Multinational Trio Undocks from Station, Heads Home to Earth

The Soyuz MS-12 crew ship with three crewmembers inside
The Soyuz MS-12 crew ship with three multinational crewmembers inside is pictured before undocking from the station’s Rassvet module. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying three people back to Earth from space undocked as scheduled from the International Space Station at 3:37 a.m. EDT.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Nick Hague, Expedition 60 and Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates are expected to land in their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan on the Kazakhstan steppe about 7 a.m.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 61 began aboard the space station under the command of ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano. The crew consisting of NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan as well as cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos will continue work aboard the orbiting laboratory on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

NASA will resume coverage of Hague, Ovchinin and Almansoori’s landing back on Earth on TV and online at 5:30 a.m., with the deorbit burn scheduled at 6:06 a.m.

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.

Homebound Crew Boards Soyuz Crew Ship, Closes Hatch

The homecoming crew waves farewell
The homecoming crew waves farewell before boarding their Soyuz MS-12 crew ship. From left are, NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emriates.

At 12:20 a.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking scheduled for 3:37 a.m.

Two members of Expedition 60 – NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer Nick Hague and Expedition 60 and Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos – and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates are expected to land back on Earth at 7 a.m.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 3 a.m.

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 Swaps Commanders Before Crew Departure and Spacewalks

The nine International Space Station residents pose for a portrait
The nine International Space Station residents pose for a portrait inside the Zvezda service module. At the bottom row from left are, station cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, astronauts Luca Parmitano and Nick Hague, visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, astronaut Jessica Meir and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka. At the top are, astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan with cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.

Two Expedition 60 crewmates and a visiting astronaut are returning to Earth on Thursday. The orbiting Expedition 61 residents staying on the International Space Station will then turn their attention to a series of spacewalks set to begin this weekend.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin handed over control of the orbiting complex today to astronaut Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) during the change of command ceremony. The Expedition 61 mission will officially begin when the three Expedition 60 crewmates depart the station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague is returning to Earth with Ovchinin and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates. The trio will board the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and undock from the station’s Rassvet module on Thursday at 3:36 a.m. EDT. They will parachute to landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Kazakh time).

There was still time for research today as NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan took turns with Parmitano exploring cognition and motion in space. Morgan also installed the Small Optical Communication System, or SOLISS, that is testing the real-time downlink of large amounts of data from the station.

The first of five spacewalks to upgrade power systems on the orbital complex starts Sunday at 7:50 a.m. NASA astronaut Christina Koch will join Morgan and exit the station’s Quest airlock in their U.S. spacesuits to begin installing new lithium-ion batteries on the Port-6 truss structure. The duo will work outside in the vacuum of space for about six hours and 30 minutes.

Station Gears Up for Spacewalks as Christina Koch Hits 200 Days

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA
Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA works on a U.S. spacesuit in the Quest airlock where U.S. spacewalks are staged aboard the International Space Station.

The International Space Station is gearing up for a record pace of spacewalks this year. The Expedition 61 spacewalkers will upgrade the orbiting lab’s power systems and repair a cosmic particles detector. NASA TV will preview the upcoming spacewalks during a live briefing on Friday at 2 p.m. EDT.

The first spacewalk is set for Sunday, Oct. 6, with NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan. The duo will begin installing new lithium-ion batteries delivered last week aboard Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft. There will be four more spacewalks in October to continue the activation of the new batteries on the station’s Port-6 truss structure.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano will assist the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits as well as guide them during their spacewalk. He and Flight Engineer Jessica Meir joined Koch and Morgan on Tuesday for a procedures review and conference with specialists on the ground.

Another set of spacewalks will see the installation of an upgraded thermal control system on the Alpha-Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) that has been in service since May 2011. The automobile-sized astrophysics device, attached to the Starboard-3 truss structure, is seeking evidence of antimatter and dark matter. The AMS uses a magnetic field to detect and identify the sign of electrically charged cosmic ray particles.

Koch has reached the 200-day milestone today in her extended mission aboard the space station. She will stay in space for more than 300 days and set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, eclipsing the record of 289 days set by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17.

Crew Departure Preps, Biochemistry Research Start Workweek

Four Expedition 60 crewmembers and a spaceflight participant
Four Expedition 60 crewmembers and a spaceflight participant gather inside the Unity module for a meal. Pictured from left are, astronauts Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Christina Koch of NASA, spaceflight participant and United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori and NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague.

The nine-member crew aboard the International Space Station will split up Thursday and see three humans return to Earth. Meanwhile, there is still a multitude of space research to conduct as well as a new Japanese space freighter to unload.

Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague are in their final week aboard the orbiting lab. The homebound residents are packing up their Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and handing over their duties to the crewmates staying in space.

They will undock Thursday from the Rassvet module at 3:36 a.m. EDT along with spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Kazakhstan time). All three returning crewmates reviewed their undocking and landing procedures today.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan took turns today exploring how astronauts grip and manipulate objects in microgravity. Observations may inform the design of intelligent, haptic interfaces for future crews on deep space missions.

Morgan then explored increasing the purity of protein crystals in space to improve pharmaceutical and biochemistry research. Veteran cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov conducted his own biochemistry research in the Russian segment of the space lab studying how the microgravity environment impacts enzymes in the human body.

New Expedition 61 crewmates Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos continue settling in for their 189-day mission inside the orbiting lab. Meir reviewed Canadarm2 robotics procedures today to support upcoming spacewalks. She wrapped up the day observing protein crystals to support cancer research. Skripochka tested a specialized suit that counteracts the headward flow of fluids in astronauts due to microgravity. He finally checked out the Magnetic 3D Printer that explores the benefits of printing organic tissue in space.

Japan’s eighth station resupply ship, also known as the Kounotori, is open for business and Parmitano and NASA astronaut Christina Koch are unloading its cargo and new science hardware today. Kounotori is due for a month-long stay attached to the Harmony module for internal and external cargo operations. Ground controllers will be commanding the Canadarm2 to remove new lithium-ion batteries delivered on Kounotori’s external pallets. The robotics work will be setting up a series of power upgrade spacewalks planned for October.

Japan’s Kounotori Spaceship Attached to Station

Sept. 28, 2019: International Space Station Configuration.
Sept. 28, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft with Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-12, MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Ground controllers successfully installed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori 8 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-8) to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 10:09 a.m. EDT.

Named Kounotori, meaning “white stork” in Japanese, the craft delivered six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks the station’s crew members will conduct later this year.

Additional experiments on board HTV-8 include an upgrade to the Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF-L), a small-sized satellite optical communication system (SOLISS), and a payload for testing the effects of gravity on powder and granular material (Hourglass).

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch NASA TV Live Coverage of HTV-8 Installation

The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle during installation on Saturday Sept. 28, 2019.

Robotic ground controllers are preparing to install the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle 8 (HTV-8) on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module.

Live coverage of the berthing has begun, and can be viewed on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The HTV-8 is loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

U.S. Astronauts Captured Japanese Cargo Spacecraft at 7:12 a.m. EDT

The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle
The Japanese HTV-8 cargo vehicle captured by the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm at 7:12 am EDT on Saturday Sept. 28, 2019.

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, operated the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approached from below. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) monitored HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Next, robotic ground controllers will install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. NASA TV coverage of the berthing will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Watch NASA TV Live Coverage of HTV-8 Arrival to Station

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured after it was captured by the Canadarm2 on Sept. 27, 2018

A Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft is approaching the International Space Station. Watch live coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

Capture of the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) is expected around 7:15 a.m. The HTV-8 is loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Named Kounotori, meaning “white stork” in Japanese, the craft will deliver six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks the station’s crew members will conduct later this year.

Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA, backed up by her NASA crewmate Andrew Morgan, will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm from the station’s cupola to capture the 12-ton spacecraft as it approaches from below. Robotics flight controllers will then take over the operation of the arm to install HTV-8 to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module where it will spend a month attached to the orbiting laboratory. Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-8 systems during its approach to the station.

Coverage of the final installation to Harmony will resume at 9:30 a.m. Robotic ground controllers will install HTV-8 on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft launched at 12:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 24 (1:05 a.m. Sept. 25 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA TV to Broadcast Arrival of Japanese Spaceship to Station

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7)
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm moves in to capture the resupply ship on Sept. 27, 2018.

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) cargo spacecraft that launched at 12:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 24 (1:05 a.m. Sept. 25 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan is set to arrive at the International Space Station early tomorrow morning.

NASA will provide live coverage of the arrival of the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-8 (HTV-8) via NASA TV and the agency’s website at 5:45 a.m.

Capture is scheduled around 7:15 a.m. Coverage of the final installation to the Harmony module will resume at 9:30 a.m.

The HTV-8 is loaded with more than four tons of supplies, spare parts and experiment hardware for the crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Named Kounotori, meaning “white stork” in Japanese, the craft will deliver six new lithium-ion batteries and corresponding adapter plates that will replace aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for two power channels on the station’s far port truss segment. The batteries will be installed through a series of robotics and spacewalks the station’s crew members will conduct later this year.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.