Touchdown! Veteran Space Travelers Back on Earth

Soyuz Spacecraft Lands
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying Expedition 53 crewmates Sergey Ryazanskiy, Randy Bresnik and Paolo Nespoli is pictured seconds from landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan in below freezing weather. Credit: NASA TV

Three crew members who have been living and working aboard the International Space Station have landed in Kazakhstan.

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos landed at 3:37 a.m. EST (2:37 p.m. Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. It is a frigid 10 degrees Fahrenheit on the ground, with the wind chill making it feel like 5 degrees below zero.

Together, the Expedition 53 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, as well as Earth and other physical sciences aboard the orbiting laboratory. Their time aboard marked the first long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment of the International Space Station from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the station.

During his time aboard the orbital complex, Bresnik ventured outside the space station for three spacewalks. Along with NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, Bresnik lead a trio of spacewalks to replace one of two latching end effectors on the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. They also lubricated the newly replaced Canadarm2 end effector and replaced cameras on the left side of the station’s truss and the right side of the station’s U.S. Destiny laboratory.

Ryazanskiy conducted one spacewalk with fellow cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin in August to deploy several nanosatellites, collect research samples and perform structural maintenance.

Bresnik now has spent 150 days in space on two flights. Ryazanskiy now has 306 days in space on two flights. Nespoli has logged 313 days in space on his three flights.

The Expedition 54 crew continues operating the station, with Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos in command. Along with crewmates Mark Vende Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), are scheduled to launch Sunday, Dec. 17 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. NASA Television will broadcast the launch and docking.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station

Expedition 53 Leaves Station, Begins Ride Home

Soyuz MS-05 Spacecraft
The Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft carrying three Expedition 53 crew members backs away from the International Space Station after undocking from the Rassvet module.

Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 12:14 a.m. EST to begin their trip home.

Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 2:45, with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 3:37 (2:37 p.m. Kazakhstan time). NASA TV coverage will resume at 2:15 for deorbit burn and landing coverage.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 54 began aboard the space station under the command of Roscosmos’ Alexander Misurkin. Along with his crewmates Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members Tuesday, Dec. 19.

Sunday, Dec. 17, Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will launch to the space station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Crew Says Goodbye and Closes the Hatch to Ride Home

Expedition 53 Crew Farewell
Cosmonauts (from left) Sergey Ryazanskiy and Alexander Misurkin trade hugs and farewells. Ryazanskiy is departing the station with astronauts Randy Bresnik of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of ESA in the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft.

At 9:02 p.m. EST, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 12:14 a.m. NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 11:45 p.m.

Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 3:37 a.m. (2:37 p.m. Kazakhstan time) and will conclude a 139-day mission aboard the space station, in which they logged 2,224 orbits of the Earth.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

Crew Set to Say Goodbye and Close Soyuz Spacecraft Hatch

Expedition 52-53 crew members
Expedition 52-53 crew members (from left) Paolo Nespoli of ESA, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, and Randy Bresnik of NASA are pictured in July 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan before beginning their mission.

Three crew members who have been living and working aboard the International Space Station are set for return to Earth on Thursday. Coverage of the farewell and hatch closure is now underway on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Hatch closure is scheduled for around 9 p.m. EST.

Earlier Wednesday, Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA handed over station command to Roscosmos’ Alexander Misurkin in an official Change of Command ceremony.

Bresnik and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft from the space station at 12:14 a.m. Thursday, with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 3:38 a.m. (2:38 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Their return will conclude 139 days in space since their launch on July 28.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit www.nasa.gov/station.

 

Station Gets Ready to Swap Two Crews in Five Days

Expedition 52-53 crew members
Expedition 52-53 crew members (from left) Paolo Nespoli, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Randy Bresnik are suited up for a test run of their Soyuz undocking and landing.

The Expedition 53 crew is getting ready to split up Thursday morning before another crew begins its mission next week. Soyuz Commander Sergey Ryazanskiy will pilot his crew mates Randy Bresnik of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency in the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft back to Earth after 139 days in space. The trio is scheduled to undock from the Rassvet module at 12:14 a.m. Thursday and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 3:38 a.m.

New Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin will stay onboard the orbital laboratory with Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei of NASA until March. The trio have been onboard the station since Sept. 12 and will welcome a new set of crewmates next week when the Soyuz MS-07 crew ship arrives.

The next space travelers to board the station will be veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and new astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. They are the Expedition 54-55 crew and are in Kazakhstan in final training ahead of their launch Sunday at 2:21 a.m. Shkaplerov, flanked by Tingle and Kanai, will take a two-day trip inside the Soyuz to the station before docking Tuesday at 3:43 a.m. for a four-month stay at the station.

Crews Prepare to Swap Places as Station Eyes California Wildfires

California Wildfires
Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik aboard the International Space Station took this photo of the California wildfires in the Los Angeles on Dec. 6, 2017.

Two International Space Station crews are preparing to swap places at the orbital lab next week. In the midst of the crew swap activities, Commander Randy Bresnik also sent down dramatic photographs of the wildfires in California.

The Expedition 52-53 trio is getting its Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft ready for a three-and-a-half hour ride back to Earth on Dec. 14 after 139 days in space. Sergey Ryazanskiy, the Soyuz Commander, will lead his crewmates Randy Bresnik of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency to a parachuted landing on the steppe Kazakhstan.

Next, the Expedition 54-55 trio will blast off Dec. 17 aboard the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft and take a two-day trip to its new home in space. Anton Shkaplerov, a veteran cosmonaut from Roscosmos, will lead the flight to the station flanked by first-time astronauts Scott Tingle of NASA and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Back on orbit, Bresnik shared pictures he took on social media of the wildfires threatening the greater Los Angeles area in southern California. He wrote on his Twitter account, “Thank you to all the first responders, firefighters, and citizens willing to help fight these California wildfires.”

More wildfire photos can be viewed on the NASA portal and Flickr.

Next Crew in Russia as Station Preps for Cargo Missions

Expedition 54-55
Expedition 54-55 is the next crew to launch to the space station. They are (from left) Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Scott Tingle of NASA.

The next crew to launch to the International Space Station is in Russia today for traditional ceremonies before heading to the launch site in Kazakhstan. Back in space, the Expedition 53 crew is preparing for the departure and arrival of a pair of cargo ships next week.

Three new crew members from Russia, the United States and Japan are getting ready for their Dec. 14 launch aboard the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft to the space station’s Rassvet module. The Expedition 54-55 crew consists of Soyuz Commander and veteran station resident Anton Shkaplerov and first-time Flight Engineers Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai.

The trio was in Star City today talking to journalists before heading to Moscow to tour Red Square and lay flowers at the Kremlin Wall where famed cosmonauts are interred. Next, the crew will head to the launch site Dec. 4 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where they will stay for final launch preparations at the Cosmonaut Hotel.

Meanwhile, the orbiting Expedition 53 crew is packing the Cygnus cargo craft with trash before it ends its mission next week. First, ground controllers will remotely detach Cygnus from the Unity module with the Canadarm2 on Dec. 5. Cygnus will then be maneuvered over the Harmony module for a GPS test to assist NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Next, astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba will take over the robotics controls and release Cygnus back into space on Dec. 6. It will orbit Earth until Dec. 18 then enter the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean for a fiery, but safe demise.

SpaceX is getting ready to replenish the station with its Dragon cargo craft scheduled to deliver about 4,800 pounds of crew supplies and science gear. Dragon is targeted to launch Dec. 8 from Florida atop a Falcon 9 rocket and take a two-day trip to the station. Vande Hei and Acaba are training to capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 when it reaches a point 10 meters from the station. Ground controllers will them remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module where it will stay until Jan. 6.

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.

Station Orbiting Higher as Crew Checks Spacesuits

Astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Paolo Nespoli
Astronauts Mark Vande Hei (left) and Paolo Nespoli work on science gear inside the Destiny laboratory module.

The International Space Station boosted its orbit Wednesday to prepare for the arrival of a pair of Russian spaceships before the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Expedition 53 crew continued getting ready for next week’s spacewalk and explored how living in space affects their bodies.

The docked Progress 67 resupply ship fired its engines Wednesday for three minutes and 40 seconds lifting the space station to a higher orbit. The reboost is the first of three with the next two taking place in November. The reboosts will place the station at the correct altitude to receive a Progress 68 resupply ship in mid-October and the Soyuz MS-07 crew ship in mid-December.

Spacewalkers Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei are getting their U.S. spacesuits ready ahead of an Oct. 5 spacewalk. They inspected their suits today, scrubbed the cooling loops and filled them with water. The duo will work outside for about 6.5 hours next Thursday and replace a latching end effector at the tip of the Canadarm2.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba attached sensors to himself and worked out on the station’s exercise bike today to help scientists understand how microgravity affects physical exertion. The VO2max study is researching how astronauts expend energy in space and how it may impact emergency situations and spacewalks.


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Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific With NASA Science Experiments

Sept.17, 2017: International Space Station Configuration
The departure of the SpaceX Dragon Sunday morning leaves three spaceships parked at the space station including the Progress 67 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-05 and MS-06 crew ships.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at approximately 10:14 a.m. EDT, southwest of Long Beach, California, and the recovery process is underway, marking the end of the company’s twelfth contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Expedition 53 Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and International Space Station Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA released the Dragon spacecraft earlier this morning at 4:40 a.m.

A variety of technological and biological studies are returning in Dragon. NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours.

The Lung Tissue experiment used the microgravity environment of space to test strategies for growing new lung tissue. The ultimate goal of this investigation is to produce bioengineered human lung tissue that can be used as a predictive model of human responses allowing for the study of lung development, lung physiology or disease pathology.

Samples from the CASIS PCG 7 study used the orbiting laboratory’s microgravity environment to grow larger versions of an important protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Anatrace and Com-Pac International, researchers will look to take advantage of the station’s microgravity environment which allows protein crystals to grow larger and in more perfect shapes than earth-grown crystals, allowing them to be better analyzed on Earth. Defining the exact shape and morphology of LRRK2 would help scientists to better understand the pathology of Parkinson’s and aid in the development of therapies against this target.

Mice from NASA’s Rodent Research-9 study also will return live to Earth for additional study. The investigation combined three studies into one mission, with two looking at how microgravity affects blood vessels in the brain and in the eyes and the third looking at cartilage loss in hip and knee joints. For humans on Earth, research related to limited mobility and degrading joints can help scientists understand how arthritis develops, and a better understanding of the visual impairments experienced by astronauts can help identify causes and treatments for eye disorders.

Dragon launched to the space station Aug. 14 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and arrived at the station Aug. 16, delivering more than 6,400 pounds of supplies and cargo.

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