Rocket Ready to Launch for Final Christmas Delivery

Progress 62 Rocket at Launch Pad
The Progress 62 Rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: RSC Energia

Beginning Monday, Dec. 21 at 3:30 a.m. EST, NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch of a Russian Progress spacecraft carrying more than three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 46 crew aboard the International Space Station. Launch of ISS Progress 62 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is planned for 3:44 a.m. (2:44 p.m. local time in Baikonur).

Watch the launch live on NASA TV or at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress 62 is scheduled to arrive at the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station at 5:31 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23. The two-day rendezvous was deliberately planned to enable Russian flight controllers to test new software and communications equipment on the vehicle that will be standard for future Progress and piloted Soyuz spacecraft. The Expedition 46 crew will monitor key events during Progress 62’s automated rendezvous and docking.

The Progress will spend more than six months at the station before departing in early July 2016.

To join the online conversation on Twitter, follow @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Station Managers “GO” For Monday Morning Spacewalk

NASA Astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra
NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra will conduct a spacewalk Monday morning. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station Mission Management Team met Sunday and gave its approval to proceed with a spacewalk Monday out of the Quest airlock by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA to assist in moving the Mobile Transporter rail car a few inches to a worksite on the station’s truss where it can be latched in place and electrically mated to the complex. The green light for the unplanned spacewalk to take place Monday came three days after the Mobile Transporter stalled just four inches away from its embarkation point at worksite 4 near the center of the station’s truss as it began to move to another worksite to support robotic payload operations with its attached Canadarm2 robotic arm and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre).

Station managers ordered the spacewalk to latch down the transporter as a cautionary measure in advance of the scheduled docking of the new unpiloted ISS Progress 62 cargo ship on Wednesday that will link up to the Pirs Docking Compartment. The Progress is on track for launch from the Site 31 launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Monday at 2:44 a.m. Central time (2:44 p.m. Baikonur time).

The planned 3 to 3 ½ hour spacewalk is scheduled to begin Monday at 7:10 a.m. Central time. The start time for the spacewalk is variable since Kopra will be conducting a fit check of his U.S. spacesuit in parallel with other spacewalk preparations. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5:30 a.m. Central time.

Kelly, who will be making his third spacewalk, will be extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1) wearing the U.S. spacesuit bearing the red stripes. Kopra, who arrived on the station on Dec. 15, will be making the second spacewalk of his career as extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2) wearing the suit with no stripes. It will be the 191st spacewalk in support of station assembly and maintenance and the seventh spacewalk of the year by station crew members.

Kelly and Kopra will float out of the Quest airlock to the area where the Mobile Transporter has stalled to check out the position of its brake handles and other mechanisms to make sure the rail car can be commanded to move back to worksite 4 by robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston. It is suspected that a brake handle on an equipment cart attached to the starboard side of the transporter may have inadvertently engaged, which if correct, should easily be released to allow for the transporter to be moved into place for its latching.

If the primary task of moving the transporter to its worksite is completed quickly, Kelly and Kopra may press on to a few get-ahead tasks that include the routing of cables in advance of International Docking Adapter installment work to support U.S. commercial crew vehicles, and opening a door housing power distribution system relay boxes just above the worksite to facilitate the future robotic replacement of modular components.

Russian Cargo Spaceship Departs Station

Dec. 19. 2015 International Space Station Configuration
The departure of the P60 this morning leaves four spacecraft docked to the orbital laboratory. Credit: NASA

A Russian resupply ship left the International Space Station today after 166 days attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-filled Progress 60 (60P) undocked from Pirs at 2:35 a.m. EST/7:35 a.m. UTC and will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere a few hours later for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.

Pirs will remain vacant until Wednesday morning when a new delivery spaceship arrives and docks to it filled with science and supplies replenishing the Expedition 46 crew. Russia’s Progress 62 (62P) will take a two-day trip to the space station after launching Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:44 a.m. EST/8:44 a.m. UTC (2:44 p.m. Kazakh time).

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra are expected to conduct a spacewalk a few hours after the launch to reposition the mobile transporter and lock it in place in advance of the 62P’s arrival to the station Wednesday morning. Live NASA Television Monday will resume at 6:30 a.m. in advance of the spacewalk expected to begin at approximately 8:10 a.m.

The departure of the 60P this morning leaves four spacecraft docked to the orbital laboratory. The Soyuz TMA-18M crew spaceship is docked to the Poisk module. The Soyuz TMA-19M is docked to the Rassvet module. A Progress 61 cargo craft is docked to the Zvezda service module. The Cygnus private space freighter from the U.S. company Orbital ATK is berthed to the Unity module.

Expedition 46 Transferring Gear Before Supply Ship Undocks

Progress 60 Resupply Ship
The International Space Station, with the docked Progress 60 resupply ship in the upper left, flies over Typhoon Soudelor in August.

The six-member Expedition 46 crew worked on human research activities and unloaded cargo today. The three newest crew members — Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko, Tim Kopra and Tim Peake — continued familiarizing themselves with International Space Station systems and operations.

Commander Scott Kelly used an ultrasound during the morning to scan Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov’s eyes. Kelly then joined new station residents Kopra and Peake and unloaded cargo from the Cygnus private space freighter. Kelly later installed radiation detectors in the Columbus lab module. Peake filled out a daily questionnaire for the Space Headaches study.

Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko was in the Russian segment of the orbital lab getting the Progress 60 resupply ship ready for its undocking early Saturday morning. Malenchenko transferred gear and supplies from the new Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that arrived Tuesday. Malenchenko, who is on his fourth station mission, also photographed the condition of the Soyuz docking cone for inspection on the ground.

Light Day for Orbiting Crew Ahead of New Crew Launch

Expedition 46 Crew Members
Expedition 46 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), left, Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), center, and Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA pose for a picture at the conclusion of a press conference held at the Cosmonaut Hotel, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The three Expedition 46 crew members on board the International Space Station have a light duty day today before they welcome a new trio to the station on Tuesday. Commander Scott Kelly enjoyed a day off while cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov spent some time on microgravity science and vision checks.

Back on the ground in Kazakhstan, a new Soyuz rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome after being rolled out Sunday morning. The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft will liftoff Tuesday at 6:03 a.m. EST/11:03 a.m. UTC (5:03 p.m. Kazakh time) carrying three new crew members on a six-hour trip to the International Space Station.

Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will command the Soyuz vehicle alongside NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and British astronaut Tim Peake. The crew will be living and working in space for the next six months on advanced science benefitting life on Earth and future crews in space.

Malenchenko is the most experienced member of this trio with 641 days in space. He is embarking on his fourth space station mission.  He also lived on Russia’s last space station Mir and flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis. This will be Kopra’s second station residency, having spent 58 days in space as an Expedition 20 Flight Engineer. Peake will be Britain’s first astronaut to go to the International Space Station and this will be his first mission.

Cygnus Countdown Continues Amid Weather Concerns

Cygnus at the Lainchpad
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is at the launch pad in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

For the latest Orbital ATK mission information visit the NASA Orbital blog here… https://blogs.nasa.gov/orbital

Countdown is continuing and progressing smoothly for today’s scheduled launch at 5:33 p.m. EST of the fourth Orbital ATK commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Fueling operations have begun. Today’s 30-minute launch window now has a 40 percent chance of acceptable conditions. The primary concern is that wind speed is trending higher, along with continued cumulus clouds, thick clouds, and ground winds.

The Cygnus spacecraft is set to lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying more than 7,000 pounds of supplies and science investigations.

NASA television coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m. and can be seen at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv. Significant countdown milestones are below.

The cargo includes dozens of science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 45 and 46. For a mission overview, press kit, launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk

To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Orbital ATK Countdown & Launch Highlights

EST                        Event

3:03 p.m.               T-2 hours and counting

Pressurize Centaur liquid oxygen storage tank to chill down level

Start Atlas liquid oxygen ground chill down

Start Centaur bottle pressurization to flight level

Pressurize Atlas RP-1 tank to step II

3:13 p.m.                Start Centaur liquid oxygen transfer line chill down

3:20 p.m.                Begin Centaur liquid oxygen tanking

3:33 p.m.                Start Atlas liquid oxygen tanking operations

3:38 p.m.                Start Centaur liquid hydrogen transfer line chill down

3:53 p.m.                Initiate Centaur engine chill down

4:08 p.m.                Start flight control final preparations

4:23 p.m.                Start flight open loop Flight Termination System test

4:30 p.m.                NASA Television Coverage Begins

4:47 p.m.                Initiate fuel fill sequence

4:59 p.m.                Begin 30 minute hold at T-4 Minutes

5:03 p.m.                Weather Briefing

5:26 p.m.                Status check to continue countdown

5:29:11 p.m.           T-4 Minutes and counting

5:33:08 p.m.           RD-180 engine ignition

5:33:11 p.m.           Launch

5:33:29 p.m.           Begin pitch/yaw/roll maneuver

5:34:33 p.m.           Mach 1

5:34:44 p.m.           Maximum Dynamic Pressure

5:37:26 p.m.           Atlas booster engine cutoff (BECO)

5:37:32 p.m.           Atlas booster/Centaur separation

5:37:42 p.m.           Centaur first main engine start (MES1)

5:37:50 p.m.           Payload Fairing jettison

5:51:27 p.m.           Centaur first main engine cutoff (MECO1)

5:54:16 p.m.           Cygnus spacecraft separation

~6:33 p.m.              Cygnus solar array deploy

~7:33 p.m.              Post-Launch News Conference on NASA Television

Cygnus Stands Ready for Launch Today

Cygnus at the Lainchpad
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is at the launch pad in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

A new shipment of crew supplies and science experiments is packed inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft ready for liftoff today at 5:55 p.m. The Cygnus will launch on top of an Atlas V rocket from a launch pad located at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station Sunday morning where astronaut Kjell Lindgren will capture the supply ship with Canada’s 57.7 foot robotic arm.

The crew is busy in the orbital lab today exploring the effects of space on life and preparing for Cygnus and a mid-December crew swap.

Scientists are observing Commander Scott Kelly and comparing his body to his twin brother ex-astronaut Mark Kelly. The Twins study seeks to understand how a body in space differs from a similar body on Earth. Kelly also joined fellow crew members Lindgren and Kimiya Yui for eye checks.

Yui and Lindgren also worked with cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko preparing for their Dec. 11 return to Earth ending the Expedition 45 mission. Three new station crew members are preparing to launch Dec. 15.

Veteran cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko continued studying how blood flows while living in space. Volkov then researched the vibration levels on the station and their possible impacts on operations. Kornienko was back at work exploring advanced Earth photography techniques.

U.S. Cargo Ship Rolls Out to Pad for Thursday Launch

Cygnus Rolls Out to Launch Pad
The Cygnus cargo craft atop the Atlas V rocket rolls out to the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Orbital ATK rolled out its Cygnus resupply ship to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad in Florida today. Cygnus will launch atop an Atlas V rocket at 5:55 p.m. EST Thursday. The private U.S. space freighter will deliver new science experiments and crew supplies to the International Space Station crew early Sunday.

Amid Cygnus rendezvous and capture preparations, Commander Scott Kelly with Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui also worked on biomedical science activities today. The trio collected blood and urine samples and participated in a vision test to help doctors understand the effects of living in space on astronauts.

Cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko continued studying how blood circulates in space. Volkov then moved on to an experiment observing how the vacuum of space and space radiation may influence organisms off Earth. Kornienko explored new Earth photography techniques.

Lindgren and Yui are returning home Dec. 11 with Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko after 141 days in space. The three Expedition 45 home-bound crew members checked the spacesuits they will wear on the way home for leaks.

Station Ramping Up for New Crew and New Supplies

The Sun's light
The Sun’s light is reflected off a body of water as the space station orbit’s Earth.

A trio of International Space Station residents is getting ready to return to Earth while a new crew in Kazakhstan is preparing to replace them. Meanwhile, a pair of space freighters, the Orbital ATK Cygnus and Russia’s Progress 62 (62P), is being readied for liftoff as another docked cargo craft is being packed before it’s undocking.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft will launch Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EST to the station. The 61P is scheduled for a Dec. 21 liftoff. While mission managers are preparing three different spacecraft for launch this month, the Expedition 45 crew is performing research to help scientists benefit life on Earth and crews in space.

The next home-bound astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui checked their vision and blood pressure today for the Ocular Health study. The duo will return home with Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko Dec. 11 officially ending the Expedition 45 mission. Kononenko participated in a pair of blood circulation experiments, Cosmocard and Cardiovector, and prepared the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for its departure in less than two weeks.

Commander Scott Kelly, who is staying in space until March with Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov and fellow One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, sampled and tested the station’s water quality. Volkov and Kornienko explored veins in the lower body to understand blood flow during a long-term space mission.

The next crew to live on the space station, Expedition 46, is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site counting down to its Dec. 15 liftoff inside the Soyuz TMA-19M rocket. First-time British astronaut Timothy Peake is joining veteran station crew members Timothy Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko for the six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory.

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.