Russia’s Progress 74 (74P) cargo craft departed the International Space Station today leaving four spaceships from the U.S., Russia and Japan parked at the orbital lab. It will be replaced in two weeks when the Progress 76 arrives to replenish the crew.
The 74P undocked today at 2:23 p.m. EDT after seven months attached to the Pirs docking compartment. The trash-packed resupply ship will descend into Earth’s atmosphere above the South Pacific for a fiery but safe demise. The 76P will take its place when it launches on July 23 at 10:26 a.m. and docks just three-and-a-half hours later to Pirs.
Four out of the five Expedition 63 crew members assessed comfort factors inside the docked SpaceX Crew Dragon today. This is a demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s habitability ahead of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission planned for later this year.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who piloted the Crew Dragon, will be joined by station Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin for the one-hour habitability test. The crew will arrange the cabin to suit the four space residents and report their comfort levels to engineers on the ground.
While they were setting up Crew Dragon for the test, the three NASA astronauts also had time for ultrasound eye scans, microfluid studies and orbital plumbing work. The two cosmonauts, including Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner, juggled a variety of Russian space research and tested Soyuz crew ship communications gear.
The Expedition 63 crew will wait a few more days to gain two new crewmembers after weather scrubbed the initial launch attempt of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Meanwhile, the orbiting trio aboard the International Space Station continued focusing on lab operations.
Rain and lightning around Kennedy Space Center kept Commercial Crew members Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the ground Wednesday. The Florida weather violated launch rules and SpaceX scrubbed the liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket with the two NASA astronauts atop sitting inside the Crew Dragon vehicle.
NASA has rescheduled the Crew Dragon launch for Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT with a backup launch date on Sunday at 3 p.m. If Hurley and Behnken launch Saturday, they would dock Sunday at 10:29 a.m. to the Harmony module’s International Docking Adapter.
Back on orbit, NASA Commander Chris Cassidy was setting up Japanese network communications gear and science hardware during the morning. Afterward, the veteran astronaut spent the rest of Thursday exploring how planetary bodies might affect the density and dynamics of different materials.
The Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner started the day transferring cargo to and from the Soyuz crew ship and the two Progress space freighters. The duo then turned its attention to videotaping and photographing their station activities for an Earth audience.
To ensure the agency keeps its commitment for safe operations via a continuous U.S. presence aboard the International Space Station until commercial crew capabilities are routinely available, NASA has completed negotiations with the State Space Corporation Roscosmos to purchase one additional Soyuz seat for a launch this fall.
The agency received no responses from U.S. suppliers to a synopsis issued in the fall of 2019 for crew transportation in 2020. Boeing and SpaceX are in the final stages of development and testing of new human space transportation systems that will launch astronauts from American soil, including NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission scheduled for launch no earlier than May 27.
After post-landing medical checks, the crew will return by Russian helicopters to the recovery staging city in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where they will split up. Morgan and Meir will board a NASA plane located in the adjacent city of Kyzlorda, Kazakhstan, for a flight back to Houston. Skripochka will board a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft in Baikonur to return to his home in Star City, Russia.
Remaining aboard the station is the three-person crew of Expedition 63 with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy serving as station commander and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner serving as flight engineers.
The Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station at 9:53 p.m. EDT, carrying three people back to Earth. NASA Television will air live coverage beginning at 12 a.m. Friday, April 17, for the deorbit burn at 12:22 a.m. and the spacecraft’s parachute-assisted landing.
NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka are expected to land in their Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft at 1:16 a.m. on the steppe of Kazakhstan southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan (11:16 a.m. Kazakhstan time).
Among the research experiments to which the Expedition 62 crew contributed during their mission was the Droplet Formation Study, which evaluates water droplet formation, water flow and, indirectly, the perceived pressure of current shower head technology as compared to the industry-standard use of jet nozzles. The study examines droplet size and speed and how they affect the feeling of increased pressure for the end user. Another experiment to which the crew contributed was Mochii, a miniature scanning electron microscope used to conduct real-time, on-site imaging and composition measurements of particles. Analysis of small and microscopic particles is a critical need for human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit when samples cannot be returned to Earth immediately for analysis.
At 6:44 p.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to undock their Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft at 9:53 p.m.
NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 9:30 p.m.; their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 1:16 a.m. Friday.
At the time of undocking, Expedition 63 will begin aboard the station, with Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner comprising a three-person crew until the planned arrival of NASA’s Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon on the Demo-2 flight test.
NASA Television and the agency’s website are now broadcasting live coverage of the International Space Station’s Expedition 62 crew as they are preparing for their return to Earth.
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos are saying their farewells to NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Soon Meir Morgan, and Skripochka will board their Soyuz spacecraft and close the hatches between the Soyuz and the space station. Hatches are expected to close at about 6:30 p.m. EDT for a series of leak checks before the Soyuz undocks and returns to Earth early Friday morning.
Today the Expedition 62 crew conducted a change of command ceremony in which Skripochka ceremonially handed command of the orbiting laboratory to newly arrived NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. Expedition 63, a three-person crew of Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, begins when the Soyuz departs the station Thursday.
NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage beginning at 6 p.m. EDT April 16 as the departing crew members say farewell and close the hatches between their Soyuz and the spacecraft at about 6:30 p.m.
NASA coverage will resume at 9:30 p.m. prior to the trio undocking the Soyuz from the aft port of the station’s Zvezda service module at 9:53 p.m. At midnight, NASA TV will return to provide coverage during the deorbit burn at 12:22 a.m. Friday, April 17, that will put the Soyuz on course for a parachute-assisted landing at 1:16 a.m. (11:16 a.m. Kazakhstan time) on the steppe of Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.
Three Expedition 62 crewmembers are getting ready to head home before U.S., Russian and Japanese spaceship traffic ramps up. Meanwhile, human research activities continue full speed ahead aboard the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy will assume command and control of the orbiting lab today at 4:55 p.m. EDT during the Change of Command ceremony live on NASA TV. Commander Oleg Skripochka will turn the keys over to Cassidy before leaving the station on Thursday at 9:53 p.m. EDT when Expedition 63 officially begins.
Cassidy will stay onboard the station until October with Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. This is third station mission for Cassidy and Ivanishin while Vagner is beginning his first.
Skripochka is returning to Earth with NASA Flight Engineers Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan inside the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship. The trio will parachute to landing in Kazakhstan on Friday at 1:16 a.m. (11:16 a.m. Kazakh time). Morgan will have lived in space for 272 days while Meir and Skripochka will have orbited Earth for 205 days.
The next spaceship to visit the station is planned for April 24 when Russia’s Progress 75 space freighter launches for a docking to the station’s Zvezda service module. The U.S. Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft will finish its station cargo mission on May 11 when the Canadarm2 robotic arm removes it from the Unity module and releases it back into space. Japan is targeting May 20 for the launch of its HTV-9 Kounotori resupply ship when it will begin a five-day trip to the orbital lab.
The six crewmembers aboard the International Space Station continued advanced space research today promoting health for humans on and off Earth. The crew will split up at the end of the week when the Expedition 62 trio undocks and returns to Earth.
Scientists are looking at how human muscles adapt to microgravity for the Myotones space biology study. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy began the first of his four sessions for the human research experiment today. He marked muscle points on his skin then used a specialized device to measure his muscles’ biochemical properties. The research could prepare astronauts for longer space missions and help people on Earth with muscle conditions.
His two crewmates, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, are getting used to life on the orbiting lab while maintaining Russian station hardware. The cosmonauts are deactivating communication systems in the new Soyuz MS-16 crew ship and getting up to speed on their complement of space research.
The two astronauts are also getting ready to end their mission with Commander Oleg Skripochka and return to Earth on Friday. The trio is packing the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship with cargo and personal items. They will undock Thursday at 9:53 p.m. EDT and parachute to landing in Kazakhstan less than three-and-half hours later.