Trio Nears Departure During Space Harvest and Crew Orientation

NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.
NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.

Three Expedition 64 crew members reviewed departure procedures today as they get ready to leave the International Space Station at the end of the week. Meanwhile, there was a harvest onboard the orbital lab today while three new crewmates get used to life in space.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov Tuesday afternoon and looked over the steps they will take after they undock from the space station on Friday at 9:34 p.m. EDT. The trio reviewed the g-forces that occur when entering Earth’s atmosphere and experiencing gravity for the first time in 185 days. The former station residents will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft after leaving the Poisk module about three-and-a-half hours earlier.

A small crop of Amara Mustard and Pak Choi plants was picked today as part of the ongoing Veg-3 space agriculture study. NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins removed the plants from the Columbus lab module’s Veggie Facility and stowed the leaves for later analysis. The botany investigation is informing NASA and its international partners on how to feed crews without resupply ships on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Ongoing technical and life support maintenance is key to ensuring science experiments are up and running and the astronauts stay healthy while orbiting Earth.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency continued servicing the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an incubator that generates artificial gravity to support cell and plant biology studies. Victor Glover routed ethernet cables and Shannon Walker, both NASA flight engineers, worked on a U.S. oxygen generator throughout Tuesday.

The station’s newest crew members, Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, both from Roscosmos, are in their first week on the space station. They are getting oriented with station systems while also stepping up their science and maintenance activities. Vande Hei installed acoustic monitors and collected carbon dioxide data today. Novitskiy worked on a Russian radiation experiment as Dubrov checked ear, nose and throat medical equipment.

Crew Swaps, Safety and Space Research Keeping Crew Busy

The Milky Way extends above the Earth's horizon in this long exposure photograph from the space station.
The Milky Way extends above the Earth’s horizon in this long exposure photograph from the space station.

The three newest International Space Station crew members are getting used to life in space after a near three-and-a-half hour ride to the orbital lab late last week. There will be 10 people in space until Friday night when another three-person crew returns to Earth.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov have completed their first weekend orbiting Earth on the space station. The trio is getting up to speed with station systems following its arrival on Friday at 7:05 a.m. EDT. The new Expedition 65 crew launched earlier that day from Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship.

Meanwhile, another crew onboard the space station since October 14 is now focusing on its departure this Friday at 9:34 p.m. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. They will land in Kazakhstan at 12:56 a.m. Saturday, completing a 185-day space research mission.

The other four station astronauts, representing the crew of SpaceX Crew-1, joined their six crewmates during Monday afternoon and reviewed emergency roles and responsibilities. Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi joined the rest of the Expedition 64 crew and practiced safety procedures, communication protocols, and evacuation drills.

Some of the busy station residents did have time for science during all the crew swap and safety training activities taking place today. Glover attached sensors to his leg, collecting data for the Vascular Echo study that observes how the cardiovascular system changes in space. Noguchi reconfigured components inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an artificial gravity-generating incubator, that supports cell and plant biology studies.

Hatches Open, 10 Crew Members Occupying Station

The newly-expanded 10-member station crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for a welcoming ceremony with family members and mission officials on Earth. Credit: NASA TV
The newly-expanded 10-member station crew gathers in the Zvezda service module for a welcoming ceremony with family members and mission officials on Earth. Credit: NASA TV

The hatches between the International Space Station and the newly arrived Soyuz spacecraft officially opened at 9:20 a.m. EDT as they flew 270 miles above the South Pacific. The arrival of three new crew members to the existing seven people already aboard for Expedition 64 temporarily increases the station’s population to 10.

They have arrived on three different spacecraft. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos arrived on the Soyuz MS-18 after a two-orbit, three-hour flight following their launch from Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins arrived on the station with Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft October 14, 2020. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have been aboard since arriving November 16, 2020, on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience.

Expedition 65 begins Friday, April 16, with the departure of Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov. Ryzhikov will hand command of the station to Walker during a ceremony with all crew members that is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. April 15, and will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The Expedition 65 crew will continue more than 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the station, conducting research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research and more. Research conducted in microgravity helps NASA prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars, and contributes to improvements for life on Earth. Follow Vande Hei on Twitter during his mission.

This is the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy, and the first for Dubrov, who becomes the 243rd person to visit the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

During Expedition 65, the arrival of Crew-2 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon will bring four more members to the International Space Station. Crew-2 is currently scheduled for launch on Earth Day, April 22. Crew-1, the first long-duration commercial crew mission, will return to Earth on April 28.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Soyuz Crew Ship Docks to Station With Expedition 65 Trio

The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured on final approach to its docking port on the space station's Rassvet module.
The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured on final approach to its docking port on the space station’s Rassvet module.

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the International Space Station at 7:05 a.m. EDT while both spacecraft were flying about 262 miles above northern China.

When the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos will welcome the new crew members

Watch the hatch opening on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app beginning at 8:30 a.m. for hatch opening targeted for about 9 a.m.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Station Crew Blasts Off on Short Ride to Station

The Soyuz MS-18 rocket blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying three Expedition 65 crew members to the space station. Credit: NASA TV
The Soyuz MS-18 rocket blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying three Expedition 65 crew members to the space station.

Nearly nine minutes after a successful launch at 3:42 a.m. EDT of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos safely reached orbit. They have begun a two-orbit, three-hour flight to reach the International Space Station and join the Expedition 64 crew. At the time of launch, the station was flying about 259 miles over  northern Uzbekistan, 335 miles behind the Soyuz as it left the launch pad.

This is the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy, and the first for Dubrov. They will dock the Soyuz to the station’s Rassvet module at 7:07 a.m. Coverage of the docking will begin on NASA TV and the agency’s website, and the NASA app at 6:15 a.m.

About two hours after docking, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open, and they will join NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins, who arrived on the station with Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos in October 2020, and the crew of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience – NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi – who have been in orbit since November.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA TV is Live Covering Soyuz Rocket Launching Station Crew

(From top to bottom) Expedition 65 crew members Pyotr Dubrov, Oleg Novitskiy and Mark Vande Hei wave bye before boarding their Soyuz MS-18 rocket for a liftoff to the space station.
(From top to bottom) Expedition 65 crew members Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei and Oleg Novitskiy wave bye before boarding their Soyuz MS-18 rocket for a liftoff to the space station.

Live launch coverage is underway on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app for the targeted lift off at 3:42 a.m. EDT (12:42 p.m. in Baikonur), of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will begin a three-hour journey to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. Their journey will be the second time a Soyuz crew has taken the fast-track, two-orbit rendezvous path to the space station.

The new crew members will dock to the station’s Rassvet module at 7:07 a.m. They will temporarily increase the station’s population to 10 as they join the Expedition 64 Expedition 64 crew including NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos, and the crew of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience – NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov, and Rubins will depart the station on Friday, April 16, landing in Kazakhstan in the Soyuz MS-17 that carried them to the space station in October 2020 and completing their six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.

At approximately 9 a.m., about two hours after docking, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open, and the 10 crew members will greet each other.

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

NASA TV Broadcasts Friday Launch to Station on Soyuz Crew Ship

Expedition 65 crew members (from left) Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov pose for a portrait at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.
Expedition 65 crew members (from left) Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov pose for a portrait at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.

A trio of space travelers, including NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, is scheduled to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:42 a.m. EDT (12:42 p.m. Kazakhstan time) Friday, April 9.

Beginning at 2:45 a.m., NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will provide live coverage of the crew’s launch. Teams at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan are making final preparations for the liftoff of Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

The launch will send the crew members on a two-orbit, three-hour journey to the space station, where they will join the Expedition 64 crew, temporarily increasing the orbiting laboratory’s population to 10 people.

They will join NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins, who arrived on the station with Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos in October 2020, and the crew of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience – NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi – who have been in orbit since November.

It will be the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy, and the first for Dubrov. The launch comes three days before the 60th anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s launch to become the first human in space and the 40th anniversary of the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle.

During their six-month mission, the Expedition 65 crew will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory. Work on the unique microgravity laboratory advances scientific knowledge and demonstrates new technologies, making research breakthroughs that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Below is the crew’s launch timeline in EDT:

April 8 EDT   L-Hr/M/Sec  Event

18:05:41pm   9:37:00         Crew wakeup at Cosmonaut Hotel (time appx)
21:05:41pm    6:37:00        Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel (time appx)
21:50:41pm    5:52:00        Crew arrives at Site 254
21:57:41pm    5:45:00        Batteries installed in booster
22:35:41pm    5:07:00        Crew suit up
22:42:41pm    5:00:00        Tanking begins
23:37:41pm    4:05:00        Booster loaded with liquid oxygen; crew meets with officials
23:56:41pm    3:46:00        Crew walkout from 254; boards bus for the launch pad

April 9 EDT

00:01:41am    3:41:00        Crew departs for launch pad at Site 31
00:37:41am    3:05:00        First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
01:11:41am    2:31:00        Crew arrives at launch pad at site 31
01:17:41am    2:25:00        Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
02:07:41am    1:35:00        Descent module hardware tested
02:22:41am    1:20:00        Hatch closed; leak checks begin
02:42:41am    1:00:00        Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation

02:45:00am     :57:41        NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS

02:57:41am      :45:00        Pad service structure components lowered
02:58:41am      :44:00        Clamshell gantry service towers retracted

03:05:00am     :37:41        NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)

03:05:41am      :37:00        Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
03:08:41am      :34:00        Emergency escape system armed
03:27:41am      :15:00        Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
03:32:41am      :10:00        Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
03:35:41am      :07:00        Pre-launch operations complete
03:36:41am      :06:00        Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
03:37:41am      :05:00        Commander’s controls activated
03:38:41am      :04:00        Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
03:39:41am     :03:00        Propellant drainback
03:39:58am      :02:43        Booster propellant tank pressurization
03:41:11am      :01:30        Ground propellant feed terminated
03:41:41am      :01:00        Vehicle to internal power
03:42:06am      :00:35        First umbilical tower separates

Auto sequence start

03:42:11am      :00:30        Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
03:42:26am      :00:15        Second umbilical tower separates
03:42:29am      :00:12        Launch command issued

Engine Start Sequence Begins

03:42:31am      :00:10        Engine turbopumps at flight speed
03:42:36am      :00:05        Engines at maximum thrust
03:42:41am     :00:00        LAUNCH OF SOYUZ MS-18 TO THE ISS
03:43:23am     +:00:42      ISS FLIES OVER THE BAIKONUR COSMODROME
03:51:27am     +8:46         Third stage separation and orbital insertion for the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft

For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

New Crew Launching Early Friday as Science Continues on Station

(From left) A Russian crew ship and a Russian cargo craft are pictured docked to the station as it orbited into a sunrise above the South Pacific.
(From left) A Russian crew ship and a Russian cargo craft are pictured docked to the station as it orbited into a sunrise above the South Pacific.

It is the day before three new Expedition 65 crew members launch and dock to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, three orbital lab residents are preparing to return to Earth while the rest of the crew studies space science and keeps the station in tip-top shape.

The Soyuz MS-18 rocket that will liftoff Friday at 3:42 a.m. EDT with one NASA astronaut and two Roscosmos cosmonauts was blessed on Thursday by a Russian Orthodox priest. The traditional ceremony takes place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad before each Soyuz crew mission.

Two veteran station residents, Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, will take a ride to the station with first time space-flyer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos. Novitskiy will lead the short space flight to the station’s Rassvet module where the Soyuz crew ship will dock at 7:07 a.m. The hatches will open about two hours later and the trio will join seven new crewmates for a welcoming ceremony with officials on the ground. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and docking activities beginning at 2:45 a.m.

Little more than a week after the new crew’s arrival, three Expedition 64 residents will end their stay in space and land on Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, will undock from the Poisk module officially ending their mission on April 16 at 9:33 p.m. They will parachute to a landing inside their Soyuz crew ship less than three-and-a-half hours later in Kazakhstan.

Science is keeping pace aboard the space station as the crew explored biotechnology and fluid physics today. The astronauts also worked on life support systems and U.S. spacesuit components.

NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins observed protein crystal samples in a microscope for a study exploring the production of advanced medicines in space. Flight Engineer Victor Glover of NASA observed how fluids behave in microgravity to help engineers design optimal fuel tanks for satellites and spaceships.

Hopkins also serviced nitrogen and oxygen transfer gear inside the station’s Atmospheric Control System. Glover assisted NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker as she swapped parts on U.S. spacesuits. Finally, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi installed a materials exposure study in the Kibo laboratory module’s airlock where it will soon be placed into the harsh space environment for observation.

Station Readies for Expanded Crew as Science Stays in Focus

A waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth's horizon as the space station orbited 269 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.
A waning gibbous Moon is pictured above the Earth’s horizon as the space station orbited 269 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

The Expedition 64 crew is getting ready to welcome three new crew members who are due to launch on Friday to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, a variety of space research activities are underway aboard the orbiting lab today.

One NASA astronaut and two Roscosmos cosmonauts are in final preparations for their liftoff on a Soyuz rocket set for Friday at 3:42 a.m. EDT. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Pyotr Dubrov will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy for the short trip to the station inside the new Soyuz MS-18 crew ship.

Docking of the new Expedition 65 trio to the Rassvet module is planned for 7:07 a.m. The crew will open the hatch after leak and pressure checks and enter the station about 9 a.m. A welcoming ceremony with the expanded 10-person crew along with participants on the ground will occur shortly afterward. NASA TV will broadcast the launch and docking activities beginning at 2:45 a.m.

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker are busy readying the station to temporarily accommodate the new crew members. The trio is setting up extra sleep stations for this month’s crew swaps when there will be as many as 11 people occupying the space station.

Biomedical studies, or human research, is always ongoing aboard the station. Saliva and blood sample collections were the first tasks of the day for Hopkins, Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov. Glover scanned his own neck, leg and cardiac veins with an ultrasound device then checked his blood pressure for the Vascular Aging study.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins installed the new TangoLab-2 biology research hardware, delivered in February aboard the Cygnus space freighter, inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi readied a materials space exposure study for placement outside the Kibo laboratory module.

Soyuz Crew Ship Ready for Launch; Space Science in Full Swing

The Soyuz MS-18 rocket, that will launch the Expedition 65 crew to the space station on April 9, is rolled out to the launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The Soyuz MS-18 rocket, that will launch the Expedition 65 crew to the space station on April 9, is rolled out to the launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The first of two crews launching to the International Space Station in April will blast off from Kazakhstan on Friday. The Soyuz MS-18 rocket rolled out to its launch pad this morning as three new Expedition 65 crew members get ready for their long-term space research mission.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy inside the new Soyuz crew ship. They will lift off Friday at 3:42 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and take a near three-and-a-half hour ride to the station, orbiting Earth twice.

After the new crew docks to the Rassvet module and opens the hatches, there will be 10 people occupying the orbiting lab until the crew they are replacing, the Expedition 64 trio, returns to Earth a week later. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will complete her mission on April 16 with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov. They will undock from the station’s Poisk module inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship completing a 185-day mission and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan.

Onboard the station, the current seven-member crew is busy conducting advanced space science benefitting humans on and off the Earth. The orbital septet is also gearing up to accommodate the two April crew swaps when there will be as many as eleven people occupying the space station.

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover were back inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module exploring how microgravity affects the human nervous system. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi worked on biology hardware servicing components inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility and the Confocal Space Microscope.

Noguchi also joined Rubins during the afternoon and set up extra sleep accommodations inside the Columbus lab. NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker routed cables that charge U.S. spacesuit batteries inside the Quest airlock.