Russian Cargo Craft Nears Station, U.S. Space Freighter at Launch Pad

Russia's Progress 76 resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station in July of 2020.
Russia’s Progress 76 resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station in July of 2020.

A Russian resupply ship is targeting the International Space Station for a cargo delivery early Thursday. While two cosmonauts get ready to support the cargo craft’s arrival, the rest of the Expedition 66 crew juggled lab maintenance, space research, and robotics training ahead of a U.S. cargo mission due to launch on Saturday.

Nearly three-and-a-half tons of food, fuel, and supplies are racing toward the orbiting lab today aboard the ISS Progress 80 resupply ship from Roscosmos. Station Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov will be monitoring the cargo craft’s automated approach on Thursday when it docks to the Poisk module at 2:06 a.m. EST. The duo continued training today on the tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, preparing for the unlikely event the Progress 80 would need to be manually docked.

Another cargo craft rolled out to its launch pad on Tuesday at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The U.S. Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is loaded with over 8,300 pounds of station hardware and new science experiments. It will launch atop an Antares rocket on Saturday at 12:40 p.m. and reach the station for a capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm on Monday at 4:35 a.m.

NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Kayla Barron trained today for the capture activities on the robotics workstation and will be on duty Monday monitoring Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous. Controllers on the ground will take over robotics duties after Cygnus is captured and remotely install the U.S. cargo craft to the Unity module’s Earth-facing port where it will stay for just over three months.

The station’s other three astronauts focused on ongoing equipment servicing and microgravity science in the midst of this week’s cargo activities. NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Marshburn wrapped up the cooling component work on the COLBERT treadmill in the Tranquility module. Marshburn also set up an Astrobee robotic free-flyer with a smart phone video guidance sensor being tested remotely by controllers on Earth. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer swapped hardware inside the waste and hygiene compartment, the station’s restroom, before computer operations on human research gear.

Vein, Eye Scans as Russian Cargo Mission Orbits Toward Station

From left, NASA's Expedition 66 Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Mark Vande Hei pose for a portrait inside the International Space Station's Kibo laboratory module.
From left, NASA’s Expedition 66 Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Mark Vande Hei pose for a portrait inside the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module.

Vein scans and hardware maintenance kept the Expedition 66 crew busy on Tuesday aboard the International Space Station. Meanwhile, Russia’s 80th space station cargo mission is orbiting Earth and on schedule to arrive at the orbiting lab early Thursday.

Three astronauts were scheduled on Tuesday afternoon for a series of vein and eye scans with doctors on the ground monitoring in real time. The station trio from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) gathered inside the Columbus laboratory module and used the Ultrasound 2 device to image each other’s neck, shoulder, and leg veins. NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Marshburn kicked off the biomedical work Tuesday afternoon. German astronaut Matthias Maurer joined them afterward wrapping up the vein and eye examinations. Doctors uses the data to understand how living in microgravity affects the human body.

Marshburn and Maurer had joined each other earlier in the day for maintenance on the COLBERT treadmill in the Tranquility module. Maurer began the work before lunchtime repairing cooling components on the exercise device. Marshburn followed up in the afternoon temporarily stowing the workout gear ahead of more work planned for the 11-year-old treadmill.

NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari split their day working on satellite hardware and life support gear. Barron spent Tuesday morning in the Kibo laboratory module uninstalling the small satellite orbital deployer. Its most recent deployment was a series of scientific and educational CubeSats delivered on the last SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission. Chari spent part of his day removing air and flushing the station’s water recovery system.

Nearly three tons of food, fuel, and supplies aboard the ISS Progress 80 cargo craft successfully reached orbit late Monday after its liftoff from Kazakhstan on Monday at 11:25 p.m. EST. Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will be on duty monitoring the Russian resupply ship when it automatically docks to the Poisk module on Thursday at 2:06 a.m. EST.

Shkaplerov cleaned Poisk on Tuesday morning making space to begin cargo transfers after the Progress 80’s arrival. The station commander from Roscosmos later joined Dubrov for an ongoing study that explores ways to pilot future spacecraft and robots on planetary missions.


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

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Research Focusing on Muscles, Botany during Russian Spaceship Work

Astronaut Kayla Barron is pictured inside the seven-windowed cupola, the space station's "window to the world."
Astronaut Kayla Barron is pictured inside the seven-windowed cupola, the space station’s “window to the world.”

Wednesday’s research schedule aboard the International Space Station highlighted the human muscular and circulatory systems as well as botany. The Expedition 66 crew also continued its space physics studies while working on docked Russian spacecraft.

The lack of gravity affects the human body and station crew members exercise about two hours a day to counteract the loss of bone and muscle. Flight Engineers Thomas Marshburn of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) focused their science work today on how weightlessness affects the biochemical properties of muscles. Maurer scanned Marshburn’s arm, leg, back and neck muscles with an ultrasound device before and after the NASA astronaut worked out on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED). Observations may help doctors increase muscle health in space and on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineer Raja Chari is setting up the Advanced Plant Habitat in the Kibo laboratory module which will house a space botany experiment launching on the next SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission. Over in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module, NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Mark Vande Hei took turns researching how to manipulate nanoparticles for the InSPACE-4 space manufacturing study.

In the station’s Russian segment, Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov unpacked cargo from the ISS Progress 79 cargo craft and inspected the Rassvet, Poisk and Nauka modules. Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov focused on electronics work and cable connections.

Visiting Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin from Roscosmos loaded gear and readied the Soyuz MS-20 crew ship for its return on Sunday. Japanese spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano spent the day videotaping and photographing the Earth and continued more research into how the circulatory system behaves in space.


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

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

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

Crew Dragon Nears Launch as Russian Space Cargo Races to Station

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endurance atop is pictured at its launch pad in Florida during sunset. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon Endurance atop is pictured at its launch pad in Florida during sunset. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Four commercial crew astronauts await their launch to join the Expedition 66 crew this weekend as a Russian space cargo mission is on its way to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the seven station residents orbiting the Earth today are headlong into a series of life science and physics experiments.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon Endurance attached at top, stands at its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The SpaceX Crew-3 mission, with its four commercial crew astronauts inside Endurance, will blast off on Sunday at 2:21 a.m. EDT for a 22-hour ride to the orbiting lab.

Crew-3 Commander Raja Chari, along with Pilot Thomas Marshburn and Mission Specialists Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer, will automatically dock inside Endurance to the Harmony module’s forward docking port on Monday at 12:10 a.m. The quartet will then open the hatches at 1:45 a.m., enter the station, and begin a six-month orbital research mission as Expedition 66 flight engineers.

Back in space, the ISS Progress 79 resupply ship, with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies packed inside, is racing toward the station after launching Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT from Kazakhstan. Cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov will be on duty Friday monitoring the Progress 79’s arrival when it automatically docks to the Zvezda service module’s aft port on at 9:34 p.m.

The Roscosmos duo practiced and reviewed procedures on a computer in Zvezda for Friday’s Progress 79 arrival. Dubrov also continued his space exercise research while Shkaplerov was back on plasma-dust structures physics research.

While the station awaits the new cargo and crewmates, the orbital residents continued their intense schedule of advanced microgravity research.

Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Akihiko Hoshide collected and stowed their blood samples for a pair of human research studies this morning. One long-running study looks at how an astronaut’s body adapts to microgravity before, during and after a space mission. The other observes the cardiovascular health risks of a long-term spaceflight.

Commander Thomas Pesquet and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei worked in the Columbus laboratory module on different science maintenance tasks. Pesquet restocked the Human Research Facility with electrodes, needles, and biological sample kits. Vande Hei reinstalled the Light Ions Detector, an advanced radiation detection device, that provides data into the health risk astronauts are exposed to.

Station Gets Ready for Russian Cargo and SpaceX Crew Missions

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer are pictured before departing Houston, Texas, for Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer are pictured before departing Houston, Texas, for Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The seven-member Expedition 66 crew is getting ready for a Russian cargo mission and the arrival and departure of two commercial crews over the next several days. Nevertheless, a host of advanced space research is ongoing today aboard the International Space Station keeping the orbital residents busy and focused.

Russia’s ISS Progress 79 resupply ship stands atop its rocket today at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. Loaded with nearly three tons of cargo, the Progress 79 is due to blast off toward the orbiting lab on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT and replenish the station crew two days later. NASA TV on the agency’s website and the NASA app will broadcast both mission events live.

Mission managers gave a “go” on Monday for all teams to proceed toward this weekend’s launch of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission. The four Crew-3 astronauts are in Florida counting down to their launch aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance on Sunday at 2:21 a.m. The commercial crew foursome, Commander Raja Chari, Pilot Thomas Marshburn and Mission Specialists Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer, will dock to the Harmony module’s forward port just one day later.

Four space station astronauts spent Monday afternoon getting ready for their return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour in November. Crew-2 Commander Shane Kimbrough joined Pilot Megan McArthur and Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet and practiced their undocking and departure procedures on a computer. The quartet then called down to NASA and SpaceX mission controllers and discussed their upcoming ride through Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown off the coast of Florida.

Science as usual is continuously ongoing aboard the space station. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei swapped fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. Next, he removed a specialized microscope from the Fluids Integrated Rack to start work on the Flow Boiling and Condensation Experiment. Hoshide, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), serviced samples inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace that enables safe research into high temperature physics in space.

Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov spent the day in the station’s Russian segment on their complement of space research and lab maintenance. Shkaplerov studied the behavior of plasma-dust structures using neon and argon gases before cleaning Soyuz crew ship fan screens and working on a Russian oxygen generator. Dubrov had a physical fitness test then moved on and checked electrical connections between the Zvezda service module and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Science, Spacewalk Preps Ahead of Cargo and Crew Missions

Russia's ISS Progress 79 resupply rocket rolls out to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early in the morning on Oct. 25, 2021. Credit: RSC Energia
Russia’s ISS Progress 79 resupply rocket rolls out to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early in the morning on Oct. 25, 2021. Credit: RSC Energia

Life science and spacewalk preparations are just part of the busy schedule aboard the International Space Station today. The seven-member Expedition 66 crew is also gearing up for a Russian cargo mission and a commercial crew swap taking place over the next two weeks.

NASA Flight Engineer Megan McArthur joined Commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) in the Columbus laboratory module for muscle scans and measurements. The duo started Monday morning taking turns using an ultrasound device scanning each other’s neck, back and leg muscles. They got back together Monday afternoon after exercise sessions and measured each other’s muscle tone, stiffness, and elasticity. The measurements are part of the Myotones study which may improve muscle rehabilitation on Earth and in space.

In the U.S. Quest airlock, NASA Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei began configuring tools and organizing the module for an upcoming spacewalk. Kimbrough also collected and stowed his blood samples before moving on to light orbital plumbing work. Vande Hei checked carbon dioxide monitors then updated station inventory systems.

Kimbrough is also getting ready for his return to Earth next month with his SpaceX Crew-2 crewmates McArthur, Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). He and McArthur have started packing their spacecraft, Crew Dragon Endeavour, that will return the quartet to Earth for a splashdown off the coast of Florida ending their six-and-a-half month space mission.

However, the station will soon host eleven crew members just one day after the SpaceX Crew-3 mission launches from Florida on Oct. 31 at 2:21 a.m. EDT. Flying aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance will be Commander Raja Chari, Pilot Thomas Marshburn, Mission Specialist Kayla Barron, all NASA astronauts, with Mission Specialist Matthias Maurer of ESA.

But first, there will be a cargo mission blasting off toward the station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian ISS Progress 79 resupply ship will launch on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and dock on Friday at 9:34 p.m. to replenish the orbital residents. Cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov are training for that mission today practicing for the unlikely event they would have to take remote command of the Progress 79. The pair from Roscosmos trained on the Zvezda service module’s tele-robotically operated rendezvous unit, or TORU, that would take control during the Progress 79’s automated approach and rendezvous.

Crew Stepping Up Upcoming Cargo Mission and Crew Swap Preps

A vivid aurora streams over the Earth as the space station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Australia and Antarctica.
A vivid aurora streams over the Earth as the space station orbited above the southern Indian Ocean in between Australia and Antarctica.

The Expedition 66 crew will have a restful weekend before stepping up preparations next week for an intense period of Russian resupply ship and SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle activities. However, the International Space Station residents are wrapping up the work week with a host of maintenance activities.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Mark Vande Hei worked on robotics activities in the NanoRacks Bishop airlock attached to the end cone of the Tranquility module during the afternoon. McArthur kicked off the work uninstalling the tiny GITAI robotic arm, located in Bishop, that is testing its abilities to perform routine support work saving the crew time. Vande Hei joined her afterward stowing the experimental robotic arm’s components, cleaning up Bishop, then closing its hatch.

Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started his morning flushing the oxygen generation system’s hoses of contaminants. Then the three-time station resident turned his attention in the afternoon toward assisting the two NASA astronauts with the Bishop cleanup work.

Over in the European Columbus laboratory module, NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough uninstalled science hardware that tests new radiation measurement techniques to make way for orbital plumbing work. Commander Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) took over the plumbing duties and replaced water valves behind a research rack located in Columbus.

Two cosmonauts are sleeping in today after adjusting their shifts two days ago to monitor the undocking then the redocking of the ISS Progress 78 resupply ship. The automated maneuvers saw the Progress 78 back away from the Poisk module on Wednesday night then redock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module just after midnight on Friday. Roscosmos Flight Engineers Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov were on duty checking the Progress’ systems ready to take over and remotely control the spacecraft from the Zvezda service module if necessary.

The next cargo craft to replenish the crew will be the ISS Progress 79 when it launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in the middle of next week. It will dock two days later to the aft port of Zvezda where it will stay for about seven months.

A crew swap is scheduled to begin in just over a week. The four astronauts of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission are due to blast off aboard the Crew Dragon Endurance on Oct. 31 at 2:21 a.m. from Florida toward the orbiting lab. Commander Raja Chari will lead Pilot Thomas Marshburn with Mission Specialists Kayla Barron and Matthias Maurer inside Endurance and dock to the Harmony module’s forward port about 22 hours later.

Several days after that, four astronauts who have been on the station since April will return to Earth inside the Crew Dragon Endeavour completing the SpaceX Crew-2 mission. Kimbrough will lead McArthur, Hoshide and Pesquet back home for a retrieval by NASA and SpaceX personnel off the coast of Florida.

Russian Cargo Craft Redocked to Station

Oct. 21, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia's Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.
Oct. 21, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 78 spacecraft automatically docked to the International Space Station’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module at 12:21 a.m. EDT Friday after undocking from the station’s Poisk module Wednesday night.

The relocation positions Progress 78 to conduct leak checks of the Nauka module’s propellent lines before they are used with the new module’s thrusters for orientation control of the station.

A new Russian cargo freighter, Progress 79, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27 (5 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, Baikonur time). Progress 79 launch overage on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will begin at 7:45 p.m.

Loaded with almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the station crew, the resupply ship will dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module at 9:34 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29. Live coverage of docking will begin at 8:45 p.m.

For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 246 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

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

NASA TV Live for Russian Cargo Craft Redock to Station

Russia's ISS Progress 78 resupply ship approaches the International Space Station for a docking to the Poisk module two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Russia’s ISS Progress 78 resupply ship approaches the International Space Station for a docking to the Poisk module two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage as an uncrewed Russian cargo spacecraft arrives at the International Space Station’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module.

The Progress 78 spacecraft, which undocked from the station Wednesday, Oct. 20, is scheduled to make an automated docking to the new module at 12:23 a.m. Friday.

The relocation will position Progress 78 to conduct leak checks of the Nauka module’s propellent lines before they are used with the new module’s thrusters for orientation control of the station.

Another Russian cargo freighter, Progress 79, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27 (5 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, Baikonur time). Progress 79 launch overage on NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will begin at 7:45 p.m.

For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 246 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

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

Russian Cargo Craft Undocks from Station to Switch Ports

Oct. 20, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia's Soyuz MS-19 crew ship.
Oct. 20, 2021: International Space Station Configuration. Three spaceships are parked at the space station including Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter; the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 crew ship.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 78 spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station’s Poisk module at 7:42 p.m. EDT today and will arrive at the station’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module for redocking tomorrow.

Progress 78 will back out to a distance of 120 miles from the space station for a period of just over 24 hours to allow for station keeping. The cargo spacecraft will then make an automated docking at 12:23 a.m. Friday, Oct. 22, to the new module.

NASA TV, the agency’s website, and the NASA app will offer live coverage of the rendezvous and redocking beginning at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.

The maneuver will position Progress 78 to conduct leak checks of the Nauka module’s propellent lines before they are used with the new module’s thrusters for orientation control of the station. Progress 78 arrived at the station in July and will depart in late November.

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