Two rockets on opposite sides of the world rolled out to their launch pads today ready to blast off to the International Space Station. An American rocket rolled out to its pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A Russian rocket was carted by train and raised to its vertical position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is stacked atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance and ready for its Tuesday launch at 11:11 a.m. EDT from Florida. The seventh contracted Commercial Resupply Services mission for Orbital ATK will deliver over 7,600 pounds science gear and crew supplies to the Expedition 51 crew. Cygnus is due to arrive Saturday morning for a robotic capture and installation to the Unity module.
Two new Expedition 51 crew members will be seated in the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft when it lifts off from Kazakhstan Thursday at 3:13 a.m. Just six hours and 10 minutes later the duo will dock to the Poisk module to begin a mission expected to last about 4-1/2 months.
Meanwhile, the orbiting trio of Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Thomas Pesquet and Oleg Novitskiy are getting ready for the new arrivals and continuing space research. Whitson explored how the brain adapts to microgravity while Pesquet set up hardware to collect body fluid samples for later analysis. Novitskiy focused on systems maintenance in the station’s Russian segment.
United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Orbital ATK’s Launch Readiness Review for the Atlas V rocket with the Cygnus cargo resupply module was held April 15 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch managers from ULA, Orbital ATK and NASA determined all is ready for a targeted launch to the International Space Station on Tuesday, April 18. The liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 is scheduled for 11:11 a.m. EDT and there is a 30-minute launch opportunity available.
NASA TV launch coverage will begin at 10 a.m. EDT on air and streaming at www.nasa.gov/live.
The Expedition 50 crew is gearing up for three different spaceships in two months to resupply the International Space Station. The crew also worked today on a variety of research hardware and practiced an emergency drill.
Two U.S. companies are getting their rockets ready to deliver food, fuel, supplies and new science gear to the crew. SpaceX is first in line with a plan to launch their Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Feb. 18. Next, Orbital ATK is targeting March 19 to launch their Cygnus spacecraft on its seventh resupply mission to the station. Both spaceships will be captured by the Canadarm2 robotic. The Dragon will be installed to the Harmony module and the Cygnus will be attached to the Unity module.
Russia is preparing its Progress 66 (66P) cargo craft for a Feb. 22 launch from Kazakhstan. The 66P will take a two-day trip to the orbital laboratory before automatically docking to the Pirs Docking Compartment.
Onboard the station, Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet spent the day in Japan’s Kibo lab module working on science gear maintenance. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson installed a leak locator in Kibo’s airlock that will be used to locate the source of an ammonia leak outside the Japanese lab.
Commander Shane Kimbrough and his Soyuz crewmates cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov got together in the afternoon an emergency descent drill. The trio practiced the procedures necessary to evacuate the station quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency and return to Earth inside their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.
NASA, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are now targeting launch of Orbital ATK’s seventh commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station on March 19 during a 30-minute window that opens at approximately 10:56 p.m. EDT. This date takes into account space station operations, payload processing, and range availability. Orbital ATK has contracted with ULA for an Atlas V rocket for the mission, which will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NASA has opened media accreditation for the launch. All media accreditation requests should be submitted online.
Three new crew members are in their first week aboard the International Space Station. They joined the Expedition 50 crew Saturday bringing the occupancy of the orbital lab to six humans.
The two U.S. astronauts, three cosmonauts and one French astronaut are getting ready for Thanksgiving in space. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is beginning her third station mission and will spend the traditional U.S. holiday orbiting above the Earth for the third time.
Meanwhile, new crew members Whitson, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and first time space-flyer Thomas Pesquet and are familiarizing themselves with their home on orbit where they will live for the next six months. Whitson was last onboard the station during Expedition 16 in 2008 before Japan’s Kibo lab module had been delivered and the final solar arrays had been installed.
Whitson spent several hours repairing the Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC) today, one of two functional toilets aboard the station. She replaced several components after a leak was detected in the WHC on Monday.
Three new crew members are aboard the International Space Station. The hatches on the space station and Soyuz MS-03 opened at 7:40 p.m. EST, marking the arrival to the orbiting laboratory for NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency).
Along with Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, the arriving crew members will contribute to more than 250 research experiments ongoing aboard the space station, in diverse fields such as biology, Earth Science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
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The Soyuz rocket that will launch three new Expedition 50 crew members to space Thursday was blessed at its launch pad today. Back in space, the Canadarm2 grappled the Cygnus cargo craft ahead of its release early next week.
An Orthodox priest performed the traditional blessing of the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft today before its launch to the International Space Station. Peggy Whitson of NASA, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA are in quarantine at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Kazakhstan and are scheduled to liftoff Thursday at 3:20 p.m. EST on a two-day trip to their new home in space.
The new trio will dock to the Rassvet module Saturday afternoon and join Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko who have been in space since Oct. 19. The new Soyuz crew ship will make four spacecraft docked at the orbital complex before the Cygnus resupply ship departs two days later.
Cygnus will end its month-long stay at the Unity module on Monday when Kimbrough commands the Canadarm2 to release the cargo craft at 8:20 a.m. NASA TV will broadcast the release and departure of Cygnus beginning at 8 a.m. Before Cygnus begins its fiery reentry into Earth’s atmosphere it will stay in space a few more days to release a set of ocean ship tracking CubeSats and conduct the Saffire-II spacecraft fire study.
NASA announced today the crew members chosen to launch on four upcoming missions to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, three Expedition 50 crew members are orbiting Earth today working on cargo operations, human research and awaiting the launch and docking of three new crew members this weekend.
Commander Shane Kimbrough is nearly complete with Cygnus cargo transfers and will close the hatch this weekend. The Cygnus space freighter from Orbital ATK is on track to be released early next week from the Unity module. NASA TV will cover the event live when the Canadarm2 grapples Cygnus and releases it for departure Monday at 8:20 a.m. EST.
Flight engineers Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov recorded their food and medicine consumption again today for the Morze hormone and immune experiment. Borisenko then moved on to transferring cargo from the Progress 64 resupply ship while Ryzhikov checked lights and cleaned vents and fans.
Back on Earth, two veteran station residents and a new space flyer are two days away from launching aboard a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft to begin a five-month mission on the orbital complex. First-time European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who will be on her third mission, and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, who will be on his second mission, Nov. 17 when they lift off and take a two-day trip to their new home in space.
The rocket that will launch the next crew to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad today at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On orbit, the three Expedition 50 crew members are conducting human research, measuring radiation levels and wrapping up Cygnus cargo operations.
Veteran space travelers Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos along with space newcomer Thomas Pesquet from ESA are in Kazakhstan getting ready for their mission in space. Their Soyuz MS-03 rocket stands at its launch pad counting down to a launch Thursday at 3:20 p.m. EST. The new crew members will take a two-day trip to the orbital complex where they will live and work until May.
Shane Kimbrough, NASA astronaut and Expedition 50 Commander, is nearing the end of Cygnus cargo transfers as he readies the resupply vehicle for its Nov. 21 release from the Unity module. Afterward, Cygnus will stay in space a few more days to release a set of tiny weather satellites and conduct the Saffire-II spacecraft fire study.
Cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko, who is on his second space station mission, logged his food and medicine intake today for the Morze hormone and immune experiment. Kimbrough handed Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov a collection of radiation detectors that only monitor neutrons and will be processed for the RaDI-N experiment.
One spacecraft is being packed and readied for the return of three humans to Earth while a cargo craft is being unloaded and settling in for a one-month stay.
The Expedition 49 trio of Commander Anatoly Ivanishin and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi are packing gear and preparing for their return to Earth Saturday night. The veteran cosmonaut and two first-time astronauts will wrap up their mission after 115 days in space.
They will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft. The ride back to Earth takes about 3-1/2 hours after undocking from the International Space Station.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus is the latest cargo ship to arrive at the International Space Station. It was captured and installed to the Harmony module on Sunday Oct. 23 after a six-day flight that began in Virginia.
The hatches were opened the day it arrived and the crew began unloading over 5,100 pounds of crew supplies and science gear. Cygnus is scheduled to depart in mid-November and release a set of nanosatellites before scientists remotely set fire inside the spacecraft for the Saffire-II experiment.