SpaceX Dragon Set for Launch This Afternoon

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon space freighter attached at the top rests at its launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: NASA TV

SpaceX is ready to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space freighter today at 4:33 p.m. EDT loaded with more than two tons of science gear and crew supplies. Orbiting overhead in the International Space Station the six Expedition 43 crew members observed Cosmonautics Day.

NASA TV will cover the launch of the sixth SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services mission (SpaceX CRS-6) live beginning at 3:30 p.m. today. The Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the space station Wednesday morning for a five week stay delivering gear to support dozens of life science, human research and physics experiments.

The crew relaxed Monday morning as they commemorated the first space flight of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin back in April 12, 1961. The three astronauts and three cosmonauts went back to work in the afternoon on a wide variety of advanced microgravity science and routine maintenance activities.

NASA astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly joined Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti for a Dragon cargo conference in the afternoon. Cristoforetti will be in the cupola Wednesday morning controlling the Canadarm2 when she captures Dragon around 7 a.m. Virts and Kelly will be assisting her and monitoring Dragon’s arrival.

Crew Studying Microgravity Effects on Life as SpaceX Preps for Launch

The huge Typhoon Maysak "Eye"
This close up of the huge Typhoon Maysak “eye” of the category 5 (hurricane status on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale) was captured by astronauts on board the International Space Station Mar. 31, 2015.

More life science work took place Thursday aboard the International Space Station as scientists study the effects of living in space during a long term space mission. Back on Earth, SpaceX is counting down to a Monday launch of its Dragon space freighter.

More eye checks took place Thursday as the crew in the U.S. segment of the orbital lab participated in a series of week-long Ocular Health activities. The crew also conducted artery scans using an Ultrasound for the Cardio Ox inflammatory stress study. The space station residents are also getting ready for the Rodent Research experiment setting up gear inside the Destiny lab module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox.

The station cosmonauts participated in their array of Russian science and maintenance on their side of the orbital laboratory. The veteran cosmonaut trio explored the micro-vibrations the station experiences and tested new photography techniques for Earth observation studies.

Mission managers are finalizing preparations for the April 13 launch of the sixth SpaceX Dragon Commercial Resupply Services mission to the space station. SpaceX will perform a hot-fire test this weekend of its Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad. Dragon will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket for a two day trip to the station where it will be captured by the Canadarm2 and installed on the Harmony module.

Medical Science and Emergency Training on Crew’s Schedule

Astronaut Samatha Cristoforetti
Astronaut Samatha Cristoforetti speaks to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Wednesday. Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 43 crew spent Wednesday conducting more medical science and later training for a simulated emergency practicing their response skills.

Astronauts Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti participated in another round of eye checks for the ongoing Ocular Health study. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly scanned his legs using an Ultrasound for the Sprint high intensity, low-volume exercise study.

Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov continued studying ways to detect pressure leaks inside the station for the Bar experiment. Four-time space station resident Gennady Padalka researched the formation of coulomb crystals and liquids from macroparticles trapped in a magnetic field.  Kelly’s fellow One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko worked maintenance throughout the International Space Station’s Russian segment.

Monday, April 13, is launch day for SpaceX’s sixth operational cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Launch is slated for 4:33 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Visit the SpaceX blog for the latest updates.

Crew Conducting Human Research and Preparing for Dragon

Soyuz, Progress and Earth View
From the bottom left to the top left is the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft and the ISS Progress 57 cargo craft docked to the International Space Station with the Earth below.

Advanced microgravity science is moving full speed ahead now that the International Space Station is fully staffed with the six-member Expedition 43 crew. New science gear is also headed to the station as SpaceX readies its Dragon cargo craft for their sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission (SpaceX CRS-6).

Commander Terry Virts studied how blood pressure is impacted before, during and after a spaceflight for the BP Reg experiment. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly collected his perspiration samples after an exercise session for the Microbiome study then prepared for upcoming Ultrasound and blood pressure work. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti began her day with Aniso Tubule botany work then moved on to gathering tools for the Rodent Research study.

Kelly’s fellow One-Year crew member, Mikhail Kornienko, mixed cell cultures in a bioreactor before downloading data collected for identification of the dynamic forces on the space station. Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov ended his 24 hour blood pressure monitoring session then studied ways to detect pressure leaks inside the station for the Bar  experiment.

Cristoforetti later joined Virts for a grapple training session as they prepare to capture the Dragon space freighter with the Canadarm2 when it arrives next week. Dragon will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket April 13 delivering new science experiments such as OASIS and ISSpresso.

Crew Works International Science as SpaceX Readies Flight

Astronauts Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti
Astronauts Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti talk to high school students from Texas Monday morning. Credit: NASA

Commander Terry Virts and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly, both NASA astronauts, partnered together Monday for spacesuit maintenance in the Quest airlock. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti also worked throughout the U.S. segment on a variety of botany science and life research benefitting humans on Earth and crews in space.

A trio of cosmonauts, Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov, Gennady Padalka and One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked on an array of ongoing science and maintenance in the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory. They worked on the Kurs automated rendezvous system which can guide and dock a Russian spacecraft from inside the space station if necessary. The crew also sampled the Zvezda service module’s air and analyzed it for quality.

Back on Earth, SpaceX is readying its Falcon rocket and Dragon commercial space freighter for an April 13 launch from Florida to the International Space Station. Dragon will fly for two days before its capture and berthing to the Harmony module where it will stay until May 20. This will be the sixth SpaceX mission (SpaceX CRS-6) for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

New experiments Plant Gravity Sensing and TripleLux-A will be delivered on the upcoming SpaceX Dragon mission.

Life Sciences and Cargo Transfers Taking Place on Orbital Lab

Expedition 43 Crew Members
All six Expedition 43 crew members are gathered in the Destiny laboratory on board the International Space Station on Mar 30, 2015 after an emergency procedures training period.

A wide variety of research exploring how life adapts to long-term exposure to microgravity took place on the International Space Station Friday. The crew members also worked on cargo transfers to and from a pair of docked vehicles.

More crew Ocular Health eye checks were on the schedule as scientists study the fluid shifts caused by microgravity and how they affect a crew member’s vision. New software was loaded on computers for the Rodent Research study, a life sciences experiment that was delivered on a SpaceX mission in January.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who collected a saliva sample for stowage in a science freezer, and his twin brother on the ground Mark Kelly are the subjects of the Twins study. That investigation compares the two brothers, one in space and one on the ground, and explores how the different environments affect the twins with identical genes.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, the crew unloaded gear from the recently docked Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft. The ISS Progress 57 space freighter, docked to the Pirs docking compartment, is also being packed with trash ahead of its departure and fiery disposal April 25.

Eye Checks for Crew as Station Boosts Orbit

Astronaut Scott Kelly
ISS043E059259 (03/28/2015) — NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (left) is happy to be aboard the International Space Station after the hatch opening of the Soyuz spacecraft Mar. 28, 2015.

Medical science and training took a significant portion of the Expedition 43 crew’s schedule Thursday. The newest three crew members are getting used to their new home on orbit. Finally, the International Space Station boosted its orbit.

Several crew members participated in eye checks for the Ocular Health study as scientists study how microgravity affects vision during long duration missions. The newest trio to join Expedition 43 trained to prepare for a medical emergency while also familiarizing themselves with station systems.

A docked ISS Progress 58 space freighter fired its engines boosting the space station’s orbit by eight-tenths of a mile. The reboost readies the station to receive the new ISS Progress 59 supply ship when it launches and docks April 28.

SpaceX Targets April 13 Dragon Launch

The SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft approaches the International Space Station on Sept. 23, 2014 for grapple and berthing.

SpaceX is targeting Monday, April 13 to launch the next commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is targeted for approximately 4:33 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m.

A Monday launch will result in the Dragon spacecraft arriving at the space station Wednesday, April 15. Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station’s 57.7-foot robotic arm to reach out and capture Dragon at approximately 7:14 a.m. Flight Engineer Terry Virts of NASA will support Cristoforetti as they operate from the station’s cupola. NASA TV coverage of grapple will begin at 5 a.m. Coverage of Dragon’s installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 9:15 a.m.

If the launch does not occur on Monday, the next launch opportunity would be at approximately 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, April 14.

This is the sixth SpaceX commercial resupply services mission and the seventh trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the station. Dragon is filled with more than 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to support science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 43 and 44. After about five weeks at the space station, Dragon will return to Earth filled with cargo including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, and space station hardware.


For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit:

Kelly Twins Study Underway as Crew Preps for Dragon Launch

One-Year Crew Members
One-Year crew members Scott Kelly (left) and Mikhail Kornienko conduct an interview from inside the Japanese Kibo lab module. Credit: NASA

The three newest Expedition 43 crew members joined Commander Terry Virts for emergency hardware familiarization Tuesday. Later, new cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly got together for communication training with ground controllers while wearing emergency masks. The trio also worked throughout the day on station orientation and familiarization activities.

Kelly is beginning his One-Year mission so doctors can learn how the human body adapts to long-term space missions. Doctors are comparing his body with his twin brother former astronaut Mark Kelly for the Twins study and will analyze biological samples from the duo during the mission.

Meanwhile, Expedition 43 will welcome its first space freighter April 12 after SpaceX launches its sixth Dragon mission for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract April 10. Virts began prepacking gear that will be returned on Dragon May 21.

#YearInSpace Crew Enters Station Joining Expedition 43

Expedition 43 in the Zvezda service module
Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka joined their Expedition 43 crewmates Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti in the Zvezda service module for a crew greeting ceremony.

Kelly and Kornienko will spend about a year on the space station to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. Data from the one-year mission will be used to determine whether there are ways to further reduce the risks on future long-duration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

The crew will support several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth. Data and samples will be collected throughout the year from a series of studies involving Scott and his twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. The studies will compare data from the genetically-identical Kelly brothers to identify any subtle changes caused by spaceflight.

During the expedition, both a U.S. and a Russian cargo resupply vehicle will arrive at the station, bringing several tons of food, fuel, and supplies as well as a host of new science investigations.

Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti will return home in May 2015. At that time Padalka will become commander for Expedition 44. Padalka will spend six months aboard the outpost, during which he will become the first four-time station commander and record holder for most cumulative time spent in space. Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth in March 2016 with Expedition 46 after 342 days in space.

You can follow the crew’s activities in space on social media. Follow space station activities via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow Twitter updates from Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti, and Scott Kelly, and follow Kelly on Instagram.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and the one-year mission on Twitter, follow the hashtag #YearinSpace. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: