Dragon Resupply Ship Leaves Station, Heads for Pacific Splashdown

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the International Space Station at 12:01 p.m. EDT after flight controllers in Houston delivered remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency monitored Dragon’s systems as it departed the microgravity laboratory.

Next up, Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the station and execute a deorbit burn around 4:56 p.m. to leave orbit. Splashdown down is targeted for approximately 5:55 p.m. EDT (2:55 p.m. PDT).

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

U.S. Cargo Craft Poised to Depart Station and Return to Earth

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaches the International Space Station
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft arrived at the International Space Station May 6, 2019 and was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

NASA Television coverage is now underway for departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station. The spacecraft is scheduled for release at 12:09 p.m. EDT.

Dragon was detached from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module at 8:30 a.m. after flight controllers at mission control in Houston delivered remote commands to the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Expedition 59 Flight Engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will back up the operation and monitor Dragon’s systems as it departs the orbital laboratory.

After firing its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station, Dragon will execute a deorbit burn around 4:56 p.m. to leave orbit, as it heads for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, 202 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, at approximately 5:48 p.m. (2:48 p.m. PDT). There will be no live coverage of deorbit burn or splashdown.

Dragon launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket May 4 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and arrived at the station two days later with almost 5,500 pounds of science, supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Science Results Packed for Return to Earth Aboard Dragon Monday

The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaches its capture point
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft approaches the International Space Station on May 6, 2019, to deliver than 5,500 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies to the Expedition 59 crew.

The Expedition 59 crew is starting the weekend preparing the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft for its departure from the International Space Station on Monday. The space residents are also juggling a variety of research work and lab maintenance tasks today.

NASA TV is broadcasting the robotic release of Dragon from the station live on NASA TV beginning Monday at 11:45 a.m. EDT.  Robotics controllers will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the space freighter around 12:09 p.m. while astronaut David Saint-Jacques monitors from the cupola. Dragon will splashdown in the Pacific about 5:48 p.m. and will not be seen on NASA TV.

Several critical experiments have wrapped up aboard the orbiting lab with the completed results and hardware being packed inside the Dragon this weekend. After the space freighter splashes down Monday, it will be towed to shore where the finalized research will be distributed to labs around the world for analysis.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques are cleaning up and inspecting the Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG) today. This comes after the crew completed a month-long study of the immune system’s response to weightlessness inside the LSG. Samples from that study will also return to Earth aboard Dragon Monday.

The pair first joined Flight Engineer Nick Hague during the morning checking out space biology hardware and transferring more frozen research samples into Dragon’s science freezers. Hague and McClain then participated in regularly scheduled eye exams in the afternoon.

Christina Koch of NASA is helping cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin clean up after the duo’s spacewalk on Wednesday. She stowed the U.S. tools they used back in the Quest airlock while the cosmonauts serviced their Russian Orlan spacesuits in the Pirs airlock.

Light Science Duties as Crew Sleeps in After Spacewalk

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin (foreground) and Oleg Kononenko
Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin (foreground) and Oleg Kononenko work on a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits inside the Pirs docking compartment’s airlock.

The six-member Expedition 59 crew had a chance to sleep in the day after wrapping up a successful spacewalk on the Russian side of the International Space Station. The cosmonauts are cleaning up this afternoon from yesterday’s excursion while the rest of the orbiting crew focuses on exercise research and other light science duties.

NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch woke up after lunch today and strapped themselves into an exercise bike inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The duo took turns working out on the specialized bicycle attached to sensors for the experiment measuring oxygen uptake and aerobic capacity.

Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques checked on a couple of life science experiments during their relaxed afternoon. McClain updated software for the Photobioreactor study exploring how microalgae can create a hybrid life support system for astronauts and Earthlings. Saint-Jacques turned off and stowed the Canadian Bio-Monitor device that can quickly analyze human biological samples in space.

Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin are reconfiguring the Pirs airlock, cleaning spacesuits and stowing tools following Wednesday’s six hour and one minute spacewalk. The cosmonauts also debriefed spacewalk experts on the ground discussing their hardware removal and experiment jettisoning tasks.

Two Cosmonauts Wrap Up the Fourth Spacewalk at the Station This Year

Spacewalkers Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin
Spacewalkers Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin work outside the Pirs docking compartment during the fourth spacewalk of the year at the International Space Station.

Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos have completed a spacewalk lasting 6 hours and 1 minute.

The two cosmonauts opened the hatch to the Pirs docking compartment to begin the spacewalk at 11:42 a.m. EDT. They re-entered the airlock and closed the hatch at 5:43 p.m.

During the spacewalk, the duo completed the planned tasks, including installing a handrail on the Russian segment of the complex, retrieving science experiments from the Poisk module’s hull; removing and jettisoning the plasma wave experiment hardware; and conducting maintenance work on the orbiting laboratory, such as cleaning the window of the Poisk hatch.

The spacewalk was the 217th in support of station assembly, maintenance and upgrades and the fourth outside the station this year.

This was the fifth spacewalk in Kononenko’s career and the first for Ovchinin, who will become station commander next month. Kononenko is scheduled to return to Earth June 24, with crewmates Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, wrapping up a six-and-a-half-month mission living and working in space.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Russian Spacewalkers Wish Happy Birthday to First Spacewalker Alexei Leonov

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin
At the start of today’s spacewalk, cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko (left) and Alexey Ovchinin commemorated Russia’s first spacewalker Alexei Leonov, who turns 85 on Thursday, with signs attached to their Orlan spacesuits (see translations below).

Shortly after beginning their spacewalk, Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos recorded birthday greetings for the first person to spacewalk, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. Leonov’s 85th birthday is tomorrow, Thursday, May 30.

See the video on Twitter

On 18 March, 1965, Leonov became the first person to leave a spacecraft in a spacesuit to conduct a spacewalk, exiting the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission for a 12-minute spacewalk.

Kononenko and Ovchinin also added signs to the backs of their Orlon spacesuits to honor the first spacewalker. Kononenko’s suit with the red stripes bears a sign that says “1st spacewalker”, and the sign on Ovchinin’s suit with the blue stripes says, “Happy birthday, Alexei Arkhipovich,” Leonov’s family name.

Alexey Leonov: First Human to Walk in Space
Alexey Leonov: First Human to Walk in Space

Two Cosmonauts Spacewalking Outside Station’s Russian Segment

Spacewalkers Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov
Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko is pictured during a spacewalk in 2012 as an Expedition 30 crewmember with fellow spacewalker Anton Shkaplerov.

Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos began a planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk when they opened the hatch of the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station at 11:42 a.m. EDT.

Both spacewalkers are wearing Russian Orlan spacesuits. Kononenko is designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), wearing the suit with red stripes, and Ovchinin is EV2, in the suit with blue stripes.

Coverage of the spacewalk continues on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Views from a camera on Kononenko’s helmet are designated with the number 18, and Ovchinin’s is labeled with the number 11.

It is Kononenko’s fifth career spacewalk and Ovchinin’s first.

NASA TV Broadcasting Live Russian Spacewalk for Station Maintenance

Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko (left) and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin
Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko (left) and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin ready a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits inside the Pirs docking compartment’s airlock.

Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are preparing for their exit from the station’s Pirs docking compartment airlock at approximately 11:44 a.m. EDT to begin a planned six-and-a-half-hour spacewalk at the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helping the cosmonauts prepare for their spacewalk.

Coverage of the spacewalk is now underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Kononenko and Ovchinin will install handrails on the Russian segment of the complex, retrieve science experiments from the Poisk module’s hull, and conduct maintenance work on the orbiting laboratory.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Station Readies for Spacewalk, Begins Packing Dragon With Science

Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Alexey Ovchinin
Expedition 59 Flight Engineers Christina Koch of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos ready a pair of Russian Orlan spacesuits inside the Pirs docking compartment’s airlock.

Two Expedition 59 cosmonauts are finalizing reviews before Wednesday morning’s spacewalk for maintenance outside the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the orbital residents are also readying completed experiments for return to Earth inside the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft next week.

Commander Oleg Kononenko is set to begin his fifth career spacewalk Wednesday at 11:44 a.m. EDT. He will lead first-time spacewalker Alexey Ovchinin during the six-hour-15-minute excursion on the Russian segment of the orbital lab. They will retrieve experiment hardware, clean lab windows and jettison old cables among other tasks.

The duo reviewed their spacewalk tasks and worksites alongside NASA astronaut Christina Koch this morning. Koch will assist the pair with their Russian Orlan spacesuits in the Pirs airlock before and after Wednesday’s spacewalk.

The SpaceX Dragon launched a multitude of life science experiments studying immunology, crystallography, microphysiology and other space phenomena to the station May 4. The completed research samples and science hardware will now return to Earth inside Dragon after it departs the station’s Harmony module June 3. NASA Flight Engineer Anne McClain is readying the commercial space freighter for departure and beginning the work to pack the finalized experiments for analysis in labs across the globe.

Astronauts Nick Hague and David Saint-Jacques spent Tuesday maintaining station systems and hardware. Hague first measured airflow in the Japan’s Kibo laboratory module before routing power cables in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Saint-Jacques reconfigured a robotics computer and routed communication cables then checked components on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device.

Space Biology, Physics and Suit Checks Start Memorial Weekend

The "southern lights" above the Indian Ocean
The aurora australis, also known as the “southern lights,” is pictured as the International Space Station orbited 264 miles above the Indian Ocean south of the Australian island state of Tasmania.

The Expedition 59 crew is starting the Memorial Day weekend studying biology, physics and orbital manufacturing techniques. The space residents will also be busy on the U.S. holiday conducting more research and getting ready for the year’s fourth spacewalk at the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) analyzed his own blood sample today testing the new Bio-Analyzer. The biomedical device from the CSA tests a variety of biomarkers to measure molecular signs of health on the station. He also worked on another biology platform that can produce gravity levels up to 2g for research on an array of materials and small organisms.

Japan’s Kibo laboratory module enables astronauts to place and retrieve space exposure experiments outside of the orbiting lab. Flight Engineer Nick Hague swapped some of those exposed samples today from a platform inside Kibo. The long-running materials exposure studies at the station help scientists understand how microgravity and radiation affect a variety of materials.

Christina Koch of NASA continued exploring the production of superior quality optical fibers inside the U.S. Destiny lab module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. The variety of elements used in the manufacturing process are difficult to control on Earth with gravity bearing down on them. The space-created samples will be analyzed on the ground for their potential to improve a variety of applications such as medicine, navigation, communication and atmospheric monitoring.

At the end of the day, Flight Engineer Anne McClain checked out emergency space navigation techniques using a sextant. She peered at constellations from the cupola during an orbital night period while inspecting and calibrating the hand-held device.

Meanwhile, Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin continued setting up their spacesuits and tools today. Next week they will review procedures and timelines for their approximately six-hour spacewalk for external maintenance scheduled for around 11:45 a.m. EDT Wednesday.