U.S., Russian and British Crew Continuing Station Operations

British Astronaut Tim Peake
British astronaut Tim Peake works on an experiment that explores the risk of breathing in toxic dust during a future crewed mission to Mars.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has returned to Houston and his Expedition 46 crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov have returned to Russia. Their historic mission is over but there are three crew members who are still orbiting Earth on the International Space Station.

The new station commander of Expedition 47, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, worked on the Water Recovery System that converts urine into pure drinking water. After that, he took a look at the humanoid robot, also known as Robonaut2, for some troubleshooting activities.

British astronaut Tim Peake was inside the Columbus lab module today checking out science hardware for a magnetic field experiment and a payload transfer rack. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who has visited the orbital lab five times, worked on Russian life support gear.

A new set of space station crew members is getting ready to join Expedition 47 when they launch March 18 U.S. time. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will ride the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft for a six-hour trip to their new home in space.

Veteran Station Crew Returns to Earth after Historic Mission

Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly
Year in Space crew members Mikhail Kornienko (left) and Scott Kelly work with tiny free-floating satellites known as SPHERES back in January.

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, and Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos landed their Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. EST. Russian recovery teams will help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after their stay in space.

Kelly and Kornienko launched to the space station on March 27, 2015, for their one-year mission. The pair’s return on March 1 marks the end of 340 days aboard the space station and almost 143 million miles during their time in space, roughly the same average distance between Earth and Mars.

With Kelly, Kornienko and Volkov landing in Kazakhstan, Kelly has logged 520 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on space shuttle mission STS-103 in 1998. Kornienko has spent 516 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on Expedition 23/24 in 2010. Volkov arrived at the station on September 4 and has spent 548 days in space on three flights, the first of which was in 2008.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) remain aboard the station to continue research and maintenance. The remainder of the Expedition 47 crew, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin, is scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on March 18.

The one-year mission will provide new insights into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation and stress of long-duration spaceflight. The science will continue for months and years as the data are collected and analyzed, an important step in the first phase of NASA’s efforts to prepare humanity for the journey to Mars. Such Earth-reliant exploration will lead to more complex operations in orbit around the moon where NASA will demonstrate, advance, and validate the capabilities and technologies we will need to send humans to Mars.

Expedition 46 Trio Leaves Station for Ride to Earth

Soyuz TMA-18M Undocks
The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft undocks carrying Expedition 46 crew members Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. Credit: NASA TV

Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov undocked from the station at 8:02 p.m. EST to begin their voyage home. Volkov, the Soyuz commander, is at the controls of the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft.

They will perform a separation burn to increase the distance from the station before executing a 4-minute, 49-second deorbit burn at 10:32 p.m. The crew is scheduled to land at 11:25 p.m. southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

All three crew will participate in Field Tests immediately after landing. Scott Kelly will conduct Functional Task Tests once he is back at NASA’s Johnson Space Center which will assess how the human body responds to living in microgravity for such a long time. Understanding how astronauts recover after long-duration spaceflight is a critical piece in planning for missions to deep space.

The Expedition 47 crew members, Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will continue research and maintenance aboard the station and will be joined March 18 by three additional crew members, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn and landing beginning at 10:15 p.m.

Here is the timeline for Expedition 46’s landing:

Tuesday, March 1

EST                            EVENT

10:15 p.m.                 NASA TV: Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn and landing coverage

10:32 p.m.                  Soyuz TMA-18M deorbit burn (4 minutes, 49 seconds duration)

10:37 p.m.                  Soyuz deorbit burn complete

10:59 p.m.                  Soyuz module separation (altitude 87 miles)

11:02 p.m.                  Soyuz atmospheric entry (altitude 62 miles)

11:10 p.m.                  Command to open parachute (6.6 miles)

11:25 p.m.                 Expedition 46 Soyuz TMA-18M landing southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

Today is Homecoming Day for a Record-Setting Crew

Sunrise
Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo taken from the International Space Station to Twitter on Feb. 27, 2016 with the caption, “Of all the sunrises I’ve seen on my #YearInSpace, this was one of the best! One of the last too. Headed home soon.” Credit: https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly

Three Expedition 46 crew members are finishing packing the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft for the ride home today, ending their record-setting mission. Three other space station residents will stay behind until June and wave farewell to their crewmates when they undock tonight.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are riding back to Earth with Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov. The trio will undock at 8:02 p.m. EST today/1:02 a.m. UTC Wednesday and land in Kazakhstan at 11:25 p.m. NASA TV will begin live coverage at 4:15 p.m. as the crew enters the Soyuz spacecraft and closes the hatches.

Kelly and Kornienko will have lived in space continuously for 340 days when they land tonight for an International Space Station program record. Volkov will have been in orbit for 182 days.

After the crew parachutes to a landing Kelly will be greeted by NASA personnel and checked out by doctors before flying back to the United States and landing in Houston 24 hours later. Kelly will be monitored over the next few weeks and months as scientists learn how living in space affects the human body before NASA sends astronauts to an asteroid or Mars.

Scott Kelly Hands Over Station Command to Tim Kopra

Expedition 46 Crew Members
Astronaut Scott Kelly (right foreground) hands over command of the International Space Station to astronaut Tim Kopra (left foreground) with their crewmates in the background. Credit: NASA TV

At 3:15 p.m. EST, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra assumed command of the International Space Station from astronaut Scott Kelly of NASA in a traditional Change of Command ceremony. Expedition 47 will officially begin under Kopra’s command when the Soyuz spacecraft carrying Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov undocks from the space station on March 1.

Watch video of the moment of change of command.

Kelly and Kornienko launched to the space station on March 27, 2015, for their one-year mission. The pair’s return on March 1 will mark the end of 340 days aboard the space station. Volkov arrived at the station on September 4.

Join the online conversation about the one-year mission using #YearInSpace.

Follow space station activities on social media via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Final Full Day in Orbit for Volkov and Year In Space Crew

Orbiting Earth at Night
Day 325. Set your sails for the #stars! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace. Credit: https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/699380052312477696

International Space Station Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko, who have been living in space since March of last year, are spending their last full day in orbit today. The duo are returning home Tuesday evening with Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov who will lead the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft back to Earth.

Kelly will hand over command of the orbital laboratory to NASA astronaut Tim Kopra in a ceremony today at 3:10 p.m. EST/8:10 p.m. UTC live on NASA Television. When the Soyuz spacecraft undocks Tuesday, Expedition 47 will officially begin with Flight Engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko staying behind with Kopra.

While the homebound trio is wrapping up its mission, the three remaining crewmates will stay in orbit till June and continue their science and maintenance activities. Today, Peake worked inside Japan’s Kibo lab module preparing to increase its stowage capacity. Kopra explored new space exercise techniques to minimize bone and muscle loss during long-term missions. Malenchenko checked on Soyuz communications and worked on several Russian science experiments.

Tune in to NASA TV Tuesday beginning at 4:15 p.m. to watch the live Soyuz crew departure and landing activities. Kelly and Kornienko will have accumulated 340 days in space while Volkov will have been orbiting 182 days when they land Tuesday at 11:25 p.m.

Crew Explores Breathing Risks of Long-Term Space Mission

Shanghai, China
Astronaut Scott Kelly shared this image of Shanghai, China on Instagram. Credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBjW1uEAXpJ/

A pair of astronauts is exploring breathing risks during long term space missions today while a trio of crew members is packing a Soyuz spacecraft for the return home.

NASA astronaut and two-time space station resident Tim Kopra joined first-time British astronaut for the Airway Monitoring experiment. That study explores the risk of breathing in toxic dust during future crewed missions to Mars which can possibly upset a crew member’s respiratory system.

Kopra and Peake will be staying in space until June with cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko. They will become the Expedition 47 crew when a pair of One-Year crew members and a veteran cosmonaut undock in their Soyuz spacecraft and return to Earth next week.

Station Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko are set to complete 340 days in space when they land in Kazakhstan on March 1 U.S. time. Cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, who will lead the duo home inside the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft, will have lived in space for 182 days.

Crew Wrapping Up Year-Long Mission in Less than a Week

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (left) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko marked their 300th consecutive day aboard the International Space Station on Jan. 21, 2016.

Three International Space Station crew members, two of whom have been in orbit nearly a year, will complete their stay in space March 1. As they prepare for landing, the Expedition 46 crew is moving right along with human research, advanced space science and ongoing lab maintenance.

One-Year crew mates Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko will join Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov for a ride back to Earth Tuesday. They will undock inside the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft and land in Kazakhstan carrying personal items and science for analysis.

Kelly joined NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for some plumbing work throughout Wednesday. Kelly also participated in blood, urine and saliva sample collections to help doctors understand how living in space affects the human body.

British astronaut Tim Peake, who will be staying in space till June, began checking out new science gear that will support new biology research. Peake also set up hardware for an experiment that explores the risk of airway inflammation in astronauts.

Cygnus Departs Station after Robotic Release

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is released from the International Space Station’s Canadarm2. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 46 astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra of NASA commanded the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft at 7:26 a.m. EST while the space station was flying above Bolivia. Earlier, ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center had maneuvered Cygnus into place for its departure.

Once the spacecraft is a safe distance from the station, its engines will fire twice, pushing it into Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. The deorbit burn and re-entry of Cygnus will not air on NASA TV.

The Cygnus resupply craft arrived to the space station on Dec. 9, following Dec. 6 launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s fourth NASA-contracted commercial station resupply mission.

Experiments delivered on Cygnus supported NASA and other research investigations during Expeditions 45 and 46, in areas such as biology, biotechnology, and physical and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station

Watch Live Coverage of the Cygnus Release from Station

Cygnus Released from Station
The Cygnus spacecraft is pictured just after being released from the space station in August 2014.

NASA Television is providing live coverage now of the departure of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station. Release from the space station’s Unity module is scheduled for 7:25 a.m. EST / 12:25 p.m. UTC.

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

The Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station Dec. 9, delivering more than 7,000 pounds of cargo to support dozens of science experiments from around the world.

For more information about Orbital ATK’s mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. For more information about the International Space Station, and its research and crews, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station.

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