Expedition 50 Launches on Two-Day Trip to Station

The Soyuz MS-03 Spacecraft Launches
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft launches Expedition 50 crew members Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet from Kazakhstan. Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Soyuz MS-03 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:20 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 17 (2:20 a.m. Baikonur time, Nov. 18). At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 250 miles over the south Atlantic east of Argentina. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) are now safely in orbit.

Over the next two days, the trio will orbit the Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Rassvet module, at 5:01 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19. NASA TV coverage of the docking will begin at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/iss and on Twitter @Space_Station.

New Station Crew Launches Live Today on NASA TV

Expedition 50 Crew Members
Expedition 50 crew members (from left) Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet are seen in quarantine behind glass during a crew press conference. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) are preparing for launch to the International Space Station. They are scheduled to lift off today in a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft at 3:20 p.m. EST (2:20 a.m. Nov. 18, Baikonur time).

Live coverage of the launch will begin at 2:30 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Check out the NASA TV schedule online for information on how to watch live and replays.

The three crew members will join Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, who have been aboard the complex since October. Whitson, Novitskiy and Pesquet will remain aboard the station until next spring. Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko are scheduled to remain aboard the station until late February.

The Expedition 50 crew members will contribute to more than 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Below is the launch timeline for the crew in EST:

Nov. 17

9:20 a.m.        Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel
9:35 a.m.        Batteries installed in booster
10:05 a.m.      Crew arrives at Site 254
10:20 a.m.      Tanking begins
10:50 a.m.      Crew suit up
11:15 a.m.      Booster loaded with liquid oxygen
11:50 a.m.      Crew meets family members on other side of the glass
12:15 p.m.      First and second stage oxygen fueling complete
12:20 p.m.      Crew walkout from 254; boards bus for the launch pad
12:25 p.m.      Crew departs for launch pad at Site 31
12:45 p.m.      Crew arrives at launch pad
12:55 p.m.      Crew boards Soyuz; strapped in to the Descent module
1:45 p.m.        Descent module hardware tested
2:00 p.m.        Hatch closed; leak checks begin
2:20 p.m.        Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation
2:30 p.m. NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE BEGINS
2:35 p.m.        Pad service structure components lowered
2:36 p.m.        Clamshell gantry service towers retracted
2:43 p.m.        Suit leak checks begin; descent module testing complete
2:45 p.m. NASA TV: Crew pre-launch activities played (B-roll)
2:46 p.m.        Emergency escape system armed
3:05 p.m.        Suit leak checks complete; escape system to auto
3:10 p.m.        Gyros in flight readiness and recorders activated
3:13 p.m.        Pre-launch operations complete
3:14 p.m.        Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready
3:15 p.m.        Commander’s controls activated
3:16 p.m.        Combustion chamber nitrogen purge
3:17 p.m.        Propellant drainback
3:17 p.m.        Booster propellant tank pressurization
3:18 p.m.        Ground propellant feed terminated
3:19 p.m.        Vehicle to internal power;
3:19 p.m.        First umbilical tower separates
Auto sequence start
3:19 p.m.        Ground umbilical to third stage disconnected
3:19 p.m.        Second umbilical tower separates
3:20 p.m.        Launch command issued
Engine Start Sequence Begins
3:20 p.m.        Engine turbopumps at flight speed
3:20 p.m.        Engines at maximum thrust
3:20:13 p.m.  LAUNCH
3:28 p.m.        Third stage separation and orbital insertion

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/iss and on Twitter @Space_Station.

Soyuz Rocket Blessed Before Launch, Cygnus Prepped for Departure

Orthodox Priest Blesses Rocket and Media
An Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz rocket and members of the media Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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.


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New Crews Announced Before Next Crew Launches

Expedition 50 Crew Members
Expedition 50 crew members (from left) Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet stand in front of the first stage engines of their Soyuz booster rocket.

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.

New space station crews were officially announced today that will launch to the station in 2017. Four NASA astronauts, four Roscosmos cosmonauts and one astronaut each from the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are scheduled to launch in March, May, September and October of next year.

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.


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

Soyuz Rocket Rolls Out for Thursday Crew Launch

The Soyuz MS-03 Rocket
The Soyuz MS-03 rocket stands at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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.


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More Oxygen Generator Work as Soyuz Nears Launch

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft begins its rotation into position for its encapsulation into the upper stage of its Soyuz booster at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

The three Expedition 50 crew members today are working on an oxygen generator and setting up gear to photograph the Earth and meteors. In Kazakhstan, the Soyuz spacecraft that will launch the next trio to the International Space Station is being processed at its launch facility.

Commander Shane Kimbrough was back at work this morning on the Oxygen Generation System (OGS) in the U.S. side of the International Space Station. The OGS is down for maintenance as he and ground specialists troubleshoot the device due to a low voltage signature. In the meantime, Russia’s Elektron system is providing oxygen for the crew aboard space station.

Cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryzhikov changed camera lenses and rings on the Sally Ride EarthKAM. The student-operated Earth observation experiment enables middle school kids using the internet to program targets for the camera and download the imagery they have taken. The EarthKAM gear is installed in a window located in the Harmony module.

A hard drive was swapped out in the Meteor payload that looks outside a unique window known as the Window Observational Research Facility on the Destiny laboratory module. The visual spectroscopy study uses imagery to explore the physical and chemical properties of meteoroid dust to learn more about comets and asteroids.

Three new station crew members are in Kazakhstan preparing for a Nov. 17 launch to the station. The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft that will carry the new Expedition 50-51 trio to its new home in space was installed inside the third stage shroud of its rocket. Veteran station residents Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, along with first-time space flyer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency will take a two-day, 34-orbit trip to the station after their liftoff and stay in space till May.


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

Crew Sets up for Earth and Radiation Studies Before Next Trio Launches

Western Libya
Middle school children programmed a space station camera to photograph this portion of the Sahara desert seen in western Libya in October. Credit: Sally Ride EarthKAM

The Expedition 50 trio orbiting on the International Space Station is conducting maintenance while getting ready for Earth observations and radiation exposure studies today. In Kazakhstan, three new crew members are waiting as their Soyuz rocket is prepared for launch.

Commander Shane Kimbrough started work on the U.S. segment’s Oxygen Generation System (OGS), which will undergo maintenance throughout the week. Today, Kimbrough tagged up with ground specialists and replaced a hydrogen sensor and will continue to work on OGS through Wednesday. The system is currently shut down due to a low voltage signature within the Hydrogen Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) that contains the electrolyzing cell stack. The Russian Elektron system is providing oxygen for the crew at this time.

The two flight engineers, new cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov and veteran station commander Andrey Borisenko, are handing over a set of radiation detectors to Kimbrough. The NASA astronaut, who is on his second trip in space, will install the Radi-N2 detectors in the Destiny laboratory for a week to help doctors understand the radiation risk to crew health and develop protective measures.

Ryzhikov is also setting up a camera that will allow middle school students to photograph targets on Earth and downlink the imagery. The Sally Ride EarthKAM gear will be set up in the Harmony module’s Earth-facing hatch window and use internet-based tools to promote the learning process.

Another trio of Expedition 50 members is counting down to its Nov. 17 launch and two-day trip to the space station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Veteran station residents Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, along with first-time space flyer Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, are in final training before they liftoff aboard the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft. This will be Whitson’s third station mission and Novitskiy’s second.


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

New Trio Settles In Before Next Crew Launches

Expedition 50-51
Expedition 50-51 crew members (from left) Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet try on their spacesuits and check out the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

A new set of Expedition 50 crew members is in Kazakhstan just two weeks away from a launch to the International Space Station. The three orbiting station inhabitants are in the second week of their four-month stay in space.

Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson and Oleg Novitskiy have tried on their spacesuits and checked out the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft they will blast off in Nov. 17. After launch, the trio will take a two-day trip to their new home in space where they will live until May. Today, the new crew is participating in flag-raising and tree-planting ceremonies at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site.

The orbiting crew of Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko are conducting critical space science while maintaining station systems.

Kimbrough continued transferring cargo from the Cygnus resupply ship that is due to depart in mid-November. The station commander also collected blood and urine samples for stowage in a science freezer then worked on research and plumbing gear.

Ryzhikov researched how humans experience pain in space and unloaded cargo from the new Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. Borisenko, who is on his second station mission, checked out Russian life support systems and completed a questionnaire documenting the interactions of station crews and mission controllers on the ground.


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

Station Trio Continues Research, Awaits New Crewmates

Expedition 50-51 Crew Members
Expedition 50-51 crew members (from left) Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson and Oleg Novitskiy are pictured aboard an aircraft before landing at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The new Expedition 50 crew is in its first week aboard the International Space Station after a trio of Expedition 49 crew members left for Earth Saturday night. Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko are the sole occupants of the station right now awaiting three more crewmates due to launch in mid-November.

Kimbrough is tending a new garden of red romaine lettuce due to be harvested at the end of November. He is continuing the validation of greenhouse hardware to enable a fresh food supply for future crews venturing further and longer into space.

Cosmonauts Ryzhikov and Borisenko spent their time working on Russian life support systems and space research. The cosmonauts explored controlling rovers on a planetary surface from a spacecraft and also researched how microgravity affects pain sensitivity.

Back on Earth in Kazakhstan, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy are preparing for their mission to the space station. The Expedition 50-51 crew members are due to launch Nov. 17 to begin a six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory.


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

Expedition 49 Lands After 115 Day Mission

Expedition 49 Returns Home
Expedition 49 crew members Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi are surrounded by support personnel moments after landing in Kazakhstan after 115 days in space. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency safely landed their Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft in Kazakhstan southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan at 11:58 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 29. Russian recovery teams are helping the crew exit the Soyuz spacecraft and adjust to gravity after their stay in space. The trio will be transported by helicopter to Karaganda, Kazakhstan where they will split up, with Rubins and Onishi returning to Houston in a NASA jet, while Ivanishin will be flown back to his training base at Star City, Russia.

During her time on the orbiting complex, Rubins ventured outside the confines of the station for two spacewalks. During the first one Aug. 19, she and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams installed the first international docking adapter. Outfitted with a host of sensors and systems, the adapter’s main purpose is to provide a port for commercial spacecraft to bring astronauts to the station in the future. Its first users are expected to be the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft now in development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. During her second spacewalk Sept. 1, Rubins and Williams retracted a spare thermal control radiator and installed two new high-definition cameras.

Together, the Expedition 49 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the world-class orbiting laboratory during their 115 days in space.

The trio also welcomed three cargo spacecraft delivering several tons of supplies and research experiments. Rubins was involved in the grapple of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft to the station in October, the company’s sixth contracted commercial resupply mission, and SpaceX’s Dragon ninth contracted mission in July. One Russian ISS Progress cargo spacecraft also docked to the station in July.

Rubins and Onishi spent a total of 115 days in space during their first mission. Ivanishin now has 280 days in space during two flights.

Expedition 50, with Shane Kimbrough of NASA in command and his crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members.

Peggy Whitson of NASA, Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch Nov. 17 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station. For launch coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/iss and on Twitter @Space_Station.