Station Crew Readies for Japan, U.S. Cargo Missions

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket that will launch the Cygnus cargo craft to the space station is seen at its Virginia launch pad.

A Japanese cargo craft is preparing to end its mission at the International Space Station, as a U.S. resupply ship stands ready to launch to the orbiting lab. The Expedition 61 crew is gearing up for the space traffic while also staying fresh on station emergency procedures.

Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft, also called Kounotori, will complete its 34-day mission attached to the station’s Harmony module on Friday. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are sharpening their Canadarm2 robotic arm skills today as they train to release the Kounotori packed with trash and obsolete gear  at 1:20 p.m. EDT. It will fall to Earth over the Pacific Ocean and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere on Saturday.

The 12th U.S.-made Cygnus resupply ship sits atop an Antares rocket and will blast off Saturday from Virginia at 9:59 a.m. EDT. The space delivery vehicle from Northrop Grumman will arrive Monday, when Meir with Koch as her backup will capture it at 4:10 a.m. EST with the Canadarm2. Robotic controllers on the ground will take over and remotely guide Cygnus and attach it to the Unity module where it will stay for 70 days.

NASA TV will cover all the mission activities live.

Three station crewmates brushed up on their emergency response skills today in the unlikely event they would need to evacuate the station in their Soyuz crew ship. Koch with Commander Luca Parmitano and Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov practiced quickly entering their Soyuz and simulated emergency undocking and descent procedures.

Multinational Trio Undocks from Station, Heads Home to Earth

The Soyuz MS-12 crew ship with three crewmembers inside
The Soyuz MS-12 crew ship with three multinational crewmembers inside is pictured before undocking from the station’s Rassvet module. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying three people back to Earth from space undocked as scheduled from the International Space Station at 3:37 a.m. EDT.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Nick Hague, Expedition 60 and Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates are expected to land in their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan on the Kazakhstan steppe about 7 a.m.

At the time of undocking, Expedition 61 began aboard the space station under the command of ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano. The crew consisting of NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan as well as cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos will continue work aboard the orbiting laboratory on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

NASA will resume coverage of Hague, Ovchinin and Almansoori’s landing back on Earth on TV and online at 5:30 a.m., with the deorbit burn scheduled at 6:06 a.m.

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.

Homebound Crew Boards Soyuz Crew Ship, Closes Hatch

The homecoming crew waves farewell
The homecoming crew waves farewell before boarding their Soyuz MS-12 crew ship. From left are, NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emriates.

At 12:20 a.m. EDT, the hatch closed between the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking scheduled for 3:37 a.m.

Two members of Expedition 60 – NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer Nick Hague and Expedition 60 and Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos – and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates are expected to land back on Earth at 7 a.m.

NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 3 a.m.

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.

Station Swaps Commanders Before Crew Departure and Spacewalks

The nine International Space Station residents pose for a portrait
The nine International Space Station residents pose for a portrait inside the Zvezda service module. At the bottom row from left are, station cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, astronauts Luca Parmitano and Nick Hague, visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, astronaut Jessica Meir and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka. At the top are, astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan with cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.

Two Expedition 60 crewmates and a visiting astronaut are returning to Earth on Thursday. The orbiting Expedition 61 residents staying on the International Space Station will then turn their attention to a series of spacewalks set to begin this weekend.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin handed over control of the orbiting complex today to astronaut Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) during the change of command ceremony. The Expedition 61 mission will officially begin when the three Expedition 60 crewmates depart the station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague is returning to Earth with Ovchinin and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates. The trio will board the Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and undock from the station’s Rassvet module on Thursday at 3:36 a.m. EDT. They will parachute to landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Kazakh time).

There was still time for research today as NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan took turns with Parmitano exploring cognition and motion in space. Morgan also installed the Small Optical Communication System, or SOLISS, that is testing the real-time downlink of large amounts of data from the station.

The first of five spacewalks to upgrade power systems on the orbital complex starts Sunday at 7:50 a.m. NASA astronaut Christina Koch will join Morgan and exit the station’s Quest airlock in their U.S. spacesuits to begin installing new lithium-ion batteries on the Port-6 truss structure. The duo will work outside in the vacuum of space for about six hours and 30 minutes.

Crew Departure Preps, Biochemistry Research Start Workweek

Four Expedition 60 crewmembers and a spaceflight participant
Four Expedition 60 crewmembers and a spaceflight participant gather inside the Unity module for a meal. Pictured from left are, astronauts Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Christina Koch of NASA, spaceflight participant and United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori and NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Nick Hague.

The nine-member crew aboard the International Space Station will split up Thursday and see three humans return to Earth. Meanwhile, there is still a multitude of space research to conduct as well as a new Japanese space freighter to unload.

Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin and NASA Flight Engineer Nick Hague are in their final week aboard the orbiting lab. The homebound residents are packing up their Soyuz MS-12 crew ship and handing over their duties to the crewmates staying in space.

They will undock Thursday from the Rassvet module at 3:36 a.m. EDT along with spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. The trio will parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan at 7 a.m. (5 p.m. Kazakhstan time). All three returning crewmates reviewed their undocking and landing procedures today.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan took turns today exploring how astronauts grip and manipulate objects in microgravity. Observations may inform the design of intelligent, haptic interfaces for future crews on deep space missions.

Morgan then explored increasing the purity of protein crystals in space to improve pharmaceutical and biochemistry research. Veteran cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov conducted his own biochemistry research in the Russian segment of the space lab studying how the microgravity environment impacts enzymes in the human body.

New Expedition 61 crewmates Jessica Meir of NASA and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos continue settling in for their 189-day mission inside the orbiting lab. Meir reviewed Canadarm2 robotics procedures today to support upcoming spacewalks. She wrapped up the day observing protein crystals to support cancer research. Skripochka tested a specialized suit that counteracts the headward flow of fluids in astronauts due to microgravity. He finally checked out the Magnetic 3D Printer that explores the benefits of printing organic tissue in space.

Japan’s eighth station resupply ship, also known as the Kounotori, is open for business and Parmitano and NASA astronaut Christina Koch are unloading its cargo and new science hardware today. Kounotori is due for a month-long stay attached to the Harmony module for internal and external cargo operations. Ground controllers will be commanding the Canadarm2 to remove new lithium-ion batteries delivered on Kounotori’s external pallets. The robotics work will be setting up a series of power upgrade spacewalks planned for October.

Slime and Cancer Research Before Japan Cargo Ship Arrives Saturday

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan stow biological research samples into a science freezer located inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Credit: NASA
NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan stow biological research samples into a science freezer located inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module. Credit: NASA

A Japanese space freighter is on track to deliver more than four tons of cargo to the International Space Station on Saturday morning. The Expedition 60 crew is preparing for its arrival while also researching a variety of microgravity phenomena.

Flight Engineers Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan are practicing on a computer the techniques they will use to maneuver the Canadarm2 robotic arm and capture the HTV-8 resupply ship on Saturday. The duo will be in the cupola monitoring the cargo craft’s approach when Koch will command the Canadarm2 to reach out and grapple the HTV-8 at 7:15 a.m. EDT.

Astronaut Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) started his morning playing with slime for the Non-Newtonian Fluids in Microgravity experiment. Koch and Morgan joined him for the fun research being filmed for students on Earth to excite them about space research.

New station resident Jessica Meir of NASA began her day observing and photographing protein crystal samples in a microscope. The research is exploring cancer therapies targeting a protein responsible for tumor growth and survival.

Meir and the station’s other new crewmates, cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, joined the rest of the station crew to review their roles in the event of an emergency. All nine crewmembers practiced evacuating the station, communications and using safety hardware during the afternoon.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineer Nick Hague are less than a week away from returning to Earth after 203 days in space. They are finalizing packing and readying their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft for the undocking on Oct. 3. The duo will parachute to Earth with Almansoori aboard their Soyuz crew ship and land in Kazakhstan.

Expanded Station Crew Relaxes Before Cargo Delivery, Crew Departure

The International Space Station
The International Space Station is pictured orbiting Earth in October of 2018.

The Expedition 60 crew is relaxing today after welcoming three new space residents to the International Space Station on Wednesday. They will receive a cargo shipment on Saturday before turning their attention to a crew departure next week.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir took a five-hour and 45-minute ride to the orbiting lab on Wednesday with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates. They blasted off from Kazakhstan inside the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship and docked to the rear port of the Zvezda service module. Family and mission officials on the ground congratulated the trio shortly after the new crew boarded the station expanding the population of the space lab to nine.

All nine crewmembers are sleeping in today and will soon be getting ready for more space traffic. The new crew was briefed on station safety procedures and will be getting up to speed with life in microgravity over the next several days.

Japan’s HTV-8 space freighter has been orbiting Earth since Tuesday after launching to the station from the Tanegashima Space Center. It will arrive Saturday carrying over four tons of crew supplies, station hardware and new science experiments.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan will capture the HTV-8 on Saturday with the Canadarm2 robotic arm around 7:15 a.m. EDT. Ground controllers will then take over and remotely install the Japanese resupply ship to the Harmony module about three hours later. NASA TV will begin its live coverage of the capture and installation activities starting at 5:45 a.m.

Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineer Nick Hague are getting ready for their return to Earth on Oct. 3. They will take Almansoori home with them aboard their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan.

Soyuz Spacecraft With Three Crewmates Docks to Orbiting Lab

Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft approaches for a docking
The camera on the rear port of the Zvezda service module captures the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft approaching for a docking.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) docked to the International Space Station at 3:42 p.m. EDT.

The new crew members will be greeted by station commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Nick Hague, Andrew Morgan, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.

During Expedition 61, crew members will install new lithium-ion batteries for two of the station’s solar array power channels through a series of spacewalks. Later in the expedition, spacewalkers are scheduled to upgrade and repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a key science instrument housed outside the station to study dark matter and the origins of the universe.

NASA TV coverage will begin at 5 p.m. for the hatch opening at 5:45 p.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Soyuz Rocket Blasts Off to Station With Multinational Crew

The Soyuz MS-15 rocket blasts off from Kazakhstan
The Soyuz MS-15 rocket blasts off from Kazakhstan with a multinational crew of three people. Creedit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched safely for their mission aboard the International Space Station on the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft at 9:57 a.m. EDT.

The crew began their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory during which they will orbit Earth four times. Coverage of the Soyuz docking to the International Space Station will begin on NASA TV and the agency’s website at 3 p.m., with the spacecraft docking expected at 3:45 p.m. NASA TV coverage of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the space station will begin at 5 p.m.

For continued coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.

Station Crew Ready to Liftoff to Station on NASA TV

Soyuz MS-15 crewmates wave before boarding rocket
(From top) NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka wave to support personnel before boarding their Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Live launch coverage is underway on NASA Television and the agency’s website for the targeted lift off at 9:57 a.m. EDT (6:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time), of a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will embark on a four-orbit, six-hour journey to the International Space Station. This will be the third spaceflight for Skripochka and the first for Meir and Almansoori. Almansoori is flying on an eight-day mission as a spaceflight participant under a contract between the UAE and Roscosmos.

The crewmembers will join station commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, NASA astronauts Christina KochNick Hague and Andrew Morgan, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, increasing the space station population to nine people for eight days. The crewmembers of Expedition 61-62 will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the space station.

The new crew members will dock to the station’s Zvezda service module Sept. 25 at 3:45 p.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m.

Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.