Two Rockets Prep for Launch, Crew Busy with Research

Roll Out of Soyuz TMA-20M
The Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft is seen at the launch pad after being rolled out by train in the early hours of Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

A pair of spaceships is getting ready for launch to the International Space Station in less than a week. A Soyuz rocket will launch three new Expedition 47 crew members Friday evening from Kazakhstan. A few days later Orbital ATK will launch its Cygnus cargo ship from Florida and deliver new science, spacewalk gear and crew supplies to the station crew.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin are counting down to their launch Friday at 5:26 p.m. EDT/9:26 p.m. UTC. They will arrive at their new home in space less than six hours later when they dock their Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft to the Poisk mini-research module. Watch the launch and docking activities live on NASA Television.

Orbital ATK is preparing to launch its Cygnus space freighter Tuesday at 11 p.m. EDT/Wednesday 3 a.m. UTC for a four-day trip to replenish the Expedition 47 crew. Cygnus will launch atop a United Launch Alliance rocket from Kennedy Space Center on its sixth Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA. The Cygnus launch and rendezvous will be covered live on NASA TV.

Back in space aboard the orbital laboratory, astronauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake participated in more eye checks for the Ocular Health study. The duo is also exploring how living in space affects the side effects and the dosage of medication on the human body. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko explored stresses on the station’s structure and researched how international crews and mission controllers inter-relate during missions.

U.S. Cargo Ship Rolls Out to Pad for Thursday Launch

Cygnus Rolls Out to Launch Pad
The Cygnus cargo craft atop the Atlas V rocket rolls out to the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Orbital ATK rolled out its Cygnus resupply ship to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad in Florida today. Cygnus will launch atop an Atlas V rocket at 5:55 p.m. EST Thursday. The private U.S. space freighter will deliver new science experiments and crew supplies to the International Space Station crew early Sunday.

Amid Cygnus rendezvous and capture preparations, Commander Scott Kelly with Flight Engineers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui also worked on biomedical science activities today. The trio collected blood and urine samples and participated in a vision test to help doctors understand the effects of living in space on astronauts.

Cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko continued studying how blood circulates in space. Volkov then moved on to an experiment observing how the vacuum of space and space radiation may influence organisms off Earth. Kornienko explored new Earth photography techniques.

Lindgren and Yui are returning home Dec. 11 with Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko after 141 days in space. The three Expedition 45 home-bound crew members checked the spacesuits they will wear on the way home for leaks.

Station Ramping Up for New Crew and New Supplies

The Sun's light
The Sun’s light is reflected off a body of water as the space station orbit’s Earth.

A trio of International Space Station residents is getting ready to return to Earth while a new crew in Kazakhstan is preparing to replace them. Meanwhile, a pair of space freighters, the Orbital ATK Cygnus and Russia’s Progress 62 (62P), is being readied for liftoff as another docked cargo craft is being packed before it’s undocking.

The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft will launch Thursday at 5:55 p.m. EST to the station. The 61P is scheduled for a Dec. 21 liftoff. While mission managers are preparing three different spacecraft for launch this month, the Expedition 45 crew is performing research to help scientists benefit life on Earth and crews in space.

The next home-bound astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui checked their vision and blood pressure today for the Ocular Health study. The duo will return home with Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko Dec. 11 officially ending the Expedition 45 mission. Kononenko participated in a pair of blood circulation experiments, Cosmocard and Cardiovector, and prepared the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for its departure in less than two weeks.

Commander Scott Kelly, who is staying in space until March with Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov and fellow One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, sampled and tested the station’s water quality. Volkov and Kornienko explored veins in the lower body to understand blood flow during a long-term space mission.

The next crew to live on the space station, Expedition 46, is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site counting down to its Dec. 15 liftoff inside the Soyuz TMA-19M rocket. First-time British astronaut Timothy Peake is joining veteran station crew members Timothy Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko for the six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory.

Crew Prepares for Spacewalks and December Cygnus Mission

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, wearing an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit. Photo credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

In two weeks, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren will step outside the U.S. Quest airlock for the first of two maintenance spacewalks. The International Space Station is also being readied to host the next Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo mission set for early December.

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui has been servicing the two spacesuits Kelly and Lindgren will wear on the two six-hour spacewalks scheduled for Oct. 28 and Nov. 6. The spacewalkers will lubricate the tip of the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. He and Lindgren started their day, though, with eye checks for the ongoing Ocular Health study.

Kelly and Lindgren have also been preparing the Unity module where the Cygnus commercial cargo craft will be attached when it arrives in December after a 14-month hiatus. Kelly installed a Unity power adapter in the Destiny lab module then joined Lindgren to adjust power connectors inside Unity.

The three cosmonauts continued their routine maintenance tasks and science experiments in the station’s Russian segment. Flight Engineer Sergey Volkov explored crystal magnetism, while Oleg Kononenko and Mikhail Kornienko studied how a crew member adapts to motion during a spaceflight.


Cubesat Checks, Cable Work and Human Research Onboard Station Today

Moscow, Russia Underneath an Aurora
The city of Moscow, Russia sparkles in the night with spoke streets streaming out across the land while an aurora of blue, white and purple contrast the star filled sky.

Payload controllers are exploring why two Cubesats were unable to deploy this week from the Kibo lab module so they can be released later. Meanwhile, the six-member Expedition 45 crew is finalizing cable work for the next Cygnus cargo mission, unloading cargo from a new Progress 61 (61P) resupply ship and conducting human research.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren is completing cable connections and routing today in the Unity module, the first U.S. module delivered to space and installed in 1998. The Unity’s Earth-facing port, which will be powered by the cables, will host the Orbital ATK Cygnus commercial space freighter due to arrive in early December.

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui assisted Lindgren with the Unity cable work before reviewing procedures for the SPHERES Vertigo experiment that uses a pair of bowling ball-sized satellites. Commander Scott Kelly replaced electronic gear inside a science freezer before attaching instruments and sensors to himself for the Sprint exercise study.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Mikhail Kornienko continued cargo transfers from the 61P. Kononenko also worked on science hardware that monitors chemical reactions in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Kornienko joined veteran cosmonaut Sergey Volkov to process blood samples for the Neiroimmunitet study before working on the Algometriya medical monitoring experiment. Volkov then moved on to more science including the ongoing crystal magnetism experiment, the Calcium bone loss study and the Seismoprognoz earthquake study.

One-Year Crew members Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly
One-Year Crew members Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly are inside the Destiny lab module answering questions from media on the ground. Credit: NASA TV

Progress Cargo Craft Ready for Thursday Launch

Astronauts Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren
ISS045E019087 (09/18/2015) — Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui (left) and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren (right) work on removing items from a storage rack located inside the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory. The pair are making room for new communications hardware that will be used for future visiting vehicles arriving at the space station, including the new U.S. commercial crew vehicles currently in development.

A new Russian cargo craft loaded with more than three tons food, fuel and supplies is ready for launch to the International Space Station. The crew inside the orbital lab continues ongoing science activities and routine maintenance.

Russia’s ISS Progress 61 (61P) cargo craft is at the launch pad in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan counting down to a Thursday launch at 12:49 p.m. EDT. The 61P will dock after four orbits, or six hours later, to the Zvezda service module. NASA Television will broadcast the launch and docking of the cargo mission live beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Inside the space station, Commander Scott Kelly worked with a pair of bowling ball-sized satellites observing their automated docking abilities for the long-running SPHERES experiment. Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui used an ultrasound to scan cosmonaut Sergey Volkov’s eyes for the Ocular Health study.

Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren routed cables in the Destiny laboratory to support the next Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo mission planned for early December.

Cygnus Launch Countdown Progressing

Antares Orbital-3 Mission
The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is seen on launch Pad-0A after the launch attempt was scrubbed because of a boat down range in the trajectory Antares would have flown had it lifted off, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The countdown is progressing smoothly today for the launch of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on top. There are no technical concerns with the rocket or spacecraft being worked. The weather for this evening’s launch is predicted to be 97 percent favorable.

Liftoff is scheduled for 6:22 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport’s Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Live coverage of the launch on NASA TV will begin at 5:30 p.m. at:

Cygnus is loaded with about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.

A launch this evening will result in Cygnus catching up to the space station on Sunday, Nov. 2. Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 4:58 a.m. by NASA crew members Reid Wiseman and Barry “Butch” Wilmore. Cygnus will be attached to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node and will remain in place approximately one month. It is scheduled depart the space station on Dec. 3.

This is Orbital’s third mission to the International Space Station under its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.

Crew Focusing on Science While Cargo is Poised for Delivery

The Expedition 41 crew is working advanced microgravity science while a pair of space freighters await launch. Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus is set for a 6:22 p.m. EDT launch today while Russia’s ISS Progress 57 will begin a six-hour trip to the station at 3:09 a.m. Wednesday.

› View upcoming missions to the space station

NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Barry Wilmore reviewed operations for the Rodent Research study. German astronaut Alexander Gerst, from the European Space Agency, had a medical exam and worked a variety of science experiments.

› Read more about the Rodent Research study

The cosmonauts worked on their complement of Russian science and maintenance. Alexander Samokutyaev collected his blood and saliva samples and stowed them in a science freezer for later analysis on the ground. Commander Max Suraev began preparing for his Nov. 9 departure while finishing cleanup work after an Oct. 22 spacewalk. Elena Serova assisted her fellow cosmonauts with science and departure work.

Russian Spacewalker
A Russian spacewalker is photographed outside the International Space Station during a spacewalk Oct. 22.

Cygnus Launch Scrubbed Until Tuesday

The next launch attempt for Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket carrying its Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled for 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. There is a 10 minute launch window. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Monday’s launch attempt was scrubbed because of a boat down range in the trajectory Antares would have flown had it lifted off.

Sunset at Launch Pad
The Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus private space freighter rests at its launch pad Monday at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

› Watch NASA TV
› View Orbital Sciences Orb-3 mission page
› Visit NASA’s Orbital Sciences Commercial Resupply Launch page

Busy Period for Station Deliveries This Week

Space Station as Oct. 27
This is the configuration of the International Space Station as of Oct. 27. There are three spacecraft docked including two Soyuz spacecraft and Europe’s ATV-5.

The International Space Station saw a pair of space freighters leave while two more resupply ships were moved to their launch site waiting for liftoff this week. Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 fired its engines this afternoon to move the station away from a possible conjunction with some satellite debris.

View upcoming launches to the station

Meanwhile, the six member Expedition 41 crew is moving right along with station housekeeping and an array of advanced science to improve life on Earth and in space.

Astronauts Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst drew their blood samples Monday. Barry Wilmore stowed a pair of U.S. spacesuits. Elena Serova, Russia’s first female cosmonaut aboard the station, sampled surfaces in the Russian segment for microbes and worked on a physics experiment.

Cosmonauts Max Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev trained on rendezvous gear in advance of Wednesday’s arrival of the ISS Progress 57 resupply ship.