Russians Move from Longest Spacewalk to Shortest Cargo Delivery

Russian spacewalker
A Russian spacewalker is seen in an Orlan spacesuit with blue stripes (center image) working outside the Zvezda service module during the longest spacewalk in Russian space program history on Feb. 2, 2018.

Fresh off a record-breaking spacewalk last week, the International Space Station program is preparing for its first docking of a cargo craft in just two orbits. Back inside the orbital lab, the Expedition 54 crew researched how microgravity affects muscles to help humans on Earth.

Cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov wrapped up the longest spacewalk in Russian space program history at eight hours and 13 minutes on Friday. The two station residents worked over the weekend stowing spacewalk tools, cleaning the Pirs airlock and checking their Orlan spacesuits.

The Russian Federal Space Agency is now preparing for the launch Sunday of its unpiloted Progress 69 resupply ship at 3:58 a.m. EST. After its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the cargo craft will take two orbits around the Earth before automatically docking to the aft end of the Zvezda service module.

Astronauts Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai observed mice on the space station being treated with a drug that may slow or reverse muscle atrophy. The rodents are housed in a special microgravity habitat for up to two months with results of the study helping scientists design therapies for humans with muscle-related ailments.

Rescheduled Robotics Work Makes Two Spacewalks in February

Astronaut Scott Tingle
Astronaut Scott Tingle works on a U.S. spacesuit inside the Quest airlock at the beginning of January 2018 before a pair of robotics maintenance spacewalks were scheduled to begin.

International Space Station managers have rescheduled a U.S. spacewalk postponed on Monday to mid-February. Meanwhile, the Expedition 54 crew is also preparing for a Russian spacewalk this Friday.

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Norishige Kanai are planning to begin their spacewalk Feb. 15 at 7:10 a.m. EST to stow and reposition a pair of Latching End Effectors (LEEs). The LEEs are robotic hands attached to the tip of the Canadarm2 that grapple and release cargo ships and external station hardware.

During the 6.5-hour excursion, the spacewalkers will first move an older LEE from a bracket on the Mobile Base System on the truss to the Quest airlock. It was removed from Canadarm2 during a spacewalk last October. Next, a degraded LEE detached from Canadarm2 during the last U.S. spacewalk on Jan. 23 will be moved from an external stowage platform to the Mobile Base System. NASA TV will begin its live broadcast of the spacewalk at 5:30 a.m.

Cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov will exit the Pirs airlock in their Orlan spacesuits Friday at around 10:30 a.m. for 6.5 hours of Russian maintenance, highlighted by the swap out of an electronics system for the Zvezda Service Module’s high gain communications antenna. Live NASA TV coverage begins at 9:45 a.m.

Earlier today, Zvezda’s engines fired for 23 seconds to increase the station’s altitude and set up operations for the arrival of cargo and the departure of crew. The Progress 69 cargo craft will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Feb. 11, then 3 Expedition 54 crew members will depart the station in their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft Feb. 27 for a landing in Kazakhstan later that day.

International Crew Researching Life Science Ahead of New Year

The Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert is pictured Dec. 24 as the space station orbited over the border of the African nations of Mali and Algeria.

After a Russian cargo ship departed the International Space Station Thursday, the Expedition 54 crew is wrapping up the final work week of 2017 orbiting Earth and conducting science. The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking New Year’s Day off.

The Progress 67 (67P) resupply ship finished its stay six-and-a-half month at the station’s Zvezda service Thursday at 8:03 a.m. EDT. Cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Anton Shkaplerov packed the 67P full of trash the closed its hatches before it automatically undocked. It will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and safely burn up over the south Pacific Ocean.

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai took his turn on the exercise bike today for a study researching physical exertion in space. Doctors measure the astronauts breathing and other parameters during exercise to ensure they have the strength to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks and even emergency procedures.

Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA was harvesting plants for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05 (APEX) and stowing the botany samples in a science freezer for further analysis. Scientists are exploring how plants respond to microgravity and observing molecular and genetic changes.

The life science studies help mission doctors keep astronauts healthier and stronger while living in outer space. Also, NASA is planning longer human missions beyond low-Earth orbit and learning how to keep crews self-sustainable.

Finally, three U.S. astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and a Japanese astronaut on the orbital laboratory will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times as they orbit Earth once every 90 minutes. That is 16 sunrise and sunsets 250 miles above Earth. The crew will take the day off, share a meal and reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead.

Russian Space Freighter Ends Stay at Station

Dec. 27 Space Station Configuration
Dec. 27, 2017: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Progress 68 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-06 and MS-07 crew ships.

Filled with trash, the unpiloted ISS Progress 67 Russian cargo ship undocked from the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station at 8:03 p.m. EST. Just after 11 p.m., Russian flight controllers will send commands to fire the Progress’ engines and deorbit the space freighter, sending it to a destructive entry over the unpopulated south Pacific Ocean.

For more information about the current crew and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.

Station Boosts Orbit for December Crew Swap

The Expedition 52-53 Crew Portrait
The Expedition 52-53 trio will return to Earth Dec. 14. The crew members (from left) are European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik.

The International Space Station is orbiting slightly higher today to get ready for a pair of crews swapping places on the orbital laboratory in December. A Progress 67 resupply ship docked to the rear of the station fired its engines for just over three minutes this morning boosting the orbital lab to its correct altitude for next month’s crew departure and arrival.

Three Expedition 53 crew members from the United States, Russia and Italy are getting ready to return home just in time for the holidays. Commander Randy Bresnik and his cohorts Sergey Ryazanskiy from Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency are due to land Dec. 14 inside their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft in Kazakhstan. From there, the veteran space trio will split up and return to their home space agencies about 24 hours later having just spent 139 days in space together.

Next up are three Expedition 54-55 crew members who will launch Dec. 17 for a two-day ride to the station inside the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft. Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov from Roscosmos will be conducting his third tour aboard the orbital complex. Scott Tingle from NASA and Norishige Kanai from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will both be starting their first missions in space. All three will spend four months orbiting Earth.

Greeting the new crew when it arrives on Dec. 19 will be Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei who have been in space since Sept. 12. Misurkin will open the Rassvet module’s hatch where the Soyuz spacecraft will be docked and welcome the new crew members when they come flying in the station.

Russian Spacecraft Delivers Station Supplies

Russian 68P Cargo Craft
The Russian 68P cargo craft is pictured just meters away from docking to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

Traveling about 252 miles over eastern China, the unpiloted Russian Progress 68 cargo ship docked at 7:04 a.m. EDT to the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station.

For more information about the current crew and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

Cargo Mission Launches Carrying Food, Fuel and Supplies to Station

The Russian Progress 68 cargo craft lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the unpiloted Russian Progress 68 cargo spacecraft launched at 4:46 a.m. EDT (2:46 p.m. local time in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 250 miles over the south Atlantic Ocean north of the Falkland Islands .

Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned. The Expedition 53 crew will monitor key events during Progress 68’s approach and docking.

Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress will arrive at the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station for docking on Monday, Oct. 16, at 7:09 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin on NASA’s website at 6:15 a.m

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 68 online, follow @space_station on Twitter.

Station Cargo Mission and Spacewalk Rescheduled

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei is pictured attached to the outside of the space station during a spacewalk on Oct. 10, 2017.

Roscosmos has rescheduled the launch of the Russian Progress 68 cargo spacecraft for Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (2:46 p.m. local time in Baikonur). The spacecraft is carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 53 crew aboard the International Space Station.

Launch coverage on NASA TV will begin at 4:15 a.m. Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress will arrive at the Pirs docking compartment of the International Space Station for docking on Monday, Oct. 16, at 7:09 a.m., with NASA TV coverage beginning at 6:15 a.m.

In addition, NASA has rescheduled the Expedition 53 crew’s third and final spacewalk in the current series to next Friday, Oct. 20. Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Joe Acaba will begin the spacewalk at approximately 8:05 a.m., and NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

The tasks for the crew members to conduct have been adjusted. Bresnik and Acaba will replace a fuse on Dextre’s enhanced orbital replacement unit temporary platform; install an enhanced HD camera on the Starboard 1 lower outboard truss; remove thermal insulation on two spare units to prepare those components for future robotic replacement work, if required; and replace a light on the Canadarm2’s new latching end effector installed during the first spacewalk Oct. 5. The final lubrication of the new end effector and the replacement of a camera system on the Destiny Lab will be deferred for a future spacewalk.

To join the conversation about the space station activities online, follow @space_station on Twitter.

 

Launch of Russian Cargo Mission Scrubbed

Progress 68 Rocket
The Progress 68 resupply rocket stands at it launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

Launch of the Russian Progress 68 cargo craft has been scrubbed for today. The next launch attempt will be no earlier than Saturday Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (2:46 p.m. local time in Baikonur). Following a 34-orbit, two-day trip, Progress 68 would arrive at the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station for docking on Monday, Oct. 16. Roscosmos technicians in Baikonur are analyzing the cause of the scrubbed launch.

To join the conversation about the space station and Progress 68 online, follow @space_station on Twitter.

Spacewalk Review Ahead of Thursday’s Cargo Delivery

Progress 68 Rocket
The Russian Progress 68 resupply rocket stands at it launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

Two astronauts checked in with ground engineers today after completing the second of three spacewalks yesterday that are planned for this month. Meanwhile, a Russian cargo ship stands at its launch pad ready to blast off Thursday morning on a short delivery trip to the International Space Station.

Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei called down to Mission Control today to discuss the elements of Tuesday’s successful spacewalk. During the excursion, they began the lubrication process on the Canadarm2’s newly-installed latching end effector and swapped out a degraded video camera. Today, the spacewalkers are servicing their spacesuits’ water system and recharging the batteries.

Bresnik will conduct another spacewalk Oct. 18 with NASA astronaut Joe Acaba to finalize the servicing on the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The duo will also perform some electrical maintenance work and replace another degraded video camera. NASA TV will broadcast the third and final spacewalk on Oct. 18 beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Three tons of food, fuel and supplies are loaded inside a Russian resupply ship (ISS Progress 68) ready to lift off to the orbital complex Thursday at 5:32 a.m. The 68P will take just two orbits around Earth and dock to the station less than three-and-a-half hours later. This will be the shortest delivery mission for a Progress mission which usually takes a near six-hour trip, and in the past has taken up to two days to assist in the resupply of the complex.