Expedition 63 Awaits SpaceX Crew, Unpacks Japanese Cargo

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad in Florida during a brief static fire test on Friday, May 22, 2020.

The Expedition 63 crew is getting ready for the launch and arrival this week of two NASA astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade. This follows Monday morning’s arrival of a Japanese cargo craft that delivered over four tons of food, supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX managers completed their readiness reviews and have given the “go” for the launch of Commercial Crew astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The duo will liftoff atop the Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center in Florida toward the station.

They will dock on Thursday at 11:39 a.m. to the Harmony module’s International Docking Adapter on the space station’s forward section. Two-and-a-half hours later the hatches will open, Behnken and Hurley will enter the station and the Expedition 63 crew will expand to five members to bring space research up to full speed aboard the orbiting lab.

The Crew Dragon will be docked adjacent to the newly-arrived H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) from Japan. The HTV-9 was installed to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port a couple of hours after it was captured Monday at 8:13 a.m. with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy began unloading the HTV-9 with help from Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner shortly after its arrival on Memorial Day.

The final mission of Japan’s expendable resupply ship will stay at the station until late July. Japan’s next version of resupply ships (HTV-X) will be returnable and reusable providing more cargo capabilities.

Veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin swapped out more fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack to maintain research operations inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. The refrigerator-sized research rack enables fuel, flame and soot research in microgravity.

Expedition 63 Awaits Japanese Cargo and American Crew

Japan's HTV-8 cargo craft and the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle
Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft (left) is pictured gripped by the Canadarm2 robotic arm on November of 2019. The SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle is pictured at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Three Expedition 63 crewmates are orbiting Earth getting ready to welcome a Japanese cargo ship and the first crew to launch from America in almost a decade.

NASA Commander Chris Cassidy will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Japan’s ninth space freighter to visit the station on Memorial Day at 8:15 a.m. EDT. The H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) is delivering over four tons of crew supplies, space experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade station power systems. NASA TV’s live coverage begins Monday at 6:45 a.m.

Cassidy spent Friday readying the Harmony module for the HTV-9’s installation while also working on plumbing tasks. He’ll spend Saturday and Sunday relaxing aboard the International Space Station before turning his attention to the Japanese and American spaceships.

In Florida, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are in final preparations for their launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. They will dock the next day at 11:39 a.m. to the station’s International Docking Adapter on the Harmony module’s forward port.

Cassidy with Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will welcome the Commercial Crew astronauts aboard the station when the hatches open about two-and-a-half hours later. Behnken and Hurley will join the Expedition 63 crew as Flight Engineers and ramp up space science aboard the orbiting lab.

Back onboard the space station, cosmonauts Ivanishin and Vagner spent Friday servicing a variety of Russian communications and life support hardware. The duo also continued inventorying station maintenance and repair equipment.

SpaceX Crew Preps for Launch as Japanese Cargo Heads to Station

The crew of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission NASA astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
The crew of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission: NASA astronauts (from left) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

The International Space Station will welcome a pair of different spaceships next week. Japan’s space freighter will arrive first on Monday followed by the first crewed mission from SpaceX on Thursday.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) is in space racing toward the orbiting lab following its launch from Japan on Wednesday. The HTV-9, nicknamed Kounotori, or “white stork”, will arrive at the station Monday packed with over four tons of crew supplies, space experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade station power systems.

Commander Chris Cassidy will be on deck Monday in the cupola to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the Kounotori at 8:15 a.m. EDT. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will back up Cassidy and monitor the approach and rendezvous of the HTV-9. The duo has been training for a couple of weeks on a computer to get ready for Kounotori’s arrival. NASA TV’s live coverage of the robotic capture and installation will begin at 6:45 a.m. Monday.

The Expedition 63 crew is also preparing to welcome two NASA astronauts next week after they dock to the station inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. The first Commercial Crew with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived in Florida Wednesday and is in final preparations for launch on May 27 at 4:33 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center. They will dock the following day at 11:39 a.m. to the Harmony module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter.

Cassidy has been familiarizing himself this week with the Crew Dragon’s automated rendezvous and docking procedures. He set up a command and control device that will relay communications and telemetry back and forth with the Crew Dragon as it nears the space station next week.

Veteran Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin has been keeping up with his lab maintenance tasks while his crewmates get ready for the Kounotori’s arrival. The three-time station resident serviced computers and life support gear and updated station inventory systems today.

Crew Preps for Japanese Cargo, Studies Effects of Planetary Missions

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)
The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is pictured after it was captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm during Expedition 56.

Japan’s ninth mission to resupply the International Space Station has been given a “go” to launch on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The Expedition 63 crew continues prepare for its arrival and robotic capture on Memorial Day.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will be in the cupola on May 25 to command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and grapple the Japanese resupply ship at 8:15 a.m. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner is backing up Cassidy and will monitor the H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) as it approaches the orbiting lab. The duo continued their HTV-9 mission training and practiced capture techniques on a computer during the afternoon

NASA TV will be live broadcasting the HTV-9 launch and capture activities. HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of crew supplies, station experiments and lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries will be installed during a spacewalk at a later date to continue upgrading station power systems.

Meanwhile, space research operations and lab maintenance activities are ongoing as the three-member crew orbits Earth.

The commander started the day on a study that could inform the fabrication of materials in space or on the Moon. He serviced samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory that enables safe research into a variety of materials such as metals, alloys, semiconductors, etc… At the end of the day, Cassidy also explored how different gravity conditions could affect planetary surfaces impacting future spacecraft designs.

Vagner joined veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and spent midday inventorying maintenance and repair equipment. Ivanishin was also on heart research duty today exploring how blood circulation adapts to the conditions of microgravity.

Japanese Cargo, SpaceX Crew Dragon Activities Ramping Up

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley participate in a fully integrated test of SpaceX Crew Dragon flight hardware at the SpaceX processing facility in Florida on March 30.

The International Space Station is getting ready for a new Japanese cargo mission and the first Commercial Crew before the end of the month.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy joined Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner Friday afternoon to train for the arrival of a Japanese cargo craft after it launches on May 20 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The duo practiced the robotic capture techniques they will use when they command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-9) when it arrives on May 25 at 8:15 a.m.

The HTV-9 is delivering over four tons of food, fuel and supplies including new lithium-ion batteries to finish updating the station’s power systems. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and capture activities live.

Two days after the arrival of Japan’s HTV-9 resupply ship, the first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will lift off from Florida to the orbiting lab aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are in preflight quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center counting down to their May 27 launch at 4:33 p.m.

The veteran astronauts, representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, will approach the station May 28 and dock to the Harmony Module’s forward-facing International Docking Adapter at 11:39 a.m. They will open the hatch about two-and-a-half hours later to join the Expedition 63 crew and ramp up space science activities.

Japanese Resupply Ship, SpaceX Crew Dragon Nearing Launch Dates

Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (left) and the SpaceX Crew Dragon (right) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station this month.

A Japanese cargo ship is poised to resupply the Expedition 63 crew just as a U.S. space freighter has completed its stay at the International Space Station. The three station residents are also getting ready to welcome two Commercial Crew members in just over two weeks.

Japan’s ninth H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo mission (HTV-9) is due to lift off on May 20 aboard an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center. The cargo craft from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is delivering fresh food and supplies, new science experiments and new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power systems.

The HTV-9 will arrive at the station on May 25 where Commander Chris Cassidy, with Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner as back up, will capture the cargo craft with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Ground controllers will take over afterward and remotely install the HTV-9 to the Harmony module’s Earth-facing port where it will stay for two months.

Just two days later, NASA will launch the first crew from the United States since 2011 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will take a 19-hour trip to the station while testing systems inside the Crew Dragon. It will automatically dock on May 28 to the International Docking Adapter located on the Harmony module’s forward port. After the hatches open, the duo will join the Expedition 63 crew to ramp up science and maintenance operations aboard the orbiting lab.

Station Ramps Up for SpaceX Crew and Global Cargo Missions

The Progress 75 cargo craft stands at its launch pad
The Progress 75 cargo craft stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

A Russian space freighter has rolled out to its launch pad ready to resupply the International Space Station this weekend. Meanwhile, the Expedition 63 crew is ramping up its preparations for the first Commercial Crew mission and more cargo activities planned for May.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA is looking forward to welcoming a pair of fellow NASA astronauts aboard the station at the end of May. Commercial Crew astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley are preparing for their launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship scheduled for May 27 at 4:23 p.m. The first crew to launch from U.S. soil since 2011 will dock one day later to the station and join Expedition 63 for a months-long mission.

The crew aboard the orbiting lab is also due to receive its first space delivery on Saturday at 1:12 a.m. EDT. Russia’s Progress 75 (75P) cargo craft will carry several tons of crew supplies and station hardware and automatically dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module. The 75P will lift off on Friday at 9:51 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the short three-and-a-half hour flight to the station.

Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are training for Saturday morning’s automated arrival of the 75P. The duo practiced remotely-controlled emergency rendezvous and docking techniques in the unlikely event the 75P wouldn’t be able to approach and dock to the station on its own.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft is being readied to end its stay attached to the station’s Unity module on May 11. Cassidy and Ivanishin packed trash and discarded gear inside Cygnus today for a fiery disposal in the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean.

Finally, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is targeting May 20 for the launch of its ninth cargo mission to the station. JAXA’s HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle) cargo craft, nicknamed Kounotori, would take a five-day trip before being captured and installed to the station with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Spaceship Ready for Release as Crew Studies Vision

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough
Astronauts Thomas Pesquet (left) and Shane Kimbrough pose for a portrait with Japan’s HTV-6 resupply ship orbiting a short distance away from the space station’s cupola on Dec. 13, 2016.

The Expedition 50 crew is getting ready for Friday morning’s release of Japan’s sixth cargo craft to visit the International Space Station. The station residents are also continuing to explore how their eyes adapt to living in space for months at a time.

The Kounotori HTV-6 resupply ship, from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is being disconnected from station systems today as it prepares for its departure Friday at 10:30 a.m. EST. Overnight, ground controllers will operate the Canadarm2 and maneuver the HTV-6 away from the Harmony module where it is attached.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA will then command the 57.7-foot-long robotic arm to release Kounotori back into orbit. After the HTV supports science experiments for a week, Japanese flight controllers will command the craft to deorbit on Feb. 5 for a fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

More Fluid Shifts research took place today as astronauts study the possibility of using a special suit, the Lower Body Negative Pressure (LBNP) suit, to prevent the upward flow of fluids towards the head caused by microgravity. This headward flow may be causing pressure on the back of crew members’ eyes potentially causing damage and affecting vision.

During the afternoon, the crew also participated in ultrasound eye scans. Doctors on the ground assisted the crew to ensure good views of the optic nerve, cornea and back of the eye.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Japanese Cargo Ship Set to Leave Friday

Japan's HTV-6 Resupply Ship
Japan’s HTV-6 resupply ship is pictured attached to the Harmony module during robotics operations.

Mission controllers are preparing to release Japan’s Kounotori cargo ship from the International Space Station at the end of the week. Meanwhile, the Expedition 50 crew is getting ready for a new protein crystal experiment and reconfiguring combustion science gear.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is getting ready to complete its sixth cargo mission to the station. Overnight, robotics controllers maneuvered Canada’s 57.7-foot-long robotic arm holding an external pallet with discarded nickel-hydrogen batteries and installed them inside the Japanese cargo ship for disposal.

Next, the Canadarm2 will release Japan’s HTV-6 resupply ship from the Harmony module Friday for a fiery re-entry back in Earth’s atmosphere. The HTV-6 arrived Dec. 13 four days after its launch from the Tanegashima Space Center carrying crew supplies, new science experiments and lithium-ion batteries to upgrade the station’s power supply.

The California-based space company SpaceX is planning its tenth station cargo mission. The Dragon cargo craft will deliver a new experiment to study protein crystals to help scientists design better drugs to fight diseases. In advance of the Dragon delivery, Astronaut Peggy Whitson set up the Light Microscopy Module with new lenses today to get ready for the new experiment installation.

Commander Shane Kimbrough is getting the Combustion Integrated Rack ready for the Cool Flames Investigation (CFI). That study will observe how fuels burn at lower temperatures with no visible flames. CFI may engineers develop advanced engines and fuels and improve crew safety.


Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Second Spacewalk Sets Stage for Upcoming Cargo Missions

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency is suited up for a dry run of this Friday’s upcoming spacewalk.

The six-member Expedition 50 crew has the day off today after a pair of NASA astronauts completed the first spacewalk of 2017 on Friday of last week. That spacewalk is the first of two planned in January to upgrade the International Space Station’s power systems. Both spacewalks have been backed-up with external robotics work that installed the new lithium-ion batteries and removed the old nickel-hydrogen batteries.

The next spacewalk will take place this Friday to complete the upgrades which include connecting new batteries, installing adapter plates and stowing older batteries. Commander Shane Kimbrough will suit up for the second time in a week joining first-time spacewalker astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency.

Expedition 50 crew members Peggy Whitson from NASA and Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos will assist the spacewalkers. They will help them in and out of their U.S. spacesuits and guide them in and out of the crew airlock.

It will be a busy few weeks after the conclusion of Friday’s upcoming spacewalk. Japan’s “Kounotori” HTV-6 resupply ship will depart at the end of January completing its cargo delivery mission that included the new batteries the spacewalkers have been hooking up. A Russian Progress 64 (64P) cargo craft will undock shortly after the HTV-6 leaves.