crew ship in 2016. Pilot Megan McArthur flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis in 2009 to service the Hubble Space Telescope. JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide took two rides to low-Earth orbit, the first aboard space shuttle Discovery in 2008 and the second in 2011 aboard the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft. This will be ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s second space mission, his first aboard the Soyuz MS-03 crew ship in 2016.

Less than a week after the veteran quartet’s arrival, the four SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts will return to Earth after working in space for 162 days. Walker, along with her commercial crewmates Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Soichi Noguchi, will undock from the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter on April 28 at 12:04 p.m. and splashdown off the coast of Florida about five-and-a-half hours inside their Crew Dragon vehicle.

Trio Nears Departure During Space Harvest and Crew Orientation

NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.
NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.

Three Expedition 64 crew members reviewed departure procedures today as they get ready to leave the International Space Station at the end of the week. Meanwhile, there was a harvest onboard the orbital lab today while three new crewmates get used to life in space.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov Tuesday afternoon and looked over the steps they will take after they undock from the space station on Friday at 9:34 p.m. EDT. The trio reviewed the g-forces that occur when entering Earth’s atmosphere and experiencing gravity for the first time in 185 days. The former station residents will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft after leaving the Poisk module about three-and-a-half hours earlier.

A small crop of Amara Mustard and Pak Choi plants was picked today as part of the ongoing Veg-3 space agriculture study. NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins removed the plants from the Columbus lab module’s Veggie Facility and stowed the leaves for later analysis. The botany investigation is informing NASA and its international partners on how to feed crews without resupply ships on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Ongoing technical and life support maintenance is key to ensuring science experiments are up and running and the astronauts stay healthy while orbiting Earth.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency continued servicing the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an incubator that generates artificial gravity to support cell and plant biology studies. Victor Glover routed ethernet cables and Shannon Walker, both NASA flight engineers, worked on a U.S. oxygen generator throughout Tuesday.

The station’s newest crew members, Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, both from Roscosmos, are in their first week on the space station. They are getting oriented with station systems while also stepping up their science and maintenance activities. Vande Hei installed acoustic monitors and collected carbon dioxide data today. Novitskiy worked on a Russian radiation experiment as Dubrov checked ear, nose and throat medical equipment.

Crew Swaps, Safety and Space Research Keeping Crew Busy

The Milky Way extends above the Earth's horizon in this long exposure photograph from the space station.
The Milky Way extends above the Earth’s horizon in this long exposure photograph from the space station.

The three newest International Space Station crew members are getting used to life in space after a near three-and-a-half hour ride to the orbital lab late last week. There will be 10 people in space until Friday night when another three-person crew returns to Earth.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov have completed their first weekend orbiting Earth on the space station. The trio is getting up to speed with station systems following its arrival on Friday at 7:05 a.m. EDT. The new Expedition 65 crew launched earlier that day from Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship.

Meanwhile, another crew onboard the space station since October 14 is now focusing on its departure this Friday at 9:34 p.m. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. They will land in Kazakhstan at 12:56 a.m. Saturday, completing a 185-day space research mission.

The other four station astronauts, representing the crew of SpaceX Crew-1, joined their six crewmates during Monday afternoon and reviewed emergency roles and responsibilities. Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi joined the rest of the Expedition 64 crew and practiced safety procedures, communication protocols, and evacuation drills.

Some of the busy station residents did have time for science during all the crew swap and safety training activities taking place today. Glover attached sensors to his leg, collecting data for the Vascular Echo study that observes how the cardiovascular system changes in space. Noguchi reconfigured components inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an artificial gravity-generating incubator, that supports cell and plant biology studies.

Hatches Open, 10 Crew Members Occupying Station

The newly-expanded 10-member station crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for a welcoming ceremony with family members and mission officials on Earth. Credit: NASA TV
The newly-expanded 10-member station crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for a welcoming ceremony with family members and mission officials on Earth. Credit: NASA TV

The hatches between the International Space Station and the newly arrived Soyuz spacecraft officially opened at 9:20 a.m. EDT as they flew 270 miles above the South Pacific. The arrival of three new crew members to the existing seven people already aboard for Expedition 64 temporarily increases the station’s population to 10.

They have arrived on three different spacecraft. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos arrived on the Soyuz MS-18 after a two-orbit, three-hour flight following their launch from Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins arrived on the station with Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft October 14, 2020. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have been aboard since arriving November 16, 2020, on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience.

Expedition 65 begins Friday, April 16, with the departure of Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov. Ryzhikov will hand command of the station to Walker during a ceremony with all crew members that is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. April 15, and will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The Expedition 65 crew will continue more than 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the station, conducting research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research and more. Research conducted in microgravity helps NASA prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars, and contributes to improvements for life on Earth. Follow Vande Hei on Twitter during his mission.

This is the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy, and the first for Dubrov, who becomes the 243rd person to visit the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

During Expedition 65, the arrival of Crew-2 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon will bring four more members to the International Space Station. Crew-2 is currently scheduled for launch on Earth Day, April 22. Crew-1, the first long-duration commercial crew mission, will return to Earth on April 28.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.