Rocket Rolls Out to Launch New Crew on Thursday

Launch pad gantry arms close around the Soyuz rocket
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, launch pad gantry arms are seen closing around the Soyuz rocket in this long exposure photograph, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018.

The next rocket that will launch NASA’s Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexey Ovchinin to the International Space Station stands ready at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The duo will liftoff atop the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft Thursday at 4:40 a.m. EDT for a six-hour ride to their new home in space.

Hague and Ovchinin have been in final preparations at the launch site for two weeks of fit checks, Soyuz tests, procedure reviews and other traditional activities. This will be Hague’s first flight and Ovchinin’s second to the orbital lab.

Three Expedition 57 crew members aboard the space station await their new crewmates. Commander Alexander Gerst and Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev will greet the new duo Thursday when they aim to dock at 10:44 a.m. and open the Soyuz hatch around 1:10 p.m.

In the meantime, the orbiting trio today continued juggling a variety of science to improve life on Earth and maintenance to keep the station in tip-top shape. Gerst set up a microscope to observe the structure of protein molecules. Auñón-Chancellor brought in a small satellite deployer from outside the Kibo laboratory module after it deployed three CubeSats on Monday. Prokopyev worked on computers and life support gear throughout the station’s Russian segment.


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U.S., German Astronauts Swapping Command Before Homecoming

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Alexander Gerst
Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel (left) of NASA will hand over command of the station to German astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA.

A NASA astronaut will swap command of the International Space Station with a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Wednesday at 10:10 a.m. live on NASA TV. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel will be handing the station “keys” over to German astronaut Alexander Gerst during the traditional change of command ceremony.

Expedition 57 officially starts Thursday at 3:57 a.m. EDT when Feustel and Flight Engineer Ricky Arnold undock in the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft commanded by cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. Gerst, ESA’s second astronaut to command the station, is remaining onboard to lead Expedition 57 Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev. The homebound trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. (5:45 p.m. Kazakhstan time) just two orbits after undocking and 197 days in space.

Astronaut Nick Hague from NASA’s astronaut class of 2014 and veteran station cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will be the next crew to blast off to the space station. The duo will launch Oct. 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and take a six hour ride to their new home in space.

Amidst the crew departure activities today the station residents also worked space science and lab maintenance. Auñón-Chancellor worked on botany research inside the Plant Habitat located in the Columbus lab module. Gerst worked on hardware for the mobiPV study that is researching ways to increase productivity between astronauts and mission controllers. Departing astronauts Arnold and Feustel cleaned up their crew quarters.

October Starts With Crew Swap Then Spacewalks

Expedition 56 crew members Drew Feustel and Oleg Artemyev
(From left) Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel of NASA and Soyuz MS-08 Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos practice on a computer the Soyuz descent procedures they will use when they return to Earth on Oct. 4.

October will be a busy month as a pair of crews get ready to swap places on the International Space Station followed by a pair of spacewalks. Also, Japan’s HTV-7 resupply ship is open for business and the Expedition 56 crew has begun unloading its science and supplies.

Station commander Drew Feustel is preparing to return to Earth Thursday with two of his crewmates despite a busy schedule of science and maintenance aboard the orbital lab. Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev is packing the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft today that he will pilot back to Earth flanked by Feustel and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold. The trio is due to land in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. after 197 days in space.

Expedition 57 starts when the Soyuz MS-08 crew ship undocks Thursday at 3:57 a.m. EDT. Staying behind are Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) who will command the station with Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev until a new pair of crewmates join the following week.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin will blast off Oct. 11 at 4:40 a.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship and take a six hour ride to their new home in space. The duo is in Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site making final preparations for their 187 day mission.

The station is being replenished today as the crew begins offloading cargo from the HTV-7 resupply ship from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Robotics controllers will soon unload new lithion-ion batteries packed inside HTV-7 and install them on the truss structure to upgrade the station’s power systems. A pair of spacewalks are planned before the end of the month to complete the battery connections.

Japan’s Kounotori Spaceship Attached to Station

Sept. 27, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
Sept. 27, 2018: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked at the space station including the HTV-7 and Progress 70 resupply ships and the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships.

Ground controllers successfully installed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kounotori 7 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) to the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Harmony module at 10:09 a.m. EDT.

The spacecraft’s arrival supports the crew members’ research off the Earth to benefit the Earth. The cargo spacecraft began its trip on an H-IIB rocket at 1:52 p.m. EDT (2:52 a.m. Japan time) on Saturday, Sat. 22 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The early Thursday morning cargo delivery includes more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

U.S. Astronauts Capture Japanese Spaceship Loaded With Cargo

Japanese Cargo Ship Captured By Canadian Robotic Arm
Japan’s HTV-7 cargo ship is pictured shortly after being captured with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: @Space Station

Using the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA grappled the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kounotori H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) at 7:34 a.m. EDT and successfully completed the capture at 7:36 a.m. At the time of capture, the space station and cargo spacecraft were flying 250 miles above the north Pacific Ocean.

Next, robotic ground controllers will install HTV-7 on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module. NASA TV coverage of the berthing will begin at 10 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than originally scheduled, at https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#media

The Japanese cargo ship, whose name means “white stork,” is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

In addition to new hardware to upgrade the station’s electrical power system, the HTV-7 is carrying a new sample holder for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF), a protein crystal growth experiment at low temperatures (JAXA LT PCG), an investigation that looks at the effect of microgravity on bone marrow (MARROW), a Life Sciences Glovebox, and additional EXPRESS Racks.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Japan Delivery Due Thursday as Trio Preps Russian Spacecraft for Return

The International Space Station orbits above New Zealand.
Two docked Russian spacecraft are seen as the International Space Station orbited nearly 262 miles above New Zealand.

A Japanese cargo craft is orbiting Earth today and on its way to resupply the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the six Expedition 56 crew members are researching a variety of space phenomena as a trio prepares to return to Earth.

JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) resupply ship launched Saturday from Japan loaded with over five tons of new science and supplies destined for the crew. The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Thursday. Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor will be in the cupola backing up Commander Drew Feustel when he captures the HTV-7 with the Canadarm2 around 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Included among the critical payloads packed inside the HTV-7 is the Life Sciences Glovebox. The new facility will enable research to advance human health on Earth and in space. HTV-7 is also delivering new lithium-ion batteries to upgrade power systems on the station’s truss structure. NASA TV begins its live coverage of the HTV-7 arrival and capture Thursday at 6:30 a.m.

Today’s science work aboard the orbital lab included looking at DNA and fluid physics. Auñón-Chancellor sequenced DNA extracted from microbial samples collected inside the station. Feustel activated gear for an experiment researching the atomization of liquids that could improve fuel efficiency on Earth and in space.

Feustel later joined his Soyuz crewmates Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Ricky Arnold of NASA and began preparations for their return to Earth Oct. 4. Artemyev will command the ride back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft flanked by the two astronauts. He and Feustel practiced on a computer their Soyuz descent back into Earth’s atmosphere. Arnold packed up crew provisions and other items inside the Russian spacecraft.

Japanese Rocket Blasts Off to Resupply Station

Japan's HTV-7 Resupply Ship Blasts Off
Japan’s H-IIB rocket with the HTV-7 resupply ship on top blasts off at 1:52 p.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s H-IIB rocket launched at 1:52 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. At the time of launch, the space station was 254 miles over the southwest Pacific, west of Chile.

A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket and began its four-and-a-half rendezvous with the International Space Station.

On Thursday, Sept. 27, the HTV-7 will approach the station from below and slowly inch its way toward the orbiting laboratory. Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel and Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will operate the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to capture the spacecraft as it approaches. Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) will monitor HTV-7 systems during its approach. Robotic ground controllers will then install it on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module, where it will remain for several weeks.

NASA TV coverage of the Sept. 27 rendezvous and grapple will begin at 6:30 a.m. ET. Capture is scheduled for approximately 8:00 a.m. After a break, NASA TV coverage will resume at 10:30 a.m. for spacecraft installation to the space station’s Harmony module.

In addition to new hardware to upgrade the station’s electrical power system, the HTV-7 is carrying a new sample holder for the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace (JAXA-ELF), a protein crystal growth experiment at low temperatures (JAXA LT PCG), an investigation that looks at the effect of microgravity on bone marrow (MARROW), a Life Sciences Glovebox, and additional EXPRESS Racks.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Japanese Cargo Mission Set For Launch Today

Japan's HTV-5 resupply ship
Japan’s HTV-5 resupply ship is seen during a night pass with the Nile river lit up on the Earth below in September of 2015 during Expedition 45.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch a cargo spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan today at 1:52 p.m. EDT (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time).

Live coverage of the launch will begin at 1:30 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The unpiloted H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The spacecraft also is carrying a half dozen new lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrades to the station’s power system.

The launch vehicle will send the HTV-7 into orbit on a four-day rendezvous for an arrival at the orbiting laboratory on Thursday, Sept. 27.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Launch Slips One Day as Station Boosts Orbit and Life Science Continues

Japan's HTV-3 resupply ship launches aboard an H-IIB rocket
Japan’s HTV-3 resupply ship launches aboard an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on July 20, 2012, during Expedition 32. Credit: JAXA

The launch of a Japanese resupply ship to the International Space Station was postponed till Saturday. Meanwhile, the Expedition 56 crew moved on with critical space research and orbital lab maintenance.

Inclement weather at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan led managers at JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to postpone the launch of its HTV-7 resupply ship by one day. The HTV-7 is now due to launch atop the H-IIB rocket Saturday at 1:52 p.m. EDT loaded with over five tons of cargo, including new science experiments and science hardware. Its arrival at the station is now planned for Thursday at 7:54 a.m.

The station’s Zvezda service module fired its engines today slightly boosting the space lab’s orbit. The reboost enables a crew swap taking place next month when Expedition 57 begins. Three Expedition 56 crew members will depart on Oct. 4 and return to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. A new pair of Expedition 57 crew members will arrive aboard the Soyuz MS-10 crew ship to replace them Oct. 11

Astronauts Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor conducted a variety of biomedical research today sponsored by scientists from around the world. The duo partnered up for ultrasound scans inside Europe’s Columbus lab module as doctors on the ground monitored in real-time. Arnold also worked throughout the day processing blood and urine samples inside the Human Research Facility’s centrifuge.

The biological sample work is supporting a pair of ongoing experiments observing the physiological changes to humans in space. The Repository study analyzes blood and urine samples collected from astronauts before, during and after a space mission. The Biochemical Profile study also researches these samples for markers of astronaut health.

Commander Drew Feustel and Fight Engineer Alexander Gerst worked throughout the orbital lab on housekeeping tasks. Fuestel was in the Unity module installing computer network gear on an EXPRESS rack that can support multiple science experiments. Gerst relocated smoke detectors in the Tranquility module then moved on to computer maintenance in the Destiny lab module.

Japan Postpones Rocket Launch to Saturday

Japan's H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad
Japan’s H-IIB rocket is pictured at the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center before it launched the HTV-6 cargo craft on Dec. 9, 2016. Credit: JAXA

As a result of inclement weather, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has postponed the launch of a cargo spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan one day to approximately 1:52 p.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 22 (2:52 a.m. Sept. 23 Japan standard time). Live coverage of the launch will begin at 1:30 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The H-II Transfer Vehicle-7 (HTV-7) is loaded with more than five tons of supplies, water, spare parts and experiments for the crew aboard the International Space Station.

NASA also will provide live coverage of the arrival and installation of HTV-7 at the space station Thursday, Sept. 27 beginning at 6:30 a.m. ET. Capture is scheduled for around 8 a.m. After a break, NASA TV coverage will resume at 10:30 a.m. for spacecraft installation to the space station’s Harmony module.

For updates about the crew’s activities on the unique orbiting laboratory, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram at: @iss and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.