Crew Gearing Up for Cygnus Capture and Cargo Operations

Northrop Grumman's Cygnus space freighter sits atop the Antares rocket at the Wallops Flight Facility launch pad in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Patrick Black
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter sits atop the Antares rocket at the Wallops Flight Facility launch pad in Virginia. Credit: NASA/Patrick Black

The Expedition 64 crew is getting ready for next week’s arrival of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship following its launch on Saturday. The orbital residents are also maintaining science operations and unpacking a new Russian spacecraft at the International Space Station.

The Antares rocket with the Cygnus space freighter atop rolled out to its launch pad on Tuesday at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft will blast off on Saturday at 12:36 p.m. EST carrying about 8,000 pounds of science experiments, station hardware and crew supplies for the orbital lab. NASA TV will broadcast the launch activities live beginning at 12 p.m.

Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and Michael Hopkins will be on duty Monday morning when Cygnus arrives for its approach and capture. Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) will command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at about 4:40 a.m. Hopkins of NASA will monitor Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous as it reaches a point about 10 meters from the station.

The duo was joined Thursday afternoon by NASA astronauts Kate Rubins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover to review the upcoming Cygnus cargo operations. Afterward, the quintet called down to mission controllers to discuss unpacking and activating some of the critical science experiments arriving on the U.S. space freighter.

Combustion research and eye checks were also on the schedule aboard the station on Thursday. Walker and Hopkins partnered up on a study observing how flames spread in microgravity. Rubins took charge of eye exams and checked the eyes of Glover and Noguchi using optical coherence tomography.

Russia’s new cargo craft, the ISS Progress 77, is being unpacked today by Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. The pair also serviced a variety of Russian electronics and life support gear throughout Thursday.

Russian Cargo Craft Arrives, U.S. Space Freighter Launches Saturday

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured from space shuttle Endeavour after its undocking in February 2010.

Russia’s ISS Progress 77 resupply ship delivered over a ton of nitrogen, propellant and oxygen early Wednesday morning to the International Space Station. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter is up next as it counts down to this weekend’s launch from Virginia to the orbiting lab.

The Progress 77 docked to the Pirs docking compartment on Wednesday at 1:27 a.m. EST following a two-day trip that began with a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Commander Sergey Ryzhikov remotely guided the Progress 77 to its docking port with the TORU (tele-robotic rendezvous system) after the vehicle automatically switched over from the Kurs automated rendezvous system.

Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov then began a series of hours-long leak and pressure checks with the Progress 77. The duo finally opened the hatch to the new Russian cargo craft to begin transferring its cargo. Progress 77 will stay at the station for about 5 months when it will finally detach Pirs from the Zvezda service module’s Earth-facing port opening it up for the new Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Northrop Grumman is readying its next Cygnus cargo mission to launch this Saturday at 12:36 p.m. atop the Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus will be packed with about 8,000 pounds of science experiments, station hardware and crew supplies destined for the Expedition 64 crew.

Cygnus will orbit the Earth for nearly two days before its rendezvous with the station on Feb. 22. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will be on robotics duty early Monday and command the Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture Cygnus at about 4:40 a.m. NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins will back him up monitoring Cygnus’ approach and rendezvous.

Russian Cargo Craft In Orbit to Station

Russia’s Progress 77 cargo rocket launched from its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Feb 14., 2021.

An uncrewed Russian Progress 77 carrying just over one ton of nitrogen, water and propellant to the International Space Station launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:45 p.m. EST (9:45 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, Baikonur time).

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned for a two-day rendezvous on its way to meet up with the orbiting laboratory and its Expedition 64 crew members.

After making 33 orbits of Earth on its journey, the spacecraft will automatically dock to the station’s Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17. Live coverage on NASA TV of rendezvous and docking will begin at 12:30 a.m.

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.

Watch NASA TV for Progress Spacecraft Launch

Russia’s Progress 74 cargo rocket launched from its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 6, 2019. Credit: Roscosmos

Beginning at 11:15 p.m. EST, NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 77 is scheduled to lift off on a Soyuz rocket at 11:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin a two-day journey to the orbiting laboratory.

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.

Resupply Rocket Rolls Out to Pad, Crew Keeps up Space Studies

Russia's ISS Progress 77 space freighter stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia’s ISS Progress 77 space freighter stands at the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

The next rocket to launch a resupply ship to the International Space Station rolled out to its launch pad on the other side of the world this morning. Back on the orbiting lab, the seven-member Expedition 64 crew kept up its space studies while servicing U.S. spacesuits.

Russia’s ISS Progress 77 cargo craft is standing atop its rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad in Kazakhstan. It is counting down to liftoff on Sunday at 11:45 p.m. EST to deliver just over one ton of nitrogen, water and propellant to the station. It will dock Tuesday at 1:20 a.m. to the Pirs docking compartment.

The Progress 77 will later detach Pirs from the station readying the Zvezda service module’s port for a new module. Pirs will then be replaced with the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module to be delivered on a Proton rocket. The Pirs undocking occurs a few days after Nauka’s launch to enable Russian flight controllers to confirm a good vehicle in orbit heading to the station.

In the meantime, science is the main mission aboard the station. Microgravity research has the potential to reveal new insights and potential therapies that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on Earth due to gravity’s interference.

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover partnered up on Friday for a pair of different experiments. The duo demonstrated how hydroponics may support space agriculture then explored how the human nervous system adapts to weightlessness.

Astronauts Kate Rubins of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA joined each other for maintenance work inside the Tranquility module. Rubins also collected microbe samples to understand how they survive and adapt on the station. NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker spent the day working on batteries that keep life support systems powered inside U.S. spacesuits.

Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov continued studying how the lack of gravity impacts the effectiveness of a workout. Ryzhikov also checked seating inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship as Kud-Sverchkov worked on ventilation and radiation hardware.

Station Boosts Orbit to Avoid Space Debris

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured orbiting Earth in October of 2018.

Using the ISS Progress 75 thrusters and with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem, the International Space Station conducted a 150-second reboost Tuesday afternoon at 5:19 p.m. EDT to avoid a possible conjunction with an unknown piece of space debris. Because of the late notification of the possible conjunction, the three Expedition 63 crew members were directed to move to the Russian segment of the station to be closer to their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft as part of the safe haven procedure out of an abundance of caution. At no time was the crew in any danger.

The maneuver raised the station’s orbit out of the predicted path of the debris, which was estimated to come within 1.39 kilometers of the station with a time of closest approach of 6:21 p.m. EDT.

Once the avoidance maneuver was completed, the crew reopened hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments and resumed their regular activities.

Station Crew Preps for Space Debris Avoidance Maneuver

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured orbiting Earth in October of 2018.

Flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, with assistance from U.S. Space Command, are tracking an unknown piece of space debris expected to pass within several kilometers of the International Space Station. An avoidance maneuver is scheduled to take place using the Russian Progress resupply spacecraft currently docked to the aft end of the Zvezda service module at 4:19 p.m. CT. Out of an abundance of caution, the Expedition 63 crew will relocate to their Soyuz spacecraft until the debris has passed by the station. The time of closest approach is 5:21 p.m. CT.

Resupply Ship Docks to Station After Two Orbits

July 23, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the HTV-9 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Russia's Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.
July 23, 2020: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are attached to the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon, the HTV-9 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Russia’s Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-16 crew ship.

An uncrewed Russian Progress 76 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s Pirs docking compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 1:45 p.m. EDT, a little more than three hours after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:26 a.m. (7:26 p.m. Baikonur time). At the time of docking, the spacecraft were traveling about 250 miles over [LOCATION].

The cargo spacecraft is delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the Expedition 63 crew members who are living and working in space to advance scientific knowledge, demonstrate new technologies, and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.

Progress 76 will remain docked at the station for more than four months, departing in December for its deorbit into Earth’s atmosphere.

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.

NASA TV Broadcasts Russian Rocket Launch to Station

Russia's Progress 76 cargo craft stands its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan packed with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Credit: Roscosmos
Russia’s Progress 76 cargo craft stands its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan packed with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies. Credit: Roscosmos

NASA Television is providing live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 76 is scheduled to launch on a Soyuz rocket at 10:26 a.m. (7:26 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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.

New Satellites Set for Deployment, Cargo Craft Ready for Departure

(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).
(From left) Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Bob Behnken are pictured inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

The Expedition 63 crew readied a pair of tiny satellites for deployment and finished packing a Russian cargo craft for departure. The International Space Station residents also checked on BEAM today then worked on life support and computer maintenance.

Two CubeSats were installed inside a NanoRacks small satellite deployer this morning for release into Earth orbit later this week from outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. NASA Commander Chris Cassidy set up the satellite gear and placed it inside Kibo’s airlock for retrieval by the Japanese robotic arm. One satellite will demonstrate the performance of a tiny but powerful exo-planet telescope, while the other will test returning small payloads safely into Earth’s atmosphere.

Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) resupply ship has been packed with trash and obsolete gear and is ready to end its seven-month stay at the orbiting lab. Cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner finalized the cargo transfers today before closing the 74P’s hatch and performing the standard spacecraft leak checks. The 74P will undock Wednesday at 2:23 p.m. EDT from the Pirs docking compartment and descend into Earth’s atmosphere over the South Pacific for a fiery disposal.

BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, has been attached to the station since 2016 and is currently being used as a storage space. NASA Flight Engineers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken opened up and entered BEAM today to check sensor batteries and retrieve charcoal filters. The sensors monitor BEAM’s pressure and environment while the filters remove impurities from the station’s atmosphere.

The duo also worked on a variety of lab maintenance tasks keeping the station in tip-top shape. Hurley worked on orbital plumbing and checked computer connections. Behnken set up the charcoal filters from BEAM and upgraded software on a laptop computer dedicated to operations in the Microgravity Science Glovebox.