SpaceX Cargo Dragon Undocked From Station

Sept. 30, 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-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.
Sept. 30, 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-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 78 resupply ship.

With NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough monitoring aboard the International Space Station, a SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked from the station’s forward port of the Harmony module at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Cargo Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station prior to a deorbit burn later in the day that will begin its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will make parachute-assisted splashdown around 11 p.m. off the coast of Florida. NASA Television will not broadcast the splashdown live, but will provide updates on the space station blog..

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.

Dragon launched Aug. 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station the following day. The spacecraft delivered more than 4,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost.

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

Cargo Dragon Undocking Live on NASA TV

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the International Space Station for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module's forward international docking adapter
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the International Space Station for an autonomous docking to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter on Aug. 30, 2021.

NASA Television coverage is underway for departure of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station. The spacecraft is scheduled for automated release at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will command Dragon to undock from the forward port on the station’s Harmony module. After firing its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station, Dragon will execute a deorbit burn to leave orbit as it heads for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida around 11 p.m.

Dragon launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Aug. 29 from Space Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and arrived at the station the following day with more than 4,800 pounds of science, supplies and cargo on SpaceX’s 23rd commercial resupply mission to the station for NASA.

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

Crew Packs Dragon for Departure; Studies Robotics and Life Science

NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough are pictured inside the Kibo laboratory module answering questions from U.S. journalists on Earth.
NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough are pictured inside the Kibo laboratory module answering questions from U.S. journalists on Earth.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon is due to wrap up its month-long resupply mission to the International Space Station on Thursday morning. Amidst today’s cargo transfers, the Expedition 65 crew pursued a host of microgravity research on the orbital lab including robotics and biology.

Cargo Dragon’s automated undocking from the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter is set for Thursday at 9:05 a.m. EDT. The station’s astronauts will continue loading Dragon with hardware and science experiments until about two hours before its departure. Just over half-a-day later the U.S. cargo craft will parachute to a nighttime splashdown off the coast of Florida. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the spacecraft’s undocking at 8:45 a.m. on the NASA app and the agency’s website. NASA TV will not broadcast the Cargo Dragon’s return to Earth.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough took turns on Wednesday carefully packing and safely attaching cargo inside the U.S. space freighter. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) joined ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet installing science freezers containing research samples inside the Cargo Dragon for analysis back on Earth.

Hoshide, a three-time station veteran, began his day setting up the Astrobee robotic helpers inside the Kibo laboratory module. The toaster-sized robotic free-flyers then performed maneuvers using programs written by Japanese and American students competing in a robotics challenge. The event is designed to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to improve space-based and Earth-bound technologies.

Pesquet and NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei partnered up for a space exercise study inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module on Wednesday morning. The duo each spent about an hour on Destiny’s exercise cycle wearing sensors and breathing equipment to measure how working out affects pulmonary function in weightlessness.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy started his morning servicing a variety of Russian life support gear and electronics hardware before an hourlong cardiac study. Pyotr Dubrov, a first time space-flyer from Roscosmos, joined Novitskiy for the cardiac study that measured their heart function during a rest period with electrocardiogram sensors. Dubrov then spent the day removing camera gear from the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft and downloading imagery captured during Tuesday’s relocation maneuver.

Crew Gets Ready for Russian, U.S. Spaceship Activities This Week

The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module are pictured above Hurricane Henri in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 21, 2021.
The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module are pictured above Hurricane Henri in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 21, 2021.

A Soyuz crew ship with three Expedition 65 crew members aboard will move to a new docking port on Tuesday. Two days after that a U.S. cargo craft will depart the International Space Station and return to Earth packed with science experiments and station hardware for retrieval.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship when it switches ports on Tuesday. The trio will undock from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. EDT. Then they will maneuver temporarily toward the U.S. segment for a quick photo session of the orbiting lab’s configuration. Shortly afterward, Novitskiy will manually guide the Soyuz spaceship back toward the Russian segment and dock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module at 9 a.m.

This opens up Rassvet’s port for next month’s arrival of the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship carrying veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and two Russian spaceflight participants to the station. NASA TV will begin its live Tuesday coverage of the relocation at 8 a.m. on the NASA app and the agency’s website.

While the station trio ramps up for the docking port change, two NASA astronauts are loading the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship today with science gear and other cargo. Flight Engineer Megan McArthur started her day transferring cargo inside the Dragon vehicle. NASA Flight Engineer Shane Kimbrough configured science freezers inside Dragon that will contain research samples for analysis back on Earth.

Cargo Dragon leaves the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter on Thursday at 9:05 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast Dragon’s undocking and departure starting at 8:45 a.m. but will not be on air when the returning spacecraft splashes down off the coast of Florida about 14 hours later.

Science rolled on today, as Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and  ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet partnered up during the afternoon for space biology work in the Kibo laboratory module. The duo later prepared research samples for return to Earth inside Dragon’s science freezers.

Space Biology, Dragon Packing and Station Traffic Fill Crew Schedule

A portion of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured at lower left as the space station orbited above northern France.
A portion of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle is pictured at lower left as the space station orbited above northern France.

Rodent research, microbe sampling and Dragon packing filled the Expedition 65 crew’s day at the end of the week aboard the International Space Station. Three orbital residents are also preparing their Soyuz crew ship to switch docking ports next week.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough started their day observing mice once again inside the Life Science Glovebox (LSG) located in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. The space biology study is helping scientists identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes.

Assisting the duo, ESA (European Space Agency) Thomas Pesquet continued the mice observations during the afternoon. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei handled the LSG set up and closeout operations during Friday’s experiment work.

During the afternoon, McArthur swabbed and collected microbe samples from surfaces in the station’s U.S. segment. She photographed the surface areas and stowed the samples for later analysis to document the types of microbes living on the orbiting lab.

Vande Hei and Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration (JAXA) spent a couple of hours on Friday loading the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship for return to Earth. The Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter on Thursday at 9:05 a.m. EDT. It will parachute to a splashdown off the coast of Florida several hours later for retrieval by SpaceX and NASA personnel.

Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov reviewed the procedures today and the path they will take when their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft moves to a new port. Vande Hei will join his Russian crewmates when they undock from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. on Tuesday. They will temporarily maneuver toward the station’s U.S. segment where they will photograph the orbiting lab’s configuration. Shortly after that, they will move back toward the Russian segment and redock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module at around 9 a.m.

The Russian segment’s Zvezda service module fired its engines for less than a minute today slightly lowering the space station’s orbit. The deorbit boost, as it is called, places the station at the correct phase ahead of the arrival of the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship and the departure of the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship in October.

Space Biology and Upcoming Spaceship Relocation Keep Crew Busy

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough and Mark Vande Hei work inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.

The Expedition 65 astronauts are moving full speed ahead today studying how living in space affects skin processes. The International Space Station is also gearing up for a busy period of spaceship activities.

Rodents continue to be observed aboard the orbiting lab today so scientists can identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes. The Rodent Research-1 Demonstration will take place until next week when the mice are transferred into the SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle for return and examination on Earth.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough partnered with ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet for the space biology study today taking place inside the Kibo laboratory module. NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is assisting the astronauts with the rodent research, helping them with operations in the Life Science Glovebox.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spent Thursday morning exploring how weightlessness affects microbes living on the station. He extracted DNA earlier this week from microbe samples he swabbed from surfaces inside the station. Today, Hoshide prepared the DNA for onboard sequencing to help researchers understand the microbial environment of the station and future spacecraft.

In the Russian segment of the orbital lab, Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are familiarizing themselves with the procedures for next week’s relocation of their Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. The duo, along with Vande Hei, will take a short ride in the Soyuz on Tuesday when they undock from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. EDT.

They will temporarily maneuver toward the station’s U.S. segment where they will photograph the orbiting lab’s configuration. Shortly after that, they will move back toward the Russian segment and redock to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module module at around 9 a.m.

New Robotic Arm Being Set Up Before Crew Ship Switches Ports

The city lights of northwest America, highlighted by an aurora, are pictured as the space station orbited above.
The city lights of northwest America, highlighted by an aurora, are pictured as the space station orbited above.

Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module continues being outfitted today before operations begin with Europe’s new robotic arm. In the meantime, three Expedition 65 crewmates are preparing to move their Soyuz crew ship to a new port on the International Space Station next week.

Soon, there will be three robotic arms from three different countries operating on the orbiting lab. The newest arm, the European robotic arm (ERA), was delivered in July attached to Nauka. ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet joined Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside Nauka today and configured ERA controller hardware and software. The other two robotic manipulators are Japan’s robotic arm which services the Kibo laboratory module, and the Canadarm2 robotic arm which captures and installs spaceships, maneuvers spacewalkers, and performs other fine-controlled tasks on the station.

The three NASA Flight Engineers, Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough, and Mark Vande Hei, worked in the station’s U.S. segment on science and maintenance activities throughout Wednesday. Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) worked primarily in the Kibo laboratory module on space biology activities.

McArthur started her day replacing fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack before swabbing microbe samples from station surfaces for later analysis. Kimbrough disassembled an old device that measured electrical charges building up around the station’s main solar arrays. Finally, Vande Hei serviced communications hardware inside Kibo then moved on and switched samples inside the Materials Science Laboratory.

Three-time Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy checked components inside the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship today before it moves to a new port next week. He will be flanked by Vande Hei and Dubrov inside the Soyuz when it undocks from the Rassvet module on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 8:21 a.m. EDT. They will dock less than 45 minutes later to Nauka for the first time.

Crew Studies How Space Affects Skin Before Station Traffic Increases

Astronaut Megan McArthur takes a midday break inside the cupola, the International Space Station's "window to the world."
Astronaut Megan McArthur takes a midday break inside the cupola, the International Space Station’s “window to the world.”

The Expedition 65 astronauts worked on a biology study today exploring how long-term microgravity affects skin and the healing process. Three other crewmates are gearing up for next week’s relocation of their Soyuz crew ship to the International Space Station’s newest science module.

NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough continued the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration on Tuesday. The space biology study seeks to identify genes and observe cell functions that are impacted by weightlessness and affect skin processes. The rodents will be returned to Earth late next week on the Cargo Dragon vehicle for further examination.

The pace of traffic at the orbiting lab picks up next week as three crewmates prepare to move their Soyuz crew ship to a new port. Two days later, a U.S. resupply ship will be next when it departs the station to return to Earth loaded with cargo and science experiments.

Three station crew members will enter their Soyuz MS-18 crew ship next Tuesday and take a short ride to another port. The trio, led by cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy flanked by NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov, will first back away from the Rassvet module at 8:21 a.m. EDT. It will dock less than 45 minutes later to Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.

Next Thursday, the SpaceX Cargo Dragon will undock from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter at 9:05 a.m. It will splashdown off the coast of Florida about 14 hours later where SpaceX and NASA personnel will retrieve the vehicle and begin unpacking its precious cargo.

Crew Kicks off Week With Space Biology and Robotics

The prominent city lights of Europe from Amsterdam to Paris and London across the English Channel are pictured from the space station.
The prominent city lights of Europe from Amsterdam to Paris and London across the English Channel are pictured from the space station.

Expedition 65 is kicking off the week with a host of space biology and robotics activities aboard the International Space Station today.

Five astronauts out of the seven crewmates who comprise the space station crew joined each other today for a review of upcoming research operations with rodents. The quintet reviewed roles and procedures for the study to learn how microgravity affects normal skin and healing functions. The astronauts will take turns transferring the mice to the Life Science Glovebox for observation.

Full-fledged operations for the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration will begin Tuesday and continue before the SpaceX Cargo Dragon returns to Earth with the rodents on Sept. 30. NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough will trade shifts on Tuesday with Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei will also contribute to the experiment later in the week.

Kimbrough started Monday checking out and activating the toaster-sized Astrobee robotic fee-flyers in cooperation with engineers on the ground. Hoshide began his day extracting DNA from microbe samples for sequencing to understand the microbial environment of the station. McArthur replaced fuel bottles inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. Pesquet set up student-controlled Earth observation hardware then cleaned up debris to support the Plant Habitat-04 space crop experiment.

Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov are continuing to set up hardware, including cables and laptop computers, inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. The new gear will enable the crew to control the European Robotic Arm from both inside and outside the station. The duo then split up Monday afternoon for Russian communications work and life support maintenance.

BEAM Open for Cargo Transfers as Robotics, Eye Checks Continue

Portions of the space station, including BEAM seen at right attached to the Tranquility module, are seen in this picture taken in August.
Portions of the space station, including BEAM seen at right attached to the Tranquility module, are seen in this picture taken in August.

The Expedition 65 crew opened up BEAM today and transferred cargo for return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship. The orbital residents also worked on robotics, continued eye checks, and configured new life support gear.

Commander Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) opened up the station’s first commercial module BEAM, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, today for cargo work. He was assisted by ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet as they transferred some of the stowed hardware from BEAM into the Cargo Dragon for return to Earth at the end of the month.

Robotics has also kept the crew busy this week aboard the International Space Station. Today, NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough practiced capturing a cargo craft using a virtual Canadarm2 robotic arm on a computer. McArthur also checked audio sensors on the Astrobee robotic free-flyers that monitor the orbiting lab’s acoustic environment.

Kimbrough spent the afternoon finalizing connections of a new carbon dioxide (CO2) removal device in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Called the Four Bed CO2 Scrubber, the new life support gear seeks to demonstrate advanced technology that will support future human missions longer and farther into space.

Vision is a key factor during long term space missions and doctors on the ground continuously monitor how microgravity affects an astronaut’s eyes. Once again, NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei took on the crew medical officer role and scanned Roscosmos Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy‘s eyes with an ultrasound device. Vande Hei, who is staying in space until March 2022, then set up optical coherence tomography gear and imaged the veteran cosmonaut’s retinas.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov continued configuring Russia’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module today. He connected ethernet cables and installed a laptop computer inside the new science module. Pesquet also trained on a pair of unique interfaces to operate the new European Robotic Arm that is attached to Nauka.