3-D Print Tests Continue Before Spaceships Depart and Arrive

Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts
The east coast states of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are pictured from the International Space Station.

Three Expedition 48 crew members worked on a variety of science experiments today before this weekend’s cargo ship maneuvers. On the ground in Kazakhstan, another set of crew members is getting ready for a two-day trip to the International Space Station next week.

Commander Jeff Williams worked on the 3-D Printing in Zero-G experiment inside the Destiny lab module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. Ground controllers also remotely operated the experiment creating a pair of 3-D objects. NASA is demonstrating the ability to manufacture parts in space using a 3-D printer on the International Space Station.

A Russian cargo ship, Progress 62, will back away from the Pirs docking port Friday morning before redocking 34 minutes later. Progress 62 will depart for the final time Saturday evening, re-entering the atmosphere a few hours later for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.

The redocking maneuver will test an upgraded telerobotically operated rendezvous system (TORU) installed last year inside the Zvezda service module. Cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will test the new TORU and manually guide the cargo ship back to its port during the test. Normally, a Progress resupply ship performs automated rendezvous and docking maneuvers, but the TORU is used in the event of an emergency.

Three Expedition 48-49 crew members are in the final days before a July 6 launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to the space station. After launch, veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and first time astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi will take a two-day ride to the station testing the new systems inside their upgraded Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft.


Crew Preps for Cargo Ship Maneuvers

Expedition 48-49 Crew Members
(From left) Expedition 48-49 crew members Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi pose for a portrait in front the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft they will launch in July 6. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

A pair of Expedition 48 cosmonauts are getting a Progress cargo ship ready to undock and redock Friday morning before its ultimate departure Saturday night. The maneuver will test an upgraded telerobotically operated rendezvous system installed in the Zvezda service module after the Progress docked in December.

The Progress 62 (62P) resupply ship will undock from the Pirs docking compartment, back away to a distance of about 200 meters, then move back toward Pirs and dock 34 minutes later. Finally, the 62P will complete its mission Saturday night when it undocks for good and burns up over the Pacific Ocean less than 4 hours later.

Commander Jeff Williams checked out the Major Constituent Analyzer (MCA) inside the Destiny lab module. The MCA checks the quality and components of the International Space Station’s air. Williams also swapped out batteries on a device that listens for and detects air leaks among the background noise of the station’s systems and hardware.

Back on Earth, the next crew members to launch to the station familiarized themselves with their Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft. Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and first time astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome scheduled to launch July 6 to begin a four-month mission on the station.

Next Station Crew Arrives at Launch Site

Expedition 48-49 Crew Members
(From left) Expedition 48-49 crew members Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi are pictured flying to the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Three Expedition 48-49 crew members are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome awaiting the beginning of their mission in less than two weeks. Back inside the International Space Station, the orbiting crew is working on research hardware and conducting life science.

Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and first time space flyers Kate Rubins from NASA and Takuya Onishi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are at their launch site counting down to a July 6 launch. The new trio will launch aboard the upgraded Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft and take a two day trip before docking to the Rassvet module.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will welcome their new crewmates July 9. After they dock and enter their new home, the new station residents will say hello to family and mission officials and then receive a safety briefing before kicking off their four-month mission.

In the meantime, Williams stowed hardware that observed how gases and liquids flow through porous media. The hardware is part of the Packed Bed Reactor Experiment that may help engineers design more efficient life support systems benefiting future space missions.

The two cosmonauts, Skripochka and Ovchinin, explored how plasmas behave when trapped in a magnetic field. The duo also looked at heart health in space and photographed Earth features to document natural and man-made changes.

Space Research Ongoing as New Trio Awaits Launch

Sunlight Reflecting Off Earth
Sunlight is pictured reflecting off Earth.

Three Expedition 48 crew members are orbiting Earth awaiting the addition of a new trio preparing to join them next month on the International Space Station. As the new crew gets ready to head to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad on Friday, the orbiting crew is conducting advanced science and maintaining the orbital lab systems.

An upgraded Soyuz spacecraft, the Soyuz MS-01, will launch July 6 carrying cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi to their new home in space. They will join Commander Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin completing the six-member Expedition 48 crew.

Science continues on the station, as the crew performed some robotics work, checked out a microscope and sampled water for a microbe check. The Japanese robotic arm was put to work today attaching samples outside the Kibo lab module. An advanced microscope, the Light Microscopy Module, had its diffusion plates swapped out. Also, water samples were collected to check for quality.

On the Russian side of the station, the cosmonauts explored how microgravity affects the human digestive system. They also continued more Earth photography to understand how natural and man-made changes affect the planet.

Expedition 48 Begins and Awaits Three New Crew Members

Expedition 47 Lands in Kazakhstan
The Expedition 47 crew members rest outside shortly after landing in Kazakhstan. Seated from left to right, and in their Sokol suits, are European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra.

Expedition 48 officially began Saturday morning with Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin continuing their stay aboard the International Space Station. They await the addition of three new crew members who will launch July 6 for a two-day ride to their new home in space.

Expedition 47 completed 186 days in space Saturday after landing in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra returned home to Houston the following day. European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake flew to Cologne, Germany, to begin his reconditioning. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko returned to Russia after completing his sixth mission to space.

Despite the weekend’s landing activities, science continues around the clock on the orbital laboratory. The crew is exploring how living in space affects the immune system and collected and stowed biological samples today for the Multi-Omics study. The crew is also setting up hardware for the NeuroMapping experiment. That study will research how spaceflight changes an astronaut’s brain and associated activities such as function, motor control, and multi-tasking abilities.

The next crew launch to the space station includes cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi. They will join Expedition 48 when their Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft docks to the Rassvet module July 8.

Cygnus Packed for Departure as Crew Preps for Homecoming

Cygnus Space Before its Capture
The Cygnus spacecraft is seen moments before its capture March 26, 2016.

The Cygnus resupply ship from Orbital ATK has been packed and its hatches closed before Tuesday morning’s release. Astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake will be at the controls of the Canadarm2 when it releases Cygnus at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Live television coverage on NASA TV starts at 9 a.m.

A few hours after its release a spacecraft fire experiment, Saffire-1, will take place inside Cygnus to test how different materials burn in space. Finally, on June 22 Cygnus will deorbit and during its reentry another experiment, Re-entry Breakup Recorder, will record its breakup into Earth’s atmosphere.

On Saturday, another spacecraft will leave the space station and return home three Expedition 47 crew members. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will command the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that will land him and NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and British astronaut Tim Peake in Kazakhstan after 186 days in space. NASA TV coverage begins Friday at 10:15 p.m. The crew will undock Saturday at 1:52 a.m. and land at 5:15 a.m.

While the two spaceships are being prepared for departure, science and maintenance inside the orbital laboratory was ongoing. The crew set up the Cell Biology Experiment Facility in Japan’s Kibo lab module and documented the living conditions on the space station. The station residents also sampled for air and surface microbes and cleaned crew quarters.

BEAM Sensors Installed as Station Prepares for Crew Swap

Astronaut Jeff Williams
Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. Credit: NASA TV

The hatch to BEAM was opened up again today for the second day of outfitting the expandable module to determine its habitability and durability. BEAM, or the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is set to demonstrate the overall performance and capability of expandable habitats for the next two years. The crew is predicted to enter BEAM between 12 and 14 times during its stay.

Three Expedition 46-47 crew members are winding down a six-month mission at the International Space Station. Commander Tim Kopra, veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and first-time British astronaut Tim Peake are packing their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft before they undock June 18 for the 3.5 hour ride back to Earth.

The station will raise its orbit Wednesday morning to support the undocking as well as the arrival of the next crew on July 9. New Expedition 48-49 crew members Anatoly Ivanishin, Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi will launch July 7 aboard a new Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft for a two-day trip to their new home in space.

Inside the space station, the astronauts explored how future crews will communicate and perform as they travel farther out in space. Saliva samples were collected and stowed so scientists can analyze them to understand how microgravity affects a crew member’s immune system. The crew also photographed Earth’s landmarks and studied the vibrations the station experiences during vehicle dockings, spacewalks and crew exercise.

BEAM Leak Checks While New Crew Preps for Launch

Expedition 48-49 Crew Members
Expedition 48-49 crew members were in Star City, Russia, participating in final qualification exams inside a Soyuz simulator last week. From left are Takuya Onishi, Anatoly Ivanishin and Kate Rubins

The week’s final set of CubeSats were deployed Wednesday night as the new BEAM goes through a series of leak checks before next week’s entry. Back inside the orbital lab, the six-member Expedition 47 crew conducted advanced space research sponsored by private and public institutions.

A final pair of CubeSats was deployed outside the Kibo lab module Wednesday wrapping up the week’s deployment activities. Since Monday, a total of 16 Dove satellites were released into orbit from a small satellite deployer attached to Kibo. The CubeSats will observe the Earth’s environment helping disaster relief efforts and improving agricultural yields.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) environment continues to be equalized with that of the rest of the International Space Station. Astronaut Jeff Williams is continuing to install components on the BEAM bulkhead and vestibule area before entering the new expandable module early next week.

The rest of the crew explored human research to improve astronaut health on long space journeys possibly benefitting humans on Earth too. Back on Earth, three new Expedition 48-49 crew members, Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi, are in Russia counting down to a June 24 launch to the space station.

BEAM Leak Checks Before Crew Enters Next Week

Sun Glint
Astronaut Tim Peake photographed the sun glint over the Earth and tweeted this image. Credit: @Astro_TimPeake

BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, was successfully expanded Saturday beginning two years of tests to demonstrate the new expandable technology. BEAM was pressurized and expanded to its full volume, width and length this weekend after 25 pulses of air were introduced into the new module.

BEAM leak checks are underway and will continue before astronaut Jeff Williams gets the go to enter the module on June 6. Williams will install sensors inside BEAM to measure its environment.

Japan’s Kibo lab module is sending more CubeSats into orbit this week from a small satellite deployer. The CubeSats are supporting research such as communications and Earth observations sponsored by government, education and private organizations.

Back inside the International Space Station, the six-person Expedition 47 crew was exploring human research and advanced physics in microgravity. The crew was also setting up science gear and maintenance hardware and continued packing the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft before its June 14 departure.

Station Gets Ready to Expand BEAM

Dual Views of BEAM
This dual view of BEAM shows the expanded external (left) and internal configurations. Credit: Bigelow Aerospace

The final preparations are under way for Thursday morning’s expansion of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) from the Tranquility module. Back on Earth, a veteran cosmonaut and a pair of first time space flyers are getting ready for their mission in June.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams performed leak checks and installed hardware to monitor and support BEAM expansion set to begin Thursday at 6:10 a.m. EDT (10:10 a.m. UTC). The expansion could potentially start earlier. NASA Television will broadcast the expansion activities live beginning at 5:30 a.m. Crew entry into BEAM, which has an expanded habitable volume of 565 cubic feet (16 cubic meters), is planned for June 2.

A new trio of International Space Station crew members is in Russia ready for final qualification exams for a mission set for launch June 24. Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin will command the new Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi. The Expedition 48-49 crew members are scheduled for a four-month stay aboard the orbital lab.

The crew orbiting in space now explored working with detailed tasks and interacting with touch-based computer screens for the Fine Motor Skills study. They continued stowing gear after completing the Rodent Research-3 bone and muscle atrophy experiment. Other experiments today looked at Earth photography techniques, interactions between space crews and teams on the ground as well as more eye checks.