Trio Nears Departure During Space Harvest and Crew Orientation

NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.
NASA Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Michael Hopkins install temporary sleeping quarters inside the Columbus laboratory module from the European Space Agency.

Three Expedition 64 crew members reviewed departure procedures today as they get ready to leave the International Space Station at the end of the week. Meanwhile, there was a harvest onboard the orbital lab today while three new crewmates get used to life in space.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov Tuesday afternoon and looked over the steps they will take after they undock from the space station on Friday at 9:34 p.m. EDT. The trio reviewed the g-forces that occur when entering Earth’s atmosphere and experiencing gravity for the first time in 185 days. The former station residents will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft after leaving the Poisk module about three-and-a-half hours earlier.

A small crop of Amara Mustard and Pak Choi plants was picked today as part of the ongoing Veg-3 space agriculture study. NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins removed the plants from the Columbus lab module’s Veggie Facility and stowed the leaves for later analysis. The botany investigation is informing NASA and its international partners on how to feed crews without resupply ships on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Ongoing technical and life support maintenance is key to ensuring science experiments are up and running and the astronauts stay healthy while orbiting Earth.

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency continued servicing the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an incubator that generates artificial gravity to support cell and plant biology studies. Victor Glover routed ethernet cables and Shannon Walker, both NASA flight engineers, worked on a U.S. oxygen generator throughout Tuesday.

The station’s newest crew members, Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, both from Roscosmos, are in their first week on the space station. They are getting oriented with station systems while also stepping up their science and maintenance activities. Vande Hei installed acoustic monitors and collected carbon dioxide data today. Novitskiy worked on a Russian radiation experiment as Dubrov checked ear, nose and throat medical equipment.

Crew Swaps, Safety and Space Research Keeping Crew Busy

The Milky Way extends above the Earth's horizon in this long exposure photograph from the space station.
The Milky Way extends above the Earth’s horizon in this long exposure photograph from the space station.

The three newest International Space Station crew members are getting used to life in space after a near three-and-a-half hour ride to the orbital lab late last week. There will be 10 people in space until Friday night when another three-person crew returns to Earth.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov have completed their first weekend orbiting Earth on the space station. The trio is getting up to speed with station systems following its arrival on Friday at 7:05 a.m. EDT. The new Expedition 65 crew launched earlier that day from Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship.

Meanwhile, another crew onboard the space station since October 14 is now focusing on its departure this Friday at 9:34 p.m. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will parachute to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. They will land in Kazakhstan at 12:56 a.m. Saturday, completing a 185-day space research mission.

The other four station astronauts, representing the crew of SpaceX Crew-1, joined their six crewmates during Monday afternoon and reviewed emergency roles and responsibilities. Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi joined the rest of the Expedition 64 crew and practiced safety procedures, communication protocols, and evacuation drills.

Some of the busy station residents did have time for science during all the crew swap and safety training activities taking place today. Glover attached sensors to his leg, collecting data for the Vascular Echo study that observes how the cardiovascular system changes in space. Noguchi reconfigured components inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, an artificial gravity-generating incubator, that supports cell and plant biology studies.

Soyuz Crew Ship Ready for Launch; Space Science in Full Swing

The Soyuz MS-18 rocket, that will launch the Expedition 65 crew to the space station on April 9, is rolled out to the launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The Soyuz MS-18 rocket, that will launch the Expedition 65 crew to the space station on April 9, is rolled out to the launch pad in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The first of two crews launching to the International Space Station in April will blast off from Kazakhstan on Friday. The Soyuz MS-18 rocket rolled out to its launch pad this morning as three new Expedition 65 crew members get ready for their long-term space research mission.

NASA Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy inside the new Soyuz crew ship. They will lift off Friday at 3:42 a.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and take a near three-and-a-half hour ride to the station, orbiting Earth twice.

After the new crew docks to the Rassvet module and opens the hatches, there will be 10 people occupying the orbiting lab until the crew they are replacing, the Expedition 64 trio, returns to Earth a week later. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will complete her mission on April 16 with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov. They will undock from the station’s Poisk module inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship completing a 185-day mission and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan.

Onboard the station, the current seven-member crew is busy conducting advanced space science benefitting humans on and off the Earth. The orbital septet is also gearing up to accommodate the two April crew swaps when there will be as many as eleven people occupying the space station.

NASA Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover were back inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module exploring how microgravity affects the human nervous system. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi worked on biology hardware servicing components inside the Cell Biology Experiment Facility and the Confocal Space Microscope.

Noguchi also joined Rubins during the afternoon and set up extra sleep accommodations inside the Columbus lab. NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker routed cables that charge U.S. spacesuit batteries inside the Quest airlock.

Station Gears Up for April Crew Swaps, Keeps Up Space Research

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship, with its two lit crew windows, is pictured docked to the Harmony module's international docking adapter.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship, with its two lit crew windows, is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s international docking adapter.

Four Expedition 64 astronauts will take a quick ride inside their SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle to a new docking port next week as the International Space Station ramps up for a series of crew swaps.

Resilience, the first operational crew ship from SpaceX, will back out from its forward-facing port on the Harmony module on April 5 at 6:30 a.m. EDT. Dragon Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover and Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi will be inside the Crew Dragon as it autonomously maneuvers to a docking on Harmony’s space-facing port about 45 minutes later.

April will be a busy month on the orbital lab as three new Expedition 65 crew members, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, get ready for their April 9 launch to the station aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. Expedition 64 will end on April 17 when NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov undock from the Poisk module inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and return to Earth.

The four Crew-1 astronauts are also due to return to Earth at the end of April. They will be replaced about a week before by four SpaceX Crew-2 crewmembers including Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Thomas Pesquet from ESA (European Space Agency), and Akihiko Hoshide from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Meanwhile, the station’s seven orbital residents are still keeping up an array of research into microgravity’s impact on biology and physics.

Rubins was the Crew Medical Officer on Monday scanning neck, shoulder and leg veins in Hopkins and Noguchi using the Ultrasound-2 device. Hopkins then joined Glover and Walker for cognition tests for the Standard Measures investigation observing how astronauts adapt to weightlessness.

On the Russian side of the station, station Commander Sergey Ryzhikov packed hard drives containing plasma physics research data for return to Earth with the Expedition 64 trio. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov swabbed surfaces inside the Zvezda service module to collect microbe samples for later analysis.

Station Ends Week with Biology; New Crew Arrives at Launch Site

(From left) Expedition 65 crew members Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, arrive for final launch preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
(From left) Expedition 65 crew members Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, arrive for final launch preparations at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The seven residents aboard the International Space Station are wrapping up an intense week of biology investigations in low-Earth orbit. Three new crew members are also two weeks away from launching to the orbiting lab and joining the Expedition 64 crew.

The station astronauts have been focusing their research efforts this week on microgravity’s long-term impacts on the human body and other biological processes. NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins examined space-grown protein crystals in a microscope on Friday morning for insights into pharmaceutical production beyond Earth’s gravity. She later peered at microscopic worms wriggling in unique sample slides, set up by NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker, to understand how weightlessness affects genetic expression in muscles.

Flight Engineers Victor Glover and Soichi Noguchi partnered together in the ongoing Time Perception study inside Europe’s Columbus laboratory module. The astronauts wear virtual reality googles and click a trackball while performing a series of exercises to understand how their spatial orientation and cognitive performance changes in microgravity.

Lab maintenance is also critical to ensure station systems such as life support and computing remain in tip-top shape. Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins worked preventative maintenance in the Tranquility module’s Water Recycling System. He also replaced electrical components inside the Human Research Facility-2 rack.

The two cosmonauts, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, kept up with their contingent of space research in the station’s Russian segment. Ryzhikov finalized this week’s plasma physics study closing out the experiment and stowing the advanced science gear. Kud-Sverchkov explored how the human circulatory system adapts to long-term spaceflight.

Three new Expedition 65 crew members have arrived at their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos with Soyuz MS-18 Commander Oleg Novitskiy are in final training for their April 9 launch to the space station.

Vein, Eye Scans on Station as Next Crew Nears Launch

(From left) Expedition 65 crew members Pyotr Dubrov, Oleg Novitskiy and Mark Vande Hei, pose for a photo during Soyuz qualification exams in Moscow.
(From left) Expedition 65 crew members Pyotr Dubrov, Oleg Novitskiy and Mark Vande Hei, pose for a photo during Soyuz qualification exams in Moscow.

The Expedition 64 crew continued researching how microgravity affects biology aboard the International Space Station today. The orbital residents also conducted vein and eye checks and prepared for three new crew members due in early April.

NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker joined Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov for vein and eye scans on Thursday. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi led the effort scanning veins in the trio’s neck, clavicle and shoulder areas using the Ultrasound 2 device in the morning. In the afternoon, Noguchi examined Walker’s eyes using the orbiting lab’s optical coherence tomography gear.

Walker also assisted fellow Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA setting up samples of tiny worms for viewing in a microscope. Rubins captured video of the microscopic worms wriggling around to learn how microgravity affects genetic expression and muscle function. Insights from the Micro-16 study may benefit human health on and off the Earth.

Astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover focused on station maintenance throughout Thursday. Hopkins set up alternate sleep accommodations ahead of the Expedition 65 crew launch and docking set for April 9 when 10 people will be on the station until April 17. Glover serviced Water Recycling System components checking for leaks and tightening fittings on the rack located inside the Tranquility module.

Ryzhikov continued observing plasma dust crystals for the ongoing space physics study taking place in the station’s Russian segment. Kud-Sverchkov wiped down equipment inside the Zarya module then explored how pilots may operate spacecraft on future planetary missions.

Back on Earth in Moscow, three Expedition 65 crew members are getting ready to head to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where their Soyuz MS-18 rocket is being processed for its April 9 launch. Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos will flank Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy during their three-and-a-half-hour ride to their new home in space.

Just over a week later, Rubins will return to Earth with her Expedition 64 crewmates Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov. They will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship after 185 days aboard the station.

Crew Relaxes Following Three Weeks of Spacewalks, Relocation

(From left) Michael Hopkins of NASA, Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover gather around a laptop computer to watch a movie inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
(From left) Michael Hopkins of NASA, Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover, gather around a laptop computer for a video conference.

The seven-member Expedition 64 crew is taking a well-deserved break today following a Soyuz crew ship relocation and three spacewalks in just three weeks.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov hitched a ride on Friday inside the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship piloted by Commander Sergey Ryzhikov. The trio backed out from the Earth-facing Rassvet module and pulled into the space-facing port of the Poisk module during the 34-minute maneuver. This opens up Rassvet for the April 9 arrival of three new Expedition 65 crew members, including NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship.

Rubins and her fellow astronauts Soichi Noguchi, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins, completed a series of three spacewalks on Feb. 28, March 5 and March 13. Rubins and Glover set out on the first spacewalk to ready the International Space Station for new solar arrays. On the second excursion, Rubins and Noguchi continued the solar array upgrade work. Finally, Glover and Hopkins worked outside the station during the third spacewalk servicing the cooling system, communications gear, and the Bartolomeo science platform.

Science and maintenance will pick up back up again on Tuesday when the crew explores microgravity’s impact on genetic expression and vision. The orbital residents will also be reconfiguring a variety of research racks to ensure advanced space science remains up and running on the orbiting lab.

Soyuz Crew Ship Prepares to Move to New Station Port

Two Russian spacecraft are seen docked to the International Space Station as it orbited 269 miles above southern Argentina. At left is the Soyuz MS-17 crew ship that will soon undock from the Rassvet module and relocate to the Poisk module, making room for three new crew members due to launch April 9 aboard the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. At right is the aft end of the Progress 77 cargo craft docked to the Pirs docking compartment. Credits: NASA
(From left) The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship and the Progress 77 cargo craft are seen docked to the International Space Station as it orbited above southern Argentina.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website are providing live coverage as three residents of the International Space Station prepare to take a spin around their orbital neighborhood in the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft, relocating it to prepare for the arrival of the next set of crew members.

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA and Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, will undock from the Earth-facing port of the station’s Rassvet module at 12:38 p.m. and manually pilot the spacecraft to dock again at the space-facing Poisk docking port at 1:07 p.m.

The relocation will free up the Rassvet port for the docking of another Soyuz vehicle, designated Soyuz MS-18, which will carry three Expedition 65 crew members to the station next month. NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos’ Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov are scheduled to launch to the station Friday, April 9, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

This will be the 19th overall Soyuz port relocation and the first since August 2019.

Rubins, Ryzhikov, and Kud-Sverchkov will return to Earth April 17 in the Soyuz MS-17 that carried them to the space station in October 2020.

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

Crew Furthers Human Research While Prepping for Soyuz Relocation

The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship that carried the Expedition 64 crew to the International Space Station on Oct. 14, 2020, is pictured Oct. 18, 2020, docked to the Rassvet module. Credits: NASA
The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship that carried the Expedition 64 crew to the International Space Station on Oct. 14, 2020, is pictured Oct. 18, 2020, docked to the Rassvet module. Credits: NASA

In between ongoing investigations to further our understanding of how spaceflight impacts the human body, the Expedition 64 crew devoted time to brushing up on procedures to relocate the Soyuz MS-17 to another port on the International Space Station — a reconfiguration maneuver that hasn’t been done since August 2019.

Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of Roscosmos, as well as NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, reviewed the timeline and operations plan to accomplish the port relocation, which will free up the Rassvet port for the docking of Soyuz MS-18. That vehicle will carry three Expedition 65 crew members to the orbiting laboratory after launch April 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan: NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos’ Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov. Live coverage of the Soyuz flight around the space station may be seen beginning at 12:15 p.m. EDT Friday, March 19, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Later, Rubins joined fellow NASA astronaut Victor Glover in the Kibo laboratory module to field questions from students during a Senate Youth Forum event involving multiple members of Congress, allowing participants a glimpse of some of the cutting-edge research being performed around the clock in space.

Glover also teamed up with crewmates Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker to work with Myotones, a study that observes how long-term exposure to a spaceflight environment influences the biochemical properties of muscles — qualities like muscle tone, stiffness, and elasticity.

Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), meanwhile, worked to unfreeze samples as part of the Ribosome Profiling investigation. This experiment uses a state-of-the-art technique to decode gravity’s role in gene expression, and will one day help scientists understand how space impacts age-related changes in astronauts.

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.

Physics, Biology and Spacewalk Preps as SpaceX Crew-1 Ramps Up

Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Rubins works in Japan's Kibo laboratory module to set up a small satellite deployer.
Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Rubins works in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module to set up a small satellite deployer.

Space physics and biomedical research kicked off the work week as the Expedition 64 crew continued its spacewalk preparations. Back on Earth, four Commercial Crew astronauts are in Florida counting down to their launch to the International Space Station.

NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins started Monday morning checking out samples exposed to extreme temperatures inside the Electrostatic Levitation Furnace. The advanced research facility provides insights into the thermophysical properties and the synthesis of new materials.

Rubins then serviced components on the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device that helps astronauts maintain muscle strength and mass in microgravity. The two-time station resident wrapped up her science work today collecting and stowing saliva samples for the Standard Measures study. The human research experiment collects biological data from astronauts before, during and after missions to understand how humans adapt to living in space.

A spacewalk is scheduled for Nov. 18 for maintenance and science tasks outside the orbiting lab’s Russian segment. Commander Sergey Ryzhikov joined Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and conducted leak checks and valve tests inside their Orlan spacesuits today. The duo then partnered up with Rubins to review tasks and procedures planned for the six-hour spacewalk.

The next crew to visit the space station arrived at the Kennedy Space Center from Houston on Sunday getting ready for a launch on Nov. 14 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon. The quartet from the United States and Japan is planned to dock about eight-and-a-half hours later the following day to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter.

Commander Michael Hopkins, Pilot Victor Glover and Mission Specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi are in quarantine in Florida conducting final mission preparations. They are scheduled for a five-and-a-half-month research mission aboard the station.