Though the Orbital ATK Cygnus resupply ship launched first Monday night from Virginia, it is taking a slower approach to the station and will arrive Sunday. Mission managers decided to let the Cygnus take its time on orbit and let the new crew members arrive first. Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi will command the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 to capture Cygnus while NASA astronaut Kate Rubins backs him up. Ground controllers will then remotely control the robotic arm to install Cygnus to the Unity module for a month-long stay.
The next big mission event will be the departure of Rubins, Onishi and cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin. The Expedition 49 crew members have been in space since July and will return to Earth Oct. 29. Ivanishin is packing the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft with cargo and preparing the vehicle for its undocking and landing in Kazakhstan.
The next three crew members bound for the International Space Station are on schedule to launch this morning from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Live launch coverage will begin at 3:15 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will launch at 4:05 a.m. EDT (2:05 p.m. Baikonur time). The trio will spend a little more than four months together aboard the space station, returning to Earth in late February.
The crew will lift off in a Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft and over two days will orbit the Earth 34 times before docking to the space station’s Poisk module at 5:59 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 5:15 a.m.
The original launch date of Sept. 23 was postponed due to a technical issue with the Soyuz spacecraft, which Roscosmos repaired.
Check out the NASA TV schedule online for information on how to watch live and replays.
The Cygnus spacecraft’s solar arrays have deployed.
The cargo ship will rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday, Oct. 23. It will be grappled at approximately 7:05 a.m. by Expedition 49 Flight Engineers Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Kate Rubins of NASA. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module. It is scheduled depart the space station on Nov. 18.
Science investigations aboard Cygnus on their way to the space station also include commercial and academic payloads in myriad disciplines, including:
Saffire II, the second in a series of experiments to ignite and study a large-scale fire inside an empty Cygnus resupply vehicle after it leaves the space station and before it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere to improving understanding of fire growth in microgravity and safeguarding future space missions.
Cool flames, an investigation into a phenomenon where some types of fuels initially burn very hot and then appear to go out — but actually continue to burn at a much lower temperature with no visible flames.
Controlled Dynamics locker- equipment that can minimize fluctuations and disturbances in the microgravity environment that can occur onboard a moving spacecraft that can enable a new class of research experiments.
NanoRacks Black Box- a platform that can provide advanced science capabilities and is specially designed for near-launch payload turnover of autonomous payloads including use of robotics, new automated MixStix and NanoLab-style research.
The countdown has begun for Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on top, and is progressing smoothly today. There are no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft and weather is 100 percent “go.”
Liftoff is scheduled to occur during a five minute window beginning at 7:40 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport’s Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Cygnus is loaded with about 5,100 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.
When Cygnus arrives to the space station, on Sunday, Oct. 23, Expedition 49 Flight Engineers Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Kate Rubins of NASA will grapple the spacecraft. They will use the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the Cygnus, dubbed the S.S. Alan Poindexter. After Cygnus’ capture, ground controllers will command the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.
The Cygnus spacecraft will spend about 5 weeks attached to the space station. Cygnus will remain at the space station until November, when the spacecraft will depart the station and initiate the second spacecraft fire safety investigation, Saffire-II, and then dispose of approximately several tons of trash during its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.
Orbital ATK CRS-5 Countdown & Launch Highlights
The countdown uses both a range countdown clock (L Minus Clock) and a software sequencer (T Minus Clock). The launch countdown is initiated with the Range Clock at L minus 6 hours 15 minutes and is a running clock. The T Minus Clock is initiated at T minus 3 hours 10 minutes (sequencer start-up) and stops with built-in holds.
1:10 pm Report to stations
1:25 pm Open Checklist, begin countdown
3:10 pm Poll to Readiness for LV External Power On
3:55 pm Poll to initiate Loading Sequencer Timeline
4:00 pm Loading Sequencer Start
5:40 pm Enter into 20-minute built-in hold at T-1 hour, 30 minutes (L-2 hours)
6:00 pm Resume the count at T-1 hour, 30 minutes (L-1 hour, 40 minutes)
6:05 pm Start propellant loading at T-1 hour, 25 minutes (L-1 hour, 35 minutes) 6:45 pmNASA TV COVERAGE BEGINS
7:22 pm Enter into final 10-minute hold at T-8 minutes (L-18 minutes)
7:30 pm Poll for readiness to proceed with the final countdown (L-10 minutes)
7:32 pm Start final countdown at T-8 minutes
7:37 pm Initiate Auto Sequence Handoff for the Terminal Count (T-3:30) 7:40 pm LAUNCH
7:44 pm MECO on Antares first stage
7:44 pm Stage 1 Sep
7:44 pm Fairing Sep
7:44 pm Interstage Sep
7:44 pm Second stage ignition
7:47 pm Stage 2 Burnout/orbit insertion
7:49 pm Cygnus Sep from second stage
9:05 pm NASA TV Commentary resumes for Solar Array Deploy
~9:10 pm Solar Array Deployment Begins
~9:40 pm Solar Array Deployment Ends
~9:45 pm Commentary ends
~10:00 pm Post-launch news conference
Launch day has arrived for the Cygnus cargo craft which is scheduled to liftoff aboard the Orbital ATK Antares rocket today at 7:40 p.m. EDT. Two days later, three new crew members will launch aboard a Soyuz rocket for a two-day trip to the International Space Station.
Cygnus will wait for the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft to dock on Friday before it approaches the station Sunday for capture and installation to the Harmony module. Cygnus is delivering about 2,400 kilograms of crew supplies and research.
Meanwhile, the three orbiting Expedition 49 crew members stayed busy with life science research, lab maintenance and cargo packing.
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi took body measurements to determine the impacts microgravity has on body size. Rubins also explored how skin ages quicker in space while Onishi attached electrodes to himself to analyze his heart function. The duo also reviewed Cygnus approach and rendezvous procedures.
Commander Anatoly Ivanishin looked at wide variety of Russian research including nutrition and pain thresholds in space. The veteran cosmonaut also began loading cargo for his crew’s return home at the end of October.
Today’s launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket is postponed 24 hours due to a ground support equipment (GSE) cable that did not perform as expected during the pre-launch check out. We have spares on hand and rework procedures are in process. The Antares and Cygnus teams are not currently working any technical issues with the rocket or the spacecraft.
The launch is now scheduled for October 17 at 7:40 p.m. EDT.
If Cygnus launches on time it will arrive at the station Wednesday morning and deliver about 2,400 kilograms of crew supplies and research. Cygnus will depart in late November and deploy a set of weather monitoring nanosatellites before conducting the Saffire-II internal combustion experiment.
Back in space, astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi collected blood samples and spun them in a centrifuge before stowing them in a science freezer. Samples are collected before, during and after missions then analyzed by doctors to understand the effects of living in space on humans. Current human research experiments using the sample data include Biochem Profile, Cardio Ox and Repository.
Onishi also scanned his neck, thigh and heart with an ultrasound then checked his blood pressure. The biomedical study from Canada observes heart and blood vessel changes with results potentially improving health on Earth and in space.
Russia’s Progress 63 space freighter undocked from the International Space Station early Friday morning and burned up safely over the Pacific Ocean a few hours later. It will be replaced by a Progress 63 cargo craft in early December.
NASA and Orbital ATK mission managers are tracking Hurricane Nicole before finalizing a Cygnus cargo craft launch to the International Space Station no earlier than Oct. 16. Officials are securing a spacecraft tracking station in the Bermudas and monitoring the facility threatened by the category three storm.
Two astronauts – Kate Rubins from the United States and Takuya Onishi from Japan – are getting ready for Cygnus’ planned arrival next week. The two Expedition 49 flight engineers checked out video and robotics gear today and discussed cargo operations with ground controllers.
The duo also teamed up for ultrasound scans of their arteries and blood pressure checks. Doctors will use the observations from the Cardio Ox study to understand the cardiovascular risk of living in space. Commander Anatoly Ivanishin explored ionized gases produced by high temperatures, also known as plasmas, potentially helping engineers design future spacecraft
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, a new space station crew is counting down to an Oct. 19 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov will take a two-day trip inside the upgraded Soyuz to their new home in space. The trio are in final mission preparations in Kazakhstan where they will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
A pair of spaceships are on opposite sides of the world gearing up for missions to the International Space Station next week.
Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is getting ready for its sixth Orbital ATK mission aboard a Cygnus resupply ship no earlier than Oct. 16. NASA and Orbital ATK mission mangers are monitoring Hurricane Nicole before finalizing the Cygnus launch date.
The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan will host the launch of three Expedition 49-50 crew members inside the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. The trio is scheduled to launch Oct. 19 on a two-day trip to its new home in space.
Two astronauts living in space right now spent the first part of their day exploring upper body fluid shifts caused by microgravity. These fluid shifts apply pressure to eyes and have been known to affect crew vision. Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi participated in eye exams and ultrasound scans for today’s experiment run.
The International Space Station has been flying over Hurricane Matthew all week as the storm hit the Caribbean Sea and makes its way towards Florida. While the citizens of Florida braced for the hurricane’s impact, the crew researched how living in space impacts the human body.
Astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi collected their blood samples, spun them in a centrifuge and stored the samples in a science freezer. The samples will be examined on Earth to understand the detrimental effects of living in space on bone marrow and blood cells.
Rubins also joined Commander Anatoly Ivanishin for eye checks today to explore the headward fluid shifts astronauts experience during long-term space missions. These fluid shifts increase pressure on the brain and eyes, potentially causing vision problems. The duo used a series of tools including an ultrasound to examine their eyes.