Dragon Released for Pacific Splashdown

Dragon is released
Dragon is released and begins its departure while the station is in orbital night. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm at 7:04 a.m. EDT. The capsule will begin a series of departure burns and maneuvers to move beyond the 656-foot (200-meter) “keep out sphere” around the station and begin its return trip to Earth. The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m., about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California.

NASA TV Provides Live Coverage of SpaceX Dragon Departure

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft
ISS043E122200 (04/17/2015) — The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft approaches the International Space Station Apr. 17th, 2015 after launching three days earlier from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. It carries some 2 tons of science experiments, equipment, and supplies for the Expedition 43 team onboard the station.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station beginning at 6:45 a.m. EDT. Dragon was detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module earlier this morning. Mission control will maneuver Dragon into place then turn it over to Expedition 43 robotic arm operator Scott Kelly of NASA for release, scheduled for approximately 7:04 a.m.

The Dragon arrived to the space station April 17 after an April 14 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying over 4,300 pounds of supplies and elements to support about 40 of more than 250 scientific investigations the crew members of Expeditions 43 and 44 will conduct.

Release of the spacecraft by the station’s robotic arm will begin the Dragon’s return to Earth carrying more than 3,100 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the nonprofit organization responsible for managing research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station.

The capsule is currently scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean about 12:42 p.m., approximately 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California.

Station to Raise Orbit before June Expedition 43 Undocking

Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly
Astronaut Terry Virts and Scott Kelly were inside the Quest airlock Friday morning talking to reporters from The Weather Channel and Time Magazine . Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 43 crew ends its work week with a wide variety of science exploring life in space benefiting both crews in space and humans on Earth. Meanwhile, one space freighter is preparing to fire its thrusters to lift the station’s orbit as another is being packed and readied for splashdown.

One-Year crew members Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko participated in the Fine Motor Skills experiment which monitors different phases of a crew member’s microgravity adaptation and recovery back on Earth. Commander Terry Virts took samples of air and surface microbes for the Microbial Observatory-1 study which will be analyzed by scientists on the ground.

Samantha Cristoforetti studied the physics of where fluids and gases meet in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka worked on video gear and tested magnetometers in the station’s Russian segment. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov studied chemical reactions in the Earth’s atmosphere, checked Russian docking systems and photographed windows in the Pirs and Poisk modules.

The ISS Progress 58 resupply ship docked to the Zvezda service module will fire its engines Friday night. The orbital boost will place the International Space Station at the correct altitude for the undocking of Expedition 43 in early June. The SpaceX Dragon loaded with science and gear will be released from the grips of the Canadarm2 May 21 at 7:05 a.m. EDT for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later.

Visiting Vehicle Activities and Maintenance Keep Crew Busy

Astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts
ISS043E181459 (05/07/2015) — NASA astronauts Scott Kelly (left) and Terry Virts (right) work on a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA) inside the station’s Japanese Experiment Module.

Expedition 43 is packing the SpaceX Dragon space freighter readying the vehicle for its return home and splashdown May 21. The docked ISS Progress 58 resupply ship will fire its thrusters Friday night placing the International Space Station at the correct orbit for next month’s Soyuz undocking.

The six-member crew also worked a variety of onboard maintenance ensuring crew safety and the upkeep of station hardware. One-Year crew member Scott Kelly worked on science gear in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Commander Terry Virts worked on replacing a Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly blower fan. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti routed cables and configured valves to prepare the Permanent Multipurpose Module for its relocation later this month.

On the Russian side of the orbital lab, Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov photographed the condition of the Zvezda service module windows. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka partnered up with One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko to study acoustic techniques for immediately locating micrometeoroid impacts on the station’s exterior. The trio also continued the maintenance of the Russian station systems.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Landing Delayed, Life Science and Dragon Packing for Expedition 43

Samantha Cristoforetti
ISS043E160082 (05/03/2015) — ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti enjoys her first drink from the new ISSpresso machine. The espresso device allows crews to make tea, coffee, broth, or other hot beverages they might enjoy.

The return to Earth for NASA’s Terry Virts, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov now is scheduled for early June. NASA and its international partners set the schedule after hearing the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) findings on the loss of the Progress 59 cargo craft. The exact date has not yet been established and will be announced in the coming weeks.

Full Release

The six-member Expedition 43 crew worked Tuesday on a wide variety of tasks. The International Space Station residents explored life sciences, trained for a robotics experiment, conducted maintenance and prepared for next week’s departure of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

Astronaut Scott Kelly worked on an experiment which observes how a crew member’s fine motor skills adapt over a six-month and a year-long mission in space. He then moved on to training for the Robotics Refueling Mission.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked on the Rodent Research experiment during the afternoon. Commander Terry Virts worked on cargo transfers to the Dragon space freighter which is getting ready for its May 21 departure and splashdown.

The three cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, worked in the Russian segment. The trio cleaned dust filters, changed out a smoke detector and downloaded results from a microbial air sampling.

Progress 59 Cargo Craft Updates

Progress 47 at Pirs docking compartment.
ISS Progress 47 is shown docked at the International Space Station’s Pirs docking compartment prior to its departure Saturday, April 25.

UPDATE (4/29 9:50 a.m. EDT): Docking has been called off for the Progress 59 spacecraft. Russian flight controllers are continuing to assess the vehicle and what the plan going forward will be. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

UPDATE (4/28 11:00 p.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing attempts to communicate with and troubleshoot issues with the Russian Progress 59 cargo spacecraft as it makes additional passes tonight over Russian ground stations.

UPDATE (4/28 9:35 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers have continued to try and recover telemetry capability with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft this morning. The most recent ground pass started at 9:20 a.m. EDT and flight controllers reported no change in the issues with receiving telemetry data from the unmanned craft. The Russian flight control team attempted to command the vehicle over four orbits flying over Russian ground sites with no success. The next series of ground station passes is expected to resume late Tuesday evening. Teams are standing down on the Thursday docking attempt while Russian teams continue to analyze data and develop a troubleshooting plan going forward.

UPDATE (4/28 8:15 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing to troubleshoot issues with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft. The spacecraft made another pass over Russian ground stations and continued to experience telemetry problems regarding the deployment of navigational antennas and the pressurization of the manifolds in the propulsion system. Flight controllers also confirmed that the vehicle had entered into a slow spin and have issued commands to attempt to control it.
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Carrying more than 6,000 pounds of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted ISS Progress 59 cargo craft launched at 3:09 a.m. EDT (1:09 p.m. local time in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

However, Russian flight controllers initially could not confirm the health of the spacecraft’s systems and deployment of Kurs rendezvous and other navigational antennas. They selected the backup rendezvous plan with a targeted arrival Thursday for the cargo ship and its supplies for the  space station crew. The Progress spacecraft is in a safe preliminary orbit.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 257 miles over northeast Kazakhstan near the Russian border, having flown over the launch site two and a half minutes before lift off.

As Progress passed over Russian ground stations, the Russian flight control team issued commands through the telemetry system onboard the spacecraft in an attempt to receive confirmation that navigation and rendezvous systems had deployed. But, due to sporadic telemetry  from Progress 59, inconclusive data, and trouble uplinking commands to the spacecraft, controllers were unable to confirm the status of the systems.

Flight controllers will continue to look at the telemetry system to determine the overall health of the spacecraft’s systems. Instead of a four-orbit, six-hour docking later this morning as originally planned, Progress now will make a two-day, 34-orbit rendezvous with the station. With the two-day rendezvous, the Russian cargo craft is scheduled to arrive at the space station at 5:03 a.m. Thursday. Russian flight controllers are continuing to work to establish a good link with the Progress as it approaches the space station.

Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and his five crew mates continue to conduct a variety of microgravity experiments on board the space station as they await the arrival of Progress 59.

Cargo Ship Undocks from Station

ISS Progress 57
ISS042E101429 (01/05/2014) — This image, photographed by one of the Expedition 42 crew members aboard the International Space Station, shows the the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft on the left attached to the Rassvet module on the Earth-facing port of the Russian segment of the station that delivered Expedition 42 crewmembers Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Terry Virts of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency on Nov. 24, 2014 , and to the right, the unpiloted ISS Progress 57 cargo craft that is docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment and which arrived at the station a month earlier on Oct. 29, 2014.

The Russian ISS Progress 57 cargo spacecraft separated from the International Space Station at 2:41 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying 257 miles above northwestern China.

After its departure, the spacecraft will move away from the orbiting laboratory to a safe location where it will remain until commanded to reenter Earth’s atmosphere Sunday morning, April 26. The intense heat of reentry will cause the vehicle to burn up over the Pacific Ocean.

The departure of the Progress 57 vehicle clears the Pirs docking port for the arrival of the new ISS Progress 59 cargo ship. It will launch to the station at 3:09 a.m. Tuesday morning, April 28, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a resupply mission to deliver another two tons of provisions for the station crew members.

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

Station Crew Prepares for Cargo Ship Undocking

ISS042E101429 (01/05/2014) --- This image, photographed by one of the Expedition 42 crew members aboard the International Space Station, shows the the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft on the left attached to the Rassvet module on the Earth-facing port of the Russian segment of the station that delivered Expedition 42 crewmembers Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Terry Virts of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency on Nov. 24, 2014 , and to the right, the unpiloted ISS Progress 57 cargo craft that is docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment and which arrived at the station a month earlier on Oct. 29, 2014.
ISS042E101429 (01/05/2014) — This image, photographed by one of the Expedition 42 crew members aboard the International Space Station, shows the the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft on the left attached to the Rassvet module on the Earth-facing port of the Russian segment of the station that delivered Expedition 42 crewmembers Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Terry Virts of NASA and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency on Nov. 24, 2014 , and to the right, the unpiloted ISS Progress 57 cargo craft that is docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment and which arrived at the station a month earlier on Oct. 29, 2014.

The crew of the International Space Station took a break from research Friday, enjoying some off-duty time as it prepared for the departure of one cargo ship and the arrival of another in short order.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the Progress 57 spacecraft undocking beginning at 2:15 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 25. Undocking from the Pirs Docking Compartment is scheduled for 2:40 a.m.

Watch the undocking live on NASA Television or at: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

The unpiloted Progress 57 Russian cargo ship delivered more than two tons of food, fuel and supplies for the space station crew in October 2014 and is now filled with trash. After its departure, the spacecraft will move away from the orbiting laboratory to a safe location where it will remain until commanded to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. The intense heat of reentry will cause the vehicle to burn up over the Pacific Ocean on Sunday morning.

Another Russian cargo ship, Progress 59 is scheduled to launch at 3:09 a.m. Tuesday, April 29, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstanj. The launch, and subsequent docking with the station at 9:06 a.m., will be carried live on NASA TV.

Experiment Work Inside and Outside Station Wednesday

Canadarm2 and Dextre
ISS041-E-049099 (30 Sept. 2014) — The International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and Dextre is seen outside the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship.

The Expedition 43 lab assistants conducted biomedical science in the International Space Station on Wednesday. Meanwhile, controllers on the ground will remotely maneuver the Canadarm2 outside the station to experiment with the possibility of servicing satellites on orbit for longer missions.

The crew participated in a wide variety of life science studies. The Myco experiment, which analyzes nose, throat and skin samples, examines how microorganisms on the space station can affect a crew member’s allergies and illnesses. Another study, Interactions, explores how crews from different cultures learn to work with each other. More Rodent Research work took place, as the astronauts readied samples for return to Earth and checked out the rodents’ habitat.

Crew members also underwent medical exams, checking vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure. Later there were crew eye checks as doctors on the ground explore how microgravity affects vision.

The Robotics Refueling Mission, a joint study between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, investigates satellite repair and servicing techniques in space. Operators on the ground use the station’s special purpose dexterous manipulator, better known as Dextre, on the end of the Canadarm2, for fine robotics manipulation. Engineers are looking to determine whether it’s possible to refuel satellites and test electrical connections robotically.

Cargo Craft Prepped for Departure as Crew Works New Science

Rainbow Double Aurora
ISS043E108129 (04/11/2015) — “Rainbow double Aurora” greets the astronauts and cosmonauts on board the International Space Station on Apr. 11, 2015.

As Expedition 43 unloads crew supplies from the SpaceX Dragon, another cargo craft is being readied for its undocking. Meanwhile, new research is underway with some of the science gear hauled into space aboard Dragon.

Russia’s ISS Progress 57 space freighter is being packed with trash and discarded gear. It will undock from the Pirs docking compartment early Saturday morning for a fiery descent into the Pacific Ocean.

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts studied the effects of microgravity on living organisms for the Rodent Research experiment. They are looking at mice and how their body systems change in space. The results may promote the development of new drugs tackling the effects of aging and disease on Earth.