The crew aboard the International Space Station is set to say farewell to a pair of spaceships over the next several days. The first spaceship, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft, is being readied for its release Friday morning. After that, the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft will return to Earth March 1 bringing home three crew members.
Mission controllers in Houston are finalizing preparations before the 57.7 foot Canadarm2 robotic arm detaches Cygnus from the Unity module. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra will command the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus at 7:25 a.m. EDT Friday. Finally, Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will command Cygnus to move away from the station and head towards Earth to burn up high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.
Kelly, along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, is in his final days of a mission that began in March of last year. The pair will take a ride home with three-time station resident Sergey Volkov who has been aboard the orbital lab since September. When the trio lands in Kazakhstan March 1, Kelly and Kornienko will have lived in space continuously for 340 days. Volkov’s mission will have lasted 182 days.
While the crew is busy with spacecraft departure activities, British astronaut Tim Peake worked on a variety of experiments today. He partnered with Kopra on a pair of experiments, one looking at how astronauts work on detailed interactive tasks and another researching cognitive performance. Peake also studied the thermophyscial properties of different metals inside Japan’s Electrostatic Levitation Furnace.
The International Space Station raised its orbit again today as three crew members prepare for a March 1 landing while another trio gets ready for a March 18 launch. Meanwhile, advanced research continued inside the orbital laboratory to improve life on Earth and for future space residents.
Today’s orbital reboost places the station at the correct altitude for the March 1 undocking of Soyuz Commander Sergey Volkov and One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko. Their undocking will leave the Poisk module’s docking port vacant where a trio of Expedition 47 crew members will dock two-and-a-half weeks later inside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft.
Another spacecraft is being prepared for departure Friday morning when it will be released from the grips of the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm. The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft is being loaded with trash before NASA astronauts Kelly and Tim Kopra release Cygnus using the robotics controls inside the seven-window cupola. NASA Television will cover the activities live Friday beginning at 7 a.m. EST.
The crew aboard the International Space Station is getting ready for a busy traffic month set to begin March 1. Meanwhile, advanced microgravity research and spacesuit work continues inside the orbital lab.
One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are preparing to come home March 1 after 340 days in space. Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov will return with them inside the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft. Then on March 18, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft and join Expedition 47.
Kelly harvested Zinnia plants Monday grown for the Veggie experiment as scientists validate the botany gear to determine the effectiveness of growing plants in space. The Expedition 46 commander also scrubbed spacesuit cooling loops today after inspecting another spacesuit for leaks Monday.
Two astronauts are wrapping up spacesuit maintenance today while a variety of human research takes place inside the International Space Station. Outside the station, the 57.7 foot long Canadarm2 robotic arm is being prepared for the upcoming release of a space freighter.
Commander Scott Kelly and astronaut Time Peake from the European Space Agency are finalizing gear replacement work on a U.S. spacesuit today. The spacesuit will be inspected Monday before it is certified for return to service.
On the life science front, Kelly joined cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra for eye and heart scans with an ultrasound. The scans are part of the ongoing Ocular Health study seeking to understand visual impairment some astronauts have experienced during their space missions.
Kopra earlier attached sensors to himself for the Sprint study which seeks to reduce muscle and bone loss with new exercise techniques while living in space. Peake collected his own breath sample for the Marrow experiment that observes how microgravity affects bone marrow and blood cells.
Ground controllers are maneuvering the Canadarm2 in position for the Feb. 19 grapple and release of the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft. The Cygnus will be released for a fiery destruction high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean after being attached to the Unity module for over two months.
The Expedition 46 crew continued studying how living off the Earth affects exercise, the biological clock and fire today. The orbiting space residents also worked on a spacesuit and other lab maintenance tasks.
NASA astronaut Tim Kopra scanned his legs mid-morning with an ultrasound for the Sprint study exploring exercise techniques for crews working in space for long periods. Kopra then moved on to fire research observing how different materials burn in space potentially improving fire safety on Earth and in space.
Kelly then joined British astronaut Tim Peake for ongoing gear replacement work inside a U.S. spacesuit for the rest of the day. Peake ended his shift attaching sensors to himself so doctors can monitor how a crew member adapts to 16 sunrises and sunsets a day while in low-Earth orbit.
The Expedition 46 crew members participated in immunology research today helping scientists learn to keep astronauts healthy on longer and farther space missions. The crew also continued more vision checks and explored heart health.
Commander Scott Kelly, British astronaut Time Peake and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko each participated in a different experiment looking at the immune system of space residents.
NASA astronaut Tim Kopra also joined Kelly and Kornienko for eye exams for an experiment studying vision impairment reported by some International Space Station astronauts. Kopra and Peake also partnered up for ultrasound scans of their arteries with guidance from doctors on the ground. The ongoing Cardio Ox study looks at an astronaut’s carotid and brachial arteries before, during and after a space mission.
The Expedition 46 crew members kicked off their work week today with a series of physics experiments and life science studies. The crew also worked on U.S. and Russian spacesuits and continued packing trash inside the Orbital ATK resupply ship.
British astronaut Tim Peake wrapped up maintenance work on the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace which will study the thermophysical properties of various materials. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra tested the flammability of different textiles inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox for the BASS-M experiment.
Peake also explored crew immunology to potentially improve astronaut health and life on Earth. Kopra continued taking out the trash today loading the Cygnus spacecraft before its release on Feb. 19 for disposal over the Pacific Ocean.
Peake then joined Commander Scott Kelly in the Quest airlock to get a U.S. spacesuit ready for gear replacement work on Wednesday. Kelly also partnered up with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko for vision tests and blood pressure checks for the Ocular Health study.
Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko is recharging Russian Orlan spacesuit batteries after completing a spacewalk last week. His fellow cosmonaut Sergey Volkov also helped stow spacewalk tools.
The Expedition 46 crew members are wrapping up their work week on different types of research including botany, bone loss and pilot testing. The crew also checked for pressure leaks, worked on life support gear and continued cleaning up after a spacewalk.
Plants are being grown on the International Space Station so future crews can learn to become self-sustainable as they go farther out in space. Commander Scott Kelly took photos of the botany work today as part of the Veggie experiment.
The commander started his day in Japan’s Kibo lab module with British astronaut Tim Peake stowing a Cyclops satellite deployer and checking for leaks in the airlock. Kelly also joined Flight Engineer Tim Kopra cleaning up after installing the refurbished Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly the day before.
Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko participated in a couple of experiments today looking at bone loss and pilot performance in space. He also checked for pressure leaks before the Progress 61 supply ship undocks March 29. His fellow cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko are still stowing tools and gear after Wednesday’s spacewalk.
Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov completed the third spacewalk of Expedition 46 after installing hardware and science gear and conducting experiments. Today the duo are cleaning and recharging their Orlan spacesuits and stowing their tools.
Commander Scott Kelly and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra partnered together to swap parts inside the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). Kelly then packed trash inside the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft due to leave the International Space Station on Feb. 19. Kopra later wrapped up the CDRA maintenance work.
Expedition 46 Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos successfully concluded their spacewalk at 12:40 p.m. EST.
The cosmonauts installed and retrieved a number of science experiments and conducted extensive photography of the external surfaces of the Russian segment of the International Space Station.
The 4 hour and 45 minute spacewalk was the sixth for Malenchenko and the fourth for Volkov. Space station crew members have conducted 193 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 1,204 hours and 48 minutes working outside the station.