Homecoming Day Arrives for Three Station Crewmates

(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will return to Earth completing a 196-day research mission aboard the space station.
(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will return to Earth completing a 196-day research mission aboard the space station.

It is departure day aboard the International Space Station for three Expedition 63 crew members.

The entire six-member space station crew slept in and shifted their schedules to accommodate tonight’s homecoming activities. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will board their Soyuz MS-16 crew ship and undock from the Poisk module at 7:32 p.m. EDT, soar through Earth’s atmosphere and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:55 p.m. (Oct. 22, 7:55 a.m. Baikonur time).

All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV. Coverage of crew farewells and hatch closing will begin at 3:30 p.m. Undocking coverage will begin at 7 p.m., and Soyuz deorbit burn and landing coverage at 9:30 p.m.

The trio is wrapping up final cargo loading today as they pack station hardware, research samples and personal items inside the Soyuz. After landing, the crew will have logged 196 days in space and circled Earth over 3,100 times for a total of just over 83 million miles.

Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos will assume command of the orbiting lab at the moment the departing crewmates undock tonight. He will be leading Expedition 64 Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov during their planned 185-day space research mission.

Veteran Space Residents Swap Command Today

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (left) will hand over command of the station to Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov (right) today.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy (left) will hand over command of the station to Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov (right) today.

Two veteran International Space Station crew members will swap command of the orbiting lab during the traditional Change of Command Ceremony this afternoon.

The six-member space station crew will gather together at 4:15 p.m. EDT when Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA ceremonially hands control of the station to Expedition 64 cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos. Ryzhikov will officially begin his command on Wednesday when Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner undock from the station at 7:32 p.m. inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Meanwhile, science and maintenance activities are moving right along inside the space station. Cassidy and NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins both had time set aside today collecting blood, saliva and urine for stowage and later analysis. Rubins then checked out research hardware and plumbing gear before familiarizing herself with station systems.

Ryzhikov and Vagner spent a couple of hours swabbing surfaces in the Russian segment of the station collecting microbial samples and placing them in petri dishes for incubation and analysis. Vagner also joined Ivanishin to test the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit for its ability counteract some adverse effects of long-duration spaceflight and prepare the duo for the return to Earth’s gravity.

New space flyer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov synchronized cameras with clocks on station laptop computers and worked on Russian plumbing tasks. The cosmonaut also is getting used to living and working in space for the first time.

Crews Change Command on Tuesday; Leak Temporarily Sealed

The sun's first rays burst over the Earth's horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.
The sun’s first rays burst over the Earth’s horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.

Two veteran International Space Station residents will have a Change of Command ceremony on Tuesday before the Expedition 63 crew returns to Earth the following day. Meanwhile, the Russian portion of the crew has temporarily sealed a leak on the orbiting lab.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will hand over control of the space station to cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov on Tuesday. The duo will be joined by the rest of their crewmates for the traditional event live on NASA TV starting at 4:15 p.m. EDT.

Cassidy will spend one more night in space with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner before departing the station on Wednesday inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. They will undock from the Poisk module at 7:32 p.m., re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere just over three hours later and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 10:55 p.m. (Oct. 22, 7:55 a.m. Baikonur time). All the activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

Expedition 64 officially begins when Cassidy undocks with his two Russian crewmates. New station Commander Ryzhikov will stay in space until April with Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos.

Russian crew members were able to temporarily seal the air leak teams have been investigating aboard the station. The leak, which has been investigated for several months, continues to pose no immediate danger to the crew at the current leak rate. Roscosmos engineers are working with the station crew to develop a forward plan to permanently seal the suspected leak location.

Space Science Picking Up Before Trio Departs for Earth

Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.
Expedition 63 Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner transfers biological samples into a science freezer for stowage and later analysis aboard the International Space Station.

Science is doubling up on the International Space Station with the addition of three new space residents. However, they will split up on Oct. 21 before four more astronauts launch to join the Expedition 64 crew in November.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, on her second station mission, is stepping into her role as space scientist today while getting up to speed with life on orbit. She wore virtual reality goggles to explore how her sense of perception is adapting to microgravity. Rubins later serviced a biology research device that can produce up to 2g of artificial gravity.

Rubins’ fellow crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will stay with her in space until April. Ryzhikov, on his second stay aboard the orbiting lab, unpacked cargo from the new Soyuz MS-17 crew ship today. First-time space-flyer Kud-Sverchkov checked out Russian science hardware.

Station Commander Chris Cassidy is nearing the end of his stay onboard the station with crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio have been packing cargo and personal items inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that will parachute the crew back to Earth on Oct. 21. Cassidy will hand over command of the station to Ryzhikov on Oct. 20.

All six station residents got together in the middle of the day and reviewed their emergency roles and responsibilities.

Meanwhile, four astronauts are planning to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The company’s first operational crew mission is targeted to launch no sooner than early-to-mid November. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi and stay in space until the Spring.

Hatches Open, Station Crew Expands to Six

(Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy inside the space station's Zvezda service module.
(Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy inside the space station’s Zvezda service module.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos joined Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner aboard the International Space Station when the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the orbiting laboratory officially opened at 7:07 a.m. EDT.

The arrival temporarily restores the station’s crew complement to six for the remainder of Expedition 63.

Expedition 64 begins Wednesday, Oct. 21, with the departure of Cassidy, Vagner, and Ivanishin in the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that brought them to the station on April 9. Cassidy will hand command of the station to Ryzhikov during a ceremony with all crew members that is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20 and will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The Expedition 64 crew will conduct research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research and more. During Rubins’ first spaceflight in 2016, she became the first person to sequence DNA in space. 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 Rubins during her space mission on Facebook and Instagram.

This is the second spaceflight for Rubins and Ryzhikov. Kud-Sverchkov becomes the 241st person to visit the unique microgravity laboratory, and the trio will be aboard to celebrate the 20th anniversary of uninterrupted human presence since the Expedition 1 crew arrived Nov. 2, 2000. Humanity’s home in space has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from people in 108 countries and areas.

During Expedition 64, the arrival of Crew-1 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon on the first operational commercial mission to the space station will bring four more crew members, expanding a long-duration Expedition crew to seven people for the first time. Crew-1 is currently targeted for launch in November.

For continued 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.

Expedition 64 Crew Docks to Station to Begin Six-Month Mission

The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship with the Expedition 64 crew inside is pictured just a few meters away from the Rassvet module's docking port.
The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship with the Expedition 64 crew inside is pictured just a few meters away from the Rassvet module’s docking port.

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov docked to the International Space Station at 4:48 a.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 261 miles above the Mediterranean Sea.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.

Watch the hatch opening on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 6 a.m. for hatch opening targeted for 6:45 a.m.

For continued 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.

Cancer, Bone Loss Studies on Station Promote Earth and Space Health

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy unpacks fresh fruit and other food items shipped aboard the Northrop Grumman Cygnus.

Cancer therapy was the main focus of Friday’s research aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 63 crew is also getting ready to return to Earth while still finding time for more science work.

Microgravity research on the station has enabled pharmaceutical innovations with real benefits for patients on Earth. Biology experiments in space also provide insights into how the human body adapts to weightlessness. This helps doctors keep astronauts healthy as NASA plans missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The Onco-Selectors study taking place today inside the space station’s Life Sciences Glovebox, installed in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module, seeks to develop drugs that could improve the survival rate of cancer patients. Commander Chris Cassidy spent most of Friday mixing and applying a treatment to healthy and cancerous cell samples being observed for the new cancer investigation.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again exploring ways to reverse the loss of bone mass that occurs during a long-term space mission. The Russian duo worked throughout the day setting up hardware and logging meals and drinks to monitor and understand the mechanisms of bone loss caused by weightlessness.

The two cosmonauts are also gearing up for their return to Earth with Cassidy in less than two weeks. They have been gathering station hardware and personal items that will soon be stowed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship. All three crew members will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz spacecraft ending their 196-day space research mission on Oct. 21.

Crew Missions Ramping Up During Robotics, Biology Research

The Expedition 64 crew poses in front of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft that will launch the trio to the space station on Oct. 14. Credit: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin
The Expedition 64 crew poses in front of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft that will launch the trio to the space station on Oct. 14. Credit: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

The Expedition 63 crew is readying gear and suits today as they prepare to return to Earth in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, Thursday’s research aboard the International Space Station looked at robotics and biology.

Two crews will launch to the station and another one will complete its mission this month. First, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The Expedition 64 trio crew will blast off from Kazakhstan on Oct. 14 to begin a 185-day mission aboard the orbiting lab.

Expedition 64 Commander Chris Cassidy will hand over the station “keys” to Ryzhikov the day before he completes his mission with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The three crew members will enter the Soyuz MS-16, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 21.

Cassidy joined Ivanishin and Vagner during the afternoon and checked for leaks inside the Sokol flight suits they will wear when they depart the station. Ivanishin and Vagner also continued gathering station gear and personal items they will soon pack inside their Soyuz crew ship.

As usual, science experiments are ongoing on the station whether with inputs from the crew or by remote operations from students and scientists on the ground. Robotics is a prime space research subject and Cassidy set up the AstroBee free-flying satellites today that students are learning to program to understand spacecraft maneuvers. The veteran NASA astronaut later installed new hardware on the Life Sciences Glovebox to support prolonged crew operations in the research device.

Ivanishin and Vagner were back on biology studies today exploring ways to prevent the loss of bone mass due to extended missions in space.

Crew Packs for Landing While Studying Space Tech and Biology

The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station's Poisk module.
The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station’s Poisk module.

The Expedition 63 trio is packing up and getting ready for its return to Earth as the International Space Station is orbiting slightly lower today. Meanwhile, advanced space science continues full speed ahead aboard the orbiting lab.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA is about to wrap up a 196-day mission in space with Roscosmos Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The Russian duo has begun gathering hardware and other items that will be packed inside the Soyuz MS-16 crew ship for return to Earth. The three-member crew will enter the Soyuz, undock from the Poisk module and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan on Oct. 21.

Cassidy spent a busy Wednesday operating a range of science experiments investigating space technology, microbiology and botany. He started the day setting up the Avatar-X camera that seeks to demonstrate remote robotics that may inform the future of telemedicine. Next, he transferred microbe samples, shipped in a Cygnus cargo craft science freezer, that will be observed to learn how to control bacterial growth in space. Finally, Cassidy set up the Spectrum-001 hardware that will enable fluorescent imaging of protein markers and stress signaling in plants grown on the space station.

As the crew counts down to departure, Ivanishin worked on Russian power supply systems and checked radiation measurements. Vagner assisted Cassidy with the Cygnus science freezer work and checked on a pair of Russian studies looking at bone loss and space piloting techniques.

The space station is orbiting slightly lower after the docked Progress 75 spacecraft fired its engines for nearly seven minutes this morning. The “deboost” puts the station in the correct phasing for the  docking on Oct. 14 of the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship carrying the Expedition 64 crew aboard.

New Experiments Installed as U.S. and Russian Crew Ships Near Launch

The tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm which grapples hardware, science experiments and approaching spaceships, is pictured as the station soared over the South Pacific Ocean.
The tip of the Canadarm2 robotic arm which grapples hardware, science experiments and approaching spaceships is pictured as the station soared into an orbital sunrise.

Four spaceships are parked at the International Space Station today as two new crews are due to launch by the end of October. In the meantime, the Expedition 63 crew has begun unpacking the nearly four tons of science experiments, crew supplies and station hardware from the newly arrived Cygnus cargo craft.

Commander Chris Cassidy has begun configuring brand new science experiments and research gear delivered on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter. He started removing a variety of time-sensitive investigations from Cygnus’ science freezers on Monday and quickly transferred them into space station research racks. The new experiments will explore cancer treatments, space botany and life support systems among other important subjects benefitting humans living on Earth and in space.

Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were once again testing a unique suit today designed to offset a common space symptom that sees blood pool toward a crewmember’s upper torso and head. The Lower Body Negative Pressure suit attempts to normalize blood flow to counteract some adverse effects of long-duration spaceflight and prepare the astronauts for the return to Earth’s gravity.

October will be a busy month at the orbiting lab bringing a crew swap and four new Commercial Crew members. First, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will ride alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov when they lift off Oct. 14 from Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship. The Expedition 64 trio will take a three-hour trip to their new home in space where they will stay until April of next year.

Just one week later, Cassidy will hand control of the station over to Ryzhikov and return to Earth with Ivanishin and Vagner. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft ending a 195-day research mission on the station.

Next, four more astronauts are scheduled to join Expedition 64 just one day after they launch aboard the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon mission from Florida on Oct. 31. Commander Mike Hopkins of NASA will lead Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi during the 25-hour ride to the space station. The quartet will stay in space until the Spring.