Station Team Starts Workweek Researching Physics and Biotech

The sun's first rays burst over the Earth's horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.
The sun’s first rays burst over the Earth’s horizon during an orbital sunrise as the International Space Station orbited above the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.

Advanced space physics and biotechnology research kicked off the week for the Expedition 63 trio aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA started Monday operating a variety of science experiments that observe different microgravity phenomena. He continued researching water droplets in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module to promote water conservation and improve water pressure for space and Earth facilities.

The veteran astronaut, whose first mission was in 2009, also worked in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module maintaining the BioLab incubator. He opened up the space biology research device, that houses microbes, tissue cultures and small invertebrates, and checked fans, sensors and relative humidity.

Cassidy also joined his crewmates, cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, for body mass measurements aboard the orbiting lab today. The device uses a Newtonian method that applies a known force to an individual with the resulting acceleration providing a mass calculation in microgravity.

Ivanishin also spent Monday splitting his time between Earth observations and biomedical research. The three-time station visitor photographed global landmarks to observe and forecast the effects of man-made and natural catastrophes. He then moved onto to exploring the survivability of enzymes and bone marrow cells in the weightless environment.

First-time space flyer Ivan Vagner worked all day in the station’s Russian segment on biotechnology research. He collected microbe samples from the air and lab surfaces for incubation and analysis to understand and monitor conditions for safe and sterile space research gear.

Station Crew Works Japanese and Russian Research

Russia's Progress 76 resupply ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station's Pirs docking compartment. Below the orbiting lab are the city lights of southeastern Europe.
Russia’s Progress 76 resupply ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station’s Pirs docking compartment. Below the orbiting lab are the city lights of southeastern Europe.

Advanced space science, cargo transfers and orbital maintenance kept the three Expedition 63 crew members occupied Thursday aboard the International Space Station.

Commander Chris Cassidy spent a good portion of his day working inside JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Kibo laboratory module. The experienced shuttle and station astronaut retrieved the Handhold Experiment Platform-2 (HXP-2), packed with several experiments, from inside Kibo’s airlock.

The HXP-2 was grappled by Japan’s robotic arm, removed from Kibo’s Exposed Facility and placed inside the airlock last week. The small research platform housed a variety of experiment samples exposed to the vacuum of space for observation.

Russia’s newest resupply ship, the Progress 76 (76P) which delivered nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies last month, continued to be offloaded today. Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner unpacked electronics gear from the 76P and updated the space station’s inventory system.

Ivanishin then moved on to science exploring how bone marrow and enzymes adapt to weightlessness and studied Earth’s upper atmosphere. Vagner checked station smoke detectors and transferred waste fluids into the Progress 75 cargo craft.

Space Research, Orbital Plumbing Fill Crew’s Day

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy services microbial DNA samples for sequencing and identification aboard the space station's Harmony module.
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy services microbial DNA samples for sequencing and identification aboard the space station’s Harmony module.

The Expedition 63 crew, with one U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station, juggled an array of space research and orbital plumbing duties on Wednesday.

Commander Chris Cassidy ran several test operations today of the Water Droplet Formation experiment that may improve fluid management on spaceships and faucets and showers on Earth. The veteran astronaut also analyzed water samples for microbes and checked on biology and robotics hardware.

Cassidy then switched roles from space scientist to high-flying plumber and serviced the station’s restroom, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, located in the Tranquility module. He also exchanged water recovery system pumps inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module.

Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos spent Wednesday morning working on power and electrical systems in the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. The experienced cosmonaut then moved onto fluid transfers into the Progress 76 resupply ship then studied ways improve to interactions between mission controllers and space crews.

Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner from Roscosmos started the morning communicating with students on Earth using a ham radio. The first-time space flyer then worked the rest of the day on a variety of maintenance tasks including replacing pumps and checking smoke detectors.

Station Crew Busy With Variety of Space Research

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy installs fluid research hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module's Microgravity Science Glovebox.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy installs fluid research hardware inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module’s Microgravity Science Glovebox.

Free-flying robots, planetary bodies and water droplets were just part of Tuesday’s research plan aboard the International Space Station. The Expedition 63 trio also serviced a variety of communications gear and life support systems.

NASA and its international partners are planning human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond and the space station represents a big step in that effort. The orbiting lab provides a unique platform to learn about the long-term effects of microgravity on a variety of systems.

A set of cube-shaped, robot assistants are flying around on their own today inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Engineers are looking at video and imagery downlinked from the Astrobee devices to understand how the autonomous free-flyers visualize and navigate their way around the station.

Commander Chris Cassidy took a look at dynamic granular material samples this morning that simulate planetary surfaces. The experiment is taking place inside ESA’s (European Space Agency) Columbus laboratory module and could inform future planetary exploration missions.

The veteran NASA astronaut also split his time between botany and fluid physics. Cassidy worked on the Plant Habitat-02 checking growth lights and installing an acoustic shield to protect the plants from station noises. Next, he moved onto commercial research to improve water conservation and water pressure techniques on Earth.

In the Russian segment of the station, the two cosmonaut flight engineers worked on their complement of orbital science and lab maintenance. Anatoly Ivanishin serviced video equipment and an air purifier before conducting Earth observations. Ivan Vagner collected air samples for microbial analysis and explored ways to improve interactions between mission controllers, students and space crews.

Crew Dragon Returns as SpaceX, Russia Prep Future Crew Missions

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Three humans are orbiting Earth today aboard the International Space Station following the return on Sunday of NASA’s first commercial crew.

Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will stay in space until October. The orbital trio are continuing critical space research benefitting humans on and off the Earth as well as maintaining the orbital lab.

Back on Earth, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are adapting to Earth’s gravity following a two-month mission on the station. Representing NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, duo is the first crew to launch to space and splashdown on Earth inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle.

SpaceX has completed its demonstration mission phase and has already booked two operational Crew Dragon missions. Crew-1 is planned for later this year and Crew-2 is targeted for Spring 2021. Both commercial crew missions will launch four astronauts each to the space station to continue microgravity science.

Russia will launch three Expedition 64 crew members to the station one week before the Expedition 63 crew returns to Earth in October. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will liftoff inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship to begin a six-month mission aboard the orbital lab.

Splashdown of Two Astronauts Aboard the Space Crew Dragon

A SpaceX fast boat races toward the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft moments before it splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. Credit: NASA TV
A SpaceX fast boat races toward the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft moments before it splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. Credit: NASA TV

Two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, splashed down safely in the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. It is the first time a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft has returned from the International Space Station to complete a test flight, beginning a new era in human spaceflight.

NASA is continuing live coverage of the recovery.

Teams on the Go Navigator recovery ship, including two fast boats, now are in the process of securing Crew Dragon and ensuring the spacecraft is safed for the recovery effort. As the fast boat teams complete their work, the recovery ship will move into position to hoist Crew Dragon onto the main deck of Go Navigator with Behnken and Hurley inside. Once on the main deck, the crew will be taken out of the spacecraft and receive medical checks before a helicopter ride to Pensacola to board a plane for Houston.

The duo arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 62 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware.

These activities are a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which has been working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data about the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown and recovery operations.

The test flight also will help NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission that will occur following NASA certification, which is expected to take about six weeks.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research

on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is “Go” for Deorbit Burn

Astronauts (front to back) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are suited up inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon preparing for splashdown.
Astronauts (front to back) Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are suited up inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon preparing for splashdown.

Watch NASA’s live coverage as NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft are making their final orbit of Earth before splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48 p.m. EDT. Weather conditions remain within the splashdown weather criteria and are “Go” at the primary targeted site off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

Here are the upcoming milestones (all times Eastern):

1:51 p.m. – Crew Dragon performs claw separation. The claw is located on Crew Dragon’s trunk, connecting thermal control, power, and avionics system components located on the trunk to the capsule.

  • 1:51 p.m. – Trunk separation
  • 1:56 p.m. – Deorbit burn begins
  • 2:08 p.m. – Deorbit burn complete
  • 2:11 p.m. – Nosecone deploys
  • 2:32 p.m. – Crew Dragon maneuvers to attitude for re-entry
  • 2:44 p.m. – Drogue parachutes deploy at about 18,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour.
  • 2:45 p.m. – Main parachutes deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.
  • 2:48 p.m. – Splashdown

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research

on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Target Splashdown off Coast of Pensacola, Florida

NASA's first commercial crew astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are pictured at Kennedy Space Center for tests aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. Credit: SpaceX
NASA’s first commercial crew astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are pictured at Kennedy Space Center for tests aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle. Credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are just hours away from splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. Splashdown remains scheduled for 2:48 p.m. EDT following a nearly two-month test flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Pensacola, Florida remains the prime location with Go Navigator as the recovery vessel. The recovery boat departed its port at 9:20 a.m. to stage for recovery operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Go Navigator is operating with a fully functioning generator and is ready to support splashdown operations this afternoon. Earlier this morning, a backup generator failed on the recovery ship prior to leaving port, but that is not considered an impact for normal recovery operations. The recovery vessel still has full capability to safely recover the spacecraft and crew.

Return conditions remain “Go” at the primary and alternate targeted sites.

The duo arrived at the International Space Station on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 62 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research

on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Spacex Crew Dragon Is on Its Way Home

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.

Crew Dragon has completed all four planned departure burns to begin its journey back to Earth with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley 

With the spacecraft on its path home, the astronauts will settle in for an eight-hour sleep period. While they’re asleep, a six-minute departure phasing burn at 1:48 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 2 will set the Dragon Endeavour on the proper orbital path to a planned splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

NASA’s live coverage of the crew’s return home to Earth continues through the night.

Behnken and Hurley will begin their last day in space at 7:40 a.m. tomorrow.

The Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk and jettison it at 1:51 p.m., followed five minutes later at 1:56 p.m. with the start of the deorbit burn to commit the spacecraft to a trajectory to splashdown at 2:48 p.m.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet. 

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew  and commercial crew on Facebook

Learn more about station activities by following  @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Endeavour Spacecraft Undocked from Station

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft moments after undocking from the International Space Station on NASA TV
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft moments after undocking from the International Space Station on NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley inside undocked from the forward end of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:35 p.m. EDT to complete a two-month mission.  

 

Two very small engine burns separated Crew Dragon from the station, and the spacecraft is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return the astronaut crew and its cargo safely to Earth. 

 

Once flying free, Dragon Endeavour will autonomously execute four departure burns to move the spaceship away from the space station and begin the flight home.  

 

The return timeline with approximate times in EDT is: 

 

August 1 

7:35 p.m.             Departure burn 0 

7:40 p.m.             Departure burn 1 

8:27 p.m.             Departure burn 2 

9:14 p.m.             Departure burn 3 

  

August 2 

1:51 p.m.             Trunk jettison 

1:56 p.m.             Deorbit burn 

2:48 p.m.             Crew Dragon splashdown 

 

NASA will continue to provide live coverage until astronaut Behnken and Hurley splashdown off the coast of Florida and are recovered from the Gulf of Mexico. 

 

The duo arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 63 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware. 

 

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook 

 

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research 

on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.